The master`s agreement is more binding, says Metrolinx chief Bruce McCuaig, than the memorandum of understanding forged by the government of former Mayor David Miller and the province. The agreement was unilaterally rejected by Ford and revived by the majority of the city council. Officials from Metrolinx, the TTC and the City gathered on Wednesday to sign a highly anticipated master agreement to build four new Toronto LRTs with $8.4 billion in provincial funds. The LRT agreement defines provincial ownership of the four new transit lines operated by the TTC. It also describes how to resolve the inevitable conflicts and construction problems and the process of approving changes to the size of projects that must be approved by the Minister of the Environment. A second agreement requires the TTC to introduce the Presto fare card, an electronic payment system that ultimately eliminates tokens and tickets from Toronto`s transit system. The LRT master contract is actually one of two documents signed by the TTC and Metrolinx on Wednesday. He also admitted that the conclusion of the master`s contract, a priority when he took over as head of Metrolinx in July 2010, took longer than he had anticipated. «Now that we have signed a master`s contract, we have much more certainty that we have defined agreements,» he said. «And it will be much more difficult for governments at all levels… to be changed. «It`s a real contract,» he said.
«We are much further ahead of the contract commitment to the acquisition of equipment, products and services.» «Our signatures end almost four years of debate and delay and signal to Toronto commuters that we will finally face the task they have been asking for for a long time, which is the extension of the Toronto Rapid Transit Card,» he said. «The Eglinton service will save some of our drivers up to 20 minutes per direction. Forty minutes a day, if you are one of those people who are on this system, it is pretty big. But McCuaig admits there are no absolute guarantees. «In the kind of system we live in here in Canada, we choose governments to make decisions and governments always keep the choice to go in a different direction,» said McCuaig. «The ability to move a higher order into the suburbs is really going to start to create a united city and move to the areas that need it most and that will benefit most, and that will stimulate economic development in a way that these areas are not even starting to appreciate right now,» she said. «I can`t wait to implement Presto. I was at Union Station this morning.
I`ve seen streams of customers arriving from Union Station with the Metrolinx Presto map. If it`s like we saw in London (with the introduction of the Oyster card), it will change the experience of customers using our system,» he said. CEO Andy Byford called it a «semi-senal moment» for the TTC and said the Presto adaptation was an important step in «up-and-down modernization» of the transit system.