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Duly Quoted: Metrolinx on a Scarborough Subway vs LRT

Regional transit agency not interested in reopening the debate about Scarborough transit.

“I think we keep going [with the existing LRT plan]. I think that’s the responsible thing to do.”

—Metrolinx CEO Bruce McCuaig, on the prospect of re-opening the signed agreement between the province and the City of Toronto, which calls for replacing the aging Scarborough RT with light rail. Earlier this week, news broke that a group of councillors, including several representatives from Scarborough and TTC Chair Karen Stintz, were trying to build momentum for replacing that plan with one for a subway. McCuaig, along with Metrolinx chair Rob Prichard, met with the editorial board of the Globe and Mail to try to squelch that bid, explaining the problems they saw with a subway. Several staff reports have concluded that the area doesn’t have the ridership to require a subway; we’ve got a comparison of the two options here.


  • Fresh_Start

    Toronto population in 1951 was only 1.17 million, three years prior to the original 12 stop Yonge Line opening. Where would Toronto be today if planners had not thought ahead and built that critical piece of infrastructure? To bulk at building the Scarborough (pop. 650,000) extension when almost 10,000 passengers per hour per direction would ride the thing is shortsighted. Sustaining the useless, aggrivating transfer point at Kennedy Stn when a one-seat ride between Scarborough Centre and the downtown is achievable is foolish.
    Mr. McCuaig has the opportunity to right the 30 year wrong of not simply extending the Bloor-Danforth Line to the Town Centre in the first place. Don`t blow it.

    • Jacob

      The Eglinton Crosstown LRT would go straight to STC, no transfer. So there’s that.

      Plus, Scarborough is already built-up. With bungalows. Good luck getting all those people out of their homes to build high-density housing.

      • dsmithhfx

        1. The Eglinton LRT is not going to serve people travelling to/from downtown. 2. It is also not going to replace the SRT during the three+ years its replacement is under construction. 3. Been to Scarborough lately?

      • kEiThZ

        Nonsense from somebody who doesn’t know the area. Go to STC and see the condos coming up there.

        • OgtheDim

          Regardless, are people in those condos actually using transit? Condo growth around the city is not high order transit dependent. There is little reason to believe, for example, that many of the condo dwellers along the Sheppard line are actually using transit. One developer (Daniels) tried to give away transit passes and couldn’t.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            No need to pussyfoot around it: There is solid reason to believe those condo dwellers aren’t using transit. Just look at the ridership numbers. A billion dollars or more in development along that stretch in the last decade, and the subway could still be replaced by a bus.

          • OgtheDim

            A bus every 2 minutes maybe, during rush times. The middle two cars are kinda packed. :-)

            Too bad we can’t retrofit to LRT without spending hundreds of millions again.

            There has been growth in ridership;but there is some doubt as to whether that growth is beyond the growth across the TTC.

      • Fresh_Start

        Except that they’re not planning on through-routing i.e. interlining the Crosstown and Scarborough LRT lines, so the transfer at Kennedy would still exist. Not to mention Midtown (Yonge-Eglinton) is not where the bulk of Scarborough commuters want to go. A one-seat ride from Scarborough Centre to Yonge-Bloor is far more beneficial.
        And about bungalows, even downtown Toronto is chock full of one-storey, single-dwelling houses. Should we raze Cabbagetown or Trinity-Spadina or Rua Acores or Kensington to create more density? The locations where subway stops would go (Brimley-Eglinton?, McCowan-Lawrence, SCC, McCowan-Sheppard) are already home to multiple high rise apartments and trip generators e.g. Scarb. General Hospital.

        • Comment_Book_Guy

          your mom is a one-seat ride

      • transit fan

        Absolutely Incorrect. There is only a service track between the Eglinton LRT line and STC. No one seat to Scarborough. Essentially there will be no one seat ride to STC from either Sheppard, Bloor and Eglinton lines.
        Check the plans for the Kennedy Station. This is a convenient misunderstanding of the current plan that has not been adequately refuted.

    • OgtheDim

      Is 10K an hour enough to justify the cost of digging that tunnel when such an amount can be easily accommodated more cheaply with LRT going to the same place?

      • dsmithhfx

        It would be a relatively minor investment to secure public buy-in of transit funding tools. That is what is really at stake here. I’m really surprised the Metrolinx brass have gone out of their way to try to kill it. What are they afraid of? Steve Munro is documenting their autocratic, manipulative and devious approach to planning the Eglinton LRT on his blog.

        • kEiThZ

          They are opposing it because their signature piece of Eglinton will be dumbed down. Eglinton will now be what it should have been in the first place: at-grade LRT right till the end of Eglinton East. No complete rebuild of the SRT corridor. No fancy (and expensive) transfer at Kennedy. Just through service. Etc.

          They’re disappointed about their vision being dumbed down.

        • Paul Kishimoto

          Wasn’t there a 200-comment foodfight on the other Torontoist article about this? To me that’s less “securing public buy-in” and more “alienating the public with yet more squabbling over alignments.”

          Metrolinx, Munro and you agree the tools should be employed; but Ford, Hudak & company would be more than happy to kill funding for everything while you lose sight of that and busy yourselves with (counter-)accusations. Eyes on the prize!

          • Lee Zamparo

            @khaeru:disqus It wasn’t much of a food fight, I was in the middle of it. It was what should be happening down at Queens Park, Council and at Metrolinx: a frank discussion of which form of transit would best accommodate how people actually use transit in that area.

            Also, from that discussion I think it’s safe to say a broad agreement was reached about the “securing public buy-in” was reached.

            I’m just as worried as you are about the possible threat to revenue tools that might result from re-opening this discussion, but I trust the majority of councillors not to eff it up.

      • kEiThZ

        By that logic, we should be shutting down a third of all subway stations in Toronto. Why pay to operate them when they have ridership below SC? Is it really justified to keep them operational when those people can easily bus to another station and be accomodated just as easily and more cheaply?

        • OgtheDim

          We have stuff built. Mothballing it isn’t worth it and not what I’m suggesting.

          What I’m saying is maybe, just maybe, we shouldn’t overbuild something new.

          • Don River

            The Yonge extension to Finch in the early 70s (which indisputably was an “overbuild” at the time) worked out okay.

            Maybe, just maybe, we should use this golden opportunity to finally extend the B-D to STC/Sheppard and fix a 30+ year mistake.

          • OgtheDim

            The Yonge extension fed into need that was going to show up. The top of the city above the 401 and the municipalities to the north east and west of there all feed into the Yonge line.

            Despite attempts to do the same thing with STC, people are not doing that.

    • tomwest

      Transit ridership per person was a *lot* higher in 1951, and the cost of building a subway much lower. Further, the Yonge Street streecars had capacity issues, and a subway was considered the only was to get the extra capacity needed.

    • Subways subways subways

      Where would the city be today if it had built the LRT circle around Scarborough, North York, and Etobicoke as planned?

    • Comment_Book_Guy

      christ, *again* with the ‘one-seat ride between Scarborough Centre and the downtown’ obsession. Why don’t we just build a line directly to your front door? Free snacks and four-hand massages included onboard. Will that suffice, Emperor?

      • Echo

        I believe it is called the GO train…

  • Paul Kishimoto

    Note that the original G&M article has blown up into now Stinz, De Baeremaeker, etc. AND Transportation Minister Glen Murray being hugely irresponsible.

    The Metrolinx funding recommendations don’t officially land for a month yet. Do these people think that those revenue tools are a done deal, with the money safely in the bank and politically invulnerable? In fact, they’re still a dangerously uncertain proposition that could be stillborn.

    These people could line up together to shout down the mayor and convince a skeptical public to accept something truly in its best interest. What they’re doing instead is extremely selfish, because it jeopardizes this opportunity to finally get transit funded.

    • IB

      Another way of looking at it is they are trying to make sure the revenue tools pass City Council (and over Ford’s objecting political corpse) by winning over skeptical Scarborough residents. I generally support the light rail plan, but if this change is necessary for the plan to survive, it is worth it. And if we can finally expose Ford as the fraud he is (having him oppose subway construction) then Toronto may actually recover from his mayoralty.

      • Paul Kishimoto

        Yeah, I understand the premise, I just think it’s flawed. Every column-inch of coverage on this public, eleventh-hour horse trading is a lost chance to tell people why transit funding is better than sliced bread.

        That’s a huge “if”. I haven’t yet seen an analysis / silent poll (Torontoist?) of Council that says a motion to approve would pass ONLY with Scarborough councillors onside. If *not*, this isn’t worthwhile.

        Those Scarborough councillors, and in fact everyone else, could cover their asses with a “Yes, but…” now, and do their grandstanding at election time. Instead we hear “Not unless…” or “Only if…” before, as I said, the funding is even secured. For their trouble they may win themselves a larger share of nothing, which is still nothing.

        • IB

          Yes, that’s true, there are risks to this strategy. However, I think there is also a tremendous risk even if Council (without Scarborough) accepts revenue tools. We could have a provincial election any time, and no transit projects and probably not much in the way of revenue tools will be in place before the next municipal election. If Hudak and Ford exploit the resentment of Scarborough – and the subway fanatics throughout the city – then we will lose far more than if we head off that crisis now.

          • dsmithhfx

            Agreed, that’s where the risk lies. An olive branch on new funding just fell out of the sky, and all we get in response is ‘not invented here’ syndrome.

      • Lee Zamparo


  • kEiThZ

    Meh. I highly doubt Metrolinx is immune to direction from Queen’s Park.

    And you can bet there’s quite a few Liberal MPPs now worried about the looming taxes (err. revenue tools) being imposed at the same time they are shutting down all rapid transit (save 3 stations) in Scarborough for half a decade. Not going to go down well. And they know it.

    All those Scarborough Councillors that signed off on on reinstating Transit City with no changes at all? It’ll be fun to watch them try and explain to their constituents how they are watching out for their best interests by imposing a huge tax increase while shutting down the SRT. I think reality and fear of the villagers is dawning on them. Glenn de Baeremaeker is toast. Does he really think all those people buying condos in his ward really want the SRT (that they paid inflated prices to live near) shut down?

    • Eric S. Smith

      “Does he really think all those people buying condos in his ward really
      want the SRT (that they paid inflated prices to live near) shut down?”

      The poor thing is just going to break down permanently any day now and be replaced by buses, anyway.

      • kEiThZ

        Which will only infuriate voters further. All plays right into the hands of Ford and Hudak.

        • tyrannosaurus_rek

          Easily countered: If Ford hadn’t cost the city Seventy Million Dollars by cancelling previous transit plans without any authority to do so, LRTs serving Scarborough would already be operating at the next municipal election, or shortly thereafter.

          Anyone running against Ford who doesn’t hammer this home, regardless of the state of the SRT at the time, is a fool.

          And Wynne, now that she’s on this transit kick, might choose to remind people that Hudak stood by while his party filled in the Eglinton subway tunnel.

          • dsmithhfx

            I’m not sure there’s much upside to reminding voters of their mistakes.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            “No, no, Joe Public, it isn’t your fault Ford/Hudak did these terrible things! They were – and still are – out of touch with honest, hard-working Canadians like you! You didn’t elect them to squander Tax Payer Money™, did you? Of course not!”

          • dsmithhfx

            40 words too long.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            Ford Is The Gravy Train! Hudak Buries Taxpayer Money In Hole!

  • picard102

    Maybe if they didn’t come up with such a shit plan in the first place, we wouldn’t be going back and forth on this every 6 months.

    • OgtheDim

      While politicians have crayons and napkins, no plan is safe from shitiness.

  • OgtheDim

    Of course soon after then Murray announces he is reopening.