By Robin MacLennan
Ontario Construction Report staff writer
The Ontario Line subway is now scheduled for completion in 2030, three years later than originally planned, according to a preliminary design business case released in late December, along with two requests for proposals (RFPs) to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the line.
Following the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) process that began in June 2020, shortlisted teams have been invited by Infrastructure Ontario (IO) and Metrolinx to bid on the packages.
The first package includes designing, building, financing, operating and maintaining the subway trains, communications and train control systems, a maintenance and storage facility, and the fare equipment that will be integrated with the PRESTO system.
The second package includes designing, building and financing the tunnels and transit stations for the southern segment of the line from Exhibition Place to just west of the Don River. It also includes utility and conduit work and building structures to prepare for track installation.
IO and Metrolinx expect to award these contracts in 2022.
The Ontario Line is being built under three separate public-private partnership (P3) contracts and a package of Early Works contracts.
“By issuing these first Ontario Line RFPs, Premier Ford’s vision for a world-class regional transit system continues to make steady progress,” Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney said in a statement. “The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on our economy, and major transit projects like this will contribute significantly to our recovery by stimulating future growth and job creation.”
Issuing of the RFPs was accompanied by the release of the Preliminary Design Business Case for the Ontario Line, which provides a detailed understanding of the project’s design and benefits for the community, reflecting feedback from residents and businesses. Some of the benefits noted in the business case include faster travel and increased transit access and capacity.
Once complete, the Ontario Line will be one of the most technologically advanced subway systems in the world with the highest degree of automation, on par with subway systems in Paris, Copenhagen and Barcelona. During rush hour, travellers can look forward to an Ontario Line train arriving at each station as frequently as every 90 seconds, with improved comfort, safety and reliability.
“We are closer to delivering a state-of-the-art subway that leverages existing rail corridors to minimize costs and disruption,” said Kinga Surma,Associate Minister of Transportation (GTA). “By building this project our government is bringing rapid transit to currently underserved neighbourhoods and developing transit-oriented communities which will provide needed housing options.”
The business case document highlights the economic benefits of the massive project with a forecast of over 4,700 construction jobs per year between 2020 and 2030, followed by continued employment after 2030 for the subway line’s operations and maintenance. In addition, the business case estimates the Ontario Line could put more than 255,000 people within a 10-minute walk of a new Ontario Line station and serve up to 388,000 trips each day by 2041.
“The Ontario Line is one of the most significant transit projects for the Greater Toronto Area in a generation and it will be delivered using Ontario’s world-class P3 model, which will allow us to do it quickly and respect taxpayers,” said Infrastructure Minister Laurie Scott.
In April 2019, the province announced its new transportation vision, with a preliminary estimated cost of $28.5 billion. This includes four priority transit projects: the Ontario Line; a three-stop Scarborough Subway Extension; the Yonge North Subway Extension; and the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension.
The Ontario Line will extend 15.6 kilometres between Exhibition/Ontario Place to the Ontario Science Centre and there will be 15 stations. In addition to the three P3 contracts, some segments of the Ontario Line will be procured separately, such as areas where it will run within GO Transit rail corridors.
Work on these sections is expected to start before construction commences on the three major work packages, and procurement has already begun for the early works that will take place at Exhibition Station, the government statement said.