I have to say, I am still exceedingly fed up with Toronto's continuing inaction on public transit.
Mayor John Tory was voted in largely on his pledge to get the city moving again after years of transit paralysis under the disastrous mayorship of Rob Ford. I didn't actually vote for the guy, and there were gaping holes in his plans, but even I thought that finally something might get done. But this was over a year-and-a-half ago now, and progress has been underwhelming to say the least.
Yes, we now finally have an airport rail link to downtown, the UP Express, even if I have still not used it - it's a great service if you live downtown, but from where I live (and I am by no means suburban), a streetcar followed by a subway followed by the UP Express train all ends up taking twice as long as driving, plus the added expense.
The Eglinton Crosstown line continues to proceed at what seems like a snail's pace. It was initiated long before John Tory, or even Rob Ford, came on the scene, way back in 2007, by our last genuinely pro-transit mayor, David Miller. It is supposedly on time and on budget, but it is still unlikely to be up and running before 2021, another five years of traffic snarl on busy Eglinton Avenue from now.
Mr. Tory's much-ballyhooed election platform centrepiece, SmartTrack, has been amended and cut back until an already poorly-planned and -researched project, that seemed in reality little more than an exercise in renaming parts of the existing GO train system, has ended up even more insignificant and largely redundant.
The so-called Downtown Relief Line was earmarked by Tory as a priority during his election campaign, although the project (which has been talked about, in various incarnations, since as early as 1911!) is still at the umming-and-ahhing about subtly differing routes stage. Current completion estimates are in the region of 2028-2031, although that assumes that work is started soon, which seems frankly unlikely.
And now, Mr. Tory has renewed his support for probably the least defensible of all of Toronto's transit plans, the Scarborough subway extension. The current scheme, to replace the admittedly ageing, but still functional, Scarborough RT light rapid transit line with an extension of the Line 2 subway line, mainly dates from Rob Ford's "subways, subways, subways" phase, except that it has been cut back still further so that we are now looking at a one-stop six-kilometer subway extension at a cost of $3.2 billion, to be built through a relatively low-density section of the city and along a route quite close to the also-planned SmartTrack. Sound appealing and well-planned?
Ah, when I think back to the heady days of 2007, when David Miller's fully-funded and scientifically-planned Transit City plan proposed seven new light transit lines through high-density sectors of the city, as well as an upgraded Scarborough RT and an improved bus system. All it took was one poor decision - the election of Rob Ford by the very Toronto suburbanites who would have benefitted most by the scheme (Ford had decided that he liked subways and didn't like the cheaper and more efficient light transit options) - and we have been in Transit Hell ever since, with no light at the end of the subway tunnel in prospect.
So much for Toronto's perennial dreams of being a "world-class city".