Rob Ford’s West End mentality may have worked for his Etobicoke constituents, but it certainly isn’t commuting to Scarborough, in the aftermath of his sweeping election.
Ford’s plans to scrap Transit City may be leaving Scarborough residents feeling stranded.
“The Transit City plan didn’t just come off the back of an envelope,” said Dr. Nelson Wiseman, political professor at the University of Toronto. “My impression is that Ford’s plan on transportation did come off the back of an envelope.”
After receiving 47 per cent of the vote, the former Etobicoke councillor was declared the city’s new mayor and insists drastic changes are coming.
However, a closer look at Ford’s platform shows not only does it seem to ignore the needs of Scarborough residents, but it is also unrealistic for the transit needs of the upcoming 2015 Pan-Am games, according to Wiseman.
“His transit plan is fantasy,” he said. “Let’s remember, he’s only one politician on city council — he can’t scrap the transit plan at his own whim.”
Transit City was initially promised to connect the rest of the city to Scarborough, where the majority of the Pan-Am facilities are set to be held.
The current transit plan intends to extend the Sheppard line by eight kilometres by 2015 and has already started. Meanwhile, Ford expects to build 18.4 kilometres of subway track by the same year.
“Everything is continuing to go forward as planned,” said Kevin Carrington, TTC Communications Advisor. “If Ford wants to make any changes to the city’s transit plan, he’ll have to work through city hall and Ottawa first.”
In his platform, Ford does not address the fact that the city has already invested hundreds of millions of dollars in new streetcars and planning for Transit City. Any changes in the existing plan would require renegotiations with the province and a large financial penalty for cancelling the binding contract.
The huge time investment required to design, implement and complete Ford’s transit project is not proportional to the 2015 deadline.
“There’s still a lot to be done before any decision can be made,” Carrington said. “Ford needs to be sworn in and that won’t be happening until December.
Carrington added that the TTC will continue building Transit City and will discuss changes with the new council as they come up.
U of T graduate and Scarborough resident Indira Balkissoon said Ford’s transit plan leaves public transit commuters out in the cold.
“Somebody like Ford doesn’t care for transit, and is only appealing to people who drive their cars and he has no interest in investing in Transit City,” she said.
“There is a real sense of alienation in places like Scarborough, and that has to be addressed,” said Stefan Buransky, spokesperson for Smitherman.