So here I am having gotten work out of the way, done laundry, cooked dinner, looking forward to a pleasant evening of photoshopping city councillors and watching horror movies, when someone on Twitter linked Matt Gurney’s analysis of the whole transit thing that just went down and I had to read it and I don’t normally do the fisking thing but it’s so profoundly out of touch with reality I just need to sit down and bang out a post on how wrong he is about nearly everything here, paragraph by paragraph.
tl:dr; LOL WUT STFU NOOB
The Ford Plan, as it’s been dubbed, involved building a light-rail line entirely underground [blah blah]…It’s a plan with a lot of merit, but was hotly contested by a faction of council that preferred building a greater number of light-rail lines into more Toronto neighbourhoods.
Reality: This light rail plan, Transit City, was introduced under Miller and was about to get going when Ford got elected and unilaterally decided to cancel it in favour of his own plan. The problem is that the province had already agreed to pay for Transit City, whereas Ford’s plan was a little more…ephemeral. Fast forward to now, when the guys doing the Eglinton crosstown line, Metrolinx, are like, “We’re super confused about what we’re supposed to be doing, can City Council clear this up?” [PDF] So the TTC chair, Councillor Karen Stintz, called a special meeting and put forward a motion that was basically “Okay, guys, let’s do Transit City.”
LRTs aren’t as good as subways
Subways are faster and bigger, yes, but they’re also hella expensive, so they’re only worth building in much denser areas. So in this case, for the densities we’re talking about (and that includes projected future growth), light rail would actually be better. For the numbers and a good explanation of the differences between the transit modes, see the Pembina report.
Mayor Ford, a sworn enemy of any transit plan that removes lanes from roads
Um yeah, so that funding already included the costs of widening roads so they wouldn’t lose lanes. Was that good enough for Ford? HELL NO, he doesn’t even want to see the LRVs.
[Ford’s plan was] expensive, but Ford won a victory when he was able to convince the government of Ontario to pick up the entire tab — better than eight-billion bucks.
Well, no. He basically pinky-swore with the Premier. Their agreement was non-binding, which means Council had to approve it first [PDF].
It’s entirely possible that Ontario might agree to allow Toronto to take that $8-billion and use some of it — the portion saved by not burying part of the Eglinton line — on other transit projects
This was the point where I was like, “He doesn’t even go here!”
What actually happened:
Dalton McGuinty: I’ll give you guys $8 billion for this Transit City you planned.
Rob Ford: DISREGARD THAT, SUBWAYS SUBWAYS SUBWAYS
Dalton McGuinty: Um, if Council’s cool with that, I guess.
Council: Nah, the Mayor’s plan blows, let’s do Transit City.
Dalton McGuinty: Sure, whatever. It’s a deal.
Gordon Chong, a former city councillor that Ford hired to prepare a plan showing how the Mayor’s plan was fiscally feasible, spent a year doing exactly that, and determined that it was, indeed, a workable plan. But some new parking fees and road tolls were going to be necessary.
In reality Chong’s report was an “unabashedly political” piece of work that relied on suspiciously low estimates, optimistic projections, and funding sources more wishful than concrete. Subways are not really “workable” in this case because subways are fucking expensive. They’re so expensive that even with (really unpopular) parking fees and road tolls and whatnot the Sheppard subway would still be a billion dollars short.
Ford’s transit plan is arguably superior to the version endorsed by his opponents in council.
Ford’s plan 1) served like a tenth of the people Transit City would, 2) was horrifically inefficient (for one, LRTs are basically wasted underground), and 3) was prohibitively expensive. In fact, “plan” is kind of a strong word, considering that Ford’s creatively named “Transportation City” was basically just (misconceived) ideas with no means of funding them.
I am genuinely curious as to where Matt Gurney has been getting his information, because I suspect it’s that parallel universe where the St. Clair right-of-way is a dystopian warzone and Bombardier takes payment in Canadian Tire money.
Fuck the Post, I’m going to take a bubble bath.