Toronto Transit Plans Poll Divided

New poll shows Toronto divided on transit plans

A new poll confirms that Toronto residents are divided when it comes to how they think the city should proceed with the expansion of our transit infrastructure. Complied by Stratcom, who also recently asked after the mayor's approval rating, the survey finds that an equal number of respondents — 43 percent — favour Ford's underground transit plan as do those who support the decision made by city council to focus spending on a more LRT-heavy strategy. The remaining 14 per cent answered that they were not sure whether or not they agreed with council. The poll's margin of error is +/-2.7%, 19 times out of 20.

While the divide shouldn't come as a surprise, it does counter Doug Ford's repeated claims that the vast majority of residents want subways. Although that number reaches a majority in Scarborough (52.1 per cent believe council was in error), it lags behind the 70 to 80 per cent the mayor's brother has cited, though it's always been anyone's guess where he gets his numbers from. In North York and Etobicoke, 45.3 and 46.9 per cent of those polled believe council got it wrong while 38.0 and 39.7 per cent believe the right decision was made.

Before one puts a ton of stock in these numbers, however, it's worth drawing attention to the precise wording of the question to which participants responded. It reads: "Yesterday, Toronto City Council voted 25 to 18 to reverse Mayor Rob Ford's plan to focus transit spending on two new subways, and instead to put the money into building at least three above-ground light rail lines in different parts of the city. Given what you have seen, or read, or heard, do you think that City Council has made the right decision or the wrong decision?"

Transit Poll Toronto

In case you didn't catch it, that phraseology is actually quite kind to Ford. At present, his plan isn't "to focus transit spending on two new subways," but rather to ensure that one LRT remains underground for the entirety of its passage along Eglinton. That's no minor distinction, and it gets worse when one accounts for the fact that the mayor doesn't have any money to focus toward a subway on Sheppard in the first place.

If anything, then, the numbers reported in this poll are actually skewed against the above-ground LRT plan, which is accurately described in the question at hand. I can't say this enough: the debate isn't about subways and LRT, but how best to spend the $8.4 billion we have in guaranteed funding from the province. Had the poll asked about that, the results might look even worse for Ford.

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