Yes, that's right, cheap. To cross the 26-kilometer stretch of Toronto's core by public transit costs a meager $3. Head north on Yonge Street, the world's longest road, and a single subway fare up the 30 kilometre stretch to the city's northern reaches will still cost $3. To hop just one stop also costs $3. Twenty-five years ago the cost of the same journey by transit would be $1.20, a 150 per cent increase.
For a sophisticated city like Toronto, it is embarrassing to see the leading candidates passing random lines drawn on a map for transit plans. These so-called plans lack research, engineering cost and ridership estimates, and transit revenue forecasts. At best, one could call these plans the transit dreams of mayoral hopefuls. However, given the underestimated costs and overestimated benefits of these proposals, it is likely that the politicians' dream would become taxpayers' nightmare.
This week, two European tourists complained about the Canadian car culture after a brief stint in the 10 million square kilometer nation of over 35-million people. The British and Danish complainers now reside in Aarhus, Denmark. While I support criticizing a country, it is also good to have the facts in order. To that end, here are some stats Chabowski should have taken into account before making rush judgments on Canadian society.
China has pursued this technology leadership goal for 20 years. Back in the 1990s, it began importing technology from Germany, the Siemens Velaro model; from France, the Alstom New Pendolinos. And, guess what? The Zefiro 250 type, made right here in Canada by Bombardier. In 2008, investment in high-speed rail projects shot up to $88 billion with plans to open 42 new lines.
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.
On the editorial pages of Toronto's newspapers, there is a great debate about how to pay for the public transit expansion Toronto and the Toronto region desperately needs. The commentary is ernest, debating the merits of tolls, sales taxes, and other so-called revenue tools. But I think the debate is misguided.
Here's a question for you: what's the only G8 country that doesn't have a national transit strategy? The free-wheeling, car-loving U.S., perhaps? Hardly. It's right here in Canada -- where we continue to operate a patchwork system of transit funding that ebbs and flows as political leaders come and go and economic conditions rise and fall.
Gridlock in the Toronto region costs the economy billions of dollars a year, harms our environment, and leaves lower income people literally sitting on the bus for hours each day. If I were advising the new Premier of Ontario today, my advice would consist of one simple statement: Get the shovels in the ground now. Build the transit lines that we already have funding for -- then speak to the people about how to pay for the remaining lines. We must seize the moment when the funding and political will exist if we are to meet the needs of our residents and businesses and overcome decades of inertia.
The latest news about potentially restricting strollers on the TTC upsets me not only as a mom, but also as a proud Torontonian, and as a fellow human being. Imagine if this stroller limit were to pass, what kind of Pandora's box would we be opening, what "inconvenience" would be next? People in wheelchairs, or on crutches? Women carrying numerous grocery bags?