Yesterday was an important step in restoring rational transit expansion to Toronto. City Council voted 58% in favour of the previously-approved modern LRT lines from the old Transit City plan on Finch, Eglinton, and to replace the Scarborough RT. They also voted to study Sheppard options more and report back next month.
What does this mean?
- The Eglinton-Crosstown LRT will be underground from approximately Black Creek Drive to Laird Drive, underground again at Don Mills Road, and at the surface for most of the remaining distance to Kennedy station. When at the surface, it will run in dedicated car-free lanes, and cars will never have to stop or be stuck behind the long 750-passenger LRV trains. This line will be complete in approximately 2020.
- The Scarborough RT, due to shut down in 2015, will be replaced by modern high-capacity LRV trains running in a dedicated surface right-of-way, completely separate from traffic, along the old SRT route. Eventually, this line is due to extend to Malvern Town Centre as well. The SRT replacement section will be complete in approximately 2020.
- The Finch West LRT will replace one of Toronto’s busiest bus routes with modern high-capacity LRV trains. This line’s completion date is TBD. Under the old Transit City plan, it would have opened in 2014.
- The Sheppard East LRT is on hold pending review by an expert panel with representatives from affected agencies and neighbourhoods. Because half a subway is already there, it may make more sense to simply extend rather than commit to a mode-change in that corridor.
Did we win?
Not yet. This is an important step, but many pitfalls await. With limited funding from the province, we can’t complete everything. There exists a real possibility that Finch or Sheppard may end up being cancelled to pay for other lines. Or that funds may be diverted to extending the Sheppard subway over a cheaper LRT line elsewhere. As well, the Mayor and his allies on Council maintain control of the TTC itself, and may provide instructions that conflict with Council’s decisions.
Well OK, how do we win then?
Visit the Speak Up page and contact your councillor, the Premier, the Minister of Transportation, and Metrolinx. Tell them what’s important to you in a modern rapid transit network.
Learn more about how transit is handled in major cities with similar densities to Toronto around the world. Check out the mixtures of subway, LRT, streetcar, and bus in Paris, in Zurich, in Seattle, in Houston.
Most importantly, stay tuned! You can learn more about what’s happening with Toronto transit from this site, and from TTCriders.
For now, enjoy your weekend! The mayor has proven he is more interested in winning than in creating better transit for more people, even in his old ward. So there will be plenty of news in the next weeks and months.