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A complete waterfront

A Vision For Toronto



PAVED WITH DREAMS: The Gardiner Expressway, which cuts the waterfront off from downtown, could face demolition.

Bread-and-butter transit favoured over grandiose plans

By Paul Moloney
Toronto Star City Hall Bureau

Forget fancy monorails. Think rolling stock: Buses, subway cars, GO trains.

The burgeoning transportation needs of a renewed waterfront call for the old-fashioned bread-and-butter equipment that works, transit officials say.

There’s no need to try to impress international Olympics honchos and the rest of the world with innovative technology, TTC chair Howard Moscoe said.

“Originally, (Olympic bid backers) were proposing some kind of elevated monorail,” Moscoe said in an interview. “Anybody can sit down with the back of an envelope and come up with grandiose ideas.

“But it doesn’t have to be a sexy, fancy thing that eats funding. We need basic transit that benefits our riders rather than being stuck with fancy toys.”

Major improvements to transportation form a key ingredient of a massive overhaul of Toronto’s waterfront being recommended by financier Robert Fung, whose report is to be released Monday.

Fung’s task force believes the investments should be made, even if the city’s Olympic bid is unsuccessful. But he and others also believe the Games bid acts as a catalyst to make changes.

Because the Games would see transit use spiral to 2.8 million rides daily from 1.2 million, the TTC proposes accelerating the purchase of subway cars and buses.

Specifically, it wants to advance the purchase of 365 buses the system will need anyway, at a cost of $212 million, and speed up buying 80 subway cars for $180 million.

At GO Transit, the story is the same. It needs more equipment to handle continuous growth and Olympics duties, including moving 50,000 people an hour by train from Union Station to the proposed Cherry St. Olympics site.

GO is looking for 18 additional trains - costing $475 million - to bring the strength up to 50 trains, and big bucks for new facilities to remove rail corridor bottlenecks.

Changes needed to Union Station alone come in at $168 million - $100 million to increase GO train capacity, $58 million for a second subway platform and $10 million for a new bus terminal.

“We’ve got no money committed to do any of this,” said GO Transit planning manager Mike Wolczyk. “The municipalities (which subsidize GO) can’t afford it. The feds and the province would have to be involved.”

Fung’s task force supports improvements to Union Station and sees the intermodal station as critical to the movement of people across the GTA.

The task force is also expected to back a rapid transit link to the airport.

If there’s to be a signature project that transforms the waterfront, it would be tearing down the Frederick G. Gardiner Expressway.

The costs are staggering - $1.2 billion to remove the eight-kilometre elevated roadway.

A dream for many years, the project will get a major boost now that it’s being backed by the Fung task force.

“Everybody who’s ever looked at the waterfront has recommended (demolition)” said Councillor Jack Layton (Don River). “This can’t hurt.”

The city is poised to begin removing the most eastern stretch of the highway, from the Don Valley Parkway to Leslie St.

Sources say Fung wants to replace the elevated portions with a broad boulevard, like University Ave. Sections, around Fort York, for example, would be buried.

“The key thing is to establish the will to do it,” Layton said.