Is it too late to change course?

After reviewing this report, Metrolinx staff told us that they had been reluctant to challenge the Transit City schemes because these projects already had strong political support when the organization was created in 2007. They argued against re-opening design issues relating to the Eglinton Crosstown, for which some contracts have been awarded, fearing the result might be complete cancellation of the project. We disagree. Over the past half-century, Toronto has built three expensive rail lines (Spadina, Scarborough, Sheppard) that have attracted few new riders and had little impact on road congestion. After each scheme was completed, Toronto lost its appetite for new rail investment for a decade. If $5 billion is spent building an Eglinton LRT that is slow and attracts few new riders, the same thing could happen again. Metrolinx’s own BCA for the Eglinton Crosstown, which has finally been released, shows that a fully grade-separated line is likely to give a far better return on investment. Metrolinx needs to adhere to its own guiding principles, and insist that money is spent “where it matters most.”

Metrolinx managers were also cautious about considering the “Scarborough Wye” proposal (see Chapter 11 in this report), fearing that yet another proposal could “cloud the debate” over subway and LRT options. If the debate is “cloudy,” it is because policy makers have not been presented with coherent and consistent information, or attractive choices. We think the “Scarborough Wye” is worthy of investigation, with the potential to give greater benefits at lower costs than either the subway or LRT schemes. Metrolinx needs to consider all promising solutions to the need to extend transit into Scarborough.