#179 – Getting a Gauge on Toronto

Given the impossibly shitty transit scenario that dominates much of Canada Toronto’s subway system should be a breath of fresh air. Toronto’s subway system is certainly an imperative piece of transit infrastructure for a city that suffers the worst traffic in Canada (this despite cakers fearing Montreal’s traffic as though every car in Quebec is rigged to explode at the slightest glance). And Toronto’s subway has maintained a proud Canadian tradition of eschewing maintenance and standardization in favor of the “ah, fuck it” we all know and loathe. How bad is it, you ask? How about this – the Toronto metro’s subway and streetcar systems run on a totally unique rail gauge whose origins come from horse-drawn carriages in 1861.

Want more than that? How about the now-infamous boondoggle that is the restoration of Union Station, home to a crucial transit hub? How about regular complaints about chronic filth in critical points of the subway? Or the severe overcrowding on the Yonge line caused by decades of dithering and doing nothing while the place sprawled like a suburban caker’s waistline? These blows are only the smaller turds in the TTC toilet bowl; the city’s subway and streetcars are built by caker-business extraordinaire, Bombardier. Which the city is in the process of suing for fucking up so spectacularly that even caker business couldn’t shove it under the rug.

Canada’s largest city has as history of fucking up miserably at expanding transit. This is, I remind you, the city that Jane Jacobs took refuge in as Robert Moses was busy ruining New York City with freeways and concrete sadness. I can’t fathom her picking Toronto anymore, a city that recently opted to rebuild a Soviet abomination of a highway to appease suburban knuckledraggers and that has increasingly been taken over by sprawling suburban bullshit. It’s worth noting that one of the subway expansions that has long been sitting in the planning equivalent of development hell is a route to a place called Scarberia by honest people and liveable by people who don’t know any better.

Among the projects that Toronto has kicked around and around instead of doing anything about are some incredible stories. Back in 1995 Mike “Get the Fuck Outta My Park” Harris abandoned the Eglinton West line and filled the hole in; the project has since been restarted…nearly 15 years later and in a different form. Never mind that the need for infrastructure was first noted in 1985 and that it only came through from recognition of need to approval (not even completion) after 29 years. 29 years?! The Americans got a man to the fucking Moon in less than that timeframe!

(s) That said the Moon is probably cheaper than Toronto

And who could forget the time when a single failure in the electrical system caused massive shutdowns? Or when the communications systems failed, leaving people stranded for over an hour? And who could forget Canada’s most deadly transit accident, the result of shitty safety systems and training? Or the time that the original 1954 signalling system shockingly gave out 60 years after it was made? Flooding subway stations and streetcars that can’t handle the cold are just par for the particularly shitty course of Toronto’s transit future.

Shockingly, places where people regularly spend hours of their days commuting should probably not look like shit if you want people to have any faith in your infrastructure. And while it might be wise to mobilize resources to not suck when the ability for people to get from one place to another is on the line, Toronto’s shitway and terrible transit woes are at least an honest reflection of how lazy and uncoordinated Canada’s largest city is. And how incredibly inert cakers are, but that’s pretty obviously understood by now. Why plan when you can mindlessly sprawl and use the power of massively-delayed, massively over-budget mega-projects to play at solving the problem?

To do anything else would simply not be the caker way.

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