January 26, 2015 4:29 pm

Reality check: What’s Toronto really paying to cancel the Scarborough LRT?

A file photo of a TTC subway

Fotosearch / Getty Images

TORONTO – Just how much is Toronto paying to not build light rail in Scarborough?

There was some confusion around this last week, as councillors claimed they hadn’t been given a fulsome explanation of the $85 million of sunk LRT costs for which the city’s on the hook.

That sunk cost figure was clearly spelled out when city council voted to scrap the $1.4 billion, seven-stop light rail line, paid for entirely by the province, in favour of a three-stop subway for which the city would have to pay $1-billion in addition to operating costs and any extra fees associated with cancelling the light rail line, which was already effectively under way.

So, just to be clear: The city’s budget includes approximately $85 million to pay the sunk costs of cancelling the Scarborough LRT in favour of a much more expensive subway.

But the city will end up paying much more – and we still don’t know how much.

The city is on the hook for the costs of renegotiating a $770-million contract between Metrolinx and Bombardier for 182 vehicles for various light rail projects.

Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins said they hope to use the vehicles that would have run on the Scarborough line for other Metrolinx projects. If they can’t, the city will have to pay an as-yet-undetermined amount to renegotiate the contract.

And once the subway gets built, the city will have to pay the operating costs.

That figure, too, is up in the air. In an email to Global News Monday, TTC spokesperson Brad Ross said the transit commission doesn’t know how much it will cost to operate the Scarborough subway.

Of course, the city has yet to renegotiate its original Master Agreement with Metrolinx. If councillors have second thoughts about committing Toronto taxpayers to untold millions for a subway that wouldn’t go as far or reach as many under-served areas of Scarborough as the original transit line they could have gotten for free, they can in theory change their minds.

It seems unlikely: Mayor John Tory has said repeatedly he’s committed to a Scarborough subway.


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