Subways and Golden Ages

December 2013

All the drama this past year over Toronto’s Scarborough subway extension – or is it an LRT? – has prompted more than one Torontonian to pine for the Golden Age when Toronto could actually get things done, when it was, as Peter Ustinov supposedly said, ‘New York run by the Swiss’. Golden Ages often melt under historical scrutiny, but in this case the contrast between past and present is so stark that those bygone days, whether truly golden or not, certainly look pretty good: on one hand we have the past – three years of construction, in the early 1960s, to build the original twenty-some kilometre long Bloor-Danforth subway line, with twenty stations; and on the other hand we have the present – three years of dispute over a few kilometres being tacked onto the end of that existing line. What has gone wrong? If we did it then why can’t we do it now? Read the rest of this entry »