Light Rail

Grown-Ups Took Reins in Sheppard LRT Debate

By Ryan McGreal
Published April 03, 2012

I realize this is a little late to the party, but I just re-read Steve Munro's write-up on Toronto Council's approval of the Sheppard East LRT and was struck by the realization that Council managed to land on a decidedly grown-up approach to the issue after months of temper tantrums out of the Mayor's office.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and a small circle of his supporters, including his brother, implacably insisted on building a subway, despite having no ideas on how to finance it.

Councillor Doug Ford called the members who supported LRT "these monkeys". After the vote, he attacked TTC Chair Karen Stintz, the Mayor's own pick for that appointment, calling her a "backstabber".

Mayor Ford's speech to Council was literally two minutes of him saying over and over again, "Subways, subways, subways," and "We must build subways, we must build subways." After the vote, the Mayor said the the Province should ignore Council's decision and refuse to finance LRT.

Meanwhile, the majority of council, led by Stintz, were busy putting together and approving an affordable, workable and coherent plan to integrate higher-order transit into Eglinton Avenue/Finch Avenue West and Sheppard Avenue East.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan wrote a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. His articles have also been published in The Walrus, HuffPost and Behind the Numbers. He maintains a personal website, has been known to share passing thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, and posts the occasional cat photo on Instagram.


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By Ford/Los Angeles (anonymous) | Posted April 03, 2012 at 15:04:08

Toronto council functioning DESPITE mayor & his gang. See Mon. Globe--John Lorinc--re transit in Los Angeles: where the mayor is probably NOT a nincompoop as in Toronto. Ford is barely literate(no offence)--he has trouble reading his own press stmts.
While Toronto feuded, Los Angeles built transit
john lorinc
From Monday's Globe and Mail
Published Sunday, Apr. 01, 2012 7:24PM EDT
Last updated Monday, Apr. 02, 2012 5:00AM EDT

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted April 04, 2012 at 07:01:23

The grownups also probably took most of the Metrolinx capital budget between now and 2020. The Pearson link and Ottawa LRT should suck up the rest. Something to chuckle ruefully about when the pumps hit $1.50 a litre in May.

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted April 04, 2012 at 10:59:57 in reply to Comment 75681

TORONTO - The Ontario government's Metrolinx is paying $310.5 million to buy two segments of railway line in the Toronto area from Canadian National Railway (TSX:CNR).

The rails are principally used to carry GO Transit passenger trains, which are part of a provincially owned regional transportation system that runs through heavily populated areas in and around Canada's most populous city.

Under a strategic plan announced in December 2008, Metrolinx has been buying up various segments of track in the areas it serves — with the goal of improving service to current and future commuters.

The latest purchases mean its GO Transit subsidiary owns 65 per cent of the rail corridors that it uses, Metrolinx spokesman Malon Edwards said Tuesday..

He added that other users of the infrastructure will continue to use the track but pay access fees to GO rather than to Canadian National.

"By purchasing these segments of track, GO Transit switches its role from tenant to landlord. So instead of paying access fees on these segments of track, we now collect access fees from the transportation agencies using the rail corridor we own," Edwards said.

In total, the deal announced Tuesday by CN involves about 40 kilometres of track.

The Montreal-based railway will continue to have rights to run freight trains over the track, as will passenger rail services operated by Via, Ontario Northland and Amtrak.

One of the two lines in Tuesday's announcement runs between the Etobicoke area of Toronto and a point in Oakville, Ont., just west of Fourth Line — part of GO's Lakeshore West train service that runs from downtown Toronto at Union Station to Hamilton.

The other line which runs from downtown Toronto near Rosedale Valley Road through the Don Valley to the northern edge of the city at Steeles Avenue where it connects with an east-west freight corridor owned by Canadian National.

"We are pleased to transfer ownership of these important commuter rail lines to Metrolinx to further its future service objectives, while protecting CN's operating rights to ensure continued service to its freight customers," Luc John, CN executive vice-president and chief financial officer, said in a statement.

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted April 04, 2012 at 07:03:19

Flashback, 2010

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By TreyS (registered) | Posted April 04, 2012 at 10:23:11

Subways are way cool though. But they're for grownup cities.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted April 04, 2012 at 15:10:50 in reply to Comment 75696

Total government spending in Canada, from 1961-1981, increased at an average rate of 13.65%.

In contrast, from 1993 (fight the government debt era) to 2008, total government spending averaged only 3.34%.

From 2008-11, when Canada went "crazy" on stimulus spending, the average increase at the federal level was 5.12%. For Ontario, the average increase was 5.39%.

If the feds decided to build Hamilton a 15km line from Mac to Eastgate, the cost would be approximately $8,571/person (~$300M/km, TTC Sheppard line cost $1B for 5.5km). If they promised the same dollars across the country, it would cost $297.9B, or $59.6B/year (assuming a 5 year timeline to build).

For example...

Year 0 (2010-11) $279.5B
Year 1 (2011-12) $279.5B (austerity budget)+ $59.6B = $339.1B
Year 2 $279.5B * 1.04 = $290.7 + $59.6 = $350.3B
Year 3 $303.3B + $59.6 = $362.9B
Year 4 $314.4B + $59.6 = $374B
Year 5 $327B + $59.6 = $386.6B
Year 6 $340.1B + $59.6 = $399.7B

So, even if the feds built subway lines (or equivalent) across Canada, the increase in total federal spending would average 6.14%/year, rather than the hypothetical 4% seen in recent decades.
Compare that to the 13.65% seen in the sixties and seventies and you can see that there is no reason why Canada couldn't build out its infrastructure if it wanted to.

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted April 09, 2012 at 01:06:55

The DRL story in the Star is going to complicate the picture yet again. Metrolinx originally had factored the plan into its long-term strategic parameters, but outside of its 25-year project queue. Now it's looking like it could jockey for a priority position based on Toronto's strong growth curve. One source estimates that the DRL would be another $4 billion in transit infrastructure, money that the province has suggested it doesn't have. Will it take a winning Olympics bid to bring the feds into the fold, or will someone find a hidden provincial reserve? Will Metrolinx re-examine its priorities based on cities' adherence to provincial growth predictions and prescribed patterns? One thing is certain: The transit portfolio never wants for intrigue!

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