With the emergence of two candidates for Mayor of Toronto who support the Scarborough LRT scheme, we are bound to hear much talk about how long construction would take, how long SRT riders would be forced to ride shuttle buses, and when the line might open. In this context, it’s worth looking back at Metrolinx plans before various politicians decided to buy votes in Scarborough with a subway line.
The TTC’s original plans were to rebuild the SRT before the Pan Am Games. That schedule went out the window when then-Premier McGuinty pushed out the delivery plans for the Transit City projects so that most of the spending would occur after the provincial deficit was under control if not eliminated.
Also lost in the shuffle was the idea that the Sheppard LRT would be in operation before the SRT shutdown as an alternate route for people from northern Scarborough to reach the subway system.
Metrolinx revised timelines were based on three overlapping stages of the project:
- Build the new maintenance shops at Conlins Road including pre-building a portion of the Sheppard LRT for use as a test track. (This portion would be part of the link to the future Scarborough line and would be needed even if the Sheppard line were not yet operating.)
- Build the north end of the Scarborough LRT line from Sheppard to a point just east of McCowan Yard.
- Rebuild the existing SRT as an LRT line. Only this part of the project would require a shutdown of SRT service.
As momentum grew for the subway proposal, it suited proponents to treat the entire project timeline as the shutdown period for the SRT, and thus we began to hear of a four-year long period when riders would be taking bus shuttles. The situation was not helped by the fact that Queen’s Park and Metrolinx talked of the Scarborough LRT opening “by 2020” even though it could be finished far earlier.