TO in Transit: The Sheppard LRT is probably dead

Opinion Jul 08, 2017 by Rahul Gupta Scarborough Mirror

There were many smiles at city hall this week, a not at all surprising reaction given the largesse handed over by the federal government for transit expansion.

Toronto celebrated for the securing of much needed transit funding from a higher level of government. The Trudeau Liberals have long signalled the intention to provide billions to the city for transit and made good this week with billions of dollars. Sure, the $4.8 billion – which includes $660-million already pledged for the Scarborough Subway extension – is contingent on matching contributions by the provincial government as well as the cash-strapped city of Toronto. And the city has no current ability to generate its needed share of funds.

But let’s not detract from what is undeniably a good news story: billions of incoming federal funds for urgently needed transit infrastructure like the relief line and the Crosstown LRT east.

What the money definitely won't go to? The Sheppard East LRT.

In case you’ve forgotten, the Sheppard plan was originally part of the ill-fated Transit City experiment, which was condensed in 2013 into a group of provincially funded LRT lines including the Eglinton Crosstown and Finch West projects. 

Unlike the Scarborough LRT which was ultimately killed and replaced with a single station for the Bloor line, the $1.2 billion (in 2013 dollars) Sheppard project remains on the books. It's not yet cancelled, but conveniently overlooked by the city and province alike. 

The plan would have seen rapid transit built for the first time on Sheppard Avenue East all the way to Morningside Avenue and provided real benefits for Scarborough riders whose sole option the moment is buses. It is also wildly unpopular with residents and business owners, making it a no go for local politicians. 

Rather than kill the project outright, the approach it seems is to pretend the LRT doesn’t exist. 

While work on Finch West is rapidly approaching commencement, you’ll find no mention of Sheppard within this year’s Ontario budget. 

Sheppard was supposed to have been completed within a year of the Finch line’s planned opening in 2021; it has since been pushed off the construction schedule on the grounds of ‘staging concerns’. Federal money earmarked for Sheppard has since been re-allocated to the Finch West LRT plan. 

At the local level, city councillors are content to leave the project alone, or at the very least not force a public showdown on its very worth. There’s little political appetite even among LRT backers to re-open what would likely be yet another lengthy divisive transit debate. 

Toronto being Toronto, transit projects are unexpectedly resuscitated, and with an election around the corner, perhaps the project receives a dose of certainty as to where it truly stands.

Until then, it appears governments of all stripes will remain fine with leaving the Sheppard LRT in limbo, which almost assuredly guarantees an untimely death for another Toronto light rail line.

TO in Transit: The Sheppard LRT is probably dead

Opinion Jul 08, 2017 by Rahul Gupta Scarborough Mirror

There were many smiles at city hall this week, a not at all surprising reaction given the largesse handed over by the federal government for transit expansion.

Toronto celebrated for the securing of much needed transit funding from a higher level of government. The Trudeau Liberals have long signalled the intention to provide billions to the city for transit and made good this week with billions of dollars. Sure, the $4.8 billion – which includes $660-million already pledged for the Scarborough Subway extension – is contingent on matching contributions by the provincial government as well as the cash-strapped city of Toronto. And the city has no current ability to generate its needed share of funds.

But let’s not detract from what is undeniably a good news story: billions of incoming federal funds for urgently needed transit infrastructure like the relief line and the Crosstown LRT east.

What the money definitely won't go to? The Sheppard East LRT.

In case you’ve forgotten, the Sheppard plan was originally part of the ill-fated Transit City experiment, which was condensed in 2013 into a group of provincially funded LRT lines including the Eglinton Crosstown and Finch West projects. 

Unlike the Scarborough LRT which was ultimately killed and replaced with a single station for the Bloor line, the $1.2 billion (in 2013 dollars) Sheppard project remains on the books. It's not yet cancelled, but conveniently overlooked by the city and province alike. 

The plan would have seen rapid transit built for the first time on Sheppard Avenue East all the way to Morningside Avenue and provided real benefits for Scarborough riders whose sole option the moment is buses. It is also wildly unpopular with residents and business owners, making it a no go for local politicians. 

Rather than kill the project outright, the approach it seems is to pretend the LRT doesn’t exist. 

While work on Finch West is rapidly approaching commencement, you’ll find no mention of Sheppard within this year’s Ontario budget. 

Sheppard was supposed to have been completed within a year of the Finch line’s planned opening in 2021; it has since been pushed off the construction schedule on the grounds of ‘staging concerns’. Federal money earmarked for Sheppard has since been re-allocated to the Finch West LRT plan. 

At the local level, city councillors are content to leave the project alone, or at the very least not force a public showdown on its very worth. There’s little political appetite even among LRT backers to re-open what would likely be yet another lengthy divisive transit debate. 

Toronto being Toronto, transit projects are unexpectedly resuscitated, and with an election around the corner, perhaps the project receives a dose of certainty as to where it truly stands.

Until then, it appears governments of all stripes will remain fine with leaving the Sheppard LRT in limbo, which almost assuredly guarantees an untimely death for another Toronto light rail line.

TO in Transit: The Sheppard LRT is probably dead

Opinion Jul 08, 2017 by Rahul Gupta Scarborough Mirror

There were many smiles at city hall this week, a not at all surprising reaction given the largesse handed over by the federal government for transit expansion.

Toronto celebrated for the securing of much needed transit funding from a higher level of government. The Trudeau Liberals have long signalled the intention to provide billions to the city for transit and made good this week with billions of dollars. Sure, the $4.8 billion – which includes $660-million already pledged for the Scarborough Subway extension – is contingent on matching contributions by the provincial government as well as the cash-strapped city of Toronto. And the city has no current ability to generate its needed share of funds.

But let’s not detract from what is undeniably a good news story: billions of incoming federal funds for urgently needed transit infrastructure like the relief line and the Crosstown LRT east.

What the money definitely won't go to? The Sheppard East LRT.

In case you’ve forgotten, the Sheppard plan was originally part of the ill-fated Transit City experiment, which was condensed in 2013 into a group of provincially funded LRT lines including the Eglinton Crosstown and Finch West projects. 

Unlike the Scarborough LRT which was ultimately killed and replaced with a single station for the Bloor line, the $1.2 billion (in 2013 dollars) Sheppard project remains on the books. It's not yet cancelled, but conveniently overlooked by the city and province alike. 

The plan would have seen rapid transit built for the first time on Sheppard Avenue East all the way to Morningside Avenue and provided real benefits for Scarborough riders whose sole option the moment is buses. It is also wildly unpopular with residents and business owners, making it a no go for local politicians. 

Rather than kill the project outright, the approach it seems is to pretend the LRT doesn’t exist. 

While work on Finch West is rapidly approaching commencement, you’ll find no mention of Sheppard within this year’s Ontario budget. 

Sheppard was supposed to have been completed within a year of the Finch line’s planned opening in 2021; it has since been pushed off the construction schedule on the grounds of ‘staging concerns’. Federal money earmarked for Sheppard has since been re-allocated to the Finch West LRT plan. 

At the local level, city councillors are content to leave the project alone, or at the very least not force a public showdown on its very worth. There’s little political appetite even among LRT backers to re-open what would likely be yet another lengthy divisive transit debate. 

Toronto being Toronto, transit projects are unexpectedly resuscitated, and with an election around the corner, perhaps the project receives a dose of certainty as to where it truly stands.

Until then, it appears governments of all stripes will remain fine with leaving the Sheppard LRT in limbo, which almost assuredly guarantees an untimely death for another Toronto light rail line.