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Ontario transportation minister vows to expand subway into the suburbs

Last Updated Nov 21, 2018 at 6:58 pm EST

The province’s new transportation minister has vowed to expand the TTC’s subway system into the suburbs once the responsibility of building subways is uploaded to the province early next year.

Jeff Yurek made the comments during a speech at the Toronto Region Board of Trade Wednesday morning.

He said Ontario will be able to implement “vital regional transit policy objectives,” including fare integration and better connections between transit systems.

“We will be able to push the subway further into York, Peel and the Durham regions,” Yurek said.

“We will prioritize transit and transportation projects to make decisions based on what is best for all of Ontario, not just Torontonians.”

During the spring election campaign, Doug Ford promised to create a regional transportation system, and said uploading the responsibility for building and maintaining subway lines in Ontario would benefit the city.

According to his platform, the city will operate the subway system and keep the revenue it generates.

Mayor John Tory has said any proposal for control of the TTC must be subjected to “robust consultation” with the public and the transit agency, as well as city staff and council, before decisions are made.

Ryerson University Associate Professor Murtaza Haider said he has no problem with uploading transit to the province. But he added expanding the subway into the suburbs is not a good plan, and the province should focus on building the Relief Line.

He compared the government’s idea to the Sheppard subway expansion — where all stations except one carry fewer people each day than a busy bus route.

“We spend $1 billion extending the subway on Sheppard East, and the kind of ridership we see there is dismal,” he told CityNews. “You take the same model and extend it to Peel Region or whatnot and then expect a different result? I would be very surprised if we see a very big turnout by extending the subway lines all the way into suburbs.”

Yurek said the government is committed to building the Relief Line — which the province approved last month — as soon as possible.

“The Relief Line is a priority for this government,” he told CityNews. “We believe that we can work with the city of Toronto to ensure that it’s built in a timely manner. It’s been a long time coming. We want to get the shovels in the ground and get this built.”

With files from The Canadian Press