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Toronto - November 2010

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Toronto — Mayor Elect Reconsiders Streetcar Ban

Rail Transit Online, November 2010

While campaigning for Mayor of Toronto, candidate Rob Ford told the Toronto Sun he would "...like to slowly phase out streetcars and replace them with buses" over the next decade, which would require cancelling a C$1.25-billion order for 204 new cars from Bombardier. But a few days after winning the election, Ford appeared to be backing away from his position, telling a radio talk show host that if scrapping the Bombardier deal "...is going to cost the taxpayers an arm and a leg, then obviously we can't do it."

Ford added that he would have to discuss the matter with Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty to determine if the contract can be annulled and what the terms would be; the province is paying about one-third of the cost of the new fleet with the city providing the rest. A Bombardier Transportation spokesman says the company has had no indication that the contract is in jeopardy and it is "...really getting to work on it."

Ford's platform also called for scrapping the Transit City light rail expansion plan, parts of which are already under construction, in favor of building new subways despite their much higher price tag.

Meanwhile, the proposed 3.1 -mi. (5 km) extension of the Scarborough Rapid Transit (SRT) line to Malvern Town Centre and its conversion from a light metro to LRT technology has had its environmental project report approved, and has been given the Minister of Environment's Notice to Proceed. However, Mayor-elect Ford has instead called for replacing SRT with a subway that would connect with an extension of the existing Sheppard subway, a scheme that would cost up to C$5 billion more than the LRT scheme.

Scarborough Centre Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker said he likes the idea but the money simply isn't there. "If you start over from square one you have to do studies for subways and you won't see subways until we're all in retirement homes," De Baeremaeker told Toronto Community News. "If you rip apart Transit City and replace it with Rob Ford's vision the people who live east of McCowan Road will never see mass transit." McCowan Station in Scarborough Centre is currently the last stop on SRT.


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