Monday, June 24, 2013

TTC CEO wants to spend $300M on 60 more new streetcars

TORONTO - Toronto City Hall is on track for another streetcar fight.

TTC CEO Andy Byford revealed Monday he will ask to buy 60 new streetcars as part of his 2014 capital budget — that’s on top of the 204 streetcars, worth $1.2 billion, that have yet to hit the city’s streets.

Byford said the roughly $300-million streetcar purchase is needed to keep up with the TTC’s ridership growth.

“Things have moved on, the ridership is rising exponentially,” Byford said.

“We already predict that we will definitely ... before the end of this order need more streetcars.”

The new streetcars ordered in 2009 are set to start operating on Toronto streets next year starting with routes on Spadina Ave. and Bathurst St.

Byford’s request comes as the TTC spends around $800 million on modifications needed to let the new streetcars run on city streets and to build the Leslie Barns storage yard.

He acknowledged a request to buy even more streetcars will be a tough sell.

“We’re talking big bucks,” Byford said. “I may or may not be successful in that.” It isn’t clear how Mayor Rob Ford with his pro-subway, anti-streetcar stance will respond to the idea. On his radio show Sunday, Ford repeated his opposition to streetcars.

“I want to phase out streetcars, they’re antiquated, they’re dangerous,” Ford said Sunday.

TTC chair Karen Stintz said she hasn’t decided yet on whether she supports buying 60 new streetcars.

“We have increased ridership so we know we need to accommodate for that,” Stintz said. “Again it is a question of trade-offs and where is the best investment for the money that we are spending.”
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