The Toronto Star’s Royson James:
It will likely take new road tolls and congestion charges and other revenue tools to help deliver “the biggest transit deal in North America, or perhaps the world,” says the man hired to pave the path toward the $4 billion Sheppard Subway.
As such, claims that the private sector will step in and build the line on their own are not realistic, says Gordon Chong, ex-city councillor, ex-chair of GO Transit, ex-TTC commissioner and now chair of the Toronto Transit Infrastructure Ltd., the dormant investment arm of the transit company.
In other words: this subway will never happen. Not with this mayor.
The sad part of all of this is that road pricing is a good and necessary thing. It’s an inevitable part of every major urban centre in this country finally getting their financial shit together.
But road pricing to fund a subway extension on Sheppard is a terrible idea. It’s the kind of thing that dooms tolls and congestion charges to the same dustbin of political third rails that currently houses photo radar, religious school funding and the Ontario NDP.
Here’s why: there is no report anywhere that shows projected subway-level ridership on Sheppard. Not now and not decades from now. Not enough people want to ride this train. It’s a black hole, dooming the TTC to spiralling operating costs for little network benefit.
The worst part is that this isn’t a case where Ford traded one far-off, conceptual transit plan for another. The Sheppard East LRT — an alternative that would have provided rapid, high-capacity transit for a quarter of the cost of the proposed subway, and covered more kilometres — was under construction. It would have opened before the next municipal election.
We traded real, shovels-in-the-ground transit for magic, private-sector beans. And now this administration must reap the results.