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Light rail would produce ‘more winners’ than subway: environmentalists - National Post

January 5th, 2011
Natalie Alcoba
National Post

Environmental activists defended a plan to lay down light rail transit tracks across the city, saying that it creates “way more winners” than Mayor Rob Ford’s subway plan.

Using statistics released by the Pembina Institute, the Toronto Environmental Alliance compared Mayor Ford’s proposal for 18-kilometres of tunnel along Sheppard and the Scarborough RT to a 148-kilometre LRT network that is only partially funded. The provincial government has committed $8.15-billion to build 53 kilometres of light rail along Eglinton, Sheppard, Finch, and the Scarborough RT, which represent less than half of the lines on TEA’s map. The four lines were supposed to stretch 75 kilometres, but Queen’s Park delayed half of funding last year and shortened the lines to be completed by 2020.

“We’re here today essentially because there has been a heck of a lot of talk about transit in the last while but unfortunately most of it has been of the political variety,” said Jamie Kirkpatrick, a transit campaigner for the TEA. He defended the use of a full map. “Even if you look at the four priority lines that are funded, there is still way more winners created by using the light rail network then there are by adding a little bit of subway.”

Pembina Institute’s report, which was also released on Wednesday, calculated that the four lines, in their original length, are within a six minute walk of 290,000 residences or workplaces, including 45,000 low-income residents. Mayor Ford’s subway plan, by comparison, would serve 61,000, it found. Graham Haines, one of the authors of the report, estimated that about 200,000 workplaces or residences are within six minutes of the scaled back version that is funded. That includes about 30,000 low-income people.

“To me the big difference is the difference in cost per kilometre. We’re looking at a plan that is proposing subways, without the additional costs for rail yards and maintenance, are costing over $300 [million] per kilometre, for LRT you’re looking at a cost below $100 [million] per kilometre, so simply put we’re going to be able to connect one third of the people,” said Mr. Haines, a technical policy analyst for the Pembina Institute.

As originally published here: http://news.nationalpost.com/2011/01/05/light-rail-would-produce-more-winners-than-subway-environmentalists/#ixzz1ADLU9aHz

2011-01-05 Light rail would produce more winners than subway _National Post_.pdf139.92 KB