The provincial agency sent TTC executives and city manager Joe Pennachetti a letter Wednesday confirming that Metrolinx would be pursuing an alternative financing and procurement (AFP) model for the provincially funded projects, including a private partner for the operation and maintenance of the Eglinton, Sheppard and Finch LRTs.
Metrolinx says the decision is based on getting better value for money.
“Under the AFP model, we protect taxpayers by building in strict penalties for any cost and schedule overruns. If the project is late, the private sector pays. If project is over budget, the private sector pays,” said a statement late Wednesday from Metrolinx.
It also said the two transit agencies will continue to work together. However, TTC chair Karen Stintz says the TTC’s input will now largely be restricted to the design of the interchange stations where the subway intersects with the LRT at Eglinton West, Yonge and Kennedy.
The decision to choose another operator follows months of behind-the-scenes tension between the TTC and Metrolinx over the province’s determination to use Infrastructure Ontario and an AFP to design and build the projects, worth more than $8.4 billion in provincial funding. Metrolinx had always planned to use an AFP process with some parts of the project, including station construction.
“It’s not our money. It’s their money, their project,” Stintz said.
But the decision raises many questions about what happens to commuters if the Crosstown runs GO green instead of Rocket red.
Among them: Will commuters have to pay two fares? And who sets the Crosstown fare? If it is higher than the TTC fares, what happens to riders who can’t afford to pay more, since the Crosstown is supposed to replace the Eglinton buses?