Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Support quality journalism
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24weeks
The Globe and Mail
Support quality journalism
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Globe and Mail website displayed on various devices
Just$1.99
per week
for the first 24weeks

var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){console.log("scroll");var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1);

Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) construction zone for the Sheppard East Light Rail Transit (LRT) project at the Agincourt GO Transit station in Toronto, Thursday, December 2, 2010.

Adrien Veczan for The Globe and Mail/adrien veczan The Globe and Mail

Has Rob Ford made a monkey out of Metrolinx, the agency that runs GO Transit and is responsible for transportation planning across Greater Toronto?

Consider the optics: Dalton McGuinty's Liberals spent years putting in place the laws and financial arrangements needed to establish the GTA-wide body, which has built an elaborate long-term strategy to crack the region's gridlock crisis.

But it only took Toronto's new mayor a day to blow it all apart, with his insistence that the city wants subways, not the sort of surface light-rail lines that represented a key component of the agency's 2008 "Big Move" strategy.

Story continues below advertisement

Given the McGuinty government's eagerness to co-operate with Mr. Ford, the new dynamic raises tough questions about Queen's Park's high-minded bid to allow land-use planning principles to guide infrastructure investment. Metrolinx's regional transportation plan "could all go up in a fairly quick puff of smoke in the next couple of weeks," observes Wilfrid Laurier University political scientist David Docherty.

"This is a very fluid situation," adds University of Western Ontario local government expert Andrew Sancton. "Metrolinx has no political legitimacy other than the fact that it is an agency of the provincial government."

Even a year ago, the Liberals would have defended their policy goals, says Prof. Docherty. Today, Queen's Park seems content to stand aside while Toronto sorts out Mr. Ford's new transit plan, which itself is hardly written in stone. The mayor's own priority is a subway along Sheppard to Scarborough Town Centre. TTC chair Karen Stintz says there's enough funding for the Eglinton LRT as well. Provincial officials insist it's going to be one or the other, but not both, and are still wondering if Team Ford has offered up its bottom line or merely an opening gambit.

Established by statute in 2006, Metrolinx sits at the fulcrum of the exceptionally complicated legal and bureaucratic relationship between the City of Toronto and Queen's Park.

The political relationship is no less complex. Former mayor David Miller pushed hard to persuade Queen's Park to restore transit funding cuts made by the province during the Mike Harris years. Until the mid-1990s, Queen's Park transferred cash directly to the Toronto Transit Commission. The McGuinty government opted instead to direct new funding into Metrolinx, which was assigned the unenviable task of looking at the entire region's needs, not just Toronto's.

That approach made sense politically when the Liberals were riding high in the polls and the provincial economy was strong. But with Tim Hudak's Tories gaining ground just about everywhere and a provincial race less than a year away, the Liberals have chosen to play ball with Mr. Ford in order to protect their bastion in the 416, says pollster Nik Nanos.

"They don't really have any choice. If they don't, they could face significant problems in the next election."

Story continues below advertisement

Projected 2031 ridership

  • Sheppard East LRT: 3,000 passengers*
  • Eglinton LRT: 5,400
  • Finch West LRT: 2,800
  • Scarborough RT: 8,000

Ridership required to achieve economic viability for different modes operating in partial or exclusive rights of way

  • Bus Rapid Transit with bypass lanes: 2,000-8,000 passengers
  • Surface LRT: 3,000-10,000
  • Elevated/tunnelled LRT: 8,000-20,000
  • Subway/GO Transit: 15,000+

* All figures represent peak period ridership in one direction

Source: TTC

Special to The Globe and Mail

Editor's Note: The original newspaper version of this article and an earlier online version incorrectly identified the university at which Prof. Docherty teaches. This online version has been corrected.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies