November 14th Forum – Rapid Transit in Toronto

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submitted by Bridget Hough

Our speaker, George Davies has been involved in transportation for many years, several as Ontario’s Deputy Minister of Transportation in the 1990s.

First he disabused us of the idea (held by many) that politicians have no business in the planning of transportation, by pointing out that without financing, political will and public acceptance, nothing would get planned or built. He also pointed out (citing the building of Hwy 407) that projects managed by private business have a much better record of delivering on time and without cost overruns than do quasi-government bodies such as the TTC.

The pressure for vastly improving transit across the greater Toronto and Hamilton region is enormous. The area receives 110,000 new people per year and congestion costs us $10 billion per year.

The purpose of transit is to move more people and goods as quickly as possible so as to grow the economy and with respect for the environment. There is no question rapid transit is more efficient than cars, and there is no room for more highways.

A managed approach is needed to aim for more compact urban form. Transit hubs encourage concentration of development around them. That is not happening around the Spadina / Yorkdale line to the extent it has around the Yonge and Bloor lines, because it is sequestered in the middle of the Allen. He viewed this as a mistake in planning.

Transit planning should be integrated with land-use planning. He feels Metrolinx’ Big Move plan is going in the right direction – it plans for 1200 km of new rapid transit coordinating with Go Rural Express Rail for the entire Toronto-Hamilton-Oshawa-Barrie region.

He demonstrated how the now-certain Relief Line will relieve congestion on the central Yonge / University line, allowing it to cope with new development along the corridor.

His recommendations:
1. Toronto’s official plan and the Province’s Places to Grow should be integrated
2. Intensify development around all subway system
3. Downsview Federal lands should be released to Provincial control to get more development (housing and jobs)
4. Extend the Sheppard Line from the Humber River to Scarborough Town Centre.
5. Extend the Relief line to both Sheppard and Liberty Village.
6. System improvements needed – subway bypasses, electronic control, platform doors, improve the dangerous Bloor station.

audience 2
audience 3
George Davies