Building for a city that doesn't exit



I'm pretty lucky these days. I take the subway to and from work and don't have to deal with any traffic. Yet part of my journey takes me on the subway over the 401. The dreaded congested highway. All these people stuck in traffic for hours. It's especially brutal if there is an accident or bad weather.

Yet, I know people who travel it every day. One of my friends takes the 401 all the way from Brampton to 401/Leslie for work. He leaves at 6 AM to get there in reasonable time. So I wonder why there isn't any rapid transit for the Northern GTA. There is along LakeShore, but nothing that parallels this massive highway.

I Google a bit and I find out that it has been proposed.
http://www.thestar.com/news/2008/05/24/a_ticket_to_ride_on_the_401.html
 http://transit.toronto.on.ca/archives/data/200006192000.shtml

This proposal involves removing lanes on the 401, but others could equally be elevated rail or any other such measures. It's an interest proposal. Yet, read the article and you'll see there is a very ideological battle in the heads of some urban planners/leaders.

They're simply not interested in dealing with the city we have and instead want any big spending to go towards reforming the city.

Instead of finding a way for someone from Brampton to get to work at 401/Leslie or someone from Scarborough trying to get to work in Mississauga, they simply shut their ears and imagine a city where such issues don't exist.

But unlike Transit City, which is supposed to extend light rail into the recesses of suburban Toronto, the 401RT concept doesn't have the same city-building potential, argues TTC chair Adam Giambrone.
He espouses the power of light rail to transform neighbourhoods by contributing to higher densities of housing and jobs, building pedestrian traffic that makes for lively neighbourhoods.
"Those cars were fed to that (highway) corridor," he said. "They came in on streets. The goal here is to make transit accessible by pedestrian measures so you can walk. If you have (transit) in a corridor like the 401 series highways or a hydro corridor, that becomes very difficult."
 For another read on this mindset, have a look at:
http://yaminb.blogspot.ca/2012/09/why-eglinton-crosstown-is-confused-with.html

Transforming communities is a great goal, yet we have to deal with the world that exists on some level. Regional travel does work for those who need to cross regions. I work in downtown Toronto right now and the subway is great for me, but plenty of people live in the suburbs. Be it Vaughan or Mississauga or elsewhere. They all take the Go Train for fast and efficient service. It is so much in demand that Go Train parking lots are often full.

You cannot simply contain people to their own local communities. be it for work, visiting family/friends, going to attractions/hospitals... we need regional travel.

Many such urban advocates should actually start to look at the progress the suburbs are making in transit. It might not be transforming communities, but it is working tangibly to get things moving. Consider the Mississauga BRT, which provides a separated busway all the way across Mississauga.
This is real and is active. It passes numerous employment and residential zones.

Yet, you have the same lines being trotted out.

 "The idea that somehow we are going to solve regional transportation problems by putting an express line on the 401 sounds nice in theory, but how the hell do you get people to it?" said Munro.
Well they would get to their jobs if the city connected the regional rail to the suburban rapid transit systems and major nodes that they are building.

Such a regional 401 line need not have so many stops. It could resemble more of a GO Train with a few key stops. For example:

  1. Scarborough Town Center
  2. 401/Yonge (subway connection)
  3. 401/Allen (subway connection)
  4. 401/Renforth Gateway (Mississauga BRT connection)
This is just an example of course. Do we need a lot of stops on it when the Eglinton CrossTown is not too far away?

There are plenty of way to connect people to transit.
Just look at this predestrian bridge by Go Transit near Pickering to get people to the Go Station across the 401. A lot of things are possible.

Again, this is not to take away from the need for light rail across Toronto, but there is a real need for regional travel across the GTA.

It's about time we got more planners dealing with the city as it exists.
I'd say kudos to Go/Metrolinks for thinking up such workable solutions as the pedestrian bridge across the 401 instead of waiting to reform pickering into a live/work/walkable/high density community.




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