Monday, September 23, 2013

Harper backs Toronto Scarborough subway

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Canada Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013 that the federal government will support Ontario province's desire to convert Toronto's Scarborough Line into subway rapid rail.

Federal funds would help finance the conversion, though the exact amount is uncertain. Also uncertain is whether funding would be reallocated from the C$1.8 billion (US$1.74 billion) LRT funding, which ground to a halt last month. Subway construction would cost more than LRT implementation.

The announcement is the latest chapter in the debate over the line's conversion, originally slated to become a light rail transit line before Toronto Mayor Rob Ford expressed a distinct preference for subway construction. Ford joined Harper during the announcement, made at a hotel near Lester B Pearson International Airport.

A Scarborough subway extension would connect the Bloor-Danforth subway line through to Scarborough, northeast of downtown Toronto. Ontario and Toronto have sparred over not just the rail mode to be used but also the exact route. Ontario Transportation Minister Glen Murray earlier this month pledged C$1.4 billion (US$1.36 billion) for the subway option.

Toronto City Councillor Josh Matlow still prefers LRT, telling local media, "Whether they commit $5 or a billion dollars, it still doesn't mean that a small, two- or three-stop subway expansion is better than delivering seven stops on a traffic-separated lane to thousands more Scarborough residents in more priority areas." Matlow and others say they will wait to see how much funding the federal government will supply.