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Civic Impact

Relief Line Alliance says facts, not rhetoric should steer transit debate

Relief Line Alliance drew its before and after projections from a Metrolinx report

A midtown resident, Louis Mark wouldn’t benefit directly from a Relief Line, but he thinks he knows a good transportation plan when he sees one.

The founder and leader of Toronto Relief Line Alliance says he formed the group last fall after some conversations about the Metrolinx report examining the possibility of subway line running from Sheppard Avenue East to the downtown core via Don Mills Road, providing relief from crowding on the Yonge Street subway line. But with the Eglinton Crosstown Light Rail Transit (LRT) line and the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension under construction, and the Scarborough Subway Extension still up for debate, the relief line seemed to have gotten lost in the shuffle.

“The study shows that a subway from Don Mills to downtown would provide tremendous benefits. The ridership along is much higher than the Eglinton Crosstown, for example,” says Mark, a computer science student at the University of Toronto. “But nobody was talking about it, the regular people of Toronto weren’t talking about it so we formed this group to raise awareness.”

Starting with about 22 members, the alliance has doubled its membership just in the past week, attracting people willing to sign its petition and donate money, as well as the attention of city politicians.
Toronto Relief Line Alliance proposed routeThe idea of a relief line has been bounced around for years, but the Metrolinx study, from which the alliance draws most of its facts and figures, makes a convincing and tangible case. With crowding at Bloor-Yonge Station expected to increase 60 per cent by 2031, a relief line would attract 9,200 commuters at the peak of the morning rush hour, the same usage as Yonge-University and Bloor-Danforth lines. Estimated to cost $7.4 billion, the group points out that it would contribute $13 billion to the economy in saved time. Mark points out that the line would compliment—not overlap with—the Eglinton Crosstown and Scarborough Subway Extension.

“I was never involved in advocacy before this but what made me want to get involved was the incredible frustration from seeing how much rhetoric there was and how politicized everything was,” says Mark. “I’m hoping we can bring some solid facts and numbers to make sure Toronto gets the best transit possible.”

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Louis Mark
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