Two high-profile mayoral candidates were talking Tuesday about the headaches people are experiencing when trying to get where they need to go in Toronto, though Olivia Chow and Karen Stintz have different views on how buses fit into tackling gridlock.
Chow addressed the Toronto Region Board of Trade today, giving a speech in which she once again outlined her intent to "boost" rush-hour bus service if she is elected as Toronto’s next mayor.
"Sixty per cent of TTC rides include a bus. But people can’t get on and are packed like sardines when they do," Chow said, according to a copy of her remarks that was posted on her website.
"So I will invest $15 million a year, starting now, to boost rush-hour bus service by 10 per cent. Now. It’s practical. It’s immediate. And it’s a good investment."
Chow said that getting more buses on the road was her "short-term priority," while building above-ground rail to Scarborough would be her "medium-term priority."
"I won’t spend a billion to put above-ground rail underground. Rob Ford and John Tory will," Chow said, taking a swipe at those contenders’ intention to move ahead with the subway extension that council has already approved.
In a separate event on Tuesday, Stintz spoke to reporters and laid out her plan to pay for a so-called Downtown Relief Line — the much-talked about, but still unbuilt extension concept that could help alleviate some of the subway system’s overcrowding issues — as well as other transit projects.
"I have a plan to pay for the city’s portion of our share, so we can finally solve the battle of Downtown Relief Line, something we’ve been talking about for three decades," said Stintz.
To do that, she would establish a dedicated transit trust through several sources:
- By selling a majority stake in Toronto Hydro
- By redirecting revenues from transit enforcement
- By bringing in a $3 levy on selected downtown "Green P" parking lots
- By dedicating the city’s net income from the Toronto Parking Authority to this fund
The three-term councillor also said that she wants to declare "war" on congestion.
"If we think about the single biggest issue facing our city from our productivity to our quality of life, it is congestion," Stintz said.
Stintz criticized some of the ideas that other candidates have put forward for dealing with the city’s congestion issues, including "adding old buses to gridlocked roads," which she said wasn’t going to work.
"The solution to congestion is leadership, focus and funding," she said. "My fellow mayoral candidates have made promises about transit, but offer no leadership about funding."
As of Tuesday afternoon, the city’s website listed more than 50 people who had registered to run for mayor in the upcoming election.
The Oct. 27 election is still nearly six months away.