Incoming Premier Doug Ford envisions a future where one day Toronto's subways will extend to Pickering and Markham, cities that are both already served by GO Transit rail lines and BRT. Ford made this claim at a news conference in Pickering when questioned on a recent study suggesting Toronto has the worst commute in North America.
"We've been preaching for 10 years in Toronto ... we love subways. Rapid underground transit," he told reporters. Ford has committed to building the three-stop subway extension to Scarborough, plus the downtown relief line — both which come with multi-billion dollar bills — and then attacked light rail, a less expensive form of rapid transit that is being planned in Mississauga and Hamilton and will open soon in Kitchener-Waterloo.
"They rip up two lanes of road traffic and they clunk along the street — antiquated system," he continued. "We're going to focus on being the most modern transit system in the world. We're going to build rapid underground transit that's going to extend, not only in Toronto, but we're the first government that's going to run a regional transportation system. So folks in Pickering eventually will be able to hop on a subway and get to downtown Toronto. People of Markham and the outlying areas, over time, will be on a subway, to make sure that we get traffic moving."
Jeff Silverstein, Ford's spokesperson, played down the pledge in an email statement, saying that "Doug Ford wants to build a state of the art transit system across the GTA, which includes looking at all options for extending transit lines to regions outside of Toronto."
Markham and Pickering are 40 kilometres from Union Station in Toronto, and Ford didn't discuss how the government would manage to pay for the long subway extensions, nor why it would invest in subways instead of GO Transit's Regional Express Rail plan, which will increase headways on the Lakeshore West and East lines to 15 minutes. For reference, the recently opened Toronto-York Spadina subway extension cost $369.77 million per kilometre, so extending the lines would cost tens of billions of dollars.
Metrolinx, the governmental agency that is in charge of regional transportation, declined to comment to The Star on Ford's plan, but said it's looking forward to working with the administration. GO Transit is a division of Metrolinx and the transportation planning agency is intended to operate independent from the influence of the government and politicians, but has proven it is unable to do so.