Thursday, December 2, 2010

Crayons in Winter

You don't need much to be a successful political candidate: in the final analysis, it all boils down to lots of money and charisma. It's not like you need to have good ideas, or even know how things work. Sometimes you don't even need charisma, and if you want to be an unsuccessful political candidate, you don't need the money either. Take it from someone who knows first-hand!

And you need even less to be an Internet political commentator. Again, take it from someone who knows. This tends to be most obvious in newspaper comment threads, and with hizzoner Rob Ford locked into the levers of power back in Toronto, there are plenty of reasons for commenters to display ignorance that make the most assheaded politicians look like Renaissance men.

Right now, the big deal is hizzoner's right-out-the-gate statement that Transit City, Toronto's ambitious light rail construction program, is dead and the idea of a subway to Scarborough should be the TTC's prime concern. Refreshingly, this is not being accepted everywhere; even the Toronto Sun recognizes that it's a stupid idea. Many of the commenters - less so. Take this comment that I pulled from the Toronto Star yesterday.

Sure, I admit that the current surface transit routes can be rather erratic; that's exactly why I switched my commute from the Queen streetcar to the King streetcar, back in that other life where my postal code didn't have a V in it. I admit that it is unpleasant to wait in inclement weather for a transit vehicle; I've done it many a time, though I'd counter that it's far more unpleasant to have to drive in inclement weather. But this - "subways really are the only choice for a city with our climate"?

This actually ties in to what I wrote the other day about population density. In the same way that it seems reasonable that you could get sixty thousand people living on Annacis Island, it seems reasonable to state that cities with harsh winters naturally favor subways over surface-running systems. All I gotta say is... have you ever been OUTSIDE of Toronto? Say, to Calgary, where if you may recall it was snowing and -35 degrees Celsius a couple of weeks ago, and incidentally the home of a light rail transit system that runs on the surface for eighty-seven percent of its length?

Politicians have been criticized for making transit plans that amount to crayons on a map. Criticisms like that don't stand up to even that quality.

No comments:

Post a Comment