Light Rail Comes to Toronto

Tomorrow, March 16, will be a landmark day for LRT in Toronto.  At 10:30 am, the TTC will unveil a plan for a large network of lines covering the city.

[I have deleted the links to preliminary articles on the Star and Globe websites as they are out of date.  You can read the latest coverage by going there yourself.  Amusingly, the usually well informed sources have different lists of what’s in the network to be announced Friday morning.  We shall see who’s right.]

This plan provides Toronto with the missing pieces of both the Ridership Growth Strategy and the Official Plan

The purpose of RGS was to show what could be done to improve the day-to-day TTC system quickly and without huge expense.  Some fare changes have already been implemented, some service improvements, and many more are to come.  Regular readers will know that I have complained that it took so long, but at least improvements are coming soon.

The RGS was highjacked by the subway junkies who couldn’t abide the thought that we might be turning away from that mode.  One month after the Commission approved RGS, the staff were back with an amendment in which the TTC re-affirmed that Spadina and Sheppard subway extensions were its top priority.  On that motion rests a small industry of lobbying for subway funding.

The Official Plan assumes the presence of a network of medium-capacity surface routes serving “Avenues” of medium-density housing.  If you hunt carefully, you can even find a photo mock-up of Eglinton and Kingston Road complete with an LRT line.  However, no details of an LRT network were included in the OP.

Now Torontonians have a chance to see what can be done without spending billions on subways.  The cost estimate, according to the Star, is about the same as that of the Spadina VCC subway extension.

Although we have not yet seen the plans, some of the lines are mentioned in by the Star.  This may trigger the inevitable squabbling that used to attend subway announcements back when we could actually contemplate more than one of them at a time about where to put all of the lines.

That’s not the important issue.  What is important is that we are finally looking at a network of LRT, looking at what a network of major transit improvements can do for the city with a timeframe of a decade or so.  This fundamentally changes the way we think about transit’s role in the city and the GTA beyond.

The TTC will have its work cut out showing people what really can be done.  A recent presentation about traffic congestion featured many photos of mainly European LRTs running through narrow streets on reserved lanes and transit malls.  That’s not the model for new suburban lines in Toronto.  The TTC needs to show examples of lines on wider arterial streets so that suburb-dwellers can see the mode in a setting more familiar to their daily lives.

Friday’s announcement will undoubtedly generate lots of press coverage over the weekend, and I will comment on the details here once they are available.

40 thoughts on “Light Rail Comes to Toronto

  1. I was just coming to see if you saw this and of course you did.

    I am very interested in the Finch Hydro Corridor but of course have read that is has been thought about for over 20 years so hopefully this will now happen.

    The Hydro corridor comes into Pickering and Ajax so that is what I advocate for and hopefully will not see houses right up to the boundry line.

    Andy my fellow Durham blogger is not a fan of LRT becuase he says the long term maintenace costs are too high and says that Subways are expensive to make but cost less to maintain overall.

    Your thoughts?

    Steve: First off, I’m not sure about the Finch line continuing all the way east into Scarborough given that there is likely to be a proposal to build LRT east from Don Mills Station on Sheppard. It wouldn’t make much sense to have two lines side-by-side. There is also the question of whether a Finch line will be in the hydro lands or in the middle of Finch Avenue. A lot depends on what sort of demand it is intended to serve. On Finch, it will serve the people who actually live and work there. On the hydro corridor, it will serve people who want to get across the city, but not to any particular point on the line.

    Second, as to operating costs, subways are very expensive to operate and only make sense when they carry vary large numbers of riders. LRT does not incur the following costs: station maintenance including escalators and elevators, drainage, ventillation and fire control, station staffing for fare collection, signal systems and automatic train control. Surface stations are much simpler and many subsystems required for subway operation simply don’t exist for an LRT line. Yes, the labour cost for drivers is higher on a per-passenger basis assuming there are oodles of passengers. That’s not the case for an LRT network because you don’t try to jam 1,200 people onto one train.

    All of that capital infrastructure has to be maintained. Although we spend a lot of money to repair streetcar track (I will talk about that in a separate post later tonight), this is due to a backlog of worn-out and badly constructed rail from the 1980s. The program to bring everything up to modern, durable standards will be finished by 2009 and our ongoing costs will drop. Meanwhile, the TTC has a growing problem with deterioration of tunnels due to water penetration, the signal system needs to be completely replaced, the escalators have gone through some major overhauls, and we face a large ongoing cost to bring stations up to current building code for exits and fire safety.

    Then there’s the little matter of the interest on the public debt incurred to fund all of that construction in the first place. The Spadina VCC line will cost about $2.5-billion. Let’s be very generous and assume that this money is borrowed at 5%. (Before people jump in and start talking about “capital out of current” budgeting, this is still money that came from somewhere and could have been used to fund something else we borrowed for.) That’s $125-million every year just to pay the interest. We would need to gain about 60-million new riders a year on the entire system just to get enough fare revenue to pay for this, never mind the additional operating costs.


  2. Ah but where will the money come from?

    Are the Liberals (provincially) insecure enough to pony up more money? Federally there’s no gain in bribing Toronto. And the city has barely enough cash to keep the buses running.

    Perhaps we should push for PR in our electoral system; that way urban areas would have the political clout to ensure dedicated funding for urban transit.

    Steve: An important difference with an LRT network versus a single subway line is that, from a funding point of view, the LRT scheme isn’t “all or nothing”. We can fund individual parts of the network as money becomes available, but at the same time we have an overall plan of where we might go as the network grows. With subway planning, we know we will be to VCC sometime around 2014, and to Scarborough Town Centre sometime around 2022. By then we might start thinking about a line somewhere else.


  3. The anti-doing-anything spin in the Star is annoying. They start off by saying that it will “cost billions” and they finish by saying that it will have “huge” costs. I don’t know what their agenda might be.

    Steve: Depends on who briefed the Star. Some folks still pitch the story that building LRT is a waste of money when we should just buy more buses. How can the Star complain about this huge scheme costing billions when they support a subway extension that will carry less people than many current bus lines, I don’t know.


  4. While I have ridden light rail routes around the world and know that they can be an effective transit mode, I want specific figures on travel time reduction before I can support this plan. Will they be using the higher capacity vehicles as an excuse to cut service? Isn’t the whole point of these streetcars supposed to be proximity to the streets they serve? The Finch hydro corridor was deemed too far from Finch for a subway, and yet it’s okay for streetcars?

    Steve: There is a great debate raging about whether a Finch line should be in the corridor or on the street itself. I won’t know which scheme won out until I see the announcement tomorrow. I agree — a line in the right-of-way is a total waste of money.

    The RTES deemed extending the RT north to be one of the least useful rapid transit extensions in the city, and yet it is the only one being built. Is this the whole reason the subway to Scarborough Centre was shot down? The marginal cost of a subway over the RT refurbishment would likely have been easily covered by the cost of the proposed RT extension. The subway would also have provided roughly the same total travel time reduction from Malvern to Downtown as the RT extension, considering the elimination of the Kennedy transfer, and it would have benefitted the rest of Scarborough north and east of STC, too.

    Steve: The RTES was very heavily biased to favour routes the TTC wanted to build, namely Sheppard and Spadina. Also, when it was done, a lot of the land in northeastern Scarborough was farmland or light industry. Things have changed.

    If a line goes east on Sheppard, it should NOT go to STC, it should continue east to serve the growing population of Malvern and Morningside Heights. They can get to STC and the Danforth subway, if that’s where they want to go, by transferring to the extended RT. We have to avoid gerrymandering transit lines to feed into artificial nodes like STC.

    The new streetcar on St. Clair, supposedly the model for these new routes, has generated time savings that are, at best, less than 15%. Compare that to up to 50% time savings during peak periods from subway routes. With such negligible travel time savings, is this LRT project going to actually divert people from their current subway-centred routes, let alone from their cars?

    Steve: The travel time savings cited for St. Clair are relative to scheduled, not actual running times. A big issue, ironically outside of the peak period, is service reliability due to traffic congestion. The right-of-way will help out there immensely. Indeed, on Spadina, the midday service is as good as the peak service because so many people use the line. This did not happen with the bus service.

    As for new suburban routes, the big issue is capacity for growth. If we don’t build LRT lines, the bus routes will get more and more bogged down and will reach a point where the transit service is totally unattractive. Beside that, a streetcar/LRT on a private right-of-way looks rather good.

    Another source of travel delay on transit is stop service time. With all-door low-floor loading, an LRT car can swallow a crowd much faster than current-day streetcars or a bus.


  5. Smart move on their part — they’re trying to get attention and buy-in for this now and make it an election issue.

    And they have to include more north-south routes to take people downtown — you can’t funnel all this into YUS or BD.

    What I’d like to see is the estimated trip time from Pearson to St. Clair W. Stn. I’m afraid it would still take too long and not be an attractive service. You have to be able to get people from Pearson downtown in 45 minutes. Can the Eglinton/St. Clair LRT do that? I figure it will take 1 1/2 hours with LRT.

    Steve: I am not in a position to comment on the details in tomorrow’s announcement, but I do know that some of the lines described in the media are based on the Mayor’s platform. Reality tempers and improves some of this, and I am hoping that we see a more realistic scheme for getting to the airport in tomorrow’s plan along with more north-south links.


  6. If the cars are going to be streetcars then I’m not too sure if I support it.

    Steve: That depends on what you mean by “streetcars”. I wouldn’t support it either if it will be implemented in a half-baked manner where the transit priority consists of finding as many ways as possible to delay transit service while two automobiles make a left turn. Council needs to read the riot act to the traffic planners (who do actually work for them, although I often wonder) so that we have designs that give transit the first opportunity at green time, not the last.


  7. Would the ROW on the Queensway be close to LRT vision you have in mind?

    Steve: With the following changes:

    True traffic signal priority. Streetcars first, everyone later.
    Proper shelters at stops. Why is it that we can spend months rebuilding a road and somehow the pedestrian amenities are left to the end. Transit riders put up with enough during the construction, and leaving them to stand in the howling wind tells them how important they really are.


  8. The Star article describes the Finch line as a way to “connect north Scarborough and north Etobicoke to the subway.” The overlooked — and really important — point here is that north Scarborough and north Etobicoke will be connected to EACH OTHER. That’s network.

    I’ll be curious to see where the GTTA sits. Will Rob MacIsaac be an invited guest, or will he be at the table?


  9. I find the timing of this rather interesting. With the details of the Spadina extension fresh on the public’s mind, a report that shows what could be done with a similar amount of money could very well churn up some public debate about rethinking the extension.

    While I am resigned to the fact that the Spadina extension is a done deal, the pro-LRT side of me is kind of hoping that a side-by-side cost comparison might sway a good part of the public to change their minds on the two myths that are choking transit in this city. That is, “rapid transit means subways”, and “LRT is just a new name for streetcars”.

    If these two thoughts in the mind of the public can be changed, there just might be pressure to change the Spadina extension into the LRT that it really should be and build a lot of the much needed LRT network with the 80-90% of the money left over.


  10. I have my doubts that this network will actually be built. This seems quite reminiscent of the Network 2011 subway plan that was never realized due to changes in political power. The fact is, it will be expensive to build the LRT network and this will demand funding from both the provincial and federal governments. As this is a provincial election year and a federal election could be triggered at any time, the pieces to any funding strategy could easily fall out of place.

    I have reservations about the proposed connection of the Sheppard Subway to Scarborough Town Centre. While, I assume that the network proposes an LRT solution, it wouldn’t surprise me if the subway gurus advocated that the Sheppard Subway be extended to STC. This would likely consume the budget for the entire network and no other lines would be built.

    Steve: The Sheppard Subway is not going to STC or anywhere else for that matter. The subway junkies got their line to VCC.


  11. Though I agree with Calvin that the Spadina subway extension would be better as an LRT, I think the subway really is a done deal. The provincial and federal money is committed to bringing a subway link to the 905, and it’d be politically costly for both to downsize the project. It’s probably cheaper for the city to play along than to risk a funding drought by pulling out.

    I look forward to the details tomorrow.


  12. I would do this …

    Express LRT from Kipling Stn. to Pearson
    Finch Hydro Corridor all the way across
    Eglinton all the way across
    Don Mills
    Islington or Kipling (Steeles to Lakeshore)
    RT extension northeastward

    Steve: Let’s see how many you get right in tomorrow’s announcement. Everyone has their favourites. There are a few others I would like do see, and I disagree on a few of yours. The important thing is that we’re getting a network view rather than single project serving places most riders in Toronto don’t want to go.


  13. I hope this works….I have been having trouble posting comments here…do I need to register?

    Steve: No, you don’t need to register (I actually turned that function off). However, all comments are moderated by me and they appear publicly if, and when I deal with them.

    Anyway, I like the idea of expanding transit, but only if it ISN’T streetcars! Streetcars don’t really hold that many people, making rush hour horrible and cramped.

    Steve: The new streetcars/LRVs that the TTC is likely to get have a capacity close to that of a subway car. Rush hour on streetcar lines is horrible and cramped because there isn’t enough service. For example, on most days it would not be possible for me to get on a train westbound at Broadview in the height of the morning rush hour. On that basis, I would say that subways are “horrible and cramped”. In fact, I go east, not west, and have my choice of seats thanks to the intensive service needed to handle the peak direction trips.

    I have subway service spectactularly in excess of what I deserve, rather like the students at York University will enjoy after 8 years and a few billion dollars of public investment. Might they have chosen lower tuition fees instead?


  14. Is this going to be another Streetcar right of way or an actual LRT like in Calgary? Are the LRTs going to get traffic priority? What kind of trains are they going to use?

    I would love to see the TTC answer some of these questions.

    This is what I mean by an actual LRT: (this is portland)

    If the TTC does build something like Calgary’s C-Train, even if it uses low floor cars, It would make my decision to move to Toronto much easier.


  15. According to the CBC: “Building streetcar lines are cheaper and quicker, with an estimated cost of $30 million per kilometre of track, while subway routes can require more than $100 million per kilometre.” Click here.

    I know subways are expensive, but wouldn’t LRT be much less than 30% of the cost of a subway? Why are LRT capital costs so high?

    Steve: I have to take some of the credit/blame for that figure. Last year, various people were using a 10% figure based on comparing the cost of the St. Clair project with the Spadina Subway. I argued strongly that this low-balled the likely cost of an LRT network because (a) there are no vehicle or maintenance facility or power distribution costs included in the St. Clair project, and (b) an extensive LRT network will inevitably encounter some locations where expensive construction is unavoidable. Also, the TTC might even come to its senses and build the odd bit of subway on the surface as York Region is planning for the VCC extension.

    LRT advocates have been waiting a very long time for something like this to come out. If the proposal looked wonderful and cheap (say $1-billion rather than $2.4-billion over ten years) and we then discovered we had seriously underestimated, that would be the last chance for credibility any LRT plan would have. I would far rather be surprised to discover that the network actually came in at a lower cost, and we had money left over to build more lines.

    Having said that, even at $30-million/km, that’s only 10% of the TTC’s own estimate for the cost of extending the Bloor subway into Mississauga.


  16. This is great news, and will finally turn Toronto into a true transit city. Shame my folks are thinking of moving from Richmond Hill to Whitby, cause with the ROW Viva lanes being being built and an Eglinton West LRT built, my dad could get to his work at Eglinton and Allen without needing to drive there. On the plus side, once on the east end my dad does plan to that the GO to Union, and the Spadina line to Eglinton West for work, but this still would have been very cool.

    One thing I’d like to ask you Steve: in moderate to high density areas, how well does LRT perform compared to the car??? Even with frequent stops along Bloor/Danforth, it still is faster (usually) than driving. But with a surface LRT, having to deal with cross traffic and pedestrians crossing, I fear that LRT passengers will regularly see cars passing them and ask themselves why they are not driving themselves. Unfortunately, when browsing YouTube for LRT I mostly came up with videos of LRTs on their own private corridors (ie: Scarborough RT) rather than LRTs through the middle of major streets.

    Even IF the car is faster than these new LRT routes, this is still a much needed breakthrough for public transit in Toronto.

    Steve: Some of the routes that are likely on the table will have high-speed sections, while others will run in the middle of the road. In the latter case, transit priority at traffic signals is vital and non-negotiable. Also, in the future as demand (and road traffic) builds up, the difference between LRT on its own lane and private cars will become much more evident. We need to put the capacity and the right-of-way in place now before total gridlock rather than wringing our hands about our inaction afterwards.


  17. Re Mimmo’s comment on north-south links: I don’t know if this is a good idea or not, but has a full Bathurst LRT line all the way up to Steeles (and even beyond) ever been considered? I am thinking about the problem with overcrowding on the Yonge line. Particularly if there are new east-west lines to be announced tomorrow, a central-ish north-south line that interconnected with them might take some of the pressure off.

    That said, I have not thought Bathurst St. fully through in terms of density and so forth: it seems like a good idea to me, but I am wondering what wiser souls have to say (or have already said) about it.

    Steve: I think that there is more to be said for relieving the Yonge line from the east with a Don Mills route. To the west, we already intercept riders with the Spadina Subway.


  18. Why does Eglinton always get ignored? Having the St Clair line jog up to Eglinton W is a poor alternative for what is really required: an end-to-end LRT line on Eglinton from the airport all the way to Kinston Rd, with an underground section through midtown.

    Steve: That St. Clair line to the airport was something that crept into the Mayor’s platform because the proposals were not vetted by a knowledgeable transit advocate (mentioning no names here). Yes, if we go to the airport, it should be on Eglinton coming east at least for a first cut to the Spadina Subway. The Weston rail corridor would also make a really nice way to get an Eglinton West branch down to Dundas West Station, but until the Blue 22 scheme is given the burial it so richly deserves, that option isn’t available.

    As for Sheppard, this is what many riders coming from Scarborough would have to do: Sheppard bus to Sheppard LRT, LRT to Sheppard subway, followed most likely by another subway or bus. As Mimmo famously said a few weeks ago, may as well call it the Toronto Transfer Commision. Why not take the Sheppard subway to VP where a convenient transfer to the LRT could be built, much like Spadina? A Don Mills transfer strikes me as being as annoying as transferring from B-D at Kennedy to the SRT.

    Steve: The Sheppard LRT line should go all the way out Sheppard to Morningside Heights. If you want to get from northeast Scarborough to STC, transfer to the extended RT line at Sheppard and Markham Road (assuming that’s the stop).


  19. We need to stop treating funding like gifts from heaven. It’s your money, it came from your taxes, whether federal, province, or city.

    How can we stand by and watch $2 billion of our own money be misspent?

    Steve: I feel an evil thought coming on here: Do you mean the $2-billion that might be spent on LRT, or the $2.5-billion that’s going to build the Spadina VCC subway?


  20. The “C’ trains look great compared to the TTC’s “Streetcar” CLRV’s and ALRV’s but the Dublin cars look way sexier… check them out on Spacing here.

    Shawn Micallef’s Public Dublin article, fourth photo down… and speaking of sexy check out the curves of the Montreal subway tunnel just above this article.

    P.S. to Cynthia… Toronto Streecars are really heavy HRV’s… not light LRV’s—it’s a misnomer. They ride like tanks and really pound the pavement/trackbed. I never knew the difference till I asked Steve (and I used to work for the TTC!. Steve can tell you more. If it looks low, sleek and sexy it’s a “new” LRV…. if it looks old, squat and high… it’s a TTC streetcar… no comparison!


  21. Steve, I was calling the subway a waste. I was following the maybe-they-will-cancel-it discussion above.

    Steve: I thought so, but just wanted to be sure. Thanks for the clarification.


  22. I wonder if reps from the YRT were involved in any of these talks. Building new routes LRT or otherwise that can not mesh with future routes in the 905 is crazy. I am talking about types of vehicles gauge of track etc.

    Steve: He who builds the first route picks the track gauge. When I see YRT actually putting together a funding proposal for an LRT line, I will start to worry about what gauge it should be built to.


  23. I hope that some governmental entity says that “whoops, we didn’t mean to do that” with regards to the VCC extension and stops it dead in its tracks. Can you say LRT to York University? Repeat after me…..

    Now THERE’s your $2 billion for the LRT network. I’m very surprised that the federal Tories, being the penny pinchers they usually are, actually decided to fund this fiasco in the first place.

    Now is your chance, Flaherty, right the wrong you made earlier.

    And I’m serious. It’ll keep the “government-should-stop-mispending-stuff” people happy.


  24. At last – an LRT plan put into play.

    It’s maddening seeing all those pictures in the newspapers with the ARLV and CRLV tanks or the RT as the equivalent to what editors think will be in place with the new LRT lines.

    When I hear LRT – this is what I have in mind (and with the right of way): Strasbourg, France Mannheim to Heidelberg, Germany Rotterdam, Netherlands Amsterdam Paris Hanover, Germany


  25. Geoff, couldn’t agree with you more. I have the same feeling about the new subway cars coming in 2009…I already don’t like them from the aesthetic point of view. At first, we heard about some sort of tender between Siemens (assembly in China) and Bombardier (assembly in Canada). We never got to see what Siemens had to offer but given their experience with subway trains and LRT in other countries, I’m sure they could’ve offered a better solution design-wise. Looking at the new subway cars, I don’t see Innovation (capital ‘I’) and streamlined modern aesthetics. The seats are the same dull colour and form…it’s the same old ‘blah’, except the ability to go to the right car for your exit.

    Going back to LRT pictures in the newspapers, it’s as if European examples are non existent and are not worth the mention.

    Steve: Please have a look at the examples used by the TTC in the Transit City announcement.


  26. In many ways, this reminds me of the great streetcar line building boom of the 1910’s-1930’s (complete with competing track guages!)Oh, but if we STILL had the infrastructure that connected Port Credit to Pickering (almost) to Sutton and Jackson’s Point. Oh, but if the vision of the Mackenzie-Mann “let’s electrically connect all of Southern Ontario by radial” had panned out. In some ways, this new plan is almost as pie-in-the-sky.


  27. Steve,

    An update of the earlier Toronto Star web article (basically, what is in today’s printed newspaper) had the following content added based on an interview with rookie Councillor Adam Vaughan:

    It could also present an opportunity to consider buying two distinct types of streetcars – compact ones for downtown routes, and larger ones in more suburban areas, said Councillor Adam Vaughan.

    “You’ve got two very different streetscapes.”

    With narrow streets and high demand for frequent service, the TTC should consider running smaller streetcars that can more easily negotiate turns and slide into underground stations, he said.

    For suburban routes, bigger and roomier vehicles might be useful on less frequent but reliably timed routes, he suggested.

    Historically, the TTC has been reluctant to buy differing vehicles, Vaughan said.

    “It’s always one size fits all. But this could be the time to change the thinking.”

    Are different-sized vehicles a sacrilige in your view? Even more, what if the ‘suburban’ stock also used a standard gauge to save money? What kind of impact this have in your view upon the operation of a city-wide LRT network?

    Steve: It’s possible we might have a family of vehicles of different sizes, but the underlying components such as electrical systems should be common. I believe that for the size of fleet we are looking at, the issue of TTC gauge is a non-issue. Nobody ever complains about building subway cars for us that are not standard gauge.


  28. A few posts here show that the second of the two myths are alive and well in the GTA (i.e.: “LRT is just a new name for streetcars”). Both of Cynthia’s posts shows here fear that this is true and Aman Hayer asks a question that suggests he fears the powers that be believe in the myth. We really need to do some head-shaking in the GTA.

    As I said in my first post, I believe that the Spadina extension is a done deal, but would really like that to be changed. Then I got home Thursday night and read an editorial in the Richmond Hill Liberal on the VCC subway deal (

    In a nutshell, David Teetzel suggests that this will fall apart. First, the money from the provincial government came at a time when money from the feds was a pipe dream. In order for the provincial money to be there, the municipal governments had to agree on their share of their one-third of the funding. Toronto and York Region reluctantly agreed to a 60/40 funding scheme and signed to it just in time, but neither was happy with it. We recently saw the federal portion come to light, and all the others suddenly realized that they would have to actually come up with the money.

    Teetzel suggests this will fall apart at the municipal level, probably after both the federal and provincial levels get an election benefit out of the whole deal. Aside from suggesting that Toronto councillors, who have trouble taking a photo with each other, will not be able to negociate with York councillors over a subway line that will not benefit people who can vote for them, he feels that issues within York Region can throw a wrench into the works.

    This should be very interesting.


  29. Watching the news last night (CTV), I was under the impression that they do not support the LRT plan. It will be better for the city, but they compare it to the “highly contriversal” St. Clair line. True, the TTC needs to find a real example of LRT, but at least the news could find some REAL examples of LRT to show.

    Steve: I think the TTC more or less bludgeoned the media with pictures of LRT everywhere today, and we can expect more in the future. An important point will be to show suburban folks what LRT running in the middle of arterial roads looks like. Pictures of crowded central cities in Europe with lots of pedestrians are nice, but they are not the suburban Toronto experience.


  30. Now lets pay for it! I’m encouraging people to start a serious dialogue on a congestion charge for Toronto:

    (btw Steve, nice wordpress template!)

    Steve: Thank you! It’s more or less out of the box “Green Track”, but I liked the picture. The type size is tweaked a bit to my taste, but the choice of font is from the original.


  31. The official map has been released…

    Not too bad, except for one small thing…


    Now, maybe they are just setting it up like this to make it easier for people to grasp, or maybe they are going to impprove the current ROW network so that it is more like true LRT. But knowing the TTC…

    Also, does it strike you as odd that the Jane route ends at Bloor and does not go all the way to the Harbourfront “extension”???

    Steve: The map (available with other materials at was actually done by the folks who run

    As for the Jane line:

    (1) If it went south of Bloor, it would run headlong into (a) a very tony low density residential neighbourhood and (b) a lot of water, ducks and geese. They are not a good potential market for transit riding.

    (2) The Jane line should really go to Dundas West Station via the Weston rail corridor as I discussed in a post written after this comment was submitted.


  32. I am absolutely ecstatic. This is great news, though as an earlier commenter noted, let’s hope this isn’t Network 2011 all over again.

    Steve – do you have a guesstimate on how long the TTC and tenders will take to finish the design of the new streetcar? Hopefully soon, as I think, as Cynthia’s comments prove, that the TTC from here on out should a) never use the word “streetcar” when pushing this proposal and b) as the great pictures provided show, they should never use a picture of a CLRV in their marketing.

    One more thing – I’d like some clarification on what “transit priority” means to the TTC. Is it more and extended greens for the LRT line? Or is it more like something you see in Calgary where cross-traffic’s light automatically goes red as the LRT approaches the intersection?

    Steve: The TTC plans to put out tenders for new streetcars this fall. Plans are afoot to get something to Toronto as soon as possible so that people can actually see what sort of vehicle we might be looking at.

    As for transit priority, yes, this is a huge problem and it lies with the staff in the City’s Works Department who refuse to make changes to the existing design. We need to get some spine in Council to direct the staff to look at what other cities are doing and implement real priority here.


  33. I just saw the plan on Spacing. Looks good. I hope the TTC gives those trains traffic priority (it doesn’t hurt cars in Calgary).

    In my opinion, the city should cancel the Subway Extension. Use the money to built the LRT. As for York Students, integrate fares with GO Transit and give them a Busway to Downsview. That way, the city doesn’t need to beg for another billion and half.

    For selling the idea, show Torontians pictures and videos of Calgary’s C-Train. Toronto is probably closer to Calgary than a European City.
    Calgary’s LRT system is the most successful in North America. Our LRT provides Subway like service, but in an LRT format. I am certain that would make LRT easier to sell.


  34. Steve – did you have any input in this document?

    What do you think of ending Jane at Steeles West? Wouldn’t it be better to do so at Finch West to allow better interconnection/interoperation with the FWLRT?

    I’m a bit worried about the effect on the Danforth line of Malvern LRT, SRTMk2 and DMLRT all pouring in… it’s pretty busy at peak right now.

    Steve: Yes, I did have a hand in this scheme along with many others. It’s helpful to have someone outside the official bureaucracy who can talk about this sort of proposal on the political and technical levels at the same time, and that’s a role I have played a lot recently.

    Jane goes to Steeles West to connect with the Vaughan subway and thence to the YRT bus network.

    Yes, there may be a problem with capacity on the existing subway, but that also exist if we just build subway extensions. Long term, there is the option of bringing the Don Mills line into downtown as a relief to the Danforth line.


  35. Since reading these articles and hearing about the LRT system, it seems like the TTC wants to move away from the conventional trolley pole to pantographs. Will this be a possibility? I am looking forward to these new line and new LRT vehicles and hope that the TTC will go with pantographs.

    Steve: That is already the plan for the new streetcar fleet and the TTC is working on the design implications this has for the existing overhead structures.


  36. I also read Adam Vaughan’s comments in the Star this morning on my way to work. I had been expecting that the article would be a rehash of what we’d already read online last night, so I was floored when I got to his comments at the end of the article, and nearly let out a cheer in the middle of a crowded bus!

    I’ve already commented on here about my concerns with the reduction in service that is likely to happen on the streetcar lines if the replacement fleet is ALRV-sized or larger. The opportunity for differing sizes of streetcars is huge, and your description of “a family of vehicles of different sizes” and Councillor Vaughan’s comments are welcome relief from talk of all long vehicles and the reduction of fleet size and service frequency that would result.

    As an example, a recent discussion group item pointed to a low-floor streetcar from the Czech Republic, the VarioLF, that would be comparable to a PCC or CLRV – fewer seats but more standing room. ( But they also have a longer 30-metre articulated version, plus 10-metre trailer units. These would offer service flexibility and interoperability of components. And certainly these can’t be the only examples of traditionally-sized low-floor streetcars on the market. (Though it helps that the fleet in Brno has a similar livery to the TTC bus fleet.)

    Some negative comments have complained about using pictures of CLRVs when discussing the LRT plans. (I got a screenshot of the Star website using the SRT as an example, before it was quickly replaced.) To me, that’s not the critical point – indeed, the CLRVs were originally intended to be capable of providing LRT-type service. What is critical is showing how the LRT service would actually operate, and what measures would make it more than just a streetcar ROW. If anything, that’s where showing CLRVs as examples is a problem, because Torontonians have little experience with them providing higher-speed service and only think of them being stuck on King or Queen.

    The first PR step is done: showing the extent of network that could be built and how wide an area of the city could benefit. The next PR step should be emphasizing how LRT service – not vehicles – is different in other cities and how the service would operate.


  37. Just wondering, if we are to build this streetcar network in a piecemeal fashion as the funding becomes available how do we get the vehicles out to the various lines? Will we need to build a car house along each of the lines until they can be connected together? Imagine a car starting at Roncesvalles and having to make it all the way to the Sheppard East line (along Queen, up Bathurst, west on St. Clair, north on Jane, east on Eglinton (if that section gets built sooner rather than later) and then north on Don Mills to Sheppard! I’m not sure if the new cars can be accommodated at the existing carhouses without some significant changes.

    Maybe some tracks from Broadview over Danforth to Pape or on Pape north from Gerrard could make getting cars from the Russell carhouse easier (and possibly serve as a Downtown Relief Line precursor).


  38. I definitely think it’s wonderful we’re finally getting an extensive transit network. (That’s if–and a big IF–everything goes as planned.) Personally, I think we should’ve had an extensive subway network like in Montreal, rather than a line that is more in the centre of the city, and another more to the south.

    Since I’m on the subject of subways, my biggest concern is the Sheppard line. If we’re now only going to give it a an LRT extension, then why did we make it a subway line in the first place? Although it’s now a done deal, the money for the VCC subway extension was misplaced, in my opinion. To me, Toronto should be the TTC’s priority, not York Region. That money would’ve been better spent on expanding the Sheppard line east.

    Steve: Neither the Sheppard nor Spadina subway extensions make sense if one looks at potential loads and LRT capabilities. However, both of them had incredible political support, especially the Spadina line. “Value for money” is a phrase politicians use when talking about other people’s pet projects, not their own. As far as TTC priorities, don’t forget that the cost of the line north of Steeles Avenue will be borne by the Ottawa, Queen’s Park and York Region. The TTC is just designing and operating it. The money to build that extension is not available as “Toronto” transit funding.


  39. As a transit advocate, but non-partial observer from outside the country (I’m in Los Angeles) I think this is a great idea for Toronto. I’ve visited your city a few times.

    You have a tradition of keeping at least some of your streetcar system going through the decades (unlike here, where the whole system was unceremoniously ripped out), and a semi-grid type system like this is somewhat different than your current streetcars, but not so different that people can’t envision its workings or alien to your city’s culture. Good for you, Torontonians. And good for you that now there’s a formal, official proposal that’s put forth by the TTC that people can start debating.

    That said, and acknowleding the relative transit bargain the Transit City program represents, I still believe your subway system is incomplete. I know this has been debunked before, but I still believe the best bang for your buck subway wise would be two giant loop lines: Connecting the Yonge Street line to the University/Spadina line along the “top” at the northern end. This could still be done even after the extension to Vaughan Corporate Center were to be completed. The Other loop would be to connect the Shepherd subway in the east to the Scarborough RT (at the least, really the SRT should be replaced with a subway), and continue the Shepherd subway to the west, then swing it down to the South to connect it with the Bloor/Danforth subway. I know this would cost billions, but I think this should be the long term plan, and just construct a piece of it at a time, as the money could be gathered. It might take 20 years, 30 years, even 50 years, but that’s the big backbone of your transit system, I feel.

    The LRT lines in this proposal would expand the system greatly as far as increased ridership, so I would advocate building those first. But subway extensions should not be abandoned entirely. I’ll be visiting eventually to check out some of these facilities first hand.


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