This map, provided by city staff in a report to the Transit Commission, shows the O-Train line with a possible extension to Riverside South.

Extending the O-Train line south to Bowesville Road, with stops in South Keys and Leitrim, would cost about $76 million, according to city staff.

Council ordered a report on the feasibility of extending the O-Train last June, based in part on the support of Transit Commission chair and Gloucester-Southgate Coun. Diane Deans.

“I think it’s a great idea because those are large group areas within the urban boundary and they need to be properly served by public transit,” she said Thursday.

Extending the O-Train is “technically feasible” and would be used for approximately 3.6 million single-direction trips each year, according to the report. Of those trips, 725,000 would be by new transit customers and 2.8 million would otherwise be made using buses.

The report says no funding is available for the construction until 2031 under the city’s current Long Range Financial Plan for Transit, but the city can shift priorities during planning for its Transportation Master Plan (TMP) update, scheduled for completion in 2014.

Cumberland Coun. Stephen Blais said updating the TMP will allow council to set new priorities, including when and how to serve each region. Blais is eager for the LRT to be extended into Orleans, but he said that the projects aren’t mutually exclusive and that they could be done simultaneously.

Blais said the $76-million price tag is a reasonable but only if it’s a long-term investment.

Deans said the project is worthwhile in the shorter term because it would be easy to convert the line to electrified light rail, with little of the $76 million lost in the process, because much of the same construction and infrastructure could be used by LRT.

The report recommends other enhancements to the O-Train, including additional stops along the existing route, and suggests the extension happen after the east-west LRT line is done in 2018.

“I’m not sure we’d have to wait that long,” said Deans. “My hope is we can serve the south communities with rail service sooner rather than later.”

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