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As clock ticks on city budget, activists campaign to save Transit City

by Saira Peesker

A rally organizer holds a sign displaying the differences between Transit City and Mayor Rob Ford's transit plan on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011 (Thom Leigh for TMC)
A rally organizer holds a sign displaying the differences between Transit City and Mayor Rob Ford's transit plan on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011 (Thom Leigh for TMC)

On the eve of Toronto City Council’s first day of budget talks, more than 100 public transit advocates met at Nathan Phillips Square to hash out a plan to save Transit City.

Activist Dave Meslin and city councillors Mike Layton, Gord Perks, Paula Fletcher, Sarah Doucette, Janet Davis and Pam McConnell were among those at a Sunday rally urging residents to keep fighting for the light-rail plan, which is not supported by Mayor Rob Ford.

This Saturday, the group plans to target three neighbourhoods whose councillors are reportedly undecided on the issue – Finch Avenue West, Eglinton Avenue West and Eglinton Avenue East. They will urge TTC riders to tell councillors Michelle Berardinetti (Scarborough Southwest), Frank Di Giorgio (York South-Weston) and John Filion (Willowdale) that they believe rapid transit is essential to increasing prosperity in their wards.

Meant to be former mayor David Miller’s legacy project, Transit City includes seven light-rail lines and five dedicated bus lanes in the outer reaches of the city, where often-packed buses running on limited schedules are the norm. It would bring rapid transit to more than 630,000 Torontonians at a cost of $111 million per kilometre, according to Sunday’s demonstrators. More than $130 million has already been spent on the project.

“For those of us who live in the suburbs, Transit City seemed like a dream come true,” rally organizer Gabriel Nicolau told the shivering but focused crowd on Sunday. “That was before we woke up to the nightmare of Rob Ford.”

Ford swept to power in the October municipal election on a promise to eliminate the supposed “war on the car,” saying he would move public transit underground and axe the vehicle registration tax. Ford’s transitplan would see the Sheppard subway line extended to meet the Bloor-Danforth line, creating a loop and replacing the Scarborough LRT. It would benefit a reported 61,000 people at a cost of $344 million per kilometre. His administration has voiced some support for keeping one of the planned light-rail routes, the Eglinton Avenue Crosstown line, because much of it is planned to be below street level.

Many who stood to gain from Transit City live in low-income areas and don’t own vehicles, noted Coun. Vaughan, who represents the downtown ward of Trinity-Spadina.

“People in these priority neighbourhoods didn’t get $60 back with the cancellation of the vehicle registration tax,” Vaughan told Sunday’s crowd. “Streetcars predate the automobile in this city. It’s not ‘the war on the car’ -- it’s the other way around.”

To Coun. Perks, a plan like Transit City is necessary to prevent a growing fiscal divide between areas that have easy access to the TTC and those that do not.

“Every decade, the neighbourhoods that don’t have good public transit fall further and further behind,” said Perks, who represents Ward 14 (Parkdale-High Park). “We don’t want two cities, we want one city where all of us belong.”

During the first day of budget meetings on Monday, city staff presented a proposal that would increase TTC fares by $0.10 and reduce service on nearly 50 routes. The fare increase was needed to balance the budget after Ford declared a freeze on property taxes, said city manager Joe Pennachetti.

The city’s budget meetings are expected to take up to two weeks.

To find out how to participate in Saturday’s campaign, join the Save Transit City Facebook group or email organizer Patrick Shorter at patrickshorter@gmail.com.


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SairaP (Saira Peesker)
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I'm not a huge follower of Ford but in this case he is right.

The numbers speak for themselves. Only 100 people showed up, that says it all and the compromise would be to have transit city, but put it underground, which should have been done in the first place.

I don't agree with everything Ford does, but he's spot on, with this one. The lanes of our city have been reduced for years with stupid right of ways down streets like St. Clair West and Queens Quay and we have just put up with it, and now a new mayor comes in under this mandate and the "people" elect him on the basis of his new ventures.

The people have spoken and this is what they want and this is what makes sense, after cutting road lanes for bikes and eliminating parking on streets like St. Clair west, has anyone even spoken to anyone that actually likes the St. Clair West situation? Businesss have closed because of that streetcar line and how has it improved service, it speeds up the travel between Yonge and Keele, by maybe 4 minutes, and yet disables motorists for hours.

Has anyone tried to make a left turn at Avenue and St. Clair going north, they still have the one car and a half advanced green and it takes almost 4-5 lights to make a left turn. I use to cut through the side streets to get to St. Clair West but now that the right of way is there, so you can't access St. Clair West except for waiting for the advanced green.

This city needs transit that makes sense and helps all the citizens, not just the few that run city hall. The people have spoken and 100 nannys are not going to change this city for the few. Enough is enough.

If your councillor supports this, make sure you tell them how you feel, and don't accept what others tell you to do, do what you feel is right and what YOU want.

Daniel .. Toronto, CANADA

http://bit.ly/bKGa13

 

 

 

Get your head out from under the tires.

Hey buddy, try and organize your own rally in support of Ford's idiotic plan to flush our money down the toilet with cancelled contracts, fuck over 90% of the city to benefit a few people in Scarborough, and make sure you do it on a freezing Sunday and see how many people come out.  Then we'll see how much support you and Ford have.

The world is not created for the sake of you to drive all over it.  I frankly don't give a fuck about your whining about the difficulty to make left turns when 1,700 people are being killed directly by air pollution in this city according to our own public health officer, not counting those who will get cancer or not survive it because of the toxic cloud hanging over our city.  This plan is supposed to help those of us standing on packed busses, waiting forever in the cold, walking long distances to get to overpriced transit, while you complain about the tribulations of driving when you at least can afford a car which I assume is parked in your driveway and will take you anywhere without the thought of what its like to use the TTC.

Bad news for you buddy, in a few years when peak oil means you can't afford gas, and you come jam into public transit with the rest of us, we'll see how happy you were about the master plan for improving the TTC being cancelled, hope you can find a seat!

St Clair Streetcar - dedicated right-of-way

Here's one person who loves the St Clair streetcar.  

I moved to St Clair Ave because of the streetcar's dedicated right-of-way.  I love it.   I have the streetcar at my door.

I can leave my car at home (yes I have a car- but generally only use it to go to the far reaches of 905-dom where there is no public transit connection.)

Every major street should have a dedicated streetcar line -and bike lanes which are separated safely from cars and trucks.

Toronto needs to grow up, and enter the 21st century.  Public transit is in.  Bikes are in.  

Cars are passé  - Last century's technology.

Get your head out from under the tires.

Hey buddy, try and organize your own rally in support of Ford's idiotic plan to flush our money down the toilet with cancelled contracts, fuck over 90% of the city to benefit a few people in Scarborough, and make sure you do it on a freezing Sunday and see how many people come out.  Then we'll see how much support you and Ford have.

The world is not created for the sake of you to drive all over it.  I frankly don't give a fuck about your whining about the difficulty to make left turns when 1,700 people are being killed directly by air pollution in this city according to our own public health officer, not counting those who will get cancer or not survive it because of the toxic cloud hanging over our city.  This plan is supposed to help those of us standing on packed busses, waiting forever in the cold, walking long distances to get to overpriced transit, while you complain about the tribulations of driving when you at least can afford a car which I assume is parked in your driveway and will take you anywhere without the thought of what its like to use the TTC.

Bad news for you buddy, in a few years when peak oil means you can't afford gas, and you come jam into public transit with the rest of us, we'll see how happy you were about the master plan for improving the TTC being cancelled, hope you can find a seat!

So I take it there are some in favor of St. Clair W.

At least there is one in favor of St. Clair West, what a great idea.

Great rebuttle. I'm convinced.

Daniel .. Toronto

Left turns, eliminate them.

 

replying to @dandmb50, "I'm not a huge follower of Ford but...":

You are too modest, I think you are a tremendous follower of Rob Ford.

I have been telling our new mayor how I feel, just as you suggested, and he has not responded. I live in Lakeshore Village. No one in south Etobicoke wants to use the TTC to get downtown, taking the world's slowest streetcar which inevitably crawls along Queen St because it lacks a right of way. Nothing in Ford's plan resolves this problem. To date Ford has not responded to my input, which I worded very respectfully. So much for the man who replies to every constituent.

It is inconceivable that Canada's largest city will continue to have such an ill-conceived public transit infrastructure. Transit City was created after years of exploration and consultation. It weighed affordability, environmental impact, traffic flow. It balanced the needs of drivers and transit users. Now it is being tossed into the bin of shallow self-interest in pursuit of some unachievable automotive dystopia.

Collectively, we need to get out head out of our tailpipes. I certainly support all efforts to save Transit City.

Damn how did I miss this???

My friends and I keep missing these kinds of events, and then hearing about them being badly-attended - it's so heartbreaking! We're SO scared to gather after the G20, and we're SO disorganized! I can't believe in this age that we aren't on board with these things - it really shows how bad things have gotten. OK this stuff really matters to me and my friends so it's time for us to get with the program and start signing up to get e-mailed about the things that matter to us!

Like making it easier for people to TTC into town instead of bringing their bloody cars! Enough's enough already. There are SO MANY cars down here, they're choking us and getting in our way. And I know the drivers are sick of it too - super-poor people spending crazy amounts of money on gas, insurance, of course they need a break on registration, these people are BROKE! When I ask my driving friends what it costs them to come into town a couple times a week - just a couple - it's always way more per month than a TTC pass.

AND then they have to be at the wheel all the time. Being super-careful not to get into an accident. SO MUCH STRESS! It's time to de-stress Toronto. 905ers can't even come into town for a few drinks without going through this HUGE HASSLE because they don't want to drive drunk AND transit won't get them home. SUCH a stupid problem to have in 2011. C'mon. Bring the people into town around 11pm, get 'em home around 4am. And give the traffic cops a BREAK!!!

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