TORONTO, Ont. – The TTC board declared a downtown relief subway line a priority in a move to combat an overcrowded Yonge-University-Spadina line and jam-packed Bloor-Yonge station.
The TTC forwarded a report endorsing a downtown relief subway line to city council for consideration.
“If we carry on increasingly adding people to the Yonge line, it just won’t be able to cope,” TTC CEO Andy Byford said.
“I believe now is the time to start that debate.”
Ridership in Toronto’s core is expected to rise by more than 50 per cent by 2031 and a report forecasted dire consequences if pressure on the Yonge-University-Spadina line is not alleviated. According to the report, new riders cannot be accommodated by improving GO rain service or adding subway trains.
“Anyone who uses the Yonge line in the morning-peak or the evening-peak would be able to answer that question quite simply,” Byford said.
“I think a downtown subway line is critical if we’re going to expand the Yonge-University-Spadina line,” TTC Chair Karen Stintz said. “We know the line is at capacity right now.”
Coun. Peter Milczyn said there is no dispute over the need for a downtown relief subway line but it is its funding that is up in the air.
“The issue is we have to pay for this. That is the debate, that is the issue,” he said.
“We have to wrap our heads around paying for this.”
Coun. Glenn De Baeremaeker said a transit tax should be considered because he doubts provincial funding is likely.
“Sprinkle billions of dollars of holy transit water on to the City of Toronto — I don’t think it’s going to happen,” he said.
The report recommends building a $3.2-billion first stage of the downtown subway relief line from Pape station on the Bloor-Danforth line to St. Andrew station. It proposes an extension of the line from St. Andrew to Dundas West station, peggng the total cost of the downtown relief line at $6.2-billion.
The downtown relief subway line will be considered by city council next week.
Scarborough subway debate
Meanwhile, the TTC board asked transit staff to prepare reports on the feasibility of changing the Scarborough RT into a subway.
Considered a contentious move by some on the transit commission because city council already extensively debated and rejected the suggestion.
TTC commissioner John Parker was not impressed with the vote.
“I just don’t understand why we went there,” he said.
“We made the declaration today that the downtown relief line is a priority and I would hope that message isn’t lost in all the other noise that emerges from today’s meeting.”
Stintz said it is unlikely the study will amount to anything but Parker said the TTC will look indecisive in the eyes of the province.
Coun. Josh Matlow, who is not on the transit commission, said the move does not show well to the public.
“Residents will more than roll their eyes — they’ll be disappointed,” he said.
“I think what happened today will really hurt public confidence in city hall’s ability to not only make a decision but then to see that decision through to fruition.”
Vote on subway cell phone service deferred
The TTC voted to defer its decision on subway cell phone service.
A new report suggests awarding the contract to Broadcast Australia, which would pay the TTC $25-million to provide a wireless network underground for the TTC.