Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Scarborough Line now voted a subway line

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Toronto's City Council Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013, voted 24-to-20 to endorse revamping the Scarborough Line as an extension of the city's subway system, giving Toronto Mayor Rob Ford a political victory.

The Council also endorsed a 1.6% tax hike to help finance the plan, a concession running counter to Mayor Ford's pledge not to raise taxes in Canada's largest city. The increase will be made in segments over a three-year period. One rail advocate familiar with the situation estimated the cost per Toronto household to be an extra C$41 per year.

"World class cities have subways from one end to the other," Ford told local media Tuesday. "We have that opportunity to do what many people said could not be done."

Toronto's share of the subway project is estimated to be C$910 million (US$878 million). Ontario province and the federal government have pledged financial support for the line's revamping as a subway line and not an extension of Toronto's light rail transit network, as favored by many City Council members and, at most times, by the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC).

TTC Chairwoman Karen Stintz told City Council Tuesday that Ontario had committed itself to a subway option, saying, "[T]he province is not building an LRT. They're not."

Still unclear is the cost of switching rail modes for the line, including the potential impact on TTC's contract with Bombardier Transportation for FLEXITY light rail transit vehicles, many of which were to serve the Scarborough Line.