The TTC will have to take the Scarborough RT out of service before the Line 2 subway extension is finished and Scarborough residents will likely to have to take “alternate means of transit” until the project is done, Toronto Mayor John Tory says.
“There comes a point in time where you just can’t keep something like that running anymore,” Tory told reporters on Thursday at city hall
“It’s like an old car. You can keep repairing it, but sooner or later, you run out of options for repair.”
Tory said the TTC and Metrolinx, the provincial transit agency, are in talks about what kind of alternate means of transit they’ll provide for Scarborough residents. He said he has been briefed on the status of the Scarborough RT, also known as Line 3.
“I will say there are very active discussions going on now between the TTC and Metrolinx with respect to exactly how long we have to provide that alternate transit service for,” he said.
“They’re talking about exactly how long that kind of service is going to be required because that, to some extent, would influence the choices we make in terms of making good use of the taxpayers’ and TTC’s money.”
The Scarborough RT, which runs between Kennedy and McCowan stations, opened in 1985. It was supposed to be replaced as part of the Transit City project by a modern light rail line, which would already have been up and running by now if Rob Ford hadn’t pushed to scrap it after he was elected mayor of Toronto in 2010.
Ford championed, and council approved, a much more expensive underground extension of the Bloor-Danforth line instead and that project has gone through several different revisions since then. It’s now projected to be a three-stop extension that is estimated to cost $6 billion — a price tag that outweighs its benefits, according to a study released by Metrolinx earlier this year.
Tory said a report should be coming soon from the TTC on the status of the Scarborough RT and its continued lifespan. He said there is a need to make plans.
Mary Davidson, spokesperson for the TTC, said on Thursday that a report outlining options for the Scarborough subway extension project is being prepared and a report with recommendations is expected to go to the TTC board at its meeting in February.
Jamaal Myers, an organizer of the advocacy group Scarborough Transit Action, said he is not surprised that residents in that part of the city will be neglected again when it comes to transit.
“For years, Scarborough Transit Action has been predicting that it was very unlikely that a subway would be built in time for the SRT to retire safely,” Myers said.
“For years, we’ve been told by politicians, like John Tory, that this was not the case. It would not happen. But now it’s happening. This was entirely predictable, but nonetheless, it’s still very disappointing and disheartening to hear,” he added.
News is unacceptable for Scarborough, advocate says
Myers said people who are still commuting are essential workers and they will be forced to waste more time on the bus because politicians decided they were “transit planners.” He said the news is frustrating and the situation is unacceptable for Scarborough.
“And now it looks like, at a minimum, Scarborough transit users will be on buses for 10 years and there is no rapid transit east of McCowan for all of Scarborough,” Myers said.
It’s not clear when the Scarborough subway will be built and there is no plan for a dedicated right of way for buses and how the buses will affect traffic use, he said. There is also no plan on where to store the buses.
“I really hope that the mayor really takes responsibility and ownership of this. He has to get real with Scarborough transit users,” Myers said.
Myers said Metrolinx and TTC need to give Scarborough transit users a clear estimate of how long they will be on buses.
“No playing around with the numbers. Just give to us straight.”