Scarborough’s needs Bus Rapid Transit, bus only lanes, now!

The TTC’s Five-Year Service Plan and Ten-Year Outlook  report will go to the TTC Commission December, 12 and 16. It calls for bus only lanes and signal priority along  our busiest surface transit routes.  These are  cost effective measures toward increased ridership and shorter travel times. But we should take a  more ambitious approach  to address the needs of transit riders in Scarborough.

It will be at least ten years before the Scarborough subway is built.  Frequent breakdowns of  the aging SRT and no commitment to  build crucial rapid transit like the Sheppard East and Eglinton East LRTs is leaving riders in our under served neighbourhoods behind.  ...  read more

Fordnation’s allies on Toronto council throw Scarborough transit riders under the bus, again

In an alternate universe, $5.5-billion could buy a 50-stop light rail network serving most of Scarborough. Instead, Doug Ford will push forward the replacement of the Scarborough RT to 2030 with three subway stops for 11,000 new riders.

The majority of Scarborough community organizations applauded the Toronto-Ontario transit plan which would see the province take sole ownership and fund this three-stop subway. Many called on Toronto council  to build the Eglinton East and Sheppard East LRTs as well. At the Executive Committee meeting on October 23rd, Mayor Tory repeatedly “reminded” Scarborough deputants here, here and here that the $1.2375 billion Scarborough Subway levy could now be put toward the Eglinton East LRT (EELRT).  ...  read more

The Death of Rapid Transit in Scarborough

Overcrowded 54 Lawrence East bus during off-peak hours

Up until a few days ago, the  province was poised to take over the existing subway system and new transit infrastructure delivery from the TTC. At first glance, this appears to be a good thing. It is much easier for the province to generate revenue for the TTC’s $33.5 billion backlog in maintenance and state-of-good-repair. It is also much easier for the province to generate revenue for new transit infrastructure.

However, there is no agreement between the city and the province on what to build. Here’s a comparison of  Mayor Tory and Premier Ford’s transit priorities: ...  read more

HANDS OF OUR TTC! Where’s the Eglinton East LRT?

Bill 107 Getting Ontario Moving Act was passed in the legislature at Queens Park on June 4, 2019. The province has now taken “Sole Responsibility” for four Toronto transit projects: Ontario Line (formerly Relief Line), an extension of the Yonge Line to Richmond Hill and a three-stop Scarborough Subway. It prevents the city from planning or building transit projects that are similar or near to projects the province is building. And it does not require the province to compensate the city for any assets it expropriates from the TTC. ...  read more

No money for the Eglinton East LRT. NOW WHAT?

What’s that loud sucking noise? That’s the $4 billion Scarborough Subway Extension (SSE) soaking up all the rapid transit money for Scarborough. Had the SSE been judged on cost-effectiveness, we might not be poised to spend $4 billion on a one-stop subway that will carry only 31,000 riders a day.

Taken from

And had rapid transit to underserved neighbourhoods and campuses been a top priority, there would be enough money for the much-needed Eglinton East LRT (EELRT) from Kennedy to Malvern.

An Environmental Assessment for the EELRT was approved in 2009. But the LRT keeps falling off the priority list. Without a commitment of at least $150 million to take it to shovel-readiness, Scarborough residents will remain stuck with inadequate bus service. ...  read more

How to get funding for the Eglinton East LRT

“In 2016, Mayor Tory promised to build the Eglinton East LRT (EELRT) as part of Scarborough’s rapid transit network. In 2018, he promised to extend it from University of Toronto Scarborough campus to Malvern Town Centre.

The EELRT is shovel-ready but funding must be approved before construction can begin.

A report will go before the Mayor’s Executive on  April 9th, 2019. It’s our chance to tell Council we need this vital rapid transit line built publicly, now!

We’ve got the talking points and letter writing/speaking template.  Find out who your councillor is and how to contact them here...  read more

Who will champion the Eglinton East LRT?


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 ...  read more

Our vision – RAPID TRANSIT For All of Scarborough!

Source: maQSeaimages

Scarborough’s residents love our part of the city! We want our neighbourhoods to thrive.  As we’re home to some of Toronto’s poorest neighbourhoods, with the highest number of racialized people and rates of unemployment, we need a=&0=&

A =&1=& LRT Network made up of the Scarborough, Sheppard East and Eglinton East LRT lines would bring equity and prosperity to Scarborough by:

  • Connecting our communities with a fast, convenient and affordable way to get to  work, schools, shopping, appointments and entertainment.
  • Creating 14,390 new jobs including good TTC operations and maintenance jobs.
  • Providing training opportunities and apprenticeships for our young people.
  • Facilitating redevelopment along each LRT route.
  • Increasing walkability and accessibility for seniors and those with mobility issues.
  • Reducing congestion and cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Making our streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists.
  • Keeping our four SRT stations and eliminating the need to reroute buses to a  33-bay underground bus terminal at the Scarborough Town Centre.
  •  ...  read more

    The dark underside of the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension


    Keith Sibley, Bechtel Director at the TYSSE construction site, May 4, 2015.                                                                                                 Joell Ann Vanderwagen


    Bechtel’s contract for the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension signals privatization of new transit delivery

    For the most part, mainstream media has bought the political spin about the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension (TYSSE) being pulled from the brink of disaster to become a win-win for the TTC and the people of Toronto and Vaughan.

    The reality is that this project marks another private-sector takeover of transit megaprojects – and a harbinger of crippling indebtedness for the TTC and Toronto as a whole.

    The top-notch TTC managers overseeing construction of the TYSSE were replaced with American construction and engineering firm Bechtel in March 2015, and privatization of the TTC has continued ever since. This has opened another major front in a three-pronged attack on the TTC: to =&0=& =&1=& =&2=& over the delivery of new transit lines and =&3=& (TYSSE to Vaughan, Yonge subway extension to Richmond Hill) onto a local service provider. Correspondingly, it has contributed to a drastic hollowing out of TTC expertise gained over decades of managing transit projects.

    In March 2015, the TTC and the city of Toronto, together with York Region, committed to paying $150 million for 46 Bechtel personnel to manage delivery of the TYSSE by December 2017. This was a silent coup. While Toronto Mayor John Tory and TTC Chair Josh Colle demonized in-house TTC management, TTC CEO Andy Byford beheaded the TTC’s Project Expansion Department to provide cover for the huge multinationals takeover of new-project management.

    In his December 16, 2017, newsletter, Tory glories in the TYSSE opening and revisits the original delays and cost overruns of the project, describing himself and Byford as saviours:

    The day after I was elected, TTC CEO Andy Byford told me that this project was badly behind schedule and over budget. He developed a plan to fix the schedule and focus the work. Because the previous administration has completely mismanaged the project, the subway was looking like it was going to open in 2019. Because of my interventions, and the good work of Mr. Byford and his team of the TTC, we got the subway back on track and it will open to the public on Sunday.

    However, a close look at the two studies on the TYSSE that Byford commissioned in early 2015 shows that the mayor’s pronouncements are disingenuous.

    Enter Bechtel  

    The $3.2-billion TYSSE is an 8.5-kilometre, six-station extension running between Sheppard West station in the south and Vaughan Metropolitan Centre in the north. It was supposed to open in 2015 but was delayed by the death of a worker, design changes and disputes between TTC management and contractors.

    At the TTC’s March 2015 board meeting, Chair Josh Colle endorsed Byford’s prior decision to fire TTC managers Sameh Ghaly and Andy Bertolo, blaming them for TYSSE delays and the subsequent $400 million in cost overruns. To support his position, Colle cited the two reports: a peer review by an Expert Panel of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), and an assessment conducted by Bechtel, the San-Francisco-based, global engineering, construction and project-management firm.

    The APTA Peer Review Panel had been asked by Byford to examine the “scheduling and budgeting strategy of the TYSSE.” Contrary to Colle’s statements about the APTA report, the panel members =&5=& blame TTC management for the delays. In fact the panel praised managers, stating, “TTC is devoting considerable effort to reset the project” and that delays were not due to TTC management, but to “contractor work, funding-decision making, and inexperience of contractors working in Canada.” In general, the APTA peers expressed great respect for the TTC’s management capacity under Chief Capital Officer Sameh Ghaly and Project Manager Andy Bertolo. Previously, the TTC’s professional excellence had been recognized with an international award for having delivered the Sheppard subway project on time and on budget.

    In contrast, Bechtel Canada Co.’s assessment blamed TTC management for the delays and cost overruns. The Bechtel report said, for example, that TTC management adopted a “non-collaborative approach,” and that “[t]he relationship between each Contractor and the [TYSSE] Project [managers] is strained due to friction over how the contract is being administered.”

    The Bechtel report also asserted that  contractors appear to be capable of delivering the project and finishing the work as soon as possible … The consistent complaint from the Contractors is that, without the required support from the Project staff on resolving issues, the present schedule dates will be pushed out farther.

    Curiously, the Bechtel report analyzed costs and contractor claims for the TYSSE project, even though financial information of such a commercial nature is normally privileged (the TTC may make such information accessible to an accounting firm it hires). A freedom of information application produced Order MO-3347, stating (page 7, [33]) that Bechtel’s review of the TYSSE project “is not dissimilar in form and content to an audit report.”

    Whether or not it was proper to grant Bechtel access to financial and other information about the project, this access indisputably gave Bechtel Canada Co. an =&6=& from which to advise and influence the TTC Board regarding replacing TTC project staff with 46 Bechtel personnel. As Stephen Bauld, a Canadian government- procurement expert, wrote in Daily Commercial News,

    =&7=& problems also arise where the consultant has =&8=& of the study that the consultant is hired to conduct, or where the consultant’s prospect of further employment is likely to be influenced by the advice given,”

    The Bechtel report was never released publicly. Brenda Thompson obtained a heavily redacted copy through a Freedom of Information appeal 17 months after Ghaly and Bertolo were fired and the $150-million, sole-source contract (for delivery of the TYSSE by December 2017) had been awarded to Bechtel.

    Tory, Colle and Byford surely knew who they were going to dance with: Bechtel’s long and dubious history is well documented. In The Profiteers, author Sally Denton commented, “When I started out this book, I saw Bechtel as the corporate arm of the U.S. government. But by the end of the book I saw the government as the public policy arm of Bechtel.” The following summarizes an account of Bechtel’s past performance:

    In 1985, Bechtel partnered with rival Parsons Brinckerhoff to oversee the Boston Big Dig Central Artery/ Tunneling Project, at a projected cost of $2.6 billion and expected completion in 1998. Numerous delays and overruns led to a December 2007 delivery and a price tag of $24.3-billion — the most expensive highway project in U.S. history. Various state and federal agencies spent millions on more than 15 separate investigations of the project’s managers, which included Bechtel-Parsons Brinckerhoff, for “shoddy design, construction and engineering, fraud and corruption.”

    The overlooked TYSSE option

    At the March 26, 2015, TTC board meeting, Byford presented his recommendations for speeding up the TYSSE completion, giving the commissioners four options, shown in Table 1, below (from the TTC report). However, Byford had already largely precluded options 3 and 4 with the pre-emptive firing of top TTC construction managers a week earlier, on March 19.

    At the urging of Byford and Colle, the board approved =&10=& This recommendation went to City Council on March 31, 2015.

    What Byford and Colle neglected to tell either the TTC Board or city councillors was that an earlier study suggested =&11=&. In 2014, a recovery and risk-analysis workshop for TTC Project management, facilitated by Parsons Brinckerhoff, had created two options, shown below, indicating that $263 million was required to finish the TYSSE project.

    Option 1 shows that =&12=&

    Taken from Bechtel Canada -Toronto -York Spadina Extension assessment, page 5-1, February 2015

    TBM = tunnel boring machine

    However, =&13=& was =&14=& =&15=& in the report that Byford presented to the TTC commission’s March 2015 meeting. His report said only that contractor claims would be addressed “with a further report to the Board by the end of 2015.” Thus the TTC board presented City Council, at its March 31, 2015 meeting, with only the recommendation to authorize Byford to hire an unnamed “outside contractor” to manage the TYSSE project—=&16=&