MoveOntario 2020 : 905 Transit Section

As announced in the following posts, I am breaking up the discussion of various subtopics within the overall MoveOntario discussion.  This thread is for the local systems outside of Toronto (aka the 416).

32 thoughts on “MoveOntario 2020 : 905 Transit Section

  1. This comment is regarding a Toronto issue that would have a great effect on the 905 area, in particular Mississauga’s transit. I was at a TTC meeting a 3 or 4 months ago when a councillor, I can’t recall his name, mentioned the westward extension of the Bloor/Danforth line shouldn’t stop at the East Mall but rather the Sherway Gardens area.

    If this were to happen it would be great for Toronto transit as well as the Peel Region’s transit issue. Presently Mississauga uses the Islington Station for its buses to feed the TTC. If the Bloor Line were extended to Sherway Gardens, Mississauga’s buses or its own future rapit transit line could feed the TTC at Sherway Gardens and vice-versa.

    Steve: The Dundas LRT proposal, originally part of Mississauga’s planning, will perform the same function as the proposed subway extension at a fraction of the cost. The TTC’s estimate for extending the subway was truly outrageous.


  2. 905 and Toronto Transit – Amalgamation of GTA transit.
    Some 15 years ago several metropolises around the globe began to implement one ticket or one “SMART” ticket for travel in the “Greater Area” of their cities.

    Part of it was Software implementation and part of it was redeployment of resources.

    Toronto in it’s uniqueness is actually larger than the average city that began to upgrade their systems some 15 years ago. The mandate was mainly Stick and not Carrot in most cities.

    Extending the Subway and in more directions is the most cost effective of all the options. Reason being the general consistency of temperature in the subway. Leading to less wear and tear from expansion and contraction. Some 70 degrees Celsius.

    Steve: I think you mean Fahrenheit. 70C is a bit toasty for most commuters except possibly on the River Styx with, of course, black swan boats.

    One Subway station a year would be all that is required in extending the Mass Transit that it is so well synonymous with. Imagine the number of subway travelers on an LRT system. Highly impractical and ineffective. There was a recent report that nearly 70% of the “Parkers” at Kipling and Islington were from the 905 (Mississauga and Brampton) area.

    Steve: The whole point of the LRT network is that we don’t have subway-level demand on those corridors and we can build a lot more of it on the surface than your one station a year. Indeed, at that rate, it would take several decades to complete Spadina/VCC, Yonge/Hwy 7, Eglinton and Don Mills just to name a few candidates.

    The entire capacity of the parking lots at Kipling and Islington would fit on a few subway trains, and many of these riders could be on improved and expanded GO services into the 905 if only we didn’t treat GO and the TTC as two separate islands.


  3. Are the plans to connect the Finch West LRT with the new links being built in Peel?

    Steve: Since we only knew last Friday that the Peel LRT lines were more than fantasy, it’s premature to see how the various pieces of other network will fit with them. The GTTA is supposed to sort all of this out.

    I have heard that Mayor Hazel McCallion was so miffed about inaction at the GTTA that she threatened to walk out of the last meeting. It’s time for the GTTA members to wrest control (if that is the word) from Rob MacIsaac and get on with assembling a true network and a workable implementation plan for all of this.

    I take it the Acceleride/Mississauga and Hamilton sections are LRT and the Vaughan and Durham links are BRT of some kind?

    Steve: The problem is that each of these is whatever each city happened to be planning last. Acceleride is BRT, Mississauga has a lot of BRT but also was looking at LRT for major routes, Vaughan is all BRT (except for one little subway) and Durham is non-specific “rapid transit”. All sorts of crazy schemes have surfaced in Hamilton, and there is no specific technology mentioned in the announcement for that city either.

    How close do the local agencies and GO work together so there can be a truly integrated hierarchy of suburban transit that would let me get from Thornhill to Pickering without going through Toronto?

    Steve: Not very well at all, mainly because they barely get enough money to operate what they’ve got, not to build a truly regional network. It’s the usual problem: lots of capital for construction, no money for operations. We think big when it comes to digging holes in the ground, but forget that it costs money to run the trains.


  4. Considering the traffic situation in Brampton, I do not think the city is doing enough. Their ultimate vision is to have bus lanes along Queen St, Main St, and eventually Bovaird Drive. I have yet to see any kind of plan to service the fast growing northwest area of Brampton.

    I was actually surprised to see the Hurontario LRT going all the way to downtown Brampton. I thought that was going to be BRT in Brampton. Either way, I hope it is LRT. Brampton really needs a economic booster for it’s downtown core.


  5. I have been holding off on commenting until I could mull over this announcement.

    I am very against extending the Yonge subway all the way to Highway 7. I do believe that an extension as far as Steeles is proper in that it will provide the increased capacity by having both Finch and Steeles as terminals and by removing the horde of buses on Yonge between Finch and Steeles.

    Beyond Steeles, there are a number of things wrong with a subway. The obvious one is there just isn’t the demand for its capacity, which would be balanced by turning back every other train at Finch or Steeles. But to put this in terms that the average car-oriented York region resident, this would be like paying $50k for a brand new car because your household only needs the capacity every other day. Subways sound like a great idea when one thinks of 2-minute frequency in rush hours, but to find out for the same expense the service will have a 4-minute (or even 6-minute for the VCC extension!), it really doesn’t seem like such a deal.

    LRT is better suited for Yonge north of Steeles, and fits in better with VIVA Phase 3.


  6. To address Calvin’s comment, LRT has one major flaw on Yonge north of Steeles, and that is that it operates at street level. This means some sort of either intermixed with traffic, or separate right-of-way for the trains to run in. Either way, this means a reduction in capacity for car traffic. While it might be ideal to hope that people leave their cars for the LRT, the reality is that replacing a horde of buses with a horde of LRT vehicles on Yonge St. won’t solve the traffic issue. Removing the buses from the street without a replacement at street level is an attractive alternative…

    Another aspect is that, especially in winter, I think its easier for a commuter to digest waiting 5 minutes for a train in an underground station than it is to digest waiting 5 minutes for a train out in the blistering, windy, snowy cold.

    Also, the capacity likely does exist to service the subway north to Hwy 7, as many people in that region likely drive to a current subway terminus, GO rail station, or simply drive.


  7. I’ve wondered that if the ROW is built along Yonge St. from Finch to Steeles, could it also be built down to Sheppard as well?

    If an LRT service gets in place on Yonge St. between Sheppard and points north, and on Sheppard between Yonge and Downsview station, passengers using the subway in North York could be diverted.

    Steve: The more important diversion will be for passengers to not get on the subway in the first place. That’s why the GO improvements are so important — they won’t carry everybody from the 905 to the 416, but they will skim off a peak load and leave the subway to handle “local” traffic.


  8. Calvin,

    I wrote a high-level 60,000′ strategic advocacy for the Yonge subway extension north to Hwy 7 in the Steve’s MoveOntario 2020 General section; and then saw your comment above and it got me thinking about ground zero tactical station placement north of Steeles and whether an LRT, as originally envisioned by YRT would indeed do the trick more economically (Transit City North? :P)

    Having lived in Thornhill/North York for many years I’m familiar with Yonge and all the side streets between Finch & Hwy 7. There aren’t any bona fide high volume major arterial east~west roads or bisecting transit lines north of Steeles until you get to Hwy 7. Clark is the closest but it’s just 4 lanes westbound from Yonge whilst John & Centre are local streets; with John running through a historic neighbourhood with traffic calming features.

    I checked on Google Maps: It’s 2.1 km from Steeles to Centre, so there could be a Thornhill Station (north end at Centre, south at John) almost half-way to Hwy 7 which is a further 2.6 km north. At ≈$50-100M/station construction cost I suspect it will be tempting to run the subway north 4.7 km non-stop between Steeles & Hwy 7 skipping the Thornhill station.

    I’d have to defer to Steve on the cost of installing LRT track and buying cars, but I suspect it would never be economical to build both the subway north to Hwy 7 AND LRT between Steeles & Hwy 7, unless you could do it within the $50-100M construction saving by skipping the Thornhill station. With the subway skimming interregional riders, I’m not sure there would be the intra-regional volume to justify a LRT over existing local bus service.

    Intuitively, after 26 years watching this stretch of Yonge slowly strangle itself with (car & bus) road congestion… I suspect a LRT would be a good short to medium term solution, but would not be handle the volume long term to/from Hwy 7 nor be the magnet to draw people out of their cars to riding YRT/ViVA transit in the quantum needed to increase York Region’s transit modal split and begin reducing the RATE of congestion growth, before hopefully actually reducing it.

    The final nail in the coffin for me in favour of the subway north of Steeles over LRT is anytime you force a mode switch on riders, it makes transit less convenient; which along with the longer time for a LRT to service the local local stops between Steeles & Hwy 7, makes a subway a better long term choice to Hwy 7 than a LRT, given the likely (high) interregional ride demand.

    The GTTA is going to have some interesting challenges… as it gets down to brass tacks to do detailed planning before actually building MoveOntario 2020!


  9. Bob Brent makes a few points in favour of building an Yonge subway extension north of Steeles that need addressing:

    “I suspect a LRT would be a good short to medium term solution, but would not be handle the volume long term to/from Hwy 7”

    I disagree, with a qualification. If we were to do nothing else, then it would not be a long-term solution. However, the Transit City plan combined with VIVA Phase 3 provide a network of LRT operations that eliminate the long-term need to funnel everyone onto a high-capacity subway line. An eastern (Don Mills/Leslie) and a western (Jane) north-south link (not to mention future additions to the network) provide the capacity growth that does not funnel everyone to a single subway line.

    “The final nail in the coffin for me in favour of the subway north of Steeles over LRT is anytime you force a mode switch on riders, it makes transit less convenient”

    True, but we will not be building a subway to everyone’s front door. There will be mode switches, and the LRT-to-subway switch can either be at Yonge and Highway 7 (thinking ahead to VIVA Phase 3), or it can be at Yonge and Steeles.

    There is not the demand for subway-level capacity north of Steeles, and the Yonge subway will need to cut headways down to 90 seconds and this will only be possible with two turn-back locations. Extending the subway to Steeles means that 2 km extension will only be used to half of its capacity, but that is a reasonable trade-off in order to improve the headways on the entire line.

    I don’t see the justification of spending the capital cost on building another 4 km (4.7 km, but I round the distance to 4 km since on average the original concession roads were 1.25 miles apart, which is about 2 km) that will operate at half capacity. Perhaps, even at one-third capacity if one out of three trains go to Highway 7, one to Steeles, and one to Finch, which could happen if York Region won’t pony up the operating costs.

    In comment 6, Dan is concerned about the loss of road space. I don’t believe this is a significant problem on Yonge between Steeles and Highway 7. There is a fairly wide space for the road in much of this section, including long stretches of a double-left turn lane that is not needed for such a length.

    One other comment from Dan needs addressing:

    “I think its easier for a commuter to digest waiting 5 minutes for a train in an underground station than it is to digest waiting 5 minutes for a train out in the blistering, windy, snowy cold.”

    True, but Minneapolis has a nice idea that we could steal: shelters with quartz heaters that are activated for a few minutes with the press of a button. (I have a photo of this on the Minneapolis page of


  10. I don’t have a link but already some of the York region politicians are succumbing to cries to just build a subway on Yonge and not take up precious lanes for a BRT. Sadly I can’t find the online link, but the story was on the front of the Thornhill Liberal.

    Steve: The biggest danger, especially when local politicians are spending other governments’ money, is that they won’t make hard decisions about tradeoffs and blow it all on the most expensive option. As a result, $17-billion doesn’t go nearly as far as it might have otherwise.

    Of course they got off to a flying start with the VCC subway that they are not paying for either.


  11. As the TTC’s 1990’s-era EAs, 2001 RTES Study and 2004 York U EA show… the TTC easily manipulates EAs to fit the political winds of the day… or their own desired outcome (often TTC E&C’s desire to build subways—well within Toronto proper).

    Hopefully the GTTA will implement a more financially rigorous, transparent (NPV) evaluation of all RT transit expansion projects to (let them compete for capital and) prioritize them on the basis of ridership/revenue potential… only then will we get more bang for limited public transit bucks Steve advocates for.

    I have no doubt of merits and financial viability of the Yonge North extension to Steeles, Calvin, but I would like to see the bus/traffic/ridership projections between Steeles & Hwy 7 over the next 5, 15, 25, 30 years to be able to come to a rational conclusion as to whether it should BRT, LRT or full-out subway and over what timeframe.


  12. Mark Said: “I don’t have a link but already some of the York region politicians are succumbing to cries to just build a subway on Yonge and not take up precious lanes for a BRT. Sadly I can’t find the online link, but the story was on the front of the Thornhill Liberal.”

    Steve: Here is a URL to the story:

    Yes, this was also in the Vaughan Citizen, I read the story today. A member posting here named Calvin wrote an editorial against it around the lines of building more LRT and such, which I agree with.

    I think there’s two different stories with the two different branches of the YUS line.

    1) Yonge: This line could probably be extended FOREVER because there are just so many towns along Yonge St. Although ridership is much higher then the Spadina line, I think the subway should be extended to Steeles Ave. On the Steeles Ave platform, you would have a direct transfer to LRT on the same platform. Just walk out-walk in, which would essentially be a VERY LONG platform (6 car subway and 6 car LRT) but convenient. Then the LRT ascends out of the ground and that’s it, smooth ride up to Richmond Hill, Aurora one day, maybe Newmarket? Also, there is a GO Line that can take more capacity as Steve notes that is faster then the Yonge Subway.

    2) Spadina: This will end at VCC, and after which there would be no use to extend any more north. I’ve said before that York U would have been the best terminus but since they oppose having a bus terminal in campus, next best terminal is VCC. After VCC there can be a BRT and eventually an LRT going up to Vaughan Mills and Wonderland during the summer. 2nd of all, the only GO Line in the area is either east of it at Keele that has no station along highway 7 or west of it around Islington where the Bolton Line would be. Putting yet another station on the soon-to-be Barrie Line is pointless because trains are already jam packed at Rutherford. Also, Spadina is not at capacity like Yonge so making it a long-haul line should not be a problem in a long time (also there are 2 junctions with Bloor Line to transfer with).

    But I understand the other side to it, spending money expropriating and everything then only ripping apart the road (and im 99% sure they will just keep the middle lanes and make it a wide open 6-lane Yonge St.) doesn’t make much sense.

    Either build it as an LRT line or build it as a Subway to Highway 7. The problem I see is that once it reaches 7, Richmond Hill will ask to extend it to Major Mac, then it will just keep going. Who knows, they might have to make express tracks beside the exisiting line and make it non-stop from Sheppard to Bloor and then to Union. (which would be pretty cool though).

    In the Spadina case, there is literally nowhere that it can go after VCC. Jane St is a Industrial Zone from north of 7 to Rutherford. Also, Highway 7 in Vaughan isn’t as far north as Highway 7 in Thornhill (which is 2 road grids north of Steeles).

    Steve: Something that is sad to see already is the phenomenon of municipal politicians asking for the moon as long as someone else is paying. Whoever is looking at a true regional plan, not just a bunch of cobbled-together bits of local plans, needs to look very hard at the trade off between subway and LRT technology in the Yonge Street corridor. York Region’s own EA showed that buses could not handle the projected demand and an LRT would be needed someday. Why not now?

    A Steeles subway extension makes sense if only to spread out the bus load now at Finch and to allow reconfiguration of terminal operations on the Yonge line for more frequent service in the future.


  13. Following up with Mark’s comments on York Region putting the BRT lanes on hold from Steeles to Highway 7, the same article was in the weekend Richmond Hill Liberal, though I cannot find it on their website ( under either Richmond Hill nor Thornhill.

    It seems there was a group of shop owners ready to blitz the area with posters complaining of the problems it will cause them. On the positive side, the Region will be moving up the plans for BRT lanes on Highway 7 as well as on Yonge north of Highway 7.

    I stand by my position (which was printed in the Letters section of the Richmond Hill Liberal on the weekend) that the subway should be extended to Steeles and LRT should be implemented north of there, though I will concede that, even though more expensive, the LRT could be underground from Steeles to just north of Centre.


  14. Express subway lines would be nice, but would never be built. Nor am I sure there would ever be the ridership for it anyways.

    The only reason it would make sense _not_ to built BRT on Yonge would be if there was the money to build more mid-block stations. But we know there isn’t, nor would the money saved on no BRT go to better investment in any case.


  15. North to 7 seems better overall proposal for a subway than north to Vaughan on the Spadina side. I think you would have greater capacity. Give opportunity to redevelop Finch station and perhaps move the GO Bus/VIVA/Brampton terminal from its current location.

    As far as potential capacity is concerned, it would take riders away from GO. I do believe more people would consider work opportunities in the city if they felt it was easier to get into the city. Someone in Richmond Hill may not want to work downtown due to the inadequate GO train schedule and the perceived hassle of making it to Finch station. Would they think the same way if they could board a train at HWY 7?

    The subway still needs to at least make it to Steeles. People will not mind too much transfering from Viva LRT to subway. They already are transfering from GO bus, VIVA, Brampton bus etc. As long as the tranfer point is easily accessible it should not be a problem.

    I would like to see a report on the projected ridership volume from HWY 7 onward to Finch compared to the Spadina extention.

    Steve: If you go to York Region’s website and plough through the Environmental Assessments for their various proposals, you will find demand projections for the Yonge Street corridor north of Steeles. The report notes that buses could not handle the loads and an LRT line would be needed. The projected load on the Spadina/VCC extension is about half that (generously speaking) of Yonge Street as a surface operation, let alone a subway.

    The TTC makes the point (in a report that I have not yet written up here) that the GO Transit rail improvements planned for corridors running north from the 416 must happen before the subway is extended to avoid completely overloading the Yonge line.


  16. Would creating “DRL Light” by linking the Jane and Don Mills LRT together via the waterfront provide sufficient relief for Yonge in the medium term? Or are there better ways to spend money.

    While one can say that “in the long run they’ll upgrade the infrastructure!” sometimes one has to wait a long time; New York is perhaps the most striking example, where almost no elements of its “Second System” were put in place (indeed the 2nd avenue subway is just being built, in drawn out stages), despite it being no less populous (though admittedly less dense in most places), and in real terms far, far, wealthier today.

    Steve: The real relief for the Yonge line will come from diverting long-haul riders to GO. This can happen much faster than building both Jane and Don Mills lines all the way to downtown. In the longer term, there is more benefit from Don Mills going downtown because there is no “Spadina Subway” east of Yonge Street. Taking the Jane line downtown basically means that it would become a “Weston” line somewhere around Eglinton. This gets us into the whole discussion of airport access from the south via Weston and Eglinton rather than via the GO route to the north.


  17. Re: Yonge line relief: “DLR Light” or GO.

    Steve, but is it technically feasible to increase the GO lines’ frequencies to the point where they can relieve the Yonge subway?

    For example, even if the Richmond Hill GO line is enhanced to 15 min headways, its max capacity will be just about 1/6 of the current Yonge subway (2.5 min headways), and 1/10 of the future Yonge (1.5 min headways).

    Steve: The intention is not to replace the Yonge line, but to skim off the top of the peak riding. This involves running more service not just to Richmond Hill, also to Uxbridge and on the Newmarket line. Another vital addition is the line through Agincourt to North Pickering.

    A lot of the demand for the Yonge line comes in from a fairly wide catchment area. Intercept some here, some there, it all adds up. Moreover, with several GO lines radiating north out of the city, people can use a train closer to where they live.


  18. Steve, I hate to disagree with you, but I think the exact opposite will happen. The Yonge subway extension will take riders away from GO, for the following reasons:

    very frequent headways that GO can never match
    empty trains, guaranteed seats north of Steeles
    travelling to points other than Union/CBD
    no backtracking from Union
    cheaper fare
    no worries about missing a train or rushing to catch the train
    better reliability in winter
    etc. etc.

    As a former GO and TTC rider, I can tell you the Yonge extension will spell BIG trouble south of Bloor. The TTC is nuts extending this route north. The only way this route can go north is if another “Spadina” subway or surface express LRT is built east of Yonge.

    Steve: The TTC itself is concerned about this as shown in their recent report on Transit City and other plans:

    The Yonge Subway line is the busiest service the TTC operates and has been operating close to, or at capacity for many years. For this reason, both the ridership and the operation of the line is monitored closely and has been the subject of a number of detailed evaluations.

    The capacity constraint on the line occurs southbound from Bloor Station between 8:00am and 9:00am on weekday mornings. Twenty-eight trains are scheduled to operate through this “peak load point” between 8:00am and 9:00am, and this is the maximum practical capacity that can be operated reliably, given the current signalling system and the physical design of the key stations on the line (Bloor-Yonge and the terminal stations). Ridership during the peak hour is currently as high as it has ever been, at 29,000 passengers per hour in the peak direction, with crowding on trains being close to the applicable loading standards for most of the peak hour. It is a regular occurrence at Bloor Station that passengers have to wait for a number of trains before they are able to board.

    Owing in part to this capacity constraint, ridership on the Yonge Subway line at peak times into the downtown has remained relatively stable over the past 20 years. Growth in peak-transit travel into the downtown area has been primarily accommodated through expansions in GO Rail services. In addition, the large increase in residential development close to the core, facilitating live-work lifestyles, has helped to moderate the need for more transit capacity into the downtown area.

    The Yonge Subway line to Highway 7 should be pursued as part of a broader regional implementation plan that will ensure that the line will be able to accommodate additional ridership demand which would be generated by an extension. In particular, the following factors need to be considered:

    completion of the already-committed extension of the Spadina Subway line north to the Vaughan Corporate Centre in York Region, in order to give travellers from York Region an alternative rapid transit option into Toronto’s central area;
    potential to significantly expand GO Rail services on the Richmond Hill and Bradford lines, also as a means of diverting longer-distance passengers from the north onto GO Rail services;
    increasing the capacity of the Yonge Subway line through the implementation of the already-planned purchase of higher-capacity trains and through the implementation of the already-planned “Automatic Train Control” signalling system which will allow increases in the frequency of train operation and, thus, capacity.

    However, action must be taken now to improve the quality of service experienced by the approximately tens of thousands of passengers who currently travel by transit each day in the north Yonge Street corridor, north of Finch subway station. Transit services in this corridor, which are provided by the TTC, York Region Transit, VIVA, GO Transit, and Brampton Transit, operate, for all intents and purposes, in mixed traffic. The customers of these services experience unreliable and slow service which is typical of mixed-traffic operation. The planning, design, and construction of a future Yonge Subway extension to Highway 7 will take many years to complete. In order to provide the service improvements which are required right now in the north Yonge Street corridor, the TTC intends to continue its current efforts to implement a bus rapid transit facility in this corridor as quickly as possible. This is an affordable “quick win” rapid transit improvement which will benefit large volumes of existing local and inter-regional transit customers right away and for many years to come. This joint Toronto-York Region initiative should be continued and implemented, without any change to the current plans or work arrangements.


  19. I have to ask, how realistic is this approach to “significantly expanding” the Richmond Hill and Bradford/Barrie corridors? Because if you look at current operations, these are the least-serviced train lines in the network today. GO’s real loads (i.e. 10-car trains, some upgrading to 12-car trains soon) all come from the west (and Lakeshore East). Does GO really have a sustainable market with significant expansion of its least popular lines? Has GO Transit commented at all on this idea yet? And I agree that GO stopping only at Union Station in the core and nowhere else in the surrounding area poses a problem for it becoming a convenient or attractive alternative to the Yonge line. There are no stops south of the 401 on either of those two GO Lines (and adding a station at Eglinton (proposed for the RH Line) is not going to help the issue I’m getting at). I agree that people can walk, but the question isn’t a can or can’t, it is more a question of “do they want to walk, if they don’t have to?”


  20. Steve

    I think you may have mentioned 7-car YUS trains at some point, or was I wrong? Would signalling changes and platform changes have to precede this so trains didn’t overlap signal spacings at stations – and would that form part of the 2015 signal upgrade project which would presumably dovetail with the Yonge extension?

    It seems odd to me that they talk about the capacity constraint being south of Bloor (true) and the need to avoid filling the subway by North York (also good) but not about strategies to help deal with the Bloor choke point, such as improving priority of transit on Bay, upgrading the bus service on Yonge so that local traffic opts for it instead, Castle Frank streetcars, etc. etc.

    Steve: The 7-car trains will fit within existing blocks because the added car is only 50-feet long, and the entire train will fit on the platform. Surface priority on Bay or a Castle Frank streetcar really is not going to make a huge difference. We need to intercept passengers from B-D further away from Yonge so that they have some incentive to use an alternative route. Why change to a Bay bus when you’re only one stop away from a north-south subway line in either direction?

    Coming from the east, Castle Frank station, let alone Parliament Street, cannot handle a high-capacity service, and again riders are close enough to Yonge that they will just stay on the trains. A relief line, if one is built, needs to be somewhere in Riverdale where it can attract riders, and a through link up Don Mills (to avoid the transfer) wouldn’t hurt.


  21. This is what irks me about the TTC. Just read the report — the Yonge line isn’t the problem — it’s the passengers *transferring from* the Bloor line that are causing THE problem. Solve the root cause, not the symptom.

    I haven’t changed at B-Y in years, but if a passenger there must let several trains pass, that is clearly unacceptable.

    Build another short subway stub under Church from Bloor to Union and Y it in to BD between Yonge and Sherbourne stations. Then you can extend the Yonge line to kingdom-come.

    Passengers from the east and west can get a direct ride downtown and still be within a 3-min walk of the Yonge line stations they formerly used — and the Yonge line can handle its own passengers with plenty of room for growth.


  22. So, there are three possible solutions to the south-of-Bloor capacity problem:

    1) Expanded GO train service to skim off the peak hour demand from Yonge. As Steve mentioned, this approach has many network-wide benefits in addition to helping the downtown area (speed, convenient access for various groups of commuters). But, frequency-based capacity limits may become a roadblock, as every GO line has to share tracks with other GO services, VIA, and freights.

    2) Steve’s LRT-in-rail-corridor plan. The pros would be a reasonable cost and the impact beyond the target area (such as direct access from Don Mills to downtown). But there may be capacity limits issues as LRV “trains” cannot be too big. Also, the use of rail corridor space for LRT may conflict with GO service expansion plans.

    3) Building a downtown relief subway. That would solve the south-of-Bloor problem reliably and for many years to come. But it would cost far more than other options, while producing no improvements outside the downtown area.

    Hence, neither solution is an automatic winner, and the choice should be based on calculations. For example, will the Toronto downtown continue to add jobs, or will the employment growth be driven primarily by other locations? …


  23. GO fares from Richmond Hill to Union are now over DOUBLE the TTC fare (at $4.80). Think about that — riders are very fare conscious, and when given the choice, the subway at Yonge & 7 will win hands down.

    The TTC report states that ridership on Yonge south of Bloor would have grown if capacity was available. If the GO fare was made equal to the TTC subway fare, then GO could drain away riders, but not with the current zone structure.

    Instead, the Yonge riders south of Eglinton and the BD folks will get the shaft as trains on an extended Yonge line will probably be at capacity by about Eglinton.

    A very short relief stub under Church could probably be built for $1B, and that’s the best place for it. Proximity to the existing Yonge line stations is needed, and construction there would be a snap. The only construction challenge would be a connection or Y with the BD, which the TTC could then close after 6 months (forcing us all to transfer at Sherbourne).

    I don’t think a full downtown relief line that goes further east is really needed. The Don Mills LRT can do that.


  24. The crosstown LRT might help Bloor-Yonge capacity because transfers would be redirected further North. This would at least lessen the problem.


  25. @ M Briganti:

    There is no way you can fit a Wye in around Church… even if you were designing a rollercoaster, that’d be uncomfortably tight, you don’t have the room to make that 90-degree turn.

    As far as ridership incentive goes, I agree with other people and reports that a Riverdale area line is a very good candidate. I think that for easier physical feasability though, Parliament would be a potentially cheaper option, and could use a Wye as well (this may or may not include a “Lower Castle Frank”, but Castle Frank would at least require a third track to keep service levels across the network unaltered). These trains could also Wye from Sherbourne and go east turning south into Parliament, as the turns from either station could be relatively easily accomplished given the current built form of that area, but I don’t think it is likely that they will use it since they cross two other southbound subway lines before such a Wye. As they near the railway, they can ease west into King.


  26. M Briganti said, “GO fares from Richmond Hill to Union are now over DOUBLE the TTC fare (at $4.80).”

    A little reality goes a long way: the alternative to GO from Richmond Hill is YRT/VIVA/TTC, and the fare for this is $4.30 if using tickets/tokens, or $5.50 if using cash — hardly double!

    That said, I agree that within the Toronto boundary, the GO fare should be equal to the TTC fare, and with full transfer capabilities (just look at the fare/transfer structure that Trinity Rail Express has with DART in Dallas and The T in Fort Worth).


  27. Re: M Briganti / short subway stub under Church St.

    Interesting suggestion, likely with a good cost/effectiveness ratio.
    But how would the Don Mills to downtown commute be handled? Would the Don Mills LRT terminate at Bloor&Pape anyway? Get extended to Union alongside the railway tracks? Or, perhaps it would skip Pape and run to Sherbourne, connecting to the Church subway?

    Steve: OK folks. This conversation is going seriously off the rails. I have already commented on problems of putting in another line very close to Yonge Street, and a Church Street subway just isn’t going to happen.

    It is physically impossible to add a junction to the existing line at Castle Frank or Sherbourne (minor things like buildings and valleys are in the way for starters), and any line that close to Yonge would be empty except during the very height of the peak period.

    I’m amused that some who write here about the physical and operational problems of various LRT schemes have no qualms about making preposterous subway proposals. I think you have been reading this blog too long, and the swans are starting to affect your minds.


  28. Steve, sure sounds like the Queen Street Subway is going to reappear any second now!

    To get under Bloor Street to Church you’d have to go under some very significant foundations. St. Jamestown apartments, Rogers One Mt. Pleasant head office or Manulife to name but a few.

    On the surface where ever possible, but not running amongst the other traffic.


  29. I agree that more subway lines are not needed in the Downtown Core. However I do believe there needs to be a high-capacity fall-back route for the subways south of Bloor and preferably south of Eglinton. This could shift a lot of downtown passengers off the Yonge Subway and Bloor/Yonge transfer point and also serve as an emergency relief route in the event of subway service disruption.

    I would propose a Bay/Avenue LRT. Preferably it would be able to run directly into the existing Bay St. tunnel when the Union Station loop is renovated and loop underground right at the ferry docks. Northward it would ramp down under the Bloor/Bay intersection, side-step under Cumberland St. surfacing on Avenue Rd. thereby avoiding the horrible rush-hour traffic backlog on Davenport, then follow the route of the existing 142 express bus all the way to Highway 401.

    This line would cross every existing east-west streetcar route, including all trippers, the future Eglinton-Crosstown route, and meet any new lines added to the Union Station loop terminal. A minimal extension along Wilson Ave. would allow vehicle storage within the existing garage property at Wilson Station if desired and a direct subway transfer point as a terminus.

    Sorry Steve… that one’s been floating around in my mind for a while – just had to get it out of my system! However, I would note that I always use the Yonge and University Subways downtown specifically because the bus service on Bay St. is abysmal. Class-up this route and other people might actually consider using it too! I’ve waited half and hour for this bus many times over. Do you really think any business folks are going to choose that over the subway?
    Now I realise full-well that this proposed line would likely only be well-travelled in the rush-hours, but what alternatives do we have? I have yet to see any proposal that will effectively divert passengers from the Yonge Subway in the Downtown area.


  30. I don’t think the idea is that crazy – at least not as far-fetched as ferries. Who knows, maybe Giambrone will float my idea next month at a commission meeting. Somehow Yonge needs to be double-tracked south of Bloor to resolve that capacity constraint once and for all, so that ridership on the Yonge line can grow. We can’t go under Yonge and Bay is out — that only leaves Church St.

    Maybe an east to south junction isn’t possible, but a west to south curve may be doable. Riders coming in from the east end need to be diverted out of B-Y. And, there’s no rule that says a relief line like that needs to run 20 hours a day.


  31. Comparison of GO to 1 x TTC or 2 x TTC fares is not entirely apposite, since as Steve has pointed out numerous times GO is more equivalent to a TTC Express (2xfare,metropass+30) than a stopping TTC service.

    To me the more interesting parts of MoveOntario905 are the new GO services (i.e. not Barrie – it’s been a long time since that was “new”) to Bolton and west Pickering, and the implications for integration with some of the services planned for Scarborough with a view to kickstarting the development of that part of Toronto rather than squashing everything into the YUS corridor.


  32. To Kristian: Comparing the Bay/Avenue LRT to the rail corridor LRT, the latter likely wins: it would have shorter (if any) underground sections, and it would create direct rapid access downtown for communities like Flemmington, Overlea, Weston.

    But comparing different technologies for improving the downtown access (LRT vs GO expansion vs a new subway) is not that straightforward, and depends on the costs projections, capacity limits, and future ridership estimates; and the actual solution might include more than one technology (at least if a subway is ruled out, then both the GO expansion and the LRTs from the north will likely happen).


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