Environmental cost of underground rail massive, says Saxe

head shot of Shoshanna Saxe
Professor Shoshanna Saxe

UTTRI associated faculty Professor Shoshanna Saxe was interviewed in “Doug Ford’s transit plans: Billions in waste, bad for the planet,” an opinion piece in the Globe and Mail March 9, 2020.

The article focuses on Premier Doug Ford’s plans for extensions to the Scarborough subway and to the Eglinton Crosstown LRT.

The author, Globe and Mail Staff Columnist, Architecture Critic Alex Bozikovic, writes that those extension plans “involve waste on an epic scale – and are terrible for the planet.” He quotes Professor Saxe directly and refers to a recent publication she co-authored:

Underground tunnelling “takes much longer, and it uses much more construction material, which has a massive environmental impact,” said Shoshanna Saxe, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto’s school of engineering. Prof. Saxe and two colleagues recently wrote a paper on the subject and found that underground rail generates 27 times more greenhouse gases than surface rail.

The environmental cost of transit projects can figure in the decision-making process.

Sometimes, “there are reasons to build heavy rail underground,” Prof. Saxe said. “But in places in cities where there’s space in the road, and long distances between stations, the advantages of heavy rail disappear, and the disadvantages remain.”