And Now We Move On…

No Doubt Last Two Weeks have been… Interesting… in the city we call home and its squarely been focused around Rob Ford, no denying that. Support him or Hate him, there is no question that it had been on the lips of everyone in the city and has the attention of the media internationally.

Even I have done an interview with the Globe & Mail regarding The Ford’s radio show.

And while this has all been riveting theater, I’ve said since Rob Ford’s response over a week ago…

The Media Needs To Move On…

The People are giving you a loud message… Put Up Or SHUT UP…

But I can’t criticize them about moving on if I don’t do the same, So with that being said… that right there is my last comment about the scandal until the accusers make a proper case against the Mayor.

So let me get back to some of my favourite people…

metrolinx

 

Under the cloak of all this hoopla, the good folks at Metrolinx released their vision for taxation or as they say in political spin Revenue Tools for Transportation.

Their recommendations were not all that surprising… Seeing as how I picked 2 out of the 4 bang on, and a 3rd was not hard to imagine as they could easily sell it the public as not a tax on the public but a business charge. Only surprising element was in the suggested gas tax, which I’m sure will either get reduced or killed all together when it comes up for debate in legislature.

And I don’t want to go down the road again about why I support some of the taxes that may need to be implemented, but I do want to talk about something I touched last time and shed some light on an issue that needs some serious thought down at 20 Bay St:

Trimming the Edges

2%…

2%…

2%…

2% is the amount of inefficiency, waste and restructuring that would need to be done by Queen’s Park to find the 2 billion dollars necessary to get a revenue stream that could pay for the Next Wave of the Metrolinx Big Move plan.

That’s E-Health, Ornge and The Gas Plants in one shot (or preventing them at least)!!!

That’s less than 20% of the salaries and bonuses of people on the Sunshine list…

That’s inline with the Inflation rate in Ontario Last year…

Or to put it back to brass taxes… just under $150.00 in cost to each Ontarian.

But they don’t want to tell you that…

They don’t want to tell you that they might cut some middle managers wages or positions, they don’t want to change the model for union (and non-union) pensions to come in line with the current retirement savings models used in the private sector. They prefer you to think that this is not an option, that its a fairy tale, that we can’t do it because we have other things to do.

They even have normally Conservative minded organizations like the Toronto Region Board of Trade and their VP, of Policy & Government Relations Richard Joy tell us last month:

My Concern is that we fall for the Gravy Trap… If you look at the savings suggested by the Drummond Report… just to rein in Deficits… you think that there will be money left for Transit, I DON’T THINK SO!!!

Well I guess that’s it, we should just pick up our tail, stick it directly between our legs and accept the fact that we can’t do 2 things at once.

That’s Right Ladies and Gentlemen, our government does not have the wherewithal to do 2 things at one time…

To reduce Waste and Inefficiency AND Invest in Transit, To Reduce our Deficit AND Keep Taxes Low!!!

and there are people who truly believe that we can’t do both, because they unabashedly say “if you don’t support taxes then you don’t support transit”… And that’s just how gov’t has wanted it, they want to condition us into believing that those 2 options are not independent, that some how government is incapable of doing more than one thing…

But there is a growing chorus that isn’t buying that horse anymore, they are  saying we expect better from our government, that they need show some restraint and fiscal prudence in spending while still making the commitments to building this province

I think Metrolinx CEO Bruce McCuaig and the rest of his staff get that, they understand that people are weary of the constant mismanagement in this province. They understand that people don’t want to see the money that is suppose to be dedicated to transit, being used in the general fund like so many previous taxes. They understand that we want a responsible, dedicated and efficient government, as he alluded to that when I asked him about Accountability to the people:

Accountability and Transparency is one of our priorities going forward… no matter how we pay for this expansion we will need to do it in a transparent and accountable process that is proactive in monitoring its administration

A priority they made front and center of their presentation regarding their chosen tools:

Transparency & Accountability

All proposed funds would be placed into a trust fund dedicated to The Big Move’s Next Wave of projects to provide the accountability and transparency that GTHA residents want and deserve. This new Transportation Trust Fund would be governed by a board of trustees. As well, working closely with our municipal partners is integral to delivering transit and transportation projects in the region; therefore, Metrolinx is recommending adjusting the composition of its Board of Directors to include six citizen appointees nominated by the municipalities. The accountability process would also include two mandated comprehensive reviews: a review of the Investment Strategy and its impact after 10 years; and, a fundamental review and reauthorization after 20 years to ensure the Investment Strategy continues to meet the needs of the region.

Question is are his bosses up to the task of  listening to the people of Ontario? Many who clearly understand, that while we can support some fees, we much rather find money in other ways

The (Not-So) Big Move…

Listen The Big Move is a good plan, it tries to manage cost of expansion and operation while maximizing the reach of the system…

But…

The problem with this system is that it is only to attempt to catch us up to where we should be not so much where we are going!!!

We are only building things that will serve us today instead of getting ahead of the progress of tomorrow

For instance recently it was stated at a City of Markham official plan meeting that there is consideration that the Viva System especially along Hwy. 7 (with their $2 million dollar bus stops) be transistioned to an LRT and with good reason based on the current Mid to High Rise depth being built along Hwy. 7 and its adjoining streets.

So if that’s the vision, why are we still building the BRT, why are we not going all in and expanding it to an LRT now?

Easy answer is that its all about the MONEY LEBOWSKI!!!

For a plan that forward thinking they would need even more money than what they have proposed… Something that most people don’t want to give up…

At least not for what they are offering…

Let’s face it people prefer Subway’s or Underground rail transit especially in this country…

Its usually quicker, has less interruptions and system malfunctions (GO Train switch freezes, anyone!!!) and most importantly you rarely need to stand in the cold dead of winter on a platform for it

What they need to do is get out in front of asking for more by detailing a bigger system involving more subways that reaches more people.

Why not build a line of subways within Toronto with the appropriate mixed use density zoned and approved to feed it… Why not connect those lines with our bustling neighbours in Peel, South York Region, Hamilton and Durham via diverse and well timed LRT’s that support their expanding density…

Great City’s tend to have a Great Subway network

Just look at the subway systems of these  great city’s:

Take note of the vast difference in Subway Systems of these (arguably) World Class Cities vs. Toronto’s weak 4 lines

And the Metrolinx Plan does nothing to increase the underground routes

It pays lip service to underground expansion by tunneling half of the Eglinton LRT and expanding the Spadina line in to Vaughan and their proposed casino (Good Work, T.O. council)

The rest will be at or above grade lines either managed by the TTC or GO Transit, and while GO is a reasonable commuter train it is not a train that effectively moves people within the Region’s core.

What should be on the table from Metrolinx is a plan that would find a lot of support from the people of the region  and would truly warrant some consideration of paying more; A plan with a much more robust Underground system.

I stumbled on a map online that is reminiscent of what they should do…

what it should be

What this plan would suggest is to expand the Bloor/Danforth line to Sherway Garden’s in the West, Start the Eglinton line at the Airport and have it end up by the Zoo in the East. It would expand the Sheppard line out to the Albion Rd. in the west and bring it to Markham Rd. in the east. There would essentially be 2 DRL’s; One stretching across Queen from the Beaches to Mimico and a secondary loop similar to the Yonge/Spadina line Starting up at Steeles and Don Mills in the East looping down along lakeshore and coming back up to end at Jane and Sheppard in the West end. Northern tracks would include extensions to Wonderland (now there is a thought), the current planned expansion to Richmond Hill Centre and a McCowan Line ending at Markville Mall in Markham (if you have ever been on the 129 or 129a, bus or driven north of Steeles at rush hour you will flip burgers to pay for that much needed line).

Who wouldn’t think this is worth more than the current expansion plans!!!

A well respected Transit engineer said to me recently, that there are 2 key’s to an effective and efficient transit system, both equally important:

Density and Reach

You need to have the right amount of Density to fill the system and it has to actually take you to places that you want to go (Work, School, Play, Socialize, etc.).

The current plan doesn’t take people to where they are currently going and where the destinations of the future will be. People see that and they are calling BS on charging them more for it.

A Plan like the one above, giving people a grid of connecting Subway’s would go a long way to getting more people on their side.

Hopefully Metrolinx, the provincial government, city council and the rest of us will see the light and work together for stronger, more robust, more efficient and accountable transit plan for the future.

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Posted on June 5, 2013, in Politics, Transit and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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