Toronto’s True Subway Costs

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Photo by Jose Ramon Gutierrez

For a decade we’ve been creatively told that subway construction in Toronto is an extremely expensive enterprise, with costs supposedly reaching up to $500 million dollars per 1 kilometre, and this political belief has done nothing but fueled the fake theory that building LRTs in the middle of our streets is more cost-effective than subways. This is not true, or at least, it shouldn’t be; and the report “World Class City, World Class Vision – Toronto” shows you why, and how to make subway construction affordable, again, at $100 million per kilometre, or less.

Unfortunately, we are currently exposed to over-inflated subway budget examples. The Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension has been estimated to cost more than $300 million per kilometre by its completion in 2016, while the Eglinton Crosstown’s tunneled section is estimated to cost well over $400 million per kilometre. More dramatically, Metrolinx has even estimated both Yonge Subway Extension and Downtown Relief Line to cost almost $600 million per kilometre, each. Why can Spain build subways for $60-$70M/km, why can Vancouver do it for $170M/km, even Montreal (with all its construction-related scandals) does it for just over $100M/km? The answer given is that Toronto has a very different terrain, and tunneling in Toronto is “very” expensive; but this is NOT true.

After reviewing the actual contracts that TTC and Metrolinx have signed for tunnel construction, we can actually find out that tunneling ONLY costs between $35 to $50 million per kilometre, which is only 10% of their supposed budget costs. So where is the catch, then? Well, nothing more than over-the-top, high end subway station designs, that resemble airport terminals rather than regular subway stations. This, plus poor project management, exaggerated contingency costs and, of course, massive political and special interest group interference. To this end, Metrolinx is approving a $4 billion mega-contract for the Eglinton Crosstown project, which includes 25 stations, of which only 12 are underground. Are they planning to build underground stations that are even more colossal than the Spadina Subway Extension, or is this another example of gross government mismanagement?

Doug Ford is running on an election campaign platform to build 32 km of subway as an initial phase. This will finally put an end to LRT plans on Toronto streets, which considering their operating costs, they would become less cost-effective than subways (Source: APTA), and which will significantly increase traffic congestion in our already congested city. The “World Class City, World Class Vision – Toronto” report looks at Doug Ford’s platform, and shows how it is feasible and affordable, and can be completed within 8 years if there is enough political will. This will lead us to better transit, and better mobility, setting Toronto as a world class example. And finally doing the most good for the greatest number of people.

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4 thoughts on “Toronto’s True Subway Costs

  1. Imagine what it’s going to be like driving North of Bloor for the next five years as they install tracks down the middle of our biggest roads.

    Remember what driving near St Clair was like during the Miller years? ..and it’s still a nightmare.. down 2 lanes now and forever..

  2. Pingback: To LRT, or Not To LRT?… Subway is the Answer | Transportation Toronto

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