Rob Ford has announced a transit plan that continues his focus on subways as part of his re-election platform.
The plan calls for 32 km of subways to be built at a cost of $9 billion, according to Ford’s numbers.
Ford announced what he called an “ambitious plan” at a news conference Wednesday morning at his Etobicoke campaign office.
“This is an extremely important issue that will shape our city for generations to come,” Ford said.
He called the plan a long-term vision, admitting “we can’t do this in four years, that’s impossible.”
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He blamed years of under-funding for the current state of Toronto’s subway, lamenting its size compared to other cities such as New York, London, and Tokyo.
“By making key connections in our system we will build the foundations of a truly integrated subway network,” Ford said.
Ford’s plan calls for halting planned LRT routes — or as Ford continually referred to them “fancy streetcars” — on Finch Avenue West and Sheppard Avenue and replacing the lines with subways.
The above-ground section of the Eglinton LRT, from Laird to Kennedy, would be buried as per Ford’s plan.
“Once you have these boring machines you keep boring,” Ford said, referring to the tunneling work currently being done to bury a section of the Eglinton LRT.
“Bore, bore, bore until the cows home.”
He would also like to see a section of the Downtown Relief Line, from Queen to Pape stations, built in phase 1 of his plan.
Ford proposes funding the plan through a combination of methods, including reallocating money already committed to LRTs, selling “air rights” above subway stations, development fees, and requesting provincial and federal funding.
“Both the provincial and federal governments have shown they will help fund new subways in this great city,” Ford said referring to the $660 million promised by the federal government to build the Scarborough subway.
Ford said he promised in 2010 to build a subway to Scarborough and says he has delivered on that promise.
“I truly believe I am the only candidate that can build new subways in Toronto,” he said.
The mayor has long been a vocal supporter of subways. During the 2010 municipal election, Ford vowed to build 12 km of subways for $4 billion in time for the 2015 Pan Am Games. He said the funds would come from the $3.7 billion already committed to light-rail transit plans.
John Tory dismissed Ford’s plan as “a scattered series of different initiatives” that the mayor would be incapable of implementing.
“This man has absolutely run out of gas,” Tory said speaking to reporters after a mayoral debate on Wednesday morning.
Tory said Ford has exhausted partnerships with the other levels of government needed to partner on transit projects.
“We saw last week the poor state of the relationship he has with the city council, so I think whatever his plan might be, whether it’s on transit or anything else, he’ll just not get it done because he can’t work with people.”
Fellow candidate Olivia Chow called Ford’s plan to cancel already-planned and funded LRT routes “irresponsible.”
“Think about what we can do now. Don’t just believe in empty promises,” Chow said.