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politics

Karen Stintz Demands Answers on Wednesday’s Scarborough Subway Announcement

In an open letter to Metrolinx's chair, Stintz asks some burning questions about the province's $1.4 billion subway proposal.

Photo by Loozrboy from the Torontoist Flickr Pool

Photo by Loozrboy from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.

After Wednesday’s somewhat surprising announcement by Transportation Minister Glen Murray that the province will be spending $1.4 billion to replace the Scarborough RT with two subway stops, there were lots of lingering questions. Now, TTC Chair Karen Stintz wants answers.

In an open letter to Metrolinx chair Robert Prichard, released earlier today, Stintz asks for clarification on a number of things Murray didn’t address on Wednesday at his press conference—which, in addition to being a platform for the subway announcement, was also partly an occasion for him to excoriate City Hall for its indecisiveness on transit investment for Toronto.


Stintz herself has been at the forefront of some of that indecisiveness, championing unfunded subway plans even after she helped unite council behind the prospect of a provincially funded light-rail network in early 2012. She was a key supporter of July’s city council decision to ask the federal and provincial governments for money to fund a subway line to replace the Scarborough RT, though the line councillors had envisioned would have been longer than Murray’s two stops.

But this letter of hers is anything but feeble. Among other things, she asks Prichard to say what the true cost of Murray’s proposal would be, and to confirm that the province would be responsible for any cost overruns. She also asks for assurance that the Scarborough RT would be out of commission for only (only!) three years before the subways started running, and that the province would bear the cost of shuttle bus service during that time. She also asks Prichard to confirm that Murray’s plan was approved by Metrolinx. (Metrolinx is supposed to work at arms’ length from politicians.)

The entire letter is below:

September 6, 2013

J. Robert S. Prichard
Chair, Metrolinx
20 Bay Street, Suite 600
Toronto, ON M5J 2W3

Dear Mr. Prichard,

RE: Minister Murray’s September 4, 2013, Scarborough Subway Announcement

On September 4, 2013, the Minister of Transportation, Glen Murray, announced that the Province of Ontario will be funding an extension of the Bloor-Danforth subway line to Scarborough Town Centre. The Minister’s proposal uses the current Scarborough Rapid Transit alignment, envisions the relocation of Kennedy Station, ends at Scarborough Town Centre, adds a total of two additional stops, and has a proposed budget of $1.4 billion.

Minister Murray’s plan will be studied by the TTC to ensure that it is technically feasible and to assess any impact on the operation of the extended Bloor-Danforth Line. Commissioners should be as informed as possible before we authorize Staff to carry out the study.

I would appreciate clarity from Metrolinx on the following points:

  • That the alignment and proposal by the Minister has been approved by the Metrolinx Board of Directors;
  • That the input provided by City Council on July 17, 2013, (Item CC37.17, “Scarborough Rapid Transit Options”), including funding and alignment, in response to the letter sent by the Metrolinx CEO, Bruce McCuaig, to the Toronto City Manager, Joe Pennachetti, dated June 28, 2013, is no longer being considered by Metrolinx, and that no Federal funding is being pursued as a result;
  • A breakdown of the costs and timelines for this proposal, and confirmation that any cost overruns associated with this plan will be the sole responsibility of the Province and/or Metrolinx;
  • Confirmation that the shutdown time of the Scarborough RT, during which the TTC would need to provide approximately 15 million customer shuttle bus riders per annum, will not exceed three years and that the cost of this shuttle bus service will be borne by the Province, as was the case under the original Scarborough LRT proposal;
  • Confirmation that the Province will provide or fund alternative transit for TTC customers unable to transition between Warden and Kennedy while the new connection is cut in;
  • The impacts (if any) of the Minister’s proposal on the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, since the proposal includes the relocation of Kennedy Station;
  • Confirmation of the role of the TTC in the design, building and operating of the Minister’s proposed subway extension;
  • Approvals, if any, which Metrolinx will seek from the City to implement the Minister’s proposal.

Of overriding importance is the current status of the Master Agreement, signed by Metrolinx, the Toronto Transit Commission and the City of Toronto on November 29, 2012. Metrolinx CEO Bruce McCuaig stated in his letter dated June 28, 2013, to the Toronto City Manager, Joe Pennachetti, that Metrolinx “continue[s] to rely on the Master Agreement as the legal contract with the City and the TTC to deliver the four [LRT] projects.” I request confirmation that this is still the case, noting Mr. McCuaig’s subsequent advice to Mr. Pennachetti in his letter dated August 2, 2013:

“The Scarborough LRT remains an approved part of the Master Agreement among Metrolinx, City Council and the TTC.”

As there is a meeting of the Metrolinx Board of Directors on September 10, 2013, I ask that you provide the answers to the above by Thursday September 19, 2013, so my fellow Commissioners may discuss them at our meeting September 25, 2013.

Sincerely,
[Signed]

Karen Stintz
Chair, Toronto Transit Commission

Toronto City Hall
100 Queen Street West
Toronto, ON., M5H 2N2

cc:

Bruce McCuaig, President and CEO, Metrolinx
Joe Pennachetti, City Manager, City of Toronto
Andy Byford, CEO, Toronto Transit Commission
TTC Commissioners

Comments

  • http://urbanimages.com/ Martin Franchi

    These are valid questions that deserve answers, but isn’t ironic that she writes the “Scarborough LRT remains an approved part of the Master Agreement” and yet she was the one who decided reopen the debate and propose a subway?

    So if she had stuck to the original fully funded plan this would not be taking place. Karma?

    • OgtheDim

      Her Karma…..our waste of money.

      • http://urbanimages.com/ Martin Franchi

        Good point.

  • tomwest

    I wish she’d ask why an option that serves fewer people, will take longer to build, and provide worse connectivity is being considered.

  • glenn_storey

    personally, i think karen stintz should punch herself in the head really really hard for even thinking of reopening the l.r.t plan in the first place.

    • Elevate

      She should have just asked that they elevate the Eglinton LRT through Scarborough and connect it with the SRT. That would have been a simple change, it would not have bogged down the entire process, and it would have satisfied the major complaint of the subway advocates – the forced transfer.

      • Roger B

        Elevating the Eglinton line through Scarborough is only a ‘simple change’ if one ignores much higher costs, aesthetics, resistance and timing.
        Also given that the SRT will have a higher number of riders per vehicle than the Eglinton route it would have higher frequencies. This could be mitigated by short turns at Kennedy stations, however considering that the Yonge line is the most crowded route, even worse than the Bloor-Yonge line, it is counterproductive to encourage downtown bound SRT corridor passengers to head east to Eglinton Station and south on Yonge by an unneeded through-routing of service.
        TO is using an expensive transportation tech designed for transit supportive urban areas, whose couple of stations a decade is leaving our vast growing sprawl almost completely dependent on cars. (In fact rapid transit is losing ground in Scarborough as we replace one expensive system (linear induction) for an even more expensive subway system).
        The transfer to affordable LRTs has to happen some where and for numerous reasons Kennedy is a far better spot as hardly anyone will be able to access this extension without a transfer. It is telling that Murray doesn’t even want to add costly subway stations considering the route has some of the lowest ridership subway stations in the city. The suburbs need a rapid transit network, not one subway station to serve the 905 (Vaughan). By the time we can afford a subway station in Peel, Halton, Durham & Simcoe sprawl will have followed the vast highway network beyond Kitchener, St. Catherine’s & Peterborough.

        • Walter

          Elevating the Eglinton LRT is a simple change. Metrolinx already proposed extending the tunnel from Brentcliffe to Don Mills and they considered that a minor change. The extra cost would be about $300M (note that Vancouver builds their elevated SkyTrain for about $100M to $140M /km while our in-median LRT is about $60M to $80M /km), plus other simplifications can be made (i.e. the LRT plan needs 2 separate Kennedy LRT stations, while the through routing would only require 1, plus the LRT plan requires an underground LRT loop to turn the trains around). I also note that not a single politician or special interest group has come out against elevated transit – the west end is getting an elevated portion near Black Creek Drive).
          The SRT would have similar ridership to the Eglinton portion. What this would do is actually balance the transfers to the Yonge subway between Yonge-Eglinton and Yonge-Bloor. Both the subway extension and the LRT plan would funnel all the riders to the Yonge-Bloor station. These large numbers of transfers would increase the dwell time (time for all the people to get on and off) for the Yonge line and actually result in a lower capacity for Yonge.
          As you know, the current Kennedy station is parallel to Eglinton and the tail tracks already extend under the rail corridor. The subway should be continued east on Kennedy to Kingston Road – but of course this would be an extension that would be done in the future. I do agree that switching the subway to the West side of the rail corridor and building a new Kennedy subway station is a waste of the existing infrastructure. Just like is seems like a waste of current infrastructure to abandon the SRT and build a new subway along McCowan to STC. And it is a waste of (yet to be built) infrastructure if we spend $4B on Eglinton and $2B on the SRT and do not spend the $300M extra (5%) to connect the two and build a rapid transit corridor that eliminates the transfer.

  • https://paul.kishimoto.name/ Paul Kishimoto

    “Karen Stinz’ Left Hand Writes Her Right, Demands Answers…”