MoveOntario 2020 [Updated]

The Ontario government is announcing a huge program of transit improvements and funding.  Details are available on the Premier’s website.

Note to those who come to this item after about 10:30 on June 15:  Many comments were posted earlier today before I had added my own review of the announcement.  They reflect the developing level of information (there are still some gaps) as well as some gentle urging that I get on with writing about this.

Whether it’s just an election promise or a real plan for transit improvements in southern Ontario, Queen’s Park’s announcement today raises the bar very high.  Not only will Ontario fund 2/3 of the cost of transit capital works, the sheer number of lines and services, including several nobody ever thought to see in print, sets this apart from all previous announcements.

There have been a few. 

Bill Davis killed the Spadina Expressway, started major provincial subsidies of transit, but was sidetracked into developing transit technology rather than building transit lines.

David Peterson, desperate to be re-elected with a majority government, announced a network of lines back in the days when planning consisted mainly of drawing new subway lines on the map of Toronto.  The voters thanked him for his efforts and elected Bob Rae.

Bob Rae inherited Peterson’s plan and seized on it as a way to appear pro-transit without actually having to think about it, and give a shot in the arm to the ailing construction industry.  They actually managed to start the Sheppard and Eglinton West lines.

Mike Harris was prepared to kill the Peterson/Rae projects as a huge waste of money, but relented on the Sheppard line to keep Mel Lastman happy.

Now we come to Dalton McGuinty who like Peterson is facing an election, but who has not made the fatal mistake of going to the polls early and presuming on the good will of the electorate.  Lately, I hear that McGuinty’s office gripes about not getting credit for all of the wonderful transit funding they have announced.  Small wonder:  A project here, a project there, no sense of sustained funding for future years, and an expensive bauble to show the good burghers of Vaughan just how much we love them.

All that has changed.  Today’s announcement shows that Queen’s Park plans to be in the transit funding business in a big way for well over a decade.  This is a huge commitment for the Liberals, and telling us in November that they’re having second thoughts is not an option.

As with any announcement, the question must be “have they picked the right projects”?

Given that every project that has ever been in anyone’s plans, and a few that took me by surprise, are in the list, it’s hard to say that they’ve picked too few or picked poorly.  One huge plus is that they are not, for the most part, dictating technology choices.  The last thing we need is a repeat of the OTDC/UTDC fiasco.

The flip side, however, is that the plan is oddly unbalanced over the region.  Whatever was already on the books is in the initial list.  I hope that the GTTA who, according to a footnote, would review all of this, may make some small adjustments here and there.  For example, there is LRT only in Mississauga and Toronto even though an argument can be made to expand the network into York Region.  Maybe that’s phase 2.

Just as with Transit City (about which endless debates swirled on this site second-guessing proposals and working through the complexities of design), there will be time to fine tune, to see where alternatives might fit better together, to talk about the program’s goals for 2025, 2030 and beyond.

The announcement has notable gaps including:

  • Several of the components are already in progress including GO improvements and the Spadina/VCC subway.  Will Ontario now fund 2/3 of their cost?
  • How will infrastructure and vehicles for existing operations be funded?  Who will pay for Toronto’s new streetcar, subway cars and buses?
  • Where do the LRT lines not included in Transit City fit in all of this specifically the eastern waterfront and Kingston Road proposals?
  • What plans are there for operating subsidies?  Will Queen’s Park leave this to municipalities as a tradeoff for all of the capital funding?  This would not help systems with small operating budgets today, and would constain their ability to expand service without taking a big hit on the local tax base.

The news release says that this 12-Year plan will deliver 52 rapid transit initiatives.  I wonder why 52?  Many of the projects listed are actually segments of lines, not independent projects, and this inflates the number of distinct routes.  I hope that McGuinty doesn’t get too hung up on the actual number but concentrates instead on the concept of a network of transit services:  local and regional, bus and rail. 

Making people think about networks is vital as we saw with Transit City.  The debates instantly changed about “my line” and “your line” to “our network” as politicians all over Toronto saw the benefits of a unified system. 

For just a moment believe that at least a good portion of this will actually be built.  Indeed, because so much of this is drawn from existing and planned schemes and has the relatively low implementation cost of commuter rail, buses on reserved lanes and LRT, there is a fighting chance we will see real benefits quickly.  This will increase demand for more and a self-sustaining boom in transit construction and funding may result.

Let’s look at the various parts of this scheme to see how they fit together.

GO Rail Improvements

  1. Third tracks added from Port Credit to Oakville, Burlington to Hamilton and Union to Scarborough.
  2. Capacity expansions from Union to Milton, Union to Georgetown, Union to Bradford, Union to Richmond Hill and Union to Stouffville.
  3. Service extensions from Oshawa to Bowmanville, Bradford to Barrie, Richmond Hill to Aurora Road, Stouffville to Uxbridge.
  4. New GO rail service on the CPR line from West Toronto through the central Don Valley via Agincourt to Pickering and Seaton.
  5. New GO rail service from Union to Bolton.
  6. Electrification of the GO Lakeshore route (aka SuperGO).

Some track construction is already underway to allow better GO service, but some of the extensions and new lines lay more in the realm of railfans’ dreams than actual plans until today. 

One thing missing from the details (at least those available when I started to review all of this) is the hours and frequency of service on the proposed new and extended routes.  If more than a few peak trains a day operate on this network, we will finally have a true regional commuter rail system in Toronto that will allow people to travel, at least in those corridors, much as Torontonians now do on the subway system — without having to plan their trips around schedules.  Additional service on these lines would also relieve some of the pressure for additional subway construction into the core because the demand from outlying parts of the 416 and from the inner 905 will have a good alternative in GO rail services.

Crosstown service via the CPR’s line through North Toronto Station (the LCBO palace at Summerhill) will provide a fast connection through the city bypassing Union Station.  An obvious connection for this line would be with the new link to the airport.  Indeed, I feel that through-routing this line to the airport would be more valuable than a connection to Union because of the large catchment area for a cross-city line.  Maybe we could have both!  (More about the airport later.)

This network will exhaust the inventory of rail corridors into Toronto, and it will place major demands on Union Station.  GO already had planned for a doubling of ridership, but their planning horizon was further away than 2020.  Other potential pressures at Union arise from future LRT network connections serving the waterfront.

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) for GO and Others

  1. GO BRT from Oakville station to Mississauga via Hwy 403
  2. Mississauga Transitway from the City Centre west to Winston Churchill and east to Renforth, connecting to …
  3. GO BRT link from Renforth to York University (via hydro corridors judging from the map)
  4. GO BRT on Hwy 427 from Renforth to Hwy 407, connecting to …
  5. GO BRT on Hwy 407 from the 401 to York University (obviously with a dodge south or a connection to the subway extension) and continuing east on the 407 to Yonge Street in Langstaff and Markham Road
  6. GO BRT from Highway 407 in Markham via Markham Road to Hwy 401, then east to Pickering GO station.

This network encircles the 416 and the inner 905 with BRT on most of the major highways.  This will come at some cost to highway capacity as there isn’t room to expand in all cases, and road expansion should be a last resort, not the assumed way any BRT will be implemented.  Again we are missing details of the implementation on each segment of highway.

The important point here is that Ontario plans to build a network, not bits and pieces of BRT wherever they can be squeezed into existing corridors.  This has big implications for bus services whether they are operated by GO, the local agencies or some future amalgamated GTTA bus company.

The one big problem is that these will be regional services, not local services.  They will be great for travel between major centres, but people still need to get to these trunk routes on their neighbourhood bus systems.  Unless these are properly funded and expanded, the regional network will not meet its potential.

At the other end of the scale, what happens when the 407 corridor (or highway 7 itself as a local street) become candidates for an LRT line?  How far away from that decision are we?  That’s a knotty question for the GTTA.


  1. Transit City in its entirety:  Eglinton (Renforth to Kennedy), Scarborough RT extension to Sheppard, Sheppard LRT (Don Mills to Morningside), Finch LRT (Hwy 27 to Yonge), Don Mills LRT (Steeles to Danforth), Jane LRT (Steeles to Bloor), Malvern LRT (Kennedy Station to Malvern), Waterfront West (Long Branch to Union).
  2. Subway extensions:  Spadina to Vaughan Centre, Yonge from Finch to Hwy 7.
  3. Yonge busway from Finch to Steeles (TTC, VIVA, YRT and GO) 
  4. VIVA:  Markham Centre to Don Mills Station, Yonge from Steeles to Newmarket, Highway 7 from Hwy 50 to Cornell.
  5. Durham rapid transit (unspecified technology) on Hwy 2 from Oshawa to Pickering
  6. Brampton Acceleride:  Queen Street from Main to Hwy 50
  7. Mississauga LRT:  Hurontario from Lakeshore to Queen Street (Brampton), Dundas from Hurontario to Kipling Station
  8. Hamilton rapid transit (unspecified technology):  King/Main Streets from Eastgate Mall to McMaster University, James/Upper James from Rymal Road to King Street
  9. (Not part of the 52, but included in a footnote)  Ontario will also fund at the same 2/3 rate the rapid transit plans now in stage 2 of the EA process for Kitchener Waterloo.  This scheme has eliminated all technologies except BRT and LRT from further consideration.

For the TTC system, I am ecstatic to see funding for Transit City.  Not too long ago we had the excitement of that plan’s launch and a major shift in transit thinking for Toronto, but the nagging question of who would pay lurked in the background.  The strategy behind Transit City was twofold:

  1. Show Torontonians that we could build a transit network that didn’t just serve one small corner of the city, that we could do it quickly and that we could do it at a reasonable cost.
  2. Show any funding partners a proposal that would have immediate political return and would allow projects to move into design, construction and operation without bankrupting everyone involved.

I think it worked.  Indeed, it was the same strategy that led to the Ridership Growth Strategy.  Don’t tell us what you can’t do, don’t prejudge the political decision about funding, show us what could be if only the will to act were there.  We still need a bit more of a push on RGS especially for service improvements in years to come, but we are moving in the right direction.  MoveOntario changes the landscape for the GTA and beyond just as Transit City did for Toronto. 

I am particularly glad to see the Yonge subway extension included in this package.  For decades, we have discussed subway lines that are little better than Toonerville Trollies to various politicians’ back yards.  Now, finally, we will build a subway line where there is already heavy demand.  The Yonge extension will be an anchor for future bus and, someday, LRT services in York Region.

As for VIVA, the announcement is unclear about what is being funded.  Expanded service?  More vehicles?  BRT upgrades?

The Mississauga LRT proposals have been around for many years, but I doubted to ever see them built.  There’s always the issue of an orphan line, of being the first new rail service in a sea of cars and buses.  With Transit City announced in Toronto, the Mississauga lines are no longer alone and I must wonder how long it will take for Transit City to grow a branch south to Kipling Station.

Hamilton and Kitchener are big surprises.  Kitchener is well along on their studies, but the last time I remember seeing any plans for rapid transit in Hamilton it involved GO Urban.  To Waterloo Region’s great credit, they rejected various technologies that involved elevated guideways as being unsuitable for the type of service they proposed and the physical impact an elevated would have on the city.  Let’s see where Hamilton goes on this.

The Airport

Last but not least is the connection from Union Station to Lester B. Pearson Airport.  Although the announcement does not say this explicitly, this is not Blue 22, and that scheme is now dead.  The airport service will be run as a branch of GO Transit although access to the airport will be an interesting bit of construction.

This is another situation where the GTTA can fine-tune MoveOntario’s schemes.

  1. If GO Rail will enter the airport, then service should be provided not just to Union, but to the CP North Toronto line and east to Agincourt and beyond.  This will provide a truly regional access to the airport far superior to a Union Station shuttle.
  2. The Eglinton West LRT must have a branch north into the airport.  This will provide a connection for local travellers in west central Toronto.
  3. The Finch West LRT must make a good connection with the airport service.


MoveOntario is a huge plan to reshape transit in southern Ontario and it shows the magnitude of commitment and spending needed to begin the move to a transit-focussed transportation system.  I say “begin” because this network, large though it is, does not address all of the travelling needs of the region especially the relatively poor local services in the 905 systems.  Unless we have some way to magically transport people to the many new regional lines, we will have GO’s problem of providing parking lots at an unimaginable scale.

Transit systems should not have provision of parking as their first goal, and only with good local feeder services can a network of regional services, whatever their technology, succeed.

We also must have serious discussions about fare structures.  With SuperGo, we will have something approaching a subway in the Lakeshore corridor, and the overall network will have a mix of local and express services.  How do we charge people to use this network?  What is the appropriate level of subsidy?  Do we sell in bulk with monthly passes, or do we construct a byzantine zone or distance-based structure that penalizes people for using transit more?

With MoveOntario, Queen’s Park has shown a strong desire to get back into transit funding and to change the way people travel around the GTA.  Ottawa should come on board, but we will have to wait for another day (or maybe another election) to see where they stand.

I still don’t quite believe that I am sitting here with a massive plan for rail transit including LRT on my desk.  I hope that Queen’s Park really understand that the modes they are supporting:  commuter rail, BRT and LRT show that there is a range of options that can provide transit improvements at reasonable cost.  Each mode has its place, and we don’t have to go hunting for transit’s “missing link”.

Thirty-five years of lost momentum, lost opportunities for transit growth are over.

Now, we build.

64 thoughts on “MoveOntario 2020 [Updated]

  1. I hope, but doubt that some of this money could be used to offset the money the Waterfront Corp (Waterfront Toronto) has been compelled to spend from its budget on projects such the expansion of Union Station and GO improvements in the Union corridor (and most absurdly, the Front Street Extension, which although not transit, should not be coming out of the Waterfront Toronto budget, if it is to be built at all). The Waterfront East and Cherry St LRTs are at least is linked to the new neighbourhoods that they will be building in the East Bayfront and West Donlands, and part of the “transit first” mandate, so that’s not so bad. Still, a lot more beautiful parks and streetscapes could be built in the waterfront if these projects were funded elsewhere, ideally as part of this big bond issue (I wonder if and how Infrastructure Ontario and “alternative financing” will be involved). As examples, I would cite Lake Ontario Park (planned but not really funded) and a possible post-airport park for Toronto Island as more ideally suited to Waterfront Toronto’s mandate and dollars than tracks, platforms and signals at Union Station.


  2. Has anyone stopped to think about how this would actually all get done in less than 13 years? Most of these corridors have undergone NO planning, NO engineering, no environmental assessment. You know how long those take, right? And, um… then how exactly are you going to construct all of them – at the same time?

    This is completely political. And completely ludicrous. Think about it realistically.

    Steve: Actually a lot of work has been done on some of these proposals already (some are under construction now, and this is just a funding announcement). The EA process is about to change significantly by elimination of the onerous “terms of reference” phase that chews up a year on projects where we already know what we want to build, and changes that will streamline the final approval process.

    The BRT schemes range from taking over existing road lanes to, possibly, some road expansion within existing corridors. I think we know how to do that fairly quickly.

    The LRT lines need detailed design, especially for the underground portions, but most of them spend their time on the surface. We know how to build track even if the aethetics of the St. Clair line leave something to be desired.

    The 13-year timespan is aggressive, but we need to stop thinking of transit as something that will take decades to come. The problem with transportation capacity is here today, and the time for endless studies, whose primary function is to avoid actual funding commitments, is long over.


  3. From my reading of McGuinty’s transit proposal the following GO plans have already been approved and construction has started and in some cases has finished.

    1: GO Lakeshore West rail line capacity expansion by adding a third track from Port Credit to Oakville
    2: GO Lakeshore West rail line capacity expansion by adding a third track from Burlington to Hamilton
    3: GO Lakeshore East rail line capacity expansion by adding a third track from Union Station to Scarborough
    7: GO Georgetown rail line capacity expansion from Union Station to Georgetown
    8: GO Bradford rail line capacity expansion from Union Station to Bradford
    9: GO Bradford rail line extension (and capacity expansion) from Bradford to Barrie.
    12: GO Stouffville rail line capacity expansion from Union Station to (Stouffville and extension of the line to Uxbridge).

    He also has adopted all the Transit City plan plus some other really interesting ideas. I think that he has included the already approved GO Transit plans, especially since construction has started on all of them, so that he can say he has accomplished part of his plan for the 2011 elections assuming that he wins re-election in October.

    I just wish that there was some actual binding commitment to do this instead of an election promise. I guess he could re-call the legislature and pass some bills but I doubt that we will see that happen. It looks like he is trying to be a Bill Davis without the hang up on new technology. Time will tell.


  4. I, for one am completely flummoxed by this, and in a good way. I haven’t had so many wishes fulfilled in one go since Christmas 1978 (unfortunately I was not old enough to have the really good adult wishes at that point).

    Now if only I had submitted my plan for a bi-level elevated solar powered line on Queen street. Why, oh why wasn’t I on top of that?


  5. I don’t know about some of the other cities but Hamilton had already started planning the Rapid Transit Routes before this was announced. I was disappointed that they left out our East-West Mountain Link.

    That said i am ecstatic.

    There is no reason to vote liberal just for this though. According to the News, the Conservatives said they will implement something similar if elected. Joyce Savoline the PC critic for Go Transit (Who is a daily rider and former chair of it’s board) has claimed that parts of the plan we’re stolen from the Conservative.

    Hopefully the Conservatives and NDP will try and one up this.


  6. Forgive me if this is an ignorant question but I’m not an engineer. Does electrification mean replacing existing track or laying new track alongside?

    Steve: The existing track would be used although changes would be needed due to the fact that it would now provide the electrical return circuit in addition to signalling. A separate track for the electrified service is not required.


  7. I’m a Mississauga Transit driver and was at the garage watching the announcement on Friday. Most were surprised by the magnitude of the funding and some of the projects included. I can say though that I’m really excited with the size and magnitude of it. I only started driving for transit in the last year and am really looking forward to the different types of work that will be available to me in the future other that just driving a bus. I don’t totally trust McGuinty after the new health tax. But I’m willing to give him another chance with MoveOntario 2020. He can’t back out of this, it would be political suicide. And should he not win re-election the PCs and the NDP would be wise to see to it that they immplement some similar plan.


  8. All light rail in the GTA needs to be built to TTC specs. The Hurontario train, for example, will ultimately have to merge with the Transit City Waterfront West line.


  9. If anything it makes more sense to create some kind of direct link LRT between Kipling and the nascent airport transit hub. But that’s quibbling.

    I do wonder, however, how disruptive construction of all this will be. Assuming even some relationship to the promise (being realistic, “Toronto 2025”) how well can today’s technology dig tunnels and lay track with out utterly tying up traffic. I did not drive around Sheppard all that much some years back, but I have to imagine building the subway on Yonge at the same time as a busway, for example, will be interesting.

    Steve: I suspect that the Yonge extension will be at the tail end of all of this since York Region is already getting their subway to VCC. The busway can be built long before. However, cut and cover construction of the subway may make operation of the busway a tad difficult.


  10. re: airport link(s)

    My assertion of Union Station’s importance as an airport link point is by no means meant to obscure that, in the context of this complex, regional plan, multiple airport links are needed. True that the numbers of train/plane transfer trips probably aren’t too high at present but the objective of reducing car trips won’t happen if the option isn’t there.

    Union is the jewel in the crown and any renovation will have to take into account the crucial role it will play in this new plan.


  11. Bob Brent said …

    All TTC routes but one (trivia challenge) link with the TTC’s subway lines.

    I know that I am probably nit picking but the 38, 130, 132, 133 and 134 do not link with a subway line; granted they do connect with the SRT.

    The 403, South Don Mills and 405 Etobicoke do not connect with any rail service so I suppose that gives two routes if you count community service routes.

    The 300 series don’t connect with the subway most of the time because the subway is not running

    But!!! The 99 Arrow road does not connect with any rail service, Subway, SRT, LRT, Streetcar or GO train. The question is easy as the answer is on the Ride Guide as in the box at the bottom right it says all surface routes except 99, 403 and 405 connect with the subway so I guess that means the SRT is a subway in the TTC’s eyes. If the 507 were still running it would have the honour of being the only street car line not connecting with the subway.


  12. A friend and myself were chatting about this and were wondering about the disconuity on Eglinton west from Renforth into Mississauga. The LRT ends and the BRT begins. Would it be better to extend it out to Winston Churchill?

    In addition to the wish lists about the DRL and the Portlands LRT, add the Eglinton line to the list.


  13. Robert…


    The Arrow Road service doesn’t connect with the subway, as its role is to give TTC employees access the Arrow Road bus division (half way between Finch & Steeles).

    To your point, I really should have said “…doesn’t link with RT… subways or RT.”

    It’s more than just trivia—it shows the importance of the TTC’s mostly seamless RT(40%)/Surface(60%) service integration that encourages multi-leg, multi-mode trips.


  14. My wish is simple : that all this will happen! Remember folks, 2011 is only four years away and that plan NEVER happened (I refuse to recognize the Sheppard subway as a transit plan. It’s more of a Mayor’s folly).

    Perhaps as a bit of foreshadowing, the Provincial government told Ottawa the roughly $300-million it was promised for an LRT that has now been scuttled is still secure. If I were to really believe the Liberal Government meant business, I would expect to see help and planning for other communities. Yes, the GTA is the economic hub of Canada and suffers the worst air pollution in North America ( WORSE than Los Angeles!), but the push to public transit MUST be province wide, no matter how big or how small the community.

    Steve: Network 2011 was doomed by two things: It ignored the area outside of what we now call the 416 (TTC demand projections didn’t even take into account possible improvements in GO Transit. Also, it was a subway network that didn’t make sense economically, and wound up pitting city against city fighting over whose line would be built first.


  15. 51 comments is a lot to go through.

    Steve: We now have more comments than projects!

    I am on the fence but on the happy side of the fence because of the real hope this accouncement offers and the fact that it will make people think about Transit.

    What is the plan for the first 4 years though, I want to know what they can actually do when they are in Queens Park for another term if they win the election. Government planning can only in reality be 4 years at a time.

    My Questions: They will spend 4 years setting the stage and planning only for the next boss to come in and decide it is to grand and needs to be scaled back and things cancelled? can they enact laws that mean the committments must be kept?

    Steve: Toronto is ready to roll with Transit City work the moment the simplified EA procedure is announced by Queen’s Park. Construction may start as early as 2009, certainly by 2010 with opening day for the first LRT lines in 2014. The GTTA is supposed to come up with a prioritized list of projects. We shall see how they manage on that one.

    Where can I buy my T-Shirt with your face on it? 🙂


  16. The biggest problem I see is the fact that the local downtown area didn’t get any transit improvements at all, and that’s exactly the area where people would use new transit services the most. They should have included something for King/Queen — maybe burying the Queen line, and some kind of relief spur to Bloor. BD, YU SOB, and Union GO don’t exactly have unlimited capacity.

    As much as Transit City is a good plan, I don’t think it’s the best possible plan. Miller and Giambrone are not qualified to assess what impact all that extra traffic will have on the system as a whole, including the core. None of us are.

    The TTC planners should have been asked to come up with a plan that says the routes go here, and this is what they should be (LRT, BRT, SUBWAY), and the GTTA should oversee the integration of routes with neighbouring municipalities. For example HWY 7 should be getting LRT, not BRT, while maybe LRT on Jane is overkill.

    Watch the Conservatives come up with a better plan to top this.

    Steve: Please don’t make me laugh too hard — the Tories come up with a better plan? If they had anyone in their organization who knew one end of a streetcar from another, they would have been feeling out people like me for opinions. If they’ve got a transportation expert I don’t know who they are.

    Also, of course, the Tories would turn the whole thing into a PPP fiasco guaranteed to line the pockets of their friends with no-risk contracts.

    Transit City was thought through by several people who know a few things about the city. It specifically was not intended as a core-oriented plan because that’s what we’ve had for the past four decades and it’s time to do something in the suburbs.


  17. You’ve mentioned again and again (and it’s very true) that what’s needed is better feeder service, not bigger parking lots. That being said are there plans for commuter parking on the LRT lines? I wonder because from I live (near Bathurst and Steeles) the walk and wait for a bus can routinely be 20 minutes and certainly is not an option for my daily commute. And while driving to the future Steeles West or Langstaff/Highway 7 station is probably faster then driving to Wilson or Finch, it’s not that much, and it still involves using a car. And of course building commuter lots near the airport, or Yonge and Langstaff etc defeats the purpose of creating proper development nodes.

    Is the plan to build first, and hope the ridership can do things like put in place real bus service in York Region (and the rest of the 905) that can get people from doorstep to doorstep?

    This problem may be especially acute for GO’s regional BRT.

    Steve: As I have said elsewhere, local feeder services are essential to making this plan work. Transit as a builder of parking lots is an outmoded way to design the network.


  18. This is such a great plan for Ontario. Yet I have the nagging feeling that this plan is going to fail due to the typical bipartisan bickering between the parties.

    There is a good chance the Liberals will not be in power over the 16 year lifespan. For this plan to work, all 3 parties have to set aside their political differences, and see that this plan will benefit all parties in the long term.

    There is nothing worse than having a great plan started, and stopped because a new party thinks it is a “waste of money”.


  19. I hate to raise the whole Sheppard subway thing again. (I’d be quite happy to modify it to run LRT down it instead … but that doesn’t seem to be on the table).

    I know that you are in favour of stopping it at Don Mills, and running LRT from there. But surely retrofitting Don Mills station for convenient transfers from the Sheppard and Don Mills line is going to be difficult. Might it not make more sense to run the subway out to Consumer’s Road or Victoria Park, and build a well-designed subway to LRT transfer to the Sheppard LRT there. I know there are apparently issues related to tunelling under the 404 (though from a geotechnical angle, I don’t see that it is that difficult, given how shallow the expressway is). But there would also be issues on constructing LRT platforms, a portal between Don Mills Road and the 404, and strengthening the current bridge over the 404 to handle street cars.

    I’m just thinking a proper subway to LRT transfer station on the east side of the 404 may make more sense than some difficult to use transfer point side (I’m scratching my head wondering how far the people coming off the Don Mills streetcar are going to have to walk to change to the Sheppard streetcar!).

    The one downside is that there is no connectivity for LRT vehicles between the Don Mills LRT and the Sheppard LRT (though that answer might simply be a Finch West LRT from Finch Station to Victoria Park North station).

    Steve: I believe that a very tentative plan involves the LRT crossing the 401 on its own new bridge north of Sheppard. That would put the LRT station under the parking lot, possibly integrated with the existing bus loop. This still leaves the question of making a good connection between the subway/bus/LRT interchange and the Don Mills LRT line.

    There are a lot of design details throughout all of this, but the important thing is that we don’t say “oh it will be too hard to build” and stop before we get started in the best Toronto tradition.

    On big advantage of LRT (big grin here) is that it is more flexible than a subway and the geometric constraints are not as severe. As long as we don’t try to build LRT facilities to subway standards on the off chance of converting them in 50 years, we will overcome the design challenges.

    The problem I have with a Consumers Road extension (and by analogy to any “just one more station” argument) is that we wind up building a lot of expensive short pieces of subway line rather than the network of LRT we need.


  20. Hi Steve:-

    I can only imagine the elation that you’re experiencing right now. WOW, WOW, WOW! Congratulations! I’m not sure if I really want a Che Steveuara Transitista T-shirt though! I like you but…

    I’m overly delighted and pleasntly surprised (flaberghasted) by this announcement myself! Santa wears Liberal red in June! I’m eagerly anticipating what I’ll be witness to and maybe even be afforded the chance of being a participant in in the near future!

    To address the earlier question of how long to build this system, ‘is 13 years adequate time’? Answering this query from the LRT and subway standpoint (not GO nor BRT) I’d say with all practicality, that once the engineering and study preliminaries are completed, an unequivicable, yes!

    The tunneled sections and any bridged sections will take the most time, but these will be minimal in the overall percentage of the amount of right-of-ways that are being proposed. Their geographical situations will dictate the time taken to build them before tracklaying can commence in and on them. An educated guess would say a mile a year for these structures. Once they’re completed, then depending on distances from supply sites (drop sites), special trackwork (crossovers, centre track swithes, etc.) would take upwards to two months each. Non special track should take about 100 feet (50 route feet for double track) per day on average, to be ready for use. Signalling and traction cabling may lower this time frame for being operational but even if this limits it to an average of 25 feet per day, then one mile of route will take about a year from the time that the row is turned over to the track and electrical types. The more mechanisation provided will lower this timing.

    Above ground track can go much more quickly and with a dedicated force, they should be able to put in about 10 miles of route per year. This would mean 10 years for the tracklaying on 150 kilometres of routes. This is being very conservative and as with the subway, with greater degrees of mechanisation, more could be built in a shorter time frame. These figures are subject to the availability of roadbed to lay the track on and my assumption is that this can be done at about 200 feet per day.

    In years past, typical delivery times for special track parts (switches, frogs and crossings with their required hardware) would take as much as two years from the time of order placement to be on site and ready to be assembled. I’m not sure where we stand now, but I’d be surprised if this has changed hugely.

    We’d have to hear from Harold McM and Ray B to give an overhead/traction power supply estimate, but knowing them, I’m sure that they’d say at that rate the track guys would be holding them up. And cars! Is two to three years from order placement to the receipt of the start-up fleet in line?

    With all of this taken into consideration and with a co-ordinated plan of action, crews should be able to work steadily, from one site to the next. There would likely be a dedicated crew for open track, one for subway/bridgework and another for car yards, with each of those probably subdivided into special track and plain track crews, so yes, 13 years seems very do-able. What say we start now, eh? I got my spade and spike maul handy!

    Dennis Rankin

    Steve: One important bit of news I have learned from visitors to Madrid is that the “miracle” of their fast construction lies partly in that it doesn’t ever stop. They are always building something, somewhere. They don’t start a project team from scratch for every little job, and a lot of the design knowhow and experience gets recycled over and over.


  21. Steve, I was under the impression that any new bi-directional LRT vehicles purchased would just be running uni-directionally in the city. Isn’t that the reason for the turning radii being included?

    Steve: Actually, some of the tightest curves are at intersections, not just in loops like Union Station. Even if we ditch the loops, we still have the street trackage to contend with.


  22. Steve: Please don’t make me laugh too hard — the Tories come up with a better plan? If they had anyone in their organization who knew one end of a streetcar from another, they would have been feeling out people like me for opinions. If they’ve got a transportation expert I don’t know who they are.

    Now Steve, this is not a nice thing to do to Mr. Tory and the Toriettes. Since the new LRT’s will probably be double ended they will never be able to tell the one end of the car from the other unless there is an A at one end and a B at the other. Shame on you for being so nasty.


  23. First, it is with great interest and hopes that one looks at the transit news that has been released by the City and the Province in the past few months. We can only hope that all these announcements have the push, continued desire and the money behind them so that we can see the “pantograph lift up to the wire and wheels start turning”.

    In Dennis Rankin’s post (60), he suggested that maybe a comment on the “Overhead” might be appropriate, so here is my thoughts: On the new lines for Transit City, I would guess (and this is all guessing) that the Overhead would be installed by contractor, be minimum 4/0 or 6/0 “contact wire” (TTC uses 2/0 trolley wire on all the present system), would probably use those (dreaded by some) centre poles and be a “constant tensioned” catenary Overhead Contact System (OCS). I think it will be an “overhead” system that this City has not been used too seeing!

    Steve: I have no objection to centre poles per se. The situation on St. Clair involves the need to maximize use of the available space.


  24. Steve

    Professor Manuel Melis, one of the principals behind the Madrid subway project, has testified to an Irish parliamentary committee about how they kept costs down and progress moving. I would think he might be open to a similar invitation from Ontario. The important thing is that utilities like Toronto Hydro are properly resourced so that delays like Fleet and St Clair are avoided – I note another raid on one of their reserve funds last week by Council.

    I hope that the scale of the LRT projects in GTA, K-W (and who knows, one day even Ottawa) might actually be sufficient to green light another manufacturer other than Bombardier to locate in southern Ontario to take some of the projects – given the decline of our auto industry surely there is a supply of qualified workers.


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