There are three big and serious issues arising from the proposed street-level LRTs, to which the public expects that their proponents would be able to answer:
1.- Reduced Public Safety: arising from a significant increase on road congestion, along the same route, and across its intersections. The volume of vehicles along that route might be reduced, but it won’t disappear. It will just get shifted to other roads, including local residential roads, therefore increasing the possibility for accidents on neighbourhoods where children and seniors walk or bike. Also, but not less important, this congestion increase will slow down emergency services response time, which would put too many lives at risk, or potentially leading to lost lives. I don’t think that Transit City, or a derivative plan similar to it, would include additional hospitals, nor EMS and Fire stations, on these affected neighbourhoods.
2.- No Reduction on Travel Times: There is no practical advantage in spending millions or billions of dollars for a transit service that moves as fast, or slower, than current bus service. Indeed, it would be quite irresponsible. If you want to increase bus riding comfort, then add more buses or get the articulated large capacity ones. York Region’s Viva buses provide a more comfortable ride compared to TTC buses. All this will cost a fraction, in the short and long run, and will be more efficient, compared to street-level LRTs. If you have a very large demand for transit, then build mass transit off the streets, therefore becoming rapid. This will not only improve the returns in the long run, but also reduces the life-threatening issues mentioned above.
3.- Costing of Transit Proposals: There doesn’t seem to be a rationale behind the costing of current transit proposals. Pretending to spend $1 billion to extend the Sheppard subway to Consumers Rd., or Victoria Park, is an enormous waste of money. Subways can be built in Toronto, with all proper TTC standards, for $250 – $200 million, or even less, per kilometre. Therefore, with the currently allocated money for the Eglinton Crosstown line ($8.4 billion), we should be able to build it entirely underground (from Jane to Kennedy), but also, extend the Sheppard subway to both Downsview and Scarborough Town Centre, and an underground extension of the Bloor-Danforth line, from Kennedy to the Scarborough Town Centre. The latter would keep the current Scarborough Rapid Transit line in use, while the Bloor-Danforth line is extended, and will alleviate passenger pressure on Eglinton, therefore increasing ridership on Bloor-Danforth. This excessive passenger load along Eglinton is a major concern mentioned by Councillor Stintz during her presentation on February 8. Additional to these transit infrastructure improvements, you might even have some funding left over for a Finch subway, or Eglinton extension to the airport. All of this, again, for the same $8.4 billion, and without having to raise parking fees, nor asking to implement any road tolls; just by using the funds already offered by the province.
If we cannot deal with the 3 issues mentioned above, then the people of Toronto would not allow the use of their limited resources in such a detrimental manner.