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Subway to York is 10 years off, says TTC chair

Last updated Mar 24 2006 12:18 PM EST
CBC News

Toronto politicians are optimistic that after years of promises and false starts, a subway link to York University will finally be built.

But completion of the project is perhaps as long as a decade away, said Toronto Transit Commission Chairman Howard Moscoe.

“It’s because we have to secure the land, plan the services, line up the contractors and the equipment,” the Ward 15 city councillor told CBC News Online on Friday. “It’s a complex undertaking. It’s not like boiling hotdogs.”

A substantial funding commitment from the province, along with indications of federal support, gives the long-awaited subway expansion, from Downsview station on the Spadina line, up to York University and then north to Highway 7, a real chance of going ahead, Moscoe said.

Provincial Finance Minister Dwight Duncan placed almost $700 million in trust for a new subway line for Toronto and York Region, as part of Thursday’s budget. That’s about one-third of the needed funds, with responsibility for the rest lying on the shoulders of the federal and municipal governments.

“The good news is the province has made a commitment,” Moscoe said, adding there is some indication the federal government is “prepared to come on board.”

And that leaves the municipal share, which would be split in some fashion between York Region and Toronto. Moscoe, who doesn’t see coming to an agreement as a problem, said the most likely way would be through percentage of track mileage.

“Everything is kind of happening at breakneck speed,” he said. “You have to be prepared to respond quickly.”

Bud Purves, president of the York University Development Corporation, said he has a “sneaking belief” the line can be finished a little quicker than projected, but his school is prepared to handle student transit needs until then.

York University has become a hub of transit activity over the past decades, with 1,500 buses from York Region, Toronto and the Go service using the campus.

A separate busway that would go up Allen Road and then across the Finch Hydro right-of-way and into the campus, has been in the planning stages for a few years and is almost ready for approval, said Purves.

Right now, the 50,000 students and 7,500 staff at the school split about 50-50 between using cars and transit. University planners believe a subway link bringing passengers from both north and south would increase the proportion of transit users to about 70 per cent. “We’ve always believed that the melding of the two regions, with the fabulous growth that is going on in the 905, its great access to York University and, we think, the social infrastructure that will come into place once you start breaking down the barriers between the two regions, will benefit everyone,” Purves said.

Moscoe shares the excitement.

“Once the commitment [by governments] has been made, once the decision [to finance the project] has been made, there is nothing that is going to stop us.”




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