Thanks to Mayor Tory’s 2.6% budget cut and chronic under funding of the TTC, there is a $2.5 billion shortfall in the 2017 – 2026 TTC capital budget. New buses, wheel trans buses and bus stop improvements for accessibility are not funded in this year’s budget. Neither are two hour transfers.

Read about the TTC Capital budget here.

However, Scarborough councillors are fine with a 1.6% property tax increase in order to generate $910 million for a $3.2 – 3.56 billion, one-stop subway. This includes $112 million to extend the life of the SRT until 2026 and $123 million to decommission the SRT. None of which would be necessary, had we stuck with the original seven-stop LRT plan.

The preferred alignment for the one-stop subway is yet to be determined but costs are expected to increase. The TTC is asking for $125 million for the Environmental Assessment of the Scarborough Subway Extension in the 2017 capital budget.

However, funding for the Eglinton East LRT is not included. It must compete with other transit projects like Smart Track and the Relief Line for funding.

If we returned to seven-stop Scarborough LRT, there would be enough money left over for the City to cover at least half the cost of the Eglinton East LRT. But with the ballooning costs of the Subway Extension, funding for the Eglinton East LRT has been eliminated. It’s time we start building an LRT network that connects with existing rapid transit lines across Toronto and serves transit riders in Scarborough’s Priority Neighbourhoods, university and college campuses, now.

Seven more reasons why a seven-stop LRT is a better option for Scarborough transit riders:

  1. Construction of the one stop extension is now estimated at $3.2 billion (with a B!). (A report on the alignment and an updated cost estimate is due to go to the TTC Commission on January 18th.) It is expected to rise even more once detailed design and engineering work is complete. There are much better uses for this money than a plan that not only does not add anything new to the Scarborough transit network but removes transit from Lawrence East, Ellesmere and Midland.
  2. The 7 stop LRT was already funded and shovel-ready. It would have provided more transit to Scarborough residents, all with significantly lower initial capital costs and ongoing operations spending, once in service.
  3. This $3.2 billion would be better spent on the TTC’s $2.5 billion capital backlog including the purchase of new buses and bus shelter improvements or allow us to have an LRT network serving more riders in more neighbourhoods.
  4. Soaring capital costs have been in the news but the cost of operating the Scarborough Subway Extension could make this project a truly massive waste. The TTC currently subsidizes the Sheppard Subway $10/ride due to low ridership. We can’t afford to make the same mistake again.
  5. Service cuts to routes in Scarborough due to budget cuts have already happened; expecting riders to use this diminishing bus network to access a one-stop subway, is sheer folly.
  6. Reversing the decision to build the “stubway” will mean a more sustainable TTC budget in years to come; sustainability, along with progressive revenue tools, is key to solving Toronto’s chronic budget problems. Let’s not add to them with such an ill conceived transit plan
  7. The 7.5 km subway tunnel to Scarborough Town Centre will be deeper than the rest of the Bloor/Danforth line and protecting against a relatively high water table along the route will require much more concrete than a typical subway station. All of this will require maintenance over time, in addition to the normal costs of running rapid transit. The seven-stop Scarborough LRT does not require expensive tunneling and maintenance. It has its own right of way, separate from traffic. Clearly, this is a much more sensible option.

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