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Survey says: Most Torontonians say downtown relief line top transit priority

A huge backlog formed on the Yonge-Bloor subway platform after a series of TTC service disruptions on Feb. 9, 2016. TWITTER

Is Toronto off track with its transit priorities?

According to a new survey, the Scarborough subway extension and SmartTrack should take a back seat to a downtown relief line.

More than half of Torontonians surveyed (52.6 per cent) cited the downtown relief line as their number one transit priority.

The city-wide survey by the Toronto Relief Line Alliance confirmed what many commuters already know when they’re packed into subways on the Yonge Line like sardines – they need relief, and they need it now.

“TTC patrons know that, for much of each day, the Yonge Street subway line and many of its stations are full to overflowing,” said former Ward 26 Councillor John Parker in a release. “The need for the relief line is clear. The start of work to build the Relief Line is already overdue. It can’t be delayed any longer.”

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The survey also found little support for Mayor John Tory’s SmartTrack plan, with just 17 per cent saying it’s a priority. About thirty per cent said the Scarborough subway extension was their top priority.

“Toronto residents have made it clear which transit project they believe needs the primacy of council’s attention and priority of Toronto’s limited transit funds: the relief line,” said Louis Mark, president of the Toronto Relief Line Alliance. “Councillors and the mayor should heed the voices of residents or risk reelection in 2018.”

The survey provided councillors with a sobering stat – 55.6 per cent said they would not vote for a councillor who was opposed to the downtown relief line.

TTC CEO Andy Byford appears to be on board. “If I had to pick one, I would choose the downtown relief line,” he was quoted in the survey release.

While an exact route hasn’t been determined yet, the downtown relief line would connect with the Yonge-University-Spadina Subway (Line 1) downtown, travelling east and north to meet the Bloor-Danforth Subway (Line 2) somewhere between Broadview and Coxwell.

The telephone survey of 981 randomly selected Toronto voters was conducted on April 6 and 7. Results are considered accurate +/- 3%, 19 times out of 20.

Toronto transit priorities survey