Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Metrolinx, TTC explore 3P approach for three projects

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Metrolinx and the Toronto Transit Commission are reaching out to the private sector for possible design-build-finance approaches to advance three rail projects. TTC would operate and maintain the new lines, eschewing half of the “DBOM” (design-build-operate-maintain) approach, but the agency duo still seeks to employ a private-public partnership to expedite construction.

 

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Projects being considered for such an approach by Metrolinx and TTC include the new Finch Avenue light rail line, rehabilitation (or possible rail modal conversion) of the Scarborough rapid transit line, and construction of the Eglinton Crosstown line.

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Any of the projects, if advanced as a 3P initiative, would be the first major infrastructure project in Toronto bankrolled by the private sector and paid for with public dollars on delivery, according to John Howe, vice-president of investment strategies for Metrolinx, the provincially mandated regional transportation body.

"I guess the part that is really new for transit in Toronto is the financing part, looking at private-sector financing to cover the construction costs of the project and then payment for the project would occur after completion and after the project has been completed to the satisfaction of the owner, which would be Metrolinx," he said.

The approach is seen by many as an indicator of Metrolinx’s political power over TTC. Metrolinx currently is overseeing Ontario’s C$10 billion commitment to invest in TTC’s light rail network.

"These are the first TTC projects so to speak that would be delivered by [private financing]. And if they are successful we would see it perhaps as the model to deliver more transit projects in the region,” Howe said.