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Ford: More subways, more buses, no streetcars

Councillor Rob Ford yesterday released his transportation plan — an important plank in the platform of his campaign to be the next mayor of Toronto.

According to the Ford plan,

“…the province estimates congestion costs the GTA some $2.2 billion each year. Commuting times increase every year, making it harder for Toronto residents to get to work and leaving them less time with their families. Gridlock is bad for people, families, our economy and our environment.

“For seven years, City Hall has tackled Gridlock [sic] by declaring war on cars in Toronto. Toronto has eliminated lanes from busy roadways, increased parking charges, ignored roadway repairs and generally made life miserable for drivers.

“At the same time, the City has paid little more than lip service to transportation alternatives. Toronto has taken an irrational approach to bike lanes - fuelling an emerging and wholly unnecessary battle between cyclists and motorists.

“Rather than invest in subways, Toronto has instead decided to build streetcar lines down the middle of major arterial roads. This will do nothing to reduce gridlock or provide faster, better public transit options for Torontonians who need better connections to good paying jobs across the city.

“It’s time to end the war on cars. Toronto’s approach to penalizing drivers has not gotten people out of their cars - it’s just gotten them and their cars out of the city. It’s time to prevent a war between drivers and cyclists. And, it’s time to stop the looming Transit City disaster. It’s time for responsible government to implement a sensible transportation plan that reflects the needs of transit users, motorists, commercial vehicle operators, cyclists and pedestrians.”

Although the plan proposes off-street pedestrian and bicycle paths and ways to improve arterial roads in the City, its keystone is public transit.

Ford tells Toronto,

“Streetcars are not the answer to Toronto’s transit needs. To attract drivers into transit, it must be comfortable, convenient, affordable, reliable and rapid. Streetcars are none of these things. Streetcars are slow (average speed: 17km/h) and take hours to travel across town. This limits your ability to live in one part of the city and work in another. Streetcar construction destroys streets and interrupts businesses. Streetcar lines down the centre of arterial roads increase gridlock and create pollution.”

Instead, the plan says, “subways make sense”.

“Subways are more reliable, carry ten times as many people as streetcars, move faster and can be scheduled at convenient times. Properly managed, they can also provide an affordable transportation choice for people and families in Toronto.”

Specifically, the plan recommends:

  • building the “Sheppard Avenue Line” as a subway line to the Scarborough Town Centre. This will include 12 kilometres of new track and as many as ten stations between Downsview and Scarborough Centre. (The new stations: Faywood, Bathurst North, Senlac, Willowdale, Consumers, Victoria Park North, Warden North, Kennedy North, Agincourt and Progress.) (A map in the plan places Willowdale east — instead of west — of Bayview Station.) Total cost: $3 billion.
  • extending the Bloor - Danforth Subway to the Scarborough Town Centre by operating subways along the Scarborough RT right-of-way. Total cost: $1 billion.
  • using clean buses where the City can’t afford subways. The plan says, “Combining Express and Collector buses will improve transit service along major arterials. Zero net cost. Cost to purchase and operate new buses will be offset by savings from reduced purchase of streetcars, sale of existing streetcars and reduced streetcar system maintenance.” (The italics appear in the text of the plan.)
  • improving traffic flow downtown by removing “some” streetcars. The same clean buses will replace the streetcars, again at zero cost. The plan again proposes offsetting the cost of buying the buses by reducing the current contract to buy new streetcars — and selling whatever new ones we have to accept without the supplier penalizing the City for canceling its contract.
  • introducing Smart Card technology for paying fares. This also will cost nothing, because, the plan says, the TTC has already included it in its budget.

Ford intends to complete all this work by 2015. He’ll pay for this $4 billion plan by using the $3.7 billion from the Province of Ontario funds for phase 1 of Transit City, and raise a further $300 million by selling development rights along subway corridors. (The plan is silent about the fact that some of that $3.7 billion isn’t for Transit City at all — it’s for the viva bus rapid transit system in York Region.)

The plan offers nothing new for a large northwestern part of the City, including northern Etobicoke — the area that Ford has represented on City Council for many years — and downtown Toronto, other than providing new buses and replacing the streetcars.

Read what Steve Munro has to say about the Ford plan here.

Read Rob Ford’s transportation plan here. (.pdf)

View a video of Rob Ford presenting his plan: .

You can also read:

And, from the Transit Toronto archives, read our posts about other candidates’ transit plans:

  • Giorigio Mammoliti ,who has now withdrawn from the race, here;
  • Rocco Rossi here and here;
  • George Smitherman here and here; and
  • Sarah Thomson here.

(We haven’t posted — yet — about Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone’s transportation plan.)

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