Keep light rail plan, Torontonians say: Poll

While Torontonians like subways in the abstract, they back City Council's light-rail plan

TORONTO, Feb. 16, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - Mayor Rob Ford does not have popular support to overturn Toronto City Council's decision to build light-rail transit lines across the city, according to a new survey conducted by Leger Marketing this week.

For the second consecutive year, Leger's independent study finds that while Torontonians prefer subways over light rail in the abstract, when looking at the specific proposals on the table they back City Council's light-rail plan by a healthy margin.

The survey asked respondents to evaluate the various arguments being made by different players in the debate. Here are the key findings:

  • Keep the light rail lines: 51 percent believe Toronto should "keep the light-rail lines as voted on by City Council", while 38 per cent agree with the mayor's preference to "stop the light-rail lines and build subways instead."

  • No mayoral mandate: Only 32 percent agree that "we should build subways because it's what Rob Ford promised in the election, and he has a mandate, even if it means overriding the city council's vote on the matter." 91 percent believe that "smart transit planning is done for the long term and should not be changed every time a new government is elected."

  • Subway or light rail? Let density decide: When asked to choose between subways and light rail in abstract terms, respondents prefer subways by a margin of 50 per cent to 40 percent. However, 82% agree that "Toronto should have a mix of subways, light rail, streetcars and buses, depending on the number of people living in the neighbourhoods." This suggests that Torontonians believe population density should drive the choice of building subways or light rail.

  • Both sides have arguments that resonate: 64% agree that "we should build more above-ground light rail if it allows us to build more rapid transit, more quickly, in more neighbourhoods." However, 62% agree that "We should build subways because underground transit would be less disruptive to cars, even if it costs more and takes longer to build."

"When you ask people, 'do you prefer subways or light rail,' a razor-thin majority chooses subways. But when you let them compare the plans on the table today, there's a clear preference for City Council's light-rail plan," said Dave Scholz, executive vice president of Leger Marketing. "Given the preference for long-term transit planning, there's also a low public tolerance for revisiting the light-rail decision yet again."

Leger surveyed 504 Toronto adults over the age of 18 on February 14, 2012. The data have been weighted according to Statistics Canada for age and gender. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of ±4.5%, 19 times out of 20.  The survey was part of Leger Marketing's ongoing sampling of public opinion on key issues, and not sponsored by any organization.

About Leger Marketing
Leger Marketing is the leading Canadian-owned market research and polling firm with more than 600 professionals working from its Canadian, American offices and European offices. Leger is the North American partner of WIN, the largest independent global network of market research.

SOURCE Leger Marketing

For further information:

Dave Scholz
Leger Marketing
(416) 815-0330

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