I've lived in Toronto for just over seven months now and I can't say I've followed or care much about local municipal politics. Or even provincial politics for that matter. But as a regular transit user, transit is one local issue I care about. That's why I was disappointed to read in Metro this morning (on the bus, of course) that the province is funding the York University subway extension.
I'm disappointed because this will almost certainly be at the expense of a much-needed replacement of the ageing, unreliable and soon to be obsolete RT service linking the subway at Kennedy Station out to Scarborough. There just isn't the money to do both.
Now I live (for the time being, hope to move downtown this summer) and work in Scarborough, so I obviously have my bias in this. But all the evidence I've seen, from rider surveys and projections to facts, favours replacing the Scarborough RT (an elevated service a la Vancouver's Skytrain) with an expansion of subway service to McCowan. More people use the RT then are projected to use the York U line, and were it not for the hassle of having to transfer from the subway to the RT many more would use the line as well. Also, the RT is rapidly nearing the end of its lifespan, so something will have to be done to replace it, and it is also notoriously unreliable in the winter. My understanding is that it was never intended to be permanent, and was chosen over regular subway service because it was cheaper in the short term and, of course, for politics. The cars were to be built in Ontario.
Which brings us, of course, to the reason why the York U line is being funded instead of the Scarborough line: Politics. As this article makes clear Dalton McGuinty wants to pick-up and hold seats in the 905 belt/York Region. I guess he feels his Scarborough seats are safe.
Playing politics with transit makes for bad policy. To throw in the requisite B.C. content, just remember Glen Clark's decision to fund the Millennium Line Skytrain expansion through his riding, instead of building service out to UBC. Last time I rode that route I often has a car to myself.
Ah, well. At least I have that transit tax credit to look forward too, right Stephen?
Cash for new subway?
Province set to unveil funding for York U link
York University subway line is expected in the March 23 provincial budget, the Toronto Star has learned.
Sources say Finance Minister Dwight Duncan will use his first budget to announce the $1.5 billion, 6.2-kilometre extension of the Toronto Transit Commission’s Spadina line from Downsview station to York’s Keele campus.