Toronto transit woeful by international standards

Toronto has ascended to the acme of global cities, but it appears its expeditious rise vastly outpaced infrastructure development—the ramifications of which will soon be felt.

According to downtown sales agent Geoff Malisa of Zolo Realty, the city’s below-grade infrastructure is already incapable of supporting its ridership, and the problem will only get worse. A mere perusal of development applications reveals a problem the municipal government is neither prepared to remedy nor even sure how.

Malisa added that the King St. pilot project demonstrated intent on behalf of city council, for which he’s grateful, but says it’s far from a panacea.

“I don’t think anything is ever too late, but I personally think it’s too late to implement the King St. pilot project,” he said. “I think the only solution is to build underground relief. Funding is always the number one issue, but there are creative ways to fund that project. If it can’t be done, then somebody has to come out and say so, but it hasn’t even been a topic of conversation.”

Malisa noted that Toronto is a different city today than it was in 2005, when many of the buildings dotting the skyline hadn’t even broken ground. But since Canada’s largest city is often mentioned in the same breath New York, London and Paris, it stands to reason that its infrastructure should be comparable.

“I look at Toronto as a mini-Manhattan,” he said. “With the way they’re building Toronto, it could head towards the same status, but for Toronto to really break into the top global city realm, the solution won’t be by putting more streetcars on the roads.”

Malisa believes better east-west subway connectivity is the solution for Toronto. He added that the Scarborough subway extension is a step in the right direction, because as the cost of housing in the core increases, more people will be pushed further out but will still need downtown access.

Sunny Sharma, president and co-owner of Leading Edge VIP, agrees with Malisa, and called Toronto’s underground transit woeful compared to the below-grade systems in many Asian countries. He also says the present transit infrastructure cannot support the city’s growing population.

“It’s completely inadequate by international standards,” he said. “Shanghai added more lines. From a global perceptive, we’re behind the ball. And in the core of Toronto, the growing population will add more strain.”

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