One-Stop Scarborough Subway Plan Based in Part on Misleading Report
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One-Stop Scarborough Subway Plan Based in Part on Misleading Report

The Star's reporting gives you another reason to be angry about transit planning in the city.

“I would not and will not flow a dollar to the city until they repay the $85 (million) plus. Period. Non-negotiable. Rigid…No gas plants for us, thanks.”

—Metrolinx Chair Rob Prichard on the City needing to pay for the sunk costs in LRT planning before the transit agency would provide any funding for the Scarborough subway extension

It’s been a few weeks since we’ve read upsetting news about the one-stop Scarborough subway extension, so we were due. This morning, the Toronto Star reported on the staff reports that helped form the mayor’s arguments to go with the subway plan over the LRT plan, and how the numbers weren’t as straightforward as they first appeared.

The TTC produced a briefing note two weeks before the council debate, which was widely seen by Council watchers as the last gasp for the LRT plan [Torontoist July Council Liveblog]. The memo spelled out potentially escalating costs for the LRT plan, from $1.8 billion to $2.97 billion. This seemed to eliminate one of the best arguments for the LRT plan: namely, that it was affordable and represented better value.

The cost analysis was given to the TTC chair and the mayor’s office first (pretty standard), and then leaked to CP24, as it was favourable to the mayor’s case (also pretty standard). But the analysis wasn’t an apples-to-apples comparison. The LRT costs looked at what the plan would cost over the same timeline as the subway. But, as Councillor Josh Matlow (Ward 22, St. Paul’s) pointed out in the ensuing Council debate, the LRT could begin and end construction sooner, which would decrease the cost.

Andy Byford, the CEO of the TTC, tells the Star he was asked to provide the LRT costing at the same timetable as the subway plan, but he can’t recall by whom.

The Star article, written by Jennifer Pagliaro and supported by freedom of information requests and various interviews, provides additional details on the lack of clarity in the transit debate. This includes who would pay for operating and maintenance on the two transit lines, how Metrolinx reacted, and more.

It’s probably a moot point at this stage, as there are not enough Council votes to overturn any LRT-versus-subway decision. But it does provide a look at how decisions have been made, and how we can avoid these clusterfucks in the future.