Last night’s Liberal win will at least be pretty good for Toronto’s public transit (probably)
Judging by all the newly reddened ridings on the Ontario electoral map, a whole lot of you voted Liberal in yesterday’s provincial election. In Toronto, though, even those who voted for the other parties can take heart: the Liberals may be a scandal-plagued mess, but at least, now that they’ve been handed a majority in the provincial legislature, we know that all the big-ticket transit projects they were planning on paying for will stay on the agenda.
As a reminder to those who don’t necessarily pay the most attention to Queen’s Park (who does?), prior to the election, premier Kathleen Wynne made a blockbuster promise: $15 billion for roads and public transit in the GTA (on top of what’s already being spent on projects like the Eglinton Crosstown LRT), and $14 billion for the rest of the province. That amount isn’t enough to cover the totality of Metrolinx’s $50 billion strategic plan for transit in the Toronto area, and it’s not clear exactly how the Liberals expect to raise the money. But it’s something.
Under PC or NDP leadership, it’s doubtful that planned transit-expansion projects like the Finch and Sheppard light-rail lines would have gone ahead as anticipated. The downtown relief line, a major talking point in this year’s mayoral election, could have languished for lack of the estimated $3 to $8 billion in funding it will require. Considering the vagaries of provincial budgeting, even under the Liberals none of these projects has much better than a six-in-ten chance of actually coming to fruition, but evidently a lot of Torontonians like those odds.