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Light-rail plan favoured over Yonge line extension

It serves more riders, dollar for dollar, TTC chair says

Dec 18, 2008 04:30 AM
Tess Kalinowski
transportation reporter

It’s not that the TTC doesn’t want to extend the Yonge subway line 6.8 kilometres into York Region. It’s just that Toronto doesn’t want it built at the expense of the city’s other priorities.

After listening to a lengthy update yesterday on the $2.4 billion plans for the extension from Finch station to Richmond Hill Centre, north of Highway 7, councillors on the Toronto Transit Commission are still looking for projected ridership when the proposed extension opens - as soon as 2017.

There are various projections for ridership in 2031, but they’re based on potential intensification around some of the proposed stations, and the existing cost estimates don’t take into account multi-million-dollar items such as train yards and expanding platform capacity at Bloor station.

Dollar for dollar, the TTC’s Transit City light-rail plan will serve more riders than a subway extension, said TTC chair Adam Giambrone.

Unlike the Spadina extension, funding is not yet attached to the Yonge extension.

The $2.4 billion estimated cost could climb as high as $4 billion, said Giambrone.

But the project is on the Metrolinx list of priorities anticipated to get part of the $11.5 billion the province has pledged to transit by 2020.

Yesterday’s TTC report says only $5 million is expected for the Yonge extension in the province’s spring budget.

Meanwhile, planning for the extension, to this point steered by York Region, is progressing quickly. It’s possible shovels could go in the ground by 2012.

The first three of seven Transit City light-rail lines into the suburbs also have been designated as Metrolinx priorities, but some councillors fear the money won’t suffice for everything on that list.

“It may be the perfect time to be (building) two or three Transit City lines at once, (a Scarborough rapid transit line), two subway lines, both the Spadina extension and the Yonge extension,” Giambrone said.

“All we’re saying is, fund your state of good repair, fund Transit City, and then, if we want to talk about other projects, we’re happy to go ahead and do them.

“We have the capacity to do that, but we have to make sure the funding’s in place. I can’t run the system on a hope and prayer. I have to have committed capital dollars.”

A public meeting on the Yonge extension is expected in January.