George Smitherman transit platform

Smitherman’s mayoral platform unfolds
By Kris Scheuer
(Published in Town Crier May 28.)

Mayoral candidate George Smitherman outside Toronto City Hall. Photo by Kris Scheuer/Town Crier.

George Smitherman  has started his mayoral campaign in earnest by unveiling his expansive transportation plan.
At an May 27 editorial board meeting at the Town Crier, Smitherman gave insight into his platform, which also includes a detailed roadmap emphasizing core services, jobs and community development.
His 10-year transportation plan includes specifics on the current Transit City plan for light rapid transit, bike lanes and subways.
Smitherman fundamentally backs provincial agency Metrolinx’s funding of the four key Transit City projects but would like to see some changes to the current plan.
“I support the proposal that Metrolinx has made to do the Eglinton LRT from Kennedy station but it’s ridiculous to stop at Black Creek. That has to connect right over to Weston (Road),” he said.
As well, he supports pushing forward with the Sheppard LRT eastbound but past Morningside right into the University of Toronto and Centennial College campuses.
“Don’t do 90 percent and then stop,” he said. “Find the other 10 percent and get the job done.”
The Finch LRT had three sections, he said, he’s focused on the Finch West portion. His proposal is that it run from Finch subway to Highway 27 and then Humber College, Etobicoke General Hospital, Woodbine mall and the proposed Woodbine Live entertainment complex.
Smitherman rejects the Transit City plan to replace the Scarborough rapid transit with an LRT. Instead, he would replace the existing line by expanding the subway line eastbound from Kennedy station.
Additionally, he pledges to expand the Bloor-Danforth subway line westbound to Sherway Gardens mall, and connect the Sheppard subway westbound from Yonge Street over to Downsview Station.
Part of how he would pay for this is having the private sector design, build and finance the city-owned infrastructure. He’d also establish a city transit trust fund by placing revenues in it such as the gas taxes the provincial and federal governments send to Toronto.
“It is really focused on trying to get past the talk, into the stage of action,” he said. “In the course of the campaign I plan to lay out in quite a level of detail that … will serve as a roadmap for action.”
He doesn’t plan to build new bike lanes on roads at this time, but would focus on making existing ones more usable. He would build bike expressways along hydro corridors and along ravines.
Smitherman vows to reduce the vehicle registration tax although he didn’t get specific on the amount.
And he also floated the idea of making transit free for seniors between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. during the week.

What do you think of Smitherman’s plan to expand LRT routes?

2 responses to “George Smitherman transit platform

  1. marcello lavalle

    Please clarify mr. smitherman’s proposal for free transit for seniors as this is pivital in making a decision.
    Why such a limit to the “free” from 10:00am to 2:00pm and not on the weekends. Why not include the weekend ? This would give the proposal some substance. Also, what are the chances for council support? Can he make this proposal a promise? I will be voting on Monday. Thanks for your anticipated response.

    • Marcello, I love that you want to be an informed voter and are seeking more info on an issue close to your heart.
      As a political reporter, I don’t work for anyone’s campaign including Smitherman’s so I can’t speak on his behalf.
      A look on his website at his transit plan he states: “Free Transportation for Seniors, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on weekdays.” Why not on weekends as well? That’s for Smitherman to answer, but my guess is he has costed out the cost (last revenue) of offering free transit for seniors during this time and can’t find the money to extend it beyond this time and on weekends. Or, he is not interested in offering free transit to seniors all the time. But these are just possibilities.
      For a real answer: contact his campaign team and ask a volunteer to tell you. You can call his downtown campaign office at (416) 342-9674 or his Scarborough campaign office at (647) 317-3339. I hope you get an answer from someone working on his team.
      You asked can he make this proposal a promise. The simple answer is no. Because if he, or any mayoral candidate, wins he has one vote on a 45-member council. Secondly, this proposal costs money (lost revenue by giving free transit to seniors) so he will have to make up that lost revenue some other way and that takes support from council but also a balance of many priorities. So there is never a guarantee. But he has said it’s something he will do, fight for, supports. So if you like the idea, it’s up to you to decide if he is the man you want as mayor.
      Can he get the votes on council to make this happen?
      That is also a matter of speculation as well. Firstly, of course, he’d have to become mayor. We don’t know the make-up of council either in 44 council races with some not seeking re-election so there will be new (yet to be decided) faces. And some incumbents may lose. So it’s hard to say how many of the newly-elected councillors will side with Smitherman.
      Generally speaking, the mayor has more weight and influence than the one vote they get.
      As well, Smitherman (a Liberal and former MPP) says he is a centrist who can work with anyone and claims to have support on his campaign team from all political stripes. So he will mostly likely tell you he will try and get support from/work with many elected councillors regardless of their ideology.
      Good luck with your choice. Kris

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