Figurative Gravy, Literal Trains

Tess Kalinowski, for The Star:

Penny-pinching Mayor Rob Ford’s subway plan would cost three times as much as the proposed Transit City light rail lines and attract only half as many riders, according to a study released Wednesday by a sustainable energy think tank.

Although Ford hasn’t officially endorsed a transit expansion plan, the study suggests the mayor would be spending about $344 million per kilometre on subways that would attract about 65 million rides annually.

The light rail plan Ford has disparaged would accommodate 126 million rides annually at a cost of $111 million per kilometre, says the report, Making Tracks to Torontonians, by the Pembina Institute.

via Subways would cost more and serve fewer, group says –

None of this is surprising, but it’s nice to see the facts laid out so nicely. The chart above, put together (I think) by the Toronto Environmental Alliance, is problematic when it comes to the particulars – there’s no chance many of the Transit City lines pictured will ever be built, so the total cost is in an entirely different ballpark – but, still, part of me loves that activist groups within the city are fighting back with the same kind of short, easily shareable messages that were so successful when they were used by the Ford campaign.

As a postscript, Kalinowski also reports this:

Metrolinx and the TTC are expected to present Ford with a hybrid plan of light rail and subway by the end of the month. It’s likely that plan will include light rail running underneath Eglinton Avenue and an extension of the Sheppard subway to the Scarborough Town Centre.

Anticipated light rail on Finch could be converted to a busway.

That compromise plan is very unlikely to work within funding constraints, unless Eglinton is significantly shortened. Completing both the Sheppard Subway to Scarborough Town Centre and replacing the Scarborough Rapid Transit Line with subway technology (also to Scarborough Town Centre, where the party is) are both far more expensive than the Transit City options. You don’t gain much funding room cancelling Finch, as it was to be the cheapest of all the lines.

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