Nearly three in four Toronto residents support 'Superlinx' proposal: poll
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Wednesday, October 31, 2018 12:29PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, October 31, 2018 4:05PM EDT
Nearly three out of four Toronto residents support the idea of having one central agency responsible for both local and regional transit services, a new poll has found.
The Toronto Region Board of Trade commissioned the poll to gauge support for its “Superlinx” proposal, which would see one provincial agency responsible for operating and building transit both regionally and in individual communities along the Toronto-Waterloo corridor.
The idea was first floated by the board of trade in a policy paper released nearly a year ago but has again been brought to the forefront in light of the provincial government’s stated desire to assume responsibility for Toronto’s subway infrastructure.
In the policy paper, the board of trade argued in favour of replacing local transit agencies in 11 municipalities with a central provincial transit agency, which it said would have the “vision, scale and resources” to create a world class transit system,
The Environics Research poll of 1,000 adult residents in the Greater Toronto, Hamilton and Waterloo regions found that such an idea would have widespread support.
A total of 79 per cent of respondents said that they would be in favour of the plan, including 74 per cent of the respondents in the City of Toronto.
The plan was the most popular in Halton and Peel regions (88 and 87 per cent support respectively). Meanwhile, the level of support was lower in Waterloo and Hamilton (67 and 65 per cent respectively).
“We used to have peoples whose jobs were within cities and the cities would manage their transit networks within those cities. The reality today is that our second biggest employment zone in Canada is in the area around the airport – Mississauga, Brampton and Toronto – and none of those transit authorities are really focused on how they build transit outside their communities to those zones,” President and CEO of the Toronto Region Board of Trade told CP24 on Wednesday afternoon.
The majority of respondents to the poll said that in order to have a truly regional transit system there needs to be a “significant overhaul,” including 91 per cent of those in Toronto.
Speaking with CP24, De Silva described the current model in which there is a regional transit agency in Metrolinx and a number of other local transit agencies as “fragmented” and ineffective.
“We have been advocating for 20 years to say let’s get the financing down to the cities so they can get on with it but it is not working and we are at a point now where we need something that integrates across the region and the province has far more financial capacity to deal with that,” she said.
The provincial government has appointed a special adviser to head up efforts to upload Toronto’s subway system, though it remains unclear when such a move would actually be carried out.
While De Silva called the idea “a necessary first step,” other stakeholders including the TTC’s largest union and the TTCriders advocacy organization have opposed it.
In a news release issued on Wednesday afternoon, TTCriders Executive Director Shelagh Pizey-Allen said that uploading the subway system to the province “may sound like a good idea, but is a recipe for higher fares, loss of local control, privatization, and service cuts.”
Pizey-Allen also questioned the results of the poll, given that respondents were not made aware of potential impacts on “fares, governance, transparency, and funding for local transit systems.
“Doug Ford’s plan to upload the subway won’t fix the TTC or make transit more affordable,” she said.
Mayor John Tory has previously said that while he would consider the merits of the idea of uploading the subway, he has stressed that the status quo would have to be “substantially improved” for both riders and taxpayers.
The Environics Research poll was conducted between Aug. 13 and 21 using an online panel. No margin of error has been provided.