Torontonians want light-rail alongside subways: Poll

Mayor lacks mandate for major transit change, but there's room for compromise

TORONTO, Jan. 20 /CNW Telbec/ - While Mayor Rob Ford, the Toronto Transit Commission and the Ontario government are reviewing Toronto's transit expansion plan, the city's residents favour keeping the current "Transit City" light-rail transit expansion program, but are open to moving more of the new lines underground. These are among the key findings of an independent survey conducted by Leger Marketing between January 12-16, 2011.

As part of its regular sampling of opinion on key public policy issues, Leger asked Torontonians to evaluate the various arguments being made by different players in the debate. Here are the survey's key findings:

  • No mandate for change: Only 26 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 stopping the projects now underway." 89 percent agree that "smart transit planning is done for the long term and should not be changed every time a new government is elected."
  • When mixing modes, density matters: 83% agree that "Toronto should have a mix of subways, light rail, streetcars and buses, depending on the number of people living in the neighbourhoods." Less than 14% disagree with the "mixed mode" argument.
  • Transit City a step forward: 65% agree that "the TTC's Transit City plan was an effective step forward in helping meet Toronto's transit needs," while 18% disagree.
  • No more money, no more waiting: 62% agree that "Toronto should not cancel or change the current plan if it means higher costs or a longer wait to get new transit."
  • Subway or light rail? Split decision: When asked to choose between building subways or building light rail, respondents are in a statistical tie. Just under 44% choose subways, while just over 40% choose light rail. Men tend to favour subways more than women, and senior citizens tend to favour light rail.
  • The underground option: When offered the choice between keeping the light-rail plan, building subways, or keeping Transit City but moving more lines underground, a plurality of respondents (44%) choose the underground light-rail option. 32% say keep the light-rail lines" as currently planned." Only 15% choose building subways instead. Not surprisingly, 55% agree with the argument for building subways "because underground transit would be less disruptive to cars," while 41% disagree.

"Torontonians clearly see Transit City as a good plan, and light rail as a good option alongside subways and streetcars," said Dave Scholz, executive vice president of Leger Marketing. "It's really a call for realism. People are open to modest changes to the plan, but impatient about anything that adds cost or time. This may pave the way for a compromise between the city and the province that sees Transit City built, but with more of it underground."

Leger surveyed 550 Toronto adults over the age of 18 between January 12-16, 2011 using its online panel, LegerWeb. The data have been weighted according to Statistics Canada for age and gender. A full copy of the report can be found at

SOURCE Leger Marketing

For further information:

Dave Scholz
Leger Marketing
(416) 815-0330

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