Premier Doug Plays With Toronto’s Train Set

In the continuing circus which is the Ford Family Transit Plan, the provincial government has advised Toronto and the TTC of its priorities for rapid transit construction. The Province is quite firm that since it will be paying for these lines, it will call the shots.

This information broke in two letters dated March 22 and 26, 2019 from Michael Lindsay, Special Advisor to the Cabinet – Transit Upload, and Shelley Tapp, Deputy Minister of Transportation, together with a report from the Toronto City Manager, Chris Murray, dated March 26.

The Province has four priority projects, although some of the information about them is vague:

  • A three-stop Scarborough Subway Extension [SSE]
  • A Downtown Relief Line [DRL] of indefinite scope
  • The Richmond Hill Extension of the Yonge Subway [YNE]
  • Construction of the Eglinton West Crosstown LRT primarily underground rather than at grade

These are the only projects mentioned in the letters. By implication anything else is off of the table as far as provincial funding is concerned except for whatever the subway “upload” still under discussion might entail. More about that later.

The Province refers to “incongruencies between the province and city/TTC with respect to the design and delivery of priority projects”. Most of this should be no surprise given previous statements both by Doug Ford as a candidate, and rumblings from his supporters.

The March 22 letter arose from a March 8 meeting between Provincial, City and TTC representatives. Two things are clear:

  • The Province was not paying attention to, or chose to ignore, information it received or should have been able to access easily through public channels.
  • The City/TTC should have had some idea of what was coming down the pipe over two weeks ago, but there was no public hint of what was in store even with the subway upload on the Executive Committee and Council agendas. This is a classic case of “who knew what and when”, and a troubling question of whether the direction of provincial plans was withheld from public view for political expediency.

The March 22 letter makes statements that were revised on March 26, and which have provoked considerable comment as this story broke. Most astounding among these was:

Per our meeting of March 8, we were informed that the City’s preliminary cost estimates for both the Relief Line South and the Scarborough Subway Extension have significantly increased to nearly double or greater the figures released publicly.

On March 26, the Province wrote:

We acknowledge, in light of the helpful clarification you provided at our Steering Committee meeting [of March 25], that the city’s/TTC’s revised project cost estimates for the Relief Line South and Scarborough Subway Extension projects represent estimates in anticipation of formal work that will reflect greater specificity in design. We accept that the actual budget figures remain to be determined …

This bizarre pair of statements suggests that either:

  • the Province was not really paying attention in the meeting of March 8 which led to the March 22 letter, or
  • they really were, but that their first statement was guaranteed to blow every transit plan to smithereens if it were not retracted.

On March 26, they do not say they were wrong, merely that they were dealing with preliminary estimates.

That is a strange position considering that the SSE is on the verge of reaching a firm design number and budget to be reported in early April to Toronto Executive Committee and Council. The agenda publication date is April 2, and it is hard to believe that a firm estimate for the SSE does not already exist. As for the DRL South, that is in a more preliminary state, but if anything the numbers already published have been rather high.

The Scarborough Subway Extension

For the SSE, there are two conflicting proposals:

  • City: One stop extension terminating at Scarborough Town Centre
  • Province: Three stop extension “with the same terminus point”.

There is no reference to any potential connection with a Sheppard Subway extension. However, the March 26 letter contains this statement:

… we recognize that the city/TTC and province share the intention for a station to be located at Scarborough Centre. However, under the province’s preferred three-stop extension of Line 2, the project would proceed northward from the station at Scarborough Centre.

Given that the TTC’s alignment for STC station is itself on a north-south axis, it is unclear just what this remark refers to especially if STC is to be the terminus of the provincial project.

As I wrote recently in another article, there is an issue of equipment and storage required to allow the SSE to open with full service to STC. One potential source of “additional” cost could well be that works such as a new Line 2 yard at Kipling plus the rebuilding and/or replacement/expansion of the fleet are now counted as part of the overall project cost. This is precisely the sort of hidden cost I warned the Province would face when they started to understand the full scope of the TTC’s infrastructure requirements.

Whether this is the case remains to be seen, but with the Province taking responsibility for delivery of this project and planning to assume the cost of maintenance and expansion of the existing subway, they (or anyone else looking at funding the SSE) will be facing these costs as “add ons”.

One other concern is that there is no mention of capacity expansion for Line 2 either by way of station expansion at critical junction points nor of fleet expansion to allow more service once the line has Automatic Train Control [ATC].

Crosstown LRT Westward Extension

  • City: A substantially at-grade extension from Mount Dennis westward, although there are references from recent public participation to the possibility of some grade separations.
  • Province: A “significant portion of this extension” would be underground, an option “which has not been considered in a material way” as part of the current design.

The March 26 letter revised the characterization of the City’s work to date:

… we recognize that tunnelling options for the project have been considered as part of previous assessment, but that these options are not preferred by the city/TTC.

Again, one must wonder just what the province was doing at the March 8 meeting to have so botched their understanding of the work to date. The work already done is documented on the project’s website. I cannot help wondering how much the original provincial position was a product of political posturing by Etobicoke politicians. Such a gaffe does no credit to Michael Lindsay and his team.

It is no secret that there is strong political pressure from politicians in Etobicoke for the LRT line to be buried as much as possible, and it is no surprise that the Province would embrace this.

Missing, however, is any reference to the portion of the line west of the Toronto-Mississauga boundary and specifically the link into Pearson Airport. Will this be part of the Provincial project?

Relief Line South

The text in this section has provoked speculation in various fora, both the mainstream and social media.

Planning work undertaken by the TTC contemplates utilizing existing technology … the province would propose … a truly unique transit artery spanning the city that is not beholden to the requirements of the technologically-outdated Line 2.

On March 26, the Province changed their tune, a bit:

… we recognize that the city/TTC is contemplating a different technology for the project than that currently deployed for Line 2.

It is hilarious to see Line 2 described as “technologically outdated” when it is this line that the Province plans to extend to STC. At the risk of peering into a murky crystal ball, I will venture an interpretation of what is being said here.

The “outdated technology” is the current fleet of T1 trains which do not have ATC installed. Moreover, TTC plans would not see ATC operation on Line 2 for at least a decade unless the existing fleet is retrofitted.

The TTC has always intended that the DRL would use modern technology, and again I cannot help wonder whether the Provincial reps were paying attention at their March 8 meeting with the TTC. This information is not difficult to obtain. They could even read my blog if they don’t want to spend time wading through official documents, but possibly it is simpler just to slag the municipal agency in a time-honoured Queen’s Park tradition.

The Province wants the DRL to be completely free-standing in that it would not depend on Line 2 and the existing yard at Greenwood, but would be built completely separate from the existing subway network. Moreover, “alternate delivery methods” would be used for this project, a clear indication that this would be a privately designed, built, financed and operated line much as the Crosstown was intended to be before a deal was worked out to let the TTC drive the trains, at least for a time.

The reference to a “transit artery spanning the city” implies something much more extensive than the DRL South from Pape to Osgoode Station, but what exactly this might be is anyone’s guess. It could be a truly different technology, something like Skytrain in Vancouver (which itself has two separate technologies). The construction technique could be changed from the proposed double bore to a single bore line, especially if the vehicle cross-section were smaller. The alignment and station locations could be changed. Any of these and more is possible, but we don’t know. As this is to be an AFP project, a blanket of confidentiality hides everything.

Yonge Northern Extension to Richmond Hill

The primary provincial interest here is in getting the line built as quickly as possible with planning and design work for the YNE and DRL to progress in parallel so that “the in-service date for the extension is fast tracked to the greatest extent possible”.

There is no mention of capacity issues on the existing Line 1 including the need for more trains, nor of the expansion needed at key stations to handle larger volumes of passengers.

Jumping the Gun on Uploading?

The March 26 letter clearly attempts to correct misapprehensions from the March 22 missive. These were presumably communicated privately at or before the March 25 meeting.

The Province is supposed to be engaged, in good faith, in discussions with the City and TTC about how or if it would take control of subway assets and what that control, and associated responsibility for ongoing costs, would entail. One might easily read the March 22 letter as showing that the Province has made up their mind, and all that remains is to “drop the other shoe” with respect to everything beyond the “priority projects”.

On March 26, the Province talks at length about “our priority transit expansion projects”. This has always been the political red meat in that new lines translate into votes, or so the Ford faction hopes. The myriad of details in looking after the existing system do not lend themselves to coverage in a two-page letter, let alone simplistic posturings by politicians eager to show the wisdom of their plans.

The March 26 letter does not discuss any aspect of the existing system including asset transfers or financial commitments. That’s not to say the Province has not considered this, but no details are public yet. That will be a critical issue for Toronto because the degree to which the Province actually plans to pay for the existing subway system will affect future City budgets.

There is a myth that fare revenues will cover off the City’s share, but we don’t actually know which aspects of subway “maintenance” will remain in the City/TTC hands. There are two separate budgets, capital and operating, but there has been no statement of how these will be divided. Although there could be a one-time payment for the capital value of the system, this begs two questions. First, who benefits from appreciation of property value as subway lands are repurposed/redeveloped. Second, what does the City do when the nest egg from selling the subway, assuming they even have anything left over after discharging subway-related debt, is used up.

Another issue to be decided is how the split in ownership and financial responsibility will affect gas tax funding that now flows from both the Provincial and Federal governments, over $300 million in 2018. How much of this will Toronto lose, and what will be offset by costs the Province will assume?

Further System Expansion

The correspondence from the Province is silent on many projects including:

  • Eglinton East LRT
  • Waterfront LRT
  • Finch LRT extension to Pearson Airport
  • Sheppard Subway extension to STC
  • SmartTrack and GO Transit Service Expansion

Eglinton East and Waterfront would, assuming a City/Province divide on surface/subway projects, lie clearly in the City’s court, while any extension of Line 4 Sheppard would be a Provincial project. Oddly, Eglinton East would be a “City” extension of a provincially-owned line, the Crosstown.

The Finch LRT occupies an odd place as a surface line that for historical reasons is being delivered by the Province. Moreover, an airport extension would lie partly outside of Toronto. Who knows what the fate of this will be.

To Be Continued …

The provincial letters have dropped into the Council meeting planned for March 27, and we can expect a great deal of debate, if not clarity, in coming days.

At a minimum, the Province owes Toronto a better explanation of just what they intend with their view of projects. This information should not be “confidential” because we are simply asking “what exactly do you want to do”. This is particularly critical for the Downtown Relief Line whatever the “unique transit artery” it might become.

SmartTrack and GO are important components because they will add to the “local” network within Toronto and could be part of the “relief” efforts that will span multiple projects. SmartTrack is a City project, and we are about to learn just how much it will cost Toronto to put a handful of John Tory branded stations on GO’s Kitchener and Stouffville corridors. SmartTrack also takes us into the tangled net of fare “integration” and the degree to which Toronto riders will pay more so that riders from beyond the City can have cheaper fares.

Finally, there is the question of operating costs. The Ford mythology includes a claim that subways break even, and in the uploading schemes mooted to date, there is an assumption that Toronto will still operate the subway network and pay for its day-to-day costs out of farebox revenue. Even if that were true today, much of the proposed network expansion will not gain revenue to cover its operating cost, and Toronto will face increased outlay. There is still no proposal, let alone an agreement, about the operating costs of the Crosstown and Finch LRT lines from which we might guess at how the combination of three new lines/extensions will affect the subsidy call against Toronto’s tax base.

With clear errors in the March 22 letter, the Province showed that it cannot be trusted to propose policy based on fair and accurate characterization of Toronto’s transit system. One would hope that a “Special Advisor” backed by the boffins at Metrolinx and the Ministry of Transportation might be able to avoid screw-ups. When the Province puts forward a scheme to take over part of the TTC, their rationale should be based on transparent and accurate information. Alas, recent experience in other portfolios shows that this will not happen, and dogma will trump common sense.

32 thoughts on “Premier Doug Plays With Toronto’s Train Set

  1. Why the heck should people in Ottawa or Kenora pay for operating Toronto’s subway?

    Steve: They will pay far more to build it. I am sure Doug Ford will stick Toronto with the bill to operate it on the grounds that subways “break even”.

    Thanks for reminding me about operating costs. I have added a paragraph near the end of the article about this.

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  2. Where will this leave funding for new buses and streetcars, my journey to work does not involve the subway, will I still be crammed in on the Steeles West bus, will I only get a worse service on buses that will eventually need replacing. On a lighter note does that mean GO Transit will be providing the shuttle buses on weekend maintenance if any ever happens!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Steve said: “The reference to a “transit artery spanning the city” implies something much more extensive than the DRL South from Pape to Osgoode Station.”

    The wording in the changes hints that it could by tying the relief line into the Sheppard east subway.

    Big picture I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Fords plan will tie in the relief line East-West-North into Sheppard then cut around Sheppard east & dead end at or near Seaton Pickering in the future for the airport. Something of this magnitude is like also the reason they don’t want it connecting to Line 2.

    Steve: I think you are dreaming. At some point the Province is going to have to explain just what they intend, and then we will know who’s right. If they had wanted to advertise a Sheppard subway, another one of Ford’s favourite projects, they would have said so.

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  4. There’s been a lot of momentum recently for the ‘Union West’ hub @ Pearson. I’m surprised the PCs wouldn’t jump at this since:

    a) it would serve suburban ridings that vote PC
    b) it could be built relatively inexpensively, at-grade
    c) it would actually make a big impact, as Pearson is the (2nd?) biggest employment zone in Canada

    Steve: The Union West hub is much hype than reality right now. To make it work requires many spokes feeding into the “hub”, not just a line in the Kitchener corridor. For example, there is no mention of the Finch LRT extension.

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  5. Ford and Tory are both ugly four letter words, and both stupid.

    SSE stupid, contributes to Yonge/Bloor congestion, 2/3 empty at rush hour 2055, adds 5 minutes to bus rides in Scarborough because of diversions.

    DRL stupid, no projection of ridership because there is very little benefit of a subway from Osgoode to Pape.

    YNE extending Yonge subway to Richmond Hill stupid, Yonge is all ready over capacity south of Bloor, and overcrowded in general.

    By the way, if Line 2 subway is old technology, Tory’s SmartTrack uses ancient railroad technology.

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  6. Steve said: Such a gaffe does no credit to David Lindsay and his team.

    I think you mean MICHAEL Lindsay (David Lindsay was the Deputy Minister of Infrastructure several years ago but I think he retired.)

    Steve: Yes, Michael Lindsay. I will fix the reference.

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  7. I find it humorous and somewhat satisfying that people from all over rural Ontario, most of whom voted for Ford and most of whom hate Toronto, will now be contributing towards the billions and billions of dollars that are to be spent on all of these projects. Next time I’m up in Simcoe county, I’ll have to remember to thank everyone I see for contributing so much money to all these Toronto transit projects.

    Steve: Yes, the voters of rural Ontario have elected an anti-Mayor of Toronto.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It’s difficult to imagine the thoughts going through the heads of PC MPP’s who actually have a brain! They must realize, from time to time, that their leaders are blowing smoke when it comes to GTA transit planning, and they may even have a vision of the chaos that will be inflicted over the next decade, if Doug actually intends to stagger through this non plan.

    I would imagine that they just want to suck up and keep their jobs. What ever happened to men and women who ran for office because they actually wanted to improve things?

    The ‘planners’ who sit around okaying all this BS should be wondering why they bothered with an education. Who needs to read reports when policy is turned out on the whims of a cabinet of people who have no clue, that they have no clue?

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  9. Just a guess, but the new technology for the relief line might involve driverless trains. Ford would love to stick it to the unions.

    Steve: But that’s not a fundamentally new technology. The TRs could operate that way today.

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  10. This seems like Rob Ford all over again. Plans have been under development. Now he [Doug Ford] wants to start all over and then has the gall to complain about the slow pace and that nothing ever gets built. The city and the TTC have made decisions, whether good or bad. Presumably Metrolinx, the provincial agency, has been kept up to date. However Ford’s adviser doesn’t seem to be aware of this nor of a lot of other things such as how much it really costs to operate rapid transit.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. “Planning work undertaken by the TTC contemplates utilizing existing technology … the province would propose … a truly unique transit artery spanning the city that is not beholden to the requirements of the technologically-outdated Line 2.”

    i.e. swanboats?

    Steve: You cut me to the quick, sir! Such a dastardly thought!

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  12. MG said: “i.e. swanboats?”

    Steve said: “You cut me to the quick, sir! Such a dastardly thought!”

    You cannot be beholden to technologically-outdated Swan Boats. We need flying Swan Boats, powered by hydrogen.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. “Planning work undertaken by the TTC contemplates utilizing existing technology … the province would propose … a truly unique transit artery spanning the city that is not beholden to the requirements of the technologically-outdated Line 2.”

    Not Swanboats as MG suggested.

    Instead: TARDIS (es)

    Steve: In theory, you should only need one of them repeatedly returning to pick up riders at every stop on schedule. This may challenge the TTC’s concept of service delivery.

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  14. Two of the previous comments suggest that other parts of Ontario would be paying for Toronto’s subways. It should be remembered that enormous sums collected in Greater Toronto by the Province – both income tax and education tax – are spent outside of the GTA. I don’t support Ford’s wacko ideas, but if they ever came to pass they would be funded first, if not completely, by returning more of our own money to us.

    PS: While I use the term “our own money” I do fundamentally believe in the redistributive function of government. I just get a little testy when facts are misstated to attack Toronto or the GTA.

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  15. So, can we assume that the Finch West LRT (Finch West station to Humber College) will still be constructed as originally planned?

    Steve: That is the situation as reported by staff at Council. But until I see actual cars running on the line carrying passengers, who knows.

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  16. So the province only has four transit priority projects; the SSE, the DRL, the YNE and Crosstown West.

    The provincial letters are not clear on what kind of SSE (L2EE) the province wants to build. The March 22 letter is building a 3 stop subway “with the same termination point”. The letter on the 26th states “under the province’s preferred three-stop extension of Line 2, the project would proceed northward from the station at Scarborough Center”. Does this mean that they plan for the first stop to be at Scarborough Center and have two stations located further north? The scary part is that in 2018 the estimated cost of the one-stop SSE (L2EE) was projected at $3.35 Billion. If there is any truth to the provincial letter on the 22nd, “increased to nearly double or greater” we are looking at $6.7 or more Billions! Not your best bang for a buck! Does the province think adding two stations will help to spread out the pain, or the extra cost becomes insignificant at this level of spending? If we are spending this much on a line, we might as well throw in the extra stations now – they won’t get any cheaper.

    The DRL that the province wants as a “free-standing project” – not truly possible. Any addition to the TTC subway system would have ties to allow train transfer. This does limit the technology to the level of the surrounding system. How you get a “truly unique transit artery spanning the city” remains to be seen…the descendants of SRT developers see an “truly unique” opportunity…. Fortunately, the March 26 letter seems to have resolved the tech issue.

    The comment about the YNE “extension should progress in-parallel with design work related to the Relief Line” give some hope that the DRL South would fast tracked. Unfortunately, no provincial attention has focused on the DRL North. Fast-tracking the in service date of the YNE will only push Line 1 into extremis sooner. Building the complete DRL from Osgoode to Pape, up to connect with the Sheppard Stubway, going further north into York Region prior to opening the YNE is one of two ways to keep Line 1 form imploding. The other is a beefed up Richmond Hill GO line. As the DRL will come with a multi-Billion price tag and a 15+ year time frame, the estimated $1.5 Billion to upgrade the RH Go line is a bargain.

    Crosstown West (L5WE) has four possible route configurations: surface, buried and elevated/buried. The surface option is the cheapest and fastest to build, but most local residents at the public meetings (March 2019) wanted it buried for two reasons – less road congestion and higher property values. Mr. Ford has to reward “his” constituents with something, which under ground option will he choose?

    In this whole mess three thing stand out.

    1) the key repeated demand “that the province will have a leadership role in the planning, design and delivery of these projects” – who wants the glory, press face time and credit?
    2) the distinct possibility of delivery delays as the new provincial team(s) get up to speed on these project(s). Can you say decades?
    3) For a political party that wants to put Ontario on fiscally sound principles and is cutting programs in both the health and education sectors they do have ambitious transit spending plans. Guess these projects would be a way to kickstart the economy.

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  17. Richard L asked:
    So, can we assume that the Finch West LRT (Finch West station to Humber College) will still be constructed as originally planned?

    Steve replied:
    That is the situation as reported by staff at Council. But until I see actual cars running on the line carrying passengers, who knows.

    Besides the utility relocation work underway, some substantial contracts have been signed, including one that I have a somewhat close familiarity with. Those around me involved with it talk about it as a fait accompli, but I keep suggesting that nothing is so certain with Ford in charge.

    I too want to see actual cars running on the line carrying passengers to be totally convinced.

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  18. I find this whole announcement is giving me an overwhelming feeling of déjà vu. By this, I mean that Doug, like his late brother Rob, love to make a big to-do about saving the taxpayer pocket change all the while blowing millions, if not billions, on ideologies.

    It seems Ford wants to take control of subway expansion because the city takes too long and wastes too much money, so his solution is to arbitrarily alter plans, a move that will definitely add time and cost in and of itself, and guarantee huge additional costs by tacking on an add-on to each project. While I haven’t identified the add-on for the Yonge North Extension (this is more likely a case of forgotten costs such as new trains and storage for them), the other three projects all have glaring huge add-ons:

    Crosstown West: put it mostly underground
    SSE: add two stations, maybe extend it to Sheppard
    DRL: use separate technology – now needs its own storage/maintenance facility

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I suspect don’t they have a vision for the technology to use. They probably just want to keep everything as vague as possible so that the private builder has flexibility. PPP defenders argue that you need to give the private sector as much flexibility as possible so that they can express their innovative and creative ideas.

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  20. Regarding the “truly unique artery that is not beholden to the requirements of the technologically outdated Line 2”: I am hoping that this means widening the DVP to allow for heavy rail and bike lanes. Yes, Downtown deserves a relief line but it does not necessarily mean a subway. I am hoping that construction on the SSE and Yonge subway extension can begin this year.

    Steve: According to statements made this week at Council, the SSE would be ready for first tenders at the end of this year. Changing the alignment and station pattern will add about two years’ delay.

    The YNE is not ready to go to tender as design is not advanced as far.

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  21. Calvin Henry – Cotnam: But sandwiches were cancelled at City Hall. Surely that will pay for a subway.

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  22. Michael Greason wrote:
    But sandwiches were cancelled at City Hall. Surely that will pay for a subway.

    Not on its own, but the cancellation of getting the plants watered will make up the difference. 😉

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  23. Hi Steve

    The most unsettling thing about all of this is that it is obvious that not a lot of thought has gone into it. Couple that with the fact that these are all big ticket items means that billions will be wasted. I am left with the impression these guys are flying by the seat of their pants. For example, have they even thought of what effect the Richmond Hill Subway will have on the lower part of the Yonge line?

    Steve: They claim the RL, whatever it may be, will be open in time. I am dubious.

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  24. “But sandwiches were cancelled at City Hall. Surely that will pay for a subway.”

    We really need to move on from a planning process that is simply to buy the Subway deal of the day. Especially the one with extra station toppings.

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  25. Ian Folkard said: “For example, have they even thought of what effect the Richmond Hill Subway will have on the lower part of the Yonge line?”

    I’m sure the thinking started and ended with “How many seats will it cost us?”

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  26. A lot of comments here about the operating costs. Well, Mayor John Tory wanted to impose road tolls but Kathleen Wynne said NO. If the Liberals had focused on governing instead of playing politics, Ford would not have been premier.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. I, like most other citizens outside of Toronto are tired of having our tax dollars bail out Toronto all the time. Between Toronto and Ottawa the rest of us get zero bang for our tax dollar buck and that needs to change. The city of Toronto has one of the cheapest municipal tax rates on property in the province.

    It is time for Toronto to pay its own way and stand on its 9,000,000 feet!

    Steve: In case you didn’t notice, the vast spending proposed by Doug Ford’s plan is (a) a provincial scheme, not a Toronto demand and (b) intended in part to serve transit users outside of the City of Toronto. As for those feet, you are including population outside of the 416 to get that count.

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  28. R Stephens said:

    “I, like most other citizens outside of Toronto are tired of having our tax dollars bail out Toronto all the time. Between Toronto and Ottawa the rest of us get zero bang for our tax dollar buck and that needs to change. The city of Toronto has one of the cheapest municipal tax rates on property in the province.”

    1) Great. Please vote for someone who cares about being the premier of Ontario rather than, as Steve said above, the anti-Mayor of Toronto. Hint: he got most of this votes outside of Toronto.

    2) Keep in mind that Toronto (and some of the surrounding GTA suburbs even more so) pay quite a bit more in provincial taxes then they get back in services. So, Toronto is being “bailed out” with its own provincial tax dollars to a great extent (or maybe even completely, depending on what and when you are referring to).

    3) Property taxes alone are just a poor way of funding all the services a large city needs to provide to its residents. It might work in small towns, which do not have extensive and expensive infrastructure to run. If the city were allowed to say, keep a chunk of the income tax levied inside it, it would have a lot more to work with.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. This report is a little dated but there have been no great shifts in taxation policies since 2004. It is conducted by The Fraser Institute, which is a little to the right of me in thinking – certainly not a tax and spend proponent. The key conclusion is that:

    “Greater Toronto Area (GTA) taxpayers pay out almost $24 billion more in taxes than they receive in government spending—a net tax burden equal to 11 percent of the GTA economy.”

    Please note that this is the GTA and the effect is more pronounced in the GTA 905 than 416 – but it exists throughout the region. In Toronto (i.e. City of) the average family spends $9,497 dollars, 13% of family income and 60% of Direct Personal taxes on others in Ontario.

    It could still be argued that the big teaching hospitals, the major cultural attractions and other services are an intangible “subsidy” of Torontonians. These – as is the case the world over – are located where the population densities support them. On a direct cash basis, however, we pay our way and then some – no matter what Provincial spending takes place on an ad hoc basis in our region.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. Won’t this give Toronto the same wonderful mixed administration system that makes the New York subway so marvellous?

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  31. Steve said: “The Union West hub is much hype than reality right now. To make it work requires many spokes feeding into the “hub”, not just a line in the Kitchener corridor. For example, there is no mention of the Finch LRT extension.”

    None of the actual Pearson Transit Hub plans involve rerouting the Kitchener line. It would be the obvious endgame, and only doable with a lot of money, and likely, electrification and tunneling.

    Steve said: “In theory, you should only need one of them repeatedly returning to pick up riders at every stop on schedule. This may challenge the TTC’s concept of service delivery.”

    I thought service with minimal vehicles was the TTC’s most consistent concept of service delivery.

    Michael Gerson said: “Two of the previous comments suggest that other parts of Ontario would be paying for Toronto’s subways. It should be remembered that enormous sums collected in Greater Toronto by the Province – both income tax and education tax – are spent outside of the GTA.”

    That whole debate is absent much perspective, on both sides.

    Reports of income and expenditure discrepancies between urban and rural areas usually employ average rather than localized service delivery costs, ignore the lack of services or variable quality of services geographically, employ implausible allocation of corporate taxes, and credit interurban facilities and facilities built to get rural resources to urban areas entirely on the rural side of the ledger. All of which skew towards calculations showing enormous amounts of money leaving the GTA or other major cities.

    Meanwhile, rural residents forget that economy of scale and different geographies require a different mix of spending. We’re not going to build subways in small cities, towns or the countryside, nor will we spend fortunes building new controlled access highways in our cities. Urbanites nor rural dwellers usually can’t be bothered to complain how much we’re spending on clean water facilities, or hockey arenas, and the individual projects are small dollars. But rural dwellers sure notice the big price tags attached to transit, naturally.

    When we correct for all these factors, what we find is income and service delivery cost discrepancies that are driven primarily by our progressive income tax regime. This is a feature, not a bug, that most people forget (although Michael does not).

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