With the way the Toronto mayoral ballot is rounding out, and the main contenders identifying the Subway Relief Line as one of their first key commitments, things are looking up for getting this critical project built after 50 years of planning.
There are members of council that will line up in support of a future mayor keen to champion the new line. Metrolinx, the TTC and city staff are progressing on the planning aspects. TTC CEO Andy Byford favours it to be the next project built, and is even earning the ear of the Prime Minister.
But don't be fooled. This is far from a done deal. The price tag on this puppy is $7.2 billion, and despite its critical need, it is still subject to political axes (I'm talking cuts, not graphs).
The last time we tried to build new subway lines, we got a fraction of one. Political flip-floppery led us to a chopped version of the Sheppard line, and pure spitefulness saw the provincial government cancel the Eglinton West subway and fill the hole with concrete. Until Metrolinx is given control and discretion of dedicated transit revenues, any transit project project will be subject to political perils instead of proper planning.
We must be very conscious of this as we move forward on the relief line. It would be all too easy to defer the line, kicking the can down the road, or chop it into such a small fraction of the original version that it is ineffective.
Sometimes we have to choose between what is right and what is easy. This time, we need to step up and make sure the relief line is built as envisioned.