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Administrative Inquiries -my letter to Council in response to City Manager

February 10, 2015

 

 

Dear Mayor and Council,

 

 

Re IA 3.1- IA3.5 Administrative Inquiries on Scarborough Subway Extension


 

I submitted five Administrative Inquiries (IA 3.1 – IA 3.5) under Municipal Code S27-61 to obtain information not yet presented to Council on the Scarborough Subway Extension.

 

 

I appreciate the City Manager and Staff taking the time to respond to my questions.

 

 

Please see the accompanying recommendations that request some of the Administrative Inquiries to be received, as the answers were satisfactory, while I have made the request for others to be referred to Executive Committee for additional input and clarification from staff.

 

 

I very much hope that you agree that thoughtfully reviewing facts, and considering impacts on the City’s budget, should be a basic part of how Council considers public policy, including transit expansion. I respectfully request that you support an opportunity for councillors to collect relevant and important information at Executive Committee.

 

 

Please review my recommendations below:

 

 

To be received:

 

 

IA 3.1: Metrolinx Sunk Costs Associated with Scarborough LRT


 

Council directed the City Manager to report back on negotiations with Metrolinx on the sunk costs re: Scarborough LRT cancellation. The City Manager has informed Council that an audit on the Metrolinx sunk costs has been completed by Price Waterhouse Coopers and the City is in the final stages of negotiating the agreement with Metrolinx. I look forward to seeing the City Manager's report to the Budget Committee on these costs as part of the 2015 budget process.

 

 

IA 3.3: Scarborough Subway Extension Study Area

The City Manager has clarified that the boundaries of the study area were determined by possible routes for the subway as opposed to a full assessment of transit options in the corridor. My primary concern is that SmartTrack, given the GO line’s proximity to the potential subway extension corridors, is considered when assessing the ridership of the Scarborough Subway Extension. The City Manager has assured Council that will occur.

 

To be referred:


IA 3.2: Operating and Capital Maintenance Costs for the Scarborough Subway Extension

The City Manager has clarified that $30-40 million was for annual capital maintenance costs only. Operating costs have yet to be determined and he was unable to provide an estimate. Given the potential annual effect on the TTC's operating budget and the associated tax increase, I believe that it is important to receive more information on this issue. Given that the TTC operates several other subway lines it does not seem unreasonable for staff to at least provide an estimation based on per kilometre operating costs elsewhere in Toronto's network. This information will be critical as we prepare for subsequent City budgets.

 

IA 3.4: Discrepancy between number of trains and projected ridership

As reported in the Globe and Mail in July of 2014, there was a discrepancy in the July 2013 staff report between the number of trains budgeted for and the service level (and associated ridership) stated to be provided. The City Manager has addressed the reasoning behind offering a reduced number of trains through the Scarborough Subway Extension, but has not answered how 120 second headways would be achieved with the lower vehicle compliment.

 

IA 3.5 Ridership Projections for the Bloor-Danforth Subway Extension in CC 7.17- Scarborough Rapid Transit Options

Between January of 2013 and July of the same year, City staff inflated the ridership projection for the Scarborough Subway Extension from 9,500 passengers per direction in the peak hour (well below the level needed to justify a subway) to 14,000 using the same metric – which brought ridership to the cusp of justifying a subway. Staff admitted that this was a "preliminary" assessment, yet this higher figure was cited by staff at both the July and October 2013 council meetings as reason to opt for the higher capacity transit option.

I appreciate that the City Manager provided the names of the models and that he informed Council that Staff were unable to use the more robust projection model due to time constraints. However, there are still some basic and outstanding questions related to what assumptions planners made, and how they made them, about the rest of Toronto's transit network and train frequency cited in AI 3.4 that merit explanation.

 

Recommendations:

  1. City Council request to receive IA 3.1, IA 3.3
  2. City Council request that IA 3.2, IA 3.4, IA 3.5 be referred to Executive Committee

 

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Josh Matlow

Toronto City Councillor

Ward 22- St. Paul's

 

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