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New Study Says LRT Better Than Ford’s Subway Plan

With the city’s current multi-billion-dollar light-rail transit plan up in the air, researchers at a leading think tank decided to see how Rob Ford’s subway alternative measures up.

In Making Tracks to Torontonians, a report released Wednesday by the Pembina Institute, the authors compare the costs and benefits of Transit City’s four-line LRT to the subway extensions proposed by the mayor in December.

“It’s great to have a mayor and council that are committed to investing in Toronto’s transit network,” said policy director Cherise Burda. “Taxpayers in this city need to be confident that they’re investing in the option that is the most fiscally responsible and will deliver the best commuter service for the most people.”

According to the study, the LRT would cover a much broader swath of the city, reaching low-income communities underserved by the current system. It would provide 126 million rides each year and take as many as 140,000 vehicles off the roads. On the other hand, the subway would make half as many trips (65 million) and, by extension, remove only 70,000 cars from traffic.

As well, the institute says the subway plan wouldn’t begin running until 2020, while the LRT is due to start in 2014. The former, it adds, would waste the $130 million already spent and likely incur additional costs if existing contracts are cancelled.

Burda hopes the data will help inform the current debates about transit in the city.

“As Metrolinx and TTC discuss the options, this analysis brings some numbers to the table – not just costs, but where and who transit will serve.”

Source: The Pembina Institute