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Light rail transit plan better bang for buck: National think-tank

TORONTO, Ont. – A national think-tank believes Toronto’s light rail transit plan would  provide better service for less money than Rob Ford’s favoured subway line plan.

The latest report from the Pembina Institute said the four light rail lines would deliver more than twice the service for every dollar invested, as building a subway costs three times as much per kilometre.

This means light rail would carry 126 million riders per year, compared to 65 million on subway lines. The subway plan would cost approximately $344 million per kilometre, while light rail lines cost about $111 million.

The Toronto Environmental Alliance said light rail is a completely different mode of transportation than the streetcar.

“It’s faster than streetcars, it carries more people than streetcars, and to hold out hope for a network of subways that may be built 20, 30, 50, 100 years from now is denying the need of people today,” Jamie Kirkpatrick with the group told 680News.

He said light rail consists of “vehicles that run down segregated lanes [with] longer distances between stops. It wouldn’t be like my Queen streetcar commute where you stop every couple hundred metres. There’s at least a 500 metre gap between stops, so it does allow for more rapid transit.”

He said he hopes the findings play to Ford’s anti-gravy train attitude.

“It still costs three times as much to build a subway, and you still get way more with the four priority lines than you do with these little additions of our subway system.”

The report also suggested that 600,000 commuters would be left stranded if the city chooses Ford’s original subway idea over the Transit City LRT option.

Kirkpatrick said he understands the appeal of the underground.

“If you’re asked a question ‘would you like to have a Ferrari or a Chevette?’, you’re going to say ‘I’ll take the Ferrari’.

“But that’s not a fair question to ask people.”

The study also said light rail is better for the environment, and while the proposed subway plan wouldn’t begin operating until 2020, the planned LRT service is scheduled to start running in 2014.

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