Archived columns and blog posts by Matt Elliott

Studied to death: TTC calls for Scarborough subway reports again

By: Metro Canada Published on Thu Oct 25 2012

Here's an idea — free to a good home — for any level-headed councillor who wants to make a point about the Toronto Transit Commission's bizarre decision yesterday to request more staff reports on the merits of Scarborough subways, even though council made a firm decision on the matter earlier this year.

First, spend some time printing out and collecting all the reports that currently exist on various Toronto transit schemes. Start with the volumes produced by a council-appointed expert panel earlier this year. Throw in the pages and pages produced by dentist and subway aficionado Gordon Chong. Then toss in all the Transit City EAs, consultative studies, designs and charts. Hell, add some of Metrolinx's material related to Big Move projects in Toronto, too. And, as a kicker, go back and get copies of everything related to dearly departed transit strategies of forgotten eras: DRTES, Network 2011, that 1910 scheme that so presciently called for a retro version of the Downtown Relief Line then, and all the rest that were studied endlessly and never built.

Once you've collected all those binders of reports, studies, documents and maps, carry them in a box into the council chamber next week—you'll probably need two or three or a couple dozen people to help—and then, with a flourish and maybe a forklift, raise the entire mass over your head and toss it down on the floor of council.

The sheer mass of all those Toronto transit studies will test the structural integrity of City Hall. The resulting shockwave will be felt in Etobicoke and Scarborough.

“Was that an earthquake?” people will ask. But, no, it'll just be the weight of Toronto's unrealized transit future, crashing to the floor uselessly.

You know that old cliché, “Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good?” When you're planning a transportation network, it applies in spades. Maybe there was, at one point, a case to be be made for extending the Bloor-Danforth subway into Scarborough on a new alignment, instead of replacing the rickety Scarborough RT with light rail as is currently the plan.

But the time for that debate has passed.

Eventually politicians and planners just have to move forward with the best transit plan available and achievable. Second-guessing yourself, as TTC commissioners did yesterday, only fosters fear, uncertainty and doubt, and opens the door to yet another highly-politicized transit debate that puts areas of the city at war with one another.

Toronto has a transit plan for Eglinton, Finch, Sheppard and the Scarborough RT. The plan been approved by several experts, two transit agencies, the provincial government and, a couple of times, Toronto City Council. End of story. Please, no more studies on this.

We've had enough.

This post was originally published at on 2012-10-25T00:00:00.000Z

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Matt Elliott

City Hall watcher, columnist and policy wonk in Toronto.
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