Speaking with the refreshing candour of a man not interested in sucking up to the boss, former TTC General Manager Rick Ducharme weighed in on the issue of improving public transit in Toronto and spoke out against a mantra whispered by many a city councillor. In effect, he said, â€œno new subways.â€ Instead, he wishes the city would get off its backside and support more private rights of way for streetcars and buses.
â€œWe can talk about plans, we can talk about co-ordination. You can talk about smart cards. All that to me is irrelevant. You need big investments. That stopped over 20 years ago. I don’t really see any political visionary that really would take on the fight to do it.â€
Ducharme’s not campaigning for the job. But if he had his way, Toronto wouldn’t build another subway. To him, it’s a waste of money to spend $2 billion on a few kilometres with a handful of stops.
The better, cheaper, faster choice is to hand over lanes of roads to buses and streetcars. With $2 billion, the city and the region could be covered with fast-moving transit vehicles that won’t get caught in traffic and would have a predictable and reliable schedule.
â€¦ â€œGive me a dedicated rights-of-way, and it will work.â€ â€¦
â€œYou need a political visionary who’s got guts to say: `I’m doing it. I’m not going to listen to the complaints of car drivers.â€
Is this the same Rick Ducharme who allowed the Ridership Growth Strategy to be amended to include the Spadina and Sheppard Subway extensions? If he feels that they are such a waste of money, why did he bring forward these schemes and recommend that the TTC endorse them as its top priority for expansion rather than an alternative proposal?
But in the end, Steve welcomes Ducharme into the LRT club — a club populated, interestingly, by Ducharme’s old nemesis, Howard Moscoe:
When the Toronto Star, the former CGM at TTC, and the chief transit rabble-rouser are all singing the same tune, something very strange is going on. Now we need politicians in all regions and at all levels of government who will fight for transit.
David Miller: It’s time you recognized that your constituency is the transit riders of the City of Toronto and started fighting for things that will benefit all of us. Indeed a move away from subway-dominated planning will benefit everyone in the GTA by showing what can be done over a much larger area for far less money. Toronto could lead the way in a transit renaissance, if only the Mayor would actually embrace the role.