Is the LRT finally Coming?

Hayley Goldfarb              


               It seems that the Eglinton-Scarborough Light Rail Transit plans may finally be underway. No, really this time. After months of delays, spurred by Rob Ford in an attempt to ditch the project completely in the hopes of saving the city’s money, plans for the LRT are finally in motion, if not in full swing. Soil testing for the LRT that will go between Black Creek Drive and Kennedy Station has resumed after a Ford initiated halt. However, don’t get too excited just yet; the project is scheduled to finish in 2020.

               The LRT will be an underground streetcar system that runs beneath Eglinton Avenue. It is an $8.2 billion project, one of the most expensive rapid transit systems in the world. And yet, something tells me it’s not going to be so “rapid”, considering it’s going to be operated by the TTC.

               Despite the heavy costs that make the term “light” seem like a joke, the city is not actually forking over that much money, despite what Rob Ford might have you think. In fact, the line will be owned by a private company, Metrolinx, and the Ontario government is responsible for most of the costs. It was Premier Dalton McGuinty who contracted out the building of the LRT to Metrolinx.

               The project was originally conceived by Mayor Miller in 2007 and has seen an unbelievably small amount of progress since its conception. Although soil testing began in January 2011, the project has barely moved since then. Indeed, Rob Ford announced the cancellation of the project on his first day of work. Four months later, he seemed to have a change of heart and doubled the project’s cost by moving it entirely underground, converting the Scarborough rapid transit to light rapid transit and removing 12 stops along the way.

               As TTC rates rise once again this January, it is scary to wonder what Torontonians will be paying to ride the rocket once this massive project is finished. Despite the cost and the setbacks, there is no denying that this will be a great addition to Toronto’s lackluster transit system. Although a subway extension would be nice, an LRT is not too shabby.

               And anyone who has ever taken the Eglinton bus can certainly vouch for the importance of the LRT. I personally trek to and from school each day on that bus as I live at Bathurst and Eglinton, as do other NT students like Nicole Kim and Chloe Li. Others, such as Valri Weiss, cannot stand the crowded and unreliable bus and prefer to take their chances with the weather and walk. As Valri says, “the bus is so annoying, why would I want to take it when I can walk?” It is notable to mention, however, that she lives at Chaplin and Eglinton and thus walks a rather commendable 30 minutes to school. Uphill. Both Ways. In the snow.

               The only good side of those frustrating bus rides home is the signs of LRT activity I see springing up along my route. At Bathurst and Eglinton soil testing is successfully underway. Progress has come as far as to give a sort of eviction notice to stores, such as Israel’s, which are located in the plaza where the command station for the LRT will eventually be built. Although the “Moving: Everything Must Go” sign on the stores are sad, at least it’s a sign that something is finally happening.

               The LRT will certainly be of benefit to future NT students, if not our NT generation. As for now, we all just have to sit tight and wait for the lovable Eglinton bus. And wait. And wait. And wait.