Olivia Chow will take downtown, but she has to do OK in the burbs if she wants to win the T.O. mayor's race. In fact, I would argue that she has to win Scarborough. And she can if she plays her cards right. Her pitch for better bus service is a pretty clever attempt to attract Scarborough votes while estabishing her fiscally conservative credentials at the same time.
The thing with Scarborough is that most of what what passes for the main drags out here (VP, Kennedy, Markham Road) run North to South, and a huge portion of its sprawls East beyond Kennedy Station, the last subway stop. So if you are using the TTC, you are mostly going to be using buses. For example, when I go to work in the morning (around Don Mills and Ellsemere), that's all by bus. If I go looking for used books on the weekend, that's all by bus. Kennedy Station is a fifteen minute bus trip away and I don't go into town much anymore, so practically speaking, a new subway or an expanded LRT mean nothing to me. Or, I would wager, for most of the people out here who choose to use the better way, or do so from financial necessity. And for us, the reality of the Ford years has been service cuts. For instance, the 34 Eglinton rush hour bus, which took you all the way from Eglinton Station on the Yonge Line to Kingston Road, was cut this year. Now you have to change buses at Kennedy Station. When I called Councillor Crawford's office (a staunch Ford ally), his staff knew nothing, could do nothing, and etc. Getting that route back would mean more to me and my wife, who will be hobbling around on a gimpy ankle for the next couples of months, than an expanded subway that starts miles away and goes no place we need to get to. And I would guess this holds true for many Scarborough residents.
I particularly liked Olivia's reference to baby strollers (in her speech but not in the presser). These are a real issue here in the burbs. Its always a thing when someone boards a crowded bus pushing one of them. Because these days they're about the size of an SUV, and if there's more than one, they block the aisle so that passengers pile up in front of them. You could probably make an argument for banning them as a safety hazard, but of course that in itself would be unfair to the mothers of one (or zero) car families who have no other way of going out shopping. Olivia Chow gets that. John Tory, and the other candidates touting big ticket, way down the road projects like a Downtown Relief Line, haven't demonstrated to me that they do.