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Wrong subway

It was announced this morning that the feds will be contributing $660M towards Toronto’s new Scarborough subway line. While transit investment of any kind is generally a good thing, it’s a shame that we can’t get our priorities straight. Decisions are being made based on politics rather than rational thought.

Here’s what TTC CEO Andy Byford said:

“We all know that Toronto has a congestion problem, so it can only be good that we get more funding,” Andy Byford told reporters after the announcement. “I’ve said since the day I got here that the downtown relief line remains a priority for the TTC. I reiterate that point. But I think that, with the time scales available, it’s possible we can do more than one thing at a time.”

This is Byford being diplomatic.

The downtown relief line is absolutely the most important (planned) subway line in Toronto. For one, the Yonge & Bloor subway interchange is at capacity. Until these pressures are relieved, any extension of existing lines will only exacerbate the problem.

At the same time, the density levels are way higher in the core, meaning that ridership levels will be higher and the required government subsidies will be lower. Not surprisingly, subway lines make more fiscal sense when you build them where demand is greatest.

So the irony is that our Mayor – who ran on a campaign to “stop the gravy train” – is pushing to build a rail line that will ultimately cost taxpayers more money.

Oh, politics.

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