Transit Toronto is sponsored by TransSee.ca bus tracker and next vehicle arrivals. TransSee features include vehicle tracking by route or fleet number, schedule adherence, off route vehicles and more advanced features. Works on all mobile devices and on any browser.
Supports Toronto area agencies TTC, GO trains, MiWay, YRT, HSR and GRT, as well as NY MTA, LA metro, SF MUNI, Boston MBTA, and (new) Barrie.

Slimmed-down Transit City moving forward

New plan goes before Metrolinx
despite mayor’s objection to longer timelines

By Tess Kalinowski
Transportation Reporter

The trimmed-down version of Transit City is on track for approval this week by the Metrolinx board, despite repeated criticism of the plan’s longer construction timelines by Toronto Mayor David Miller.

Metrolinx CEO Rob Prichard told the Toronto Board of Trade on Monday that his agency is poised to order custom tunnel-boring machines for the underground section of the Eglinton line and the new LRT cars.

The Metrolinx board is expected to approve the revised timelines that were recommended after the province cut $4 billion to its disbursements over the first five years of construction. Metrolinx can move ahead as soon as the province endorses what Prichard called “a bold, aggressive but doable plan.”

He made an impassioned case for accepting a slower phase-in, as opposed to further delay in getting started. The plan calls for spending $8.15 billion on light rail along Sheppard, Eglinton and Finch, and rebuilding the Scarborough Rapid Transit line, plus $1.35 billion to build express bus lanes in York Region.

“This is an unprecedented opportunity of the largest public transit investment in the history of Canada. Surely we shouldn’t put it on hold. Surely we should proceed and get in place a foundation of projects that are so urgently needed, so others in future years can build on top of this foundation,” Prichard said.

“(Toronto) Council has virtually unanimously approved and reapproved these four projects in Toronto, just as York Region has approved its project repeatedly,” Prichard said.

But Transportation Minister Kathleen Wynne acknowledged that “If the mayor and council decide the TTC can’t work with us, that’s a real problem.”

The first phase of Toronto’s four approved LRT lines will be built over 10 years, rather than eight, and construction of about 23 kilometres and 25 stops will be postponed until Metrolinx releases an Investment Strategy — by June 2013 — that would deliver the revenue needed.

Those parts of the plan will need to wait because the TTC’s estimate on the original proposal was about $2.5 billion more than the $8.15 billion the province had budgeted.

But speaking to council’s executive committee Monday, Miller again insisted the province was breaking its word by failing to start all the projects immediately.

“I think what Mr. Prichard said today confirmed that everything that I’ve said since the provincial budget is accurate and true,” he told reporters later. “All that the money on offer will do is build part of an Eglinton LRT, that’s all … people in Jane-Finch, Rexdale and Scarborough — particularly Scarborough — are not going to get the transportation they need.” (The start of the Scarborough rebuild has been delayed at least five years.)

“This is about Toronto and it’s about the future potential of our city. I mean, we’re 30 years behind in rapid transit.”

Prichard disagreed with those comments, saying the province is building a 10-year capital plan. “We plan to spend about $70 million on Finch and $100 million on Scarborough over the next five years to be ready to put the shovels in the ground in 2015,” he said late Monday.

York Region’s express bus lanes will also be put off, from 2015 to 2019. “What’s important is that we get started,” region chair Bill Fisch said.

The Public Transit Coalition suggested the delay could end up costing more than the $4 billion the province is saving in the next five years. “Nobody has sat down and said, ‘Is the saving to the provincial treasury greater or less?’” said spokesman Franz Hartmann. “How can you be going forward if you haven’t even done this basic due diligence?”




dividerinside