I was made aware a few days ago that HRM is enduring a transit strike – a few people I know don’t own vehicles and have some level of dependence on mass transit to get to work, which makes it particularly painful. Even with its limitations, it was, in my opinion, better than nothing. In fact, one of the things I miss most about le Homestead is the commute by ferry every day. I have read with appreciation the adaptations undertaken by my fellow ‘Koggers, who are by far the most resourceful folk I’ve ever shared a series of electronic impulses with.
Compare and contrast that with the efforts of our Mayor here in T’ranna, Rob Ford, who, like many politicians, is eager to bury his mistakes; unfortunately, he seems to be confused as to what that means – the battle is on between the supporters of Ford’s vision of GTA transit, which is more subways, and the majority of council, which supports light rail (LRT). The issue in Ford’s mind seems to concentrate on the feelings of burning hatred the residents of the ‘burbs, like Scarborough, feel for the downtown ‘Path’-dwelling Morlocks of the inner city. Notwithstanding the problem of opposing communities is actually a result of Ford clumsily playing one faction off against the other, which, to the eyes of an outsider (like myself, for instance) appears to be the only way he could get elected in the first place.
Now, this is just my opinion, mind you, but I travel to Scarborough quite frequently (most weekends), and it is a combination of subway and LRT travel. Of the two, I vastly prefer subways – fast and unaffected by weather. If, however, the choice is between more LRT to service outlying areas and fewer new subway lines, the economy tends to tilt the balance toward the ‘bang for the buck’ option. As the author of the linked article points out, the city centre isn’t exactly thriving from a mass transit perspective; I’ve taken the St. Clair streetcar several times, and I quite like it, but it is unaffected by the frequent delays experienced by the downtown routes. It is the peril of sharing the roads with thousands of cranky drivers during the interminable rush hours. The battles between neighbourhoods is illusory and purely political in nature.
Love it or hate it, a robust transit system is a necessity for a thriving urban area. Even those who grumbled at the increase in transit rates in January just gritted their teeth and paid more because they know there is no viable alternative. Surely if we remove the artificially-created volatility we can make some progress in creating a system that works for everyone. If leadership is the problem, I have a feeling that this situation is temporary. VERY temporary.
In the meantime, good luck to my commuting friends in the HRM!!