Eight major transit projects are underway in the GTA -- here’s where they’re at right now
March 12, 2020
The pace of rapid transit expansion in Toronto often seems glacial.
Though new subway and LRT lines unfold on paper and political campaign platforms with alacrity, true tunnel and surface routes often fail to materialize for decades, or are ditched entirely.
That said, there are several meaningful transit projects being built in the city and wider GTA, representing tens of billions of dollars in federal, provincial and municipal spending.
Transit in the works
Others are in advanced stages of design and preconstruction and have secured funding behind them.
This is a look at the major projects being completed and contemplated for the region.
Eglinton Crosstown LRT
Though this private-public partnership (P3) project just announced an opening delay of unknown months beyond its September 2021 deadline, it is intensely underway -- as construction-enraged merchants and residents along its churned-up Eglinton Ave. route will attest. The 25-station line will run for 19 kilometres -- 10 of them underground -- between Kennedy Rd. in the east and Weston Rd. in the west.
Originally budgeted for $5.3 billion for construction, the line is expected to cost some $12 billion when financing, long-term maintenance and other costs are factored in. It is a provincial Metrolinx-owned enterprise that is being built by Crosslinx Transit Solutions -- a private consortium that includes huge construction players EllisDon, Aecon, SNC-Lavalin and ACS.
Construction began in the summer of 2011. The line will feature connections to GO Transit, the UP Express, as well as bus, streetcar and subway routes run by the TTC, which will also control its day-to-day operations.
Originally scheduled to open in 2020, the line is expected to carry more than 5,000 passengers an hour during peak travel periods and reduce travel times by 60 per cent over current commutes.
Finch West LRT
When proposed a decade ago it was originally expected to open this year. But the line, which will cost an estimated $1.2 billion to build, is now in pre-construction phase and will not be taking on passengers until at least 2023.
The 11-kilometre line will feature 18 stops, 16 of them on the surface and two underground -- one interchanging with the Finch West subway station at its eastern end and the other at Humber College, its westernmost terminus.
Running for the rest of its Finch Ave. W. path along a dedicated right of way, it will connect with GO Transit, TTC and regional transit networks and is expected to carry 46,000 passengers each weekday.
It’s being built and will be maintained by Mosaic Transit Group -- another consortium of major private companies -- which won the contract in 2018 after line-owner Metrolinx put out a 2016 call for proposals.
This 18-kilometre, 19-stop line will link Mississauga and Brampton up their Hurontario St. (Hwy. 10) spine on a dedicated right of way.
Though down from an original 23 stations, the project still carries a $1.4-billion construction budget and is expected to open in the fall of 2024.
Line owner Metrolinx announced a winning bidder for the project last October in the consortium Mobilinx, which includes multiple large design, construction and financial players.
There are now several utility moving initiatives underway to clear a path for the line, which will run from the Port Credit Go Transit station in the south to the Brampton Gateway Terminal at Steeles Ave. in the north.
It will replace one of the GTA’s busiest bus routes, the MiWay 19 Hurontario, which carries 25,000 passengers a day through the Mississauga portion of the route.
GO Transit Rail Expansion
The multi-faceted expansion of the network -- which would include an increased number of stations, trains running all day in both directions at 15-minute intervals over core segments, and the electrification of key rail sections -- would fundamentally transform the commuter system into a regional transit service.
The $16.8-billion Metrolinx project, which would be the province’s largest and allow the system to carry more than 200 million passengers annually by mid-century, was expected to be largely completed by 2025.
Early work on the project is already underway and Metrolinx has boosted service by more than 30 per cent in the last two years, according to the agency. But snags in the procurement process for the final stage of the P3 project reported by the Star in January have cast doubt on the 2025 scheduling.
Scarborough Subway Extension
This controversial project, which would replace a proposed and well-researched LRT line, provides just three new stations over a 7.8-kilometre route. The $5.5-billion line would replace the aging and elevated Scarborough RT as an expansion of the Bloor-Danforth Line 2 subway. The expansion would feature connections to GO Transit and regional bus services as well as the new Eglinton Crosstown.
Despite a business case put forth by Metrolinx concluding the project’s costs would far outweigh its benefits, the subway extension is moving ahead and minor pre-construction work is starting. The province plans to open it by 2029 or 2030.
The Ontario Line
Introduced in a snap announcement by Premier Doug Ford last April, this line came seemingly out of nowhere as a proposed replacement for a downtown subway relief line that had been approved by the city after years of planning.
The $11-billion project would snake its way 15.5 kilometres from Exhibition in the south to the Science Centre in the north, with “approximately” 15 stations whose locations have yet to be determined.
Operating smaller trains than its existing subway counterparts, the Ontario Line could provide 90-second service intervals and carry 34,000 passengers an hour during peak periods. It would, at an estimated 389,000 weekday riders, accommodate some 180,000 more daily passengers than the shorter relief line it will replace, which was meant to unburden Line 1’s Yonge St. segment as it quickly reaches capacity.
“Planning for the project continues, including due diligence work, further refining the design and engineering work and seeking environmental approvals,” according to Metrolinx.
Yonge Subway Extension
This proposed expansion of Line 1 from Finch Station into York Region would add 7.4 kilometres and six stations to Line 1 at an estimated cost of $5.6 billion.
It has a tentative opening date of 2029-30.
Eglinton Crosstown West Extension
This proposal would take the Crosstown’s current termination at Weston Rd. out toward Pearson airport by 2031 for $4.7 billion.
The line would be built mostly in costly underground tunnels despite travelling through relatively sparse neighbourhoods in Etobicoke. The province is pushing ahead with the plan despite the fact that, like the Scarborough subway extension, a new business case for the Crosstown West shows its costs will far outweigh its benefits.
One Toronto. Two possible futures. Ten years to get it right. Toronto has never been bigger, bolder and more successful – or faced so many serious problems. To attract talent and grow sustainably, we need to address the city’s transportation, affordability and infrastructure needs. If we ignore these threats, the inner city buckles. It’s time to start thinking about solutions.