Toronto’s Chief Planner Says Major Changes Are Coming to Toronto Transit System

Look, no one’s happy about Toronto’s transit situation.

And if they are, it’s only because they’re newly arrived and still don’t know what true disappointment looks like.

While most major cities in the world boast public transportation networks that look like road maps, Toronto’s more closely resembles a few pieces of spaghetti strewn about on a table.

But if there’s one thing Torontonians hate more than the TTC, it’s paying taxes, proven most explicitly in electing Rob Ford to the city’s highest office in 2010.

After decades of staggering incompetence in deciding how to bring Toronto’s transit system up to par with its designation as the undisputed Centre of the Universe, the city’s chief planner, Jennifer Keesmaat, has finally come out and said what’s necessary for us to hear: Toronto needs to “bite the bullet.”

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Photo – Anya Chibis

What she’s talking about, of course, is citizens accepting a host of revenue tools that the city will roll out in order to finance a functional transportation system, which she outlined in a speech to the Toronto Region Board of Trade yesterday.

“The new normal is going to be recognizing that we’re going to need to open up our pocketbooks in a variety of different ways in order to pay for that transit investment that is required to make a livable city,” she said.

Citing cities that “have got this right,” Keesmaat said sales taxes, road tolls, vehicle excise taxes, property tax increases and other levies will all be necessary in some capacity to fund transit infrastructure.

For Torontonians, however, it’s not just about what they’ll be taxed, but also how that money will be spent. It’s essentially impossible to have everyone buy into a project that will only serve a fraction of the population given the city’s expansive sprawl.

Keesmaat also detailed a 15-year plan that calls for about a dozen new rapid transit lines and extensions to be built by 2031, including the downtown relief line, Scarborough subway, and the SmartTrack rail project. You can probably understand, then, why someone in Etobicoke would have a problem with road tolls to fund transit in the opposite corner of the city and downtown-dwelling yuppies.

Insert sentence about the perils of amalgamation.