Have we “transited ourselves to death,” as one journalist has put it?
The city’s obsession with the transit file over the past several years — taking us through grand transit plans, scaled-down transit plans, funded and unfunded transit plans, pie-in-the-sky transit plans, and repeatedly cancelled and resurrected transit plans — has left many residents thoroughly sick of the debate. You can see their eyes glaze over with any mention of the T word in a political context. More political palaver and nothing to show for it, they’re thinking.
Even those few partial plans that have started work are scheduled not to be completed in this decade. What’s the point of this endless and largely fruitless discussion?
Yet, we desperately need a new system to move us around our ever-growing city effectively, inexpensively and without harming
our urban environment as road traffic does.
So we have to continue the debate.
Candidates for council, especially mayoral candidates, must continue to address the issue — and, for the most part, they have.
Not all platforms are equal though. Most that we’ve heard so far involve general statements to support one or two transit lines
or promises to reverse decisions to build certain services. Some of these proposals are certainly worth talking about.
But we also need more information from all the candidates about their over-all vision for transit in Toronto. Whatever you thought of mayor David Miller, his administration did produce a comprehensive plan for transit that no current candidate has come close to matching. Perhaps they are too aware that big plans become lightning rods for criticism and the safest vote-getting approach is to make piecemeal proclamations to serve portions of the electorate.
As responsible voters we have to press them for the larger vision, as well as examine the feasibility of their plans (how to pay for it).
Yes, it means more political palaver, more of that deadly transit talk. But it’s important. Because it won’t be the discussion of transit that kills Toronto, but the lack of transit if we never resolve the issue.