Toronto Transit Commission Transit City Light Rail Plan
The Toronto Transit Commission Transit City Light Rail Plan was an initiative to develop and improve transportation across Toronto using Light Rail Transit (LRT). Transit City was a joint effort by the TTC, the City of Toronto, and Metrolinx. It was comprised of seven new LRT lines. The seven lines would have connected with the existing TTC subway system, GO Transit rail lines, other Transit City routes, and planned rapid transit lines in Durham, York, and Peel regions. The lines were anticipated to provide direct, reliable, and convenient transit to areas that currently are not in the vicinity of rapid transit.
In its current form, the Toronto LRT plan as it is now known, will see the priority LRT lines from the Transit City plan completed by 2021. The TTC will operate the lines which will be maintained and owned by Metrolinx. A total of 52 kilometres of on-street and underground will be built across Toronto.
The Transit City Light Rail Plan was announced on March 16, 2007 by Chair Adam Giambrone and Mayor David Miller. The 120 kilometre network had a projected coast of about $6.1 billion over 15 years. Transit City is the consolidation of various studies and reports that have been done since 2002. In the City of Toronto Official Plan, it was stated that there was a need to reduce dependence of cars by introducing priority for surface transit. The issue was revisited again along with making transit appealing to riders in the TTC's Ridership Growth Strategy and the Building a Transit City Program.
In November 2007, the Commission approved Sheppard East, Finch West, Eglinton Crosstown, and SRT lines as priority projects. Metrolinx's Big Move Regional Transportation Plan was approved in November of the following year and included all Transit City; maintaining Sheppard East, Finch West, Eglinton Crosstown and SRT conversion to LRT as priority projects. On June 4, 2009, the Deputy Minister of Transportation designated these priority lines as regional transit projects. As Metrolinx was deemed responsible for regional projects, they were given control of the project..
At Transit City's introduction, there was no funding available from the city. The plan was be dependent on funding from the provincial and federal government. The $6.1 billion figure in early estimates did not include costs for the necessary maintenance and storage facility requirements to support the LRT network. Total costs were later estimated to be around $8.3 billion. The province of Ontario committed funding for the Eglinton Crosstown ($4.6 billion), Finch West ($1.2 billion), and the SRT ($1.4 billion) lines in April 2009. The province also announce $950 million for the Sheppard East line with the Government of Canada covering the remaining one-third.
Funding cuts and death of Transit City
Early in 2010, Premier Dalton McGuinty cut $4 billion from the funding for Transit City out of the provincial budget. This put the Eglinton Crosstown, Finch West, and the SRT lines at risk and prompted the Save Transit City campaign.
On December 1, 2010, newly elected mayor Rob Ford, announced that he was going ahead with his plan to scrap the Transit City project. He stated, "On Dec. 8, our new transit commission members will be appointed. Their first task will be to formally stop spending on a project we do not need anymore." Cancellation of the project needed City Council support (although Ford initially managed to escape consultation with City Council). Ford propsed a Sheppard Line extension east, connecting with the Scarborough RT which would be converted to subway. One consideration by Metrolinx was using elevated LRT lines, particularly on Eglinton where the planned line emerges from under ground. At compromise plan was in development between the city and Metrolinx at the beginning of 2011.
Rob Ford's Transportation Plan
At the end of March 2011, Mayor Rob Ford and Premier Dalton McGuinty unveiled their revised transit plan which Ford believed will build a "Transportation City". The Finch West LRT that was planned to be built by 2013, was cancelled and instead replaced by enhanced bus service from the future Finch West Station to Humber College. Ford however promised to build a subway along Finch within 10 years. Ford's plan was dependent on the private sector for funding. The Eglinton Crosstown LRT was to proceed, but with changes. More of the route would be underground and connect to Kennedy Station and Scarborough Centre Station via the Scarborough RT line. Metrolinx estimated the cost of cancelling Transit City at approximately $49 million. The city would have had to alter the $777-million contract with Bombardier for 185 Transit City LRVs as only 130 would be needed.
At the end of January 2012, a report by a Toronto law firm, solicited by councillor Joe Mihevc, stated Mayor Rob Ford did not have the legal authority to cancel Transit City without city council approval. The report states the mayor's memorandum of understanding with the province cannot be acted upon without council approval. He did not have authority to stop work on Transit City and proceed with his own plan.
At the same time, TTC chair Karen Stintz suggested using already-committed provincial funding for a new plan that would see a busway on Finch Avenue along with the Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown and Sheppard subway extension to Victoria Park by 2014. If the Crosstown line was run at grade east of Laird Drive as originally proposed, $1.5 billion to $2 billion of the $8.2 billion in funding could be used for the other projects. According to Stintz, if a vote took place in February or March, and if the province supports it, work on the new plan for all three lines could begin immediately. The compromise proposal was voted down by the commission, but Stintz filed a petition for a special meeting February 8 asking council to renew their support for the Transit City plan. Her petition had the support of 23 other councilors. Council voted 26-18 in favour of Stintz' proposal, which was amended to defer the Sheppard corridor to a panel of experts. The panel of experts concluded the LRT plan is the best option for Sheppard East, and council re-approved the Sheppard East LRT on March 22, 2012.
While elements of the Transit City plan have been revived, Transit City as a name is not used anymore.
Original and Proposed Light Rail Lines
Don Mills LRT
The Don Mills LRT line was a proposed 18 kilometre long line running along the Don Mills Road corridor from the Bloor-Danforth Line to Steeles Avenue and potentially into York Region.
The Eglinton Crosstown LRT line was a proposed 31 kilometre long line that would have linked Kennedy Station with Pearson Airport and the Mississauga Transitway in the west. There was going to be an underground tunnel from approximately Laird Drive in the east to Keele Street in the west.
In its form today, the Eglinton Crosstown LRT is a proposed 19 kilometre long line that will link Kennedy Station with the Mount Dennis community at Weston Road. The underground tunnel remains in the plan, however it now will stretch from west of Leslie Street to Keele Street.
The Etobicoke-Finch West LRT was a proposed 18 kilometre long line running from Finch Station into northern Etobicoke to Humber College. There was potential for the line to extend to Mississauga, the Woodbine Racetrack or Pearson Airport.
In its form today, the Etobicoke-Finch West LRT was renamed the Finch West LRT. It is a proposed 11 kilometre long line running from the future Finch West Station into northern Etobicoke to Humber College.
The 17 kilometre Jane LRT was proposed to stretch along Jane Street from the Bloor-Danforth Subway to the planned Steeles West Station on the Spadina Subway. There was potential to further run into York Region.
Scarborough Malvern LRT
The Scarborough Malvern LRT was a proposed 15 kilometre long line that would have linked Kennedy Station with northern Scarborough and Malvern. It was to provide direct service to the University of Toronto at Scarborough and Centennial College’s Ellesmere Campus.
The Sheppard East LRT was a 14 kilometre long line that would have operated east from Don Mills Station to northern Scarborough, Malvern, and, potentially, Durham Region.
In its form today, the Sheppard East LRT is a 13 kilometre long line that will operate east from Don Mills Station to Morningside Avenue.
Waterfront West LRT
This Waterfront West LRT was a 11 kilometre extension of the Harbourfront streetcar line that would have linked Union Station and Exhibition Place with Parkdale, High Park, and southern Etobicoke. There was potential for an extension into Mississauga.
- Transit City Update December 16, 2009, ttc.ca, retrieved on 2010-12-01
- $950 million for new Sheppard LRT line, torontosun.com, retreived on 2010-12-01
- Rob Ford: 'Transit City is over', cbc.ca, retreived on 2010-12-01
- Ford-Transit City hybrid plan in the works, thestar.com, retreived on 2011-01-07
- Finch commuters to get subway, Ford vows, torontosun.com, retreived on 2011-03-31
- Toronto must pay at least $49M to cancel LRT plan, cbc.ca, retreived on 2011-03-31
- Kalinowski, Tess (29 January 2012). Mayor Rob Ford had no authority to cancel Transit City, lawyers say. Toronto Star (Toronto). Retrieved on 2012-01-30
- Kalinowski, Tess; Rider, David (24 January 2012). A new Toronto transit proposal delivers more bang for the $8.2 billion buck. Toronto Star (Toronto). Retrieved on 2012-01-30
- (6 February 2012) Toronto council to debate transit future. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (Toronto). Retrieved on 2012-02-06
- Kalinowski, Tess; Rider, David (8 February 2012). Special transit meeting: Council approves plan put forward by Karen Stintz. Toronto Star (Toronto). Retrieved on 2012-02-08