It'll be the TTC after all

[attach]6490[/attach]The TTC will operate Toronto’s four incoming light rail lines, Minister of Transportation Bob Chiarelli announced today at the commission’s Davisville headquarters.

“TTC riders will pay one fare and enjoy seamless, rapid, affordable service no matter where they travel across the system,” Chiarelli said in a joint press conference with TTC Chair Karen Stintz, TTC general manager Andy Byford and Metrolinx CEO Bruce McCuaig.

Under the agreement, the transit commission will be responsible for vehicle operators, station operations, and dispatch and control of the light rail vehicles.

A private partner, to be sought through a procurement process by Infrastructure Ontario, will design, build, finance and maintain the lines.

The move to have TTC operate the lines is an about-face for transit planning agency Metrolinx, which had announced only a few weeks ago the province would seek a private operator to run the surface rail lines to be built on Eglinton, Finch West and Sheppard East. The Sept. 20 announcement drew opposition from councillors, including Stintz, who said the TTC [url=]must operate the lines to ensure safety and fully integrate the rail lines with Toronto’s existing public transit system[/url].

At the press conference, Stintz acknowledged “a few bumps along the road” but added the province and the TTC have resolved some challenges through negotiations.

She said she is hopeful the agreement will instill public confidence in the coming infrastructure projects.

“They will be built on time, it will be an integrated system, it will be a seamless system, and it will be a user-friendly system.”

However, questions about how the TTC will fund the operations are being left unanswered for the time being. An agreement on a subsidy provision and fare structure will start with a “discussion that takes place over time,” Stintz said.

The lines are expected to be complete and in operation by 2020.

Initial tunnelling of the Eglinton Crosstown from Black Creek Drive to Yonge Street is set to begin this winter.