Eglinton Crosstown Transit Compromise

Councillors seek compromise on Toronto transit plans

A group of Toronto city councillors that includes TTC Chair Karen Stintz is working on an altered transit plan for the Eglinton Crosstown LRT that would free up funds for the proposed Sheppard subway extension and a busway on Finch Avenue West. Key to the new proposal is a return to the former configuration of the eastern section of the Crosstown, where it would run mostly above ground after passing Brentcilffe Road. By not burying this stretch of the line, between $1.5 and $2 billion dollars of the $8.2 billion the province has committed to the city in transit funding could be diverted to other projects.

The mayor has yet to comment on the proposal, but early supporters have been careful not to frame it as antagonistic to his plans, highlighting the fact that a significant chunk of the savings would be earmarked for the extension of the Sheppard subway to Victoria Park. "I think this compromise plan will help get Sheppard built, which is a priority for the mayor," Stintz told the Star. "As soon as the tunnel borers are done at the Yonge-University-Spadina (subway extension) we can move them over to Sheppard. I expect that could happen as early as late next year."

As for easing congestion on Finch Avenue, there's already some debate as to what the best strategy is. Stintz advocates for the use of bus rapid transit on account of its lower cost and the speed by which it can be built. Maria Augimeri, on the other hand, worries that such a move could delay the eventual construction of LRT, which she believes the corridor ultimately demands (see the Star story linked to above for more on this). Metrolinx, for its part, will take direction from the city on how to proceed with the allotted funds.

In other words, how exactly all this will play out is still very much up in the air. Nevertheless, it's clear that there's a growing movement on city council to thwart what surely must be the most foolhardy of Rob Ford's transit plans — the burial of the eastern section of the Eglinton Crosstown. How they work out the details is crucial to be sure, but the avoidance of this colossal waste of money is the first step toward ensuring that as many transit users as possible benefit from money we currently have to work with.

Image from Metrolinx


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