Toronto Unveils Ambitious New Transit Plans

The city’s seen virtually no new investment in transit for the past 20 years.

Toronto street car (Photo by Alex Guibord via Flickr)

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Toronto’s big transportation plans could transform a city that has seen virtually no new investment in transit for the past 20 years.

The Globe and Mail reports that new recommendations include a commitment to a light-rail line on the waterfront — a project long-promised to developers but never built — and a new line running north on Jane Street, among other expansions. A downtown subway relief line is being considered to reduce crowding on existing lines.

According to Metro News, the plan also proposes electrifying GO regional trains and implementing a zoned or fare-by-distance system for transit that crosses municipal borders.

Jennifer Keesmaat, Toronto’s chief planner, told Metro News that the new plans are based on a network approach.

“Historically the city advances one project at a time, and the thinking is, when that project is built then we’ll start planning for the next project,” said Keesmaat. But after many transit initiatives were slashed during the administration of former Mayor Rob Ford, the city is changing its tune, realizing that “to address the backlog in transit infrastructure we need to be advancing a whole series of projects at one time in parallel.”

The plans were released as a series of public meetings around the city and region kick off today. The city of Toronto will conduct 18 open houses to garner feedback about seven provincial and city projects.

Anne Marie Aikins of Metrolinx, a provincial transit agency jointly conducting the meetings, told Metro News that public feedback events will be held about twice a year from now on.

“We’ve never done this big of a public consultation, but then we’ve never done this big a transit expansion,” she said.

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Jen Kinney is a freelance writer and documentary photographer. Her work has also appeared in Philadelphia Magazine, High Country News online, and the Anchorage Press. She is currently a student of radio production at the Salt Institute of Documentary Studies. See her work at jakinney.com.

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Tags: urban planninglight railsubwaystoronto

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