Unlike the past, when professionals led transport planning in Toronto, transport planning today has become the exclusive purview of poorly informed politicians. To have any chance of addressing gridlock, transit planning has to start with professionals who actually understand real needs and alternative solutions before political choices are made.
Anyone who has been down to the Harbourfront recently knows that Queens Quay is under construction. The streetcar tracks are being replaced and Waterfront Toronto is building a new tree-lined promenade that will be spectacular once complete, but creates traffic chaos in the meantime. Although I expected the construction on Queens Quay, nothing prepared me for the trifecta of traffic interruptions that followed. Traffic was already heavy because it was the season home opener for the Argos. That would have been fine, if the rest of the transportation network had been working.
Some transit experts argue that commute times by high-speed rail transit are shorter. It is true for individual trips, but not for the entire communities. Commuters in transit-dependent communities, with ready access to subways, can take faster transit to their destinations, however shorter duration trips are enjoyed only by those whose trip lengths are shorter. With $29 billion in transport infrastructure spending already earmarked for Ontario, Steven Del Duca and Kathleen Wynne, will receive tons of unsolicited advice. They should, however, base their investment decisions on sound analysis rather than conjecture.
You don't hate your commute, it's your job. A Statistics Canada survey revealed that workers who disliked their jobs were much more likely to hate their commutes than those who liked their jobs. Our hatred of the morning commute may be driven by our unsatisfactory jobs. Extensive surveys of workers in Canada have revealed that our love-hate relationship with daily commutes is much more nuanced than what we had believed it to be.
When it comes to urban sustainability, cities in the U.S. and Canada are employing innovative programs and policies to improve the health and well-being of residents and their local environments. But (with some notable exceptions, such as Vancouver and Calgary) no successful rapid transit infrastructure projects have been built in Canadian cities for decades.
In some European cities, planners are finding that making life more difficult for drivers while providing incentives for people to take transit, walk, or cycle creates numerous benefits, from reducing pollution and smog-related health problems to cutting greenhouse gas emissions and making cities safer and friendlier.