Local experts blast Rob Ford’s transit plan, turning his government-as-business rhetoric against him

Local experts blast Rob Ford’s transit plan, turning his government-as-business rhetoric against him

(Image: Christopher Drost)

Just in case the mayor is feeling a little too confident after city hall’s victory over CUPE 416 in the recent labour negotiations, a group of over 100 planning experts, academics and other civic leaders issued a letter denouncing the current state of transit planning in the city. The letter challenges Rob Ford’s steadfast commitment to burying the Eglinton LRT and calls for it to be built partially above ground, as well as for a form of “higher-order” transit on Finch West and Sheppard East and the conversion of the Scarborough RT line to light rail.

An excerpt from the letter (courtesy of Torontoist):

Transit is the life-blood of our city. After several false starts and radical shifts in direction that have disastrously impeded progress, recent events have put the ball squarely back in your court. This is a defining moment for our city and we urge you to consider the following in your deliberations.

With up to 1.7 million riders per weekday the City could not function without an efficient, comprehensive transit system. Transit is as important to car users as it is to transit riders, since without transit our already-congested road system would grind to a complete halt. Planning for desperately needed public transit expansion within the City of Toronto, however, is currently in a state of disarray and current plans will not provide cost-effective solutions to the City’s pressing transportation needs. As transportation researchers, professionals and concerned citizens, the undersigned urge City Council to adopt the following three-point plan for restoring the City to a practical, effective strategy for building the transportation system that the City’s citizens need and deserve. The time is now for Council to take the lead in building tomorrow’s Toronto.

What’s most interesting about the letter is how the signatories deftly turn the mayor’s own rhetoric around on him. For example, in case Ford or his allies want to paint the backlash against burying the Eglinton line as further evidence of the so-called War on the Car, the group issues a pre-emptive defence: that transit functions as a preventative measure against gridlock. Moreover, on the cost of tunnelling Eglinton underground, they take Ford to task with his own government-should-be-run-as-a-business logic. Quoth the letter: “No private sector firm would be so wasteful in its use of company resources.” Bam.

Planners, Urban Designers, Academics Call for Restoring Sense to Transit Planning [Torontoist]
Mayor Rob Ford’s transit plan under fire [Toronto Star]
Planning experts blast Ford’s Eglinton Crosstown strategy [Globe and Mail]