In an era of issues related to transit and gridlock in Toronto, logic and mindfulness will be key drivers for delivering the quality transit network we so crave.
Toronto like all cities, has transit as its lifeblood – its major arterial thoroughfares and their ability to pump freely, coursing goods and services to and from location to destination, is a deciding factor in its economic, social, cultural and environmental well-being. On this note, our beloved city finds itself at an inflection point. With 5 major projects potentially being undertaken in the next couple of decades, the city’s future success will hinge on its ability to make well-informed and pivotal decisions.
Transit’s Wide Reach
A superior transit system has the power to affect many facets of a city’s urban fabric. The increased density and mobility it provides, creates for more complex and sophisticated neighbourhoods. Better accessibility allows for social cohesion and commerce to flow more easily into and out of neighbourhoods. From an environmental lens, lessening cars on roads and their subsequent idling, effectively limits the exhaust entering our air and improves our physical health. Mentally, the toll impinged on us from sitting in six lanes of daily gridlock also has potential to alleviate. Finally, transit improves our city’s bottom line – improving connections between goods and services, residents to their jobs, businesses and destinations increases commerce and productivity. On the other hand, economic productivity becomes exponentially hindered by every minute the consumer, service or good is stuck in traffic or service delay.
Issues on the Horizon
As previously mentioned, there are 5 upcoming transit projects that have the potential to change the face of our city. These project include, the Scarborough Subway extension, SmartTrack, the Downtown Relief Line (DRL), and light rail lines along Eglinton Avenue West from Mt. Dennis and to Eglinton Avenue East from Kennedy Station. Just last week, the Province of Ontario and City of Toronto announced plans for Mayor John Tory’s Smart Track and the addition of 6 new Go Stations. While the grandeur of these plans give even the most hardened transit advocate optimism, the fact that only one of these projects – the Scarborough subway extension – has been approved for funding, a project that provides one subway station at an ever-increasing price tag, is disconcerting.
If the City of Toronto means to tackle these issues head-on, some apt measures can be considered. First, our local decision makers can take the lead in securing better funding mechanisms so that these plans have a better chance of seeing daylight. Second, it is likely that funding for all five of these projects will not be released conveniently in order and on schedule, meaning City Hall will have to prioritize which projects make the most sense, serving Toronto best. If not, the idyllic transit network proposed by our city’s planning professionals may not be fully realized, affecting future neighbourhoods, our natural environment, and local commerce in the process.
For Torontonians, an improved transit network is within our reach, but it is in this great era of Toronto transit, that these most pivotal choices have the ability to so greatly decide the future of our city.