Torontonians are deeply divided about Premier Doug Ford’s plan to take over the subway, a new poll suggests.
The Campaign Research survey conducted for the Star found that 43 per cent favour Ford’s proposal for the provincial government to upload the TTC’s rail network from the city while 39 per cent oppose it and 18 per cent had no opinion.
But 65 per cent of respondents believe the premier “will politicize the process even further and make investments that are based on political concerns instead of what will provide the best value for the citizens of Toronto.”
Just 20 per cent did not feel Ford, who unilaterally slashed the size of Toronto council last summer, would base subway planning on political considerations and 14 per cent weren’t sure.
“The opportunity for Doug Ford is ‘don’t politicize it,’ as people are concerned that he will in the city of Toronto,” said Campaign Research CEO Eli Yufest said Monday.
“Given that he only had support of about a third of voters in the last election in Toronto, I’m not surprised to see that number come out like that,” said Yufest.
Under the plan, a cornerstone of the Progressive Conservatives’ campaign platform last June, the TTC would continue to be responsible for day-to-day operations of the subway and keep fare-box revenues.
But the building and maintenance of new and existing Toronto Transit Commission subway lines would be handled by Queen’s Park.
Buses and streetcars would still be run by the city.
Ford had been pushing the plan to “cut through red tape to start new projects and finish construction faster.”
“Necessary maintenance and investment in the subway system has been put off for too long,” the premier said last month. “We’ve also been waiting far too long for subway expansions. New subway construction has been stuck in red tape for years. It’s time to take action and speed things up.”
Using an online panel of 928 Toronto residents, Campaign Research polled between last Wednesday and Friday. A probability sample of that size would have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
The poll found 64 per cent believe the City of Toronto’s transit development process is too slow, which results in little being built, while 18 per cent disagreed and 18 per cent had no opinion.
“Again, that’s not too surprising,” said Yufest. “It just seems to take forever … and things seem to get debated, but nothing ever gets done.” Yufest noted anecdotal evidence can be found daily on the overcrowded subway platforms.
In that vein, the pollster found building the downtown relief line was the top transit priority for 38 per cent of those surveyed and the second most important transportation project for 17 per cent, while 45 per cent had no response.
By comparison, extending the Sheppard subway to the Scarborough Town Centre was the top priority for 13 per cent and the second biggest for 15 per cent, with 73 per cent having no response.
The controversial extension of the Danforth line to the Scarborough Town Centre, in place of the existing LRT, fared even worse, with just 11 per cent saying it was the top priority and 11 per cent saying it was second, while 78 per cent had no response.