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TTC board votes to replace Line 3 Scarborough RT with new, express bus services as of 2023

Click to play video: 'TTC reports suggests closing Line 3 Scarborough RT in 2023 because of aging infrastructure' TTC reports suggests closing Line 3 Scarborough RT in 2023 because of aging infrastructure
WATCH ABOVE: The Scarborough RT is ten years past its life-cycle and TTC staff say it would cost over $500-million to keep it operating until 2030. As Erica Vella reports, a TTC staff report is recommending shutting down the RT and replacing the system with buses until the Line 2 subway extension opens – Feb 5, 2021

The Toronto Transit Commission board has voted to replace the aging Line 3 Scarborough RT with new, express buses as of 2023 due to increasing infrastructure failures.

Details on the Line 3 replacement service are set to be released later in 2021. Staff will look at implementing express buses on a yet-to-be-determined route between Kennedy and Scarborough Centre stations as well as rejigging existing bus routes to service Lawrence East, Ellesmere and Midland stations.

Officials were directed to further assess two options for providing bus service as of 2023.

The first option would see new, dedicated buses begin to service the corridor at a higher, upfront cost, which wouldn’t impact the existing bus network.

Read more: TTC staff recommend closing Line 3 Scarborough RT in 2023 due to degrading infrastructure

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The second option would see taking buses from the existing spare bus ratio until new buses could be purchased between 2027 and 2029, reducing the number of buses available should there be a need during subway line failures or other events impacting TTC service.

During Wednesday afternoon’s meeting, board members also voted to direct staff to include the option of a dedicated busway on the existing Line 3 corridor as part of public consultations on the replacement transit service. The consultations will include options for the future potential uses of the current Line 3 station lands.

“I just think nobody wanted to see this come to this point, but here we are,” Coun. Jaye Robinson, who is chair of the board, said Wednesday afternoon.

The decision to replace the Line 3 Scarborough RT with buses follows TTC staff’s recommendations for implementing new and revised bus services by in central Scarborough until the Line 2 subway extension opens, which is scheduled for 2030.

Staff said factoring in life-cycle costs, the TTC would need $522.4 million to keep trains operating until the extension opening — something they didn’t recommend. Officials also said there would still be a “high risk” of not having the trains operate as required.

Click to play video: 'TTC staff recommend end to Scarborough RT service in 2023' TTC staff recommend end to Scarborough RT service in 2023
TTC staff recommend end to Scarborough RT service in 2023 – Feb 4, 2021

The five-station, 6.4-kilometre Scarborough RT line, which runs above ground between Kennedy subway station and McCowan Road past Scarborough Town Centre, first opened in 1985 and was only designed to operate for 25 years. In 2019, it was estimated that approximately 35,000 passengers a day used Line 3 and 75 per cent of those passengers passed through Kennedy and Scarborough Centre stations.

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Overhauls began in 2012 to extend the life of the RT so it could be used for the 2015 Pan Am Games. The TTC did a second, more extensive overhaul of equipment beginning in 2018 to keep the line operating, including address “major” train structural issues.

Extreme temperatures and inclement weather, combined with failing equipment, have meant dozens of days of speed restrictions and reduced train intervals.

TTC staff were working to keep the line open until 2026, which was in line with the previously forecast opening of the Scarborough subway extension. However, changing transit plans and other delays have pushed the anticipated opening to 2030.

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