New deal means TTC will operate new LRT lines
Chris Kitching, cp24.com
Published Wednesday, October 3, 2012 9:24AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, October 3, 2012 1:09PM EDT
A new partnership agreement between Metrolinx and the TTC means four new LRT lines will be operated by the TTC instead of a private company, transit officials announced Wednesday morning.
The deal means the LRT network will be publicly owned and transit riders will pay only one fare to ride the city's entire transit system, said top Metrolinx, TTC and provincial officials at a news conference.
The private sector will design, build and maintain the lines, while the TTC will be responsible for daily operations, including operators, station staff, safety and enforcement once the network is up and running.
The agreement is an about-face for Metrolinx, which announced last month it would seek a private operator for the provincially-funded LRT lines instead of handing the day-to-day operations and maintenance of the lines over to the TTC.
The earlier decision to go with the private sector was a source of friction between the transit agencies, with TTC chair Karen Stintz threatening to withdraw funding.
At the news conference, Stintz suggested the differences are in the past and the partners are committed on keeping the project on time and on budget.
“When you’re transforming transit it doesn’t come without a few bumps along the road, and we’ve had our share," Stintz said with a laugh, "but we’re marching through and we’re marching forward."
TTC CEO Andy Byford said he and Metrolinx president Bruce McCuaig “worked tirelessly” behind the scenes to come up with an agreement.
“I think in many ways the hard work starts now because we’ve got to make the details of the framework work and make sure that it’s delivered on time,” Byford said.
In its earlier decision, Metrolinx argued partnering with the private sector would avoid construction delays and cost overruns.
Stintz spoke out against that plan, fearing the new lines would not be integrated with existing TTC services and would result in a two-fare system.
The new deal means the LRT lines will be "integrated, seamless and user friendly," Stintz said Wednesday.
According to Metrolinx, construction of the Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown LRT and Finch West LRT lines will be complete by 2020, while the Sheppard East LRT line will be up and running by 2021.
The Scarborough RT replacement and extension to Sheppard Avenue will be finished by 2020, as well.
At a cost of more than $8 billion in provincial money, the four lines will provide 52 kilometres of new transit for riders.
The Toronto LRT project is part of "The Big Move," a 25-year, $50 billion plan to transform regional transportation in the GTA and Hamilton area.
@ChrisKitching is on Twitter. Don't forget, for instant breaking news, follow @CP24 on Twitter.