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Should politicians be taken out of transit planning?

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Nov 21st, 2017

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It’s a vision of what Toronto transit could have looked like — had politics not interfered with transit planning.Proposed-Subway-Lines-Mon-Nov-20-23-23-41-UTC-2017-1-1024x640

The above map includes several projects that never happened: an underground Queen Street rail corridor, the Eglinton West subway line, and an extension of the Sheppard line to Scarborough Town Centre as originally intended.

For various reasons, all those projects fell apart. And transit experts say it’s all because of political interference that has set transit back in Toronto by decades.

“You look at what we have done in the last 30 years, and you realize that it’s been extremely dismal. There’s almost nothing significant being done on public transit.” said Ryerson University transit expert Murtaza Haider.

Transit advocate Steve Munro believes building transit has become more about political opportunism rather than getting shovels in the ground.

“Transit planning is all about having a press release, of running an election campaign, of making promises of things you can’t possibly deliver because they weren’t practical to begin with,” Monroe told CityNews.

The chair of the TTC admits it could be time to stop talking and start building.

“I think the biggest mistake politicians have made… has been the constant debate about transit as opposed to building it,” said Coun. Josh Colle.

“We’re opening up a subway in less than 30 days, it will be the first one in 15 years in this city. And I think that’s where you see sometimes the failing of process and politics over building. I think we’ve got to stop getting caught in the quagmire and just keep advancing transit. We really should never stop.”

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