We cannot hope to reasonably make transit work in terms of serving most people, or relieving congestion using only Toronto’s 3 current modes (subway, mixed traffic streetcar/bus, commuter rail). We need to get past the politics surrounding mode selection. We need to focus instead on the questions of trip time and service.
We have spent far too much time focused on what mode, not enough on service. Service is we really want, and we need to think in terms of trip time, and wait times. Subway in Toronto, is no faster than LRT in Calgary. Being in median does not mean you would always (or ever) have to stop at lights. The LRT in Calgary runs in the median is some areas, and the lights change for it, it does not spend time stopped at the lights. The outer areas of the bus-way in Ottawa are or were faster than subway in Toronto. When I lived in Ottawa shortly after that bus-way was completed, I could get to the core on a bus that traveled faster and had better service, than I had experienced on the Toronto Subway. It traveled in the outer areas in a dedicated roadway, where there was no other traffic, so the buses flew from station to station.
Most of the people who refuse to even consider the LRT in Scarborough, would eagerly ride an Ottawa style BRT if they enjoyed the type of service I experienced from Hurdman station in the late 1980s. That service made the subway they want, seem painfully slow.
Toronto has not developed with the density to allow for a very high capacity network to spread across a large percentage of the city. Building enough subway would be impossibly expensive to build, and prohibitive to operate. The old solution was merely to use bus to subway, and leave it at that. The bus routes are now so long and the roads so full, that they very busy. Those buses now are stuck in traffic and that makes service much less attractive, and more expensive to operate.
Many would get a perverse pleasure from cruising past traffic on a bus or streetcar (provide there was enough space to be comfortable). Most people want subway, because, they hate being stuck in traffic.
Design a signal priority scheme & system properly, and dedicate a right of way, and the transit vehicle need only stop when it has passengers to drop or pick-up. What Toronto really needs is a better transit priority control system, and rights of way where the transit vehicles can be out of or move past traffic.