The Giorgio Mammoliti-led battle for subways on Finch West is over as the province announced today its intention to move forward with light rail transit (LRT). The announcement comes after years of uncertainty, which started in 2010 when former Mayor Rob Ford cancelled the LRT-based Transit City plan. The corridor has nowhere near the densities required to make the economic case for building an underground subway. 

The 11-kilometre Finch West LRT is due to stretch to Humber College from what will be the new Finch West subway station on the Spadina line extension. Connecting to existing regional transit services, including GO, Mississauga and Brampton buses, the $1.2 billion project will provide the relief sought by the thousands of commuters currently underserved by overcrowded buses. 

An anticipated 2,250 passengers per hour in the peak direction will take advantage of the new LRT by 2031. As demand changes, LRT cars can be added and removed with ease, with an expected capacity of 15,000 passengers per hour per direction. The LRT will run on its own dedicated right-of-way, minimizing impacts on regular traffic. 

Current Metrolinx light rail projects, image courtesy of Metrolinx

"The Finch West LRT will bring rapid transit to communities that need it the most, and evolve the transit landscape in Toronto," said Bruce McCuaig, President and CEO of Metrolinx. "Commitment to this project, as well as other LRT projects like the Eglinton Crosstown, reflect the important investments being made to create a truly integrated and sustainable transit system for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area."

The environmental assessment (EA) for the project was completed in 2010, with an upcoming EA due to start soon for the maintenance and storage facility which will house the light rail vehicles. That facility will be located between Norfinch Drive and York Gate Boulevard on Finch Avenue West. 

This announcement comes after a busy month for transit news. The province also signaled its intention to proceed with the Hurontario-Main LRT last week, which followed the moving of two tunnel boring machines along Eglinton Avenue for the Crosstown LRT. With Union Station's new York GO Concourse now open for passengers, the announcement is particularly timely, and indicative of the level of transit investment taking place in the region. 

The project is part of the province's Moving Ontario Forward plan, which will inject $31.5 billion into infrastructure projects across the province over the next ten years. About $16 billion has been earmarked for transportation projects within the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. Construction is expected to begin in Spring 2016 and wrap up in 2021. 

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