Pan Am transit upgrades on track

Transit upgrades needed to support the 2015 Pan American games will be built as scheduled, but other TTC projects may be delayed because of the recently released 2010 Ontario budget.

Due to a record budget deficit, the Ontario government will ask Metrolinx to reschedule planned projects including those for the Finch and Eglinton transit lines.

Projects already started, such as the Sheppard rapid transit line, will not be affected.

The provincial government is hoping to save $4 billion in the next five years.

Scarborough light rapid transit (LRT) project is scheduled to start construction in 2012 and be completed by 2016, according to TTC Transit City spokesperson Ryan Bissonnette.

The TTC is conducting a constructability study to see if construction can be expedited and completed in time for the 2015 Pan-Am games, Bissonnette said.

Councillor and mayoral candidate Joe Pantalone is worried about impending transit shortages that may affect Scarborough, if proposed projects are delayed.

“The Scarborough rapid transit line, which goes from the Kennedy subway station to the Scarborough Civic Centre, is expected not to be operational by then because it’ll be in such bad shape,” Pantalone said. “So there’s no doubt that transportation, within Scarborough, to and from Scarborough, has been badly impacted by this provincial shock of reducing the amount of money they want to spend on transit across the GTA.”

The Scarborough rapid transit (SRT) system will be shut down to make way for the new LRT.  Supplementary bus services, in place of the SRT, could mean transit delays across East Toronto.

The University of Toronto Scarborough is currently in talks with the TTC on how to improve access to the campus, said the school’s chief of planning Andrew Arifuzzaman.

Arifuzzaman said the TTC has been very accommodating so far and he is confident transit issues will be worked out by the Pan Am games.

“For this facility to be most affective, people need to have access to the facility. What the transit line does is that it actually gives that access … it will make that athletic and aquatic facility a very vibrant place. It will really make it the regional draw it was intended to be,” Arifuzzaman said.

Not everyone agrees with the construction of LRTs.

Mayoral candidate Rob Ford said transit money should be concentrated on buses and subways.

“I’m not a big fan of [LRTs] because we completely mismanaged the St. Clair right-of-way. We budgeted $43-million and now we’re over $120-million and it’s still not finished.”