The following slides were part of a handout that was available our Transit Town Hall. Many of you were unable to obtain a copy due to the large turnout. I hope this information provides some context for the recent public debate about putting LRTs versus subways. I believe this is a false debate, as the preferred choice should always be what makes sense depending on where the line is planned for and what funds are available. In fact, for Scarborough residents, the real choice they’ve been offered is either Light Rapid Transit in dedicated lanes or the status quo using buses in mixed traffic. The mayor has not provided a subway plan for Sheppard other than saying, “he likes subways”. He’s failed to explain to taxpayers how he’d pay for them.
Please click here to see the presentation on the Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown.
City Council’s Transit Expansion Plan, 52 km (pending expert panel’s Sheppard Avenue review)
Mayor Ford’s Transit Plan, 25 km
What Can We Achieve for $2 Billion, the cost of burying the Eglinton Crosstown LRT?
The original Metrolinx plan, funded by the provincial government, called for LRT lines on Finch, Sheppard and an Eglinton Crosstown line to be tunnelled underground between Black Creek to Laird and then at-grade to Kennedy. Soon after taking office, Mayor Ford unilaterally announced that the entirety of the Eglinton LRT line would go underground. The Mayor also proposed to construct a $4.7 billion subway on Sheppard Ave using wholly private financing.
If the entirety of the Eglinton line was built underground, the additional cost would be almost $2 billion. Toronto would have to reallocate funds away from the Finch West and Sheppard East LRTs, as the City would no longer have the capital dollars to construct those rapid transit lines.
Recently, a report commissioned by the Mayor, mused about various private financing schemes and potential public revenue sources to build a Sheppard subway but provided no clear or reliable details as to what this would ultimately be.
We can no longer afford to spend time or money trying to build transit with funding sources that may or may not materialize. Also, without ensuring that the revenue needed for ongoing operating costs can be sourced, I’m concerned that constructing subways through areas with low densities will become a long-term liability for taxpayers. The current stretch of the Sheppard subway is already subsidised by our property taxes due to low ridership. We can extend 2 lines into Scarborough now with dedicated light rail and serve thousands more.
When funding is made available in the coming years, I believe our next transit priorities should include, but not be limited to, a Downtown Relief Line constructed to take the pressure off of the over-crowded Yonge subway line and extending the Eglinton Crosstown to Pearson airport.
In the coming days, some detractors will say that our plan is simply “against the mayor”. It is not. It’s actually not about the mayor- it’s about Toronto.
Others will say that this will lead to a “St. Clair-like” plan on Eglinton. This is not true either as the line will be underground through midtown Toronto along the most narrow and congested portion of the road, go at-grade through low- density areas towards Scarborough and Eglinton, east of Leslie, is wider that St. Clair and can accommodate an additional dedicated lane. Also- we’ll have modern Light Rapid Transit, used in 115 cities around the world in all climates, including in North America, which is faster and can carry more passengers than our current streetcars.
Let’s move forward now with a realistic plan that will provide our city with rapid and accessible transit, curb gridlock and finally get Toronto moving again.
Toronto City Councillor
Ward 22 – St. Paul’s