What Will We Do With Kingston Road?

Although it was totally ignored by the Transit City announcement, the EA for the Kingston Road corridor is rumbling along through the old, tedious EA process and now awaits approval of its Draft Terms of Reference.  Yes, all that work just to get to the point of asking for approval to actually study something.  A boon for consultants, a waste of time and money for transit.

For those unfamiliar with southern Scarborough, the Danforth Subway was, in many ways, a curse because every route within miles of a station is drawn inexorably to the subway.  There are L-shaped routes, there are U-shaped routes, but don’t try to go from one end of Kingston Road to another unless you have a lot of patience for transferring.

The purpose of the EA is to determine ways in which transit in the Kingston Road corridor can be improved both for travel within the corridor and to the existing subway and streetcar system.  Continuous service within the corridor and to/from downtown are goals for this project.

It is worth noting that although 38 percent of the trips originating in the corridor go downtown, 62 percent do not.  Moreover, as land use changes on Kingston Road, the balance of local and commuting trips may also shift if transit service is supportive of off-peak travel.  Of the trips bound for downtown, the study suggests that a continuous service would divert riding off of the subway.  Possibly, although vastly improved service and reliability will be needed.  The 502/503 are a joke for commuters today especially in the PM peak.

Another option for passengers bound for downtown is the GO Lake Shore service which, if planned improvements materialize, will be much more attractive than any bus or LRT service in the same corridor. 

Much of the future transit demand will not be core-oriented, and we have to stop trying to gerrymander the transit system around that market.  Modal splits outside downtown are poor precisely because non-core travel is not well served by transit.

The EA proposes three ways to connect a service from the corridor to the Danforth subway: 

  • Danforth Avenue (bypassing everything from Kennedy west to Victoria Park) to Victoria Park or Main Station
  • North via Victoria Park from Kingston Road to Victoria Park Station
  • North via the existing 64 Main route to Main Station

I am quite surprised that the last two options are even in the study given that neither can sustain a frequent bus service and the options for reserved bus lanes are non-existent.  If it’s going to be a bus to the Danforth Subway, it’s going to be straight along Danforth.

If the line stays on Kingston Road, there are problems with right-of-way width in some sections east of Victoria Park that will limit options for reserved lanes regardless of the technology.  LRT is a possibility, but only in the context of the other Transit City LRT proposals for Scarborough of which this could be one branch.  Rationalization of the bus service to support through trips on Kingston Road may be more practical, provided that there is actually a demand to support this type of travel.

This is a classic problem with transit for areas where major redevelopment will occur.  The riders may not be there today, but they certainly won’t be there tomorrow if we don’t build and operate good transit service before they move in.

One thought on “What Will We Do With Kingston Road?

  1. I was hearing at one point that they wanted to either 1) connect the harbourfront east LRT to Kingston Road or 2) build a LRT line along Eastern Avenue. Either way, the route would run along Kingston Road (superseding the current 502 and 503 service) all the way up to Eglinton and Kingston where it would connect with the proposed Scarborough Malvern LRT.


    Steve: The scheme to connect through the Port Lands, up Leslie and east on Queen to Kingston Road does appear in the background information for the eastern waterfront transit studies now in progress. The important issues with this are:

    Parts of the line cannot be on a reserved right-of-way due to road widths notably on Queen East and Kingston Road until east of Birchmount.
    We need to have a good idea of the demand that actually wants to make this trip as a proportion of total travel demand in the corridor. How many people would use GO if there were frequent service at a reasonable fare on the Lake Shore line? How many people want to get to destinations served by the Bloor-Danforth subway?
    What sorts of north-south services should remain to handle trips bound to other parts of Scarborough?


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