Tag Archives: Sanjae Mahmud

Is Scarborough Subway the way to go?

My family first moved to Scarborough after immigrating to Canada. To this day, I still prefer living in Scarborough over North York. One of the things that saddened me about this city was that there were no options of reaching downtown from Scarborough by the subway. Scarborough is a fairly large city with many people living in it. So it’s not surprising if people wondered why the subway system was limited to Downtown Toronto and the North York area. Therefore, like other people, I thought the city was finally doing a good job when they decided to build a subway to connect Scarborough to the other subway line. But honestly, dreams aside, with the cost going up to $3.36 billion to make this subway, I began to wonder if this subway construction is worth it or not.

Over Whelming Cost

City council of Toronto has been going on for years now on whether or not to build a subway in Scarborough. It first started with Transit City wanting to build Light-Rail Transit (LRT) which would have been connected to the Scarborough RT and would have made seven more stations throughout Scarborough. But all of that went to drain when Rob Ford stepped up and scrapped this idea so he can build a “subway” which later became an “one-way subway” to replace the Scarborough light rail line. And till this day, City Staff are still debating over building the LRT or the subway.

I mean it is a hard decision considering both options have great benefits. By implementing the subway,

  • The citizens of Scarborough can get themselves a faster and easier transit from scarborough to downtown
  • The citizens will also finally get results from paying their fair share of taxes
  • The subway sytem will last longer
  • It will be a great long-term investment for jobs and
  • Scarborough will become a great economic hub with greater job opportunities.

So you may ask, why haven’t we started building this thing yet? But that’s before you know what the estimated cost of building this one-stop subway will be. In 2016, the estimated cost  was $2 billion which have now spiked up to $3.36 billions. Wait, did someone say $3.36 billion? And that’s not all. Researchers say that the estimated cost could even jump to $5.5 billion by the time they finish building this subway. Frankly to me, the cost seems outrageous compared to the fact that the city is only building a one-stop subway. And along with the cost, the number of new riders this subway is attracting keeps going down. Last summer, the number was 4500 riders which went down to 2300. So then really, why is building this subway even an option?

It maybe Equitable but is it Efficient?

Equity means that everybody get’s his/her fair share. By building this “one-way subway,” the citizens of Scarborough will finally be getting their fair share of fast transit. According to The Star, one of the reasons Mayor John Tory is so pinned to building this subway is because he thinks “Scarborough subway is long overdue.”  It’s good that he is finally thinking of the citizens in Scarborough, but is this idea going to result in an efficient economy?

An economy is efficient if it takes all opportunities to make some people better off without making other people worse of. Most of the cost of this “one-way subway” that is still continuously rising, will be paid by the money of the tax-payers in Canada. It’s good that this subway will help the citizens of Scarborough travelling downtown but it’s cost is also halting some of the projects that will fulfill other citizens stated goal. For example, Zuzana Betkova, a former resident of Scarborough told the star:

“I’m wondering, though, about the people in Scarborough who do not want to go downtown Toronto, who want to live and work in Scarborough and who do not have transit options within Scarborough and I don’t see how this one-stop Scarborough extension will help those people,”

Data referred by the city also backed up her point as they mentioned that ” 23 per cent of all transit trips that begin in Scarborough are destined for downtown and 48 per cent of trips started in Scarborough end in Scarborough.” Which is why Zuzana Betkova, like many is also in favor of the LRT option. And in my opinion I believe that the opportunity cost of building this “one-stop subway” is the LRT option that many citizens want.

Opportunity cost is the value of the benefit of the next best alternative that could have been chosen but was not. A seven-stop LRT is the next best alternative that is being forgone by our Mayor. If the seven-stop LRT is built, it can connect from Scarborough Town Centre and end up at Sheppard Ave. This will give many citizens a chance to walk  to different stations and allow them to stay in subway for longer route instead of taking a crowded, delayed bus. To further elaborate, the Star even had a quote of a petition that read:

“It’s time for our politicians to understand that we do not just want one stop on the subway; we want transit that takes us to work, school and all the opportunities this city has to offer.”

Another great thing about the seven-stop LRT is it’s cost, which is estimated to be about $1.6 billion and way cheaper than building the one-stop subway. This also gives the TTC the chance to use tax-payers money for other service. Since it will cost around $1.6 billion, the city can make the seven-stop LRT using the provincial government’s money and use the rest of the federal governments contribution to make the 18-stop Eglinton East LRT that the city has also planned to make. If not, they can always use the money to invest in more buses so that the bus services can stop getting delayed and buses stop getting overcrowded during rush hour.

In the end, the Mayor needs to make a mindful decision on what to build and what not to. He needs to clearly see which option is going to benefit the citizens the most and work his way from it. The Star, representing most citizen’s voices said:

“The right thing is to serve the residents of Scarborough and the rest of Toronto with the best available rapid transit, while being mindful of overall costs.”

I think that way everyone will be treated fairly. But ultimately seeing how hard Mayor Tory is trying to convince others to build the one-stop subway, Councillor Josh Matlow opinion stood out to me the most as he said:

“Considering the options, if a multi-billion dollar subway station actually made any sense, they wouldn’t have to sell it as hard.”