New transit plan leaves Scarborough commuters waiting—for the bus

It took a couple of months but Mayor Rob Ford finally unveiled his transit vision, one that replaces the Transit City plan, finding “common ground” with Premier Dalton McGuinty.

It’s yet to be seen, of course, but Ford’s new plan will hopefully help commuters be on schedule by providing a truly rapid transit system, keeping trains underground and cars free from gridlock.

Yes, there are some promising changes in motion, such as the Eglinton light rail line, a core part of the city’s regional transit network. With a potential new subway line along Finch, 100,000 jobs would be created from these two projects alone.

And in a major step toward a truly modern transit system, the city will work with provincial transit authority Metrolinx to implement a regional fare card, known as Presto, on the TTC.

These are important improvements that will benefit some parts of Toronto more than others. But what about Scarborough?

Don’t be surprised if Scarborough commuters are sentenced to a lifetime on the bus.

This new plan essentially cuts the LRT route along Sheppard, which was already approved and funded. It was replaced with only a promise that a $4.2-billion subway extension, which the city would fund with private sector money.

But there’s no guarantee.

What is guaranteed is Scarborough’s commuters face gridlock.

If the Transit City plan were to have survived, the Sheppard LRT line would have been built within two years.

What also must be considered in this predicament is the fact that millions of dollars have already been spent on planning and engineering studies, with work scheduled to begin this summer. That is a lot of money to be thrown away on cancellation charges.

Simply, it seems doubtful the subway line will be built, especially if it’s left to the private sector.

One private financing model to fund the $4.2-billion project includes building condos along the subway line. It would require a developer to build at least 54,000 new apartment units.

And that’s for only $1 billion in financing.

Sorry, not even close.

For now, it looks like Scarborough’s commuters will have to wait patiently — if they have any patience left after their commutes — to see how everything unfolds.