Tag Archives: LRT

LRT for Eglinton but not Sheppard, Finch

Mayor Ford’s more costly Eglinton underground LRT
Eglinton LRT is a go but no cash left for Finch, Sheppard
(Column written for Town Crier April 4)

Get ready, midtown, to face the envy and scorn of the rest of Toronto.
A new, underground version for a 25 km Eglinton LRT is moving ahead, thanks to a joint announcement by the province and the city.
Good news, right? Yes, except that the previous plan included $8 billion for surface LRT routes along Finch, Sheppard and Eglinton, and converting the Scarborough RT into light rail transit lines. Then-incoming mayor Rob Ford pronounced that plan dead on Dec. 1.
Mayor Ford wanted the Eglinton line fully buried, so that it won’t interfere with traffic. That’ll be achieved except for a small elevated portion as it approaches Kennedy subway station. Burying the entire rapid streetcar line will increase the cost of the Eglinton project by at least $2 billion.
The result is the $8.4 billion the province had set aside for four will now be entirely eaten up by two: Eglinton and Scarborough. As a result, the new plan cancels LRTs on Sheppard and Finch.
But here’s the kicker: The city will be on the hook to pay back $49 million in costs already incurred for the Sheppard and Finch routes to provincial agency Metrolinx. That is a lot of money down the drain for a decision by a mayor who claims to value respect for taxpayers.

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Ford cancels Finch rapid transit

Mayor Rob Ford opts for enhanced buses service
Cancels approved, funded Finch light rail transit
But promises FInch subway within a decade
Kris Scheuer and Agnes Ramos
(Written for Town Crier April 1.)

No LRT here: Finch transit riders line up for busy buses. Photo by Agnes Ramos/Town Crier.

It is past rush hour at Finch Station on a colder-than-usual April morning, but the corner where bus commuters wait for the 36 Finch West bus is still a hive of activity.
Lines form, and people wait.
The bus route that travels from Yonge all the way past Kipling in Toronto’s west end is the busiest bus route at the station, and frustration among riders is growing as the clock ticks on.
Robert Laws, 47, who has been a TTC rider for over four decades, says the bus route is deplorable.
“It’s the worst service I’ve seen in this city,” he said. “It takes me twice as long traveling the same distance than in any other part of the city.
“Obviously something needs to be done about this issue.”
It’s a familiar complaint among Finch West commuters, and one they worry isn’t going anytime soon, now that the city has effectively cancelled a once sought-after plan for light rail on Finch.

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City to pay $49 million for cancelling LRTs

Mayor’s decision to axe Sheppard, Finch LRTs will cost
City agreed to reimburse Metrolinx for cash spent already
Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier April 1.)

All aboard: Mayor Rob Ford gives the thumbs up with Premier Dalton McGuinty before making a joint transit announcement March 31. Photo by Francis Crescia/Town Crier.

The city taxpayers are on the hook for at least $49 million now that the Ontario government and Metrolinx agreed to cancel two previously approved light rapid transit lines for Sheppard and Finch.
Early in his term Mayor Rob Ford announced the Transit City plan for four surface LRT lines on Sheppard, Finch, Eglinton and in Scarborough was dead. His office spent four months negotiating with the province and Metrolinx to spend the allotted $8.4 billion on making the Eglinton LRT underground and converting the Scarborough RT to a surface LRT.
He also sought permission for the city to look for $4.2 billion in private sector funding for a new Sheppard subway.
That deal, announced March 31, included a provision that the city pay Metrolinx back for any costs associated with canceling the previously approved projects. The bill to the city will be at least $49 million, Metrolinx confirmed to the Town Crier on April 1.
“At this time we estimate there are $49 million in sunk costs mostly for work on the environmental assessments, designs or engineering and project management for Finch LRT and Sheppard LRT,” said Metrolinx spokesperson Vanessa Thomas. “The $49 million (is) for costs we already accrued.

Mayor Rob Ford announced he will seek $4.2 billion in private sector cash to build a new Sheppard subway line. Photo by Francis Crescia/Town Crier.

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Toronto transit investment announcement

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

Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier March 31.)

Subway prototype on display at Wilson TTC yard during March 31 transit announcement. Photo by Kris Scheuer/Town Crier.

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.”

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Ford’s transportation deal with province

City and province to make joint transit announcement
It’ll include Ford’s privately-funded Sheppard subway plan
Plus provincial cash for Eglinton and Scarborough LRTs
Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier March 30. March 31 UPDATE.)

Mayor Rob Ford's plan includes $4 billion in private sector cash to build a Sheppard subway. Town Crier file photo.

The city and province are both climbing aboard a new transportation deal that will be unveiled tomorrow morning.
TTC chair Karen Stintz confirmed on March 30 that the provincial government, its transportation agency Metrolinx and the city are moving full steam ahead with the plan outlined by Mayor Rob Ford.
“We have an agreement that will see major transit expansion in the City of Toronto,” Stintz told the media at an impromptu press conference this afternoon. “It is a real win for both the city and the province and I am really excited about the announcement tomorrow.”
That announcement to take place at the TTC’s Wilson yards at 9 a.m. on March 31 will be to confirm the province is still committed to its original investment of about $8.4 billion.
The provincial cash will be spent on a fully underground and expanded Eglinton LRT and to turn the Scarborough RT into an above ground light rail transit route.

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Rob Ford’s privatization plans

New mayor has shown a push to privatize city services
(Column written Mar 4 for Town Crier.)

Mayor Rob Ford has been in office for more than 100 days now and one trend that’s emerging quite vividly is his preference for privatization and partnering with the private sector.
Exhibit A: the mayor campaigned on contracting out garbage in an effort to save money and avoid strikes.
On Feb. 7, the city announced it had given CUPE Local 416 a 90-day notice that it plans to privatize all recycling collection in city parks, half of the city’s litter collection, plus garbage pickup in 165,000 residential homes west of Yonge Street to the Etobicoke border.
City staff will report back on the issue in April and go to council for a vote in May.
So far, the city estimates it can save $8 million if this move succeeds. Interestingly, right-wing think tank C.D. Howe Institute and U of T released a report before the municipal election outlining how Toronto could save $49 million by privatizing garbage citywide. The Ontario Waste Management Association, made up mainly of reps from private sector waste haulers, gave $50,000 toward that study.
I’d like to see the upcoming city staff report explain potential savings in further detail, given some full-time city workers have a “jobs for life” provision in their contract that guarantees them city work if their positions are contracted out. And while the mayor is moving in this direction to avoid strikes, like the 39-day episode in the summer of 2009, there’s no guarantee a private sector contract will mean no strikes. Continue reading

Ford’s privately funded Sheppard subway plan

Mayor Rob Ford promises to deliver new Sheppard subway
Says if private cash not available, private sector will step in
Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier Feb. 17)

Mayor Ford wants to help pay for his Sheppard subway expansion plan with a public-private partnership. Photo by Francis Crescia/Town Crier file.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is moving forward with a public-private partnership to fulfill his election promise to extend the Sheppard subway.
The city has submitted a proposal to Metrolinx, the provincial agency that looks after public transit funding in the GTA, to adjust its plan for the route from LRT to subway.
Ford was short on details at a 3 minute and 21 second press scrum, that also covered his health after an operation to help pass a painful kidney stone and his brother Doug Ford’s proposal to give the mayor veto power.
“I said I’m going to build subways. I am going to build subways,” Ford told the media this afternoon. “People know you can’t always rely on government to build subways and that’s where the private sector will come in.”
Neither Metrolinx nor the mayor provided details requested by the Town Crier on the cost of the city’s proposal for a Sheppard subway. However, Ford’s election platform does refer to a $3 billion Sheppard subway with 10 stops between Downsview and Scarborough Town Centre to be completed by 2015.
TTC chair Karen Stintz confirmed to the Town Crier the city will try to use the existing funding envelope of about $1 billion from the province and feds for Sheppard and then get the rest from the private sector.
“The discussion are at very high level now,” she said. “The Big Move has been approved by the Metrolinx board so if they make any changes it would be made by their board and then they would make those amendments and then the city would carry forward with its plans.”
Former TTC chair Joe Mihevc said the private sector would have to kick in $3.6 billion to keep the mayor’s plan on track.

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Fighting for Transit City

Kris Scheuer
(Written for the Town Crier Dec. 15)

TTC's new light rail vehicles.

Several residents refuse to believe Transit City is dead.
In December, days after Mayor Rob Ford announced that Transit City is no more, local activist Adam Chaleff-Freudenthaler organized a grassroots campaign in North Toronto to save Transit City, including the Eglinton light rapid transit line.
Chaleff-Freudenthaler took his “save Transit City” petition to the streets in North Toronto’s Ward 16. In December, he continued to canvass every ward affected by the Finch, Sheppard and Eglinton LRTs.
“The goal is to bring high quality, accurate information to people at their doors and communities,” he said.
On Dec. 1, the day he announced Transit City is dead, Ford met with TTC general manager Gary Webster and asked staff to look at costing of various underground options for transit including having the Eglinton LRT completely underground.
Webster will report back in January.
Councillor Karen Stintz, now the new TTC chair, has told the Town Crier on four occasions since the Oct. 25 election she expects light rapid transit along Eglinton to proceed underground.
“I expect when the plan is reviewed, that there won’t be any changes to Eglinton,” she said Dec. 10.

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Mayor Ford pushes to end Transit City

New mayor wants subways not streetcars
TTC will cost-out different options and report back in Jan
Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier Dec. 1)

Rob Ford at press conference Dec. 1, his first day as mayor. Photo by Kris Scheuer/Town Crier.

Transit City is dead.
So said Mayor Rob Ford on his first day in office Dec. 1.
The first task of the new TTC board will be to formally stop spending on the project we do not need anymore, said Ford.
“Transit City is over,” Ford told the media this afternoon. “Their second task will be to move forward on subway construction. I expect they will report back on options by the end of January.”
“We will re-focus our transit plan on subways not streetcars. And we will not build anymore tracks down the middle of our streets.”

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Josh Colle ready to get to work

New councillor for Ward 15 will work closely with dad, MPP Mike Colle
Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier Nov. 18)

Eglinton-Lawrence Councillor Josh Colle.

When he’s sworn in as the new councillor for Ward 15 Eglinton-Lawrence on Dec. 1, Josh Colle will be working closely with his provincial counterpart  — who just happens to be his father, MPP Mike Colle.
“We’ve already had some meetings that are constituency-driven,” Colle said in a recent interview following his election win.
“I don’t always agree with him. You probably don’t always agree with your parents. But it’s good to know there will be a collaborative relationship there.”
Part of the ward boundary includes sections of St. Paul’s provincially and federally so Colle’s also spoken or met with those political reps in the weeks since the election.
Colle the younger is also busy attending community meetings to get up to speed on ward issues.
But he’s looking forward to rolling up his sleeves and getting to work at city hall. And there’s no reason the 45-member council can’t work collaboratively, he said.
“I get that it’s politics with inherent drama and conflict that goes along with it,” he said. “But it’s the responsibility of the mayor and council to do that (work collaboratively).”

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