Tackling Toronto’s transit crisis may require some out-of-the-box thinking. Ed Levy — a transit historian, longtime transportation planner and author of Rapid Transit in Toronto — evaluates a few unorthodox solutions (and a couple legit ideas) to get Toronto moving.
5) Bike tube
WHAT: Planner Chris Hardwicke proposed this project in 2004 — a network of enclosed glass tubes where cyclists could race through the city comfortably in any weather. No cars. No snow. No wind resistance. He got a lot of press, but the project never panned out.
4) Speedy ferries
WHAT: This idea came from a proposal in 2007 from then TTC chair Adam Giambrone — a ferry from Bluffer’s Park in Scarborough to Harbourfront and Etobicoke. It would have carried about 250 commuters per ride and cost the city $20 to 25 million.
LEVY: “We have something called winter and it would be pretty miserable on the lake. This is not Los Angeles or Miami, unfortunately, in terms of climate. So I think that would only be a partial solution to anything.”
3) Hyperloop travel
WHAT: Technology promised by Tesla founder Elon Musk, which would place passengers in a cylindrical vehicle which accelerates via electric propulsion through a low-pressure tube. The vehicle lifts above the track using magnetic levitation. A Toronto-to-Montreal loop would take only 39 minutes.
LEVY: “The sheer cost of planning it, building it and getting approval for it would be astronomical, and of course it’s an entirely new technology that would integrate with nothing else that we have now.”
2) Don Valley cable car
WHAT: Planner Steven Dale wants to privately finance a cable car project at a price of $20 million, which would link the Brick Works to Playter Gardens on the Danforth. A round trip would cost about $10.
LEVY: “I think it’s a delightful thing. I think it would be a wonderful tourist draw. A lot of work would be needed to establish an acceptable cost-per-ride and so on, but it’s very intriguing.”
1) Relief Line
WHAT: It’s been proposed many times over — the City of Toronto, politicians of all stripes and the TTC want a future rapid transit line that would connect downtown Toronto to Line 2 (Bloor-Danforth) east of the Don River. It sounds straightforward, but Levy says it’s anything but.
LEVY: “If you do it upside down and backwards as they are proposing to do it now, all you’re going to do is completely choke the inner city. It’s been talked about since 1910 … It was called the Queen Street Subway; it was called the radial line; it had many names. Every 10 years, it comes back, restudied and rejected because it isn’t politically sellable for some reason. I call it out-of-the-box because it seems to be out of contention all the time and I just cannot understand it.”