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TTC, not private company, to operate new LRT lines

The TTC, not a private company, will operate four new light rail transit (LRT) lines in Toronto, Ontario’s transportation minister has announced.

“Metrolinx and the TTC will be joined at the hip,” Bob Chiarelli said on Wednesday at TTC headquarters.

“Among other things, the TTC will be responsible for vehicle operators, station operations including ticket staff, safety and enforcement, and dispatch and control of vehicle access.”

TTC chair Karen Stintz praised the “unprecedented” investment in transit from the provincial government.

“We all want to make sure that shovels are in the ground,” she said.

Just last week, the province’s transportation agency, Metrolinx, said it would bring in a private operator to run the LRT lines.

Metrolinx had argued the move would save taxpayers money as it would be the private sector, and not taxpayers, that would be responsible for any cost overruns on the project.

That plan was criticized by Stintz and others on city council. Under the private arrangement, the TTC was limited to the planning of interchange stations.

“We have always been committed to building an operating role for the Toronto Transit Commission,” Bruce McCuaig, Metrolinx president and CEO, said Wednesday.

McCuaig said that Metrolinx and the TTC had always agreed on the “principles” of the new transit plan but the particulars needed to be sorted out.

The LRT lines will run on Eglinton, Finch Avenue West and Sheppard Avenue East and will replace the existing Scarborough RT line.  All four lines are scheduled to be completed by 2021.

No extra fare will be needed for the lines, Chiarelli said.

The LRT lines are part of The Big Move project, a $50-billion plan for transit in Toronto.