Metrolinx CEO Bruce McCuaig announced an updated list of regional transit priorities, which include two new subway lines for Toronto.
Addressing a packed lunch-hour audience of business professionals at the Toronto Board of Trade on Thursday, Nov. 29, McCuaig listed an estimated $34-billion worth of new transit fast-tracked for completion within 15 years. The change in priorities for the provincial agency’s four-year old Big Move plan was required to make sure it was up to date, he said.
“We needed to define some projects in greater detail,” said McCuaig. “We also needed to reflect all the relevant studies that have been completed since 2008.”
While federal, provincial and municipal governments will be expected to kick in a portion of the funding for the projects, the lion’s share of the money – more than $20-billion according to numbers provided by Metrolinx – will need to come from residents in the GTHA, said McCuaig.
“We still have to pay for these services, whoever builds them,” said McCuaig. “We can’t expect the money to come from anybody but ourselves.”
One of the new priorities is a downtown relief subway which the TTC has long considered essential for easing overcrowding on the existing Yonge line.
Should funding be allocated for a east-west downtown relief line, to travel between Pape station and St. Andrew according to one plans proposed by the TTC, the subway could commence running within 15 years - 10 years quicker than originally proposed. The accelerated timeline is necessary, he said, due to a projected 25 per cent increase in subway ridership by 2031.
“We are re-prioritizing this project because of a simple and stark fact,” he said.
“Our subway system just cannot manage the volumes of people trying to enter or exit the downtown core.”
Other projects announced in Thursday’s update which would benefit the city include a bus rapid transit (BRT) lane connecting Kipling Station to Burlington; a BRT between Scarborough Town Centre and downtown Oshawa; and a six kilometre extension of the Yonge subway line travelling north from Finch Station into Richmond Hill.
The Yonge subway extension will not be completed before the downtown relief line as the existing line would not be able to handle a projected increase by 2031 of 50 million rides, said McCuaig.
Also included as priorities are electrification of the Georgetown South and Lakeshore rail corridors, as well as the air rail link between Pearson International Airport and Union Station, which McCuaig said will now be known as the Union-Pearson Express.
This has been a busy week for Metrolinx as it announced earlier in the week the master agreement with the TTC regarding operation of four light rail transit lines for the city had been completed, as well as confirming integration of the Presto fare system on all TTC vehicles will be completed by 2016.
In June of 2013, Metrolinx must present the province with an investment strategy to pay for the rest of the $50-billion Big Move. It would then be up to the sitting government to ratify it, said McCuaig to reporters following his presentation.
“We’re hopeful that as we release our plan in June, there will be some quick decisions made,” he said.