Rob Ford, Dalton McGuinty Clash Over Subway Plan

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SUBWAY

TORONTO - Toronto's transit battle is heating up the airwaves as Mayor Rob Ford defends his plan to build more subways on his new radio show.

During his inaugural radio show Sunday on Newstalk 1010, Ford warned Premier Dalton McGuinty that he'll commit "political suicide" if he doesn't support Ford's plan for more subways.

The mayor insisted Toronto residents want subways, adding there's overwhelming support for them in public opinion polls.

Speaking to reporters Monday, the premier joked that he'd like some air time too.

"I gotta get a radio show, obviously," he said following a Toronto speech to municipal leaders.

In the end, Toronto residents aren't "weighing the political consequences" of whether the city should have subways or light rail, McGuinty said.

"I think they're talking about public transit and what it is that we can do as two responsible levels of government to work together to get the job done," he said. "I think that's what this is all about."

Earlier this month, Ford and his allies lost a crucial fight when council voted in favour of another proposal for light-rail transit.

The mayor insisted the provincial government would still go ahead with his subway plan, but McGuinty has said he must respect council's decision on the future of the city's transit.

Councillors voted for a plan to put light-rail lines on Eglinton Avenue and Finch Avenue West, and to study a subway extension on Sheppard Avenue. The province is awaiting the results of that study.

But the government — and Toronto residents — are losing patience with a plan that keeps changing, McGuinty said.

"We're coming to the end of our rope," he said. "We're running out of patience."

McGuinty originally committed $8.15 billion in 2007 to a plan called Transit City, which called for more extensive light rail on Eglinton, Sheppard, Finch and the Scarborough RT route. Transit City was almost entirely funded by the province, with the federal Conservatives chipping in $300 million.

But Ford declared his predecessor David Miller's cherished transit project dead as soon as he took office in 2010, saying there would be no more tracks down the middle of Toronto streets.

Last March, the premier and Ford announced a revamped, $12.6-billion transit project for the city that included light rail and subway expansion. The province agreed to contribute $8.4 billion to the plan.

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