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 fast, modern and convenient rapid transit system that connects us to each other and the rest of the city. A one-stop subway won’t do this. A 50-Stop Scarborough Light Rapid Transit (LRT) Network will.
A publicly-built, operated and maintained 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.
The Scarborough LRT Network coalition brings together grassroots transit advocacy groups Connect Sheppard East and Scarborough Transit Action in calling on the new Toronto Council to build modern, high capacity transit to connect our neighbourhoods. We are calling for the previously-planned and approved (Transit City) Scarborough LRTs to be built without further delay.
Scarborough residents can’t afford to waste ten more years waiting for a subway extension to Scarborough Town Centre. Nor can we afford the huge expense for a subway that does nothing to connect our underserved neighbourhoods. We need transit now. Join us in our call for a Scarborough LRT Network!
Next Stop: Equity and Prosperity – Let’s Get Scarborough Moving!
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 hasopened another major front in a three-pronged attack on the TTC: to de-fundexisting services,dismantle public control over the delivery of new transit lines and download regional responsibilities and costs (TYSSE to Vaughan, Yonge subway extension to Richmond Hill) onto a local service provider. Correspondingly, it hascontributed 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.
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 JoshColle 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 did not 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 inexperienceof 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 recognizedwith 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, ) 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 unfair advantage 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,
“Conflict of interest problems also arise where the consultant has an interest in the outcome 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 Option 1: sole source management. Thisrecommendation 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 two other options. 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 by keeping TTC managers in charge of the project and spending $95 million to resolve contractor claims, delivery could be accomplished by December 2017 – as it was under Bechtel.
Taken from Bechtel Canada -Toronto -York Spadina Extension assessment, page 5-1, February 2015
TBM = tunnel boring machine
However, 2014’s Option 1 was notincluded 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—sole source, with no tendering.
The recommendation raised suspicion amongst progressive councillors and a contentious, five-hour debate ensued.
Watch the March 31, 2015 Toronto Council meeting (1:07:10) video.
They were being asked to accept Byford’s reasoning without having access to the information that informed it. The TTC report was held back from councillors who were not members of the TTC Commission until the night before the council meeting. These same councillors were denied access to the Bechtel assessment and APTA peer review on the basis of confidentiality. To further limit debate, Tory had his deputy mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong introduce a motion to lump the TYSSE sole source recommendation item together with another item requesting a report on TTC delivery options which effectively reduced the time allowed for questions from ten minutes to five. The recommendation was approved 40 to 3.
Byford’s sole source turned out to be Bechtel, the same contractor hired to study the project—in contravention of normal conflict-of-interest protocols. On April 10, 2015, The TTC board approved the contract with Bechtel to take over management of the project for $150 million. Council gave final approval to take $60 million from York Region and $90 million from the city’s reserve fund to pay for the 46 Bechtel personnel.
A complaint was submitted to Toronto Auditor General Beverly Romeo-Beehler on May 24, 2017 but her office declined to investigate.
March to more privatization
Did the public pay $150 million to Bechtel to deliver the TYSSE by December 2017 for the benefit of Toronto and York Region residents? Or was this an opportunity for one of the largest construction firms in the world to move in on the TTC by demonizing in-house TTC management?”
Before Bechtel got the TYSSE project, Metrolinx had already taken over the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, which had also started under Ghaly and Bertolo at the TTC Expansion Department. As a result of the Metrolinx takeover, in-house TTC expertise was eliminated and the project was delayed by two years, while Metrolinx invited private consortia to bid on a complex contract to design, build, finance and maintain (DBFM) the Crosstown.
Now SNC-Lavalin, Grupo ACS, Dragados and OHL (a Spanish multinational that tunnelled the TYSSE) have a 30-year, $9.1-billion contract to design, build, finance and maintain the Crosstown line. Only the operation may be left to the TTC. Meanwhile, the project has significantly ballooned in duration and cost.
The Auditor Generalof Ontario has repeatedly brought to light poor cost- and project-control by Metrolinx and its contractors. Yet Metrolinx continues to do relatively little in response to these warnings, and allows costs to mount with little oversight. As well, study after study has also shown that privatization results in higher financing costs, ultimately passed on to the taxpayers.
Next on the horizon is the $3.35-billion – and climbing – Scarborough subway extension. This one-stop project is set to be aDBF (design, build and finance). If all new city transit infrastructure is to be delivered privately and the TTC loses in-house capacity to oversee these projects who will protect the public interest against the Bechtels of this world?
By Brenda Thompson with Joell Ann Vanderwagen and Rosemary Frei
Update on April 25, 2018 approval of SmartTrack by Toronto Council
Last month, a delegation of Scarborough residents and transit advocates spoke to City Council’s Executive Committee regarding the SmartTrack Stations and Metrolinx Regional Express Rail (GO RER) programs (agenda item EX:33.1). We objected to Mayor Tory’s plan to replace the existing five Scarborough RT stations with one GO/SmartTrack station at Lawrence East and a one-stop subway from Kennedy station to Scarborough Town Centre (STC).
Watch Anil Lewis, who resides near the Lawrence East RT station, speaking to the mayor’s handpicked committee here. Read how the Lawrence East GO RER/SmartTrack station will leave more transit riders on buses here.
Scarborough subway boosters who wanted a station at Lawrence and McCowan were offered the Lawrence East GO/SmartTrack station instead. But it is not a good substitute for transit riders who rely on the Scarborough RT.
GO/SmartTrack is a separate line from the Scarborough subway, and would only connect to it at Kennedy station, not at the STC terminus. Replacing five SRT stops with two north-south lines will take commuters downtown, but it won’t get them around Scarborough. The SRT connects to downtown as well as to Lawrence, Midland, Ellesmere, STC and McCowan. A seven-stop LRT to replace the RT – as originally planned – would add stops at Centennial College Progress and Sheppard Avenue East.
But that’s not all. A seven-stop LRT would let you transfer from a bus at no extra cost and wait no more than five minutes for the next train. Not so with SmartTrack.
Notwithstanding the Lawrence East GO/SmartTrack station’s inadequacy as a replacement for the RT stop, Scarborough Transit Action supports GO RER/SmartTrack if it can attract enough riders to help reduce overcrowding on the Bloor/Danforth subway line. A 2016 study by University of Toronto professor Eric Miller concluded that RER service every five minutes for a TTC fare would serve more than 300,000 daily riders. (Charging GO fares would cut ridership by up to two-thirds.)
Since 2016, the number of SmartTrack stations promised has been cut from 22 to six, and with service levels and full fare integration unresolved, ridership is predictably less:
TTC/GO/SmartTrack fare integration
Because SmartTrack is “local” GO service with additional stations in Toronto, it has been included in the discussion around fare integration between TTC, GO and Union Pearson Express. The April 26, 2018, Metrolinx decision improved the affordability of using these services under the following terms:
$3 Presto adult fare between all GO stations within the City of Toronto.
Discounts of up to $1.50 for transit users who transfer between these municipal transit networks and the TTC using Presto.
The province will replace lost revenue for the next three years, so the TTC does not need to raise fares to make up the revenue shortfall.
This makes SmartTrack more affordable, but the Presto discount is not the same as full fare integration. Full fare integration would be to pay just one TTC fare to and from SmartTrack to GO or UP Express. If the Lawrence East GO/SmartTrack station is to replace the Lawrence East RT station or a subway station at Lawrence and McCowan, it shouldn’t cost more than one TTC fare to transfer from the 54 Lawrence East bus.
Lawrence East GO/SmartTrack vs. SRT and Scarborough LRT
The only advantage of the Lawrence East GO/SmartTrack station is that riders will not have to take buses during construction as they would with the Scarborough LRT. But Scarborough LRT construction could begin at Sheppard Avenue East, allowing two new stations to be built before shutting the RT. Given the choice between riding on buses permanently after the RT is dismantled and riding on buses temporarily, most transit riders – knowing they would gain two new rapid transit stops – would likely put up with the inconvenience of LRT construction.
SmartTrack service frequency unresolved
Below is the city’s estimate of SmartTrack service including Lawrence East:
But is this realistic? There are unresolved technical issues around eight- and five-minute service that neither the city nor Metrolinx is talking about:
A modern signaling system is needed to run five-minute trains, but there is no mention of new signalling for SmartTrack.
The GO/SmartTrack trains’ bi-level Electrical Multiple Units (EMUs) will make it difficult to provide five minute-service. It takes a long time for passengers to load and unload bi-level trains since they have fewer doors than subways or LRT cars, and some passengers will be descending from the upper deck.
The GO/SmartTrack RER’s Stouffville track is also used for freight. Eight-minute SmartTrack service violates current freight train regulations, which require 15 minutes between trains.
At Union Station, difficulty getting trains in and out and platform design creates a bottleneck.
It is disturbing how little Metrolinx and the city have discussed or explained SmartTrack frequency. At the March 2018 public consultation meeting in Scarborough, Metrolinx officials announced that “local service would be every 15 minutes” – a far cry from the city’s claim of eight- and five-minute service.
Frequency is crucial to SmartTrack’s success, and should have been resolved soon after the U of T report showed five-minute service was required to make it viable. Instead, Council approved a funding and financial strategy before signing a service level agreement with Metrolinx, the operator of the trains. The city is now committed to spending $1.46 billion for SmartTrack.
The GO/Lawrence East SmartTrack station will not rescue the $3.35+ billion, one-stop Scarborough subway boondoggle. And in prioritizing both of these lines for funding, much-needed east-west rapid transit lines like the Eglinton East LRT must compete with the Waterfront LRT and the relief subway line for scarce transit dollars. Meanwhile, the provincially defunded Sheppard East LRT from Don Mills to Morningside has all but disappeared from the city’s list of priority projects.
Watch Jamaal Myers speak to the Executive Committee about going ahead with the Eglinton East LRT instead of the Scarborough subway here.
Scarborough needs a rapid transit network. Prioritizing the Scarborough, Eglinton East and Sheppard East LRTs would bring much-needed connectivity to our outer neighbourhoods. Toronto needs relief from overcrowding on the Bloor/Danforth line. But we shouldn’t have to sacrifice one for the other. If we allow Mayor Tory and his allies on council to chart the course on transit, we could forfeit both.
Sign our petitionfor the seven-stop Scarborough LRT
Ten reasons why Lawrence East GO/SmartTrack station will hurt transit riders here.
Lawrence East SmartTrack will leave more riders on buses here.
Read our submission to the SmartTrack Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP) here.
On Tuesday, May 22, Toronto City Council voted to proceed with plans to extend the Eglinton East LRT, despite the fact there is no money to pay for it. An extended Eglinton East LRT network is consistent with our wish for a robust, reliable, well-functioning public transit network in Scarborough but there’s one problem — Mayor John Tory continues to spend all of the approved funding on the Scarborough subway.
The Eglinton East LRT extension to Malvern, formerly known as the Crosstown East LRT, formerly known as the Scarborough-Malvern LRT, has already been studied, planned and designed for the last decade. It would have been built many years ago, but for lack of political will to pay for the project.
On the other hand, Mayor Tory stubbornly continues to promise Scarborough residents a one-stop, $4B subway station to Scarborough Town Centre within the next ten years, when a seven-stop Scarborough Centre LRT would add more stations and leave money available to immediately construct and open the Eglinton East line to Malvern within the next five years.
It is time to cancel the near $4B Scarborough subway project, reinstate funding for the Scarborough Centre LRT, and use the remaining funds to pay for an extended Eglinton East LRT to Malvern. If Mayor Tory really wants to build the Eglinton East LRT, he should explain to Scarborough residents, Toronto taxpayers and TTC riders how he intends to pay for it.
Mayor John Tory continues to promote the myth that he is building a subway for Scarborough, but it doesn’t appear that he has actually visited many neighbourhoods in Scarborough.
Transit riders in Scarborough know well that it is useless to build a subway station if almost no one can walk to the station. The network building potential for high value rapid transit, like LRTs and BRTs, is washed away from the agenda by a political dynamic that begins with the concerns of car drivers and ends with a hostility towards useful transit. By talking to transit riders, we know that good transit moves beyond fixing a single route. It involves thinking about how to spend $3B to benefit the most number of people.
These images tell the story best. Mayor Tory, who are you really building transit for?
It removes rapid transit access. Four RT stations: Lawrence East, Ellesmere, Midland and McCowan will be eliminated and replaced with one SmartTrack/GO station at Lawrence and a one-stop subway to Scarborough Town Centre.
You will pay more. TTC riders with a Presto card traveling on the 54 Lawrence East bus will have to pay a total of $4.50 to take SmartTrack at Lawrence East station.
It will be hard to get to. Riders on the 54 Lawrence bus will have to get off at the Lawrence East overpass and walk down several flights of stairs or take an elevator to get to the Lawrence SmartTrack/GO platform.
You will wait longer. Instead of every four minutes riders will wait 15 minutes for “local service” via SmartTrack.
You will be on buses permanently. The Lawrence East RT station will remain open during construction of the SmartTrack station but once the Scarborough subway is complete, the SRT will be dismantled leaving more TTC riders on buses, forever.
You will spend more time on buses. More than 16,700 existing riders use the four RT stations that will close. They will have to take the bus, drive or walk to where they want to go.
No more rapid transit from Lawrence East to Scarborough Town Centre – and no replacement bus service either. There is no plan to run a 54 Lawrence East bus to the new Triton (STC) bus station after the Scarborough RT is shut down. Riders will only be able to ride an express 54 Lawrence East bus to Kennedy Station.
You will wait ten years to replace the Scarborough RT with a one-stop subway and one SmartTrack station when we could be replacing the SRT with the seven-stop Scarborough LRT to Centennial College Progress and Sheppard Avenue East in five years.
Our public money is being wasted. Why spend $3.7-billion for a one-stop subway and one SmartTrack station when we could replace the SRT with a seven-stop LRT for a lot less?
Scarborough’s Priority Neighbourhoods are being ignored. With the money for the one-stop subway and the Lawrence East SmartTrack/GO station we could be building a 24-stop Scarborough and Eglinton East LRT, bringing a real rapid transit network to seven Priority Neighbourhoods.
Sign our petitionfor the seven-stop Scarborough LRT
Lawrence East SmartTrack will leave more riders on buses here.
SmartTrack funding approval puts the cart before the horse here.
There is $3.56 billion for rapid transit in Scarborough. John Torys’ one-stop subway extension has already claimed most of this money and it would take 10 years before it was up and running. This leaves the Eglinton East LRT without funding and without a clear plan as to when it would be built. It means most people in Scarborough would continue to be without access to rapid transit for years and years.
But the Eglinton East LRT could be built faster, less expensively and it would serve more people than the one-stop subway extension. So, we say “Build the EELRT now!” Eglinton East LRT to Sheppard East would have at least eighteen-stops, could be built publicly and could be operating by 2022.
Starting at Kennedy station, the Eglinton East LRT to Sheppard East would bring rapid transit to U of T Scarborough and Centennial College Morningside campus as well as six priority neighbourhoods in east Scarborough:
These neighbourhoods have suffered from a rapid transit deficit for too long. A city report on the Eglinton East LRT shows these neighbourhoods have a higher than average transit usage but they can only access half as many jobs as other transit riders in Toronto. We need to bring rapid transit to these neighbourhoods now:
The EELRT would create 1,900 new jobs within walking distance of the stations. And having the TTC deliver, operate and maintain the line would also mean more stable good jobs for our youth, right here in Scarborough.
The EELRT would provide a quick, convenient connection to downtown and more than seventeen destinations in east Scarborough:
Scarborough Golf Club
U of T Scarborough
If it were extended to Sheppard East it could connect with the Sheppard East LRT providing a much needed connection to northeast Scarborough.
LRTs create greater opportunities for community renewal, redevelopment and walkability. Tell Mayor Tory and council we shouldn’t have to wait ten years for a one-stop subway. Build the Eglinton East LRT to Sheppard East now!