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Jennifer Pagliaro @jpags
, 17 tweets, 6 min read Read on Twitter
Mayor John Tory's favoured $3.35B Scarborough subway plan was "drawn on the back of a napkin": New from me on how city staff cast the subway in a more favourable light at a time when council was under pressure to choose the 1-stop subway over a 7-stop LRT…
Let's talk for a minute about the subway. It has been a really long road and you might be wondering: How did we get to the place where a majority of councillors voted to move ahead with spending at least $3.35 billion for one subway stop? /1
There was a time when the plan was to build a seven-stop LRT. It was going to replace the Scarborough RT, which is very old and reaching the end of it's life. It would have run separated from traffic. Here's what the new LRT station at Centennial College would have looked like:
Then there was Rob Ford and "subways, subways, subways". Councillors Karen Stintz and Glenn De Baeremaeker and Premier Kathleen Wynne and MPP Mitzie Hunter all vying for election wins in Scarborough. Scarborough was told they deserved a subway. They were lied to about the LRT /3
In 2013, council scrapped the LRT in favour of a subway. At that time, there was *zero* design done on subway. Staff roughly estimated it would cost $3.56B. Other governments, city's own taxpayers tapped for funds to pay for it. We now know that estimate was off by $1B dollars /4
Then John Tory was elected, promising to build a subway that was not justified by planning evidence. A 2013 Metrolinx report said it simply: The subway was "not a worthwhile use of the money" compared to the LRT. That report was never published.… /5
Facing that criticism, and rising costs, Tory backed a revised subway plan in January 2016 that reduced the number of stops to one. The savings, staff promised, could be used to fund a different LRT line… /6
But costs kept going up. The Eglinton LRT promised was quickly priced out of $3.56B (remember how that was based on nothing?) available for Scarborough transit. Tory did not relent, saying 3-stop plan had been nothing more than a "sketch on a piece of paper given to the TTC” /7
This new plan, Tory said, would not be subject to that same kind of politics. "I cannot let the mistakes of the past cloud my judgement on what Toronto needs for the future," Tory wrote in a June 2016 oped in the Star… /8
Today's story explains just how rough and rushed the one-stop plan still was/is despite those missives from Tory and what council was told by staff. For example, a sketch on a piece of paper given to the TTC /9
Stick with me: A closer look at what council was told reveals some troubling truths. They heard the subway was at 5% in July 2016. A March peer review said the design was *then* at 2-5% based on five internal documents. But only one was prepared before July 2016 council vote /10
If all five documents totaled 2-5%, how was just one equal to 5%? Why did staff tell council the subway was at 5% design? Important: Staff also said the LRT design was at 5-10% when it was clearly much further along /11
What is clear, is that closing that divide made it seem like a subway, still lacking in planning justification and ballooning in cost, was not so bad compared to LRT - which would serve more people and was further along in design /12
So, who cares? Council already approved a subway and Tory & his allies have said that's it, right? The subway still at an early stage of design. A more accurate cost estimate is needed so council can vote on whether to actually build it. The cost is expected to rise /13
That updated cost, internal documents received through freedom of information, reveal, will be ready in September - before October municipal election. But there's no council meeting after July. Staff, Tory won't commit to that information being released before the election /14
Today, we know the 6.2-km Scarborough subway would carry 34,000 *fewer* daily riders than the nearly 6-km Sheppard subway - which has been called a "white elephant" for riders it failed to attract. At rush hour, the Scarborough extension would be more than 70 per cent empty /15
With a vote now expected in January 2019, it will be up to a new council to decide how to proceed and whether to build a subway at all. Then, as they are now, council will be reliant on advice from city staff to make an informed decision /end
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