Wednesday, September 8, 2010

X marks the spot

I'm a little terrified about the upcoming municipal election here in Toronto because of Rob Ford.  It not only horrifies me that he is the frontrunner but that my vote will not go towards the person I think is best for mayor but towards the person I think has the best chance of beating Rob Ford.  (It also seems, more and more, that that's how politics at all levels are going: vote for the person most likely to beat the person you hate most.  Viva democracy, or something like that.)

Today in the paper, I read that Rob Ford wants to scrap streetcars in favour of more subways and, on some routes, replace streetcars with buses.  I already know that the man is an idiot, but this is just beyond stupid.  The cost of building subways is astronomical compared to other options for transit.  Streetcars hold more passengers than buses, so it makes no sense to replace streetcars with buses.  He wants to spend $3 billion to extend the Sheppard subway line; it's already underused, so how can one justify that much money on it? 

The beau and I were discussing transit last Friday night and we both think that streetcars are the way to go to connect the city.  Yes, in a perfect world, there would be subway tunnels that actually connected the city, but they are costly in both time and money.  Streetcar tracks aren't the easiest thing to put in, but they must go faster and cost less than a subway tunnel.  And streetcar stops consist of a pole with a sign stuck to it and (possibly) a shelter; subway stations are all kinds of work to build and the TTC can't maintain the ones they have now, so why give them more to ignore? 

The more I see about the candidates and their platforms, the more I realize that Rob Ford doesn't give a rat's ass about you unless you drive a car - one of his reasons for getting rid of streetcars is to relieve gridlock.  I don't understand how taking a dozen streetcars off the road relieves the gridlock caused by the hundreds of cars that wouldn't have to be Toronto streets if we had transit that actually went places.

Oh, and another thing about subways tunnels is that they can't go just anywhere, but streetcar tracks can more easily be built into existing roads.  (I make this statement with all my in-depth knowledge of urban planning and road construction and whatever kind of engineering this would encompass.)  So, again, explain to me why it makes sense to build more subway tunnels? 

Rob Ford is an idiot, but he terrifies me.  If he wins, with Stephen Harper still in power federally, I may just have to move to Antarctica.

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