Ontario to pony up $8B for Scarborough, Eglinton LRTs
City to seek $4B private cash for Sheppard subway
T.O taxpayers on hook for $49 mil spent on canceled routes
(Written for Town Crier March 31.)
Get ready Toronto for $12 billion worth of transit including a Sheppard subway, Eglinton LRT and the Scarborough LRT.
Mayor Rob Ford and Premier Dalton McGuinty announced the investment at a press conference from the Wilson TTC yards in front of brand new subways prototypes.
“This is a great day for taxpayers of Toronto,” Ford said. “They want rapid transit to get to work faster and to get home to their families.
“Our new plan will provide a truly rapid transit system.”
McGuinty confirmed that the province, through Metrolinx, would invest up to $8.4 million to build a 25 kilometre, 26 stop LRT line from Black Creek Drive to Kennedy station and north to Scarborough City Centre and to replace the existing Scarborough RT with an LRT.
The premier, mayor, the ministry of transportation and provincial agency-Metrolinx have worked tirelessly to work out a deal over the past four months that would meet the needs of all sides.
“Our provincial priority was the Eglinton line,” said Transportation Minister and Don Valley West MPP Kathleen Wynne. “We wanted to minimize delay, we wanted to get the Presto card implemented and we had said there was no more money.”
Money to finance the $4.2 billion Sheppard subway expansion including eight-kilometres eastward connecting the existing Don Mills subway stop to a new terminal at the Scarborough Town Centre and 5.5 kilometres extending west to Downsview will come from the private sector, said Ford.
In extolling the virtues of his plan the mayor said the underground Eglinton LRT will be faster than buses or surface streetcars.
“A trip from Kennedy to Laird Avenue takes about 28 minutes by bus,” said Ford. “A surface train down the middle of Eglinton will be only eight minutes faster. Our new plan will cut that travel time (28 minutes) in half.”
“Our new plan will not add to the gridlock faced by Toronto drivers everyday like we see on St. Clair Avenue,” he said.
Transit users in the Finch corridor may also have something to cheer about as Ford announced that he’d like to build a Finch subway within in 10 years but offered no further details. However, in the mean time riders will have to make do with enhanced bus service rather than the Finch LRT announced under the now defunct Transit City plan.
Former TTC vice chair Joe Mihevc gives this plan a failing grade.
“The suburbs get screwed. Transit riders get screwed. The people along Finch get screwed and the Sheppard subway if it ever gets built will in dept the city to such an extent that not only will my children. But my children’s children will be responsible for paying for it.”
To read the April 1 follow-up on the fact it’ll cost Toronto taxpayers at least $49 million to cancel Sheppard and Eglinton LRTs, please click here for that story.