Today, Queen’s Park announced that it would fund three of the Transit City projects — Eglinton, Finch and the Scarborough RT rehab/extension — as well as upgrading of York VIVA BRT corridors with dedicated lanes.
The announcement is fascinating in places for what it does not say, or leaves for future decisions. Despite much of the build-it-yesterday rhetoric accompanying the GO/Metrolinx merger, the design and EA processes now under way will run their course. Indeed, the Transit City projects have been proceeding apace thanks to funding at the municipal level to complete this work without waiting for agencies like Metrolinx to get on board.
The estimated cost for the York VIVA project is $1.4-billion with completion in stages from 2011 to 2013. Lines that will connect with VIVA include the Spadina and Yonge subway extensions although full funding for the latter is not yet in place.
The Scarborough RT will undergo vehicle replacement, infrastructure upgrades and extension to Malvern Town Centre or to Markham Road. This project will cost $1.4-billion “depending on the technology choice”, and construction will run from 2010 to 2015. Connecting lines include “the proposed Sheppard East LRT”.
The Eglinton Crosstown line will run from Pearson Airport to Kennedy with a future extension to Malvern (this is the Scarborough-Malvern TC line). The line will be tunneled between Keele and Leslie, and the total pricetag is $4.6-billion. Constuction will run from 2010 to 2016.
The Finch LRT will run from Humber College to Don Mills, and then south to Don Mills Station where it will connect with the “proposed Sheppard Avenue East LRT”. The project will cost $1.2-billion with construction running from 2010 to 2013.
An obvious question in response to this impressive list is “where’s Sheppard East”? First off, as I noted above, some lines mentioned in the announcement don’t have funding yet, and the Sheppard LRT is mentioned twice. Finch is explicitly listed as an LRT project, and the technology choice for the RT is still up in the air (no pun intended). That choice depends on Metrolinx’ own Benefits Case Analysis (BCA) for Eglinton expected to be available, at least in private session, to the Metrolinx Board this month. We know that the Scarborough RT BCA looked favourably on the LRT option.
There isn’t much point in building one lonely LRT line up on Finch if it wouldn’t be connecting with a larger network, and I think this suggests a larger LRT network is in our future.
Although the source of funding for Sheppard isn’t announced yet, Mayor Miller speaks of construction starting this year on Transit City. The only place that is possible is on Sheppard. Also coming up will be the new streetcar order for the “city” network, yet another opportunity for substantial provincial funding. I suspect there are more rabbits waiting to pop out of one or more hats.
Finally, lest our friends to the west think I have ignored them in my haste to talk about Transit City, Queen’s Park will also fund rapid transit studies in Hamilton. No technology is mentioned. There is strong political support for LRT in Hamilton, but will Queen’s Park and Metrolinx let them build anything more than BRT. A lot depends on what the studies will reveal about demand and development impacts.