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Thread: "Newsflash: People like cars" Says Former Head of GO

  1. #1

    Default "Newsflash: People like cars" Says Former Head of GO

    Newsflash: People like cars
    So why not offer incentives to carpoolers? And while you’re at it, kill the University Ave. bike lane trial
    By Gordon Chong, Guest Columnist

    Save Transit City, build subways, build more bike lanes, build HOV lanes, build HOT lanes and levy tolls!

    Transit and transportation have generated a lot of heat and ink with no end in sight as they have moved to centre stage in the mayoralty campaign.

    Improving public transit and reducing congestion are worthy public policy objectives, but is it worth all the angst, hysteria, hyperbole and righteous indignation ?

    Improved public transit is critical for the transit-captive poor who are car-deprived.

    However, I would wager even they would prefer to get around in their own vehicles — unless they live and work near a subway line.

    Why? Freedom of mobility! Our self-interest motivates us to want to retain some measure of control over our lives in a world where it is diminishing daily. We don’t really yearn to get squeezed into crowded public transit.

    Most people, rich or poor, fantasize about cars.

    Just look at the media advertising, or note all the nouveau riche who used to ride bicycles in mainland China now drive fancy cars and are clamouring for more, despite the congestion.

    Maybe cars should be radically downsized, as well as less expensive and more environmentally friendly. They could be called POVs (personal occupancy vehicles).

    Short of that fantasy or building subways everywhere, what else can be done?

    Why not incentivize people to carpool and vanpool even more, like an organization called Smart Commute is already doing?

    Why not legalize and incentivize entrepreneurs to operate minibuses? After all, vans and minibuses most closely replicate the comfort, convenience and flexibility of the SOV (single occupancy vehicle).

    Come to think of it, so do bicycles!

    Hard-core cyclists and some of their snide supporters must fantasize about their own network of bicycle paths that would rival the road network — not a bad goal if approached in a sensible fashion. Cyclists have a lot in common with drivers.

    Both want control!

    Cyclists want to go where they want — even the wrong way on one-way streets and on the sidewalk — when they want — through red lights and stop signs.

    I’ve even seen cyclists at 6 a.m. flying down sidewalks while decked out in helmets!

    No matter how grandiose their fantasies, it doesn’t justify bike lanes on major arterials. It also doesn’t excuse the dismissive arrogance toward taxpayers with opposing views at public venues.

    As for the University Ave. pilot: Mothball it!

    We don’t need another pilot. We have dozens of them every spring, summer and fall. They’re known as lane closures for road repairs.

    Competent professionals can measure the delays and extrapolate them to lane removals for potential bike lanes. Then they’ll have the required metrics for an informed debate.

    There is another decades-old pilot on Bay St. beside Toronto City Hall. The curb lane is supposed to be reserved for buses, taxis and bicycles between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on weekdays.

    It is clogged with cars every day because the restrictions are not enforceable due to the natural spillover of north-south traffic from other routes. What conclusions have been drawn?

    I spent the first 30 years of my life south of St. Clair Ave. I was a cyclist as a teenager until I ran into a couple of car doors.

    I spent the following 30 years of my life sleeping in North York but working in downtown Toronto.

    Toronto is not, and not likely to be, a bicycle town.

    In order to improve traffic flow for drivers, cyclists and transit users, greater use must be made of ITS (intelligent transportation systems).

    Long-term, we should be striving to put public transit underground. It lasts longer and frees up road space for bikes, cars and pedestrians. Even LRT is better underground than above-ground.

    Switches and doors do freeze.

    And, removing just 10% of the cars from the roads will have a measurable visible impact.

    Work with human nature, rather than against it and let’s discard the moralizing and zealotry.

    — Chong is former chairman GO Transit & Vice-chairman TTC


  2. #2

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    I bet the guy never even used GO Transit!

  3. #3
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    Default

    Toronto is not, and not likely to be, a bicycle town.
    I agree with this, but it does mean that Toronto couldn't be a bike town. However, we have a Catch-22 where people don't ride because of an inferior network and we don't improve the network because people don't ride. Sound familiar to public transit? IF people had to pay for roads per use rather than just upfront in taxes, I'm certain that the privledge of private mobility freedom would be heavily discounted against the incremental cost of transit. This would have other social side effects, but the perceived cost difference is a huge factor.

    And, removing just 10% of the cars from the roads will have a measurable visible impact.
    Yep, it means we can have traffic like it was in 2008.

    Long-term, we should be striving to put public transit underground.
    Grade-seperation is the way, but elevated can work as well as underground.


    People don't like cars. People like not having to work and not having to pay.

  4. Default

    This guy is simply behind the times. Alot of these folk don't realize it yet, but the younger generations coming up (like my generation) do not have the same hot and heavy feeling towards cars as their parents did (the '69 was the best year ever crowd). Same thing is happening in Japan right now, the younger crowd just doesn't have interest in cars.

    I got my license on my 16th birthday, and worked my way up to a G as fast as possible, I was car oriented for quite some time, until circumstances forced me onto transit more, and I realized a *NEW KIND OF FREEDOM* that's right: I felt more free without the car.

    I'm not a loner by a long stretch, so I can tell you equivocally that most people my age feel this way also, most - means majority.
    "This is the most bizarre thread this forum has seen for quite a while. I expect a subway car video to show up with (a) slow music and the car clad in leather and lace, or (b) upbeat music and the car clad in icing and candies with a roll sign with the destination of Candyland."

    - EnviroTO on New TTC Subway Cars Thread
    Feb, 2010

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by hkric88 View Post
    This guy is simply behind the times. Alot of these folk don't realize it yet, but the younger generations coming up (like my generation) do not have the same hot and heavy feeling towards cars as their parents did (the '69 was the best year ever crowd). Same thing is happening in Japan right now, the younger crowd just doesn't have interest in cars.

    I got my license on my 16th birthday, and worked my way up to a G as fast as possible, I was car oriented for quite some time, until circumstances forced me onto transit more, and I realized a *NEW KIND OF FREEDOM* that's right: I felt more free without the car.

    I'm not a loner by a long stretch, so I can tell you equivocally that most people my age feel this way also, most - means majority.
    I agree with you to an extent. The more distant you are from the core, the less this is true. Just out of curiousity, what's your age?

  6. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by hkric88 View Post
    I got my license on my 16th birthday, and worked my way up to a G as fast as possible, I was car oriented for quite some time, until circumstances forced me onto transit more, and I realized a *NEW KIND OF FREEDOM* that's right: I felt more free without the car.
    In many cases I agree. When you have a car you always need to end up exactly where you started; the parking spot. Without a car you can wonder freely in any direction with little concern as to how you might backtrack. Gave up personal transportation long ago and will be giving up a permanent residence shortly for a year (sold conditionally, closing in a month). I find not worrying about your stuff quite liberating. Keeping the day job though (telecommute -- thanks 3G USB sticks!)

  7. Default

    Enjoy your freedom Mr. Chong as you idle in traffic, waste time and money on parking, and complain about the increasing cost of gas and insurance. That people like you run transit agencies shows that there's a lot wrong with our government today. It disgusts me that for all the activists and citizens who are so knowledgeable and passionate about developing efficient transit, those at the top of the agencies are often simpleminded individuals like this man. Unsurprisingly, he became head of GO under Mike Harris.

  8. #8
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    I agree completely that this article represents an outdated view. It's kind of in the same as Margaret Thatcher's "A man who, beyond the age of 26, finds himself on a bus can count himself as a failure." (Which, I know, is apocryphal.) The idea that what everybody would REALLY like is a car and public transit is primarily for those who can't afford a car is mostly silly, especially in an urban area.

    My car causes me stress. Stress about maintenance, stress about parking, stress about tickets. It's not a part of my life I enjoy.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by hkric88 View Post
    I got my license on my 16th birthday, and worked my way up to a G as fast as possible, I was car oriented for quite some time, until circumstances forced me onto transit more, and I realized a *NEW KIND OF FREEDOM* that's right: I felt more free without the car.

    I'm not a loner by a long stretch, so I can tell you equivocally that most people my age feel this way also, most - means majority.
    According to experts, today's youth enjoy sexting, Maxim magazine, and fast cars. Are you telling me the experts are wrong?

  10. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by kettal View Post
    According to experts, today's youth enjoy sexting, Maxim magazine, and fast cars. Are you telling me the experts are wrong?
    They gave up on cars when it became against the law to sext and read Maxim while driving....the new distracted driver law is going to give public transit a massive boost!

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by GraphicMatt View Post
    I agree completely that this article represents an outdated view. It's kind of in the same as Margaret Thatcher's "A man who, beyond the age of 26, finds himself on a bus can count himself as a failure." (Which, I know, is apocryphal.) The idea that what everybody would REALLY like is a car and public transit is primarily for those who can't afford a car is mostly silly, especially in an urban area.

    My car causes me stress. Stress about maintenance, stress about parking, stress about tickets. It's not a part of my life I enjoy.
    Exactly. Our culture has evolved so people value less what the car takes away. I enjoy being able to text, read, listen to music, and enjoy company with others while on the subway. If I were to be driving, I'd be able to do none of those things. What kind of logic values 20 minutes of time saved going through stop and go traffic on the DVP and 15 minutes going through downtown to find a parking spot over being whisked downtown on the train, reading, sleeping or doing work on the way?

  12. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Second_in_pie View Post
    Exactly. Our culture has evolved so people value less what the car takes away. I enjoy being able to text, read, listen to music, and enjoy company with others while on the subway. If I were to be driving, I'd be able to do none of those things. What kind of logic values 20 minutes of time saved going through stop and go traffic on the DVP and 15 minutes going through downtown to find a parking spot over being whisked downtown on the train, reading, sleeping or doing work on the way?
    Not arguing your points but maybe his perspective comes from his time at GO rather than his time at TTC and the recognition that the GO schedules are far more constrictive on mobility freedom than the TTC is? Just a thought.

  13. #13

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    That's quite possible, yet I still find it easy as hell to get around the GTA by Go, in the least convenient off-peak hours. Every single person going downtown should currently be taking the Go train. And considering that Go's currently at it's earliest stages as a regional transit provider, a basis of "everyone going downtown" isn't bad. Go has tonnes of space to improve, but it has serious and obvious advantages over cars even now.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by GraphicMatt View Post
    I agree completely that this article represents an outdated view. It's kind of in the same as Margaret Thatcher's "A man who, beyond the age of 26, finds himself on a bus can count himself as a failure." (Which, I know, is apocryphal.) The idea that what everybody would REALLY like is a car and public transit is primarily for those who can't afford a car is mostly silly, especially in an urban area.
    Gordon Chong is a dentist by profession who was given the chairmanship of GO by the Harris government after his seat was elminated (Chong was a Tory MPP). He was a very unenlightened chair of GO Transit. My favourite quote of his was, determined to eliminate student fares, this: "transit is not a social service."

  15. #15
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    People have gotten so used to the car, free parking, wide roads, and sprawl, that they have come to think that as normal. Normal is to do without a car. People ignore the loan costs, fuel costs, maintenance costs, parking costs, insurance costs, depreciation, etc.. You are better off without a car.
    W. K. Lis

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