Oh. My. Nerves. How much more can we take of the endless studies and debating about Toronto’s transit woes. I moved to the city in 1965 to begin work. Over the past fifty-or-so years I have watched our home town triple in size and the brilliant minds who oversee our city’s transit needs seem to be stuck in a time warp somewhere in the middle of the last century.
Anyone who has ever been to Paris, London, New York or any other major city in the world has experienced and understands that the best way to get around in large urban areas is by subway/métro/tube. Apparently none of our local politicians have ever traveled east of the Don Valley and have no conception of the miracle of subway networks that do not require passengers to keep switching from above-ground to below-ground modes of transportation. Paris and London recognized the necessity and value of an efficient subway system nearly one hundred years ago and built networks under their cities that allow citizens to get anywhere, any time. So far, John Tory has been a pleasant surprise as Mayor of Toronto. Where he disappoints is forcing us to wait while they undertake another study to support his personal transit scheme.
In the 1980’s I worked for EllisDon who built the Scarborough LRT above-ground rail line for Toronto Mayor Art Eggleton and his brilliant city council. Thanks to their lack of vision and short-sightedness this band-aid solution is now being torn down. I worry that the new diesel-powered train from the airport to Union Station now being unveiled is another big lumpy expensive band-aid.
The Canadian private sector has the capability to assemble the brains, the money and resources needed to get our transit system moving into the twenty-first century, albeit a bit late thanks to our politicians. The people in the Greater Toronto Area should have the capability of hopping on the subway anywhere in the GTA and getting wherever they want to go at a reasonable cost without experiencing traffic congestion, weather or transfer inconveniences. Whenever we’ve traveled in London and Paris, both cities offered us the convenience of getting on the subway at the airport and traveling to within a block of our downtown hotels. No taxis. No expensive changing of trains. No waiting at the curb in bad weather. No hassle.
Tourism brings in seven billion dollars annually in tourist revenue to the GTA with sixty-four percent of travelers arriving by air not car so they need convenient public transit. Their visits to Toronto create three hundred thousand jobs. Imagine the boost to our economy if these tourists and the people who work at the jobs that service them could get around our beautiful city as easily and conveniently as they do in London or Paris. What’s good for Toronto is good for the province and indeed the country. Everyone should chip in. After all, Toronto taxpayers subsidize farmers and businesses in remote communities through our provincial and federal taxes.
If anyone at Toronto Transit Commission, City Hall and Queen’s Park is listening, pull your collective fingers out, talk to the private sector about a Canadian-owned Public/Private Partnership (P3)and let’s get this show on the road, or more accurately off the road and under it. Enough studies already. Get some real brains involved and get moving before I die. Let’s not waste even more time forcing me to run for Mayor to get the job done.
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