Reaching way back in to his catalogue of hit sound bites, Rob Ford wants to ban streetcars. Some of his new stuff like “I’ve done nothing wrong” is catchy but like any act that’s no longer relevant, he lives and dies on the hits.
Now he was able to completely scrap the Land Transfer Tax, build an extension of the Sheppard subway entirely with private money, and cut taxes without cutting services. So any promise from Rob Ford should be considered serious.
Toronto invested a great deal of money not so long ago in new streetcars which are appearing more and more on our streets. Now Ford is of course no stranger to removing brand new infrastructure, regardless the costs. However, when you consider a few other facts you can see why this particular delusion of Ford’s has a much chance of being realized as his reelection does.
Streetcars in Toronto carry 250,000 people per day, 50,000 per day on the King streetcar alone. When you also consider it takes 3 buses to replace the capacity of one streetcar you can see where removing them would cause more congestion, not less. Can you honestly ever see a Toronto council that would vote to add that sort congestion to our streets? A council that would vote to disenfranchise that many voters? Me either.
Ford’s transit ideas aren’t based on that sort of simple math though. If they were he’d have supported the LRT plan for Scarborough. That plan featured more stations built in less time, within walking distance to more people, and had both capital and operating costs fully covered. Instead, after proving he had no idea what he was talking about, he stuck Toronto with a billion dollar tax hike for a 3 stop subway extension that will take years longer to build.
I’ll give Ford this, he knows what he likes and what he doesn’t. He likes driving and doesn’t like anything that gets in his way. Whether that impediment is streetcars, cyclists, or having to be sober. We all have personal preferences that may not stand up to facts. I think Nirvana is overrated for example. While having illogical preferences is fine, it is no way to govern when the facts tell you otherwise.
The other point I’ll concede to Ford is congestion in this city is a problem. One that costs us as much in dollars as it does in quality of life. However, Rob, it isn’t streetcars that cause congestion downtown. It’s another type of vehicle. I’ll give you a hint, they rhyme with bars.