As I finish my week here in Paris, I’m reminded of the many differences between Paris and Toronto, the two cities I love most in the world. Toronto has a rich cultural diversity that it wears proudly on its sleeve. As it should.
Take an afternoon to explore and you can easily visit Little Italy, Little Jamaica, Chinatown, Little India, Greektown, and Little Portugal and that’s just off the top of my head. And each neighbourhood will offer authentic cuisine, shops, and restaurants.
But, if you want to get from here to there to visit all those great areas, you’ll be challenged if you’re going to rely on the Toronto Transit Commission. Or, as Torontonians call it, the TTC.
Getting from here to there…
Being here in Paris for the last week has given me a sharp reminder of how poorly we, as Canadians, have prioritized public transit. It isn’t just a Toronto problem, it’s all over. I just happen to be most familiar with Toronto’s attempt at public transit efficiency. It’s quite an embarrassment, really. Particularly now that we, as a global community, are very much behind the environmental 8-ball. We still heavily rely on fossil fuels despite all the evidence indicating their staggering contributions to climate change.
To their credit, the TTC is doing good work moving their fuel dependencies to greener sources of energy. But the stark fact remains, that the system isn’t built for the volume of people living there. In fact, it’s wildly behind. I don’t know how any government can jump the PR hurdle that comes with moving funding priorities around enough or, heaven forbid, increasing taxes enough to dig Toronto out of the transit black hole in which it now resides. Case in point, may I submit the maps of both the Paris and Toronto subway systems. In their entireties. Population of Paris: 2.2M (2019). Population of Toronto: 2.9M (2017).
I’m not joking
If it weren’t true, it would be laughable. How are almost three million people supposed to efficiently move around on a system that is effectively a U with a line through the middle? It’s not possible. Yes, there are LRT (Light Rail Transit) projects in the works, above-ground alternatives to subways. Which makes perfect sense; it’s not like Toronto gets heaps of snow* or anything.
*Please note the intended sarcasm and sound of my soul whimpering.
I have no solution, I wish I did. I’ll have to leave that to the folks who are supposed to be in charge of these things. But if I were in Toronto for the upcoming Provincial and pending Municipal elections, you bet I’d be asking a lot of questions.
For now, I am finishing my second-last day here… I will take the fast, efficient subway to Le Marais, my neighbourhood of choice for dinner. And I will savour every moment of it.