Subway, not light rail, the solution to Scarborough traffic

The only thing a Torontonian fears more than the number “401” is a red weather advisory bar at the bottom of the morning news screen.

Tens of thousands of Scarborough commuters have no choice but to face the sleet, ice, and snow of Toronto life.

Toronto’s population grows at a rate of 0.4 per cent annually, with many of the immigrants settling in Scarborough. Yet public transit’s reach into the east end is focused on bus routes and light rail that are not immune to the dangers of winter driving.

The plan to build a new RT line in Scarborough extending from the Sheppard line is the city’s solution to appease the public’s call for improvement in transportation. However, the RT line is a short-term solution because of its inefficiency in the winter months and limited space, as we have seen with the existing line.

If the city is to reap the economic benefits of a booming population, investment in public transportation cannot be done by building another rail that only paints over the problem of congested streets.

The east end comprises 187 sq. km. of the city’s area, slightly larger than Etobicoke.  While Scarborough has a population almost twice that of the west end, it has three subway stations located on the region’s edge compared to 12 in the west end.

Scarborough has four of the most dangerous intersections in the province according to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. That number will surely rise with a higher population left to deal with the same outdated public transit system that sees light rail as a solution to the fastest growing region in the city.

The east end demands an expanded subway line if its neighbourhoods are ever to be safe places to drive, not only in winter, but year-round.

If Mayor Rob Ford is truly a man of the people, he will use his second chance at a legacy by investing in Scarborough and by making an honest effort to modernize a region of over 600,000 neglected residents.

A new subway could take many cars off  Scarborough’s roads, which would not solve the problems that come with winter driving, but commuters opting to brave the roads would not have to question whether they would make it to work alive.