Toronto still without many answers on provincial transit plan

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Since late April, city staff and members of the TTC have been sitting down with the province to get more information on its transit plans. But at City Council Tuesday, it was revealed that many glaring questions about the upload have gone unanswered – Jun 18, 2019

Members of staff for both the City of Toronto and the TTC revealed to City Council that the province still isn’t offering a clear picture of its transit plan.

City Council authorized staff and the TTC to participate in good faith negotiations with the province regarding its plans for subways in the city. But after several meetings held since late April, many staff members, including city manager Chris Murray, said there are significant holes in the amount of information the city is getting in return.

Many city politicians, including Mayor John Tory, have repeatedly stated that they don’t know the exact details of the subway upload, because the province hasn’t provided them.

READ MORE: Toronto city council to consider Ontario government’s subway plan — but with caveats

At its monthly meeting on Tuesday, many city councillors expressed disbelief over a lack of answers ranging from provincial schedules on timelines to technology.

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After unveiling its ambitious plans for the Ontario Line, which would expand on the city’s subway relief line plans, Premier Doug Ford touted new technology as a means of delivering the project faster and cheaper than the city could.

But when asked by councillor Mike Colle if the province had expanded on that information, TTC staff had little to offer.

READ MORE: Ontario budget 2019: No money for Sheppard line extension, new bridges on Toronto relief line

“Why won’t they tell you the type of trains?” pressed Colle, stating the type of trains would affect the type of construction for platforms and maintenance on trains.

“The specific technology has not been identified,” said TTC CEO Rick Leary. All Leary could provide was that the provincial plans would be similar to TTC subways with automatic train control and platform edge doors and that the trains would be a little smaller.

TTC staff also revealed that the province had given them no timelines, so estimating completion dates was impossible at this time. But they said that compared to the planning on the city’s downtown relief line, which was around 15 per cent complete, that only 2 per cent of the province’s plans for the Ontario Line were done.

READ MORE: TTC subway service resumes on Line 1 after train gets stuck in tunnel

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“The provincial government doesn’t know what…they’re doing,” said councillor Joe Cressy. “Drawing transit maps is really easy, building transit is actually hard,” he said.

“We are working to get shovels in the ground as quickly as possible to deliver on our promise to build four new or expanded subway lines and that includes our ongoing work with the city over the past several months to ensure we build better transit that Ontarians deserve,” said Andrew Buttigeg, press secretary for the Ministry of Transportation.

“The Ontario Line is currently in the planning, design and engineering phase and we are working towards submitting a refined and detailed business case at the end of June,” said Buttigeg.

“Final dates and schedules will be informed by the ongoing planning, design and other work. We are going to deliver The Ontario Line by 2027,” he said.