Scarborough Rapid Transit Options

This item will be considered by City Council on July 16, 2013.

This item will be considered by City Council on July 16, 2013.

Scarborough Rapid Transit Options

The City Manager has submitted the report on this item:
(July 12, 2013) Report from the City Manager


The City Manager recommends that City Council consider the following options with respect to rapid transit options for Scarborough:

  1. City Council confirm its support for the Scarborough LRT project under the Master Agreement.
  2. City Council confirm its support for the Scarborough Subway and:
    1. Authorize the City Manager to amend the Master Agreement, and, if necessary, enter into a separate agreement with Metrolinx and the Province, to:
      1. remove the Scarborough LRT from the description of the program to be constructed by Metrolinx under the Master Agreement (the “Program”);
      2. amend the overall Program budget by reducing it by $1.8 Billion representing the anticipated cost of constructing the Scarborough LRT (the “LRT Amount”);
      3. ensure that the Master Agreement continues to apply to the interchange between the Scarborough Subway and the Sheppard East LRT at Sheppard East Station, and the Eglinton Crosstown LRT at Kennedy Station;
      4. redirect to the City for the purpose of the construction of the Scarborough Subway, the following amounts:
        1. the LRT Amount (defined above as $1.8 Billion), indexed by an appropriate cost escalation factor from 2010 to the date of transfer to the City (the “Indexed LRT Amount”), payable to the City in a manner to be agreed upon by the parties having regard to ensuring that the City’s financing charges or contract payments related to the Indexed LRT Amount are fully offset over the life of the City’s financing, or contract payments in respect of the Indexed LRT Amount; and
        2. the estimated value, as agreed to by the parties, of any costs which would have been borne by Metrolinx under the Master Agreement in respect of the Scarborough LRT related to operations, capital maintenance, and such other costs as may be negotiated between the parties; and
      5. make any further amendments to the Master Agreement as may be necessary to reflect the removal of the Scarborough LRT from the Program.
        all on such terms and conditions as are satisfactory to the City Manager and TTC Chief Executive Officer, in consultation with any other relevant City officials, and in a form acceptable to the City Solicitor.
    2. Commit to funding the City's share of the cost of construction of a Scarborough Subway by:
      1. Directing the Deputy City Manager and Chief Financial Officer to prepare a Development Charge By-law to include the City’s share of capital costs in respect of the Scarborough Subway project for Council consideration in 2014
      2. Requesting the Province of Ontario to make appropriate amendments to the Development Charges Act for the purposes of the Scarborough Subway Project similar to those made by the Province for the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension project
      3. Requesting the Federal Government to contribute Toronto’s fair share of federal funding under the P3 Canada Fund, the Building Canada Fund and all other available sources of federal funding for the construction of the Scarborough Subway.
      4. Committing to a property tax increase over three years, dedicated to funding a Scarborough Subway, in an amount between 1.1% and 2.4% (depending upon the amount of funding received through Recommendations B(2)(a) and (c)), on the residential property class, and 1/3 of such a rate increase on the non-residential property classes (in accordance with current City policy), starting with a minimum tax rate increase in 2014 of 0.5% on the residential property class, together with the corresponding 1/3 rate increase on the non-residential property classes, with the balance of the residential and non-residential three year rate increase to be phased-in in the years 2015 and 2016.
    3. Direct the appropriate City officials to seek the necessary approval under the Environmental Assessment Act be sought using the Transit Project Approval Process as set out in Ontario Regulation 231/08, as amended.
    4. Authorize the appropriate City officials to take all actions necessary to give effect to this recommendation.


This report has been prepared in conjunction with the CEO of the TTC.

Purpose of the Report
City Council confirmed its support for the four Light Rail Transit (LRT) projects – Scarborough LRT, Eglinton Crosstown LRT, Sheppard East LRT, and Finch West LRT – in February and March 2012. Council approved the terms of the Master Agreement for the delivery of the four LRT projects in October 2012, and the agreement was signed by the City, TTC and Metrolinx in November 2012 (“The Master Agreement"). The Master Agreement provides the legal framework for the delivery of the Toronto Light Rail Transit Program, an $8.7 billion investment in Toronto’s transit infrastructure.

In May 2013, City Council indicated support for the extension of the Bloor-Danforth subway line from Kennedy Station to Scarborough Centre and Sheppard Avenue (the “Scarborough Subway”). As a result, Metrolinx has requested clarification on the City’s commitment to the Master Agreement and the Scarborough LRT project, in a letter received June 28, 2013. The letter outlines sunk costs and other implications associated with a change in direction by the City, in addition to the transfer of $320 million of the approved $1.8 billion ($2010) Scarborough LRT budget to the Eglinton Crosstown LRT. Further, Metrolinx intends to suspend work on the Scarborough LRT if Council confirmation of support for the project is not received by August 2, 2013.

The purpose of this report is to present information on the potential financial, planning and other implications of pursuing an extension of the Bloor-Danforth subway instead of the Scarborough LRT. A preliminary review of the issues from a financial, planning, legal, and project delivery perspective are outlined.

Rapid Transit Options: LRT and Subway
TTC staff have identified that either an LRT or subway can effectively serve the Scarborough RT transit corridor. Each technology option offers distinct advantages. The main benefits of the subway option are higher speed, elimination of the transfer at Kennedy station, and projected higher ridership. Further there is no need to shut down the Scarborough RT during construction of a subway extension. Conversely, the LRT option provides greater overall geographic coverage, more stations providing greater local access, larger population served, and reliable high quality service at a lower cost.

The LRT option has been studied more extensively. The lack of time to consider all necessary assumptions related to a review of the subway option introduces risk when considering transportation network and land use implications. An issue requiring further review is the impact of the subway extension on the transit network as a whole. Further work is required to accurately report on forecast subway ridership as it relates to network planning considerations.

In terms of land use planning, the proposed extension of the Bloor-Danforth subway would pass through largely stable residential areas and the primary trip generation points would be the Scarborough Centre and the Sheppard Avenue terminal. The proposed subway station at Lawrence Avenue is largely surrounded by a stable, low-density area. Because the subway’s design capacity exceeds 2031 forecast ridership levels, a robust program to attract significant employment growth (and to a lesser extent residential growth) to the Scarborough Centre will be required to increase ridership. Conversely, the LRT line will operate in an established corridor of proven transit demand that is currently being under-served by the at-capacity RT line.

Financial Implications
The preliminary estimate of the cost of the subway option is $2.3 billion ($2010), plus certain transitional costs related to continuing and later dismantling the SRT. The estimates in the report are based on the full Metrolinx budget for the LRT option being transferred to the City to offset $1.8 billion of these costs. When the net cost is escalated from the 2010 base year to the expected time of expenditure, the incremental capital cost is estimated to be $1.1 billion. It should be noted that currently, Metrolinx has reduced the budget for the Scarborough LRT project and has therefore only offered to provide a credit or offset of $1.48 billion.

The City expects to obtain changes to the Development Charges Act for this project, similar to those that were provided for the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension (TYSSE) project, to allow a portion of these costs to be recovered from development charges under a future by-law amendment. Furthermore, the City should be able to further offset these costs if it can qualify for federal infrastructure or P3 Canada funding similar to that obtained for major transit investments in Kitchener-Waterloo and Ottawa.

Based on these variables, assumptions, and subject to various risks related to inflation, cost estimation and interest rates, staff estimate that the City could fund the incremental capital cost through a tax increase of 1.1 – 2.4% over the next three years. If it is Council’s intention to proceed with the subway option, it is recommended this Council commit to a minimum dedicated increase of 0.5% in 2014 to ensure that the appropriate funding is in place at the time of the decision.

The subway option would also require the City to be the owner/operator of the new asset, and therefore be responsible for incremental operating and capital maintenance costs, less the offsets the City is able to obtain from Metrolinx for the operating and capital maintenance costs Metrolinx would avoid by not proceeding with the LRT.

Implications for Toronto’s Long Term Transit Priorities
As directed by Council the City is currently undertaking a comprehensive review of Toronto’s transportation priorities through the Official Plan Review process (i.e. “Feeling Congested”) to identify future transit infrastructure that best meets city building objectives, integrates transit and land use planning, and complements other transportation modes. A report on future rapid transit priorities will be presented to Council at the conclusion of the Official Plan review process. Based on ongoing preliminary work the top five unfunded rapid transit proposals include Waterfont West LRT, Don Mills LRT, Downtown Relief Line (East), Scarborough Malvern LRT and Waterfont East LRT. The Bloor-Danforth subway extension places in the next five rapid transit proposals that also include Jane LRT, Steeles West LRT/BRT, Downtown Relief Line (extension to Eglinton Avenue), and Eglinton LRT extension to Pearson Airport. The decision to adopt subway technology could impact the ability to fund the other priorities that are ultimately established through the current Official Plan review process. Further review and refinement of the rapid transit decision-making framework will occur over the next several months as City staff conclude public consultations and complete the due diligence exercise currently underway.

An important issue that is not clearly understood at this time is how a subway extension might impact on the transit network as a whole. The ridership growth attributed to the extension of the Bloor-Danforth line would accelerate the need for other major system improvements to relieve overcrowding on the Yonge Subway, south of Bloor, and at Bloor-Yonge Station, as described in the Downtown Rapid Transit Expansion Study (2012). These would include capacity increases to Bloor-Yonge Station or the construction of a Relief Subway line, or equivalent, into the downtown. Whether the DRL becomes a prerequisite to address higher ridership on the Bloor-Danforth line has not been studied in detail yet may become a critical determining factor.

State of Good Repair and Infrastructure Priorities
The City would be required to debt finance a portion of the costs, resulting in an increase in the City’s debt burden. It must be noted that the incremental capital and potential incremental capital maintenance costs outlined in this report, would be in addition to other capital state of good repair pressures. Council will have less financial flexibility to fund other key state of good repair and infrastructure priorities. The 2014-23 Capital Plan already identified $2.5 billion in new TTC capital needs (mainly state of good repair), $750 million plus for unfunded social housing repairs, and significant capital needs for Transportation Services, Toronto Water, etc. In addition, as noted above, there are likely other transit priorities to emerge from the Official Plan review process, and interests in other community infrastructure projects that are currently unfunded. Undertaking the subway project will reduce budget flexibility to address other Council priorities now and in the future.

Master Agreement Approval Process
This report outlines two options for Council’s consideration with respect to rapid transit options for Scarborough. The first option recommends Council support the Scarborough LRT under the current Master Agreement.

The second option recommends that if Council confirms support for the Scarborough Subway, the City Manager be authorized to amend the Master Agreement and enter into an agreement with Metrolinx with respect to funds allocated to the Scarborough LRT. City Council should also commit to funding the share of the City’s cost of constructing the Scarborough Subway.

It should be noted that the optional recommendation to support the Scarborough Subway includes the recommended terms upon which an agreement must be reached with Metrolinx in order to amend the Master Agreement. This may also require agreement with the Province in a separate form. If no agreement is reached on the recommended terms, the Master Agreement remains a legally binding agreement whereby Metrolinx remains obliged to construct the Scarborough LRT. The City Manager would then be required to report back to Council for direction.

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