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Subway to York TTC's priority

New bus-only route temporary

School insists on getting rail line


A subway to York University is the TTC’s first expansion priority, the transit authority declared yesterday.

Toronto transit commissioners attached that declaration to a motion asking the Ministry of the Environment to approve construction of Toronto’s first bus-only route from Downsview subway station to York.

Commissioners insisted the bus route was only temporary and declared the subway extension a priority to calm fears from university officials that the busway would be permanent.

“We’ll tear it up in 10 years,” said TTC chair Howard Moscoe, referring to the proposed bus-only road on the campus. “We’re hoping to have some kind of announcement in two years regarding the subway — before we have to dip into York University property.”

University spokesperson Ted Spence said the subway is a priority and was adamant York would not allow construction of the busway on its campus unless the building of a subway has been formally announced. He said it’s up to the university’s board to accept or reject the TTC’s compromise after months of sometimes acrimonious negotiations.

“A road on the York campus only makes sense in the context of the subway going ahead,” Spence said. “There’s quite a bit of common ground here in terms of what we’re tying to accomplish. I believe there’s a will at the federal and provincial level to expanding rapid transit in the GTA and the subway is a part of it.”

A subway would take about 10 years to build and cost about $1.5 billion. The busway, which will mean much quicker trips between the campus and Downsview station, will cost about $30 to $40 million and could be ready by 2006.

“It’s an important priority because it will significantly enhance transit in the northwest quadrant of the city at a very frugal price,” Mayor David Miller said.

“Obviously, a busway isn’t as good as a subway, but you get rapid transit — because the buses don’t run in mixed traffic — and it’s affordable and it will link the 905 bus systems right to Downsview subway.”

Miller also said he formally signed yesterday the $1 billion, five-year funding agreement between the city, province and federal government, announced last spring.

Among other items, the agreement sets aside money to build the busway and to complete an environmental assessment of expanding the Spadina subway to York University, and possibly into Vaughan.

Miller said the funding agreement may be a harbinger of better things to come, but there was no money to build subways right now.

“We can’t put a shovel in the ground until we have enough money to operate what we have, which we don’t.”

The busway will have bus-only lanes on Dufferin St. connecting to a new bus-only road through a hydro field running toward the campus.

If, in two years’ time, subway construction is underway, a bus-only road will be constructed on the York campus. If no subway construction is imminent, Spence said the university would try to force the city to expand Keele St. instead of building a road on its campus.