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Transit

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.

Sincerely,

Josh Matlow
Toronto City Councillor
Ward 22-St.Paul's
www.joshmatlow.ca

Council Rejects Fully-Funded Scarborough LRT Plan, Supports Tax hike and Higher Debt

This week council chose to reopen the City of Toronto's agreement with Metrolinx to construct a fully-funded seven-stop, grade-separated Light Rapid Transit (LRT) line and replace it with with an unnecessary three-stop extension of the Bloor-Danforth line that will cost an additional $1 billion. Further, the Mayor and the majority of councillors chose a subway contingent on provincial and federal funding that has not been committed to and now appears in doubt. I do not believe Council should be making costly and important transit infrastructure decisions without a clear plan for how to pay for them and without sound planning policy to support those choices. Due to this irresponsible decision, the Mayor will be asking Council to add more than $560 million dollars to our City's debt load and raise Toronto residents' property taxes to service that debt. I did not, and will not, support this request.

 

The new Scarborough LRT, just like a subway, would have been a completely traffic-separated line. No lanes removed. No traffic lights. No cross streets. This was factually never a streetcar vs subway debate and should not have been characterised as such.

 

The new Bombardier-made LRT trains average 36 km/h — that’s faster than the Yonge and Bloor-Danforth lines, which average 32 km/h. The Scarborough LRT line was to have been more than two kilometres longer than a subway extension and have four more stops serving major trip generators, including Centennial College. The LRT’s alignment placed it within walking distance to over 20,000 more people than a three-stop subway extension would.

 

The decision to move forward with a subway on this route was based on politics, not sound transit policy. I believe, based on the facts known to us, that our real subway expansion priority is the Downtown Relief Line Subway that would essentially go north/south along Pape and run east/west along King or Queen. Our current transit subway system has urgent capacity challenges already during rush hours and  also has over $2 billion of state-of-good-repair needs. Ultimately, I hear from residents that they want Council to stop reopening plans that make sense and finally move forward with building a transit system that serves Toronto and region's growing population. I will continue fighting for an evidence-based, fiscally-responsible transit plan that includes a thoughtful combination of new subways and LRTs based on honest planning.

 

Please click here to view my op-ed on his subject that appeared in last Friday's Toronto Star.

 

Scarborough rapid transit: The real costs of changing tracks now

Last week Metrolinx asked the City of Toronto to reaffirm its commitment to the Master Agreement signed on November 29, 2012 between Metrolinx, the City of Toronto and the TTC with regard to the Scarborough RT line, the Eglinton Crosstown, the Sheppard East line and the Finch West line. This Master Agreement has been supported by Toronto City Council. We are unfortunately revisiting this issue yet again because Council signalled that it would support converting the Scarborough SRT to a subway even though the current plan is to serve that area with rapid transit in a completely grade-separated right-of-way similar to the Allen Rd. open cut which serves a portion of the Yonge-University-Spadina line.

 

As outlined below, it is projected that it will cost at least $1 billion for this needless conversion with no revenue source identified. I was proud to work with my colleagues to challenge the mayor's unfunded subway plan that was based on politics, rather than sound transit planning. I am very disappointed that some of those very same councillors seem to be moving in the same direction. The debate is not between whether Scarborough will get a subway or not. It's about whether Metrolinx will have Toronto's support to finally build new, grade-separated, rapid transit or leave Scarborough residents waiting for the bus.

 

An SRT conversion to a subway, rather than LRT, is clearly fiscally irresponsible. The City of Toronto would end up paying the bill. In fact, it would be many times more costly than the recent $150 million cut the Mayor is suggesting will cause major budget cuts. Where is the money going to come from? Are we willing to deny transit to Finch West? Delay the Downtown Relief Subway Line and current state of good repair priorities? Cut more funds from parks, childcare, the Gardiner or affordable housing? Council already rejected supporting new transit revenue tools. In reality, there is no funding plan for this latest proposal to change tracks.

 

Let's stick to the plan we have and finally get it done.

 

Please see this preliminary fact sheet regarding the potential conversion of the Scarborough SRT to a subway:

 

SRT Stats

  • The new LRT will be in a completely grade-separated right-of-way. No traffic lights. No cross streets. Widely spaced stations.
  • At an average of 36km per hour It will run faster than the Yonge and Bloor-Danforth lines which average 32km per hour
  • The line will have a capacity to carry 16,000 passengers per hour.
  • It is anticipated that by 2031 the LRT would carry 8,000 passengers per hour leaving it enough capacity to serve the area for many decades to come- the extra capacity offered by a subway won't come close to being needed
  • The LRT would be over two kilometres longer than the subway, have four more stations and is within walking distance to over 20,000 more people- with the possibility to extend the line into Malvern (Centennial College students would not have a stop if the SRT is converted to a subway rather than an LRT)

 

 

Cost Concerns

  • The $500 million cost proponents have cited to convert the SRT to a subway is false
  • As TTC CEO Andy Byford confirmed at Council in May, the cost of the SRT is $1.8 billion
  • The cost of the subway was estimated in a January TTC report (pg 16) at $2.8 billion
  • There is already a $1 billion difference before factoring:
  • Construction of new terminus for Eglinton Crosstown at Kennedy that was to be part of the Scarborough RT will be $320 million
  • $85 million in sunk engineering and design costs
  • Property acquisition
  • Cancellation of Bombadier contract
  • Maintaining the Scarborough RT
  • New design work
  • Cost efficiencies from using the same technology as on Sheppard and Eglinton
  • Significant changes to maintenance and storage facility on Conlins Rd. which has almost finished RFP process
  • Possible new Environmental Assessment
  • Metrolinx is estimating that the costs of these unknowns would total at least $425 million and likely much more

 

Timelines

  • The Request for Proposals (RFP) for the Maintenance and Servicing Yard closed on May 7th and Metrolinx, with Infrastructure Ontario, is currently in the process of evaluating the bid proposals.
  • The Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for the Eglinton Crosstown-Scarborough LRT project closed on May 14

 

Councillor Josh Matlow

Ward 22, St. Paul's

City of Toronto

Tel: (416) 338-5252

Fax: (416) 392-0124

100 Queen St. W Suite A17

Toronto, Ontario M5H 2N2

www.joshmatlow.ca

   

Scarborough SRT Fact Sheet

Dear Residents,

 

There has been a lot of misinformation regarding the potential conversion of the Scarborough SRT to a subway. The facts – based on land use planning, ridership projections and a cost/benefit analysis, not votes – suggest replacing the aging Scarborough SRT with an LRT, just as was agreed upon last year when Council reached an agreement. For additional background on this current transit discussion, please read my newsletter from May 1.

 

This is a fact sheet I distributed to my colleagues and the media last night:

Scarborough SRT Fact Sheet  SRT Stats  •	The new LRT will be in a completely grade-separated right-of-way. No traffic lights. No cross streets. Widely spaced stations. •	At an average of 36km per hour It will run faster than the Yonge and Bloor-Danforth lines which average 32km per hour •	The line will have a capacity to carry 16,000 passengers per hour.  •	It is anticipated that by 2031 the LRT would carry 8,000 passengers per hour leaving it enough capacity to serve the area for many decades to come- the extra capacity offered by a subway won't come close to being needed •	The LRT would be over two kilometres longer than the subway, have four more stations and is within walking distance to over 20,000 more people- with the possibility to extend the line into Malvern  Cost Concerns  •	The $500 million cost cited to convert the SRT to a subway is false •	As TTC CEO Andy Byford confirmed today, the cost of the SRT is $1.8 billion •	The cost of the subway is estimated to cost $2.8 billion •	There is already a $1 billion difference before factoring: o	Contract cancellations with Bombardier o	Construction of new terminus for Eglinton Crosstown at Kennedy that was to be part of the Scarborough RT will could be at least $200 million o	 Sunk engineering costs o	 New design work o	 Cost efficiencies from using the same technology as on Sheppard and Eglinton o	Significant changes to maintenance and storage facility on Conlins Rd. which has almost finished RFP process o	Possible new Environmental Assessment

Click here to download this fact sheet as a PDF.

   

TTC Downtown Relief Line study

 

Phase I of the TTC's Downtown Rapid Transit Expansion Study is now available online. Please click on the report cover above to access the study directly, or click here to visit the project website for updates as they become available.

   

Moving Forward with The Big Move - A Downtown Relief Subway Line and a Regional Transit Plan

Earlier today, Metrolinx, the provincial transit agency, and the Minister of Transportation, Bob Chiarelli, announced that construction on the Downtown Relief Line (DRL) will be accelerated by 10 years. The DRL is desperately needed to take the pressure off the already over-crowded Yonge line. This is great news for the entire Greater Toronto Area and Ward 22 residents who routinely wait 2 or 3 trains in the morning before getting on at Eglinton, Davisville, St. Clair or Summerhill.

 

It was also announced today that a real conversation, at long last, will begin in January 2013 about how to pay for the DRL and other regional transit priorities. The public consultation will consider a variety of funding mechanisms and there will be a report on how to move forward by June of next year.

 

For a long time I have been advocating for a regional plan for transit improvement and expansion. This will better reflect how people truly move across municipal boundaries everyday and, if the entire region is to benefit from better transit, then residents from Toronto and the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area should share in the responsibility for paying for it.

 

For more information please see the Metrolinx press release regarding today's announcement.

 

Sincerely,

 

Josh

   

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