On the agenda at next week’s Toronto City Council meeting is an interesting motion from Councillor Nunziata, seconded by Councillor Mike Layton. It concerns the Airport Rail Link; Ms Nunziata is hoping that Council will request the Premier to add:
…a minimum of eight additional stops to the two planned at Weston and Bloor, with one of the added stops to be at Eglinton Avenue West to integrate with the Eglinton LRT. That other stops considered include Liberty Village, the Junction, Carleton Village, Jane Street, Etobicoke North, Woodbine and Humber.
The eighth stop will perhaps be named later (what about Mount Dennis?). The motion goes on to recommend electrification. This seems to reflect a growing consensus that we have the potential of a commuter line serving communities along the way as proposed by (amongst others) MP Mike Sullivan and MPP Jonah Schein.
The original name of the ARL was Blue 22, meaning that the Pearson to Union trip would take only 22 minutes. Originally the link was to be run and built at no cost to taxpayers by a consortium of private interests. As we all know, the deal fell through and the Province was left to pick up the pieces. The addition of the extra stop in Weston was calculated to have added 3 minutes to the predicted journey. If we extrapolate and say that each additional stop adds 3 minutes, then eight more stops will stretch the entire journey out to 25 + 24 or 49 minutes which might be a tedious journey for an airport rail link.
There is one thing that could shorten these times and that is electrification. Electric trains can accelerate much faster, reaching higher speeds between stops and therefore times would be shorter possibly up to 15%. If the Premier acts on the entire motion, the Airport Rail Link will be another creature altogether. The creature would be an above-ground subway line.
Now that we’re all excited about an electrified line that will connect several communities, what are the chances that the Premier will act on the motion?
Answer: zero. The projected costs of electrification and building additional stations would give Dalton McGuinty and Dwight Duncan heart palpitations and potentially add billions to the Ontario deficit. In a period of austerity, this is a non-starter.
Next question; why would Councillor Nunziata align herself with a left wing councillor and propose a motion that may pass Council but hasn’t a snowball’s chance with the Province?
Answer: It’s a futile but symbolic gesture; our councillor may have decided that it’s time to start the move away from Team Ford, and get better positioned for election day, October 27, 2014.