Where Will the Scarborough Subway Go?

The Toronto Star reports that Queen’s Park is contemplating an alternative route to Toronto’s proposed Scarborough subway extension via Eglinton and McCowan to Sheppard East.

The key paragraphs in the article are:

“In the next couple of weeks we should have an announcement on what the routing will be, what the design will be and what the cost will be,” he told reporters on the way into a cabinet meeting Wednesday.

Queen’s Park wants to have the subway run on a similar route to the light rail transit plan to “maximize the impact of this line and get it connected to as many people (as possible),” said [Transportation Minister] Murray.

Murray seeks to find out how much could be built with the $1.4b already committed to a subway project.  Using an existing corridor could reduce the cost compared to the McCowan alignment.

This raises questions debated in other threads here of how the subway would be extended via the existing SRT alignment including the configuration of Kennedy Station and whether a route from Ellesmere Station eastward would be elevated or underground.

Recycling some or all of the existing corridor will require a period of shutdown for the RT with parallel bus service, an issue that weighed heavily against the LRT scheme in recent debates.  Will the promise of a subway quell objections to this shutdown?

Murray will meet with Lisa Raitt, the federal Minister of Transport, to discuss funding, but he is already throwing cold water on hopes for assistance from Ottawa for a  “416″ project.  Even if the feds bring money to the table, the next questions will be whether the original McCowan scheme or an SRT alignment for the subway are the best use of available cash, and how either subway would fit into a larger network.

The debate comes back to Toronto Council in October preceded by Murray’s announcement likely in mid-September.  Backers of the subway like TTC Chair Karen Stintz and recently-elected MPP “Subway Champion” Mitzie Hunter have stressed that their support for a Sheppard LRT was for a different line in different circumstances.  A Scarborough subway, wherever it goes, will leave large parts of eastern Toronto far from rapid transit.

The LRT debate is not over.  Will Stintz and Hunter become “LRT champions” for other parts of the network?

About Steve

Steve thanks you for reading this article, even if you don't agree with it.
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68 Responses to Where Will the Scarborough Subway Go?

  1. Nick L says:

    Anyone want to bet that when the full costing out of converting the RT to a subway is completed, Lawrence East station mysteriously vanishes.

  2. Brian says:

    Where was the original Bloor Danforth station track alignment supposed to go?

    Steve: I am not sure which “original” plan you are asking about.

    I keep wondering why the plan isn’t to eventually extend the subway to meet up with the GO station at Eglinton near Markham – connecting the Bloor Danforth line directly to the subway would take pressure off of Union station and the downtown subway lines.

    Steve: I think you mean connecting the subway to GO, not to “the subway”. As for pressure at Union, no, a connection in eastern Scarborough is not going to help downtown for two reasons. First, riders are not going to travel out of their way to get to the GO connection at Markham Road. If anything, such a connection might encourage inbound GO riders to switch over to the subway rather than going all the way to Union, but they would be a small group of travellers for whom a long subway ride in from Scarborough beats GO to Union and a subway trip from there. Remember also that the outbound trip would have riders transfer onto GO where trains are still well-loaded and a seat would not be available. Second, there is the small matter of the fare differential which discourages use of GO within Toronto.

  3. Robert Wightman says:

    Nick L says:
    September 4, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    “Anyone want to bet that when the full costing out of converting the RT to a subway is completed, Lawrence East station mysteriously vanishes.”

    Lawrence East is the one line station that that actually has a decent volume of passengers using it. I doubt that it will get cut.

  4. Walter says:

    It looks like the Subway crowd were flexible enough and willing to compromise until they found a solution that fit within the budget. Too bad the LRT!, LRT!, LRT! group was so rigid that they refused to look at any modifications to their plans.

    The biggest complaints from the Subway crowd were; the transfer, the transit/passenger car interaction, and perhaps the closure time. It was obvious that the majority of the public realized these deficiencies. Unfortunately, these issues could have been solved using LRT, but the LRT group refused to budge. Connecting the SRT to the Eglinton LRT would have eliminated the transfer. Since this would have greater ridership than any of the other proposals, the Scarborough portion of Eglinton would have to be grade-separated (with elevation being the most cost effective way). To solve the closure, the technology could have been changed to SkyTrain to reduce the down-time to one year – although based on the latest subway proposal, it appears that the closure is not that large of an issue for those who support it.

    Unless the LRT proposal gets a few modifications, it looks like the pro Subway crowd’s ability to compromise will let them win the day.

    Steve: Don’t be so sure. The subway crowd is still divided on the route Glen Murray has proposed.

    As for the LRT plan, you forget that the split between the routes was imposed by the TTC who did not want one long route with big differences in demand. The majority of the travel from the SLRT at Kennedy would still have been to the Danforth subway, not to the Eglinton line, and so the transfer would have remained an issue for those riders.

    You are selectively presenting “history” and making assumptions about groups and motives to bolster your case for a Mark II ICTS line.

  5. Brian says:

    There is no station at Ellesmere, and because it looks like it is curving when it crosses Ellesmere, there likely never will be a station there.

    Steve: Yes, in order to have a gentler curve and a deeper tunnel under the railway, the whole thing must start further south. An Ellesmere Station is impossible.

  6. Brian says:

    Look at the numbers here – $1.3 billion for 6.4km of subway – with only 2 new stations but obviously some expensive work or relocation at Kennedy.

    This is $200 million per km – is that realistic? I think not.

    My proposal to extend the Sheppard subway to Kennedy was only 4.8 km – if that (I don’t know how far east of Don Mills the Sheppard subway runs right now).

    Steve: If you took the trouble to visit Don Mills Station, you would see that the track does not extend far to the east from the platform. When you talk grandly about “my proposal”, you should not give away your lack of knowledge about the details.

    I am disgusted.. this city has terrible congestion and money needs to be spent on projects that will do far more than this one. the subway to Vaughan was another wasteful project… if the ttc had decided to run LRTs along subway corridors, we would have a far better network for moving long distances quickly.

    Steve: And so your solution is to build more subway on Sheppard. Good money after bad.

  7. Nick L says:

    Robert Wightman said:

    Lawrence East is the one line station that that actually has a decent volume of passengers using it. I doubt that it will get cut.

    And when no additional funds are put forward to offset increasing costs, and there are a lot of unknowns with this proposal with big dollar signs associated with the solutions to fix them in addition to the province being broke and the city being cheap, what else can be cut?

  8. LRT Champion says:

    I want to know if the provincial subway proposal will be able to reuse the elevated structure from STC to Midland. Also will the the Kennedy to Ellesmere section continue to be above ground?

    I like this plan and it’s OK if it ends at STC. I hope Ford and convert the Sheppard LRT into a subway and bring it into STC, so extending the BD line to Sheppard won’t be necessary.

    Finally I hope the Eglinton LRT will be extended continuously beyond Kennedy to Eglinton Go, then further along Kingston Rd and up to Morningside. Morningside/Kingston is a priority neighborhood and it’s in Mitzie Hunter’s riding.

  9. Peter Strazdins says:

    Ontario Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Glen Murray’s plan to put a stubway on the SRT right-of-way is the logical next step in the politicians’ “War of the Scarborough Subway”. Murray is right, that neither Toronto’s Mayor Rob Ford, nor federal PM Stephen Harper have put a single nickel towards the project. Albeit, it was pointed out that Toronto has not yet submitted a proper request for federal infrastructure funds. Breaking the rules again, overstepping queue are we, Mr. Ford?

    I bet you this last plan has zero chance of coming about. It is just a cheap political shot, that is all.

    Common sense should tell you, why replace the SRT with full-blown subway on this route, at a cost of $1.4 billion, with no net improvement over the existing system?

    Is it that easy to toss taxpayers’ $billions into the garbage?

    The only reason to replace the SRT as it stands today is because the Mk I vehicles are coming to their serviceable end of life. They need to be replaced. Maybe they can be restored, and people will come from all over the world to see the antiques!

    The options for the SRT right-of-way are:

    1. Buy used replacement Mk I vehicles (I read that suggestion somewhere on a post)
    2. Convert to LRT, as per the existing agreement signed by Ontario and Toronto council.
    3. Convert to Mk III vehicles (aka SkyTrain) from Bombardier
    4. Convert to subway (Murray’s plan), only as far as STC, at $1.4 billion.

    Both options # 2 and 3 require work on the Ellesmere tunnel. New vehicle costs. Option #2 requires new platforms. For option #2, would high-floor vehicles be a reasonable option, so that platforms can remain as is? Does #3 require track replacement? Assuming signalling has to be completely replaced no matter what. Downtimes any scenario? Cost implications for rebuild of Kennedy station?

    Steve, I am wondering, you might have already posted this info, but how would you cost out the above options # 2 and 3? Option #2 would have extended the line all the way to Malvern, fully funded as per the Ontario-Toronto agreement. However, for apples-to-apples and oranges-to-oranges comparisons sake, Steve, can you please cost out STC as destination and Malvern as alternate destination for these scenarios?

    Steve: The funded LRT plan (option 2) only gets you as far as Sheppard, not to Malvern Centre. This includes not just the new infrastructure east of McCowan (which is largely elevated or underground), but a share in the Conlins Road carhouse on Sheppard. Kennedy Station changes are elsewhere in the budget. That’s $1.4b as we know already. No, high floor vehicles would not be an option because this would give us a non-standard fleet in out “LRT” network, and would complicate the carhouse design (high floor vehicles have their electrical gear under the floor and are maintained from pits, low floor vehicles have electrical gear on the roof). There are no used Mark I vehicles worth purchasing because they have been out of manufacture for decades, and we would have to bite the bullet on changes to handle Mark II vehicles sooner or later.

  10. Robert Wightman says:

    LRT Champion says:
    September 5, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    “I want to know if the provincial subway proposal will be able to reuse the elevated structure from STC to Midland. Also will the the Kennedy to Ellesmere section continue to be above ground?”

    Since the ICTS cars are only about 8′ wide versus 10′ for the subway plus the gauge difference I doubt that it would be possible to reuse the elevated or any other portion of the existing track. With standard gauge LRT some re-use might have been possible. At least this may give them some place to run the extra T1 cars. If they are going to build this line for $1.4 billion then it pretty well has to be at grade or elevated.

    Nick L says;

    “And when no additional funds are put forward to offset increasing costs, and there are a lot of unknowns with this proposal with big dollar signs associated with the solutions to fix them in addition to the province being broke and the city being cheap, what else can be cut?”

    Following your reason then why bother rebuilding Kennedy. Just send the Eglinton LRT, if it gets that far, and all the buses down to Warden or up to STC. It would save 1:00 minute of the commute time of those lucky enough to get on at STC. I just hope that they build the Eglinton, Finch west and Sheppard east LRT lines.

  11. Moaz Yusuf Ahmad says:

    Steve:

    Yes, that would be a problem because “old Kennedy” is at “subway” level and the Eglinton line would have to cross the approach to “new Kennedy” at grade to reach it.

    Moaz: but if I recall correctly Eglinton was going to be at grade west of Kennedy with a portal to the underground terminal. I’m wondering if there would be room for that portal between the “old” and “new” subway tunnel segments. If there is enough room then conceivably, the old Kennedy platforms could be refurbished for the Crosstown line.

    Steve: The portal will take the Eglinton line underground west of Kennedy as you say. If the old station is to be reused, the Eglinton has to either go over the “new” subway and quickly drop to the level of the “old” station, or go down under the subway and quickly rise to the station. Either way, it’s not going to happen. If the Eglinton line is built at the mezzanine level, the pathways between it and the subway get complicated as I have already described.

    When council had their debate I was asking about the need for a new EA for Kennedy. Seems more likely to be needed if any of these changes go ahead … and under the circumstances …

    Steve:

    The beauty of the previous design was that the SLRT loop was designed much like Spadina Station with a single LRT platform opening directly onto the fare mezzanine.

    Yes … it’s too bad that the TTC didn’t wait on announcing their plan to run the line as two completely separate services. If they’d kept us in the dark until, say, 2018 … actually I’m not joking. Lots of people think that TTC will run each and every Bloor-Danforth train out to Scarborough Town Centre.

    Cheers, Moaz

  12. Nick L says:

    Robert Wightman said:

    Following your reason then why bother rebuilding Kennedy.

    Except that isn’t my reasoning at all. Murray has made it clear that the first priority of this project is to get to STC. Not to build a line serving Scarborough, but to build a line to STC.

    In other words, if Murray’s napkin/envelope has grossly underestimated the conversion costs and the only way to finish the project is to make cuts, Lawrence East station is expendable.

  13. Walter says:

    It seems it has been mentioned a few times that the TTC are the ones who wanted to separate the STR from the ECLRT. This, however, was a direct result of the decision to run the Scaroborough portion of Eglinton in the median. TTC feared that service would be too unreliable on this section to properly run the line from Malvern to Mt. Dennis (and eventually Pearson).

    If this portion of Eglinton is elevated, then it becomes a complete grade separated line that is shorter than the YUS line – so there would be no concerns of running it as a single line.

    As for SkyTrain, the only advantage would be to reduce the SRT closure time to a more acceptable level – maybe a third to a quarter of the time needed for LRT conversion. With the plan of Mr. Murray and the acceptance by the Mayor and Councillor De Baeremaeker, it appears that the closure it not that important to them at all so the LRT vehicles could stay. Their concern seems to be just the elimination of the transfer.

  14. Moaz Yusuf Ahmad says:

    Walter said:

    Their concern seems to be just the elimination of the transfer.

    Yes and with that and the pandering and goal of building subways it seems that any return to the LRT plan would be considered an unacceptable climbdown that Stintz and Murray wouldn’t dare to touch. Ford will certainly fight against any return to LRT since he is now closer than ever to re-election with his new-found ability to claim that he (and only he) brought subways to Scarborough.

    What that means is that since the technology (subway) and the terminal (somewhere at “STC”) has been “chosen” the next question now is the actual route that will be chosen.

    Murray’s proposal actually has some significant disadvantages from a transit building perspective (the shutdown of the SRT *and* Kennedy station, the unnecessary realignment, the length of construction, the sharp turn at Ellesmere, and the need to replace the elevated guideway). It also underserves transit users with only 2 stations. The advantage is little or no on-street construction.

    The Council proposal to go under Eglinton, Danforth and McCowan has fewer structural disadvantages since the work will be relatively straightforward. The problem is the higher cost but for the moment they can cut costs by accepting ‘STC’ as the terminal (saving money by not having to cross the 401) and using cut & cover construction as much as possible. The SRT can stay open for as long as possible and can be rebuilt to serve as an independent line in my dreams.

    The other proposal is to modify Murray’s proposal by using the Gatineau Hydro Corridor. Obviously Ontario “Hydro” doesn’t want their corridor be used but with Murray as minister of transport and infrastructure you’d think he’d have some influence.

    The main advantage is that this route can avoid the sharp turn at Ellesmere (replacing it with two much more gradual turns) and avoid most on-street construction between Kennedy & McCowan. The Kennedy subway station would have to be realigned and there would be an SRT shutdown (partial or complete) but the construction period would be shorter than with Murray’s proposal. There could be more stations (Midland, Brimley and McCowan).

    I’m not saying it’s the right direction but it since subway is the direction in which we seem to be going, we can only hope that the different levels of government find the right route & plans for the future.

    Cheers, Moaz

  15. Nick L says:

    You know Steve, with Stintz now drifting back towards the original LRT proposal, might it be too much to ask that you do a very early April Fools joke and try to sell converting the SRT to a BRT route? I’m sure we could all use the laugh from an intentional joke after this whole farce.

    That is unless you think someone might take such a joke seriously and turn it into an actual proposal.

  16. Robert Wightman says:

    Robert Wightman said:

    Following your reason then why bother rebuilding Kennedy.

    Nick L said:

    “Except that isn’t my reasoning at all. Murray has made it clear that the first priority of this project is to get to STC. Not to build a line serving Scarborough, but to build a line to STC.

    “In other words, if Murray’s napkin/envelope has grossly underestimated the conversion costs and the only way to finish the project is to make cuts, Lawrence East station is expendable.”

    But it is the logical conclusion to your worry. A new Kennedy Station will cost more money than a new Lawrence East Station. If we eliminate all the intermediate stations we can save a lot of time and money; it just won’t serve many people. If the purpose is to serve people then the LRT is better. Unfortunately there has been so much untruth about it that it will never be built.

  17. Robert Wightman says:

    I took a ride out to Kennedy the other day to check out the current station. The subway is quite deep, 14 m according the 4transit study with a large mezzanine below ground. If the new subway station is the same depth then could the ECLRT station not be at mezzanine level and loop around it. I believe that there is at least one station on the green line in Boston that has an underground loop. This would make use of a large under ground area that would have to be there anyways and could also handle an extension to the east. That is if it is possible to put it at that level.

    Steve: The most commonly used underground loop on the Green Line is extremely tight.

  18. RishiL says:

    For arguments and curiosity sake, I did some informal number crunching for a short term Kennedy to Union plan. This is not gospel, but something to think about. According to Google Maps, Kennedy to Bloor station is 22 mins, and Bloor to Union is 7 mins. Combine those 2 numbers with 2x 4-min transfers (average & standard used) to get on at Kennedy and at Bloor makes this trip 37-38 mins at fastest. Would be much longer in rush hour with extended loading times, passenger related delays and full trains.

    Looking at the Kennedy GO schedule, the trip takes 19 minutes to Union.

    There are trains inbound in the AM, 649, 727, 736, 808, 834, 934 and outbound from union at 1414, 1518, 1618, 1648, 1720, 1800, 1830, 1918.

    So with all that in mind, I’m not sure I understand the comments on this site regarding how Union has no more capacity to serve the RL-East corridor for the short term while we build a real RT line. I’d assume that union’s “crush load” approaches peak and is the busiest during the AM & PM rushes. There is already train service during those times so adding some more midday trips wouldn’t/couldn’t stress the system beyond its capacity?!

    I guess I’m curious if it’s a fare cost problem, if it’s a poor transfer at Kennedy problem, or lack of ridership problem or what specific?

    How realistic would it be to have 20-30 min headways all day on this route? Even if I miss a train, and wait 30-mins, I am still downtown in 49 minutes which is about the same as the TTC ride, in a lot more style and comfort.

    I am somewhat playing devil’s advocate, and I do believe in the need for a mixed-mode system (BRT, LRT, sub) so we make effective use of tax dollars. Just trying to further my knowledge and understanding so I can talk to those with their blinders on.

    Steve: The issue at Union is not just one service on one line, but the combination of services requiring track and platform space through the peak period. There is room for some increase in peak service levels especially as the number of platform accesses is increased with the reconstruction and if trains do not sit for as long a time on platforms (that, in turn, requires more through-routing of trains). But there is a limit that will require net new capacity.

    I agree that GO should be providing some of the “relief” for the subway, but there is also a need for more subway capacity into the core area for trips that are not well-served by the GO network’s geography and stop spacing.

    As for all-day service, there are no capacity constraints at all, only the budgetary constraint of GO actually fielding the service. This would make a big difference in the attractiveness of their lines because people would not have to worry about catching the last train in the early evening to get home, and could come into the city later in the day than the tail end of the AM peak.

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