From 2015 – The Broadway Subway, No Value For Money

The NDP have now blundered in approving the Broadway subway and photo-ops by Premier Horgan attributed what LRT is very good at and light-metro which is not very good at. Wrong script, wrong mode.

LRT has a proven record of modal shift, attracting motorists from the car. SkyTrain has no such record.

LRT has a proven record attracting new customers to transit, SkyTrain has a very poor record of attracting new customers as over 80% of SkyTrain’s ridership first take the bus and buses are extremely poor in attracting new ridership.

LRT has a proven record of attracting customers to businesses along its route. Subways, due to their nature of being underground has no such record as customers underground to not see the businesses on the street.

The Broadway subway will achieve nothing, except to show how dishonest and corrupt our regional transit planning is. Shame on everyone on this travesty of planning.

And now, a final insult. The following is a comment by Haveacow …….

A former head of Translink’s maintenance operations suggested that, removal of the 4th rail and purchasing cheaper, and most likely larger LRV’s would save 40% – 45% in operating costs compared to Skytrain. Simply removing the 4th rail and switching to standard electric motors alone would save 25%. The LRV’s would have to be converted to 3rd rail power pick-ups but that’s not too difficult or expensive. Keep in mind he said this as he was retiring, so the big wigs couldn’t fire him.

This makes absolute, those who say Movia Automatic Light Metro (MALM), a.k.a, SkyTraion; a.k.a. Advanced Light Rail Transit; a.k.a. Advanced Rapid Transit; is cheaper to operate than light rail are telling “porkies” very big Porkies!


From 2015.

Despite a growing number of supporters, such as the business community, the City of Vancouver; most of the regional mayors, the provincial NDP and their combined sundry of shills clamouring for a SkyTrain Broadway subway, many serious questions remain unanswered. The following op-ed commentary published by The Toronto Star questions whether the concept of building a heavy rail subway to replacing the aging Scarborough light metro amounts to a subway a billion-dollar boondoggle?

The key phrase in the article is; “An expert panel established by city council found an LRT superior to a subway on all counts: funding, economic development, transit service, sustainability and social impact.

It is strange that the likes of Mayor Greggor Robinson, Geoff Meggs, various business groups and Chamber’s of Commerce have come to an opposite conclusion about a Broadway subway, but then, real transit experts have never been asked.

A no value-for-money case can be made for the Scarborough subway extension, yet Toronto’s Mayor John Tory and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne continue to support it.

Back in BC, TransLink has not even done such a study for the proposed Broadway SkyTrain subway, yet actual planning is under way.

The Broadway subway could be Vancouver’s billion dollar boondoggle which offers the taxpayer, no value for money, unless the taxpayer is assembling land along Broadway for major development!

By: R. Michael Warren
Published on Sat Jan 03 2015
Is the Scarborough subway another billion-dollar boondoggle?

There isn’t a value-for-money case for the Scarborough subway extension. Yet Mayor John Tory and Premier Kathleen Wynne support this expensive vanity subway. At the same time they keep telling us their rapid transit investments are based on careful cost-benefit analysis.

Tory ducks the Scarborough subway controversy by saying the decision has been taken by council. And he doesn’t want to put a stick in the eye of the Liberal government.

This is political pandering to Scarborough voters and the Wynne Liberals. Tory has neglected to make the case for a three-stop subway link that will cost $3.56 billion (USD $2.02 billion) $1.6 billion (USD $1.35 billion) more than a modern seven-stop light-rail transit line.

Tory chose this political strategy despite knowing that three highly qualified and independent groups had already recommended an LRT.

Metrolinx favoured replacing the aging RT with a modern LRT link that would cost $1.8 billion (USD $1.52 billion).

An expert panel established by city council found an LRT superior to a subway on all counts: funding, economic development, transit service, sustainability and social impact.

The Pembina Institute also supports an LRT for Scarborough. They maintain it would deliver twice as much service for every dollar invested.

By any measure, the subway option shouldn’t even be on the table.

The 30,000 riders per hour subway capacity is overkill.

Peak ridership is expected to grow to only 9,000 by 2031.

The subway option will cost about twice as much and, according to Pembina, attract only 23 million riders a year compared to 31 million for an LRT.

By supporting a subway, Tory is placing a $910-million (USD $772.2 million) tax burden on the shoulders of Toronto taxpayers.

Fully $745 million (USD $632.1 million) of this has to come from a property tax surcharge, which amounts to $41 a year (USD $34.79) for 30 years for the average homeowner.

That’s on top of the tax hikes that will inevitably flow from the rest of Tory’s election agenda.

But when it comes to Tory’s own SmartTrack plan, he stresses it will not burden local taxpayers and must go through a rigorous examination process.

He said recently, The express purpose of what we’re doing here is to move forward with a fact-based, transparent process.

This begs the question: why does SmartTrack get a comprehensive fact-based analysis while the Scarborough subway doesn’t?

Part of the answer rests with Wynne, who backed the subway option in an effort to win seats in vote-rich Scarborough.

Tory went along in pursuit of Liberal support for his mayoralty bid and for future favours.

Wynne compromised sound transit planning while chasing the 2013 byelection seat in Scarborough-Guildwood and more recently in the June provincial election.

She committed the $1.4 billion (USD $1.18 billion), originally meant for an LRT, to the subway link, knowing it was not the best financial or operating option.

During the last election Wynne promised all future transit infrastructure investments would be based on a rigorous business case analysis.

She still hasn’t explained why this decision-making process isn’t being applied to the Scarborough transit link.

Her political strategy worked.

The Liberals won all five Scarborough seats.

But if the subway link is built, these seats will cost taxpayers an additional $1.6 billion (USD $1.35 billion) and saddle Scarborough with a transit solution that’s inferior to an LRT.

Does all this have a familiar ring?

Surely by now Wynne has developed the ability to see a billion-dollar boondoggle coming down the track.

Building a subway extension into Scarborough has all the hallmarks of a spending scandal.

It’s unlikely that Wynne or Tory will still be around for the opening in 2023.

But tax-weary Toronto and provincial voters will be.

And by then they’ll still be paying for an overbuilt and underused transit white elephant.

There’s still time for Wynne and Tory to put the Scarborough transit link through the same rigorous value-for-money analysis they say is being applied to every other transit investment.

It would go a long way toward showing they’re serious about making transit decisions based on costs and benefits rather than wasting money on parochial politics.

R. Michael Warren is a former corporate director, Ontario deputy minister, TTC chief general manager and Canada Post CEO.

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