After decades of inaction, the GTA finally has a regional transit plan — and now some Toronto mayoral candidates want to change it up. The “Big Move” features a mix of commuter rail, subway, light rail and rapid bus lines. It’s too modest and far from perfect, but the plan is a realistic compromise.
With the province short on funds, its planning agency Metrolinx is slowing implementation of the Big Move, which means Toronto’s transit deficit will take longer to close.
Various mayoral hopefuls say the plan has too many light rail lines and not enough subway tunnels. They have a point — underground trains are ideal, but these cost plenty. And in a period of belt-tightening, how smart is it to add to the cost of construction without proven financial resources?
By remaking the regional plan every time there is an election, we risk losing momentum. The focus should be on speeding up and adding to the Big Move, not stalling it.
If a new Toronto mayor shifts strongly towards subways, we all wait while new designs are drafted. No proposed lines would open during their four-year mandate as it takes longer to work underground.
And what about riders who take buses across the city? Even with one extra subway station opening every year starting in 2015, few bus commuters in 416 would see improvement for decades. Meanwhile, growing congestion adds to their journeys.
If you want the job of Toronto mayor, what do you offer hundreds of thousands of bus riders stuck in traffic over the next four years?
Transit users in North York, Scarborough and Etobicoke deserve faster and more reliable trips — in the near term. Ideally, we would see reserved bus or tram lanes along many arterials and subways wherever they can be justified. But for now we have a workable compromise called The Big Move. Let’s put it in place as fast as practically possible.