Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? (Transit Edition)


Look, this may seem obvious, but it’s people who ride transit. If they were actually designing for people to use this space, the design choices would be much different. But obviously, every single design choice has been measured against its impact on cars. Because this is a road expansion project.

It even uses the biased language of road expansion projects, naming the most destructive scenario the “Ultimate,” subconsciously trying to nudge us toward it as though it were the one to aspire to.

And don’t forget the greenwashing that is so common in road expansion projects. Because it supposedly relieves congestion, the “Ultimate” scenario earns three green “eco-leaves” as its Climate Action alignment rating. Only a car project would claim that doubling a road’s capacity for cars is good for the climate…

I’m not against cars. Cars are actually pretty great. But there are places for cars, and there are places for people. Not only for health and climate and safety and comfort reasons, but as we’ve seen, for actual, hard financial reasons.

Plus, I can’t stress this enough: Don’t sell me a car and tell me it’s a bus.

Look, it may sound like I’m pretty worked up over this, and I kinda am. But if there’s one thing that’s preventing me from losing any sleep over it, it’s this: There’s no money for this, and there never will be.

That’s right. This “plan” is pure fantasy. It isn’t “made from what’s real.“ Not even close.

Ten years ago, replacing the Disraeli Bridge cost nearly $200 million dollars. I would not be surprised to learn that this project, with its six-lane bridge, massive land expropriations, road widenings and more, after a few more years of runaway inflation, is going to be in the ballpark of half a billion dollars. Even shared three ways with the Province and the feds, the City’s share would more than max out its debt ceiling. On this one project.

Let me tell you, even if the City was going to max out its debt on a single project, this ain’t it.

Which begs another question: why is this study presenting us with options that we will never be able to afford?

That’d be like me hiring a consultant to help me decide which model of Lamborghini to buy.

In my wildest dreams, I will never be able to afford a Lambo, so hiring that consultant would be a waste of money. Any fifth-grader could tell you that.

And yet we just spent $2.9 million dollars on a recommendation for three different models of Eastern Transit Corridor we will never be able to afford.

At best, we may be able to afford the “rehab only” option. But even that’s a stretch. By my calculations, the only thing we can afford is the “let the Louise Bridge fall into the river out of disrepair” option. (That one’s not listed in the study, for some reason.)

That’s why I’m especially sad about the wasted $2.9 million. It could have gone a long way to trying different options out on the existing street. To making things better right now.

And I know the pearl-clutchers will be worried: “But what about congestion?!” Look, if you’re still not convinced that doing things that may cause congestion is good, I might point out that humans are really bad at predicting the future. And as such, there might not even be congestion. Case in point: The stretch of Nairn Avenue in the study is currently closed for some construction work. As such, it only has a single lane of eastbound traffic, and westbound lanes are closed entirely. It’s been like this for weeks, and it will continue to be for months. And the world hasn’t ended.

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