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55 Comments

politics

Duly Quoted: Metrolinx, on the Scarborough Subway vs LRT Debate

Bruce McCuaig, CEO of the regional transit agency, tells the City of Toronto that the Scarborough LRT is officially on hold.

“It would be imprudent for us to spend more on a project Council has by a majority vote repudiated, as further expenditures would increase the sunk costs already incurred for which the City is responsible. As you know, Metrolinx estimates that sunk costs amount to $85 million at this time. Putting the Scarborough LRT on hold is not due to any shortcomings inherent in the project. The project would serve Toronto and its communities well. In the event the City suspends pursuit of the subway extension, Metrolinx is prepared to return to the current project.”

—From a letter sent by Bruce McCuaig, CEO of regional transit agency Metrolinx, to the City of Toronto’s top civil servant, Joe Pennachetti, and to TTC CEO Andy Byford.

In the wake of city council’s decision to support a subway instead of an LRT when it comes to replacing the aging Scarborough RT, Metrolinx has advised municipal officials that it is stopping work on the LRT, which was already in the works. In addition to warning that the City would be on the hook for the money that’s already been spent on the LRT, McCuaig let the City know that Metrolinx would make the $1.48 billion it has remaining on the books for Scarborough transit available for a subway—an amount less than the $1.8 billion city council said it needed from the province. He also confirmed that work would continue as scheduled on the Eglinton Crosstown line, and that changes to the existing agreement between Metrolinx and Toronto would be confined as much as possible to the Scarborough project.

The full text of McCuaig’s letter follows—

Metrolinx Letter Re: Scarborough LRT by Torontoist

Comments

  • Graeme

    This sucks for the people of Scarborough, but it sucks for the rest of us, too. They were misinformed, lied to and cynically manipulated by people who only wanted their votes. Eventually, when the money inevitably falls through, the bitterness and disappointment they feel will make it all the more difficult to build the relief line the city actually needs. What a colossal failure of leadership.

    • emwatcher

      After the asshole-ness of Ford and Hudak, and even after the cynicism of the gLiberals (at Queen’s Park, thru Metrolynx and in by-elections), it was still disgusting to see Giambrone opportunistically playing footsie with Ford Mob on this issue. So all three lamestream provincial parties are happy to throw away years of planning, tens of millions of public dollars and their own integrity to suck up to misinformed, short-sighted, Sun-purveyed rants. Keep this in mind when the media labels some other city or country “corrupt.”

      • Graeme

        I don’t disagree with your sentiment, but you should know that using the word “lamestream” automatically makes you sound like an imbecile.

        • HotDang

          I think it sounds cool.

          • OgtheDim

            Not when you hear it in 10% of the comments you read.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            It sounds wicked cool.

  • Moonmoth

    Scarborough ain’t getting shit ! :D

  • Chuck Davidson

    Scarborough voters wanted a subway or nothing. They may very well get one too!!!…sometime around 2060.

    • wklis

      The auto-centric Rob Ford got his REAL wish. No rapid transit of any kind.

  • bobloblawbloblawblah

    Our Doofus Mayor lied to Scarborough and played politics with the subway extension, along with some help from Queen’s Park. It will be interesting to see if the people of Scarborough take it out on Ford when the funding falls through as it likely will.

    • Jacob

      They won’t take it out on Ford. He’ll successfully deflect 100% of the blame to the province, and tell the voters that “he tried”.

      He’s a master at the skill of “zero responsibility”.

      • vampchick21

        He should be, he does zero.

  • hamish

    $85,000,000 could get us a lot of bike lanes, even Bloor/Danforth! where the Fordists scrapped the EA two summers ago to save $500,000. They couldn’t even agree to a mere study of a cheap way of effectively expanding the subway for the price of paint – so this Clowncil is grossly hypocritical! Two year terms again please!

    • HotDang

      Bike lanes cost $25 thousand per kilometer. With $85 million you could make a bike lane to Calgary.

      • tyrannosaurus_rek

        Forget that — with $85 million we could have elevated cycle paths and pedestrian parks crisscrossing downtown.

        • Anonymous416

          The reason the City isn’t building bike infrastructure has nothing to do with cost.

          It’s all about car parking anxiety and fear of paying market rate. Parking is the sacred cow that nixes or compromises most road safety projects here.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            Put the bike paths on stanchions over the parking lane, problem solved!

            (It was a blue sky idea anyway, intended only to show how much could be done with that money.)

    • tomwest

      For $85 million, we could run ~160 extra buses for a year.

  • tyrannosaurus_rek

    Let’s hope that when the Scarborough LRT is finally resumed it requires a new environmental assessment to inflate the cost some more, and that Council gets at least one more chance to dick around and delay it with new proposals and modifications.

    • dsmithhfx

      I only hope the cynicism and defeatism being expressed don’t turn out to be self-fulfilling as they so often do. Ford’s got to step up to to the plate and deliver serious new tax money, or council will need to do another end-run.

      • tyrannosaurus_rek

        Council doesn’t need Ford to do anything, he’s only one vote. We’re back where we are because of Stintz’ grandstanding.

        • dsmithhfx

          If it were ‘all Stintz fault’ it wouldn’t have gone anywhere.

          But I’m sure Rob appreciates the campaign slogan.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            How does that work? If Ford calls attention to it at all, it only helps Stintz (she pushed for subways at the evil province said “no” and laughed at us all) and makes him look like the do-nothing he is (“why weren’t you trying to get us poor Scarboroughianites subways?”).

            But yes, Stintz brought this to council so responsibility for delaying the SRT replacement should fall on her shoulders.

          • dsmithhfx

            You’re wildly overestimating the collective intelligence of Ford nation.

  • andrew97

    This is just Metrolinx saying, “Hey everybody, the by-elections are over, time to get serious about governing again.” And hopefully this will provide cover to the various levels of government to come up with a logically consistent policy on transit in Scarborough.

  • KRoberts

    I hope every voter in Scarborough reads this letter.

    • OgtheDim

      Nah.

      Some will wait to hear what Rob says on the weekend radio show and take it as truth.

      Others will just go, “Darn that province.”

  • ZweiSystem

    Unless average hourly ridership on the Scarborough route, exceeds 15,000 persons per hour per direction, light rail would do quite adequately. In Canada, those who want massively expensive subways and metros are shills for SNC Lavalin, who will make huge sums of money on the engineering side of the project. Hmmm, is Mayor ford a good friend of SNC?

  • Don River

    In related news, work has also stopped on Toronto’s number one transit priority, the Downtown Relief Line.

    Sorry my mistake. Work never started on that.

  • Moonmoth

    Transit in Toronto = such a ##@$#*&* joke. Please. London UK has de-politicized their transit expansion. They’ve been adding to it for a hundred years, – 100 years!!! They have a museum dedicated to the history of London transit. Transit expansion has occured whichever stripe of politician is in power at whichever level! This put us to complete shame. Build something. Now. And hopefully its a downtown relief line. Screw Ford Crackhead “Nation” and Scarborough too.

    • dsmithhfx

      That’ll work. Not.

      • tyrannosaurus_rek

        Why wouldn’t it? I wouldn’t be surprised if the province tries to seize control of all transit in Toronto if there’s any more of this start-stop indecision and contradiction from Council. We’d be better off removing Council from the equation but keep it in-house.

        • dsmithhfx

          I was referring to everything after “This put us to complete shame.” Up to and including I agree with. We’ve run out of road for mindless rage and spite.

        • Jacob

          “I wouldn’t be surprised if the province tries to seize control of all transit in Toronto.”

          Don’t you think that’s exactly what people like Ford want? Because then the province would have to fund it.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            Yes, he generally wants things that are bad for the city.

    • the_lemur

      I’m not sure that transit in London was ever depolicitized but the difference seems to be that no one questioned the necessity of building transit to keep London moving. As for adding to it for 100 years, there was a long gap between the lines built up to the very early years of the 20th century and the construction of the Victoria line in 1968, then again with the Jubilee line in the late ’70s. Aside from the DLR, no entirely new lines have been built since then.

  • Walter

    The main reason for the $85M sunk cost is that 50% of Councillors voted for the LRT plan in the fall of 2012 and then voted for the subway extension. It was also because the Provincial Liberals wanted to win the Scarborough seat “at any cost”. Ford was reduced to basically not power and he was a minor to insignificant player in the cancellation of this LRT.
    There is still the option for MPP’s and Councillors to find a compromise and connect the SRT to an elevated Eglitnon Crosstown. This would be a third to a quarter of the cost premium of the subway extension and it would still provide a single seat ride to the Yonge spine of Toronto. It would follow the same general already approved route and could still be completed without delay. It would also utilize the already signed order for transit vehicles – so no money will be wasted on breaking that contract. (The train order may even be converted to SkyTrain vehicles so that the SRT shutdown is reduced to only 8 months.
    It does seem that solving the Transit problem is not high on anyones radar and this delay will probably be extended until after the next Provincial and Municipal elections. Shorthly after these elections, the various politicians will be more than happy to break whatever promises they made to get re-elected.

  • disqus_igGPFjQFDo

    That still does not explain why the rest of Toronto had subways built when their population density was less then what Scarborough is now…If LRT’s are so much better then why didn’t we build them for the rest of Toronto?

    • the_lemur

      The original subway lines downtown were built to replace streetcar lines that were near or at capacity, not because of density. Density was expected along later expansion such as the Spadina extension but never really fulfilled expectations either.
      LRTs serve an intermediate need between buses (which is what most of Scarborough relies on now) and subways. If a subway line had been extended from Kennedy instead of the SRT, it would have run on a different route and had the same lower levels of ridership.
      LRT is planned for things like the Eglinton line because buses are not meeting demand there and because there is not (may never be) the demand to justify a subway line.

      • disqus_igGPFjQFDo

        People need to understand that this is not a Suways VS LRT debate…The people in Scarborough want a Subway because our tax dollars have paid for Subways to be built in every other corner of the city except ours…If LRT is truely better than Subways than it should have been built along the Sheppard line and built to Vaughan.

        • OgtheDim

          It should have.

          It wasn’t.

          Does that mean we should waste BILLIONS doing it somewhere else?

          And in doing so deprive most of Scarborough of better transit?

          No.

          Last I checked Malvern was part of Scarborough.

          • disqus_igGPFjQFDo

            I’m just trying to help you understand why this is happening…
            People in Scarborough feel like they are being slighted the same way they were when the original RT line was built running from Kennedy to McCowan. It is faster to take a bus directly to Kennedy from any area where the RT stations are then to go to the RT station and transfer at Kennedy. Subway’s are a better long term investment and everyone knows it…But…regardless of this fact Scarborough will vote for a Subway over RT regradless of the logistics just because they feel like they are being sligted…and for transit they have been in the past…The average commute from Scarborough to downtown by transit is 2 hours during rush hour.

          • the_lemur

            Maybe some people in Scarborough do feel slighted at not getting a subway at some point in the past two or three decades. But feeling slighted and being resentful is not a justification in itself for getting a subway.
            A subway is a better long-term investment IF the ridership is there to warrant it, or if such ridership can reliably be projected over the foreseeable future of the line. Building a subway that offers capacity way beyond what its ridership area needs is a huge waste of the Sheppard variety.
            Toronto does need more subway capacity, but it needs it to relieve pressure on existing lines first before extending the system’s reach.

        • the_lemur

          Everyone in Toronto’s taxes went towards paying for subways, no matter how inappropriately planned or misguidedly located, but that doesn’t mean every taxpayer somehow deserves a subway line nearby.
          You start by saying it’s not a subway vs LRT and then argue from the position that others are suggesting LRT is ‘truly better’ than a subway as if it’s an inherent objective quality. Subway and LRT serve different needs and capacities. The Sheppard line could easily have been LRT because it is running well under capacity as a subway line (and if it absolutely had to be a subway line, it should have been a branch off the Yonge line, not something requiring a transfer).
          The subway extension to Vaughan is misguided in terms of adding passengers to the overloaded YUS line when relieving pressure downtown should be a priority … but if the TTC’s reach is ultimately going to be extended into Vaughan, it makes sense to continue as a subway rather than forcing a Kennedy-like transfer at Downsview.
          The main problem is that the TTC needs to add capacity to existing lines and expand into different corners of the city, but the projects are in the wrong order, and the ones that really need to happen are still at the hypothetical stage.

    • OgtheDim

      Ur assuming that people think the Spadina line makes sense.

      It should have gone down Dufferin.

      I can maybe see an extension to York U.

      No freaking way it should be going to Vaughan.

  • the_lemur

    I actually lived in Scarborough for several years and regularly took different combinations of the subway, RT and bus (specifically the 95). Taking the RT was no great hardship and taking a bus to Kennedy was not, as a rule, easier or faster, given that I was well east of the RT and STC. The RT was not, in my experience, slow or unreliable, nor did a transfer take 10 minutes. It was no different the times I took transit in Scarborough after I moved away.
    Scarborough’s density and population are still way below projections and likely to stay that way for a long time to come.
    If an LRT is built, it will not be slow (whatever replaces the RT will be entirely separated from traffic, remember?) and if people refuse to ride it just because it’s not the subway they ‘deserve’, then they will only be harming themselves and only have themselves to blame. People don’t refuse to ride a bus just because it’s not a subway either.
    Shorter bus rides to higher-order transit will happen only when transit lines cover more of Scarborough – not when a subway replaces the RT, because that has no effect on the length of the bus ride.
    People aren’t going to be expected to walk an hour to an LRT, because LRT stations would be served by buses! I’m sure most people would prefer to take ANY kind of transit to get to other transit instead of walking for an hour.
    Honestly, Scarberians’ insistence on a subway just because they feel they should have one will be Scarborough’s undoing.

  • the_lemur

    Wow, way to totally overdramatize a reasonable walking transfer. A whole 150-200 yards! Heavens!
    I never mentioned Ellesmere station. For the record, my RT stop was McCowan and at that time transferring to and from the 95 involved a 350 m walk along McCowan to Ellesmere and there was nothing along the east side of McCowan at the time – just a windswept plain.
    ‘No protection from the elements’ … ‘sopping freezing mess’? I guess dressing appropriately for the weather is a lost art these days.
    It was exceedingly rare to have to let an RT pass for lack of space. How is it that Ellesmere station gets only 1200 riders a day (that’s barely enough for LRT) and yet you have to let 2 of them pass? The cars aren’t that small.
    Exposed maintenance yards, good lord. I hope you never have to walk past Davisville station then.
    Yes, there should at least be a bus shelter at the Ellesmere station – better yet, have the buses use the service roads.

  • the_lemur

    The RT needs to be replaced either way. Replacing it with a subway means a new alignment (expropriation) and still means long bus rides to get to it. The only way that will change is to have more than one transit line connecting Scarborough with downtown and it is inevitable that some of that will be subway and some of it LRT. Much of Scarborough has outgrown its bus capacity but will never provide the ridership numbers to justify subways.

  • the_lemur

    An LRT to replace the Scarborough RT will not take away lanes of traffic as it will still be entirely separate from road traffic, especially if it follows the current RT alignment!
    Eglinton LRT will not be eliminating any lanes of traffic.
    St Clair West is not ‘chaos’ due to the ROW. Traffic is what it is there because of the insistence on maintaining on-street parking, and also the bottleneck at the rail underpass around Keele.
    You’re not getting a subway, and you got played for votes by a bunch of cynical councillors.

    • disqus_igGPFjQFDo

      I think you need to go over the Metrolinx documents once more if you think the Eglington route will not eliminate and lanes of traffic…

      • the_lemur

        I think you need to review the spelling of Eglinton …
        The surface route will allow for two lanes of traffic in each direction in addition to the dedicated LRT lanes. It will involve widening Eglinton in places.
        Maybe you’re thinking of temporary lane reductions during construction.

    • the_lemur

      Eglinton LRT will also not be exclusively for Scarborough’s benefit. In any case, this is a discussion about replacing the SRT. Eglinton is a done deal, SRT is still uncertain.

  • the_lemur

    2 lanes is still enough with the LRT separated from traffic.

    • disqus_igGPFjQFDo

      You say its enough but the traffic on Eglinton is already packed and cannot handle a reduction to two lanes and restricted left hand turns.
      The people in Scarborough know this and do not want the LRT’s taking away any lanes of traffic on our major thoroughfares…So why waste the money on something the people do not want…?
      Have you noticed that most of the people opposed to Subways in Scarborough do not even live in Scarborough…? Why are you so concerned with the transit decisions of another part of the city?
      You do realize that very little transit money has been spent here in the last 30 years even though Scarborough has the largest popluation of all the old cities before amalgamation? Including the largest low income population in Toronto that would most likely need/use public transportation.

      • the_lemur

        If traffic is (going to be) such an ordeal on Eglinton, people can take transit, right? That IS what this is all about, isn’t it? Providing an alternative to driving?
        The Eglinton LRT is a done deal. Maybe citizens of Scarborough should have pushed their elected representatives harder to get a subway, but it seems politicians only support subways for Scarborough opportunistically. It’s all the same to them.
        People living outside Scarborough tend to know that the main Toronto conurbation has been in need of additional transit capacity for several SRT lifetimes. Even if a Scarborough subway extension brought in the required ridership to sustain it, it would mean even more pressure on the existing subway lines. Have people in Scarborough noticed the congestion on the two main lines at peak hours? How many thousands of additional Scarborough commuters should we add to that before providing an alternative to the B-D and YUS lines?
        Scarborough might have population but it falls way short of the density needed to merit a subway.
        And in fact a lot of transit spending has gone to Scarborough in recent decades, because the TTC received provincial funding that was contingent on expanding bus service way out into the suburbs where the fare revenue was just not there.
        That money certainly did not go towards catering to underserved areas in the old city of Toronto. We’d have new subway lines, proper LRT (not the St Clair, Spadina and Queensway simulacra) and more bus service instead of reduced bus service.