Doug Ford talked transit for his first announcement in the provincial election campaign Wednesday, pledging a new $5 billion for subways in Toronto and a general preference for underground transit.
The Progressive Conservative leader also promised to upload responsibility to the province for the Toronto Transit Commission’s subway infrastructure, but the city would still be responsible for day-to-day operations, as well as bus and streetcar lines, and would keep the revenue.
“You know I want to build new subways and that means fixing the transportation mess,” Ford said at a news conference in Toronto on Wednesday morning.
He said a Tory government would also prioritize underground transit, which is reminiscent of the “subways, subways, subways” mantra of his late brother, former Toronto mayor Rob Ford.
“World class cities need world class subway systems,” Doug Ford said.
Outside of Toronto, Ford said he would support two-way, all-day GO Transit service to Niagara and Phase 2 of the Ottawa LRT, as well as regional transit projects in Mississauga, Brampton, Hamilton, London and Kitchener-Waterloo.
Ford said he would build “a truly regional transit system.”
But he wasn’t clear how he’d pay for the new transit initiatives, which include a downtown relief subway line, an extension of the Yonge line north to Richmond Hill, Ont., and two more stops on a proposed subway in Scarborough.
“We will also leverage money off the feds, we feel that will be sufficient,” Ford said.
Toronto Mayor John Tory supported Ford’s subway announcement.
“I welcome Mr. Ford’s commitment to the relief line and the pledge to provide additional funding for it over and above the $9 billion that has already been secured from the federal and provincial governments,” Tory said in a statement.
The Liberals say Ford’s commitment is still less than they would spend on transit, and the NDP said Ford couldn’t be trusted on the file.
“When he was a councillor and his brother was the mayor they increased the cost of transit for people,” said party leader Andrea Horwath. “They reduced by 10 per cent the transit budget. So for him to now say he’s turned a page on the transit file, I’m not so sure people have much confidence in his commitment.”