Friday, June 26, 2009

Funding reshuffle seen saving Toronto streetcar purchase

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A shift in Toronto’s transport funding priorities could generate C$417 million for the Toronto Transit Commission, and would enable TTC to affirm its planned purchase of 204 streetcars from Bombardier Transportation before the deal expires. Toronto's City Council, in a 36-6 vote Friday, approved the measure.

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The funds, one-third of the anticipated overall cost of roughly C$1.2 billion (US$1.0 billion), initially were expected from the Canadian federal government, but Ottawa said the purchase does not qualify for stimulus funding. Toronto had committed to one-third of the amount, with Ontario provincial funding supplying another one-third; the move would double the city’s investment in the purchase.

Streetcar funding would come at the expense of other capital projects, such as a bus midlife rebuilding program and a transit station modernization program, which would be deferred until after 2018.

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Toronto’s city manager, deputy city manager, and chief financial officer have recommended that "City debt financing replace the one third federal funding budgeted for a total City debt funding amount of C$834 million for the TTC Capital Project No. CTT122 “Purchase of 204 Light Rail Vehicles (LRVs)."

The officers noted, “In summary, the City has budgeted its 1/3 share, the Province has committed its 1/3 share, and the TTC has deferred debt-financial projects sufficient to replace the expected Federal 1/3 Economic Stimulus funding share. The Bombardier bid expires on June 27, 2009 unless an unconditional award is made on or before that date."