National Geographic : 1975 Aug
years ago, not one traffic fatality has marred its hours of prepaid travel. Even at normal fares (40 cents each or three tokens for a dollar), 70 percent of all Toronto commuters prefer Metro's fast and frequent public transit to the frustrations of clogged highways. The excellent network combines a cross shaped subway system with streetcars and busses, speeding patrons to any point within Metro for a single fare with liberal transfer privileges. "Making public transportation pay for it self only leads to rising rates and declining use," one official told me. "We spend whatever we must to give good service at low cost, and ridership keeps climbing. It's certainly more sensible to entice people out of cars than to go on building roads." Trying New Paths in Government Toronto seems more willing than many cities of similar size and complexity to move in new directions. Twenty-three years ago the overall area was fragmented into 13 autonomous munici palities, each with its own way of doing things. Tax rates and resources differed; so did the quality of services. Postwar growth mag nified many common problems, but jurisdic tional prerogatives prevented their solution. These faults were largely corrected in 1953 with a two-tier concept of government that continues to attract worldwide attention and strong popular support at home. The top tier was Metro, the six-borough Metropolitan district that includes Toronto city. Metro supplies such areawide essentials as police, public transit, welfare, water, ex pressways, school financing, and sewage and garbage disposal. Boroughs run their own schools, street and public-health programs, water distribution, refuse collection, and fire protection. To prevent a buildup of bureauc racy, mayors and other top vote-getters elected to administer the boroughs also form the council directing Metro affairs. This overlapping leadership does not pre clude split-level disagreements. One of the stormiest at present revolves around future development and how best to relieve a criti cal housing shortage. Even those provocative signs that say BACHELOR FURNISHED INQUIRE WITHIN have become a rarity. Hardest hit of Metro's boroughs is the city of Toronto itself, where a third of the people Toronto: Canada'sDowager Learns to Swing already live and many more would settle if there were room. What makes it more of a magnet than other boroughs? Young art stu dent Diane Cunningham, herself a suburban ite from Vancouver, voiced the general view: "Crime has dried up a lot of cities, but we have so little here that the streets are safe day and night. But mostly, it's the variety and vitality downtown. Go a few blocks from anywhere and there it all is-gal leries, museums, markets, concerts, theaters, In a salute to memory, a Scottish veteran honors Canada's colors at the annual Ca nadian National Exhibition. His tartan tie tells his clan-Royal Stuart-and medals over his heart bespeak his valor. Scots helped the English settle Toronto during the 19th century. Their descendants stage bagpipe band contests during the exhibi tion's Scottish World Festival, with pipers coming from as far away as New Zealand. The exhibition's three-week extravaganza, billed as the largest of its kind in the world, begins in mid-August.