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Metrolinx trims Transit City

By Kenyon Wallace
and Natalie Alcoba

Transit City’s four provincially approved light rail lines will suffer substantial cuts in length and number of stops, according to a revised Metrolinx plan revealed to city councillors yesterday.

The new plan will see lines cut by a total of 22.5 kilometres and 24 fewer stations than the original Transit City plan announced by the province in 2008. In addition, the completion of the Scarborough RT, Eglinton Crosstown and Finch lines have been delayed by an average of about five years, and the plan calls for the scrapping of a light-rail link to Pearson International Airport.

The plan was revealed to city staff this week when the TTC met with Metrolinx, but was made public yesterday when Mayor David Miller sent a blistering letter to Premier Dalton McGuinty saying the city could not support the new proposals.

“The first five years of cash flow proposed by Metrolinx is inadequate to ensure completion in the 10-year timeframe,” Mr. Miller wrote. “This will result in partial lines, inadequate service, and will cost more overall due to significant additional cost to purchase buses and associated infrastructure to fill the gap created by the reduced plan.”

A spokesperson for Metrolinx said the city agreed to the revised schedule in February, when it became clear that the lines would cost more than expected.

Metrolinx says Toronto’s portion of the funding has always been $8.1-billion.

The revised Metrolinx plan comes less than a week after the Ontario government committed to seeing through the completion of the four lines in 10 years rather than eight, despite the budget announcement in March that $4-billion in funding would be delayed for the next five years.

Under Metrolinx’s new plan, the original budget of $9.5-billion has been reduced to $8.1-billion, according to Mr. Miller’s letter to the Premier. Metrolinx says Toronto’s portion of the funding has always been $8.1-billion.

Stuart Green, a spokesman for Mr. Miller, said the new Metrolinx plan proves the Mayor’s contention that a delay of transit “is a denial of transit,” and noted that even if the lines start when they are slated to, there is no guarantee they will ever be completed.

“These things can die on a whim of a new provincial government,” he said. “The lines that are most affected here are those that serve areas that need it the most.”

Scarborough Councillor Michael Thompson said he was surprised to learn of the “adjustment” to the lines, and wonders what else might change. “It gives me great concern because I don’t know whether we can trust the process, because it’s a moving target,” he said last night. “We know Scarborough has had such challenge with efficient transit in our community. They don’t believe us, they don’t get us.”



Original plan — to open 2016 Pearson Airport to Kennedy 33 km and 41 stops

Metrolinx plan — open 2019-22 Jane to Kennedy; 20 km, 28 stops


Original plan — to open 2013 Don Mills to Meadowvale 14 km and 30 stops

Metrolinx plan — to open 2014 Don Mills-Conlins; 13 km, 29 stops


Original plan — to open 2015 Kennedy to Malvern Town Centre 12 km and 10 stations

Revised plan — to open 2020 Kennedy-Sheppard; 9.5 km, 8 stations


Original Plan — to open 2013 Yonge St. to Humber College 17 km and 30 stops

Metrolinx plan — to open 2019 Keele to Humber; 11 km and 20 stops