Open letter to Toronto Council – Your vote on March 21st.

Dear Councillor,
This week’s vote will be one of the most important decisions for the future of transportation in Toronto. The outcome of that vote will bring either two scenarios: the continuation of a proper rapid transit network, or the prolonging of a political battle that will further delay progress on transit for many years. Street-level LRTs are not considered rapid transit since they are projected to move as fast, or slower than existing bus services (see comparative average speeds on Table 1 below). Therefore, the vote for a subway extension along Sheppard, will help more people to get sooner to work or study, and sooner going back home to enjoy with their families or friends. If you decide against subway extension, you will set us up to another big political battle, that will not just delay any progress in our commute times, but that will also make our existing traffic congestion (with all the dire consequences that you already know) to get even worse.

Table 1: Expected and current transit travel times comparison

As I mentioned in the past, the latter scenario above will also be detrimental to your fellow Torontonians’ public safety, since it will push unwanted traffic into calm residential streets (increasing the danger to pedestrians and cyclists), and reduce emergency response times  (see analysis of this problem, with Toronto Transit Commission and Toronto Fire Services information, at: https://transto.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/are-street-level-lrt-right-of-ways-really-safe-for-emergency-response/).

Many of you have been asking for a business plan to build the Sheppard subway extension, and you are right to do so. However, you should also realize that there is no business plan for the Eglinton Crosstown line, either. Stating that it will cost over $6 billion to build this proposed crosstown line, which is roughly 50% underground, and 50% at street-level (plus a retrofit to the existing Scarborough Rapid Transit viaduct), is suggesting that the underground section will cost about $500 million per kilometre (see Eglinton LRT tunnel budgets on Table 2 below). This is 60% more expensive than the costly Spadina subway extension. As you can see, this is not a business plan, but a completely irrational use of our tax money.

Table 2: Increases on Eglinton Crosstown LRT budgets since initial proposal.

Let’s make a good use of the $8.4 billion, offered by our provincial purse, for more and better transit. We should be building proper subways at a rate of $200 million per kilometre, instead (see: https://transto.wordpress.com/2012/03/19/five-reasons-why-toronto-can-build-proper-subways-for-200-million-per-km/). This will not just help bring real rapid transit to more Torontonians, but it will also avoid tax increases that are too controversial. The people of Toronto are counting on you, for a sensible and clear direction from city hall.

Yours sincerely,

Jose Ramon Gutierrez
Transportation Toronto
transto.wordpress.com

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