Preliminary Transit City Planning

The supplementary agenda for the TTC meeting on June 13 contains a report on the current status of Transit City and field observations from a review of the Finch West and Sheppard East lines.  You can read the details, but in both cases the assumption is that a centre pair of lanes would be taken within the existing right-of-way with some widening as needed.

At this point, there are no details of possible connections between the subway stations (Finch, Finch West or Don Mills) and the LRT lines. 

[To my regular commentators:  Please do not start the debate about how to build the Don Mills interchange all over again.  I think we have more or less exhausted that subject.]

An intriguing observation is the need for a connection between these two lines so that they could be served by a common carhouse.  Maybe we will get a Finch East LRT after all, but let’s not get too greedy.

The report makes clear that the TTC is awaiting approval of the new simplified Environmental Assessment process before starting these projects formally (they will save about a year with the new protocol), but they are continuing with preliminary work in anticipation.

Note to Dalton McGuinty:  Something really important you can do for transit is to get moving on this approval well before the election rather than making us all wait for months.  It won’t cost you anything and will actually save money by simplifying the EA process.

The TTC hopes to begin construction in 2010.

7 thoughts on “Preliminary Transit City Planning

  1. Steve

    Would a connection between Jane LRT and Finch West LRT not suffice, with a common carhouse for those lines somewhere there and a common carhouse for Don Mills LRT and Sheppard East LRT provided near Don Mills subway?

    Should anything be read into the choice of TTC to only report on Finch West and Sheppard East in this document?

    A Finch East LRT turning south at Don Mills to intercept the subway would be another alternative although it would might cut into what there is of Sheppard subway ridership.

    I note the reference to Finch West being in the OP – if Finch East is not there might be the possibility of legal challenge in the vein of SOS if the OP was not amended to include it. The chucking away of legal fees for want to proper procedure is not unknown in Toronto, sadly…

    Steve: The TTC is doing preliminary work on all of the Transit City lines in order to be ready when the EA processes are launched in the fall. These happened to be the first two “out the door”, although they are politically important because they address east-west travel in the northern part of the city.

    Carhouse options will be the subject of a separate report in September, and the staging of network implementation will likely be affected. This is a work in progress.

    I am still pinching myself with disbelief to see a project plan with a 2014 opening date for a new suburban LRT line!


  2. This is supposed to be a network, but the TTC is creating a stupid discontinuity in the system between the east and west. Build the line across Finch from Etobicoke to Scarborough and forget Sheppard.

    And, why the heck would they stop the Finch line at Hwy 27 when they could easily extend it from there into the airport?

    From a network perspective, this plan makes absolutely no sense at all. If any two lines get built first it should be Don Mills and Eglinton, then Finch crosstown. I wonder how much thought they actually put into this.

    Steve: Please see my response to another comment. This is a work in progress in preparation for detailed studies beginning this fall. Some extensions of Transit City are obvious, but it is counterproductive to add bits and pieces to the map as each person says “why didn’t you do this or that”. Better to look at the staging implications for the network as well as opportunities for improvement and present a revised plan.


  3. Steve, I still don’t seen anything in any TTC materials indicating how the City is going to pay for its share. We keep reading that this won’t get built without funding from senior governments, yet our city government needs provincial hand-outs just to pay its bills.

    I thought it a big weakness in the original Transit City document that the only mention of funding was that the city doesn’t have any. Even a vague reference indicating the City is looking into revenue generation specifically for this project would make me less anxious.

    On another note, it is encouraging to see the city’s many departments put their heads together on co-ordinating EA’s. What a revolutionary concept.

    Steve: The whole point of Transit City was to say: Look! There is an alternative to subways. Here is how we could build a network serving the city in a timeframe people can believe and at a cost that won’t bankrupt every government in the country.

    Major changes in policy and public expectations don’t come from years of brokering deals, figuring out all of the subsidy arrangements and finally bringing forward a fully worked out plan. They come from saying “here is what we want to do” and then finding the will and the resources to do it. If people don’t know what could be, they will never support better transit funding.


  4. I’m praying that Transit City goes ahead with construction by 2010…. Ultimately, I feel that this project will either make or break Toronto, and this whole plan is a big determinant on whether I shall depart or remain in the city. Because, I’m starting to become very sick and tired that all levels of government aren’t on board with the project.

    Steve, do you know if and when public meetings would begin or would that have to depend on funding as well?

    Steve: No meetings yet as (a) there is more preliminary work to do and (b) the EA process has not begun.


  5. I have to admit I was skeptical at first, but when I read they would widen Finch so that two car lanes in each direction would be maintained with a dedicated ROW LRT, my opinion changed.

    This is a good plan, but forcing people to transfer from Finch to the Yonge Subway, to the Sheppard Subway, and to the Sheppard LRT to continue a crosstown commute is crazy. They should not create another BDU Y where we force everyone to transfer.

    The way I see it, these light rail lines should act as subways, with bus services feeding them. From Hwy 27 and Finch to the airport is a hop, skip, and a jump. Continue the Finch line to Pearson and from there down to Kipling Station. That would be true network connectivity.

    But, about the Eglinton line, my thinking is, the underground section will cost just as much as a subway, so we may as well build it as a subway, with buses feeding the outer ends for now. When ridership increases there, the subway can be extended outward gradually.

    Steve: There is a separate study looking at north-south service in Etobicoke in the 427 corridor. I don’t think it will take long for the TTC to point out that people do not live on expressways, and that there is a better way to link south from Finch. After all, this route, including a spur to the airport, was in TTC plans in 1966. It’s hardly a new idea.


  6. At the last GTTA meeting, I got the impression that the province has done all the tweaking of the environmental approval process that it plans to do.

    (This presumes I properly understood an exchange between David Miller and Rob MacIsaac, and that MacIsaac was correct.)

    I might explore this if there were an interesting way to write a newspaper column about EAs…

    Steve: The revised Municipal Class EA for transit projects is sitting on the Minister of the Environment’s desk just waiting for signature. The tweaking is done, and Transit City will be a huge beneficiary of it. Now if only someone could find the Minister a pen …


  7. “Now if only someone could find the Minister a pen …”

    Well the election is October 10th, so October 3rd?

    “Note to Dalton McGuinty: Something really important you can do for transit is to get moving on this approval well before the election rather than making us all wait for months. It won’t cost you anything and will actually save money by simplifying the EA process”

    What were you smoking when you wrote that, Steve? You, I, and everybody else with a brain know that one of two things will happen.

    Which I think will happen, the Liberals know that Toronto is a bunch of sheep, give them 16-17 seats, and not give a damn, or…
    If by some freak of God, we collectively grow a backbone and a brain, and realise that we’ll get stuff from the government if they could lose those seats, then it will happen in the election campaign.

    Neither is terribly appealing.

    Steve: I am a non-smoker. The incentive for Queen’s Park is that Transit City will happen faster and the study process will be a lot cheaper under the new EA scheme. This will help not just Toronto, but also the cities studying BRT proposals.


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