According to Steve Munro, during the press scrum after yesterday’s Metrolinx public meeting, John Howe, Metrolinx General Manager of Investment Strategy and Projects, was asked about the technology choice for the SRT. He stated that Metrolinx and the TTC are agreed that the SRT line should be converted to LRT technology, that the cost of the LRT and RT options were approximately equal, and that the ability to integrate the SRT into the new LRT network was beneficial.
This combined with the TTC’s move to study this conversion (see my September 30 post on this), makes this pretty official. What remains is for the TTC to hold public consultations that reflects LRT conversion. Hopefully, that will come soon.
I should also note, that another benefit of this decision that was not mentioned by Howe is that while the cost of LRT and RT options for the existing line are about equal, the cost of LRT for the extension of the line is significantly lower, as I reported in October 2008.
Even if the proposed design, with a fully isolated right of way, were retained, LRT technology will lower the cost. With LRT, it is possible to make some changes that will reduce the amount of total isolation (shorter tunnelled section, and no need for complete fencing for at-grade sections) that will in turn further reduce the cost. I do hope, that the alignment of the extension is not changed to place it in road medians like other Transit City routes will use. A converted SRT will be a nice showcase for a truly rapid LRT line in Toronto.