Ontario Line costs nearly double after awarding of latest contracts

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Soaring inflation and provide points alone can’t clarify why the price of the Ontario Line has nearly doubled from the provincial authorities’s preliminary estimate, in line with one long-time transit knowledgeable.

“I have a suspicion they goofed,” Steve Munro mentioned Wednesday, after current contracts confirmed the deliberate 15-kilometre subway will value nearly twice as a lot as initially promised. “There’s no way they could have done it for that money.”

Two new contracts awarded in November by Infrastructure Ontario and Metrolinx, the provincial transit company overseeing the challenge, plus two extra underway, introduced the price for the much-anticipated subway line to between $17 billion and $19 billion — a big leap from the $10.9-billion price ticket the federal government publicized in 2019.

That places the per-kilometre value of the brand new subway at upwards of $1 billion — which Munro known as an “outrageous price.”

The Tories blamed the higher-than-expected estimate on “rising inflation costs” and “supply chain shortages,” that are affecting building tasks worldwide.

“As this project moves forward, we will ensure that taxpayers get the best value for their money possible while continuing to deliver on much needed transit,” Ministry of Transportation spokesperson Dakota Brasier mentioned in an announcement.

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But Munro mentioned inflation can’t clarify such huge underestimates.

“Seven billion on a base of 2 billion is not inflation,” he mentioned, referring to the contract pegged at “greater than 2 billion” that finally went for $9 billion.

Construction on the Ontario Line, which can stretch from Ontario Place to the Science Centre, started in March however the line isn’t anticipated to be full till 2031, 4 years later than deliberate.

On Nov. 17, Infrastructure Ontario and Metrolinx introduced that they had given Connect 6ix, a group of personal firms, the principle ticket to function and preserve the road’s trains and programs in return for $9 billion.

The province’s May replace put the price of this contract at “greater than $2 billion.”

On Tuesday, Ontario’s opposition New Democrats known as for “increased accountability and oversight” over the Ontario Line, which is the showpiece of Premier Doug Ford’s transit plan.

“The Minister of Transportation needs to explain to Ontarians why these projects are already falling behind and why subway costs have more than doubled under the Ford government,” mentioned NDP infrastructure critic and Oshawa MP Jennifer French.

The NDP cited the province’s public-private (P3) mannequin for delivering infrastructure tasks as the explanation for the price enhance.

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“We are calling on this government to increase accountability and oversight over Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario, so transit riders won’t suffer high transit fares and poorer service while P3 financiers and private consultants get rich,” mentioned Toronto Centre NDP MPP and former metropolis councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam

According to Infrastructure Ontario, the mannequin “transfers appropriate risks associated with design, construction, financing, operations and maintenance of the project to the private sector.”

While there are overhead costs related to hiring personal firms to handle public tasks beneath the P3 mannequin, these had been probably factored into preliminary costs, Munro mentioned.

Earlier within the month, Ontario Transit Group received the contract to design, construct and finance the road’s south stations and tunnels, for $6 billion. The contract had beforehand been valued at “greater than $4 billion.”

Two additional contracts within the works to design, construct and finance the north half of the road are anticipated to value between $1 billion and $2 billion every.

Lex Harvey is a Toronto-based transportation reporter for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @lexharvs

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