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Despite wide support for proposed Eglinton LRT changes, Ford not budging on initial plan

Mayor Rob Ford isn't budging on his plan to build the entire Eglinton Crosstown line underground.

In a Facebook message posted Thursday afternoon, Mr. Ford said his plan remains "do-able" despite a proposal coming forth from TTC Chair Karen Stintz and other councillors that would raise a stretch of the LRT above ground from east of the Don Valley Parkway to Kennedy Avenue. By avoiding tunnelling costs through much of the Scarborough end of the line, the plan cut the total Crosstown cost by about $1.5-billion. Ms. Stintz's faction wants to split that windfall between extending the Mayor's key transit project -- the Sheppard subway -- and establishing a rapid bus lane along Finch Avenue West.

"For almost 100 years, Toronto's transit system has been based on a backbone of subways," the post says. "It's time to get back on track."

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The statement is an indirect shot at Ms. Stintz's plan, which has gained support from a wide swath of councillors.

The mayor goes on to argue that moving the line above ground would increase travel times. In a statistic his staff quotes often, the mayor says that travel time between Laird Avenue and Kennedy Station would be 14 minutes for an underground and 24 minutes for surface rail.

"More people will use transit when it's faster. It can only be faster if it's not on the surface."

Metrolinx chair Robert Prichard said a proposal to bring the line above ground again would need the backing of council, the mayor and the TTC.

"We are very happy with the course we are on, but we are partners," he said.

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National reporter

Patrick previously worked in the Globe's Winnipeg bureau, covering the Prairies and Nunavut, and at Toronto City Hall. He is a National Magazine Award recipient and author of the book Mountie In Mukluks. More

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