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Ford deals death blow to Transit City

Rob Ford used his first day as mayor to deal a death blow to Toronto’s $8.15-billion provincially funded Transit City light-rail expansion.

Rob Ford used his first day as mayor to deal a death blow to Toronto’s $8.15-billion provincially funded Transit City light-rail expansion.

The new mayor, who criticized his predecessor David Miller for being too focused on public transit, said he wants to consider motorists, cyclists and pedestrians, as well as transit riders.

He nevertheless began his term by summoning the TTC’s top executive to city hall to order a new transit plan, one that includes only underground rail lines, including at least one subway in time for the 2015 Pan Am Games.

“I just wanted to make it quite clear that he understood that Transit City’s over and the war on the car is over and all new subway expansion is going underground,” Ford said.

The first order of business for the new transit board, likely to be headed by Coun. Karen Stintz, will be to turn off the tap on all funding for Transit City, he said.

Light rail typically costs about $75 million to $100 million per kilometre to build versus about $300 million for subway, said TTC chief general manager Gary Webster. But that difference is substantially less if you put the LRT underground, as is planned for the middle of the Eglinton Crosstown line.

In terms of timelines, “He wants us to work backwards from the Pan Am Games,” said Webster, who admitted he doesn’t know how the TTC will do that.

Ford was noncommittal when asked who will be responsible for the $130 million already spent on Transit City as well as the penalties on more than $1.3 billion worth of signed contracts
“I’m going to deal with the province with respect to that and take it from there,” Ford said.

 
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