Subways or LRT: Comparing the transit plans of Ford, Chow and Tory

Watch: Olivia Chow announces her transit plan. 

TORONTO – The three major mayoral candidates have announced their transit plans: Olivia Chow wants LRTs and a Yonge Street relief line, John Tory wants above-ground subways connecting Mississauga, Toronto and Markham, and Rob Ford wants more subways.

Here’s a breakdown of each plan.

Olivia Chow

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Chow had already revealed she planned to increase bus service during rush hour for an estimated price of $15 million.

But Wednesday she released the map of her plan which included light rail transit along Finch Avenue and Sheppard Avenue, “above ground rail” in lieu of the planned Scarborough subway which she has previously promised to cancel , and a Yonge street relief line that stretches from around St. Andrew station to somewhere on the Bloor-Danforth line (she admitted the design could change).

Chow plans to raise the $15 million for increased bus service through the city’s property tax. She did not say however if she would raise it or reallocate funds.

And how would she pay for the relief line and three light rail transit plans? She’s willing to borrow up to $1 billion which she hopes the provincial and federal governments will match to pay for the $3.2 billion first phase of the Yonge Street relief line. The light rail transit would be paid entirely by the provincial government, according to the Chow campaign.

John Tory

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Unlike Chow, Tory’s plan keeps the mayor’s prized Scarborough subway and focuses heavily on above-ground trains stretching from Mississauga to Markham dubbed the “SmartTrack” line. Tory’s campaign literature says the 53km line will have 22 new station stops, five interchanges with the TTC and could be built by 2021.

The line relies on using existing GO Transit tracks to get trains across Toronto which would need provincial authorization.

He wants to use Tax Increment Financing to raise approximately $2.5 billion for the plan. The financing plan involves using a portion of future property tax revenue along the rail line to pay for the construction.

Rob Ford

Subways, subways, subways. The mayor has long been a vocal supporter of subways and an opponent of streetcars.

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He has not released a transit plan for his next term as mayor (though campaign staff says he will) but has spoken about his plans for transit at length during his last four years in office.

He successfully scrapped a planned and fully-funded LRT in Scarborough and replaced it with a three-stop extension of the Bloor-Danforth line that will cost the city approximately $900 million as well as maintenance and operating costs.

The Scarborough subway is being paid for by incremental increases to the property tax and contributions from the provincial and federal governments.

And he wants more subways. The mayor has long said he wants to scrap planned LRTs on Finch Avenue and Sheppard Avenue and replace them with subways. He did not however, say how he would pay for it.