Scarborough politicians love to complain about how our part of the city is ignored while overlooking rapid transit to our under served neighbourhoods. Funding for the Eglinton East LRT (EELRT) has been eliminated twice over the past eight years while funding for $3.56B Scarborough subway and $1.46B SmartTrack remain firmly in place. Though there is more overall public support for this line and it’s improved access to jobs, education and services in seven Priority Neighbourhoods, it will take more than lines on a map to secure the future of this 21-stop LRT from Kennedy to Malvern.
In 2010, the late Rob Ford cancelled the original Scarborough Malvern LRT without a peep from Scarborough councillors. The only outcry came from students at U of T Scarborough. Had more politicians rallied behind it, construction would have started in 2014 and it would be up and running next year. It happened again in 2016 when the costs of John Tory’s one-stop, “Express Subway” skyrocketed from $2-billion to $3.35-billion, eating up any money left over for the EELRT. Only Scarborough Guildwood councillor Paul Ainslie proposed a better use of $3.56 billion would be a 24-stop LRT network including both the 17-stop Eglinton East LRT and the 7-stop Scarborough LRT.
Yet Mayor Tory continues to use the unfunded EELRT to prop up his Scarborough “transit network” (a 6 km tunnel to a shopping mall and one SmartTrack/GO station at Lawrence East). Perhaps he is hoping no one will notice that without the EELRT riders will be left with two separate access points on two separate lines, instead of the five RT stops they have now.
Higher levels of government have promised $9 billion for Toronto’s transit priorities. With $3.56-billion already allocated for the Scarborough Subway Extension (SSE) and $1.46-billion in SmartTrack funding secured from this new money, the $6.8-billion Relief Line, $2.2-billion Eglinton East LRT and $1.98-billion Waterfront LRT are left to compete for the remaining $7.5-billion.
During the 2018 provincial election, Doug Ford promised another $5-billion toward transit in Toronto with the Sheppard Loop (three-stop SSE), Relief Line and Yonge Extension to Richmond Hill as their priority.
The Conservative party platform included the Eglinton East LRT with the proviso that it be tunneled:
“The Eglinton Crosstown is currently being built across the city. There will be two additional expansions to this project: Westward expansion to Pearson International Airport, and eastward expansion to the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus.
However, future expansions of the Eglinton Crosstown should be built underground to help reduce congestion once construction is completed.”
Tunneling the 27 km Eglinton East LRT from Kennedy to Malvern would add billions in costs. Clearly, sensible transit planning for the suburbs is not on Ford Nation’s agenda. However, both the EELRT and Sheppard Loop were promised to Scarborough before a
“line by line review” of Ontario’s finances ...