Toronto slams Doug Ford's transit plan as unrealistic and bizarre
The dust is starting to settle in Toronto after yesterday's bombshell announcement of a $28.5 billion transit expansion plan from Ontario Premier Doug Ford, leaving in its wake some serious concerns about existing TTC projects.
Four long-term rapid transit projects are set to transform the GTA as we know it, according to the province, most dramatically by giving downtown Toronto its long-awaited subway relief line two years earlier than expected with twice as much track and a brand new name: The Ontario Line.
Ford also intends to finish Toronto's contentious Scarborough transit extension (with three stops, instead of one), extend the TTC subway up to Richmond Hill and build out an Eglinton West LRT line "underground, where it belongs."
It's an ambitious plan, to say the least, and ambiguous to boot.
It even by-passes the Island Airport (which I can live with!)...and as for construction, there is no way to build it without ripping up Queen and Bathurst (good bye streetcars)and buying tens of millions of dollars worth of property at Queen and Bathurst for the high spend turn/3— Adam Vaughan 🇨🇦 (@TOAdamVaughan) April 10, 2019
"We still have many questions about those proposals and the only place those questions can be asked and answered is at the table, working together with the province to build as much transit as we can, as quickly as we can," said Mayor John Tory Wednesday evening in response to the province's announcement.
"City staff have just now begun to study the proposals announced today and their impact on our transit plan," he continued.
"Big questions to be pursued include the very important question of whether or not there will be delay to our progress on certain projects."
Those projects include multiple previously approved (and in some cases well-underway) transit initiatives within the City of Toronto, including a downtown relief line between Queen and Pape, as well as transit along the city's waterfront in general.
TTC transit planning has just taken a huge step backward - right back to 2010. Waterfront line completely wiped out (Portland’s/Liberty/Etobicoke). Scarborough & DRL back to drawing board. And in 3 years when we realize we can’t do parts of it, we will be back at same point again— Mike Layton (@m_layton) April 10, 2019
"Doug Ford managed to derail Toronto's transit priorities (again)," said Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam in response to the provincial transit plan on Wednesday.
"This time, by changing the technology and location of the Relief Line (all existing work down the drain), and ignoring the dangerous overcrowding at Yonge and Bloor," she continued. "Nothing will happen now. Nothing but delays."
It remains unclear as to how actively the city will be collaborating with the province in bringing a downtown relief line to fruition, but if Ontario starts from scratch, as some councillors fear, it'll mean millions of dollars and several years of design work down the drain.
Ford is tearing up our city's transit plans like the Relief Line and scrapping the Eglinton East LRT and Waterfront LRT. This means nothing but delays.— TTCriders (@ttcriders) April 10, 2019
TAKE ACTION NOW: Go to this link to call your MPP and tell them: stop the delays! https://t.co/8e2BDK6GTh #onpoli #topoli pic.twitter.com/2IACwYEsm2
"Both Waterfront and Eglinton could proceed now, with funding," wrote Spadina-Fort York councillor Joe Cressy on Twitter. "They're designed and ready. Instead, we will spend the next 3 years designing yet another new transit map. So, everything gets delayed."
"Politicians need to stop drawing brand new transit maps after every election."
Cressy is far from alone in his criticism of Ford's idealistic transit map—or rather, in his criticism of Ford's ability to actually make what he's promising happen.
Liberal MP Adam Vaughan went so far as to suggest that Ford drew a new TTC "fantasy map" with a crayon, calling the plan "bizarre" and suggesting that whoever created it did so with "absolutely no costing, no idea how it's going to work."
I'll just leave this here: https://t.co/sWjxBYPc26— Joe Cressy (@joe_cressy) April 10, 2019
There's also the issue of a mysterious, yet-to-be-explained technology that Ford promises will make an extended downtown relief line possible in Toronto by 2027.
The province has said that it intends to use smaller, automated trains within the new line, but not how it plans to speed up the underground tunnelling process to get an entire subway line built within five years (after the procurement process) as expected.
Funding for the plan remains nebulous as well.
"Background documents released by the Ford government say Ontario wants to pay $11.2 billion. Up to 40 per cent, or about $11.4 billion, would hopefully come from the federal government," reports The Star.
"The province wants the remainder, between $5.5 billion and $6 billion, to come from municipalities, noting it expects Toronto and York Region to make 'significant contributions' to the projects."
“Look at how little transit has been built by City Hall in the last 30 years”— Gil Meslin (@g_meslin) April 10, 2019
Doug Ford, April 10, 2019 pic.twitter.com/eXJRV7BjAE
Ford's own political history in relation to public transit is also causing some to question his sincerity with this plan—or at the very least to encourage a healthy dose of skepticism.
"Maximum vigilance is indicated here. Anyone promising to build things 'better, faster and cheaper' than the competition, as Ford does subways, should be viewed with suspicion," wrote Chris Selley for the National Post in a piece published late Wednesday night.
"Things that seem too good to be true almost always are, and just about everything a Ford has ever promised on the transit file falls into that category."
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