stats Making the Business of Life Easier

   Finance globeinvestor   Careers globecareers.workopolis Subscribe to The Globe
The Globe and Mail /
Home | Business | National | Int'l | Sports | Columnists | The Arts | Tech | Travel | TV | Wheels


  This site         Tips

  The Web Google


  Where to Find It

Breaking News
  Home Page

  Report on Business



Subscribe to The Globe

Shop at our Globe Store

Print Edition
  Front Page

  Report on Business




  Arts & Entertainment



   Headline Index

 Other Sections

  Births & Deaths






  Facts & Arguments




  Real Estate









  Food & Dining




  Online Personals

  TV Listings/News

 Specials & Series
  All Reports...


   Where to Find It
 A quick guide to what's available on the site



  Customer Service

  Help & Contact Us



 Web Site

  E-Mail Newsletters

  Free Headlines

  Globe Store New

  Help & Contact Us

  Make Us Home

  Mobile New

  Press Room

  Privacy Policy

  Terms & Conditions


Politicians, planners wary of Ford's transit plans
The biggest unknowns in his vision are the fate of transit now under construction, the city's say in the matter and financial backing

Email this article Print this article
Wednesday, April 18, 2018 – Page A10

Doug Ford has been making his transit priorities clear: more subways in the inner suburbs of Toronto and light rail, maybe, in smaller communities where the local leaders want it.

It's an expensive vision and one that threatens to up-end years of planning on billions of dollars of transit projects if Mr. Ford becomes Premier. And with key details still unknown, politicians and transit planners are warily trying to read the tea-leaves.

"At times [it] feels like it's sort of like throwing a grenade into the proceedings," Toronto Transit Commission chair and city councillor Josh Colle said. "That's I think the last thing we need right now for transit building in Toronto."

Comments from Mr. Ford have also emboldened LRT opponents in Hamilton and set politicians aflutter in Niagara, where a planned GO expansion could be under threat.

Much of Mr. Ford's transit vision remains opaque, though. In remarks to the media Friday, the new leader of the Progressive Conservative Party was closemouthed. He promised details on his plans "in the next couple of weeks" and pledged that all projects are being scrutinized.

"We're going to review everything," he said.

The biggest unknowns are how far a Premier Ford would go to kill transit already being built, whether Toronto will be allowed to choose its own priorities and where the extra money needed for his plans would come from.

The Globe and Mail was unable to secure an interview about transit with Mr. Ford. However, he has spoken on the subject during campaign stops and discussed transit in his response to the provincial budget.

The emerging picture suggests a more nuanced version of the Mr. Ford who ran for mayor of Toronto in 2014. He believes surface rail has a role, at least in smaller communities where he's willing to listen to local politicians. In Toronto, though, the vision seems reminiscent of the "subways, subways, subways" philosophy of his days at city hall.

"In the Toronto area we're going to commit to making sure we close the loop along the Sheppard line," he pledged in late March.

"We're going to make sure that we have a three-stop, fully funded Scarborough subway."

Extending the Sheppard subway eastward to Scarborough Town Centre would cost at least $1.75-billion more than the current plan for light rail. Returning to the original Scarborough subway plan - a concept that was replaced with a one-stop version by Toronto city council when analysis showed it would cost far more than initially thought - would add at least $1.25-billion.

"These have been looked at and, from a cost-effectiveness point of view, from a transit point of view, it's been clear that there are better ways to spend money," said Eric Miller, a professor of engineering at the University of Toronto who has done transit analysis for the City of Toronto.

Asked Friday about the $3-billion funding gap, Mr. Ford did not back down.

"When we left office down at city hall [the Scarborough subway] was fully funded by the provincial, federal and municipal government," he said. "I don't know how things changed so rapidly into billions of additional dollars, because a one-stop subway is unacceptable. It doesn't make sense."

Mr. Ford has also said his transit plan would be fully costed, making it unclear where the extra money would come from. There is fear in Toronto that it would be funded from a $4-billion allocation recently announced by the province for the city's existing transit plans.

"Whether you like the priority projects we have or not, for the first time in this city we actually have priority projects and they're being advanced, in a very logical orderly way," Mr. Colle, the TTC chair, said.

"If there's extra money, great, I'd love that announcement," he added. "But I suspect ... it's the same pot of [provincial] money.

So then you start to cannibalize other projects." Which other projects becomes the key question.

The broad consensus in Toronto transit and government circles is that the Eglinton Crosstown LRT would continue. The provincially funded $5.3-billion project's tunnels are already complete, work on the stations is under way and the line is scheduled to open in 2021. Nearly $3.8-billion has been spent.

A project more likely up for debate is a light rail line being built along Finch west. This one is funded by the provincial government, with about one-fifth of the $1.2-billion cost already spent.

The contract is expected to be signed within weeks and the line is due to open in 2022. Also uncertain is the future of an LRT along the Toronto waterfront, a project that is in the very preliminary planning stage and is tentatively priced at about $2-billion.

Another project that could get a closer look is the $6.8-billion downtown relief line. Planned for decades and slowly getting under way, this is often described as the city's top transit priority.

"Start with [building] the downtown relief line," urged Murtaza Haider, an associate professor at Ryerson University who studies transportation and called it a "very expensive mistake" to pursue the wrong projects. "You cannot build transit just because you draw lines on the map."

Whatever his plans in Toronto, Mr. Ford appears willing to let locals decide projects outside the provincial capital.

In the case of a $166-million GO expansion to Niagara, he said the people had to be consulted more.

In Hamilton, where there are plans for LRT estimated to cost $1billion, he re-invigorated opponents by saying that the money would be spent in the community, no matter what infrastructure it chose.

Amid this uncertainty, Phil Verster, head of the regional transit agency Metrolinx, said that it is neither slowing down nor speeding up its transit-building efforts.

He said it would be a terrible message to suppliers and contractors - and the public - to change course in response to preelection manoeuvring.

"It's very important that whatever decisions we make don't send the wrong signals and jeopardize good transit deals," he said. "It is really in the end a very simple equation ... we do what the government of the day asks of us and we do not second-guess that."

Associated Graphic

PC Leader Doug Ford steps off his campaign bus during a stop in Ottawa on Monday. Mr. Ford's comments on transit plans have emboldened LRT opponents in Hamilton and set politicians aflutter in Niagara, where planned GO expansion could be under threat.


Huh? How did I get here?
Return to Main Eric_Reguly Page
Subscribe to
The Globe and Mail

Email this article Print this article

space  Advertisement

Need CPR for your RSP? Check your portfolio’s pulse and lower yours by improving the overall health of your investments. Click here.


7-Day Site Search

Breaking News

Today's Weather


Rick Salutin
Merrily marching
off to war
Roy MacGregor
Duct tape might hold
when panic strikes

Where Manley is going with his first budget



For a columnist's most recent stories, click on their name below.


Roy MacGregor arrow
This Country
Jeffrey Simpson arrow
The Nation
Margaret Wente arrow
Hugh Winsor  arrow
The Power Game

Rob Carrick arrow
Personal Finance
Drew Fagan arrow
The Big Picture
Mathew Ingram arrow
Brent Jang arrow
Business West
Brian Milner arrow
Taking Stock
Eric Reguly arrow
To The Point
Andrew Willis arrow

Stephen Brunt arrow
The Game
Eric Duhatschek arrow
Allan Maki arrow
William Houston arrow
Truth & Rumours
Lorne Rubenstein arrow
 The Arts

John Doyle arrow
John MacLachlan Gray arrow
Gray's Anatomy
David Macfarlane arrow
Cheap Seats
Johanna Schneller arrow

Murray Campbell arrow
Ontario Politics
Lysiane Gagnon arrow
Inside Quebec
Marcus Gee arrow
The World
William Johnson arrow
Pit Bill
Paul Knox arrow
Heather Mallick arrow
As If
Leah McLaren arrow
Generation Why
Rex Murphy arrow
Japes of Wrath
Rick Salutin arrow
On The Other Hand
Paul Sullivan arrow
The West
William Thorsell arrow

Home | Business | National | Int'l | Sports | Columnists | The Arts | Tech | Travel | TV | Wheels

© 2003 Bell Globemedia Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Help & Contact Us | Back to the top of this page