Believe it or not, the Toronto mayoral candidates are actually talking about policy.
Since the start of the campaign, the Rob Ford controversies and the nastiness between the John Tory and Olivia Chow camps have gotten all the media attention.
Over the past couple of weeks, however, all the camps have put forward solid — if not interesting — traffic and transit platforms.
According to Matthew McGuire of the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition, it’s actually becoming one of the biggest issues of the election.
“It’s an area that people feel has been neglected for so long and people are frustrated and want something, anything to be done to ease their commuting,” he told Yahoo Canada News.
The candidates’ respective platforms provide varying amounts of detail about their transportation ideas.
We’ve summarized their plans below.Mayoral candidates pose for picture prior to a televised debate
- Scrapping the subway expansion plan in favour of a Scarborough Light Rail Transit (LRT) to replace the aging rapid transit line currently in place.
- Increase rush hour bus service by 10 per cent.
- Funding expected to come from eliminating inefficiencies in the system.
- Property tax increases “to hold” around the rate of inflation.
- Beef up enforcement for drivers blocking intersections on red lights.
- Use financial incentives to limit lane closures due to private building construction.
- Expand smart traffic light technology.
- Bring a traffic liaison into the mayor’s office.
- Moving forward with the proposed Scarborough subway extension from Kennedy Station to Scarborough City Centre.
- A 53 kilometre surface level rail project. The SmartTrack line — to be operational within seven years — would connect Northwest Etobicoke, Downtown and Northeastern Scarborough with 22 station stops and five interchanges.
- The city’s one-third share of the $8 billion SmartTrack line would come from the expected increased tax revenue from the development along the rail line.
- An examination of all roadwork projects to see if work could be done on a 24/7 basis.
- Towing delivery trucks that hold up lanes of traffic on downtown streets during rush hours.
- Adding “queue-jumping bus lanes” to some intersections (outside of the downtown core) to improve bus commute times.
- To cancel the planned subway extension in Scarborough and replace it with a LRT system.
- According to the Toronto Star, Soknacki recently said that nothing “should be off the table” when it comes to funding transit, including road tolls, higher property taxes and/or higher transit fares.
- Ban parking on major downtown roads.
- Offer free transit to anyone boarding Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) buses or street cars before 7 a.m. in order to shift commuter behaviour and reduce congestion during peak times.
- Allow rear-door boarding on TTC buses and street cars for “faster service and fewer delays.”
- A downtown relief line to connect the existing east and west lines and reduce congestion on the Yonge-University-Spadina line.
- Move “full speed ahead” to expand the Bloor-Danforth line into Scarborough.
- $500 million from the sale of the City of Toronto’s shares in Toronto Hydro Corp.
- $330 million by dedicating net revenue from current traffic enforcement operations to the Toronto Transportation Trust.
- $700 million by dedicating the City’s share of net income from the Toronto Parking Authority (Green P) to the Toronto Transportation Trust.
- Consolidating the TTC, Toronto Transportation Services, Toronto’s Parking Enforcement Unit, and the City’s Taxi Licensing and Standards into one new agency.
- A new fixed link from the Gardiner Expressway to the Don Valley Parkway.
- Replace the Scarborough RT with the proposed $3-billion subway plan.
- New subway lines on Sheppard and Finch and a downtown relief line.
- Ford hasn’t clearly identified funding sources for his subway plan. For the Scarborough extension, the Feds and provinces contributed 2/3 of the funds while Ford supported a 0.5 per cent property tax increase.
- Opposed to any LRT lines.
- Expansion of the traffic signal coordination plan.
McGuire says that, in his opinion, Tory’s SmartTrack idea is the best idea of the bunch.
“[It's] an interesting proposal but because it’s a completely new idea it hasn’t been studied as closely as other options,” he said.
“If we can build a subway largely on existing track to take pressure off of our existing lines in only seven years, it would be a remarkable feat. This is an idea worth a closer look.”
As for the worst idea so far, McGuire is critical of Chow’s and Soknacki’s plan to scrap the Scarborough subway.
“The TTC years ago deemed 2015 as the death of the of the Scarborough RT. Now is not the time to throw Toronto into another four years of chaotic transit discussion,” he contends.
“Building the Scarborough subway is the right thing to do. Let’s get on with it.”