ABOVE: Subways, subways, subways! Mayor Rob Ford outlines what his transit plan for Toronto will be if he is re-elected. Mark McAllister reports.
TORONTO – Toronto mayor Rob Ford is again making it clear subways are his preferred method of transit for commuters across the city by revealing an extensive underground expansion plan as a main campaign platform in his re-election bid.
Ford told reporters during his announcement at his campaign headquarters Wednesday morning that his rapid transit vision would see 32 kilometres of new subways built across the city at a cost of $9 billion.
“The city is growing folks. People do not want St. Clair,” Ford said. “People don’t want L-R-T, they don’t want delays.”
Ford’s plan includes overhauling the above-ground portion of the Eglinton Light Rapid Transit (LRT) line between Laird and Kennedy station, to now be built underground for a cost of $1.4 billion.
Furthermore, a subway extension would be constructed between Finch West Station to Humber College for $2.6 billion, as well as completing the Sheppard subway line from Don Mills to McCowan for $1.8 billion, cancelling the planned surface LRT.
“You bore, bore, bore until the cows come home,” Ford said on how the city should use its boring machines to continue work along the proposed routes.
Ford’s estimate for the cost of subways falls far below what the city is spending to build the extension of the Bloor-Danforth line. Ford said Wednesday he could build 32 kilometres of subway for $9 billion (or $281 million per kilometre) but the Scarborough subway is being built at a cost of $3.56 billion for 7.6 kilometres (or $468 million per kilometre).
Metrolinx refused to comment on Ford’s transit plan.
Ford’s billion dollar plan also include Phase 1 of the Yonge Relief Line to be built from Queen to Pape at a cost of $3.2 billion.
“This is a bold and ambitious vision for years to come. For your kids. For you grand kids,” Ford explained.
Fellow mayoral candidate Olivia Chow quickly rebuked Ford’s expansion plan by calling it “irresponsible.”
“What Mr. Ford is doing is to stop the work that we’ve been doing on light rapid transit and we are ready to start building it,” Chow told reporters following a debate hosted by FilmOntario on Wednesday.
“If you look at the Scarborough subway, there’s no studies. There’s no environmental assessment,” explained Chow who supports light rail on the Scarborough extension.
“Even the application to the federal government hasn’t gone in and the contract with Bombardier for buying those light rail trains have to be cancelled and we’ll pay a hefty price if we cancel the contract.”
John Tory, who also took part in the FilmOntario debate, said the mayor will not get the support needed from the upper levels of government to push his plan through.
“This man has absolutely run out of gas,” Tory said.
“I’d like to ask when was the last time he talked to the premier of Ontario or talked to the prime minister of Canada who are people leading governments that have to be partners in every single thing he talked about.”
The mayor believes the Eglinton underground line can be finished during his next term in office while work can start on the Sheppard line and the Downtown Relief Line.
“You got to build these tunnels. The easy part are the stations, it’s the boring.”
Ford’s subway expansion plan would use a combined funding model which includes private and public partnerships, government money, as well as transferring funds allocated for planned LRT routes to pay for it.
The mayor also revealed his grand vision for phase two of a subway plan that would see the Eglinton line run to Pearson airport and the Downtown Relief Line loop from Eglinton in the north, to Union Station in the south and come back up to Dundas West Station.
Ford admitted he didn’t have a price tag for the second phase of the project.
“I can’t give you a price on that right now. But obviously a lot more than $9 billion.”
GALLERY: Rob Ford’s subway expansion plan
Review the LIVEBLOG of Ford’s announcement from Global News reporter Mark McAllister: