The Spadina Subway: In For A Penny …

The Toronto Executive Committee Agenda for April 30 contains an intriguing report titled Spadina Subway Extension — Update.  This sets out details of the proposed agreement between the City of Toronto, the TTC and York Region for the construction and operation of the line to Vaughan Corporate Centre.

You can read the whole thing at your leisure, but here’s what caught my eye:

  • The subway line will be built, owned, operated and maintained by the TTC.  The land on or under which it sits will be owned by the TTC or on long-term lease.
  • Surface facilities including bus transfers and passenger pickup/dropoff areas will be built and maintained by York Region.
  • The TTC will set service and fare levels for the subway, will control retail leasing in the stations, will take all revenues and will be responsible for capital maintenance.

The estimated operating cost of the line in York Region is about $9-million per annum, and the TTC expects to recover “up to 80% from fares and other revenue”.  This is a very optimistic projection considering ridership levels claimed in York Region’s own Environmental Assessment report, and obviously it assumes an extra fare for service north of Steeles Avenue.  Alas, there report contains no material to support this claim.

The TTC seeks a Provincial startup subsidy “until such time as the subway reaches full ridership”.  Does this mean until the subway is literally full, or that it has met some projected level of riding, and if so what level?

What is extremely troubling here is that Toronto and the TTC propose to sign on to an arrangement whereby the TTC could wind up subsidizing the operation in York Region if revenue projections fall short and/or if Queen’s Park doesn’t cough up an operating grant.  The absence of any financial or ridership data in this report leaves me wondering just how this financial sleight-of-hand comes about.

This is an ideal arrangement for York Region who don’t risk ongoing costs of subsidizing the subway if it doesn’t meet expectations.  They get the benefit of the development, such as that may be, without chancing a raid on their budget to pay for empty subway trains.

By the time the VCC line opens, there will no doubt be some kind of fare union, if not an amalagamation between the Toronto and York Region transit systems.  Will there still be separate fares north of Steeles?  Will the TTC’s revenue projections be realistic in that sort of environment?

These are serious questions, but I doubt we will see much from our Executive Committee on Monday.  Despite recent moves to snatch a few dollars from the Spadina Subway trust fund, I doubt anyone at City Hall wants to dig too deeply into the financial assumptions of this project. 

How does the TTC expect to recover 80% of operating costs, let alone pay for future capital maintenance?  How much service will be cut in Toronto to run trains to the fields of Vaughan?  Does anyone know?  Does anyone care?

35 thoughts on “The Spadina Subway: In For A Penny …

  1. Yikes?!
    Things like this can really suck more life out of transick in Toronto. How do we manage to somehow boost and renew the existing services when there’s likely another drain looming? It seems we build subways to job sprawl and burban areas, and highways in the centre of the city in Smogtown.


  2. I think that York Region/Vaughan should be responsible for 100% of the municipal portion of the operating subsidy for trips north of Steeles (the TTC should pay for trips to Steeles), as counted by ridership statistics. The TTC should not take a large financial hit for a subway outside the City of Toronto which it did not originally support, and which is likely to remain nearly empty for an extended period of time. Perhaps if York Region had to pay for both the capital and operating costs of their portion of the extension, they would realize it is too expensive and instead opt for a northern extension of the Jane LRT.

    If there is no fare integration by the time the subway opens, YRT fares should not apply on the subway north of Steeles, since this would discourage ridership and development of the “Vaughan Corporate Centre”. We should certainly not adopt the approach of Montreal; on the new metro extension to Laval, due to open today, special, more expensive passes are required on the Laval portion of the subway and regular Montreal metro tickets are not accepted at the turnstiles on the new extension (which is very confusing – they are accepted at the collector’s booth, however).


  3. The TTC, as I’ve said before, could easily win the ad war in this.

    With the exception of York University students (and I sympathize, those buses suck) everyone in Toronto will suffer from the Spadina Subway Extension simply because we will have it instead of (say) the mostly excellent Transit City LRT plan.

    Heck give me a budget and I’ll work on a flat rate. I absolutely know that a million bucks will make this plan so unpopular that city council will simply refuse to put up the funds. Spend a million and that redirects what? 2 billion in city funds to Transit City instead of the pointless subway.

    Sadly there’s not enough of a grassroots transit-savvy populace to influence city council that much (it seems, for the moment, that Transit City is what can be pushed [minus funding] so we’re a little short).

    Oh, and the answers to your questions? The TTC is lying through their teeth, service will be directly impacted by slowing future growth, lots of people know, only the people who care about Toronto/infrasturuture/transit worry about this issue and everyone else is playing nice in the silly hope that Ontario will magically give us money if we support their asinine subway plan.

    And that’s bloody sad.


  4. On the operating arrangement: I think the key sentence in the report is “York Region staff have agreed to recommend this ownership structure to their Council on the condition that the TTC/City would assume full responsibility for operating and maintenance costs…” Why the TTC is pushing to own everything, and willing to pay the price of assuming all risk, I don’t quite understand. Apparently the City of Toronto Act requires York Region to be responsible for costs, and would have to be amended to allow this proposal!

    It seems to me the TTC bus routes that run into York Region are the better model. My understanding is that York owns the infrastructure (roads, shelters), and the TTC runs service at York’s request and bills them for the costs. Whether they want two buses a day or a bus every two minutes is up to York. For the subway, if York wants 12 minute headways off-peak north of Steeles West station, I say that’s their decision to make.

    On fare control: the 407 Transitway station makes this very difficult. Someone arriving here on a YRT bus would need to pay a TTC fare to go south (since they could ride to any station, transfer to a bus, etc.) but I agree with Andrew they shouldn’t have to pay a TTC fare to go one stop north to VCC. That’s hard to pull off when it’s (presumably) the same centre platform.


  5. The new Metro line expansion in Montreal (to Laval) opens today and I note – from the Gazette – that:

    “Public transit in Laval and Montreal will be free this weekend to mark the Laval metro’s first days of operation.

    Buses and the metro will be free from the first metro run at 5:30 a.m. until the last metro and bus runs early Monday.

    As well, there will be free commuter train service between St. Jerome and the de la Concorde station in Laval, one of the three stations opening to the public today.

    A Montreal Transit Corp. spokesperson said the fareless weekend will probably cost the MTC $400,000 in lost revenue.”

    This extension was being spoken about when I first lived in Montreal, 1972, so progress has certainly not been speedy! Interestingly there is a supplementary fare payable for the three new stations. Details of it are here.


  6. Why does Toronto allow itself to be continually shafted by the province, and the surrounding regions?

    The city should demand that York Region pay the operating costs for the segment above Steeles. York Region wants the subway to Vaughan, help operate and maintain it!

    York Region obviously knows this line is going to cost them a lot, and they know residents won’t be happy to have their property taxes increased to pay for a subway most won’t use in the short term.

    The City needs to grow a backbone, and back out of this project. To hell with the province. No matter the City does, the province is going to shaft them anyways. The province is not going to give them any subsidy to operate the subway.


  7. I don’t think it’s accurate to say the TTC didn’t originally support the Spadina extension: expanding the Spadina and Sheppard subways were listed as priorities in both the Rapid Transit Expansion Study and the Ridership Growth Strategy.

    Steve: The distinction was the extension outside of the city. Only the line to York U was in the TTC’s subway plans, and it was not in the original version of RGS. The subways were added on afterwards.


  8. There is so much negativity on this board — can’t you folks say anything positive for a change? Do you always have to find the negative in everything?

    Obviously the TTC wants to control its own subway — they’re just ignoring the Steeles boundary and treating it like the rest of the system. And, in case anyone is stuck in a time warp, Vaughan along Hwy 7 is not “fields”. That recurring comment really irritates me.

    I don’t expect the uppity yuppie urban dwellers on this board to ever venture north of Eglinton, but all this anti-suburb us/them stuff is really sickening to read — grow up!!

    By the way, I live DOWNTOWN, so I can say that.

    Steve: The references to fields is a deliberate dig at the low riding. Regardless of what’s there, the projected riding according to York Region’s own study is quite unspectactular and the money could be put to much better use.

    First, Toronto is going to pay for all of the cost of running the VCC extension including future maintenance. We are also going to get the revenue from the line, but that won’t cover the costs and the rest must come from Toronto pockets (or service cuts south of Steeles Avenue).

    Second, the level of projected cost recovery (80%) doesn’t make sense unless you assume that there will be an extra fare north of Steeles Avenue. How this will be managed physically, not to mention in the context of a likely GTA-wide fare union by the time the line opens, is a mystery.


  9. What would be wrong with, say, running much less frequent service to the Vaughan extension? If ridership is expected to be so low, why not send a train up there every 8 minutes? Every 10 minutes even? Certainly in the middle of the day these numbers could be reasonable, though during rush hours there could conceivably be some reasonable two way demand. Of course, service would need to be more frequent to York U, with the exception of when school is mostly out (summer/weekends).

    Running separate fares on the subway north of Steeles would be quite confusing for riders… I am sure it would not be that challenging to set up some sort of revenue sharing agreement, where some fraction of TTC fares going to Vaughan go to YRT, and some fraction of YRT fares terminating at the subway go to the TTC. Given traffic counting devices like turnstiles, gated parking lots, it should be possible to work out a relatively simple formula.

    Steve: Current plans are to run one train in three to VCC.


  10. Put the entire cost on the taxbase of York Regional Property Taxes.

    From York Region website.

    Thursday, April 19, 2007 For Immediate Release
    How Your 2007 Regional Tax Dollar is Spent

    Police Services
    Transit – YRT and Viva


  11. Rename the section of the subway to York University the GOway — Let them run – operate and maintain it.

    From GO minutes


    Item #1 Managing Director’s Report


    Spadina Subway Extension: Mr. Gary McNeil advised of the City of Toronto’s approval of the
    Environmental Assessment for extending the Spadina Subway to York University. This project
    is integral in supporting GO’s BRT network, as it provides an interface with the TTC Subway
    system on the Bradford Rail Corridor.

    I guess if Toronto wants to not pay towards GO transit – Go transit will make it pay on this to benefit them. In reading minutes it seems the City did not want to pay their share at all towards GO. They threatened at one time to stop all stops in the city and I guess just zoom into Union.

    Here is the link for anyone that wants to read GO minutes in your spare time.

    just change the year and the listing is displayed but only as far back as 2003 at this link at least.

    Steve: The problem here is that Queen’s Park and the regions are perfectly happy for Toronto to pick up the tab for commuter traffic, but drag their feet on supporting service inside of the city. The savings from GO Transit (which GO touts to this day) accrue to the province because it saves on highway construction both financially and from the political impact that trying to handle all of the commuting traffic by road would have.

    Inside Toronto, we actually try to provide transit service, although we still need more, and we’re expected to pay for the service to VCC as well?


  12. Will there still be separate fares north of Steeles? Only when the smart cards are used in place of the present fare system. When the Bloor Danforth subway first extended from Woodbine to Warden it entered into zone 2 of the TTC zone fare system. This required an addition fare when passing from one zone to another. The extra fare was not required unless you went from subway to bus or bus to subway. The zones have since been removed and only one fare is needed to travel anywhere in the City Of Toronto.

    Steve: The zones were removed because suburban Metro Toronto Councillors objected to paying an extra fare when taxes from their cities were supporting the TTC. When York region starts supporting the TTC with its tax dollars, then they will have a claim to subway service at Toronto’s expense.


  13. The operating cost agreement is only one side of the coin. On the other side, the TTC will get a lump sums totalling of $30 million “in recognition of investments previously made in the subway system”. This is aside from the overall capital cost sharing structure. The TTC will own all the commuter parking lots – even those in York Region. These could turn out to be cash cows over the next 30 years.

    Steve: The $30-million is York’s share of the moneys already expended by the TTC on their behalf. As for the parking lots, the total revenue from parking on the TTC is trivial compared to fare revenue. The budgeted fare revenue for 2007 is $769-million while that for parking is about $2.45-million. That is a gross number and does not include the cost of operating the lots.

    The TTC has expended a disproportionate amount of time and effort on parking lots and was in danger of becoming a parking lot operator rather than a transit operator. Yes it can be argued that the people who park are customers the TTC would not otherwise have, and we keep those cars off the road downtown. How much are we subsidizing people who drive when we do this compared with the pittance we are prepared to spend on improving service to those who take the TTC all the way?

    Parking lots are something we build to give the impression of “doing something” when in fact the basic transit system has been sliding backwards for years.


  14. All of that may be valid or not – but they are still relevant to the economics of the agreement. To focus only on the operating costs is misleading.

    Steve: Sorry, but the agreement includes the TTC picking up all future capital maintenance. That means things like replacing escalators, track replacement, new cars in 25 years or so.

    If the line were not extended into York region, the TTC would no be in a position to recoup the $30 million from our northern neighbours. Hence the why’s and wherefore’s about past decisions are not relevant.

    Steve: No, the problem is that someone is doing lousy bargaining, or has a gun to their head. If we have already spend $30-million on York’s behalf, they should cough up the money. If they don’t want to, then we don’t have to pay to run their subway. Remember that the Sheppard line is losing several millions annually that we’re still carrying as a TTC cost. The VCC line will let York Region save money by shortening their bus feeders, and none of that saving will be used to offset the subway’s operating cost.

    Transit subsidies are generally spent to attract citizens who would otherwise drive – this is true of parking lots or anything else.

    Steve: Your statement is valid as far as it goes, but my question is simple: How much do we subsize someone to park, compared with how much we subsidize someone to ride a bus to the same subway terminal?


  15. One in three trains to VCC, with a turnback at Downsview? What is your source on this?

    Steve: Adam Giambrone, yesterday.

    Maybe they can do this during rush hours, but not off peak. My understanding is that off-peak, all trains will run from Finch to VCC — otherwise, the headway would be every 10-15 minutes.

    Peak service may have every other train turning back, but two in three? I don’t think they could get away with that, especially since the northbound destination signs don’t work anymore.

    Steve: Maybe someone will find a useful way to put destinations signs on the video screens. What a great way to get people to watch the ads! Tell them something useful at the same time!

    Funny how the TTC doesn’t have a problem with the timing and merging issues of running the turnbacks (as each train must fit into its proper sequence and pocket), but is opposed to any form of interlining in general.


  16. Steve, in response to your parking lot comment, you do have to realize that some are build in abscure places with large tranmission lines overhead and in the far reaches of the city. They are just making use of the land which would not be used anyways. The new parking lot at steeles station and finch west will be build near or under hydro lines if I remember correctly.

    They are primarily used by non-toronto residents and as a matter of fact help bring riders onto the system. Morever, I dont see how many of them could take the TTC all the way when the TTC doesn’t serve the out reaches of the city very well.

    Steve: I know quite well that many parking lots are built on land that would not otherwise be used for much else but growing grass and storing snow. That’s not the point. There has been a pro-parking culture within the TTC that ignores the comparatively small contribution these lots make to riding. Moreover, these lots are necessarily associated with subway stations. Great for people whose trips fit with the rapid transit system layout, but meanwhile we have thousands who would just like better service.

    Also, there is a finite supply of land for parking. Some of it, the part that’s not on a hydro corridor, might even be put to better use as a building site. Oddly enough, that’s just what will happen at Warden where the existing north lot will be redeveloped, the south lot will become the new bus terminal, the bus terminal will be redeveloped, and the remaining parking will go on the hydro lands.

    We need to avoid surrounding subway stations with acres (pardon me, hectares, it’s just that acres sound bigger) of parking. This is totally opposed to the way the Official Plan sees our city growing in the future. Imagine if all those aerial shots that the TTC is so fond of showing apartments and office towers around subway stations showed, instead, tens of thousands of parking spaces.


  17. I have to agree with Steve on large parking lots being a waste. You get all nice and cozy in your car, and then have to walk half a mile to the subway station entrance in the freezing cold — that is, unless you’re at the station by 6am. For that, I may as well walk to my bus stop — the only problem is, that bus takes forever to show up and then forever to get to the subway.

    I think people use the lots because the local service to the subway stinks. The worst part was getting to the Islington Stn. lot at 8am to find it was full — then what? If there were express bus services to the subway in the morning, there would be less incentive to use the lots.


  18. If only 1 in 3 trains will go to VCC initially (at least during rush hours), this indicates low demand. One 6-car train every 6 minutes, which probably won’t be close to full, is only a little bit more than the Sheppard line service (one 4-car train every 5-6 minutes). Even on the Laval subway extension, which largely serves park-and-ride commuters, 1 in 2 trains go to Montmorency in Laval.

    When demand is low, it is a waste of money to build a subway extension. There is not enough demand up there to justify building anything other a busway or an extension of the Jane LRT north of Steeles.

    The subway should be built as far as Steeles because the current bus service to York University is overcrowded, but no further unless York Region is willing to pay 100% of the municipal share of capital and operating costs north of Steeles. Perhaps it should force some of the developers who are speculating on property in the area to pay a portion of these costs if they want an “upgrade” from BRT/LRT.


  19. Mimmo Briganti said:

    “One in three trains to VCC, with a turnback at Downsview? What is your source on this?

    “Steve: Adam Giambrone, yesterday.

    “Maybe they can do this during rush hours, but not off peak. My understanding is that off-peak, all trains will run from Finch to VCC — otherwise, the headway would be every 10-15 minutes.

    “Peak service may have every other train turning back, but two in three? I don’t think they could get away with that, especially since the northbound destination signs don’t work anymore.

    “Steve: Maybe someone will find a useful way to put destinations signs on the video screens. What a great way to get people to watch the ads! Tell them something useful at the same time!

    “Funny how the TTC doesn’t have a problem with the timing and merging issues of running the turnbacks (as each train must fit into its proper sequence and pocket), but is opposed to any form of interlining in general.”

    A 10 to 15 minutes headway is not uncommon on lots of HRT lines in the off peak, especially at the outer ends of the line. Do you think that there will be a need for a more frequent service to VCC? We have been spoiled in Toronto with a subway that runs every 5 minutes or better. In many places every 15 is the norm. If York U or York region wants better service then perhaps they could pay for it.

    Short turning trains is a lot less complex than interlining and the TTC has done this for a long time. I believe that every other Yonge train turned back at Eglinton in the am rush at one time and every second train up Spadina turned back at St. Clair West. Since I do not get into Toronto much in the rush hour any more I cannot comment on current practice. The north bound destinations signs could be replaced with ones that work and automated voice announcements could be made. In addition it is probably about time to put LED destination signs on the sides of cars and in the cars.


  20. Hi, I’m new here. I’m a little bit nervous, though. It will take some time to get used to.

    Anyways, I hope that the new Steeles West Station will provide a small parking lots. I don’t know what’s going to happen at the Steeles border, but I do know that we have to pay extra.

    Does anyone know which bus routes will serve into any stations? I think York Universtiy 106, Steeles West 60C, Keele 41, Keele North 107, or Allness 117 will go somewhere.

    Steve: Actually, there is a rather large parking lot planned for Steeles West Station. As for route structure, that’s far off in the future.


  21. Hi Steve:-

    As far as positivity goes, this web site is it. The stand taken to support an LRT network and retention of the streetcar system is the ultimate in positivity. In other words, the best bang for the buck!

    As far as the 80/20 split of financial support for the VCC extension goes; what gives here? Which non-city oriented bright light came up with this proposed suburban subsidy? Even if prophecy proves true and it’s only 20%, why should the core transit ‘system’ have to be further diminished for one overpriced, underutilized single route. Another example of the few trumping the many. Suburbanites for the most part, have chosen to live in their idea of utopia. Their ‘burban sprawl communities wouldn’t exist in anywhere near the appearance they now enjoy if it weren’t for their proximity to the big and smokey. This alone should be subsidy enough.

    Steve: I am highly suspicious of the claimed 80% cost recovery — far better than most routes on the TTC, and impossible if we don’t charge an extra fare north of Steeles Avenue.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t the contractor who operated and maintained the North Yonge Radial Railway charge the communities that owned the track, etc. (not the cars) the difference between what came from the farebox and the actual costs incurred to look after the service? Didn’t this line go north of Steeles? Wasn’t the contractor the TTC? Skipping to 2007, is there really that much difference here in supplying a marginal service north of Steeles on the VCC? To me its an almost identical parallel. So why now do the south of Steelers have to be digging into their pockets instead of supplying service at cost?

    Steve: The Lake Simcoe line (to Jackson’s Point) was built by the Metropolitan Railway Company, and service as far as Richmond Hill began in February 1897. Later it was extended north through Aurora and Newmarket to Sutton, and a branch ran west from Aurora to Schomberg. A planned eastern line to Markham never materialized. Service to Sutton ended in 1930, and to Richmond Hill in 1948. I don’t know what the financial arrangements were with the various municipalities along the route, but generally private companies paid municipalities for the right to run service over their streets.

    Is there negativity rearing its ugly head here in this web site? Yes unfortunately, for when the 416 is about to get it in the neck ‘again’, it’s necessary to defend ourselves by speaking out. True, the Highway 7 corridor through the Borough of Vaughan (a change of letterhead on one’s stationery does not a city make) is no longer weedy fields. Their preferred ambience dissappeared under Eglinton Ave. E. strip mall type development long ago. I truly believe, even without checking the facts and projections of York Regional Transit’s ridership levels, that a Highway 7 route can barely support a bus line.

    So is the answer to sit back and say that we’re all happy in our work, when the powers that be have other ideas for our City’s well being? Well, not me any more.

    P.S.-I can say this ’cause I used to live in the BURBS.


  22. Opposed though I am to the VCC extension, it only makes sense that the TTC/Toronto should own, operate and manage the subway. The last thing we need is a two-headed monster. The TTC has to control the service levels. If York had any say in the matter the TTC would run completely empty trains every 3 minutes to VCC.

    Having lived in York Region for almost 20 years until I moved back downtown in 2005 I know what kind of wooly headed thinking is prevalent. Since there is no subjective press coverage of municipal affairs in the suburbs the politicians do practically whatever they want.

    Steve: Some incendiary comments about politicians and others in York who are still alive and potentially litigious have been removed here. Suffice it to say that the writer figures they are seriously bent (in the English meaning of that term), and that York has a long history of foolish spending and dubious management.

    The “local” paper Era-Banner, one of the Torstar Metroland “door-to-door” junk mail papers devoted barely any coverage these issues. Why because it can’t afford to upset advertisers!


    Trust me you don’t want York pols involved in the TTC!

    A suggestion for the fare zone. An entrance/exit fare collection of both the TTC and York fare for anyone not arriving on local transit, those that park or walk into the station. The York/GO transit users would pay only TTC fares to use the subway. As they would’ve paid the York portion to travel to the subway. An integrated fare system using a pass could work with this set-up as well.

    Steve: I am still waiting to see a proper accounting of VIVA — any system that can run empty buses in and out of Don Mills Station all day long (I have never seen more than three people on one) clearly has a lot of money sloshing around and nobody asking embarrassing questions.


  23. This line keeps getting better and better (and to think York is also partially behind the 427 extension). When we talk about additional fare north of steeles what exactly are we talking about? Current TTC routes running in York Region collect an additional fare north of steeles then issue a transfer which is valid on YRT routes. Effectivly collecting fare for YRT. If however the TTC were to collect an additional fare that was NOT valid for YRT travel then the TTC gets to keep all that revenue (and riders wind up paying 3 fares which could result in a bunch of car trips to Steeles West where even counting parking fees is still only 2 ‘fares). The latter method is the only way I could see the TTC boosting revenue on limited ridership. The implementation where VCC and 407 transitway are the terminus of the trip would be easy, additional fare collection media at all exits to collect the extra fare. I can’t see how it would be done where they are the beginning of the trip. Do you collect both fares on the assumption that very few would be using the subway between the 2 stops in York?

    On parking. How is parking revenue counted? Since most people simply buy the metropass for access to free parking at the lots is a portion of metropass sales credited to parking revenue? Also many lots don’t charge for parking after a certain time (5pm?).

    If I were the TTC I’d demand development rights on the station lands and surrounding area. This way you can gain revenue from the air rights and have some control over what type of developments go up around your stations. Because I can see York being satisfied with 10-15 story buildings in and around VCC when the should be pushing 25-30 stories.


  24. You’d need a smartcard entry-exit system to collect the extra fare accurately, but for the distance involved, is it really worth it? The amount of money to operate two stations and trains between Steeles and Hwy 7 is probably chump change. The bulk of the money is Steeles to Downsview. This is probably why the TTC has decided to absorb the cost itself — too much hassle otherwise.

    To answer #19, the Spadina subway short turns are operated identically to the interlining techniques used in the 60s. Each northbound train that turns back slides into a predetermined pocket midway between two specific southbound runs. As a matter of fact, YUS used to operate as two “interlined” routes — EglintonWilson and FinchSt. Clair W. with the overlap scheduling very similar to the old Bloor-University/Bloor-Danforth routes. My point was that the TTC can interline when it’s convenient for them. It’s operationally much easier to run all trains to the end of the line.

    One more thing, York U was opposed to being the terminal station, and that was one of the factors that went into the extension to Hwy 7.

    Steve: I believe that the Eglinton short turn ended with the opening of the Spadina Subway and never ran concurrently with the St. Clair West operations. Also, the St. Clair West operation tends to be for a limited period and does not impose as stringent operational problems as an all-day integrated service where preserving train sequence was a designed-in constraint.


  25. Ooooo…we’re going to subsidize service to the suburbs! Release the conspiratorial hounds!!

    Except that all service in low density areas is subsidized by the better used routes and denser parts of the city. That’s plainly already the case within the City. The downtown routes that are always packed and require fewer buses to maintain frequent service, whereas the suburban routes (Finch, Steeles and the like) need 30-40+ buses to maintain the same level of service, so they will regularly run at a loss.

    Do you want to start complaining that people up in Malvern and Rexdale are preventing the people in downtown from enjoying the service they deserve!? So how’s about we settle down this grumbling about subsidizing York Region. Service to less populated areas have always been and will always be under-used and subsidized compared to service in denser, already developed areas. You know that Steve, so this belly-aching rings a little hollow, don’t you think?

    You’ve been watching TTC for longer than I’ve been alive so I’d expect you’d appreciate the fact that at most places where the subway once terminated, there was much vacant and under-used land. Those instances teach us rapid transit can play a vital and useful role in shaping development that is transit supportive. In most cases, the transit has been in place first. Why should the standard be any different now?

    So let’s debate the merits of this extension by all means (and it certain has many major faults, as far as I’m concerned), but this ‘they’re building the subway to nowhere’ refrain is getting tired.

    Any pretense that you don’t have a Toronto-centric bias is abandoned by your comment about York Region ‘getting the benefit of development’ in VCC. In fact, Torontonians benefit very much from higher density development centred on a transit station in the suburbs because it means less congestion on Toronto roads.

    Your critique would carry a lot more weight if it weren’t quite so covered in myopic and outdated notions about what transit should look like in this city.

    As for the 80% target, it’s reasonable to assume that they used that number because that’s the level of cost recovery from fares the TTC currently experiences system-wide.

    Steve: The difference about the suburbs in Toronto is that they actually paid to support the TTC. York Region wants it both ways — they get a subway, but our taxes pay for it.

    As for the 80% cost recovery, that’s for the system as a whole. The Sheppard Subway loses millions every year and is nowhere near the 80% level.

    Yes, I am Toronto-centric. We are just coming to a point where the transit system might actually start serving the Toronto suburbs properly with improved services and an LRT network, only to see a huge capital project to York Region sucking up far more money than is justified by its benefits. It is telling that the rest of York is getting nothing more than extra road lanes for buses — that’s what York builds when they have to pay for it.

    The York/VCC subway exists for political reasons, not as good transit planning for the region. Note: “Region”, not “Toronto”. My argument against this line has always been that the region could get far more and better transit coverage if the same money were invested in alternatives.


  26. Hi Steve:-

    In response to Mimmo Briganti’s notes about interlining and scheduled run turnbacks, there is a big big difference in how it actually functions. The major difference is that the turnback train is empty going into the centre or pocket track and MT when it comes back out. The interlining train, if it has to wait for its place in line, has passengers on board who are now miffed because if they’d gotten off the train and gone up or downstairs, they’d have been on the train ahead, maybe. The turnback train’s time taken to change ends and wait for the space in line is not impacting anyone but the employees involved. In other words frustrations are minimized. Sometimes the TTC actually thinks about those complaints that they received; for a passenger sitting at Bay Lower and waiting could have gotten off and changed at Yonge and be at their destination already.

    I don’t even want to consider the mind boggling holdups that would have to happen to the west end and Spadina line services with the connection at St. George Upper, for unlike Bay Lower there is no space to hold a waiting train .

    The other problem with interlining is terminal capacities. Unless a turnback point is used for the interlined trains, then they create saturation at the ends of the lines. There aren’t very many turnback points that can allow through service to run past sitting trains.

    True, where there’s a will there’s a way but with little will; in this case justifiably so, for the minimal gain is not worth the frustrations of reintroducing interlining. The probability that we’ll ever see it again the way our system is built is highly unlikely.


  27. Hi Steve:-

    In response to Asher, I think he’s missed the point that those who are being subsidised within the mega-city’s limits ‘are’ Torontonians, whose transit woes could be addressed with the LRT network that you Steve and the City’s ‘Plan’ are promoting. Bleeding us drier to support our neighbours is charitable yes, but financially foolhardy when our own ‘system’ needs the pennies for its betterment, ie., the LRT network. A spin off with this betterment, is the improved Toronto services that our neighbours, when they cross the border and take advantage of our bounty, can share with us. If our bounty’s not there because one overinflated single line to ‘almost’ nowhere has sapped our potential, then we all lose.


  28. I can see the York pols now following in the footsteps of the Ontario Government when talking transit: “What do you mean we need better transit in Aurora?! We just built a subway!”


  29. The Liberal government has set up a cheap-looking website bashing the NDP for supposedly not “moving forward” on the Sorbara Subway. Reminds me quite clearly of John Tory’s infamous website from 3 years ago.

    Are they afraid of losing votes to the NDP up in Vaughan or in the York Centre riding? Is the subway not yet a done deal?

    Steve: In the interest of accuracy, the site was set up by the Liberal Party of Ontario, not by the Government.


  30. I regards to you accounting question re. VIVA (IIRC VIVA is booked separately from the rest of the YRT system partially due to the Public Private Partnership that was used to set it up). They can run nearly empty buses on every other route because one route (VIVA Blue) is consistently packed even with articulated buses on the line. The line picks up a lot (I stress A LOT) of the slack from the other underused lines.

    I hate to sound negative, but I can’t wait for 3 – 5 yrs down the road when these private companies that are in bed with York, take a look at the systems numbers and start cutting out those routes that are ‘underperforming’ (read not profitable)

    Steve: And we won’t mention how the transfer of the Blue line from GO to VIVA effectively robbed GO of a major revenue source. So nice to see how we subsidize our friends in the private sector with public assets.


  31. Dennis, the Spadina turnbacks do cause delays for southbound trains in the AM rush.

    The interlining problems were technically solved in the 80s with the IPHC system — and that could have been done in the 60s with more ATDs.

    It was the uneven arrivals at the Y that made the merging difficult.


  32. Steve, your blog is having a bigger impact than you think. This entry comes up on the first page of a Google search Spadina extension.


  33. This continued discussion of Transit City vs. Spadina Extension makes me think of the two kinds of passengers the TTC writes about in its service change analysis.

    One kind is the gross number of passengers a line will attract. The second kind is the number of passengers new to the TTC the line will attract. The second is generally thought to be better by people who want transit to increase its mode share.

    In any case, suppose the Spadina subway attracts 45,000 riders. Due to the poor transit service in the area, it wouldn’t be farfetched to classify 30,000 as “new” to the TTC. In contrast, suppose the Eglinton LRT will have 100,000 riders, but 80,000 of those already take the TTC. Certainly those 80,000 will have a better ride, but the LRT might have less of an impact on traffic congestion than the Spadina subway, which attracts more new riders.

    Transit City is great and will maximize transit service in the part of Toronto that is already well served by transit, but if we want to make transit accessible to 905ers we’re going to have to do things that initially may seem a waste of money.

    Steve: Although I agree with your general analysis, I need to make a few important points here:

    1. The project peak demand (this is in York Region’s own EA for the VCC extension) is 3,000 passengers. This means that on an all-day basis, we will get nowhere near the 30,000 you suggest.

    2. At some point, the suburban regions have to take financial responsibility for their share of transit costs. York is not doing this, and Toronto’s transit system is expected to pick up both the operating deficit and ongoing repair costs.

    3. If Toronto is concerned about reducing road traffic in the 416, the question should be what investment (by Toronto) produces the greatest reduction in car usage. Transit City is not just about providing a network of LRT lines, but of changing the view of transit in the suburbs generally. The LRT network should also spawn improvements in connecting bus routes, and this will make travel by transit overall more attractive.

    Also there is something to be said for making transit attractive enough that existing users, forced onto the system for economic reasons, will want to stay with the TTC rather than switching to their cars at the first opportunity.


  34. I spent a couple of spare minutes looking at the VIVA schedules.

    The Blue line to Finch, which appears to be a replacement for the old GO C route with an extension to Newmarket requires 57 minutes off-peak and 68 minutes peak station to station.
    The Newmarket B GO services is 60 minutes to York Mills off-peak and 74 minutes peak. My experience was that GO drivers off-peak could make YM from Newmarket in about 50 minutes. The GO “B” service to Finch in both cases is under an hour.

    I know why the VIVA service takes longer, it stops everywhere. The question I have is who in their right mind would take the VIVA service from Newmarket to Finch?

    Why is there no express services from Newmarket/Aurora to Finch?

    And how is this service an improvement over GO previous service?

    No need to answer folks, the people that started this service are the same ones that want a subway to a parking lot in Vaughan!


  35. But Toronto should want to reduce traffic in both the 416 and the 905. In fact, in my experience traffic is worse in the suburbs than in the center city. On the rare occasions when I’ve had to drive downtown during rush hour from the East York area I’ve been amazed at how uncrowded most of the streets are.

    When we decide in what order to build Transit City, Ithink we should consider building the ones that would potentially serve 905 commuters the most first. For example, the Eglinton line could distribute GO Transit passengers from the Markham line, the Brampton line (assuming new GO station at Eglinton and Weston), theoretically the Richmond Hill line – although the same problems as at Castle Frank obtain – and the Lakeshore East line if we extend the Eglinton line east of Kennedy. Maybe the Newmarket line as well, if they put a new station in near Caledonia and Eglinton. Certainly this line would have more regional impacts than, say, the Don Mills line.

    Steve: I agree that better transit in the outer 416 will held people from the 905 who now have no option in getting to work, other than downtown, but to drive. However, I would caution against piggy backing this on GO Transit rail service. That is a regional service focussed on the core area with service patterns that don’t fit well into a short-hop segment of a suburban commute.

    Regional bus services need huge improvements too before that leg of a commute will be viable by transit.


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