Transit Toronto is sponsored by 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.

Changes to Transit City plan will cost city

by Natalie Alcoba

Ontario transportation minister Kathleen Wynne said Tuesday the provincially-funded transit agency will consider modifying a plan for light-rail transit in Toronto, but the city will have to swallow “significant costs”.

Mayor-elect Rob Ford wants to build a subway instead of the surface route already underway along Sheppard Avenue.

Ms. Wynne said a change to the Metrolinx light rail transit plan requires city council approval.

“My hope is that the future plan won’t look that different from the current plan, but if they want to make significant changes then we’ll have to have that conversation because this is a collaborative endeavor,” Ms. Wynne said in an interview. “To move ahead without the collaboration of the city will be very difficult.”

Metrolinx, the regional transit agency, has already spent a total of $130-million on preliminary work on Sheppard East LRT ($34.1-million), the Eglinton Crosstown ($41.4-million), the Finch West LRT ($14.4-million) and the Scarborough RT ($39.4-million). In addition, it has signed $1.3-billion in contracts, including the purchase of 182 light-rail vehicles to run on the routes, and four tunnel boring machines.

Ms. Wynne could not say how much it might cost to cancel the contracts, but “the money would have to made up in some way,” either by the city paying it back or taking less funding.

“Any extra cost is going to have to be borne by the city. We don’t have any more money than the money that we’ve put on the table,” Ms. Wynne said.

The National Post reported Tuesday that mayor-elect Rob Ford, who assumes office Wednesday, has scheduled a meeting at City Hall in which he is expected to tell the head of the TTC to stop building the provincially funded light-rail network, known as Transit City.

Mr. Ford’s office confirmed the meeting is taking place Wednesday morning, but would not discuss what direction he may give.

During the campaign, Mr. Ford vocally opposed the construction of surface transit lines and said he wanted the province to transfer money for light-rail to subways. He promised to extend the existing Sheppard subway from Downsview to Scarborough Town Centre, in time for the Pan Am Games in 2015, and convert the ageing Scarborough RT into a subway. He estimated the Sheppard line would cost $3-billion and the Scarborough RT $1-billion.

A TTC briefing document, dated November, estimates that completing an eight-kilometre stretch from Don Mills to Scarborough Town Centre will cost $3.6-billion, including vehicles. It also states that a subway on Sheppard requires a new environmental assessment, therefore delaying construction and pushing completion to 2020, well past the Pan Am Games.

Bruce McCuaig, president and CEO of Metrolinx, said an environmental assessment was completed for the existing Sheppard subway, and it is unclear how much more would have to be done to “refresh” it. Mr. McCuaig said he expects any changes to the plan to require approval from the TTC, if not council. The Sheppard LRT also has federal funding tied up in it. Councillor Joe Mihevc, vice-chairman of the outgoing TTC, said that after several years of study, the commission determined that light-rail on a street as wide as Sheppard was the “most cost effective way of moving a lot of people” and the most appropriate considering the population density along the corridor. The plan, however, was met with loud opposition from local residents who fear surface routes will cause more traffic congestion.

“Mayor-elect Rob Ford was very open during the campaign that he preferred subways over LRT, so the commission and Metrolinx have heard that and my expectation is that they are adjusting the plan, the current Metrolinx plan, to accommodate the commitments Rob Ford spoke to,” said Councillor Karen Stintz, poised to be the next TTC chairwoman. Ms. Stintz would not say how a subway along Sheppard could affect the Eglinton Crosstown, which includes a 10-kilometre stretch underground. “That’s all part of the review that is going to take place,” she said.