New poll shows Torontonians’ hate of LRTs has been greatly exaggerated

New poll shows Torontonians’ hate of LRTs has been greatly exaggerated

Bombardier’s design for Toronto’s new LRT vehicles (Image: Bombardier) 

Since election day, the debate over transit in Toronto has been reduced to a logical fallacy: people voted for Rob Ford. Ford likes subways. Therefore, people who voted for Ford like subways. Like most fallacies, it sounds right until some evidence comes along to overturn it. A poll might not be “evidence” in the strictest sense of the word, but a new Web panel from Leger Marketing suggests that Toronto’s hatred of Transit City was never quite what the mayor thought it was. The top line question—“subways versus LRTs”—shows the transit modes roughly equal, but when people are quizzed a bit more thoroughly, their answers are surprising. Details from the poll [PDF] after the jump.

Of those polled:

  • Only 15 per cent think all LRT lines should be scrapped and subways should be built instead.
  • 89 per cent agree with the statement “smart transit planning is done for the long term and should not be changed every time a new government is elected.”
  • 65 per cent agree that Transit City was “an effective step forward.” 18 per cent disagreed.
  • While broadly pro-LRT statements are supported 2:1 or even 3:1, building subways because they’re less disruptive, “even if it costs more and takes longer,” is only supported 55:41.

We spoke with Dave Scholtz, the VP of Leger Marketing, about his thoughts on this poll, which Leger conducted without being commissioned. “The reason we did this poll was because there was so much talk [during the election] of subways, streetcars and LRT. We wanted to see where Ford’s supporters are coming from, where his opponents are coming from.”

“One of the big surprises for me was the emphasis on long-term planning,” says Scholtz. “Two thirds of people say they want to save money, but the question for them is how we save money.”

Now, there are some obvious objections to the relevance of a poll like this—namely, who cares? By this point, the TTC and Metrolinx are busy dotting the Is and crossing the Ts on their revisions that are due, last we checked, in “late January.” Still, it does illuminate what we always suspected: that people who voted for Rob Ford wanted many things, and they can’t be summed up with a bumper sticker.

• Press release:Torontonians want light-rail alongside subways: Poll [CNW]
• The Future of Transit in Toronto (PDF) [Leger Marketing]
• Leger Marketing