Toronto is looking for a ‘transit tsar’ to speed up city’s expansion plans

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Toronto’s transit system needs a tsar, Mayor John Tory announced Thursday.

Tory, fresh off a resounding re-election, says the city will create a transit expansion office that will be the “single point of contact” for city divisions, the TTC, Metrolinx and other levels of government working on projects in Toronto.

The transit tsar’s role, Tory said, is to smash down any obstacle to getting transit built, while also ensuring billion-dollar projects stay on budget.

Wait, isn’t this what the TTC does?

Not quite, said Tory, who called the city’s transit agency just one important partner in getting future projects up and running — council has a long list, including: six SmartTrack stations, the Scarborough subway extension, the downtown relief line and a number of light rail projects throughout Toronto.

“Council has approved Toronto’s transit network plan, voters have endorsed it and this office will be tasked with making sure every project in that plan, including the relief line, is completed on time and on budget,” Tory said in a news release.

Transportation was the top issue ahead of October’s election, according to the tens of thousands of people who used CBC Toronto’s civic engagement tool, Vote Compass.

The Ontario government is also looking at the option of uploading the TTC’s subway system.

Tory said the city is immediately launching a search for the person who will become tsar (the official title is “executive director” according to a city news release). It’s also unclear how much setting up a transit expansion office will cost.

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