TTC recommending closing Scarborough RT, replacing it with shuttle buses for 7 years

Feb 4 2021, 1:01 pm

TTC staff are recommending a full shut down of the current Scarborough RT (SRT) line in 2023 and replacing it with shuttle buses until the Scarborough Subway Extension opens seven years later.

In a report released on Thursday, the TTC detailed a few possible options for dealing with the aging SRT trains, which the report says are “ten years past their design life of 25 years,” and are “becoming increasingly more difficult to maintain due to the age of the vehicles and obsolescence of key parts.”

According to the report, the transit authority considers an overhaul of the SRT system that could prolong the life span of the trains, but ultimately recommends against it as it’s the most expensive option, running roughly $522.4 million, and “may not achieve the service reliability outcomes desired due to the age and condition of the systems as well as the complexity involved with the overhaul work.”

The TTC presents a second and third option in the report, both of which involve the use of buses to replace the SRT service starting in 2023 and running until the Scarborough Subway Extension opens in 2030.

The second option would see an entirely new fleet of buses acquired to be used starting in 2023, whereas the third option would use buses from the TTC’s current fleet from 2023 to 2026 and then acquire new buses to be used from 2027 until 2030. In both options, the new bus line would largely act as an extension of existing bus service from Scarborough Centre Station to Kennedy Station.

The third option, which would delay the buying of new buses, is slightly cheaper, coming with a $357.4 million price tag compared to the second option’s price of $374.8 million. The report states that “both are low risk options from a cost, schedule, and deliverability perspective and therefore are recommended for further consideration.”

Although the price tag may be lower, riders of the SRT, which carried 35,000 customers per day in 2019, would experience noticeably longer commutes with the bus options. Currently, the trip time from Scarborough Centre Station to Kennedy Station is 10 minutes. On the bus, the report notes, it would take about 15 to 18 minutes.

Councillor Paul Ainslie, who represents Scarborough-Guildwood, tweeted an unenthused response to the recommendation, saying “People will be riding buses for at least 7 years while they wait for a Scarborough Subway Extension….if it arrives on time……as I have told people before.”

The report will be reviewed by the TTC board during their virtual meeting on February 10.

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