As you know, given the fact that almost as many people commute from Toronto, as they do going in to our city on a daily basis, I have been advocating for a regional approach to building a transit network. Implementing a regional sales tax, tolls or other tools across the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) would create new, and dependable, revenue streams paid into by everyone in our region rather than have any one city cover capital expenses through their property tax base.
Tolls or a regional sales tax would also offset the current burden on transit riders to pay for the preponderance of transit costs solely through the fare box. My motion for Toronto and GGH municipalities to enter into negotiations with Metrolinx (the provincially mandated transit planning body for Toronto and the GGH) was recently adopted at Executive Committee and will come to full Council in July. This motion requests the City Manager to work with Metrolinx to explore a variety of regional funding mechanisms with officials from across the GGH to move forward with a regional transit funding plan. Any funding initiative should be done on a regional basis to mitigate unintended consequences including job loss and consumer avoidance. Ultimately, we want the City of Toronto to have a leading seat at the table with its partners as Metrolinx's process moves closer to fruition.
Metrolinx has stated that it will deliver a $40 billion transit funding plan to support the Big Move Plan early next year that will include all the municipalities in the GGH. I believe it may be prudent to read this report, and consider a shared and regional system, before Toronto offers to assume a OneCity approach.
I will continue working with Council to create a transit funding model that delivers on the priorities that matter most to residents. Moreover, I submit that while we debate how best to expand our transit system, we must always keep in mind that addressing the current, unacceptable overcrowding on the Yonge subway line during rush hours, and state of good repair, must be our top priority while we introduce more riders to the system. The new transit lines already approved by Council, and supported by Metrolinx, are moving forward including Finch Avenue, Sheppard Avenue and the Eglinton Crosstown. These projects will be paid for by a "one-time" funding allocation from the provincial government.
Your feedback is very important to me and I will continue to keep you informed as this discussion progresses. I am committed to creating an efficient, reliable and accessible rapid transit system that helps reduce gridlock and connects our region, neighbourhoods and residents. The path we take must be both visionary and evidence-based, fully funded and fiscally responsible.
Ultimately, I am pleased that we are now debating how exactly we should fund transit expansion- rather than whether there's a need to have a plan at all.
Toronto City Councillor
Please see the attached motion regarding financing the Bloor-Danforth subway extension in Scarborough that will be submitted to tomorrow's Budget Committee meeting for consideration. The intent of this motion is to ensure that all relevant and factual information is provided to Council before increases to our city's debt and property taxes are approved.
Regardless of whether or not this motion is supported at tomorrow's Budget Committee meeting, it is my intention to move this at the Special Council meeting regarding the 2014 budget in January.
I believe that we must move forward with Toronto's transit priorities. Before we ask residents to fund these projects, we must have complete financial information, cost certainly and all relevant planning information.
October 3, 2013
CEO, Toronto Transit Commission
1900 Yonge St
Toronto ON M4S 1Z2
Dear Mr. Byford,
Recently, you informed me that the TTC expects to require a temporary closure of the Yonge subway line between St. Clair and Eglinton stations at some point in the future. I appreciate this advance notice.
We all understand that the City needs to maintain and construct new infrastructure to keep the lights on, water running and, in this case, get residents to work and back. However, Torontonians expect that this work is done properly, as quickly and with as minimal a disruption to their daily lives as is possible.
Given that this closure would shut down a portion of our city's busiest transit route, it has the potential to affect thousands of transit riders including commuters from across our city and region, shoppers and tourists. It is absolutely imperative that we are fully prepared well in advance to accommodate everyone who needs to travel through and within Midtown Toronto.
I am writing to urge you to take the substantive steps necessary to keep Toronto moving. In a publicly accessible response could you please consider the following points/questions:
A) Is it necessary to shut down the tracks during operating hours and/or weekdays? Could the work be done overnight and/or on the weekend?
B) And if A) is not feasible and you can demonstrate to the public why, could the work be done in August when fewer people are working?
C) With transportation capacity significantly reduced would prioritizing shuttle buses (perhaps with shuttle bus-only lanes) ensure that riders can continue to move during this period of disruption?
The city does not have to grind to a halt during this subway closure as long as the TTC proactively addresses the situation. I am requesting that the strategy you develop be open and transparent, incorporating feedback from Toronto residents.
I look forward to your response, and to learn more about your plans, at your earliest possible opportunity.
Toronto City Councillor
Ward 22 – St. Paul’s
cc: Karen Stintz, TTC Chair and City Councillor, Ward 16 – Eglinton-Lawrence
Stephen Buckley, General Manager, Transportation Services
Below is my response to TTC CEO Andy Byford's reply to my letter requesting more information about the proposed Scarborough subways.
October 7, 2013
Dear Mr. Byford,
Thank you for your letter dated October 4, 2013 in response to my letter dated September 30, 2013 requesting additional information for the upcoming City Council meeting where future options for rapid transit in Scarborough will be debated. I appreciate the time you and your staff have taken to respond to my concerns with the McCowan Corridor subway extension of the Bloor-Danforth line and your overall dedication to improving public transit for Torontonians.
I welcome the information provided in your response on cost issues including the SRT decommission, responsibility for cost escalations and the process for allocating funding for engineering/design work associated with the new Environmental Assessment that would be necessary for the proposed McCowan Corridor subway extension. Your letter was also useful in highlighting a number of determined costs including $30-40 million per year in capital maintenance and unknown costs such as the cancelled Bombardier contract that are not including in the $3.56 Billion estimate contained in the Report from the City Manager on Scarborough Rapid Transit Options.
As noted in your letter, detailed planning work has not been undertaken for the McCowan Corridor extension. I was provided a description of the process used in past transit forecasting analysis and specific data from the 2006 Scarborough RT Strategic Plan, but little in the way of specific data, models and methodology used for ridership projections for the McCowan Corridor extension as requested in my letter. The density and trip origin numbers provided contemplated the route alignment of the approved LRT contained in the signed Master agreement between the TTC, City and Metrolinx. If the TTC has generated similar studies for the McCowan Corridor extension used to generate its ridership forecasts for the proposed subway I would request that it is provided to Council as an appendix to CC. 39.5: Scarborough Rapid Transit Options: Reporting on Council Terms and Conditions in the Council meeting agenda.
Of particular concern is your revelation that the TTC has not determined overall trip time from point of origin, including time of travel for walking and bus, for the LRT and the proposed McCowan extension given its importance to transit riders and their representatives on Council. As the subway option provides decreased geographic coverage and fewer stops it is likely that many Scarborough residents would confront a longer overall commute with this option than with the LRT. Having this information quantified would be helpful for Councillors and residents.
I understand that it is standard practice to perform detailed planning work only after approval for a project is given. However, this is not a standard transit planning exercise. If Council gives Staff permission to move forward studying the subway extension, the only alternative - the fully-funded, shovel-ready Scarborough LRT - is dead. And in four years, if the EA confirms that the Relief Subway is, in fact, a prerequisite for the McCowan Corridor extension or it is determined that it is indeed more of a regional route that Toronto taxpayers should not be funding alone, or the technical studies find it is exorbitantly expensive due to geological features, what do we do? We'll have spent several years studying it and hundreds of millions of dollars keeping the current RT standing with nothing to show for it. Given the risks associated with the decision before Council, the TTC's rationale underpinning the McCowan Corridor extension is inadequate.
I appreciate the quick response you provided to my letter and your candour in answering my questions. I look forward to discussing this issue with you further at City Council on October 8, 2013.
Toronto City Councillor
Ward 22 – St. Paul’s
Joseph Pennachetti, City Manager, City of Toronto
Jennifer Keesmaat, Chief Planner & Executive Director, City Planning, City of Toronto
Bruce McCuaig, President & CEO, Metrolinx
Below is TTC CEO Andy Byford's reply to my letter requesting more information about the proposed Scarborough subways.
Below is my original letter to TTC CEO Andy Byford requesting more information about the proposed Scarborough subways.
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