Metrolinx admits costs of TTC subway projects will outweigh benefits
Metrolinx has released business analyses of two major forthcoming subway extensions in Toronto, and the cost-benefit numbers aren't looking good.
The regional transportation agency has found that the extensions proposed for both the Scarborough subway and the Crosstown Eglinton LRT line — yes, there is already a largely underground extension planned for Line 5 before it has even been built — will cost billions more than the purported monetary value of the benefit they will provide.
@Metrolinx reports benefit-cost ratios of three-stop Scarborough and Eglinton West LRT of 0.66 and 0.34, respectively. @ScarboroughCAN @JaneStLRT What are your thoughts about these projects? #transit #ICYMI #topoli #onpoli https://t.co/1FEm0mn1Ap— A Voice for Transit (@voicefortransit) March 2, 2020
The extensions would bring the Line 3 subway three additional stops east through Scarborough Town Centre to Sheppard — a line that is in for a few extensions of its own — and the Crosstown LRT more than 9 km west of future Mount Dennis Station to Renforth Drive for commuters to connect with Toronto Pearson International Airport.
Both projects would be expected to reach completion sometime around 2030.
Benefits like reduced crowding, less car traffic, greenhouse gas reductions and shorter commute times were assigned dollar values — ranging from tens of millions to more than a billion each — while evaluated costs included capital, operating, maintenance and repair costs.
Hearing new justifications for a line their own business case says shouldn't be built should be interesting... #ScarbTO— Dan Harris (@danharrisndp) February 28, 2020
For the former project, Metrolinx's findings indicate that there would be $2.9 billion in benefits over 60 years at a cost of $5.5 to $6 billion.
For the latter, the estimated benefits amounted to $891 million to $1.7 billion over 60 years, and the cost, $3.5 to $5.9 billion, depending on which of four different versions of the plan is implemented.
Neither meets Metrolinx's own guidelines for economic viability.
Despite these negative findings, the Metrolinx report "recommends advancing design and procurement of the Scarborough Subway Extension."— Ben Spurr (@BenSpurr) February 28, 2020
Still, Metrolinx stands by its recommendations that both extensions go forward, with representatives telling the Globe & Mail that the documents are important, but "just one of a number of factors used in making a final decision" on transit projects.
Mayor John Tory told reporters that transit is not often a profitable endeavour and he believes that things like job creation will make the two extensions worthwhile long-term despite the numbers. Some transit activists, residents, and members of local government continue to disagree.
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