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TTC asks to expand light rail

Plan would extend Scarborough link

Panel set to okay hybrid bus order

Nov. 23, 2005. 01:00 AM

VANCOUVER�Streetcars could run through Scarborough by 2009 � the first expansion of the TTC’s surface-level light rail network in almost 20 years � if the transit authority makes its case before the budget advisory committee today.

“Scarborough is rapidly growing. The population is moving there,” said Joe Mihevc, a TTC commissioner and city councillor.

“They’re new Canadians. Many of them do not have cars. Public transit is their way. With a little bit of support, I think they would come.”

Mihevc (Ward 21, St. Paul’s West) left a public transit conference in Vancouver yesterday to attend the budget meeting in Toronto today, where the TTC will defend its $572 million capital budget.

Most of the money is devoted to new buses and the purchase of new subway trains.

But one smaller item, about $800,000, is for an environmental assessment of Kingston Rd. and Eglinton Ave. to determine if streetcars could run on their own right-of-way down the centre of those two six-lane roads.

Kingston Rd. is one of the major arteries into downtown from the east.

No bus runs its entire length, and many are used to feed Kennedy, Warden and Victoria Park subway stations.

Ideally, the streetcar that runs along Queen St. and east along Kingston Rd. and currently loops at Victoria Park would instead run all the way along Kingston Rd. to where it meets Eglinton and then loop back along Eglinton with a stop at Kennedy subway station.

It dovetails with other city projects, including a plan to replace the aging Scarborough rapid transit line, build a streetcar network along the eastern waterfront and properly link south Etobicoke to downtown with streetcars.

The budget committee will also formally approve today the purchase of 230 new buses, including 150 Orion 7 hybrid buses.

The low-polluting, fuel-efficient model the TTC purchased was on display yesterday at the Canadian Urban Transit Association fall Expo in Vancouver.

The first of the $750,000 buses will be delivered to the TTC in March.

With subsidies from the federal and provincial governments, the diesel-electric hybrid buses end up costing the city about $20,000 less than the $500,000 regular diesel buses.

The bus offers a smoother, quieter ride, with about a 30 per cent savings on fuel economy and emits fewer noxious gases and pollutants.

“Neighbourhoods today are less receptive to diesel buses,” said Gary Webster, TTC general manager of operations. “This is what the public wants.”

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