Mayoral candidate Jennifer Keesmaat unveils $50B transit plan

Toronto mayoral candidate Jennifer Keesmaat has unveiled a $50-billion transit plan, insisting it will serve Toronto better than Mayor John Tory’s signature SmartTrack surface-rail scheme.

Keesmaat, the city’s former chief planner, said that Tory’s SmartTrack plan was “drawn on the back of a napkin,” adding that no new track has been laid under the mayor’s tenure.

“Why are we no longer talking about SmartTrack. (Tory) promised 22 stations and we have six,” she said during a stop downtown on Thursday. “SmartTrack was a distraction. SmartTrack was a mirage.”

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Kiesmaat said her transit priorities include building a downtown relief line by 2028 “so we don’t have chaos.”

She also wants to make the King St. pilot project  — where traffic is severely restricted to allow streetcars to better travel between Jarvis and Bathurt Sts. — permanent. She also wants to look at applying similar measures to other major streets.

Toronto mayor candidate Jennifer Keesmaat laid out her 30-year, $50-billion transit plan on Aug. 30, 2018. (Jack Boland, Toronto Sun)

If elected on Oct. 22, her 30-year plan calls for measures to “unsnarl the mess” in Scarborough by building the subway with funds from the province and to eliminate the eastern extensions of the SmartTrack plan. The Eglinton LRT would be extended to the airport, the Waterfornt LRT would be completed and a Jane St. LRT would be built.

Keesmaat said 60% of all TTC trips start on a bus so there also needs to be enhanced service where it makes sense.

“I worked as Toronto’s city planner for five years. Toronto has an amazing team of transit experts … We have to stop being distracted by election stunts and mirages, like John Tory’s failed signature transit plan,” Keesmaat said.

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“Instead, we need to deliver an integrated, long-term network plan that weaves together subways, LRTs, streetcars and buses to shorten people’s commutes and ensure there is great transit in every neighbourhood in the city.

TTCriders, a transit advocacy group, welcomes Keesmatt’s plans to improve LRT service, build a relief line and enhance bus service.

However, “we didn’t hear a plan to fund it,” said executive director Shelagh Pizey-Allen.

Tory’s election campaign team issued a release Thursday saying Keesmaat’s plans will only create chaos and further delays.

It says she even plans to return to a three-stop Scarborough subway extension, a plan she was against when she was the city’s chief planner.

“The biggest loser in all of this would be the residents of Toronto who would see worsening traffic congestion, longer commutes and even more crowded subways, streetcars and buses,” said Tory.  “Keesmaat’s plan would create the very transit chaos she claims she wants to solve.”

Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies