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Subways – except the downtown relief line

Politics rewards consistency. Even if you’re wrong, it’s better to be consistently wrong than come across as wavering – however noble and rational the intentions may be. And that’s exactly what happened with Rob Ford and his commitment to subways, subways and subways.

John Lorinc of Spacing wrote an interesting piece yesterday on how, despite all the debating that went on, Ford is delivering what he said he was going to deliver: a subway. It doesn’t matter that all technical and financial considerations were thrown out the window, he got it funded.

As I said earlier this week, I think the Scarborough line is the wrong subway to be building and that the downtown relief line is infinitely more important for the region. However, Lorinc makes a good case in his article for why this line will not be funded despite the current focus on subways, subways and subways:

Fourth, it’s important to recognize that there will be one notably perverse exception to the foregoing, which is the [Insert Euphemism Here] Relief Line. I do admire Josh Matlow’s advocacy on this front. But Ford will never take up the DRL cause because (i) he doesn’t get the purpose of said extension; and (ii) because the project doesn’t butter his bread, electorally speaking. I’m guessing it will be years before someone with the mayor’s block-headed tenacity emerges to champion a line with a politically inconvenient name and an eye-bulging price tag.

In fact, the sheer heft of the relief line will allow marginally useful yet politically supported subway projects — extensions in the west end to Sherway Gardens or up Yonge to Richmond Hill – to continue to elbow their way to the front of the line, just exactly as the Scarborough subway project did. Indeed, because we no longer care, at any level of government, about subjecting our transit investment choices to a rational policy framework, the most crucial project in the GTA will always lose out in the funding lottery because it has the most diffuse constituency and the most conceptually complicated purpose.”

The disparaging thing about these two paragraphs is that it’s a sad reality.

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