Why not just build subways?


It costs more to build a subway. A lot more. Subways cost an average of $300 million per km. LRT is $100 million per km for surface routes and $250 million for underground routes.

  • It costs more to maintain subways. Not only are underground stations more expensive to build, they also cost more to light, keep safe and secure, and clean.
  • By spending less money per kilometre for construction, our money literally takes us further. By some estimates, the Transit City plan would provide 10 times as many people with access to transit than the Scarborough subway extension Mayor Ford proposed.
  • Speed is a trade-off with access. Subways go faster by providing stations further apart. LRT stops can be closer together, meaning shorter walks and easier access.
  • LRT can be built faster. Some lines could open in as little as two years. The existing Sheppard subway extension took a decade.
  • Subways are not needed everywhere. While an area like Finch West or Sheppard East badly needs more service than a bus can provide, it does not have nearly the number of riders required to justify a subway (usually about 20,000 passengers per hour in rush hour is the “floor” for subways. The Yonge line sees about 30,000 passengers in the morning rush hour. The Finch West LRT has fewer than 3,000.
  • Being above ground is good for business. When the ride is fast and smooth, passengers like being above ground, where they look can out the window, and see passing businesses as they go by. Some studies have shown that subways, especially when stations are spaced far apart (as on the Sheppard subway line) can actually hurt local business by discouraging passengers from getting off to shop and dine.
  • Subway construction is much more disruptive for local businesses, residents, car and bus traffic and pedestrians because it takes longer and requires digging up large sections of road.