The Realities of Subway Mania In Lotus Land


The realities of subway mania.

Vancouver politicians live in “The Land of the Loyus Eaters”, when it comes to transit.

In Greek mythology the lotus-eaters, were a race of people living on an island dominated by the Lotus tree. The lotus fruits and flowers were the primary food of the island and were a narcotic, causing the inhabitants to sleep in peaceful apathy.

As TransLink, Vancouver Council, UBC,  and the Mayor’s Council on Transit sleep in peaceful apathy, the realities of the real cost of the subway are ignored.

According to Metrolinx’s study, the real cost of the 5.8 km Broadway subway will be more like $6 billion over 50 years.

As costs mount ever higher elsewhere for subways, our politicians and bureaucrats remain ignorant of escalating costs for subway construction, continue to misinform the public as to the real cost of Broadway’s subway.

In Metro Toronto, Metrolinx has finally admitted that:”

“……the Scarborough subway costs simply aren’t worth it,” he said. “It’s been years that Scarborough subway advocates haven’t been telling the truth to Scarborough residents and people across the city.”

And for years now, Translink: the City of Vancouver, UBC, the Ministry of Transportation, the Minister of Transportation, the Minister responsible for TransLink, the Mayor’s Council on Transit and the subway lobby haven’t been telling the truth about the high costs of subway construction to taxpayers in metro Vancouver. Is the $6 billion. plus, cost over 50 years, giving good value?

Is it not time that the province steps in for a fiscal reality check? Is there the moral fibre in Victoria to do this?


Interesting that the numbers for LRT came via the TTC and the numbers for the subwaycame from the provincial government who wanted the subway.

Costs of major transit projects will far exceed their benefits, according to Metrolinx reports

Oliver Moore Urban Affairs Reporter


The subway project in Scarborough has been hotly debated in Toronto since 2013, when its backers won council support for cancelling a light-rail line in the area and replacing it with an extension – the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension seen here in 2016 – of the subway to Scarborough Town Centre mall.

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail


Two of Ontario’s marquee transit projects have costs that far exceed their benefits, according to a pair of analyses prepared for the regional transit agency Metrolinx.

The reports, released Friday afternoon, show that the Scarborough subway extension proposed for east-end Toronto and the westward extension of the Crosstown Eglinton light rail line across the city could, together, cost nearly $10-billion to build while producing benefits amounting to billions less. In spite of this, Metrolinx has recommended both projects be advanced.

The analysis deliberately errs on the side of caution and Metrolinx hopes to improve the benefits of these projects over time, agency CEO Phil Verster said in a statement.

The benefits are calculated by assigning a monetary value to such things as removing cars from the road and saving commuters time.

Shelagh Pizey-Allen, spokesperson for the advocacy group TTCRiders, said the projects were examples of proposals pitched with a modest price tag, but costs rose and value diminished over time.

The Metrolinx board received these reports at an in-camera meeting in January and, at the time, quietly approved pushing ahead with the projects. The agency refused to release the reports when asked earlier this month.

Both projects are being overseen by the provincial government, which struck a deal with the city of Toronto that handed over control and financial responsibility for major rail construction to Metrolinx.

A spokeswoman for Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney said the government would continue to support both projects.

“These [reports] represent Metrolinx’s best understanding of the projects at a given moment in time and are inevitably subject to change during the projects’ life cycles,” Christina Salituro said in an e-mail.

“These documents are key elements in ensuring Metrolinx continues to make the most informed decisions going forward and are just one of a number of factors used in making a final decision.”

The subway project in Scarborough has been hotly debated in Toronto since 2013, when its backers won council support for cancelling a light-rail line in the area and replacing it with an extension of the subway to Scarborough Town Centre mall.

The analysis released Friday of the subway extension concluded it would bring $2.8-billion in benefits over a 60-year period, and cost about $5.5-billion to build. The Ontario government had last year pegged the cost at this level, which is about $2-billion more than the amount budgeted by the city when it was in charge of an earlier version of project.

“That subway is not going to be cost-effective,” said Brenda Thompson, with the advocacy group Scarborough Transit Action, adding that such a high price tag would preclude building anything else in that part of the city.

“I think this is going to suck up all of the money and I think politicians should be upfront about that. This is what we’re going to end up with, if at all.”

Toronto Councillor Josh Matlow, who has long advocated for the original plan for light rail instead in Scarborough, said that the report is another example of the claims of subway boosters being proved wrong.

“Today Metrolinx finally admitted that the Scarborough subway costs simply aren’t worth it,” he said. “It’s been years that Scarborough subway advocates haven’t been telling the truth to Scarborough residents and people across the city.”

The city had budgeted $3.56-billion for a one-stop Scarborough subway extension. During the last election campaign, now Premier Doug Ford pledged to add two more stations. The version being studied by Metrolinx includes the additional stations.

The newly released analysis for a light-rail extension of the Crosstown to Pearson International Airport shows that it will cost up to $4.4-billion, net present value, in 2019 dollars, if it has nine stops and is substantially below ground. In that form it would bring benefits of $1.4-billion over 60 years.

The project’s capital cost could be reduced to about $2.8-billion if most of the stops were removed, the analysis notes, or to as little as $2.1-billion if it was built on the surface.

Mr. Ford has pledged to bury as much of the Crosstown extension as possible.


3 Responses to “The Realities of Subway Mania In Lotus Land”
  1. Haveacow says:

    Ok, as I have said before, using Cost-Benefit Analysis in this way as single important metric of how good or bad a potential rail line can be is very dangerous.

    For example, In my old paper planning library at home is the cost-benefit analysis of the Yonge Street Subway extension from Eglinton to Finch Station in Toronto. This was completed in stages between 1966-1975. The analysis of this line was even worse than the Western extension of the Crosstown LRT to Pearson Airport. However, if you measured the Eglinton to Finch portion of the Yonge Street subway today knowing what we know to be true, it would have a positive result between 25-50 to 1 ratio depending on which data groups you used.

    Conversely, the original Sheppard Subway Cost-Benefit Analysis went the other way from a positive to a less than 1 to 1 ratio based on what was actually built. There is a missing 2 km section from the current Donmills Station terminus to the originally planned Victoria Park Station terminus that was cut due to budget pressures. Adding that missing portion turns the whole Cost-Benefit Analysis around in a positive direction to roughly 1.8 to 1.

    That missed section contains literally, the most staggeringly successful business park in Canadian planning history, the Consumers Road Business Park. This business park has 38,000 employees, several Canadian and international head offices, 2 hotels and 2 T.V. Station studios as well as the Canadian and international corporate head offices of nearly every important engineering firm in Canada, with the exception of SNC Lavlin. Nearly every property inside this business park is on its 3rd building, some properties are on their 4th incarnation. The park has a very high density now with most complexes exceeding 12 stories of height.

    The moral of the story is that, Cost-Benefit Analysis can be useful as part of a group of measurements but it’s highly subjective nature makes its use of what’s good or bad misleading in the extreme and should be highly suspect when it is used alone.

  2. Adam fitch says:

    Haveacow, i was interested in your commrnt about consumers road business park. Why do you think that snc lavalin is not there?

  3. Haveacow says:

    When it was just Lavlin Engineering Systems they were there (during the 80’s and early 90’s). After the rebirth with SNC, they packed up all but a few of their Ontario operations and went to Montreal. This is when they really started concentrating on public infrastructure instead of heavy engineering like power plants, heavy water plants (deuterium plants), pipelines, hydroelectric dams, electrical infrastructure, petrochemical and petroleum processing facilities.

    Zwei replies: Adam Fitch, please remember it was Lavalin Engineering Systems which first purchased the UTDC from the Ontario Government.

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