Toronto transit riders may have to wait a little longer for the central piece of the city's new LRT network, according to the TTC.
The 19-km Eglinton Crosstown LRT line was the subject of fierce debate at City Hall this past winter. In a vote that scuttled a key campaign promise made by Mayor Rob Ford, council voted in February to build the line above ground east of Laird instead of burying it for its entire length.
In April, provincial transit agency Metrolinx approved council's plan, and set a schedule that would have the line operational by 2020.
But a TTC report going before the commission board on Wednesday now says that target date is unrealistic, and recommends a new timeline that would see the line completed by 2022 or 2023.
The report is the result of a review the TTC conducted over five days earlier this month with the American Public Transit Association. The peer review found that Metrolinx's decision to transfer the implementation of the Eglinton Crosstown from the TTC's transit expansion department to the provincial agency and deliver the project through a model known as Alternative Finance and Procurement (AFP) would necessitate halting work the TTC has already done on the project, and restarting it once a private sector contractor had been found to deliver the LRT line.
"The Metrolinx schedule does not start final design of the stations until after the AFP contract is awarded in mid 2014," says the report. "Completing all the station design and construction in four years for opening in 2020 is unrealistic in the opinion of the TTC and the APTA panel."
TTC staff also warn that the Metrolinx schedule "carries the risk of disproportionate community disruption" because it would necessitate building all the line's stations during the same timeframe.
In addition, TTC staff is recommending that construction of the Sheppard East LRT begin immediately instead of in 2014 as the Metrolinx timeline suggests, and that the commission's transit expansion department be dissolved and its staff placed in other positions at the TTC.
The report notes the TTC has "serious concerns" about the AFP model, which would transfer responsibility for remaining design and construction work on the project to the private sector.