Transit - more than just talking points

The upcoming Municipal election will have candidates explaining their view on transit.  The talking points have been focused on a few transit lines:

  1. Sheppard extension: LRT or SUBWAY
  2. Scarborough: LRT or SUBWAY
  3. Finch: LRT or SUBWAY
  4. Downtown Relief Line
  5. Eglinton Crosstown Line: To completely bury or not?
  6. Union Pearson Express

Some of the other transit ideas discussed in various wards:

  1.  Connecting Downsview station to Yonge/Sheppard station
  2. Extension of Yonge/University line to Thornhill
  3. Connecting the Toronto Zoo with an LRT

Important transit development for Etobicoke & Ward 3

  1. Extension of Eglinton Crosstown to Pearson International Airport
  2. Dundas BRT or LRT 
  3. Kipling conversion to Metrolinx "Kipling Anchor Hub"
  4. Fast-tracking upgrades of TTC stations for accessibility

Until the next council is elected, a lot of these talking points may only be lip service.  The issue with politics is that it changes with the wind.  Good examples of politics about transit are the Downtown Relief Line or the Eglinton Subway/LRT.  Both transit lines should have been built decades ago but were delayed, changed or cancelled.  Short term thinking and the unwillingness to make hard bold decisions have left the city stuck with the same transit for almost 40 years.  See what the plan was in 1976 - very similar to some of the ideas of today!

The apprehension about creating transit lines or investing in transit is the effect on political careers.  Most infrastructure projects of these magnitudes take years to complete and are expensive to fund.  How can a politician get re-elected if they raise taxes or use other ‘revenue tools’ when the finished project may not be completed within a term?!  This paradigm needs to change and it needs to change quickly.  The people of the city have had enough with the talking points; they need to know what a candidate believes in and how it will be funded.

The decisions will be hard, their visions may lose votes but the purpose of city council is to be the conductor of the city.  If no one is willing to take the wheel, where does this leave us?

This raises the question, we do I stand on transit? 

I believe that the city is in dire need of transit expansion; this doesn’t just focus on my ward or neighbourhood, but all wards.  Toronto is a city in commuter chaos because many would rather drive and be stuck in traffic than spend time in a subway, bus, or a combination of both.  I believe in subways, when they are affordable and economical.  I support LRT’s and even BRT’s (Buses) that aren’t spoken of much in transit talk.  I know that Toronto can’t fund the necessary changes itself, nor should it.

Toronto also needs to start thinking that transit is not a ‘city problem’ but rather a regional problem.  Expansion and integration with other cities will create a highly sophisticated system that should rival those from other World Class cities.  This was the purpose of Metrolinx that has set a foundation for a regional transit plan, without the necessary funding to see it through.  Toronto will need support from both the Federal and Provincial governments to ease congestion, connect the city together and improve the lives of all citizens. 

Over the next few weeks and months I will be outlining what I believe Ward 3 needs for transit and also how it can be funded.  Check back to see my thoughts and ideas on moving forward with positive transit change for Etobicoke.  Any improvement for transit is a benefit for everyone and should be the top priority for any Councillor or Mayor in the next term.

Let me know what your thoughts or concerns are with transit. Please leave a comment and I will respond as quickly as I can.

Thank you,

Peter Fenech
Your Ward 3 Councillor Candidate

Posted on March 20, 2014 .