OneCity proposal for the TTC, Toronto, Canada. Will this reduce congestion? I think not.
Admiration is what I feel about Karen Stinz, Glen De Baeremaeker, two City of Toronto councilors, and their OneCity TTC proposal. While I might not agree with their complete plan, they have collectively invested time and effort into making commuting in Toronto better, and have a financial plan to pay for it. This is a damn sight better than Rob Ford, who shouted for subways but had no hope in hell of getting there.
That is not to say that the OneCity plan is viable nor reasonable, as much more study needs to be done. Straight off the top OneCity requires that the city, Province of Ontario and the Federal government split the total cost equally. This has simply not happened in the past, especially from the Federal government. Even if OneCity bites the dust, this proposed funding formula can still be used on a smaller plan, or even to fund ongoing maintenance costs, which the TTC still struggles.
My issue is that more transit might not reduce congestion on our roads. I do not believe there is a direct correlation between more transit and less cars on the road. There is a car culture to change before less congestion will occur. OneCity and even Transit City misses this point. Politicians and Toronto residents need to be brave and commit to user fees for cars: road tolls and parking taxes. Simply put, those who drive personal vehicles should pay more. It is astounding that the vast majority of cars commuting in Toronto transport only the driver. We in Toronto are very backward this way, and very stubborn. Exempt those that car pool, those that use motorcycles and scooters, those that ride their bicycles, those that take buses, for they take up much less space than the single car driver. Without this “stick”, Toronto drivers will never change. I have known people who simply state that they have never taken public transit and are proud of it. A social shift is required, and OneCity and Transit City does not address this crucial issue. There is still no financial incentive for car drivers to eschew their vehicles and take public transit.
As a proponent and user of public transit, any discussion about public transit is welcome and beneficial. Outstanding for me is that the OnceCity plan seems to not have a North-south relief line east of Yonge and west of Scarborough Town Centre. There are a lot of people that live in this area, and I am one of them. There is the “Scarborough Express Line”, a “TTC inrail corridor” but I have no explanation as to what this means for public transit.
My issue is that the Scarborough LRT will more conveniently funnel commuters from the east onto the Yonge subway line, a line that is nearing capacity. Transit riders often have to wait for multiple trains before they are afforded the chance to squish themselves into a car, Asian-style. This line needs relief.
One issue that OneCity does not address is the need to share the costs with other local municipalities. Toronto has huge numbers of commuters from Markham, York, Mississauga and Oakville, who would not share the financial burden of this TTC upgrade, but would benefit from better transit. Toronto cannot afford to pay the bill on our own. Planning and funding needs to go through Metrolinx, the Ontario-wide organization. Transit City already uses this formula, and I believe that without this cohesive planning throughout the GTA region, any public transit plan will fall far short, especially for financial planning and funding.
OneCity is an interesting discussion point that we should dig into. It is preliminary and this is Ok. Where we go from here is uncertain.
OneCity proposal graphic from the Toronto Star, a little blurry
OneCity proposal, Toronto, Canada, nice map from the Globe and Mail
Addendum June 29 2012: More information about the Scarborough Express Line has been published. It is a standard Go Train line that could be used as yet another way for people from Markham and Scarborough to get down to Union Station. This line, currently used by Go, makes the commute from Scarborough to downtown in about 10 minutes. This would make a huge difference in commuting time.
The Scarborough Express: TTC vice-chair Glenn De Baeremaeker, one of the creators of the OneCity plan, acknowledges that the proposal to twin the Stouffville GO track owes something to Markham Councillor Jim Jones, who suggested it as an alternative to downtown relief subway line. Working so closely with Go Transit would be a first for the TTC and would need involvement from Metrolinx.
Jones says his concept has 27 stops. But he believes the trip could run 50 minutes end to end if the line were electric. It could carry 150,000 riders a day, compared with the GO train system that carries 180,000 riders now.
“Both Toronto and Markham are responsible for the health of our communities. For people who live up and down this line, it would be a no-brainer to take transit,” said Jones.
It would wind its way down from York Region, intersecting with important corridors such as Sheppard and Danforth before arriving at Union Station.
That’s a problem, says consultant Ed Levy, because it puts more stress on Union Station, which will run out of capacity even with the current expansion.