On his site, Steve Munro looks into “The Mythical Private Sector Subway” and leads off with this tidbit:
Recently, I learned that Queen’s Park had offered $2b toward the Sheppard Subway provided that the Fords would allow the eastern part of Eglinton to remain on the surface, but this was turned down flat. So intransigent is the Mayor on the subject of incursion by transit into road space that the possibility of substantial funding for his pet project was not an option worth embracing.
Two billion dollars toward a Sheppard Subway extension would likely not have been enough to ‘complete’ the existing subway line with an extension to Scarborough Town Centre — TTC estimates pegged that cost at $3.6 billion this past fall — but it certainly would have put the city in a position where some kind of public-private partnership could have been workable.
Putting this in perspective, and assuming that Munro’s source is reliable, this means that the top transportation priority from this mayor is ensuring no transit vehicle ever runs on-street. He’d rather spend an unnecessary two billion extra dollars burying a line, even if it means denying a large number of transit riders access to new, high-capacity service.
A note on in-median LRT: A few weeks ago, Ivor Tossell wrote an article for the new Toronto Standard outlet, questioning the desirability of on-street LRT:
Transit City might have been a genuine boon to its neighbourhoods. But it gave every indication of being a lousy way to get across town.
For one thing, it’s slow. Advocates like the Toronto Environmental Alliance claim that, on average, Toronto’s street-level LRTs would be only slightly slower than subways. But these numbers, like Ford’s fundraising schemes for the Sheppard line, live in the gauzily optimistic land of theory.
It’s all hypotheticals, but I’d point out that two things. First, that if speed is (or was) a major concern on the surface sections of the new LRTs, there are far cheaper ways to deal with those concerns: elevated sections over intersections, side-of-road operation, etc. Second, it’s important to separate inherent problems with infrastructure from potential issues with line operation. Put another way: if the TTC just plainly sucks at running on-street transit, we’re better to work with management to fix that problem than we are to simply bury all future projects.
From an open house consultation regarding the Eglinton LRT, here were the proposed operating speeds of the line as originally envisioned (as found on page 12):
Munro also posted a number of other interesting transit-related articles over the holiday weekend. Check out “The Vanishing Eglinton Right-of-Way“, which notes an item on the Government Management Committee’s upcoming meeting agenda that would transfer land adjacent to Eglinton to Build Toronto for eventual sale. This would close the door forever on using this land for transit. Also fun –if totally nerdy — is “Reading the Fine Print” which breaks down the TTC’s capital and operating budgets.