Toronto’s public transit is a key issue in the mayoral race which is less than two months away. And each of the four leading candidates have made it a central election platform. Here is how each one stacks up against the other:
1. Candidate’s key transit priorities: Expand rush-hour bus service by 10 per cent and cancel the Scarborough subway extension.
2. Downtown Relief Line: She said in an April interview with CIUT-FM that while in favour of the relief line, it should not be an election issue since it’s not projected to open for another 17 years.
3. What to do about the Scarborough RT: Scrap the plan to build an underground subway and return to the $1.4-billion, seven-stop light-rail plan that the provincial government had promised to fund.
4. Plan for funding (if any): Has proposed that property tax (holding around the rate of inflation) could finance the city’s portion of the downtown relief line.
5. The projected time to complete the project(s): Scarborough light rail transit (LRT) by 2019.
She said it: “Rob Ford’s underground is a billion-dollar, 30-year tax hike. Plus all the costs yet to come. And it is at least $30 million more a year to operate. That will cost jobs and cost families. I will mind the public purse and deliver better transit faster.”
1. Candidate’s key transit priorities: Scarborough subway to replace the aging RT, as well new subways on Sheppard and Finch avenues.
2. Downtown relief line: He has said that a Yonge Street relief line would be his third priority, behind the aforementioned subways.
3. What to do about the Scarborough RT: Championed himself as the “subway mayor,” and trumpeted an agreement between the three levels of government to replace the RT with a $3-billion plus subway extension.
4. Plan for funding (if any): For the Sheppard and Finch subways, there is no clear plan set out. As for the Scarborough subway, the other levels of government are committed to 2/3 of the cost, with Ford supporting a 1.6 per-cent property tax levy to be phased in over three years.
5. The projected time to complete the project(s): Scarborough subway extension by 2023.
He said it: “[People] downtown, they have subways. People are getting ignored in North York. They’re getting ignored in Scarborough.”
1. Candidate’s key transit priorities: Cancel Scarborough subway expansion and replace it with light rail transit.
2. Downtown relief line: Use savings from cancelled Scarborough subway extension to fund a “commuter relief line.”
3. What to do about the Scarborough RT: Replace it with a light-rail system, not the subway extension that has been approved.
4. Plan for funding (if any): Has said that he would consider “every revenue tool that’s available,” including road tolls, higher property taxes and higher transit fares.
5. The projected time to complete the project(s): Scarborough LRT by 2019.
He said it: “LRT is the best for Scarborough. It’s not a fantasy plan.”
1. Candidate’s key transit priorities: SmartTrack, a 53-kilometre, 22-stop surface rail line that would operate on existing GO Transit lines.
2. Downtown relief line: After endorsing a relief line, Tory changed course with the SmartTrack plan, which would depend on existing GO lines to be electrified (Metrolinx has a 10-year window for that project) and is touted as being up and running in seven years.
3. What to do about the Scarborough RT: Push ahead with the approved subway extension.
4. Plan for funding (if any): Has said that $2.5 billion could come from tax increment financing, where funds are raised by borrowing and paid off by property tax increases on the land near the new stations.
5. The projected time to complete the project(s): SmartTrack in seven years; Scarborough subway extension by 2023.
He said it: “I have assumed that one of my jobs as mayor is going to have to be to go and champion [SmartTrack] with the other two levels of government. With respect to the federal government… if we don’t start the term of office by picking a fight with them on the Scarborough subway, they will be there.”