Wednesday, September 23, 2009

TTC Scarborough Line’s modal future is questioned

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Debate within Toronto's metropolitan area over the future of the Scarborough Line, simmering at low levels for years, is becoming more pronounced as the Toronto Transit Commission proceeds with its plans for expanding TTC’s light rail network in Canada’s largest metropolitan area. Some argue that the Scarborough Line, slated for rehabilitation in 2015, should be converted from Advanced Light Rail Transit (ALRT) to more conventional light rail operations to better mesh with TTC’s network.

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Among those advocating conversion is Scarborough Centre Council member Michael Thompson, who says Scarborough council members agreed to support implementation of a new generation of technology, comparable to Vancouver's SkyTrain system, prior to the unveiling of Toronto's Transit City plan, which promises, eventually, a complete city-wide light rail network.

Thompson said it's not in Scarborough's interests to have a rapid-transit system including the current Scarborough Line technology, which doesn’t mesh with the rest of Toronto’s urban circulator system. “Scarborough is sick and tired of orphan technology," he said, addressing the Scarborough Community Council last week. "We know (the Scarborough) RT is having problems related to cold weather. The technical problems will not be solved (by the upgrade)," he argued.

Thompson acknowledged that construction time for an upgradeis an estimated eight months, compared to three years for any conversion to more conventional LRT. Nonetheless, Scarborough council members will ask the TTC and Ontario’s provincial agency, Metrolinx, for a report on LRT conversion.