Call to speed up transit upgrades

With the Pan Am games set to roll through Scarborough in 2015, plans are in the works to accelerate construction on the Light Rail Transit project to complete it in time for the games.

Originally, construction of the line was to be completed by 2016, but because the Pan Am games are being hosted in Scarborough, a study is underway to determine whether it is possible to have Phase I of the line completed a year early.

Completing the line will be good for the city, especially during the games when Scarborough will see more visitors than usual, says Ryan Bissonnette with public affairs for the TTC’s Transit City department.

“We’re actually doing a great thing for Scarborough because were extending transit (as well as) making transit more reliable,” Bissonnette said. “The new vehicles have either two or four trains coupled together which increases capacity and reliability.”

Conversion of the SRT to a LRT line will mean all stations between Kennedy and McCowan could be closed for up to three years.

Bissonnette said commuters should not think of it as closing the SRT but rather taking preemptive measures to prevent it from having to close permanently.

“The Scarborough RT has come to the end of its useful life,” Bissonnette said. “People understand that it has to be redeveloped and the response to that has been positive.”

The RT has been open since 1915, and due to wear and tear, renovations and redevelopments need to be made, according to Bissonnette, to make the system more efficient.

“There are no replacement vehicles so we cannot purchase new vehicles to replace the old ones,” Bissonnette said. “The LRT is the next generation.”

There will be express shuttle bus service between Kennedy and McCowan stations and increased service on other routes while the line is closed.

The Toronto Transit Commission is also working on strategies to ensure commuters can reach their destinations quickly and efficiently during the construction phase.