Toronto mayor's transit plan gets Ont. support

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty have announced an $8.2-billion plan to put an Eglinton light rail line underground, effectively killing former mayor David Miller's Transit City plan.

TTC little involved in overhaul that would put city on hook for $49M in broken contracts

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty announced the province will contribute $8.2 billion to put an Eglinton light rail line underground, effectively killing former mayor David Miller's Transit City plan.

McGuinty made the announcement with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford at the Wilson Subway carhouse just north of the subway station Thursday morning.

"Our new plan keeps trains off our streets, so they can travel fast and reduce travel time for commuters," said Ford.

Finch West

Thursday’s announcement means the province is cancelling plans for the Finch West light rail transit route, which was part of the Transit City plan.

That line would have run from the yet-to-be built Finch West station to Humber College.

"We will make major improvements to the bus service along Finch Avenue West until we can introduce rapid transit there as well," Ford said, without providing specifics.

"Our new plan will not add to the gridlock faced by Toronto drivers every day, like we see on St. Clair Avenue."

All of the money that the province had committed to Transit City, which called for the construction of new light rail lines throughout Toronto, will now go solely towards the new Eglinton Crosstown line.

City on hook for cancelled contracts

Bruce McCuaig, CEO of the regional transportation agency Metrolinx, confirmed the city would have to pay for any penalties incurred for breaking Transit City contracts. So far, that figure stands at $49 million and is likely to rise, he said.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford announce a new $8.2-billion Eglinton LRT line on Thursday morning. Steven D'Souza/CBC

CBC has learned the TTC never developed its own transit plan — as the mayor had asked — and had little to do with Thursday's announcement.

"I know that [Ford] and I share the same goal when it comes to public transit," McGuinty said.

"We've got to get people moving. We've got to get building. We've got to move beyond talking to doing."

The new light-rail line will run underground along Eglinton Avenue from Black Creek Drive in the city’s west end to Kennedy subway station in the east. From there, it will continue "along an elevated platform" to Scarborough Town Centre along the existing Scarborough RT route, said Ford.

The previous plan proposed putting only part of the line — a central 11-kilometre stretch between Keele Street and Laird Drive — underground. The rest would have stayed at street level.

Ford said the next step is to start a study to confirm detailed costs and develop a timeline. The line is expected to be built by 2020. The new deal replaces a $4.15-billion Eglinton plan envisioned under Transit City.

'Some' provincial money expected for Sheppard

The province has also approved Ford's proposal to replace a $950-million light rail extension on Sheppard that would have been built eastward from Don Mills station with a subway extension pegged at $4.2 billion.

The province has not promised any funding for the extension, which would join Downsview and Sheppard stations in the west and Don Mills and Scarborough Town Centre stations in the east.

Ford said that the city expects to receive "some money" from the province to cover a proposed nine-stop, 13-kilometre extension after final costs for the Eglinton line have been finalized.

Ford said he hopes the city can help finance some of the line through private-public partnerships, and will ask the federal government to reallocate $333 million in funding it had allotted to the Sheppard light rail line.

Ford offered few details of a possible public-private partnership.

"All the details will have to come out, but it will be built with private money," he told reporters Thursday, without elaborating.

TTC chair Karen Stintz said council would have to vote if any city money were to go towards the Sheppard expansion, but no vote is needed on Thursday's new plan.

Coun. Joe Mihevc said the plan announced Thursday is a step back for the city.

"The suburbs get screwed, transit riders get screwed, the people along Finch get screwed," he said.

"If [The Sheppard extension] ever gets built, it will indebt the city to such a great extent that not only my children, but my children’s children will be responsible for paying it," he said.

When he took office last December, Ford said he would scrap Transit City because it would run at street-level and obstruct traffic.

A breakdown of the new plan and the old:

 New transit plan ($12.4 billion total, $8.2 billion committed by province)First stage of Transit City plan ($8.15 billion committed by province)
Eglinton  Cost: $8.2 billion, all from the province. 33 km of LRT, fully underground. Cost: $4.15 billion. 11.5-km LRT stretch underground, the rest at-grade.
Sheppard  Cost: $4.2 billion, not yet secured. 13 km of subway. Cost: $950 million. 14 km of LRT.
Finch Cost: Unknown. Proposal to enhance bus service, with an eye to upgrade to rapid tranist at unspecified date. Cost: $1.2 billion. 17 km of LRT.
Scarborough RT Cost: Included in Eglinton plan. 12 km of light rail to replace RT to Scarborough Town Centre. Cost: $1.4 billion. 12 km of new light rail to replace existing system.