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Sheppard subway, Eglinton LRT to operate by 2020, as province and city reach deal

The Government of Ontario, Metrolinx and the City of Toronto announced today that they have reached a deal to build new transit services in Toronto.

Under the agreement that the Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford announced today, Ontario and its regional transportation agency, Metrolinx, are responsible for building an Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown light rail transit (LRT) line. The new LRT would stretch about 25 kilometres from Black Creek Drive to the Scarborough Centre.

The City would extend the TTC’s current 4 Sheppard subway line to Downsview Station in the west and the Scarborough Centre Station in the east, incorporating the new lines into the TTC’s current subway system. The City would also enhance bus service along Finch Avenue West between the future Finch West (subway) station and Humber College’s North Campus.

The City also agreed to implement the PRESTO fare-card system throughout the TTC and to back away from implementing any other fare-card system.

Both Metrolinx and the City would each be responsible for securing environmental approvals, designing, co-ordinating, planning, building and setting up each of the projects.

All parties expect to operate both lines by 2020.

The provincial funding is not new: the province is simply using the funds it previously announced during the “5 in 10” version of the Transit City light rail transit plan.

You can download a copy of the transit plan map at the top of this page here. (.pdf)

Eglinton Scarborough Crosstown LRT

The single LRT line stretches about 25.2 kilometres:

  • Beside, above or beneath Eglinton Avenue from Black Creek Drive in the west to Kennedy Station in the east. It will mostly operate in a tunnel, except for sections in the Don Valley and near Black Creek and Kennedy Stations.
  • Along the current 3 Scarborough RT right of way between Kennedy Station and Scarborough Centre.

The project includes as many as 26 new stations, new LRT vehicles, maintenance and storage facilities and rail and signal systems. Metrolinx estimates the cost for the project is $8.18 billion.

Sheppard subway

In the east, the line stretches about 8 kilometres between Scarborough Centre and Don Mills Stations.

The eastern part of the project also includes seven new subway stations, subway cars, maintenance and storage facilities, rail and signal systems. The City estimates cost for the project — excluding the cost of a new yard to maintain and store subway cars — is $2.75 billion.

In the west, the line stretches about 5.5 kilometres between Downsview and Yonge - Sheppard Stations.

The project includes two new subway stations, subway cars, maintenance and storage facilities, rail and signal systems. The City estimates the cost for the project is $1.4 billion.

Metrolinx may contribute as much as $650 million to the costs of the Sheppard project — if it has any funds left after building the Eglinton line. Where possible, Metrolinx and the Province will support the City of Toronto’s efforts to receive funding for the Sheppard projects from the Government of Canada’s Public-Private Partnerships Canada office. (That means both governments and businesses would work together on the projects.)

The City of Toronto is responsible for project overruns or shortfalls, and for any losses resulting from canceling contracts or from reducing the scope of the project. The City is also responsible for completing, operating, maintaining and repairing the subway projects.

The unanswered questions

We don’t yet have a lot of details about the plan, so we still have questions about how this plan will work, especially the plan to extend the Sheppard subway.

How will the city find $4 billion to build the new subway?

Some early reports suggested that the City would find the cash through:

  • encouraging high-density development along the line and increasing development fees to pay for the cost of building the line;
  • partnering with businesses who might build parts of the line for development rights on nearby lands
  • working with provincial and federal governments to secure more funding for transit operations. - securing funding from Public-Private Partnerships Canada.

This likely still leaves a significant gap in the funding the project requires.

Where are the new stations?

We don’t have detailed maps. We’re not sure whether the 26 new stations on Eglinton are the at the same sites as the that the City originally proposed to build for the Eglinton Crosstown Transit City line, or if they are elsewhere. The plan suggests two new stations along Sheppard Avenue West, but we don’t yet know where those stations would be — but one likely would be at Bathurst Street.

Where are maintenance yards and facilities?

The proposed site in the former Kodak lands near Eglinton Avenue West and Black Creek Drive may still be able to serve the new line. Perhaps the current McCowan Carhouse could also serve the Scarborough end of the line.

We don’t yet know where the City would locate yards for the new subway. It may have to expand the current Wilson Carhouse for the west end of the subway. The City has already bought a site on Sheppard Avenue East that it intended to use for Sheppard East Transit City LRT line, but that site is too far east to serve the new subway. (It’s probably too small for a subway yard, too.)

What happens to the funds that the City and Metrolinx have already spent on the Transit City plan?

The City will refund whatever Metrolinx has already spent on the Transit City projects, including the cost to expropriate strips of land along Sheppard Avenue East to widen the roadway for more traffic lanes, the cost of buying the proposed Malvern Carhouse and the staff the Metrolinx had already hired for the project.

However, the hidden costs — for example the cost of years of staff time for designing the Transit City lines and consulting with the public about — is simply lost.

The new plan is just one of a long collection of rapid transit plans that municipal and provincial politicians have concocted for Toronto.

The Transit Toronto archives are just chock full of articles on those plans.

For example, read:

  • Early subway proposals”, by James Bow, here.
  • “A history of the Yonge subway”, by James Bow, here.
  • “A subway to York University”, by James Bow, here.
  • “Network 2011 — To think what might have been”, by James Bow, here.
  • “The Eglinton West Subway (cancelled)”, by James Bow, here.
  • “The Downtown Relief Line Proposal”, by Jonathan English, here
  • “The Scarborough RT Extension”, by Peter Drost and James Bow, here.
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