Yesterday, City Council decided, by a vote of 27-16, to go ahead with the $3.1 billion one-stop extension of the Bloor-Danforth Subway to Scarborough Centre, rejecting Councillor Josh Matlow’s last-ditch attempt to resurrect the LRT replacement and extension of the ageing Scarborough LRT line. Council — Mayor Tory included — also voted to spend resources studying three more suburban subway extensions and a re-alignment of the proposed Relief Line subway backed by the local councillor.
Unfortunately, the chance of going back to the less-expensive, yet longer seven-stop light rail line is slim-to-nil at this point. In my view, it’s time for transit advocates that backed the LRT to focus their energies elsewhere. Like Metrolinx’s fare integration strategy, and the plans for other LRT lines, such as the eastern and western extensions of the Eglinton-Crosstown.
How council voted on Councillor Matlow’s motion to resurrect the LRT option for Scarborough
In order to ensure that he had enough votes, John Tory entertained Ward 39 Councillor Jim Karygiannis’ motion for a study on an extension of the Sheppard Line from Don Mills Station to Scarborough Centre. (There’s a LRT proposed for Sheppard East, but no matter.) Karygiannis’ motion passed, as well as several other councillors’ pet subway projects. Ward 10 Councillor James Pasternak has long pushed for a Sheppard Subway extension west between Sheppard-Yonge and Downsview Stations, and he successfully got that included as well. Finally, Justin Di Ciano (Ward 5) got a study approved for a subway extension in his ward as well, resurrecting a long-dormant proposal for a subway extension from Kipling Station to Sherway Gardens.
It’s worth noting that all three right-leaning councillors are reliable votes for John Tory.
Downtown, Paula Fletcher (Ward 30) moved that staff re-examine the Relief Line, moving the recommended alignment from under Pape Avenue to Carlaw Avenue between Gerrard and Queen Streets. This would shift the planned — yet unfunded — subway line two blocks west. The Pape alignment was chosen for ease of construction and operation (the line must curve from north to west just south of Queen Street), and is only two blocks away. That study will cost $520,000 and staff time.
All these new studies are illustrated below. For clarity’s sake, the Sheppard East LRT, the Scarborough LRT proposal, and the existing Scarborough RT (Line 3) are removed. You can read more about how the votes went down on Steve Munro’s site.
The map of planned, approved and existing rapid transit lines, and those extensions and re-alignments approved for study
The “subways, subways, subways” sentiment is alive and well at City Hall, even if Rob Ford has passed on. And despite the thirst for expensive new subway lines, Mayor Tory is still backing an austerity agenda at City Hall. Apart from the decorum, not much has changed in the mayor’s office.