What is wrong with me, I agree with Rob Ford. Toronto needs subways.
Now before you go all crazy think about this. We should be building for 2050, not 2015. I know it seems like a long time from now but in reality it isn’t. It is our grandchildren’s time and personally I hope to be alive to see it.
The goal to get subways isn’t to get cars off the road. (Rob was very wrong on that one) That is going to happen anyway as the cost of ownership and gasoline climb. The goal of subways is to move as many people as possible efficiently. Subways are more efficient than street-cars; but the inverse problem is true too. Without riders, they’re more wasteful.
People are against subways because they are so costly, especially when they don’t know where the money is coming from. They know the current subways are not fully utilized, for example the Sheppard Subway. Sheppard wastes 7 million dollars a year. The issue isn’t the cost, it’s the lack of riders. If it was fully utilized then no one would be complaining. So, how do you increase ridership?
First, you change zoning. All along Sheppard avenue should be rezoned as high density housing. They are condos there now, around the Ikea, but when the subway was finished years before there was nothing. Development was finish and people can start moving in but it has been awhile. By changing the zoning, not only will there be more riders, but more tax revenue. I own a condo and a house and pay similar taxes on both. The same plot of land under my condo condo generates taxes dollars from me, my neighbours and the hundred of other units in the building. The land under my house only generates taxes from me.
Developers should be encouraged to build 20,30 40 story buildings. That can lead to gentrification like in the Liberty village area, but that can be offset with bylaws stating the amount of green and commercial space required. People are going to have to start living closer to were they work and start use public transit. By rezoning to high density we will be building subways to where the people are, not building the subway and hoping people will come.
Rob Ford’s problem is his brother and others who give him advice. You cannot bully people into doing what you want and now that the council has shown they can and will stand together you have to convince. If Rob had shown that the subways could be paid for by tolls on the DVP and 401, a modest increase in property tax and a vehicle registration tax people might have gone for it. If he had shown thought leadership and done his homework as opposed to yelling about how “they don’t want these damn streetcars.” He might have gotten his way. Subways are more efficient, and in the long run the better choice it was just poorly articulated.
As it stands I will continue to ride my bike to work. I live close enough that the commute is easy. But if I couldn’t ride I would take the subway over any other transit option including owning a car. While I rarely agree with the Mayor I think he with this one. Toronto needs subways. It’s just a shame he was unable to articulate it.