Wednesday, November 28, 2012

TTC, Metrolinx sign Toronto LRT accord

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Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area transportation agency Metrolinx and the Toronto Transit Commission Wednesday signed an agreement outlining planned construction of four light rail transit lines in Canada's largest city.

The two agencies also signed an agreement committing TTC to implement an electronic payment system, dubbed Presto, that will replace tokens and tickets on subways, streetcars, and buses.

The agreement covering LRT construction is another setback for Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, whose current status as mayor is in doubt. Ford championed against LRT development plans, called "Transit City," upon becoming mayor in December 2010, arguing for more subway construction and an end to what he called a "war on cars" in Toronto.

The agreement spells out the Ontario provincial ownership of the four new transit lines, though TTC will operate the lines in tandem with the existing streetcar lines it currently oversees. The pact also outlines how potential conflicts will be solved, and the approval process for changes to the scope of the projects.

The new lines include the Eglinton, Finch West, and Sheppard East lines, as well as the Scarborough Line, being converted to conventional LRT from its current incarnation as a rapid transit line, similar to Vancouver's Skytrain.

Metrolinx CEO Bruce McCuaig said the new pact is more formal than the memorandum of understanding forged by former Toronto Mayor David Miller; that MOU was rejected by Mayor Ford, though eventually reinstated by the Toronto City Council. "Now that we have a master agreement signed it gives us much more certainty that we have defined agreements," McCuaig told local media. "And it becomes that much more difficult for governments at any level ... to change."