Provincial governments have an enormous impact on public transportation. For this reason, we have been watching and waiting for the 2018 Ontario election. With the Progressive Conservatives releasing their platform, the election campaign has effectively begun.
And the Tories have given us reason to worry about the take-home messages.
This certainly looks like the old “War on the Car” rhetoric. In addition, the Progressive Conservatives completed the double-double in their platform by complementing the “discriminated car” trope with the idea that a few-underbudgeted subway lines would provide transit salvation. Having lived in Toronto in the dark 2010-2014 period and its aftermath, we know what that combo means for transit riders: subjugation and snake oil.
But that association is a different one than the one that drives us to make this blog. For these purposes, we have another concern with this platform:
It divides people into drivers (i.e., normal people) and transit users (i.e., a small but growing class of weirdos). And according to this platform, transit people don’t exist in rural and remote areas.
The claim that ‘the Liberals only care about transit riders’ is curiously oblivious to the Liberals’ attention to infrastructure for cars: the 407 & 417 expansions, the huge highway maintenance and repair budget, the nixing of Toronto’s plan to toll drivers, and the refusal to prioritize the movement of people on highways through transit priority. Whatever. We can consider the Conservatives’ claim to be a minor oversight for political parties vying for the votes of suburbanites who travel almost exclusively by automobile.
Troubling to this framing is a complete ignorance that there are even people in Ontario outside of “cities” (i.e., Toronto) who might use public transportation to go to work, take their children around, or even do other things.
If there is anything to their credit, the Ontario Liberals can at least be commended for a halting and insufficient transit plan to half-deal with the sprawl of the GTHA. For intercity public transportation, their governance has been woeful. Meanwhile, from all signs available to us at the moment, the main opposition party does not even recognize the existence of the people affected by these changes. That is not a sign that makes us believe they will do better.
At least there remains another 6 months to see if someone – anyone – gives a damn.