Monday, March 07, 2005

Gadzooks!

Ever wanted to travel in subterranean comfort from Long Branch to Rouge Hill - all the while knowing you can stop over in such scenic places as Rexdale, Downsview, Agincourt or Malvern on a whim? Nah, me neither - and neither apparently does our visionary mayor. While I'm not too sure about the $8 zillion price tag, I do have full respect for the author's ambition. I've literally poured over hundreds of these during the past decade and I've never seen anything as bold as this.

Hobby transit planning is a culture unto its own. Knowing maybe 1% of a utopian vision will ever be implemented, us diehards nonetheless trudge along hoping that one day this bad, bad world of funding cuts and efficiency will evaporate into a cultural epiphany of the importance of meaningful public transit. Happily, many 'routers' are finally seeing the benefits of modes beyond the mantra of heavy rail. Designs for cheaper forms of mass transit such as the rebuilding and expansion of the streetcar system and the proliferation of busways have fostered a new focus on projects which can result in realistic, tangible victories.

While I'm a big proponent of renewing before expanding, the idea of easing the burden on the overworked transit system is enticing. New construction would bridge the large swaths of the city which are not serviced by mass transit as the existing system fails to integrate large portions of Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough. In a city which is densifying, access will mean everything to future economic growth and employment opportunities. Reliable access to skilled and creative labour are fast becoming the cornerstones of the viable 21st century metropolis.

To many transit enthusiasts, it is this understanding of the significance of mass transit that drives their vision. It is a noble cause indeed.

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