Mayor Rob Ford outside Toronto City Hall (Toronto Sun files)
Wednesday was a big day for transit in the City of Toronto.
Metrolinx voted (again) to approve the construction of four light rail lines across the city, essentially reviving the Transit City plan Mayor Rob Ford killed on Day 1 in the Year of Our Ford.
Councillor Doug Ford came out swinging. He called Metrolinx’s decision part of a renewed “war on cars” mentality raging across Hogtown (story here).
The mayor didn’t speak publicly on the transit decision Wednesday but his office did send out a “key message” to executive committee councillors. The missive provides some insight into how Mayor Ford will come out dealing with the transit decision that buries his dream (and 2010 election promise) of a subway to Scarborough.
Here’s the full text of the e-mail the mayor’s office sent out to councillors in Ford’s inner circle:
We fully support the Metrolinx recommendation to use Infrastructure Ontario as the lead procurement agency for transit expansion in Toronto.
Yesterday Metrolinx staff released it’s briefing package (attached) which will be presented to its Board of Directors for approval today. In short, the Metrolinx staff recommendations are:
Move forward with all four LRT lines as envisaged under Transit City: Eglinton, Scarborough RT replacement, Sheppard and Finch. Stage the construction as follows: Eglinton and SRT replacement first, followed by Sheppard and Finch to be completed before 2020. Procurement on Sheppard would begin with a Request for Qualification issued at year-end 2012, with an RFP issued mid 2013 for closing mid 2014, construction completion by end 2018. For Finch: RFQ end 2013; RFP out mid 2014 closing mid 2015; construction complete by mid 2019.
Use Infrastructure Ontario (P3 model) on all projects to reduce costs and increase on-time, on-budget certainty. This means TTC will not be used as the procurement/construction agency, although Metrolinx will continue to work in close cooperation with TTC to ensure the end system is fully integrated and interoperable.
The recommendation, if approved by the Metrolinx board today will go to Cabinet for a final decision.
• We fully support the use of Infrastructure Ontario as the primary procurement agency for the province’s transit projects in Toronto. This will help control costs and maximize efficiency.
• Moving forward, the TTC should focus on delivering operational and customer service excellence – and not on capital infrastructure planning and construction.
• The decision to move forward with LRT technology on Finch and Sheppard is the Premier’s to make.
• If the Premier decides to adopt the Metrolinx recommendations, we will ask Metrolinx to design and build the lines with maximum grade separation and weather protection – this will help increase the speed and ridership of the transit line and minimize the negative impact on Toronto’s already horrible road congestion.
• The Mayor will continue to push for subways to form the backbone of Toronto’s future plans for rapid transit expansion.
OFFICE OF THE MAYOR
Mayor Ford’s Four Priorities:
1 Customer Service Excellence
2 Transparent & Accountable Government
3 Reduced Cost and Size of Government
4 Transportation City