Yuri Bilinsky, New Pathway – Ukrainian News.
Following on their transit-related promises made during the election campaign, the Ontario government last fall announced its plans to upload Toronto’s subway to the province’s balance sheet. The parliamentary assistant to the Minister of transportation and MPP for Etobicoke Centre Kinga Surma informed that the government is currently working, in consultation with a special adviser, to determine how the upload will work.
The government’s idea is that the province will own the network and will be responsible for planning and expanding the system, i.e. creating new lines and extending the current ones. It is planned that the TTC will continue to operate the subway and perform maintenance.
According to the Toronto Star, the province can by law take over ownership of subway assets while the Toronto council has no legislative power to stop the province from doing that. Minister of transportation Jeff Yurek has said that the province plans to introduce legislation this spring to enable the upload. Kinga Surma informed the NP-UN that these plans are currently being discussed with the mayor’s office and that the government will fulfill the Minister of transportation’s pledge to the mayor to proceed collaboratively.
The NP-UN spoke to Kinga Surma about the process and the expected results of such upload:
NP-UN: Major European and American cities have extremely dense subway grids with dozens of lines and connections to the suburban lines. And there’s only a handful of subway lines in Toronto. Is the government’s big plan to bring that GTA’s subway grid in line with the major metropolitan areas standards?
Kinga Surma: I agree with you, I travelled myself quite a bit, many cities have very advanced subway systems. And that’s a challenge that Toronto has always faced. That population is constantly growing, that development is continuing to happen, but we haven’t quite kept up with it in terms of investing in public transit. So we’re hoping that uploading the subway will assist us with this. We can build faster and on budget for the residents of Toronto and the region. I can tell you from speaking to my residents – that public transit is one of the most important issues. People want to see us expand the subway system, I think people voiced that concern very clearly during the election. There’s been a lot of plans and proposals over the years, but not enough has been built.
NP-UN: Elon Musk’s company recently built a tunnel at a cost of $10M per mile which compares to the average cost by metropolitan projects of $200M-$500M per mile. Is the Ministry of transportation looking at this experience and do you have similar plans as to the capital cost budgets?
Kinga Surma: It’s too early in the process to talk about that experience, we have to get that first step accomplished. But we are absolutely assessing costs and already trying to bring them down. One example is the Mimico GO station where the developer, in exchange for the right to develop above the station, will pay all construction costs for the main station building, new parking and Greenway. That’s one of the examples where we have the private sector contributing and helping us fund a project. We will be exploring different things as we go along.