Transit projects often fall far short of the promises made: James

At the core of current angst over the future of transit building in the GTA and environs is this: past and current decisions suggest that the projects we get do not deliver the benefits promised.The planners, the politicians, the public, all of us are swept along in a furious spending binge with no guarantees of the desired results.Commuters have demonstrated they will use transit if it is fast, reliable and competitive. We are not talking those who are stuck on the bus because they have no access to a car. The rest of the populace willingly supports transit spending with the expectation the expenditure will improve their commute.Anyone who pays attention to transit decisions here knows that such faith is misplaced. No jurisdiction is immune. Similar projects all over the world suffer from delusionary projections from planners, false assumptions and political deception.In his book, The Railway Metropolis, available on Amazon, Torontonian transit planner Michael Schabas delves into the entrails of one of the world’s most celebrated systems, the London transit system over the last 35 years. Schabas exposes more than a few missteps and mistakes. Compared to the TTC, the London transit map evokes envy. Still, Schabas gives London a score of seven out of 10. Toronto?Article Continued BelowUp to the 1970s Toronto was “about an eight” – leading the world with such innovations as integrating bus and subway travel, practicing zone fares and the like. Sadly, he says, it’s been downhill ever since — “maybe a three now” — with the chance of rebounding if Metrolinx can implement GO RER (electrification and all-day service) and fare integration with the local transit bodies and insist on positive cost-benefit analyses before backing projects.“You would have to travel far and wide to find a city” foolish enough to build a one-stop subway to an area that will deliver only 2,000 new passengers and save five minutes — especially when it could have delivered similar benefits by refurbishing and modernizing the Scarborough RT for one-tenth the cost, Schabas says.He’d said as much in a report he filed for the Neptis foundation — before the final decisions were made on the Scarborough subway. It fell on deaf ears.Exchanges were at times heated between Councillor Matlow and Mayor Tory in March before council voted to move forward with the $3.35 billion Scarborough subway plan. (City of Toronto Live Feed)

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