Light-rail plan ambitious or timid? - Metro US

Light-rail plan ambitious or timid?

It has something for everyone to like, and dislike

Will Torontonians support the new Transit City plan, unveiled last week by the TTC and the City of Toronto?

The proposal calls for 120 kilometres of light-rail transit right across the city, and eventually beyond.

It’s not as if we haven’t seen mega-plans for transit before, usually focusing on subways.

Whether for political and financial reasons, one line tends to squeeze everything else off the map.

This Transit City plan, which includes several routes named by Mayor David Miller during the recent municipal election, focuses on seven corridors such as Jane Street, the Lakeshore, Don Mills, Sheppard and Finch Avenues.

Light rail lines, similar to the 510 Spadina route, would pass through areas of North York, Etobicoke and Scarborough that have no subway service but do have many crowded bus routes.

See for yourself at www.transitcity.ca.

Pegged at $6 billion over 15 years, the new lines are projected to attract 175 million extra riders a year to the TTC — a system that now carries around 440 million yearly.

That’s a steep amount of cash, although the scheme would cost several times more if subways were built instead.

Even so, some light rail tracks would have to be underground including a good portion of the “Eglinton Crosstown” route, set to run from Kennedy subway station in Scarborough all the way to Mississauga, perhaps linking to that city’s transit system as well as Pearson Airport.

There’s something for everyone to like in this plan, and something to dislike too.

Some will find the price tag too ambitious, saying that senior governments will never forward their share.

Others may find the scheme too timid, feeling that Toronto deserves subway lines and shouldn’t settle for anything less.

One could also suggest that this metropolis doesn’t have the confidence to make such a comprehensive network happen, and could get bogged down in criticizing certain parts. Or that various local groups will fight until the entire plan collapses.

It’s true that Toronto would need a shift in culture to embrace this vision, to focus on the whole even as we compromise on the more contentious issues.

And yet, there is enough in Transit City to inspire people across the region — not just those whose phone numbers start with 416.

So let’s see where inspiration takes us, looking at this plan closely, but constructively.

How might it change our metropolis? Does it serve more needs than just transport? It’s time for a wide-ranging discussion, both at the neighbourhood level and as a greater region.


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