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In Praise of Toronto's Least Ambitious Transit Project

After decades of big, expensive plans, diverting cars from a busy streetcar route will make a bigger difference to commuters for far less money.
November 29, 2017, 5am PST | Katharine Jose
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Toronto
Vadim Rodnev

One of Canada’s largest newspapers is urging transportation planners to stop thinking big.

From The Globe and Mail:

“In Canada's megalopolis, there is always some hulk of exceedingly expensive, allegedly transformational transit being pondered, pedalled or dreamt on. The problem is that these either never get built – or worse, they get built.”

Instead, the paper’s editorial board praises a one-year pilot project just put into place that “severely” restricts cars from a stretch of King Street that is also home to Toronto’s “busiest streetcar route.”

"The cost of this big change on one of the busiest transit routes in the city? Small. Instead of being measured in billions of dollars and decades of construction, it involved the exorbitant expense of trucking in a few concrete barriers, changing a handful of road signs and buying some yellow paint. Construction period? Counted in days. This in a city used to endlessly debating big, transformative transit solutions that, if they could get funded, would arrive around the time one of Jagmeet Singh's grandchildren is elected prime minister."

But there is one problem—unlike the big, expensive projects that aren’t getting built and don’t serve as many passengers, for this project, the “branding is all wrong.”

"Without big brand ambition, politicians won't be able to love the little miracle on King Street. So, first item of business? Stop calling it TTC route No. 504. Heck, stop calling it a streetcar. Rename it the Cross-Town Rapid Transit Way. The Super Fast Surface Service. The Toronto Hyperloop. The King Street Subway. Whatever."

So, the paper writes, even if the projects is small, please “[m]ake no little marketing plans.”

Full Story:
Published on Saturday, November 18, 2017 in The Globe and Mail
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