Subway vs. RT debate heats up in Scarborough

Scarborough can pretty much say good-bye to faster transportation in the community for the next couple of years.

Since Mayor Rob Ford’s meeting with the provincially owned transit operator/financier Metrolinx on Feb. 15, Toronto is closer to getting new subways instead of light rail transit (LRT) proposed in the previously contracted Transit City project.

Ford’s plan would extend the Don Mills subway to Scarborough City Centre, upgrade the existing Scarborough RT line to a subway line, and extend the Sheppard subway line to Downsview station.

“It’s good for the long-term growth of our city,” Ford press secretary Adrienne Batra said .

Jessica Roher, coordinator for the Scarborough Civic Action Network, disagrees, saying Transit City was a much better plan for Scarborough.

“We only have three stops in Scarborough,” said Roher, “Victoria Park, Warden and Kennedy. Then we have the RT, which is crumbling and needs to be replaced and is not really an effective mode of public transportation.

“[The new subway plan] only covers not even half of Scarborough…. It stops at the Scarborough Civic Centre, which isn’t even the centre of Scarborough.”

According to the Pembina Institute, a non-profit think tank funded by government, the four previously proposed LRT lines of Transit City would serve “290,000 more Torontonians than currently have service today.” Ford’s subway extension would only impact one part of the city and 61,000 people.

Ford’s proposed subway would cost $6.2 billion for 18 kilometres of subway, not taking into account for additional costs to the plan. It would cost $8.73 billion to build 52 kilometres of LRT lines for phase one of Transit City and an additional $1.83 billion for another 23 kilometres.

So far, $137 million has already been invested in Transit City and $1.38 billion in contracts have already been signed. Also, 182 LRTs have been ordered.

“There’s some part of the lines that are going to be built,”  Batra said. “There’s also the tunnel-boring machines that have been purchased. The dollars on those types of equipment will not be lost.”

With the new subway proposal, research would have to go into its preparation. New contracts would have to be established and funding would have to be secured. The Sheppard LRT line, which is currently in construction, would be halted. In short, Toronto would have to wait longer for faster transit.

Ryan Winter, a Scarborough resident, often visits his friends in Pickering. However the trip takes longer that he would like.

He lives at Brimorton Drive and Ellesmere Avenue, just 12.2 km away from Pickering, but by using the TTC, it can take between half an hour to over an hour to get to his friends.

“It’s really hard to get there, especially if it’s off peak hours,” says Winter.

“Scarborough for a very long time has been patiently waiting for a proper transit system and over and over again the city has prioritized downtown,” said Roher.

Roher made it clear that she is not against subways. She would just like to see city transit better serve the community.

“We’re not proposing that it all be on the street and that everyone take transit,” Roher said. “What we’re proposing and what this light rail plan proposes is a system where the most or more people in the city can get around to more places so that will include as well an underground component.”

Scarborough’s need for transit has an underlying economical need, she adds.

“We have six of the 13 priority neighbourhoods in Scarborough, which is a huge percentage of the priority neighbourhoods,” Roher said. “And this system, this light rail system, was actually going to allow those communities to have better access to jobs and better access to the heart of the city, the heart of downtown, so that they could grow and become more developed and hopefully get out of the under-served allocated neighbourhoods”.

Recently, TTC announced it would cut or allocate 41 bus routes, seven of them in Scarborough.

6 comments:

  1. Light rail done well works well in all major cities in the world. The cost of going underground is enormous, only *may* reduce property disputes along the way. It *will* prolong the agony of merchants and residents as the tunnels bore through slowly and crack foundations in the process. The illusion of subway permanence is funny – every form of transit requires substantial maintenance.

    A debate about subways is like debating building additional elevated Gardiner expressways. Their time has come and gone, and may come again someday – but not on the heels of a recession.

    It all rings of ponies and rainbows and tantrums – some ideal world, not the real world.

    People need to be able to GET TO WORK – as many people as possible. Not just some small elite that lives clustered around eight stops or some hogwash like that.

  2. The people of scarborough had spoken during the election when they voted Rob Ford in. I’m wondering how many of these people that say the old plan works takes the TTC or are under the pay roll of saying the old plan works better from those that would benifit from it

  3. Sometimes I wonder how many of the biggest complainers actually live in Scarborough? Sheppard Ave is only 6 lanes wide for about one block in Scarborough. The rest of it is only 4 lanes, and even according to the TTC’s own documents, it will increase travel times at all intersections along the line, including the TTC buses that cross Sheppard ave all throughout Scarborough.

    The LRT is a waste of time and money. Scarborough needs a subway line, but given the choice of a LRT or no LRT, I’d take no LRT any day.

  4. Yes, because god forbid, an effective right of way transit system used all over the world, on a 6 lane road will absolutely be a nightmare in every way for the people of Scarborough who need it most. LRT can be underground and above ground. And costs 5 times less than a subway.

    Robert Ford can go to hell.

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