Each month and year, I become a more rabid cheerleader for public transit. Where once I was simply delighted by the cheap, eco-friendly idea of having one person drive scores of others around, I'm now enraged by the attachment of the average Torontonian to his or her automobile. I'm even more incensed by quixotic city-dwellers who aspire to saving for and buying a car as a mark of adulthood. Such a waste of money!
I allow that using Mississauga Transit or its 905 equivalents is a horrendous experience. Even more horrendous is getting anywhere by bicycle—a tiring, if not impossible proposition in the winter. Freedom of movement a sound principle, the same one that created the wheelchair ramp. However, many people fail to make basic connections regarding their commute, and therefore move themselves around in the clumsiest of ways. Notably:
- A Hummer is not a suitable vehicle for a lone driver. The high-occupancy vehicle lanes (HOV) on the 403 are a great idea because they give preference to the clever drivers who astoundingly have people sit in the seats in their cars. If you reject the arms-race mentality that prizes larger vehicles for better crash protection (the other vehicle is more likely to be damaged and its driver injured), there's very little reason to own a large truck, SUV or oversize car.
- Transportation scales. Compare the population densities of Toronto (3,939/km²) and [Markham (981/km²)—logically, when population quadruples, individual space allotment quarters. Your ~4 m² car scales to a roomy square metre to stand in on the subway. Eight lane roads scale to two, and so on.
- Driving is inefficient. Matters of space and fuel aside, individual drivers in individual vehicles are a poor substitute for trains and buses. Rubbernecking at accidents, overcaution in moderately poor weather, and a mix of driving styles from timid to road-rage aggressive combine to make traffic behave like clotting blood. Infrastructure engineers simulate rush-hour using models based on viscous fluids.
All this said, three unsung ideas I claim no credit for:
- Bury the Gardiner](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Markham%2C_Ontario) (pdf) Crumbling concrete, or green space with traffic confined to a tunnel? I could go on at length about this, but I won't.
- Transit Integration I'd love to travel to the far side of the city on a single pass. I wouldn't even mind paying a zone fare (more for a longer trip). Change, and individual tickets and tokens for the TTC, Go and Mississauga Transit are discouragingly heavy and needlessly expensive. A prime example is my commute to work; for a trip shorter than most rides I take within either Mississauga or Toronto, I pay $5.25 because I start at Dixie and finish at Kipling.
- Automated Parking Compare 20 x 20 m / 12 cars = 33.3 m2/car to a standard parking garage, 60 x 30 m / 33 cars = 54.5 m2/car. In the footprint of the 5-storey, 165-car conventional garage, three underground, 9-level automated garages will hold 324 cars and be invisible, leaving the surface free for other uses. Anyone who has tried to find parking on the University of Toronto campus will appreciate the amount of space these would save; operators would appreciate the doubling or trebling of their parking income.