Letter to Metrolinx Board – by Patricia Sinclair

Congratulations on your appointment to the Metrolinx Board.

As you know, congestion in the GTHA is damaging the Ontario economy.  It costs us $6 Billion a year in lost productivity and negatively impacts just about everything we do in the Greater Toronto area.  As we welcome more people to our region, the situation will only get worse.  This is due largely because Metrolinx’s, ‘The Big Move’, is not an integrated transit network aimed at reducing gridlock or improving transit services.  It is not designed to get people where they need to go; primarily work[1].  It is not cost effective or efficient in either its construction or operation[2].  In short, this ‘plan’ shows a complete lack of common sense.We need to be building transit infrastructure for the users, not public pension fund investors, or political parties keen to retain moneyed voters.What we are witnessing is a disconnect between the decision makers and those affected by their decisions.   Half of Toronto area workers are in precarious employment[3].  Hundreds of thousands of suburbanites are unemployed because they cannot afford a car and transit cannot get them to a job[4]

Hence, while Mrs. Dunn[5] fights for a Leslie Street stop on Metrolinx’s, “It’s just crazy, it’s insane”,[6] Eglinton Crosstown Line, so she can have the option to park her car and take transit to the Opera; Ms. NewMother[7] delivers her baby on a sidewalk while walking to hospital because she cannot afford the bus fare.

Where was the deliberative public engagement and discussion of relevant information when formulating this plan?

Unfortunately, Metrolinx, like some other Ontario government agencies, avoids transparency.  Therefore, we must question the adequacy of the oversight provided by the Board.

Most of Metrolinx’s decisions are made behind closed doors.  As noted in the Auditor General’s December 2012 Report, “GTHA municipalities indicated to us that Metrolinx has not consulted with them…”[8]  It goes further to ponder: “Metrolinx’s ability to objectively act as the GTHA’s central transit planning authority to ensure that the most cost-effective and value-added transit infra­structure decisions are being undertaken.”

And now, Metrolinx is asking us how we want to pay for their ‘transformational’ plan!

Well, we don’t want to pay.  Who would want to pay for these Metrolinx projects:

  • an Air Rail Link, for which there is no supporting business case;
  • LRT(streetcar) lines in the middle of congested streets that will decrease service and increase gridlock[9];
  • an underground LRT line, within walking distance of the existing subway, that does nothing to improve transit service or help connect people with jobs;
  • a subway extension to Vaughan, for 300,000 non transit oriented citizens, when 3,000,000 transit oriented Torontonians don’t have a basic subway framework that meets their needs;
  • extension of GO Lines when riders and potential riders want improved service;
  • a revitalized Union Station and Train Shed, where cost control is considered an anomalous concept;
  • PRESTO, the most expensive fare card system in the world ?

So when our Premier, Mrs. Wynne, asks Prime Minister Harper[10] for money to fund her government’s transit ideology, we insist he, “Just say NO!” 

Because $8 Billion could deliver a direct, interconnected and continuous subway line from the Airport to Scarborough Town Centre, where it is needed most, and where it would ultimately pay for itself through land development[11].  The Sheppard Subway cost $0.9 Billion and has realized a total building permit value (value of construction only) 1999-03/2012 of $2.736 Billion, and still planning.   

Electrifying the GO lines (particularly Lakeshore and Stouffville) could enable these transit lines to act as Downtown Relief Lines.

Connecting the subway lines, the GO lines, and Toronto’s unique feeder bus system, would create a compound affect of an integrated Network: the sum of the parts being greater than the whole.

But, as the boring machines are delivered, the stage is set for an initial $8 Billion of ‘fully funded’ debt to be squandered by a province already on credit watch.[12]  

Unless we reverse course, get ‘Public Transit: Back on Track’,[13] we should anticipate the loss of our credit rating and prepare for higher borrowing costs[14] (like the U.K.).

It was George Orwell who said, “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” 

We invite you to be part of the revolution.  Let’s Get Moving, by implementing an equitable and prudent plan.

Patricia Sinclair

Real Torontonians Dig Subways

Subways & GO Plan

Subways & GO Plan

[6] TTC makes ‘dumbest decision ever,’ former head warns July 5, 2011 Globe and Mail

2 thoughts on “Letter to Metrolinx Board – by Patricia Sinclair

  1. Whatever you propose that is net new…..as shown on your map it will take another 15 to 20 years to realize… Some of us will be gone by then.

    A subway across the top of Toronto is nothing new… in the 1980’s the GO ALRT program was conceived to do exactly that along the existing hydro right-of-way above Finch Avenue. It was going to join Pickering to Hamilton and stop by Pearson airport. Where were you then? If you had been as vocal then as you are now, this conversation would not be happening…


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