New MPPs in Thornhill and Richmond Hill

The Thornhill race was won by PC candidate Peter Shurman and the Richmond Hill race was won by Liberal candidate Reza Moridi. In the outlines of the candidates prior to the election, I only provided a summary of where they stood on rapid transit options without any of my own opinions. Now that the election is over, I will provide my opinions on the winners.

Thornhill is the riding that is at the heart of the issue over subway expansion versus the VIVA reserved lanes on Yonge. While I agree with the Subway Now people that we should not spend money on one mode and then spend money again on another, I do not agree that subway is the best mode for the area. For about the same amount of money, LRT could be built up Yonge to Major Mac, and along a significant part of the VIVA Purple route on Highway 7, possibly from York University to the 404. That would be far more convenient for far more people without having many of them drive their cars and park at Richmond Hill Centre.

Thornhill: Peter Shurman

As I mentioned in the candidate comments, Mr. Shurman expressed some confusion between “subway” and an LRT that is underground. This came about because I mentioned that some of the space concerns, particularly through the Thornhill village area, could be dealt with by building LRT underground through that part (I also believe that the same should be seriously looked at in Richmond Hill and Aurora). LRT underground is naturally more expensive than surface LRT, but significantly less than full heavy rail subway.

Mr. Shurman indicated that he felt it was important that any rapid transit development should involve bringing in experts that can properly look at all viable alternatives to determine what is best suited. I know that some would read this as the PC party bringing in some of their friends to consult, but I got the impression that Mr. Shurman seriously would want to have this looked at by those with knowledge of transit, and not just friends of the party. He also indicated that public input would also have to be part of the process.

I did receive some interesting feedback on Mr. Shurman after I spoke with him. It seems that he had signed onto LRT as a viable option as it was reported to me that at an all-candidates’ meeting he was pushing the idea of LRT.

Richmond Hill is where the north end of the subway expansion would be, and if LRT were implemented instead, more of this riding would be served by a rapid transit alternative.

Richmond Hill: Reza Moridi

I am saddened to report that Mr. Moridi does not give me confidence in his ability to speak on behalf of transit needs of Richmond Hill, though I do await him to prove me wrong. He did say that rapid transit solutions should be technically reviewed, but did so with an undertone that perhaps that had already determined that subway is best - why else would the Liberal campaign promise the subway?

Mr. Moridi strikes me as the perfect back-bencher: he’ll say yes to whatever the party wants, constituency be damned. If the party wants a subway, he’ll vote for it, whether it was really determined by a technical review or not.

One other aspect about Mr. Moridi that suggests to me that he may not be pro-transit, let alone open-minded on rapid transit solutions. I cannot say for sure if he did or did not do any campaigning at places where commuters would be found (one of the two GO stations in the riding, or at the Richmond Hill Centre transit terminal). One thing I do know he did during a few morning rush hours was to stand at the side of a busy road and wave at the car traffic. I understand that the modal split in York Region means that he was far more likely to be seen by commuters standing at the side of a road than at a transit station, but this activity did not have him speaking face to face with any commuters.

I plan to be in regular communication with both these MPPs regarding rapid transit issues. I encourage others to do the same.

One Response to “New MPPs in Thornhill and Richmond Hill”

  1. Mrs. C. Stuart Says:

    I have lived in this area for the past 34 years. The traffic on Yonge Street now, is unbearable. I literally have to push my way into the traffic in order to make a left hand turn onto Yonge Street from Kirk Drive. What will it be like if they go ahead and add a middle lane for buses only?? It certainly will not take away the the traffic that is already there….but will add to the congestion we now have. We desperately need a new Subway on Yonge Street to take away some of the congestion and allow us, who live in this area….a normal life without the additional stress this situation is causing.

    Cal’s comment: This is perhaps a good example of an opinion that, while well meaning, is not based on knowledge of transit options. This is the fault of our politicians who jump on one option and promote it like it was the best thing since sliced bread without providing any information on alternatives. This is made easier for them when the idea they are promoting is something the public is very familiar with, such as a subway extension.

    A new middle lane for buses could improve the situation, as it would result in alleviating congestion caused when buses get in the way of other traffic and when other traffic gets in the way of buses. That said, I am opposed to building reserved bus lanes as there is provincial funding available for doing more.

    As for a “Subway”, paying for the extension of a heavy rail system such as the TTC’s Yonge line past Steeles is overkill and our return on rapid transit improvement and how many people that it will benefit is much lower than what is possible with a light rail alternative. The section on Yonge from Steeles up to at least Centre Street might be best served by a light rail implementation that is tunnelled underground - an “LRT Subway” if you will. Though this would be more costly than a surface LRT that would either be built in a centre median (just like the bus proposal) or on a right of way adjacent to the street, a tunnelled LRT solution is less costly than extending the existing subway line. The savings could be used to build that LRT line possibly as far north as Major Mackenzie Drive.