In October of 2010, the greater city of Toronto voted in rodeo star Robert Bruce Ford as her mayor and chief. Ford's platform was that of a conscious conservative, touting smarter spending, smaller government, and a comprehensive transit plan that would replace "Transit City", a City of Toronto partnership with Metrolinx to improve, eco-friendify, and extend our current transit system.
Rob Ford's budget for better spending was summarily dismissed by City of Toronto budget chair Shelley Carroll as being "unrealistic". His concept of where transit in Toronto is headed is completely at odds with the plan devised by dozens of engineers, scientists and experts, EVERY major connecting transit system and tons of user feedback refined over several years of development. The plan was built on factors like affordability, environmental impact and drawing new ridership (estimated upon completion it would attract 75 million more users/yr to the currently 100 million user system/yr).
He proposed that this plan was a "war on cars" and promised in his campaign that he would remove the "vehicle registration tax" installed by then mayor David Miller. He asserted that this removal of $64 million dollars from the annual budget would not be cut from public services, but from the imaginary money he had allotted in his imaginary budget. Upon his election he kept his campaign promise to vote down the vehicle registration tax, but was resoundingly refused when voting to keep those cuts out of public services. Where did he think the money was going to come from? No one's really sure.
His transit city alternative (devised in, I can only assume, a drinking binge over May two-four) is to annex all LRT plans and replace them with a subway connecting the Sheppard line to the Scarborough RT and to include more buses (which he asserts will greatly impact traffic congestion because of their ability to weave in and out of traffic).
Buses are the most inconvenient, inconsistent and uncomfortable systems of transit the city has, and subway is by far and away the most expensive to operate per rider as well as one of the hardest on the environment. Besides which, in today's Star we learn that Ford is cutting 48 bus routes down to save money, only one of his many contrary, flip-flop statements (bike trails and 100 new cops are two of my other favourites).
Also announced today was his proposal for a TTC fair hike that would work out to about another $60 per rider. Isn't that strange. Vehicle registration tax costs about (exactly) the same per car registered, but now we don't have to worry about the money THAT pulled out of the budget, because the levy is being passed from car drivers to transit users.
Also what a strange coincidence, that even though public transit was a huge part of every candidates platform and is a huge part of current council debates, the Transit City overhaul is being spear headed by someone who's likely never ridden a bus and was voted on by wards who barely, if ever, use transit (the outlying GTA as opposed to Toronto main which overwhelmingly voted Smitherman).
Rob Ford doesn't understand transit, he doesn't understand budgets, I would be surprised if dressing himself didn't give him anxiety. To counteract his imaginary "war on cars" (the initiative to make a greener transit system and Toronto) he has waged a war on everyone else. I say if he wants war, give him war. If you got the fire in your belly, check out some links below, sign a petition, join a rally, send an email. Today we're savouring righteous anger!
A glimpse of his budget failing in practice
Join a rally!
Some good news!
Why Buses over Streetcars make no sense for congestion