Train rescuer, historian slams $4B one-stop Scarborough subway plan

'Guy with the train in his Basement' says LRT is better way

Jason Shron, owner of Rapido Trains Inc.,  at Centennial College’s East York Campus in March 2017 (Toronto Observer photo)

A noted model train manufacturer and rail historian is critical of the City of Toronto’s proposal to extend the TTC subway system only one stop into Scarborough.

Jason Shron is popularly referred to as “The guy with the train in his basement” because he built a real Via Rail passenger car inside his house, using reclaimed parts. He is also the owner of Rapido Trains Inc., a model train manufacturer and retailer, based in Toronto.

According to Shron, the idea to spend $4 billion on a one-stop subway extension to Scarborough, is absurd. He said the city should instead have been spending $1 billion per year since the 1980s to continue to develop better transit.

“They shouldn’t have stopped building in 1982,” Shron said in March at Centennial College’s East York campus, referring to the original Yonge-University-Spadina sections of the TTC system.  “They should have kept building every year and that way we would have had a real network.”

Toronto city council is now pushing ahead with plans to build a six-kilometre-long subway tunnel as an extension to the existing Bloor-Danforth line, that would start at Kennedy Station and end at the Scarborough Town Centre.  The subway extension would replace a handful of existing LRT stations.

Debate about the transportation woes of residents of Scarborough have been going on for years, culminating under the regime of former mayor Rob Ford, who pushed for subways. Current Mayor John Tory previously promised both the LRT and subway expansion. However with costs up, the plans for the LRT were dropped. The cost for the subway expansion is estimated at nearly $4 billion, and despite funding commitments from the federal and Ontario governments, the price is expected to grow when development begins.

Shron also believes LRT is more important in Scarborough, not subways or streetcars.