The ink was barely dry on the TTC’s recent proposal that service on the SRT end in mid-2023 when the inevitable question was posed: what should be done with the infrastructure and right-of-way afterwards?
A scheme floated several years ago would have converted the elevated structure between McCowan and Midland Stations to something like the High Line park in New York City. That is certainly an option once the line is no longer needed to carry transit vehicles.
At the City Council meeting of February 3-5, 2021, Councillors Josh Matlow and Paul Ainslie, never fans of the Scarborough Subway, proposed the following motion. Council ran out of time and debate was deferred to a future meeting. However, the issues here deserve attention now, specifically at the TTC Board meeting planned for February 10, 2021.
Councillor Josh Matlow, seconded by Councillor Paul Ainslie, recommends that:
1. City Council request the City Manager to report to the June 1, 2021 meeting of Executive Committee on options for Scarborough transit that includes a:
a. technical assessment of moving forward with the Scarborough Light Rail Transit, including length of construction time and new platform location at Kennedy Station;
b. feasibility study and cost estimate of converting the elevated Scarborough Rapid Transit structure to an above-grade Bus Rapid Transit; and
c. feasibility study and cost estimate of removing the elevated Scarborough Rapid Transit structure and operating a Bus Rapid Transit at-grade.
2. City Council request the Toronto Transit Commission Board to release the “Integrity Assessment for Life Extension/Continued Operation” report by Bombardier, in partnership with WSP Canada Inc. and CH2MH, referenced in the Fleet Life Extension – Line 3 Scarborough report to the Toronto Transit Commission Board on May 8, 2018 to City of Toronto residents as a public attachment to the aforementioned item on the Toronto Transit Commission’s website.
The likelihood that Council would approve another study of the LRT option for this corridor is dim, at best. This is an extremely contentious issue debated many times under clouds of conflicting information about various technologies. While I have always supported the LRT option going right back to its origin fifty years ago, I have no illusions that we are about to see it emerge soon, if ever as a contender.
Doug Ford’s government took control of the Scarborough Subway Extension project and will bull through with it no matter what. According to the most recent Infrastructure Ontario update, the contract for tunneling will be awarded in spring 2021, and it is hard to think of anything that will derail this. Cost overruns and delays may be in the future, but far too much political ego is on the line to change course today barring a financial catastrophe that prevents the SSE (and many other projects) from going ahead.
At this point, a review of the work involved to reactivate the LRT proposal would be a diversion. That ship has sailed. Also, to be quite blunt, in the current political climate it is likely than any LRT study would be tweaked to present a worst case scenario.
However, the BRT proposal is worth study, and this should begin immediately to inform the plans for a bus replacement service. Conditions on segments of the line differ, and this should not be seen as an “all or nothing” situation.Continue reading