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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Transit City to get major funding boost from province

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A press conference will take place at 2:30 in Vaughan where, according to the Globe and Mail, “Premier Dalton McGuinty will today announce billions in funding for Toronto Mayor David Miller’s light-rail transit vision.” The plan for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton regions will be in the $9-billion range.

Spacing will be at the press conference and will be able to give more details later in the day.  Here are details from the Globe and Mail article:

The Eglinton rapid transit line will be the most expensive among the projects, costing about $4.6-billion. The City of Toronto and Metrolinx will determine final costs, the government said.

It will also include funding for the Toronto Transit Commission’s plans to update and extend the Scarborough Rapid Transit line, and build a new rapid transit line along Finch Avenue from the Yonge subway line west to Highway 27 and east to Don Mills station.

A proposed rapid transit system for Hamilton will be the second most expensive project at an estimated $3-billion. The study initiated by the province will examine potential rapid transit systems on two corridors in Hamilton. The study should be completed in the spring of 2010.

The York Viva system and Scarborough rapid transit system will each cost an estimated $1.4-billion. The Finch light rail system will come in at an estimated $1.2-billion.

Construction on the York Viva bus system will begin this year and all segments should be up and running by the end of 2013. The extension of the Scarborough Rapid Transit Line should be in service by 2015, the government says.



  1. This has to be considered good news. Rapid transit where it’s needed, backed by the province? This had better not be McGuinty’s idea of an April Fool’s joke…

  2. although throwing the words “rapid transit” all over is a bit of a worry. I.e., please, no RT!

  3. It would be nice if the Province also announced fast-track funding for the Downtown Relief Line (as heavy rail not LRT).

  4. Perhaps the title should be renamed “Transit projects to get major funding boost”.

    Eglington comes in at a whopping $4.6B – that can’t be just for a streetcar line. Metrolinx made noises about wanting something more than lrt on Eglington. Also, Sheppard is not funded – makes things interesting as to what is going on. Finch is the only for sure Lrt project listed.

    And theyre spending $1.4B on a busway!

  5. Woo-hoo! I’ll take it.

    Kudos to the city/TTC for pushing the Transit City vision until, huge warts and all, it was impossible to ignore. Those errant little lines on a map may now someday grow into a real system…

    Running LRT to the airport will also resolve the Blue22 controversy. Nothing wrong with having both services — just like Heathrow, the regular transit connection will keep Blue22 honest, needing to provide a swank service to attract customers, and if they can find a market for their premium-priced downtown express, good for them. Budget travelers can take the LRT.

  6. FYI: Government announcement materials have been posted online here.

  7. also: Finch will go east to Don Mills station!

  8. It’s good to see no Sheppard LRT funding. Surely a gradual completion of the subway is the best way to go. The westward expansion would be quite sage, allowing people from the east to get to such destinations like Yorkdale and York University by two trains and might save the TTC the need for a new yard.

    Eglinton is also getting expensive for an LRT project. It’s creeping up to subway costs.

  9. Pat you have to remember that it’s a 30 km LRT line with 10 km of subway in the middle. Tunneling through the central part of Eglinton, and building two underground interchanges with the subway, won’t come cheap. Imagine how much it would cost to build the whole 30 km as subway.

  10. As a rule of thumb, subway construction is now up to about $300-million/km. That would make an Eglinton subway at least $9-billion from Kennedy to Pearson.

  11. I just commented elsewhere (Steve Munro’s blog) about Eglinton (the LRT line I am most enthusiastic about, the one I am least enthusiastic about, Sheppard East, is interestingly missing from this announcement). The current price tag is $4.6 Billion, up quite a bit from previous estimates. There’s a lot of unanswered questions.

  12. The formal announcement at includes:
    Scarborough Rapid Transit (RT)–”depending on technology choice preferred”, in other words it could be LRT, “The Scarborough RT connects commuters to the Bloor-Danforth Subway, the proposed Sheppard East LRT and GO Rail service”
    Finch Light Rail Transit (LRT)–”Finch LRT will extend from Yonge Street west to Humber College and east to Don Mills Subway Station”, in other words it will be extended east to Don Mills Road and then south to Sheppard Avenue East at the Don Mills Station.

  13. The “rule of thumb” that subways now cost $300M/km makes some rather dubious assumptions, like tunnelling will occur under empty land and stations will be so oversized that even London during the Blitz couldn’t fill their mezzanines.

    Of course, if we need a subway from Kennedy to Pearson, the logical thing to do is extend the Bloor line a few km…it just happens to already run from Kennedy Station to Etobicoke, after all.

    Replacing half of the Finch East bus route with LRT is an absolutely terrible idea…either replace the whole thing or leave it alone (it’s just about the only major surface route that works).

    I wonder if Viva Green will be upgraded with this cash…

  14. Sheppard EAST LRT is needed. I live on Sheppard East.
    Just because many of you wouldn’t use the service, doesn’t mean it isn’t needed.

    The old Finch West-Etobicoke (Humber-Yonge) LRT would be something I would NEVER use, as I use Finch East to Yonge then head south. This new Finch LRT is good.

    How will the connection at Don Mills Station be?

    1) Finch LRT
    2) Don Mills LRT
    3) Sheppard stubway
    4) Sheppard East LRT

    I and MANY riders of the routes along Sheppard East want a Sheppard East LRT since it would be constructed cheaper and quicker than a full blown subway.

    Extending the sheppard stubway west to downsview would ONLY benefit the ttc and not us as riders.
    The only station added would be Bathurst-Sheppard. There would be nothing worth of a station along that route. I took the 196 to Seneca@York for 2 years, I know the area.

    I am getting sick and tired of Scarborough not getting our fair share of transit, right now we have 3 subway stations (VP, Warden, Kennedy).

    The SRT can’t be counted for anything good. so it cancels the benefit of those 3 subway stations.
    outside rush hour, our routes (outside 85 and 39) are every 22 minutes (there is a difference between what’s on the schedule and when a bus actually comes).

    I deserve the same quality service as someone downtown.

    Finch LRT & Sheppard LRT will bring the ends of the city good transit that we have been missing for a decade or two.

  15. So the mayor and premier said that Sheppard is getting funding, but didn’t announce it today – when exactly is this to be announced? That project is “shovel ready” to start this fall and is apparently waiting for the funding to be in place.

    Then there is the matter of the funding for our new fleet of streetcar and LRT vehicles – where is that announcement. Will it be the day before the TTC announces who the contract will go to?

    The Eglinton and Scarborough RT announcements leave me perplexed. Eglinton is pegged at double what the original Transit City estimate was. While inflation and building it all the way to Pearson would account for some increase, I am wondering just what does this really entail. Are we getting ART technology shoved down our throats? Or can I be optimistic and think that they have just gone high on the project so that it will come out under budget in the end?

    What is meant by the upgrade of the Scarborough RT? I suspect that is still up in the air, since the announcement as reported in the media mentions its extension to “either Markham and Sheppard or to Malvern Town Centre”. For the amount of money, that means either upgrade to ART MARK-II and an extension to Markham and Sheppard, or an upgrade to true LRT and an extension to Malvern Town Centre.

  16. Ok, sounds like good news. More details needed… hopefully these projects proceed effectively rather than become a replay of the St. Clair ROW debacle.

  17. My concern with the Eglinton LRT is that it will have far too frequent stops to make it appealing for longer commutes (ie: the airport). I saw a list somewhere where the stop spacing would be similar to the B-D through the underground, and almost as frequent as regular bus service above ground.

    I know I may get some flack from those who live in Old Toronto and area, but imo “rapid” transit needs to have stop spacing to make it competitive with the car, while having stops close enough to meet local needs to be successful. Outside of urban cores, every 1km or so (half city block: Sheppard – Finch, Eglinton – St. Clair) seems to accomplish this very well.

    I used to commute from STC to Pape for school, and I found the stop spacing on the Danforth line excruciating. And I wasn’t even going all the way to Bloor-Yonge! I know I may be criticized for this, but I honestly believe that the Bloor-Danforth line was constructed with suburbanization in mind. That only poor people who could not afford to live in the suburbs would take the train, while everyone else would simply drive into and through downtown.

  18. Is it possible that the Eglinton line will be a clone of the new Canada Line in Vancouver? It’s sort of a quasi-metro, with some tunnel, some surface, will effectively serve as a subway but is classified by its manufacturer as a “light rail vehicle”. With Vancouver’s system nearing completion, would not be surprising if someone had said “Here’s how you settle this LRT/subway debate — just build one of those”.

    This might explain a bump in costs. Would also lead to a PPP model, since that line is being built and operated in Vancouver by SNC-Lavalin, not Skytrain. No doubt the province/Metrolinx has this in mind to keep TTC paws out of the kitty.

  19. uSkyscraper, as I understand it the Canada Line is entirely grade-separated — i.e. either tunneled, elevated, or (for a short stretch at the airport) fenced with no level crossings. I guess it’s “light rail” in the same way as the Docklands Light Rail in London.

    I believe what will save money vs. a full subway on Eglinton is being able to have some of the line run in the middle of Eglinton, or beside it, using overhead power and tracks that can be driven or walked across.

  20. In response to the question about the streetcar purchase contribution, Miller said in a scrum following the announcement that money for streetcars is included in the funding package. For obvious reasons, revealing what that number is before a contract is signed wouldn’t be all that smart.

  21. Note Eglinton in Etobicoke has huge clearances on either side — was to make room for the “Richview Expressway” — this space will pay off in the end, it seems.

  22. The government’s press release says that the underground section of Eglinton LRT will be 13 km long. That means that they’ve decided to run it all the way to Jane! Hurrah! Hurrah!

    (Previously, the TTC was unsure of whether it would run to Jane or to Keele.)

    This means we can get bike lanes on Eglinton between Jane and Keele! (There wouldn’t have been enough space to fit both streetcars and bike lanes, due to widths of various bridges and underpasses.)

    We so desperately need bike lanes there, because the traffic is so dense and aggressive, and because there aren’t any good alternate routes across the Weston rail sub.

    This means that a person can now ride all the way from Mississsauga to Yonge in no time! First along the Eglinton West Path to Jane (which is a great ride, by the way). Then along the bike lane from Jane to Municipal Drive (just before Keele). Then they can turn up Municipal Drive and hop on a trail that leads through Coronation Park until they reach Clearview Heights. And then it’s due east on a few backroads before hopping on the Belt Line Path which leads all the way to Yonge.

    Back when I was working near Eglinton and Renforth, this bike route was everything I wanted.

  23. Oh, and Black Creek is another barrier that you can’t get around easily, except by riding on Eglinton Ave. That’s another reason for having bike lanes on Eglinton between Jane and Keele.

  24. But Adam, was Miller referring solely to the LRVs needed for the lines being announced (i.e. Finch and Eglinton vehicles won’t be waiting for a separate funding announcement) or also to replacement of existing CLRVs and ALRVs?

    I’d be surprised if the Ontario government would miss the opportunity to boast about funding a replacement of the city’s streetcar fleet (used by hundreds of thousands of people daily and currently a major accessibility barrier for downtown transit), even if they had to ballpark the number. As far as I’d heard they’ve been silent on it so far, so it’d be big news.

  25. Matt, I can’t say for sure. Jeff Grey, I believe, asked the question and it was in fairly broad terms. My sense is it was CLRV/ALRV because that’s a hot topic of late since that decision is coming up fairly quickly.

  26. I suspect that if the province is going to fund replacement streetcars, they will want to wait until after the builder is announced. If it is Bombardier, they can say that their funding is helping Toronto improve its transit system while also helping keep jobs in Thunder Bay.

  27. Thank the lord!!! Praise does $$$’s!

    But to the kind folks arguing “against” these extensions/additions, suck it up! Don’t think for yourselves, think long-term!

    *It’s happy(*1950’s) transit time again!

  28. CBC Radio’s take on the Eglinton line this morning was that it would basically cause years of construction headaches. Sheesh, one might hope that our public broadcaster could put a more positive spin on this announcement, such as the number of people who will be served by this line, decrease in cross-town travel time, tonnes of CO2 eliminated by replacing busses with electrically-powered streetcars etc.

  29. Here’s what they should have done with Sheppard:

    1) When building Spadina subway to York, also extend Sheppard Line west to Downsview and from there to York in parallel w/ Spadina (they do it in London, lines running parallel a few stops)
    2)Then push Sheppard to STC (via LRT or as much subway as poss.). So we’d have major east-west route w/ minimal interchange, adding awesome flexibility, and Sheppard becomes useful.
    3) This hyper-spazzed Sheppard line then connects with Finch LRT at Keele/Finch subway.
    4) So Finch just ends at Keele not Yonge (as Sheppard line to STC takes care of cross town duties).

    So Rexdale-Scarb. trips wouldn’t be LRT, the Yonge line, the Sheppard line, and then an LRT. Just take LRT and Sheppard subway.

    A man can dream can’t he?

  30. Downtown (ie the former city of Toronto) needs help.
    This is just going to add more stress on the subway.
    Sure, build LRTs where its less dense but downtown needs more subways. eg Queen St, Bathurst.

  31. I recently moved to the Eglinton/Don mills area. Eglinton is very close to my townhouse. I am wondering if the new light rail transit will be going past my front door (literally). I know the system will be above ground when it passes my house. How can I obtain more detialed information on the project?

  32. Nick,
    I think most of these projects are the right thing to do. But I also think our City needs to get its act together when it comes to construction of these projects. The St. Clair ROW construction is taking WAY longer than it should; it’s practically a case study in how to cause interminable delays. If the CBC’s concerns regarding construction on Eglinton ‘help’ bring about a more streamlined, coordinated building process, our public broadcaster is doing its job.

    Doing the right thing is one thing. Doing the right thing in the right way is another.

  33. Since my name came up, I thought I could answer Adam’s question from this morning about the streetcars. The 204 new streetcars to replace the current fleet — a contract about to be awarded — were not included in the $9-billion announcement. The second batch of cars needed for Transit City lines are included in the cost estimates for the new lines and always have been. But the TTC is still waiting for confirmation of funding for the c. $1-billion contract for the first batch.

  34. How realistic are the cost estimates for all these projects? If history serves as a guide, the cost for these may prove unmanageable.