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Subways would cost more and serve fewer, think tank says - Toronto Star

January 5th, 2011
Tess Kalinowski
Transportation Reporter
Toronto Star

Penny-pinching Mayor Rob Ford’s subway plan would cost three times as much per kilometre to build as the four Metrolinx-funded light rail lines and attract only half as many riders, says a study released Wednesday by a sustainable-energy think tank.

It suggests Ford’s subway expansion plans would cost about $344 million per kilometre and attract about 65 million rides annually.

By comparison, 75 kilometres of light rail would run $111 million per kilometre and draw about 126 million rides a year, says the report, Making Tracks to Torontonians, by the Pembina Institute.

Metrolinx had agreed to spend $8.15 billion on the first 50 kilometres of the Transit City light rail plan. Even that much would attract 86 million rides annually, Pembina policy director Cherise Burda told the Toronto Star.

The report, released in conjunction with the Toronto Environmental Alliance, compares two scenarios:

  • • Putting light rail on Sheppard, Finch, Eglinton and converting the Scarborough RT to the same light rail technology.
  • • Converting the SRT to subway, a new subway connection between the Sheppard and Downsview stations and extending the Sheppard subway line from Don Mills station to the Scarborough Town Centre — about 18 kilometres of subway.

While both schemes would reach Scarborough and North York, the four light rail lines would extend to an additional five neighbourhoods, many of them under-served by transit.

The subway plan would put about 60,000 people within a six-minute walk of transit, says the report.

If all 75 kilometers of light rail get built, 290,000 Torontonians would gain access to rapid transit, says the report, and even the initial 50 kilometers of light rail would be accessible to 200,000 commuters, said Burda.

The Pembina report focuses on both the funded and unfunded phases of the light rail plan, because “we believe if you go ahead with Phase 1, the entire line will be built,” she said. “After 10 years we should be able to see the money for Phase 2.”

The first phase of the Metrolinx light rail plan would be the most expensive because it includes about 10 kilometres underground on Eglinton Ave.

Ford hasn’t endorsed any specific plans yet. But he’s been clear that more subway on Sheppard is a priority.

Metrolinx and the TTC are expected to present the mayor with a hybrid plan of underground light rail and subway by the end of the month. It probably will include light rail running beneath Eglinton and an extension of the Sheppard subway to Scarborough Town Centre. A busway along Finch could replace plans for an LRT there.

As originally published here: http://www.thestar.com/news/transportation/article/916372--subways-would-cost-more-and-serve-fewer-group-says?utm_source=Council+Watch&utm_campaign=f103970f03-CW_Jan5_TransitMap&utm_medium=email#article

2011-01-05 Subways would cost more and serve fewer, think tank says _Toronto Star_.pdf144.15 KB