Toronto’s transit system was once such a wonder that, even into the 1980s, people came from around the world to study how it planned infrastructure projects, how it executed them and how it operated.
That so-called “golden age” also produced transit experts so revered, they got to travel the globe in return. For some, their views have been valued well past retirement age – though not so much in their hometown.
Three of them – Richard Soberman, Ed Levy and David Crowley – recently gathered for lunch and a gab. The Scarborough subway, which is to be voted on again March 28, was not the focus, but it came up often.
“We have to be careful; this idea there was a golden age is a bit of myth,” says Dr. Soberman, former chair of civil engineering at the University of Toronto and lead author of many seminal transportation reports dating to the early 1960s. “We did very good things – on time, on budget – but we made big politically driven errors back then, too. Building a subway [Spadina] on an expressway median was a huge one. Putting the Queen subway on Bloor has turned out to be a mistake.”