More coloured lines on a map, more dodgy math.
Mayor Rob Ford unveiled his transit expansion proposal on Wednesday, promising to build an extensive network of subways but (surprise, surprise!) struggling to provide details about how and when new underground rail could be built.
The plan, which leaked online late Tuesday, proposes new underground rail stretching from one end of the city to the other, including lines from Kipling station to Humber College, the so-called "North York Relief Line," and a u-shaped downtown relief line from Dundas West station all the way to Eglinton .
The four projects in the initial 32-kilometre, $9-billion phase of the plan include underground lines on Sheppard, Finch, and parts of Eglinton, where plans to build above-ground LRT have already been approved, as well as the first phase of a downtown relief line.
"This is the future of Toronto: underground transit, subway expansion," Ford said as he stood beside a map of his plans at his North Etobicoke campaign headquarters. He slammed his competitors for presenting only "patchwork plans."
But while he claimed he had options to fund the projects that were "backed by years of research and evidence," he presented no detailed proposal to pay for the new lines.
Instead he presented potential revenue sources that are either uncertain (convincing the provincial government to abandon existing LRT plans and and divert money to subways), untested (tax increment financing), or not funding options at all (public-private partnerships).
Other funding sources he offered included selling "air rights" over TTC stations, diverting some of Build Toronto's projected $540 million in revenues over the next five years, auctioning off city property along transit corridors, and development charges.
He said that together all of his sources could raise "tens of billions of dollars" but didn't specify how much each could raise or how much would be used for which transit lines. According to a city spokesperson, council has already allocated $455 million of the Build Toronto revenue to existing projects.
The mayor was also vague about whether he intended to start all of the four new lines in the first phase of his plan next term, but suggested it was "realistic" to bury the Eglinton Crosstown LRT line east of Laird and begin construction on Sheppard and the DRL in the next four years.
He stressed that the entire new network could be paid for without raising taxes, even though the city will require a 1.6-per-cent, 30-year property tax increase to pay for its $910-million share of the Scarborough subway. That project is a tenth of the cost of just the first phase of Ford's plan.
Ford also appears to have underestimated the cost of at least one of his proposed lines. His plan lists a subway on Sheppard from Don Mills to McCowan as costing $1.8 billion, but a 2011 study found the price tag of a similar alignment would be at least $2.8 billion.
Asked about the Sheppard discrepancy, the director of Ford's campaign headquarters Graeme McEachern told reporters to speak to the mayor's communications director Jeff Silverstein, who was in the building but declined to come out to talk to reporters. Silverstein didn't respond to a call and email from NOW seeking clarification.
The other leading mayoral candidates quickly shot down Ford's proposal as unrealistic.
John Tory said the mayor is incapable of cooperation with council or other levels of government, which would be essential to change existing transit plans in favour of Ford's subways.
"This man has absolutely run out of gas," Tory said. "I'd like to ask him when was the last time he talked to the premier of Ontario or talked to the prime minister of Canada."
Olivia Chow said to scrap LRTs on Sheppard and Finch "is just irresponsible."
"We're ready to start building it and he wants to put a stop to it," she said.
A press release from David Soknacki's campaign said "Ford's subway plans are either too fake to believe, or too reckless to implement" and warned Torontonians to not be fooled by the mayor's "promise of free subways."