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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

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