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Olivia Chow focuses on buses in transit platform

Olivia Chow kicked off her mayoral campaign on March 13, 2014. CITYNEWS

Toronto mayoral candidate Olivia Chow says she wants to increase bus capacity on the city’s busiest routes by 10 per cent, as she unveiled her transit platform on Thursday.

Chow, an ex-NDP MP and city councillor, said it would cost $15 million a year and that the money can be found within the existing TTC budget.

The plan would utilize buses the TTC already owns and would increase capacity by up to 100 buses, allowing for more space on a bus during rush hour.

She explains that while other candidates are promising transit improvements, none have said how they’ll get the money to do it.

“I challenge them to be very clear to folks in Toronto why are they proposing things without saying how much it is costing,” Chow told reporters.

“It’s like saying that you can have a cellphone, you’re going to have a plan, [but] ‘don’t worry we’ll tell you later how much is this,’ and you have no idea how you can afford it.”

According to Chow, 60 per cent of TTC rides take a bus at some point during their commute. Moreover, those who live in Scarborough, Etobicoke and North York spend more time on buses.

Chow launched her campaign last Thursday in St. James Town where she grew up. In her speech, she said she would make children and public services the focus of her campaign.

She also said she would scrap the Scarborough subway plan in favour of light-rail transit. The projected cost for the three-stop subway extension is $3-billion, but she said the LRT would allow for four more stops — seven in total — and costing $1 billion less.

The ex-MP is also vowing to keep property tax increases in line with inflation.

Chow was a Toronto city councillor from 1991 until she was elected to the Commons in 2006.

Earlier on Thursday, Sarah Thomson registered to enter the mayoral race. She said her top priority is transit and that she favours road tolls.

Torontonians head to the polls on Oct. 27.

CityNews will be hosting the first televised debate of the 2014 mayoral race next Wednesday, featuring Chow, Rob Ford, David Soknacki, Karen Stintz and John Tory.

It will be hosted by anchor Gord Martineau and run from 5-7 p.m. on City, CityNews.ca, the CityNews app and 680News.com.

Would Chow’s proposal help you with your commute? Share your thoughts in the comments.