$3.7 billion approved for Relief Line South and capacity improvements
The Eglinton East Light Rail Transit (LRT) cleared another hurdle on Tuesday as the city’s executive committee rejected a staff recommendation to phase out a number of planned stops.
A report from the city manager had recommended breaking the Eglinton East LRT into two phases with the first phase extending it to the University of Toronto Scarborough campus.
“University of Toronto Scarborough Campus students are counting on our councillors to take a stand for Scarborough,” said Hana Syed, vice president external of the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union, said in a statement before the meeting.
The second phase would have been to connect the proposed line to Malvern Centre.
Although it has been a decade since the proposed seven-stop project was approved by the provincial government back in 2009, the Eglinton East LRT has yet to receive any funding.
The Relief Line South and Bloor-Yonge Capacity Improvement Project received City’s recommendation to secure $3.651 billion in total among them.
Toronto’s Transit Expansion Program could face further setbacks and uncertainties as the provincial government is set to make a transit announcement tomorrow.
Mayor Tory addressed this uncertainty at the executive committee.
“I feel a bit uncertain leading into tomorrow’s announcement, because I don’t know anything,” Tory said.
He also said that people do not want any further delays or uncertainties about the Transit Expansion Program.
Tory also said that he will work hard to secure funding for the project and his motion for the city manager to report back to council on any provincial update passed.
“I remain completely committed to the whole plan, which includes LRTs,” Tory said.
He added that LRTs are crucial community and employment connectors, and many communities are isolated from the opportunities of the city because of under-developed transit network.
The executive committee approved funding the single-stop Scarborough subway extension at the cost of a mammoth $3.9 billion.
Brenda Thompson from Scarborough Transit Action said that people in Scarborough do not agree with the subway extension proposal. Instead they want to see a seven-stop Eglinton LRT project.
Tory said that the Eglinton LRT would cost more than $2 billion at the Tuesday meeting.
The recommendation by the city manager on April 3 said that projects were being prioritized based on the number of ridership.
The Toronto Transit Commission did not reply to a request for comment by press time.
However, according to Thompson, the Eglinton LRT would serve more than 40,000 people.
“If they go ahead with the one-stop subway extension, it will only serve 31,000 transit riders per day,” said Thompson. “It’s a question of whether this is the best way to spend our scarce transit dollars.”
She also expressed concern that Eglinton East LRT project is at risk of not being built at all and it’s a lot to ask people in Scarborough to wait even longer.
“We want the project built now,” she added.