Greater Toronto – You really need to get serious about transit and planning.

One of the great frustrations for me right now, is the Scarborough subway debate.  The Scarborough Town Centre (STC) was built to be away from subway and on the highway network, as a decision when it was first built.  It was also built in order to make the car the primary means of access (hence the massive parking lots). The then city of Scarborough reduced the zoning density around Kennedy as a matter of policy, and now we are going to build subway to the STC.

I mention this, not because I believe that the Scarborough debate is a particularly bad situation, but because it is far too typical of the debate surrounding transit in Toronto.  Subway as the go to solution, where there is a clear need to get many more riders onto transit, and that means better rides, and more access across an area that we simply cannot afford to build subway.  Advocating for subway as a wider solution is essentially saying that we can afford to build it and operate a massive amount of it.  Toronto, was simply not built that way, and we need to start to deal with the needs in a context of what has already been done. If people are going to be attracted to transit, it needs to be faster than a bus stuck in traffic, but that does not mean subway everywhere.

The vast majority of access will need to remain basic bus, with a large amount of BRT and LRT added in areas where they can in fact be built.  Where there is a corridor that can act as a closed express corridor, there is the option for higher speed more direct transit.  These need to be part of a set of building blocks that reach across the region.

Toronto, needs to start supporting a serious increase in density, and much better access to transit, but subway should only be added at the point where there is a very real capacity requirement (ie something to relieve Yonge).  Otherwise, Toronto, needs to build a transit network that matches the density that it has, and is likely to have in the next couple of decades.

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One thought on “Greater Toronto – You really need to get serious about transit and planning.

  1. hamish wilson

    The planning overall is pretty sad to carrupt. Absolutely we need to spend money, but not waste the billions as per the subway extensions, and yet the EA is any type of transit as long as it’s a subway here. Being a downtown core person, I’m far less qualified to comment and instigate etc. about Scarborough yet the outside view of looking down on it from a map has led me to propose using the Gatineau Hydro corridor for a busway, the idea being put forward to all sorts of politicians etc. last summer, but with scant uptake. Of course it needs formal review and kicking around, but this very wide corridor slices through all of Scarborough on the shortcut diagonal that also reflects the squeeze of the shoreline on the grid. A busway would not be too expensive, though some tunnelling required at Rail tracks and likely elsewhere, and buses could adapt themselves to on-street large sites of destination/origin like the Hospital, Centennial, UTScarborough and the Zoo. Phase 1 is the easier one starting c. Vic Park/Eglinton and then going to the NE. Phase 2 into the core via Thorncliffe is far more complex – but it could start functioning as a mini-DRL far far sooner and waaaay cheaper, and actually it would begin to address the real issues of overload at Bloor/Yonge possibly.

    So yes, the key to leapfrogging over our very significant transport problems is to assess the utility of these corridors for transit-only and dream of new routes that advantage transit and the Gatineau is prime, owned by the province already so in theory it should be accessible and save us $$$. I’d be happy to share images and routes etc., but glad you’ve commented on Munro’s site about this corridor, so I’m not the only crazy one. And given how we tend not to do transit here in Caronto, odds may be high this idea was first floated thirty or 40 years ago maybe right??

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