Wente Watch

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Wente transit dance

Step 1: Cheer on politicians who gut funding for public transit.
Step 2: Complain that public transit is slow and inconvenient.
Step 3: Return to step 1.

Wente whines about Toronto transit. I only read the first third of the article (the only part outside the subscription firewall) but it's enough to get the gist.

I'm not even sure Wente's route was the best for her location. She seems to have taken the Queen 501 streetcar all the way from around Main Street to Spadina Avenue, and walked the rest of the way. I won't swear to this, but would it not have been quicker to take the Main 64 bus up to the Bloor-Danforth line and take that across town? She could then have taken the Spadina LRT all the way to Front Street and avoided nearly all her walk.

More fundamentally, Wente misses the reason public transit exists. It is not to provide a complete replacement for the car. Rather, it is there to provide an alternative to the high cost of owning a car. Car ownership costs most people up to $10,000 a year in depreciation, gasoline, insurance, parking, fees, repairs, and maintenance; transit is barely a tenth of that sum. Used cars have less depreciation but much more in repair and maintenance costs; for those on low incomes, they are an option best avoided.

For the very poor, the TTC is a lifeline. When service is cut, their lives are affected for the worse. For Wente, riding the TTC is just a fun experiment, and poor service something to jeer at; for us plebeians, it's a lot more serious.

Even for middle-class suburbanites who can afford cars, downtown remains off limits. Virtually everyone I know who works downtown drives to a subway or GO station and rides the rest of the way. Perhaps Wente gets free parking at the Globe; ordinary mortals pay $200 a month, or more.

The Lakeshore GO line alone takes almost as many people into downtown as the entire Gardiner Expressway, many of whom own cars. If GO didn't exist, Wente's 20 minute car commute would be a lot longer.

Update: Steve Munro has more.

3 Comments:

  • You, are my new best friend. What are the chances The G&M will publish my letter? Um, shit - I dunno...less than zero I'm sure.

    Yes, DAMN that woman is offensive.

    How the hell did you find me?

    Regards

    Dominic

    aka: Joe Public Speaking

    By Blogger dominic simon solntseff, at October 09, 2006 6:54 PM  

  • I think you mean the Main 64 bus... not sure what 22 is.

    I also read her column and I found it astounding that for someone who works at Front & Spadina, and lives in the Beach, she has chosen to take a fitness class in Scarborough. She consciously makes choices that require her to use her vehicle rather than -- shocking idea -- use the services in her own neighbourhoods.

    By Anonymous Julian, at October 09, 2006 9:59 PM  

  • Her report that that it took over an hour to get from the Globe building to Eg West station was definitely unbelievable. I don't think she planned her routes very well.

    By Anonymous Trontonian, at October 13, 2006 8:44 PM  

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