Ford is still playing the subway card, because it sells
You can tell Mayor Rob Ford is thinking about the next election when he reverts to thumping the tub for subways.
And just like the last time Ford whipped up the public over the supposed advantages of subways over light rapid transit, he won’t go along with any suggestions on how to pay for it.
The mayor has told city manager Joe Pennachetti to report back in two weeks on ways to get an extra $923 million to extend theBloor-Danforth subway into Scarborough, instead of sticking with the current plan to build an LRT surface line.
Haven’t we been here before? Isn’t the answer – tolls, taxes and fees - the same as last time, and the time before?
Ford has repeatedly made it clear he won’t go for any transit expansion plans that add to taxes. He hates tolls and won’t support them. Parking fees and business levies? No way.
Just last month, Ford said it was a win for taxpayers when city council rejected a wide range of funding tools proposed by Metrolinx to raise money for building transit across the GTA, including taxes and levies.
Earlier on, he met with private sector guys who said they'd like more subways, but not enough to put their own dough into play in a public-private partnership.
Unless Pennachetti is adept at producing shiny coins from behind his ear – if he was, he’d have shown us by now - his report can only propose more of the same.
The mayor knows it, so what’s going on here?
In the first year or so of his term, Ford scored a lot of points, especially in Scarborough, which is
underserved by public transit, by torpedoing set plans for LRT and relentlessly chanting that subways were the only way to go.
He didn’t have a plan to pay for it, but kept repeating the subway mantra.
People like Pennachetti said, “Here’s a bunch of funding tools, Mr. Mayor. Pick out a few and go to work.”
He rejected them all, but kept shouting, “We need subways! You folks deserve subways, and I want to build them! No second-class LRTs for the good people of Scarborough!”
Anyone who was listening to talk radio at the time (and I admit to it) knows that a lot of people mistakenly believed Ford was being thwarted by city council’s “loonie left” in his noble quest for subways.
It didn’t matter to them that he seemed to think funding could be conjured from somewhere other than people’s pockets, just like none of his other failings matter.
The idea that Robbie wants to build subways but somebody won’t let him is an effective message he’d no doubt like to get out again, as the election draws closer.
The only people who care about the details wouldn’t vote for him anyway, so why let facts get in the way?Just keep saying Scarborough deserves a subway and you want to build it.