Toronto Mayor John Tory says he wants to move forward with a "mixed-use" Scarborough subway plan that is aimed at delivering more bang for the buck for east end commuters.
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Tory joined CBC Radio's Metro Morning in studio with host Matt Galloway on Thursday to discuss the city's transit future in the east end.
"This is a better plan — more transit for Scarborough for the same money," Tory said. "If I can find a better way to do things that goes along with expert advice, that gets more value for the money ... I'm going to go with that."
The mayor didn't provide specifics about when the new system would be ready but said it "could be executed sooner" because the 18-stop LRT extension is "shovel-ready" and the subway is "reduced in its length and complexity."
'It's about giving Scarborough the right transit for the right reasons.' - Toronto Mayor John Tory
A city staff report released Thursday is proposing that two of three stops along the proposed subway line would be eliminated, saving close to $1 billion. The extra money would go toward extending the Eglinton Crosstown LRT eastbound into Scarborough's Malvern Town Centre.
TTC chair Josh Colle, speaking at a Thursday afternoon news conference, said the proposal would help alleviate stresses on an "extremely busy" east-end bus network.
"The new vision would deliver a rapid transit line across the city."
Coun. Glenn De Baeremaeker admitted it wasn't the solution he expected.
"Scarborough has never, to this day, had its fair share of public transit," De Baeremaeker said, adding residents often say they're getting "ripped off" on transportation.
"The staff have come up with a better plan than we have put forward," the councillor added.
Tory, speaking at the news conference, said the revisions would eventually link U of T's east end campus across the city to Pearson airport, the mayor said.
"It's about giving Scarborough the right transit for the right reasons."
'Nowhere near as divisive'
Speaking earlier in the day on Metro Morning, Tory also noted this new plan has more support from city councillors and he's been looking for improvements to the plan since his first day on the job.
"You will have a political consensus — much broader than what you had before," he said. "I think we'll have a debate now, but it will be nowhere near as divisive."
The province also weighed in on the changes, with Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca saying transit infrastructure is a "top priority" for the government.
"We will continue to work closely with the city and we remain steadfast in our financial commitment of $1.48 billion towards the project," Del Duca said in an email.
The total cost of the original project was expected to be $3.5 billion and is supposed to replace the aging Scarborough RT with a three-stop line ending at Scarborough Town Centre. It was confirmed by city council under former mayor Rob Ford in October 2013.
The city report is expected to go to the mayor's executive committee next Thursday. Public consultations are scheduled to commence in February. Findings are set to be reported back within the next six months.
Tory..."I ve learned ridership cannot be the whole reason for building transit.— @StrashinCBC