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Ford shortchanging suburbs with transit plan, critics charge - Toronto Star

March 7, 2011
Tess Kalinowski
Transportation Reporter
Toronto Star

Mayor Rob Ford’s underground transit expansion plan shortchanges Toronto’s suburbs, the Toronto Environmental Alliance said Monday.

The Ford plan, which includes running light rail underground along Eglinton Ave. from about Jane St. in the west to the Kennedy subway station in the east, would only serve about 217,000 light rail riders.

That’s compared to about 460,000 light rail commuters who could access the Metrolinx plan agreed upon by former Mayor David Miller.

The “compromise” Ford plan is also more expensive, argues TEA, which compares only what the $8.7 billion promised by the province buys under the two schemes.

It does not include Ford’s subway proposal because that is not covered by the provincial funding approved by Metrolinx for Toronto.

“There’s been a lot of skepticism of the mayor’s plan because there isn’t a plan yet,” said TEA spokesman Jamie Kirkpatrick.

The Ford proposal will cost $348 million per kilometre for 25 kilometres of light rail, compared to $167 million for the previous light rail plan, which would have built 52 kilometres, according to TEA.

Under the pre-Ford plan, the $8.7 billion would have paid for light rail down the middle of Sheppard and Finch Aves., the conversion of the Scarborough RT to the same light rail technology and, about 10 kilometres of light rail underground on Eglinton Ave.

Ford has insisted that roads are for cars and surface transit is a non-starter in the city.

In addition to burying the entire Eglinton line, he’s proposing a scheme that would use private funds to build a subway along Sheppard East. Finch riders – who already use the city’s most crowded bus route – would likely get a boost to bus service.

“Essentially, people along Finch West and in east Scarborough are being left out of this compromise plan for the sake of needlessly burying eight kilometres of LRT under Eglinton Ave.,” said Kirkpatrick. “This is not fair to Torontonians who live in the suburbs. They deserve their fair share of the $8.7 billion.

“Whatever plan our mayor and premier bring forward we still want to see a public consultation of that plan,” he said.

It also needs to go to a city council vote to ensure due process, said Kirkpatrick.

Those who say they would rather wait for subways probably aren’t riding the Finch bus along with 46,000 other commuters every day, he said.

“This is an area that would have relief in the next nine years. To tell those people to wait another 25 years for a subway isn’t fair,” said Kirkpatrick.

City Councillor Vincent Crisanti (Etobicoke North), who sits on the TTC board, has suggested that the Finch community needs more reliable express bus service immediately.

But in a letter to TTC chair Karen Stintz, he said, he was interested in “multi-generational” city building.

“My vision is to connect North Etobicoke to the rest of the City of Toronto… in the form of a subway,” he said.

As originally published here: http://www.thestar.com/news/transportation/article/949859--ford-shortchanging-suburbs-with-transit-plan-critics-charge

2011-03-07 Ford shortchanging suburbs with transit plan _Toronto Star_.pdf17.26 KB