Well, this may be true, but - if it is ML still has some 'splaining to do. The idea that as a supposedly nonpartisan coordinative and strategic planning authority for the region, they would secretly draw up plans and proposals in silence, waiting for favourable politics to give them the opportunity to blindside the city with this new plan, is a very serious accusation in terms of their professionalism and integrity. ML may be disfunctional, but it's not that sneaky.Metrolinx must be so frustrated, as they likely were in 2012, that for a half decade, the Liberals did nothing to promote their plan or treat their expertise with respect. They were just an arm of the Liberal Party to be used for political means. The Liberals sat back and allowed the City to waste time and money advancing the preliminary design of something (DRL Short) that would not solve the problem to any great extent. I would guess that Metrolinx has been working on this "Fantastic bonanza" plan for some time and they would be ecstatic that a government is finally respecting their expertise.
I'm no Wynne/McGuinty fan, but neither can I believe that there was a small- or large-L direction to ML to keep their mitts off the RL and go along with all the discussion of it as a TTC-flavour subway. ML has floated so many strategic documents (which seem to have all been filed and ignored anyways, so hardly not grounds for dismissal if they gently broached their own thinking). The RER business case document, and the electrification EA, implicitly if not explicitly differentiate between RER and heavy rail subway. Let alone the Big Move.
There have been dozens of debates where any number of decisionmakers have been asked to put on record whether they saw the RL as a priority. Did ML even once hint that something other than vanilla TTC subway might be an option to consider? Did anyone ever send a short memo to Andy Byford or Jennifer Keesmatt? Or write a submittal to the EA, knowing that the project might just discard it?
It's ridiculous to suggest that AB and JK in their short time in Toronto drank the TTC Kool-Aid to the degree that they overrode their own world-wide experience and aspirations. The RL plan was something they both helped build, and fully endorsed.
One also wonders why nobody nudged Mr Tory to suggest that his Smarttrack idea would be great if he just focussed on the Don Valley routing instead of in Scarborough. I wonder if the reward from Ford for his nonassertiveness will be to have the "new" RL idea somehow linked to the ST vision.
It's possible that some of the newer ML execs, who have been recruited from afar, may have arrived in Toronto and thought, you know, they'd do a lot better if they did something more like (city x). And that may have informed the current rethink. But it leaves the region being asked to consider an option that sounds like it was put together from browsing the trade press, formulated even quicker than @steveintoronto can dig up other cities' precedents. How is this good planning?
I can't offer a single argument why a non-TTC-vanilla system wouldn't work, and maybe Ford's entry into transit planning has netted us an entire line where the previous city/provincial thinking had trouble coming up with the money for a stub effort. But something that seems too good to be true appears out of thin air, and contrary to all process, we should be asking pointed questions.