Friday, October 04, 2013

Metrolinx: We’ll aid (any) Scarborough Line

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Metrolinx: We’ll aid (any) Scarborough Line National Post

Greater Toronto Area transportation agency Metrolinx says it will provide C$1.48 billion (US$1.43 billion) for any rail approach to revamping the Scarborough Line, allowing other parties to decide which rail mode should be implemented.

Metrolinx President and CEO Bruce McCuaig signaled the agency's intent earlier this week in a letter to Toronto's city manager, according to local media. The position removes Metrolinx from the ongoing (and sometimes shifting) dispute involving Toronto's City Council, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), and Ontario province.

There are two options: Ontario Transportation Minister Glen Murray has signaled support for a subway extension to replace the existing line's operations, roughly comparable to Vancouver's SkyTrain technology; subway construction is also supported by Mayor Ford. Light rail transit is preferred by many on the City Council and had been TTC's earlier choice. The dispute has often been acrimonious.

Toronto needs to find C$900 million (US$872.1 million) to cover its portion of the subway option, and at present is estimated to be roughly C$500 million short. The city also is expected to reimburse Metrolinx C$85 million for the sunk costs of the Scarborough LRT effort. Toronto also may have to pay unspecified additional costs to Bombardier Transportation concerning its contract for LRT equipment.

Ontario's original pledge of C$1.8-billion for LRT construction has been reduced for the subway alternative, with McCuaig saying it's all the province can offer. "We are not prepared to spend more than this amount," he said.