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LRT 'most important initiative' since amalgamation: Stintz

A day after the Metrolinx board approved four light-rail transit (LRT) lines for Toronto, TTC Chair Karen Stintz spoke with enthusiasm about the project at a lunch for business leaders.

“The plan approved by Toronto council and Metrolinx could be the single most important initiative bringing our city together since amalgamation,” she said during a speech to the Economic Club of Canada in Toronto on Thursday afternoon.

“This is not about Transit City. This is not about the Big Move or any other label. This is about making this city one city — in this instance through transit.”

Stintz said the $8.4-billion project will bring 52 kilometres of rapid transit to the suburbs and transform those areas economically. All four lines should be complete by 2020.

“Now we have a fully funded transit network that links the city from east to west and north to south,” she said.

“Jane and Finch, Malvern, north Etobicoke will finally have the benefits of rapid transit that the other parts of our city have had for years.”

At the event, called The TTC: Back on Track, Stintz also outlined four areas in transit planning she thought needed improvement.

She recommended funding be discussed during the planning stages; ensuring LRT is better understood; having more provincial accountability on the Metrolinx board; and making transit plans that survive election cycles.

The chair also said 2012 marked a major turning point for the TTC because of improvements in customer service and technology and new vehicles.

Stintz said to improve customer experience the first step is to be able to use smartphones in all subway stations.

She has mentioned plans for all subway stations to have information boards advising of delays posted outside by 2014, so commuters know about delays before heading in and paying their fare.

Another bonus for commuters will be modernized and cleaner stations, Stintz said, including improved washrooms.

With files from 680News