Is Sarah Thomson’s vision too bold?

April 9, 2010

You can say this for sure about Toronto mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson.

It took guts for the Women’s Post publisher to propose a $5 road toll for the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway to help pay for a major expansion of Toronto’s subway system.

Too often I’ve complained that what we need is a bold vision. People should just go ahead with subway expansion if we want to make Toronto a great city. From London to Paris to Mexico City and New York, the one common thread is a great subway system.

But here are some problems that I see with her vision.

We don’t have tolls in Canada, not that should be a deterrent, but you never what the public reaction to that would be.

But in some ways, this proposed road tolls have to be done regionally, across the GTA. If one tolls only the Gardiner and DVP, you disproportionately tax Toronto drivers and those coming into the city daily from, such as Mississauga/Hamilton/Oshawa to help pay for public transit. And one could argue, why should those in the GTA pay for a transit system that wouldn’t benefit them?

Also to note, drivers coming into Toronto daily from say Richmond Hill would continue to do so for free on Highway 400. Where is the fairness in that?

Everyone loves subways in Toronto. Why take the streetcar or bus when you can rely on a subway? Denis Lanoue from Save our Sheppard wants to see an extension of the Sheppard subway line, not the city’s current proposal of LRT. But subway are the most expensive form of public transit and take the longest to build.

At the end of the day, everyone needs to see real improvements in Toronto’s public transit before road tolls will be politically feasible. Sarah Thomson, though she has a great idea, should consider the ramifications of her political platform.

TTC=Taking Taxpayer’s Change

April 8, 2010

With the TTC system receiving widespread criticism and public dissatisfaction, the move to expand the city’s light transit routes (LTR) are seen as merely a band-aid solution. Royson James, a city columnist for the Toronto Star, has called a streetcar network “second best.” According to Denis Laroue ,his claims are true. Lanoue is president 0f Save our Sheppard, a resident’s association in north Scarborough rallying against Metrolinx’s Transit City initiative.

Lanoue suggests that constructing a street-car lane along Sheppard Ave. will create traffic chaos. Firstly, the two middle lanes, one travelling east and the other travelling west, will be reserved for the street-car. This is in itself causes a major problem: cars that wish to make a left turn into commercial plazas will not be able because the streetcar lane will be blocking the path. Secondly, Sheppard Ave. will be reduced to two lanes effectively increasing traffic congestion. Adding to the list of problems, much of the vegetation along Sheppard Ave. will be destroyed to allow for the road renovation.

Save our Sheppard is strongly against this plan.

Instead, Lanoue claims that extending the existing Sheppard subway line into scarborough and connecting it to the existing Bloor line would alleviate many traffic problems.

Denis Lanoue's vision of the Sheppard subway line extension

We took a ride with Denis to see first-hand the kind of problems a street car along Sheppard could potentially create.

We also asked Denis, of the current mayoral candidates, who is the most transit friendly?

Sarah Thomson, in Lanoue’s eyes seems like the most preferable mayoral candidate in terms of improving the TTC. She suggests that introducing a $5 road toll on the Gardiner, similar to the 407 (ETR), would not only alleviate some of the traffic congestion, but it would also create revenue that could be used to improve the TTC system further.

What about regular TTC users? How do they feel about a highway toll on a widely used and originally free-of-charge highway?

Thomson's proposed TTC subway map

More videos with Denis Lanoue:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJWIj9Ec6VM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRE2w-6COn4

To hear the full interview with Denis Lanoue, follow the links below:

http://www.archive.org/details/DenisTalksAboutTtcIncompetence

http://www.archive.org/details/DenisLanoueTtcExpansion

To hear the full interview with Sarah Thomson follow the links below:

http://www.archive.org/details/SarahThomsonsVision

http://www.archive.org/details/ThomsonOnTraffic

Mayoral Candidate Rob Ford press rally

http://www.archive.org/details/RobFordPressRally

Mayoral Candidate Rob Ford

The infamous TTC driver’s coffee break

http://www.680news.com/news/local/article/23657–ttc-driver-s-lengthy-break-captured-on-video

Check out articles from The Star for more on the TTC and Save Our Sheppard.

Royson James The Star city columnist

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/ttc/article/790624–james-streetcar-plan-takes-speed-out-of-rapid-transit

Catherine Porter The Star reporter on Save our Sheppard

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/767161–porter-save-our-sheppard-group-missing-the-point

The Star intern, Tamara Baluja, on Sarah Thomson

http://centennialondemand.com/multiplatform/?p=453

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April 8, 2010

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