In Friday’s edition of The Globe and Mail, it was revealed that the Scarborough subway costs are expected to rise by $900 million to $2.9 billion.
The $900 million additional cost estimate for the Scarborough Subway Extension (SSE) proves once again, an LRT network is, by far, the best choice for Scarborough transit riders.
An LRT network will bring much needed rapid transit, pedestrian friendly re-development and jobs to Scarborough’s outer neighbourhoods and campuses. In fact, according to the report: Choices for Scarborough Transit, Walking and Intensification in Toronto’s Inner Suburbs, an LRT network would be within walking distance of 125,000 residents and even a three-stop subway would only be within walking distance for 11,000 residents.
An LRT network would be cost effective to operate.LRTs are well suited to Scarborough’s low density and long blocks. They can reach more transit riders and generate more revenue to pay for operations. A subway to STC would not have as many riders. It would drain money from the rest of the TTC.
Construction of LRTs can begin much sooner than a subway.The environmental assessments for the three LRTs in Scarborough have already been completed and the TTC is recognized by the American Public Transit Association as the North American expert in laying track. We have the capacity to start building the Crosstown East LRT (CELRT) now and have it up and running by 2021. Assessment of the SSE is ongoing and the estimated operation date is not until 2023.
The City of Toronto, led by Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat, should be commended for reviving the plan to build the Crosstown East LRT (CELRT). It will bring rapid transit to SE Scarborough riders and U of T Scarborough students. But this plan will not bring much needed rapid transit to Centennial College Progress campus, or to destinations in NE Scarborough like the Malvern Town Centre. Riders in those neighbourhoods need rapid transit too and they should not be expected to wait another fifteen years.
With the latest analyses suggesting a peak-hour ridership of just 7,300 (instead of the 9,500 – 14,000 that was fabricated to sell Scarborough a subway), surely this is the right time to reassess our transit priorities. Having two north/south lines to downtown in close proximity is not the best use of our resources. Especially, when we know that the majority of transit trips in Scarborough are to somewhere else in Scarborough!