New transit line heading for Scarborough

Faster transportation. Reliable service. Comfortable commute.

These are some of the things the Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown will provide to transit users.

The Crosstown will be a 25-kilometre long light rail transit (LRT) line that will operate between the Scarborough Town Centre and Jane St./Black Creek Dr.

Crosstown is funded by Metrolinx, which says the Crosstown will make commuting less of a drag for Scarborough riders.

“We estimate it takes 45 minutes to travel from Scarborough Town Centre to Jane Street, “ said Drew Davidson, a spokesperson for Metrolinx.

The new LRT will operate like a subway, travelling underground and away from traffic, but the stops are farther apart, meaning faster commuting times.

In addition to the Crosstown, the Scarborough Rapid Transit (SRT) will be rebuilt, allowing Scarborough commuters to reach the downtown core faster.

“It will be connected to the underground Eglinton line which will allow riders starting their journey in Scarborough to have a quick one-seat ride across town,” Davidson said.

While this means shutting down the SRT, Davidson said it would remain in use until after the Pan Am games in 2015.

This pandering to Rob Ford’s anti streetcar position is going to cost at least 2 billion

— Steve Munro

The plan seems like a sound idea on paper, but some Scarborough residents are skeptical of Mayor Rob Ford’s project.

“I support the line in general but not the decision to bury it from Kennedy to Jane,” said transit blogger, Steve Munro. “This pandering to Rob Ford’s anti streetcar position is going to cost at least 2 billion, probably much more […] in particular there [is] no LRT to the University of Toronto Scarborough.”

However, even Davidson would agree that the project would pose some challenges. He says the Don Valley is a hilly area that poses potential problems to the project.

“The Don Valley is an area under review, given the grades of the valley between Laird and approximately Victoria Park,” said Davidson. “This is not a new issue as we had anticipated that the grades of the Don Valley would be a challenge.”

Despite the challenges and potential problems, Munro says he knows these transit improvements are necessary for the city no matter what the cost.

“The basic fact is that we cannot afford to build subways everywhere and there must be tradeoffs with available road capacity to make room for better transit.”

The project funded by the province of Ontario and Metrolinx, is estimated to cost $8.2 billion over a 10 year span. Construction began in the summer of 2011 and the estimated completion date is 2020.