Friday, December 03, 2010

Transit City II

I just accepted an invite for the the Facebook "event" Support Transit City, send a quick email. If you care about public transit in Toronto, you should, too.

I'm not really one to send a form letter, so here's what I ended up sending to Rob Ford and the new TTC Chair, Karen Stintz.

Dear Mayor Ford,

I am writing to express my support for Transit City and my concern about your plans to scrap it. In particular, your statement Wednesday that "Transit City is over" seems premature, ill-considered, and entirely disrespectful of council's authority.

You have frequently claimed that people want subways, and I have no doubt that is true. However, there is no denying that subways are extremely expensive. The TTC estimates that your proposed Sheppard subway extension would cost 3-4x as much as the planned LRT line, despite being only two-thirds its length. Wanting something doesn't mean you can afford it.

As a citizen of Toronto and a taxpayer, I believe we cannot afford to see the tax dollars already been spent on Transit City go to waste. Contracts have been signed, work has begun, LRT vehicles have been ordered, and the city of Toronto will be on the hook for costly fines and penalties if we change course now. Scrapping this plan would also represent the loss of billions of dollars of federal and provincial infrastructure money for Toronto.

I am both a driver and a public transit user, and I do not believe that Transit City represents "a war on the car." Only by rapidly improving public transit options can we begin to reduce congestion on the roads and make things better for everyone. Throwing out almost a decade's work on an affordable city-wide rapid transit plan would be the height of irresponsibility.

Mr. Mayor, you promised respect for the taxpayer. Abandoning Transit City would demonstrate exactly the opposite.