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Doug Ford speaks at a press conference in Etobicoke on Sept. 12, 2014.FRED LUM/The Globe and Mail

When Doug Ford subbed in for his ailing brother, he adopted his platform and, it seems, his obsessions with subways.

Before leaving the mayoral race last month, Rob Ford had promised to push for 32 kilometres of underground transit, including a downtown relief line (DRL), and said he would kill or bury light rail lines now planned to run on the surface.

The Globe was unable to arrange an interview or technical briefing with the Doug Ford campaign, but his public comments show he is running on almost the same transit platform. On Thursday he unveiled a transit plan that matched his brother's, with one key change: he made the DRL his first priority.

Overall, Doug Ford is promising to build the same 32 kilometres of underground transit at the same cost of $9-billion. But the proposal has a number of flaws.

Mr. Ford promised to replace planned light-rail lines on Sheppard and Finch with subways. And he would put underground the eastern portion of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, now expected to run on the surface. The looming problem here, though, is that those are all projects being done and paid for by the province. There's no guarantee Queen's Park would agree to change them. And Mr. Ford's assumption that any cost savings generated by changing provincial plans could be applied to his own priorities may be optimistic.

Another wrinkle is that the costing for about three-quarters of his proposed subways is much lower than normal estimates. The DRL is expected to cost about $580-million per kilometre, which is roughly in line with the projected cost of a Scarborough subway extension. But his Finch and Sheppard subways are budgeted much more cheaply, costing only about $240-million per kilometre each.

And how to pay for this work remains murky. Mr. Ford listed a whole slate of options he said could get subways built without relying on public funds. Some of them are things that failed in the last term of council, though, and the funds from others are allocated already to other priorities. And this week he criticized one on the list – tax increment financing, which Mr. Tory has chosen to pay for his plan, as something that doesn't work.

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