Price-checking Rob Ford's subway-heavy transit plan

Rob Ford's subway-heavy transit plan would likely cost much more than the $9 billion price tag he put forward yesterday.

Mayor appears to be low-balling key elements of his plan to build 32 km of new transit lines

Rob Ford's subway-heavy transit plan could cost much more than the $9 billion price tag he put forward yesterday.

CBC's Steven D'Souza went over the cost projections in Ford's plan — which calls for 32 kilometres of new subway lines to be built across the city — and found that many of the mayor's numbers don't jive with projections put forward by transit planners at the TTC and Metrolinx.  

You can watch D'Souza run through the numbers in the video above.

Here's a closer look at the numbers:

Burying the eastern end of the Eglinton-Crosstown line

This line is currently under construction with plans to route it above ground east of Laird Drive and into Scarborough. Ford says the above-ground section will cause traffic chaos and wants it run underground. Yesterday he said this will cost $1.4 billion but Metrolinx says it will cost about $600 million more.

Scarborough subway extension

Ford wants to run a subway — instead of the planned LRT — from Don Mills station east to Scarborough Town Centre. Ford pegged the cost yesterday at $1.8 billion but an expert panel that looked at the project two years ago pegged the cost to be $1 to $2 billion higher.

Downtown relief line

Everyone agrees the Yonge-University-Spadina line is operating above capacity at rush hour. The TTC has said a downtown relief line is a priority. Ford's plan calls for completing the eastern portion, linking Queen and Pape stations. He pegs the cost at $3.2 billion. But a TTC panel estimated that 13 kilometres of DRL will cost $7.5 billion. That doesn't seem to mesh with Ford's plan to build 32 kilometres of subways for only $9 billion.

Ford was vague in explaining exactly how his plan would be paid for. He cited a number of funding options, including money from senior levels of government, development charges, public-private partnerships, the sale of air rights over subway stations, reallocating money from LRT projects and asset sales.

Ryerson professor Murtaza Haider says the mayor's questionable projections make it difficult to even start talking about his plans to pay for subways.

"When your costs are so under-represented … it doesn't really matter how you fund it," he told CBC News.

Haider also questions Ford's plan to use a form of funding that's also been proposed by one of his mayoralty opponents John Tory. It calls for raising money by estimating future development along subway lines, Haider calls that wishful thinking

"The question is, once you build those lines and that commercial development doesn't happen, then what?"

With files from CBC's Steven D'Souza


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