Transit and the bully

For those not in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) – this story may or may not resonate with you.

Once upon a time there was a guy – we’ll call him Rob Ford (mainly because that’s his name). And he wanted to become Mayor. His platform was to get rid of the gravy train at City Hall – it may have struck a nerve – as well, people were tired of the current Mayor – David Miller (even though Mr. Miller didn’t run – Rob Ford was still the alternative). So, with really no opposition during the election, he won.

The war against the car is over

This was the first order of business – the apparent war on the car. So, Mr. Ford followed through – he removed the $60 fee that Toronto residents payed for the privilege of driving their cars. He even convinced city council to remove bike lanes that had just been put in place the previous two years. Rob Ford was the man – he said something and it happened. Next stop Gravy Train – well this one wasn’t so cut and dry. Consultants were hired, if there was gravy found – it was residue at best, but no train in sight.

Transit be the next target

Rob Ford then single-handedly declared plans for transit expansion (with MetroLinx) dead – crushed. Mainly because he wanted subways. He doesn’t take subways (unless it’s a photo op). He takes his minivan. And people know that he drives his minivan because he’s been caught talking on his cell phone – not just once either. He’s had run ins with the CBC and This Hour has 22 Minutes. Yet, for some reason he keeps on going – right, back to the transit thing.

So, he wants subways – fine, we all want subways. Actually, I’d like to have a star trek transporter to get to and from places – but until that day, subways will do. Let’s face it, subways are the backbone of major international cities – London, Paris, Tokyo and a little tiny place called New York City. But the infrastructure has been in place for a long time for those systems. Toronto could have been that – but the TTC (and the city, province and feds) didn’t really plan ahead. The expansion of the city coupled with the dominant use of the car helped stem the tide of transit growth. Right, back to the subways. Yes, suffice to say that the majority of people would choose subways – if cost didn’t matter. If there was an unlimited budget – the ability to spend without regard.

And that is the pickle that Mayor Ford found himself in this month. Toronto Council voted again for the already voted for MetroLinx plan. A report that backed light rail over subways the Mayor had for 11 months was leaked. And to top it off – Gary Webster, chief of the TTC was removed from his job in 5-4 vote by the Toronto Transit Commisioners. He was removed for – of all things – stating his expert opinion. It just happened to be not what the Mayor wanted to hear. So, the Mayor got five of his minions to do the dirty work.

Transit pet projects

It’s an odd thing when people that don’t even take transit – want to better the system. I’m all for Mayor Ford fixing transit in this city – the TTC is in need of fixing, but it can’t be fixed without a plan. MetroLinx has that plan – and that plan has been in place for a while – long before Mayor Ford (and his simpleton sidekick – Doug Ford) took office. It’s amazing what happens when a Mayor wants a transit pet project to go forward. They’ll stop at almost nothing to get it done. There was a previous Mayor and his project – oh yeah – Mayor Lastman and the Sheppard Subway Line. The cost on that was at the time outrageous. It’s running so far under capacity that it’s still running only 4-car trains (compared to the 6-car trains on the other lines, save for the SRT).

The moral

Schools are trying to combat bullying, trying. The problem is that bullies will always be around, fuelled by whatever they feel has been held against them. So, in the case of the Fords, they’re spending their time fighting against all that they are not – smart. The Fords are nothing but bullies – plain and simple. They are pushing their way through city hall regardless of the results. So, as much as schools can try and stop bullies – every night on the news we see that sometimes being a bully can pay off – just ask Gary Webster.

Do you need to be a bully to get things done?