Sign of the apocalypse #49,273: the Toronto Star, National Post and Spacing all agree on something—subways
We’re not going to go so far as to call it an “editorial consensus,” but with the debate over subways that Toronto’s been having for at least a year (more like decades, when you think about it), it’s interesting that two of the city’s dailies and one prominent magazine’s blog all have pieces today that deal with the fact that, with few exceptions, even when Toronto builds subways (yay!) we do it terribly (boo!).
We particularly enjoyed the National Post running Stephen Wickens’ attack on “architectural wankfests”:
While we blow $857-million on stations for the $2.6-billion Spadina-York extension, many seemingly intelligent Torontonians debate the relative costs of LRTs and subways and puzzle about how some places on this planet make real rapid transit affordable and effective — even profitable on occasion.
Subways can pay for themselves in truly urban settings. We proved that a half-century ago along Yonge and Bloor streets and University and Danforth avenues. Present-day Hong Kong has turned subway building into a profitable business for all concerned.
The key is building density around stations themselves, something that’s difficult to do even when there are pro-transit councillors at city hall. Adam Vaughan is quoted today in the Globe and Mail as saying a proposed condo at King and Spadina—a short streetcar ride from St. Andrew subway station—is “a bit too tall.” We’re not saying Vaughan’s wrong in this case (that’s a different argument), but if transit-loving councillors sometimes get squeamish about towers, the suburban transit skeptics in council are often downright hostile.
So what’s the solution? According to former Toronto chief planner Paul Bedford in the Star, the city needs to commit to building clusters of density around subway stations both present (the Sheppard line) and future (the Spadina expansion). One way to do it was suggested at the GTA Summit, where Spacing’s Dylan Reid reports that Hazel McCallion suggested Metrolinx be given power to regulate development in the GTA. She also lamented the fact that Toronto’s leaders, both past and present, haven’t done a great job of cooperating with GTA neighbours.
There are some good ideas here, but the political reality is that saying subways need density sounds a lot like telling the suburbs they need to be more like Yonge and Bloor. Hopefully someone can think of a better sales pitch than that.
• Ford’s critical 100-year decisions [Toronto Star]
• GTA Summit transportation notes: Radical McCallion, “Toronto’s Mohawk” and more [Spacing]
• Urban Scrawl: Steeles subway — ‘architectural wankfests’ a failure to plan [National Post]
4 thoughts on “Sign of the apocalypse #49,273: the Toronto Star, National Post and Spacing all agree on something—subways”
Or maybe the suburbs should be more like Yonge and Bloor.
Giving metrolinx more power will make public transit better for everyone in the GTHA. Going further than the point raised by Hazel, building public transit that is appropriate for existing and future population is the financially sound and practical way to move forward. This will include buses, LRT and subways.
good article, but Im not sure what the point is. are you pro subways, or do you think the city does not have the density to support them? and I dont think TOD is a ‘sales pitch’ for subways. it’s the reality.
The truth is, to make subways profitable, there needs to be very high density. We need more 39 storey condos, and the NIMBYs who want subways but dont want shadows in their back yards, need to become more educated before they start their bickering.
Hazel is right.
Public transit, especially subways make more sense when they can reach beyond Toronto’s limits and get into York region, Mississauga and Durham region. You suddenly tap into a huge population of people who would otherwise be driving or taking the GO into Toronto.
It’s about the GTA, not just Toronto any more.
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