Smitherman’s transportation plan: speed up subway construction, extend LRT

Mayoral candidate George Smitherman unveiled a transportation plan that would speed up the construction of the Spadina subway extension, extend light rail transit and do more tunneling underground, without imposing road tolls, if he is elected.

Mr. Smitherman called it an “integrated” plan that is divided into two phases, the first of which would finish the Spadina line in time for the PanAm Games in 2015, extend the Sheppard LRT, already underway, to the University of Toronto Scarborough campus. He made the announcement at a fundraiser today in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

Mr. Smitherman wants to extend the tunneled portion of the Eglinton LRT to Weston Road, where it can link up with an air-rail link. By 2020 he would build the Finch West LRT, connect the Sheppard subway to Downsview station, and turn the Scarborough RT into a subway. He also proposed extending the Bloor line to Sherway Gardens by 2020.

He said the way to afford the plan, which costs $7-billion more than is currently committed to transit, is to “contract with the private sector.”

“In this model, the public always owns the lines and pays for them over time,” he said.

He proposed setting up a “Transit Trust Fund” that would pay for the expansion and would be made up of the city’s share of the gas tax, dividends from Toronto Hydro, parking authority and development fees.

He also announced that if elected, seniors will ride for free between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., which critics point out will result in revenue loss for the TTC.

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