Spadina Extension Opening Pushed Back to Late 2016

A report before the TTC meeting this week advises that the opening date for the Spadina Subway Extension is now fall 2016.

The report includes a long history of the Spadina project as well as a comparison of the bureaucratic environments of Toronto and Madrid, a city that manages to build subways much faster than most other cities in the world.

For some time, the TTC has been evasive about the actual opening date citing mid-2015 (for the Pan Am Games), then late 2015, and now 2016.  The fact that parts of the project were behind schedule has been reported in the monthly CEO’s report for some time.  Now, formally, the TTC is resigning itself that the lost time cannot be made up.

This will, no doubt, raise questions about why a staged opening to, say, York University then later to Vaughan, was not planned from the outset.  It is doubtful this would be possible because some of the systems contracts such as signalling have been set up on the basis of doing the whole line at one go.  All of the station construction contracts are scheduled to complete in 2015 with York U being the last.

If a staged opening had been desired, the decision to proceed that way would have been made some years ago, and design and construction would have focussed on the south end of the line.  This would have delayed photo ops north of Steeles and chances for various politicians to show what they were doing for York Region.  It might even have left the northern part of the line vulnerable to changing government priorities.

“The other shoe” that has not dropped yet is the question of the project’s budget.  So far, the claim as been “on time, on budget”, but half of that boast just went up in smoke.  Will the project come in on budget given the many delays and design changes it has seen?

One point of note is that when the TTC put together the project plan for this extension, they had not yet committed to ATC (Automatic Train Cperation) on the Yonge-University line, and didn’t include money for ATC signalling in the Spadina project.  That’s an add-on that is not funded as part of the four-partner package for the extension itself.

Another future add-on would be platform doors, although I doubt we will ever see this applied to stations so far away from downtown, if anywhere.  Indeed, one station’s design underwent major changes because the platform door wall had been designed as part of the support structure of the station.  No doors, no wall, no support.

The project budget does include provision for more subway trains, but only at the currently planned level of service.  Every other peak period train heading north on Spadina will go to Vaughan with a scheduled short turn at the station now called Downsview, but to be renamed Sheppard West.  Any trains for improved service are an extra unbudgeted order, and of course they would require storage space somewhere.