Study will look at ‘H20 highway’ for suburb commuters

Before the era of planes, trains and automobiles, water ruled the way we moved. It may again.

If a proposal by the TTC worms its way into reality, Lake Ontario could become a rapid transit corridor.

At the TTC’s July 13 meeting, the commission is to request a study into a ferry serving downtown from Etobicoke and Scarborough. TTC chair Adam Giambrone, who is proposing the study, expects two boats and docking facilities would cost $20 million to $25 million.


“The technology in boats has advanced to the point where it is cost-effective to buy boats that go 30 to 40 knots (55 to 74 km/h),” he said. In comparison, the 204 low-floor, accessible streetcars the TTC wants to buy will each cost $4 million to $5 million.

Giambrone said there are about 1,000 parking spots at the Scarborough Bluffs and more than 400 close to Humber Bay in Etobicoke, near where a ferry could dock.

But the TTC must evaluate whether there would be a demand for a ferry service and whether it would be cost effective, he said.

Transportation Minister Donna Cansfield supports the study, calling Lake Ontario and the harbour an underused “H2O highway” that could help ease gridlock on roads. Mayor David Miller said while the ferry idea is “worth looking at,” the economics might make it difficult to launch.

Not experienced

  • The TTC doesn’t have expertise in running boats so it would probably have to look at contracting out the operation and maintenance of the boats.