Moving Toronto Forward, Not Backward – Save TransitCity

Posted By on Dec 2, 2010 | 5 comments

It’s 5:45 am on a winter morning, and I’m standing at a TTC bus stop, anxiously awaiting the bus.  It arrives, full of other commuters making their way downtown to begin their work days.  Like many Torontonians, Joseph and I live outside the downtown core.  We love our home and our neighbourhood (Don Mills), but living outside the downtown core means that having a car is a necessity.  In an effort to be frugal and environmentally conscious, we share one vehicle.  This means that one of us is often using the TTC.  That said, it was with dismay that we heard about Rob Ford’s immediate decision to scrap the Transit City project on his first day as mayor.  We had been eagerly looking forward to the planned Don Mills and Eglinton crosstown LRT lines, as our only current connection to the subway is a series of buses that are often overcrowded and running late.

Ford’s move to cancel the Transit City LRT plan (a plan that has been in the works for years) and instead build a much smaller new subway line (at a much greater cost) seems shortsighted at best, and downright foolish at worst.  Toronto is one of the 10 largest cities in North America, and is recognized as being a major world city.  Our multicultural city and its many internationally known events (TIFF, anyone?) offer much to tourists.  However, when compared to other international cities, our transit system is severely lacking.  I have had the opportunity to use public transit in New York, London, and Berlin, all of which have significantly better-developed subway and rail systems in comparison to Toronto.

In this age of enhanced environmental awareness, Ford seems to have forgotten that Torontonians living to the east, west and north of the downtown core often have limited access (at best!) to public transit.  He has declared the Transit City plan a “war on cars”.  Should we not have a “war on cars”, knowing what we do about the importance of reducing our carbon emissions?  This is important from a public health standpoint as well as from an environmental standpoint.

While we certainly agree that the ideal solution (as Ford has proposed) is a much more extensive subway network, it certainly doesn’t seem financially feasible at this juncture.  Although LRT does have its cons (yes, it does share the same road space as cars – but wouldn’t the purpose of LRT be to help get more people out of their cars and on to public transit?), we desperately need to push forward with a transit solution to help the “out of downtown” population move around the city with greater ease.  In addition to links to York University and Pearson airport, our city needs better east-west transit lines.

My (Joseph) undergraduate studies were in the field of urban planning. I am in awe that despite planning at all levels (municipal, provincial, and federal), this one person can attempt to derail all of that work. This goes beyond simply “making a statement” when coming into office –  it is about doing what is right from an urban planning perspective and from an economic development perspective. Toronto currently has the longest median commute in North America at over 80 minutes. This eclipses traffic in LA which is a little under 80 minutes.

Ford says he wants to open Toronto for business. I would argue that by making it harder to move around, and harder for talent to commute into the core we will not be competitive as a world city.

To walk away from the commitments currently in place, we will leave $55 million on the table. This is not a shrewd business move for the city. If I were a business doing business with Toronto, I would think very carefully before ever entering into a business relationship with them again. We cannot afford to have a repeat of of the debacle of digging the Eglington subway line only to later fill it in.

Toronto needs a link to its airport that handles over 30 million passengers annually. Pearson is one of the busiest airports in the world. Continuing for an indefinite period of time without a dedicated transit connection is not only a shame, but foolish as well. We need to make it easy for tourists to come to our city and access our many attractions.

So please Mr. Ford, instead of throwing around the “gravy train” catchphrase (while wasting millions of dollars that have already been spent developing the Transit City plan and proposing a great deal more spending on a new limited subway line), consider the future of our city.  Help to continue making Toronto a true world city and making living conditions better for Torontonians.

From the Desks of Joseph Puopolo MBA, BES (Urban Planning) and Dr. Laura Puopolo MD

Let’s talk next steps. It is obvious that Mr. Ford is set in his ways but here is our advice to you.

1. Mr. Ford only represents 1 vote on council – CALL YOUR Councilor and voice your concern. These are all the councilors that are on the fence or not supporting Transit City.

For but with changes:

Jaye Robinson (Don Valley West)
Phone: 416-395-6408 – Fax:

Ana Bailão (Davenport)
Phone: 416-392-7012 Fax:

Josh Colle (Eglinton Lawrence)
Phone: 416-392-4027 – Fax: 416-392-4191 –

Frank Di Giorgio (York South-Weston)
Phone: 416-392-4066Fax: 416-392-1675 –


Gary Crawford (Scarborough Southwest)
Phone: 416-392-4052 – Fax:

James Pasternak (York Centre)
Phone: 416-392-1371 – Fax: 416-392-7299 –

Vincent Crisanti (Etobicoke North)
Phone: 416-392-0205 – Fax: 416-696-4207 –

Mike Del Grande (Scarborough Agincourt)
Phone: 416-392-1374 – Fax: 416-392-7431 –

David Shiner (Willowdale)
Phone: 416-395-6413 – Fax: 416-397-9290 –

Peter Milczyn (Etobicoke Lakeshore)
Phone: 416-392-4040Fax: 416-392-4127 –

John Parker (Don Valley West)
Phone: 416-392-0215 – Fax:

Michael Thompson (Scarborough Centre)
Phone: 416-397-9274 – Fax: 416-397-9280 –

Gloria Lindsay Luby (Etobicoke Centre)
Phone: 416-392-1369 – Fax: 416-696-4138 –

Denzil Minnan Wong (Don Valley East)
Phone: 416-397-9256Fax: 416-397-4100 –

Raymond Cho (Scarborough Rouge River)
Phone: 416-392-4076 – Fax: 416-696-4159 –

2. Call your MPP and namely Kathleen Wynne – Kathleen came out strong in support of Transit City. Let her know she has your support and to speak out stronger  against Rob Ford.

Constituency Office
795 Eglinton Ave East, Unit 101
Toronto, ON M4G 4E4
Tel: 416-425-6777
Fax: 416-425-0350

Ministry of Transportation
77 Wellesley St. W.
Toronto, ON M7A 1Z8
Tel: 416-327-9200
Fax: 416-327-9188

3. Contact Dalton McGuinty – He is the Premiere of the Province of Ontario and should speak out and take definitive actions to save Transit City. He needs to be a leader on these issues for Toronto and Ontario

Twitter – @Dalton_McGuinty


  1. I agree with you guys wholeheartedly. After having worked on one of the top three mayoral campaigns this past election, I learned a great deal about Transit City. It is 10 times more track than what Rob Ford is proposing. He’s looking at about 12 km of track in 4 years. Transit City would give us 120 kms!!! Most may want subways, but LRT’s are used worldwide and are extremely popular. Also, the subway system would take almost 20 years and cost 3 to 5 times as much. We can build more, for less money in less time. Time to stop talking and BUILD IT. Thanks to Joe Pantalone (@jpantalone) for his fight for Transit City during the election. K. I’m done.

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  2. Great article.A city is only as good as its transit system.Can you imagine scrapping the subway system 50 years ago? This city would be a mess.
    I believe those in the private sector who benefit from subways should bear some of the costs.I believe this is done in Madrid. Developers bear a portion of the cost of the station if it located at or near their projects. it would only enhance the value of these properties so it would be win-win situation.

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  3. Great article and thank you for the list of people to call. This mayor is a short-sited and pig headed as he is just in it for the sound bites! He is more interested in making a good headline than he is in actually doing the math and realizing that 2 days in we are already (with the cancellation of the vehicle tax) over 100 Million in debt, with cancelling contracts and taxes. I have no idea if he has even thought of where he is going to get the money to replace, or if he even cares!

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  4. It’s a real pity that Ford walked into office on his first day and declares war on a long term initiative like transit city. I’m not sure if Rob Ford can actually do math, or if he only appreciates calculating numbers that sound good on TV (eg: the vehicle tax cancellation).

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  5. This is a great post Joseph!

    The issue you bring to light here is actually much more complex than most people imagine. A strong infrastructure foundation should be our top priority to ensure Toronto’s economic competitiveness today and as our city continues to grow and evolve.

    Torontonians currently face some of the longest commute times worldwide. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) recently concluded that Toronto’s lack of transportation infrastructure is the leading drag on our region’s global competitiveness. According to Metrolinx – gridlock costs the region $6 billion annually.

    What I’d like to know is – is Ford’s plan going to alleviate any of these issues or not. The rest is immaterial.

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