“The Three Cities” and Transit City

The Centre for Urban & Community Studies at the University of Toronto recently published a bulletin entitled The Three Cities within Toronto:  Income polarization among Toronto’s neighbourhoods, 1970–2000.  This is an important look at the evolution of Toronto’s economy and social structure, with a widening gap between the well-off and the poor.

The authors reviewed the evolution of individual incomes by census tract across the 416 to see which areas showed rises and falls relative to the average level for the “Census Metropolitan Area”.  (The CMA includes part of the 905, but is part of the overall employment area for people living in the 416, the City of Toronto proper.)

What emerges is a pattern they describe as “The Three Cities”.

In City 1, incomes have gone up 20% or more than average.  No surprise about the areas making up this City:  the Yonge Street corridor from Sheppard to downtown, the Annex, the new King West and Railway lands, the Beach and The Kingsway.

In City 2, incomes have stayed within 20% plus or minus of the average.

City 3, where incomes have dropped 20% or more below the average is concentrated in the outer suburbs plus parts of Thorncliffe Park, Flemingdon Park, Don Mills, York/Weston and west central Etobicoke.

This is a troubling pattern, almost the exact opposite of many large US cities over the postwar decades when downtown was abandoned by the wealthy and became the exclusive preserve of the poor.  In Toronto, suburbs built for the middle class exodus have converted to ghettos for a largely immigrant community for whom the forest of high-rise buildings are the only affordable housing. 

These suburbs were built by councils who believed in the classic 1950s vision of home ownership and the car in every driveway.  Social services were not needed because people requiring them were far away downtown in the “old” city.  The  governance of Toronto with separate suburban and city councils reinforced this attitude, and even now the makeup of Council does not reflect the people living in those suburbs.

The evolution of the Three Cities is particularly striking for the gradual decline of the group whose incomes are close to the average.  In brief, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, but the situation is actually more complex.

The largest growth in population over three decades lies in City 3 where high-density rental development absorbed a huge wave of immigration.  The new population worked in poorer-paying jobs thereby driving down the average income for their neighbourhoods from the days of white, middle-class suburbia.  At the same time, this jump in population transformed suburbs like Scarborough and Etobicoke into major cities at a time when investment in public services like transit was falling.

One notable problem for City 3 is the relatively poor level of transit service and the almost complete absence of rapid transit.  The subway network (and GO for the 905 area as well) concentrates on getting large number of people from City 1 and City 2 where they want to go while City 3 must make do with bus service as and when it shows up.  Commuters in City 3 tend to have much longer work trips both in time and distance, and they are doubly penalized by the poor transit service.

Oddly enough, the modal split for the Three Cities is almost equal with about 1/3 of work trips made by public transit.  Despite relatively poor service, the populus in City 3 takes transit as much as the better-served denizens of Cities 2 and 1.  The bulletin does not address this question being socioeconomic study where transportation issues are secondary.  All the same, it would be intriguing to know the degree to which the quality and quantity of transit service in each of the Three Cities affects modal choices, and how big the latent market is in each case.

Where does Transit City fit in?  Almost all of the Transit City corridors serve City 3 and parts of City 2 (especially when the Kingston Road line, not yet formally part of Transit City, is included).  City 1 is served only by the Eglinton Line, inevitable because it crosses the Yonge Street corridor, but Cities 2 and 3 contain much more of that route.

Clearly there is a demand for better transit in the suburbs and not just to get to the office towers of King & Bay.  Running a few more buses here and there is not going to make much difference in the overall quality and speed of travel in the outer 416.  Transit City will, I hope, be about more than just building infrastructure, but of fundamentally improving what passes for acceptable service in the suburbs.

The Three Cities bulletin is good reading, if only to quantify patterns evident to anyone who has watched the evolution of Toronto and the growth of its suburbs.  Alas, we don’t have comparable information for the inner 905 because most of it was farmland in 1970, and I hope that someone will take up the challenge of tracking change beyond the 416 boundary.

Probably the saddest commentary on this situation comes in a quotation from Metro’s Suburbs in Transition which, in the late 1970s, identified the coming change from low-rise, owner-occupied traditional neighbourhoods to the high-rise suburbs we know today.  For 30 years, much planning served a model of suburban development that was obsolete, and transit’s secondary status reflected this.  (This report, quaint to modern eyes for its absence of computer graphics, is chilling for the portrait it paints, 30 years ago, of the ills of the developing suburbs that would be ignored in decades to come.)

As we redevelop the suburbs with “The Avenues” and the Official Plan’s view of widespread use of medium-rise buildings, will this benefit all of City 3, or simply mask its decline possibly by pushing the least fortunate beyond the 416 border?

Transit City is no panacea, but it can help by focussing resources for car-free mobility outside of the core area.  The future of Toronto depends on our looking beyond the gleaming new condo towers to the outer city in all of the services we provide, transit included.

24 thoughts on ““The Three Cities” and Transit City

  1. This is no surprise. All of the well-off suburban 416ers who wanted spiral staircases started a mass exodus to the 905 in the mid/late 80s. The outer 416 is now home to the leftovers – seniors who couldn’t afford to move and low income immigrant residents.

    Downtown boomed because of the yuppies. In the late 60s and early 70s, who the hell wanted to live in Yorkville or the Annex? Yorkville was a run-down hippie hangout and the Annex was Hungarian. Houses in those neighbourhoods back then … well, you couldn’t even give them away. Look at those two neighbourhoods now!

    It’s crazy, but Vaughan, Richmond Hill, and Markham are now are the Etobicoke, North York, and Scarborough of the 70s. Remember when Scarborough was actually a good neighbourhood in the 60s/70s? Times certainly have changed. Who knows what things will look like 20-30 years from now.


  2. Transit City will certainly help in redeveloping the suburbs it serves, like Jane and Finch, but it isn’t a cure-all. There are major issues that must be addressed in order to make it successful. First, Transit City will (especially at first) be dependent on feeder bus service, since most Toronto residents live nowhere near a planned Transit City line. If the TTC isn’t prepared to invest heavily in feeder bus service to Transit City lines, the Transit City scheme will fail. Eventually, if Transit City is successful and becomes overcrowded, the TTC needs to be prepared to build a second round of Transit City lines along secondary corridors line Lawrence, Dufferin, Finch East, Victoria Park, etc. to fill in these gaps.

    Second, Transit City needs frequent stop spacing to avoid the need for parallel bus service, and encourage dense development along the whole length of lines. A stop spacing of approximately 500m is necessary for this; much longer and development will only be clustered at stops. Transit City is light rail, so it should not aim to be an interregional express train; this role is best filled by GO.

    Third, the City needs to implement proper land use planning around Transit City lines. To be successful, the immediate area surrounding stations must be zoned high-density residential and/or commercial; new suburban-style development in those areas must be banned. Unfortunately, the City didn’t do this properly around subway stations; there is very little high-density development along the Bloor-Danforth and Spadina lines even though they were built 30-40 years ago. This needs to change.

    Finally, light rail, improved local bus service and improved GO service are needed in the 905. No matter how successful Transit City is at densifying the 416, if transit is not improved in the 905, it will remain a wasteland of low-density, car-oriented development.


  3. >there is very little high-density development along the Bloor-Danforth >and Spadina lines even though they were built 30-40 years ago. This
    >needs to change.

    No, it does not. Ridership on the Bloor line is very high from walk-ins and buses. You can’t rezone Christie and Bloor and build a 30 storey condo tower across the street from a park just because a subway station happens to be there. Or Chester, or Ossington … or Broadview.

    >Finally, light rail, improved local bus service and improved GO service >are needed in the 905. No matter how successful Transit City is at >densifying the 416, if transit is not improved in the 905, it will remain a >wasteland of low-density, car-oriented development

    So anything that’s low-density and dependent on a car is a wasteland? Yep, all those nice houses up in Richmond Hill … what a wasteland!


  4. I take issue with the BD subway being represented as under developed. With the exception of the outer two stations on each end, there is continuous urban development along the corridor, at levels that would serve the city well. These are walkable, reasonably pedestrian friendly neighborhoods, with a density considerably above anything further out. No, its not downtown, but that’s not what densification is about; it’s about increasing density to the level that option other than driving are practical, and land is used with some level of efficiency. Spadina is another matter entirely, but it’s also not in an environment that can really be compared to any of the Transit City routes (with the possible exception of Finch if they use the Hydro ROW).

    Steve: In the early days of Transit City, there was quite a tussle about whether to run on Finch Avenue or in the Hydro Corridor. Finch itself won out because nobody actually lives in the Hydro lands. That’s the great myth about corridors — they are great for building express routes from one place to another, but lousy for serving neighbourhoods. Just look at the examples we have already.

    The Danforth subway from Victoria Park to Kennedy is an express route mainly dependent on feeder buses and the RT. The RT itself follows a Hydro and railway corridor stopping only at Lawrence and Ellesmere. Walk-in access is diffucult and the connection with the York Mills bus is a joke. To the east, it follows Highland Creek. The Bloor line ends up in the middle of a field after following a rail corridor from Islington. The Spadina Subway follows an expressway.

    All of these are excellent examples of how to build a line to go a long way quickly, but lousy examples of how to develop neighbourhoods. Some nodes around stations will be developed, eventually, but we have been waiting a very long time. Only Victoria Park has a long history of local development.


  5. The most recent subway line we’ve built, Sheppard, is going gangbusters in terms of the density around the stops (condos like crazy). I don’t know how much credit for that goes to planning (little to none?) versus to the development industry which knew people would want to live on a new subway line. Of course, there’s no real street life to speak of…

    Steve: A notable point about Sheppard is that the subway is still rather quiet by subway standards, and that there are huge spaces between the stops where the only transit impact has been the loss of good surface bus service.


  6. The first Andrew, made a reference about the station spacing being 500 metres to eliminate the need of a bus route running along the Transit City route, that is a mistake. Look at Yonge st. with it’s 97 Yonge route. I haven’t used the 97 in a long time but during rush hours the 97 runs along Yonge St. and is the subway along this portion of Yonge St. have station spacing of 500 metres, at most? Transit City needs a bus route to serve local demand that runs every 4-6 mins around the clock, put that with the rail service with station spacing of 750-1500 metres depending on the distance and density between Avenues. Transit City will work.

    I do agree with Andrew on terms of building other light rail routes to relieve then existing Transit City routes. This will become the spiderweb of mass transit that cities like New York and Tokyo have. And for those who think subway spiderwebs make world class cities, many cities in Europe are using the light rail model. New Subway construction can begin only when all or most Avenues have light rail, then expansion of the subway network can begin. The new subway must begin at locations such as was recomended on the downtown relieve line, then the crosstown lines can begin as long as there is options outside of the Yonge University Spadina line, and ridership numbers that justify the constructions. Fifty years from now we will talk about subway construction.

    Andrew called the 905 a wasteland? Unfortenly the car dependency stinks, but people love the dwellings, but the 905 has no options outside of the car. The exception of course is the Yonge St. Corridor and Highway 7 thanks to VIVA. Calling the 905 a wasteland is not accurate and not everyone shares that view.

    Steve, this post is no surprise to me. Malvern, Jane and Finch, plus so many more are in the outer 416. I don’t think Transit ity will make the three cities look different but good service is needed throughout the city. Who needs a multimillion dollar study — let’s make every residient live within 1500 metres of rapid transit and all bus service run every six minutes. It’s not rocket science!


  7. The 97 Yonge exists because the stop spacing is about 2km on the Yonge line between Eglinton and Sheppard. It has poor service, and as a result it is poorly used and the TTC even considered eliminating it this year (but backed down). Because of the poor transit service between stations, the development in those areas is low density, especially between Lawrence and Sheppard (there is a reasonable amount of development between Eglinton and Lawrence, likely because that area predates the war). Ironically, service in those areas was much better before the subway extension opened. A similar situation exists on Sheppard, where there is very little between the stations. If we want to provide good transit service and spur redevelopment, we need frequent stop spacing, at least in areas that are already dense.


  8. Hi Steve:-

    In response to the first Andrew, some of what he says is valid in regards to development at the station areas along the existing heavy rail transit routes coupled with his request to see investment in feeders to these lines. These thoughts are validated by the professional transit planners in the GTA as well as the general transit planning industry in the country but varies from their general guidelines in that they believe stops must be widely spaced as feeders are preferred to frequent neighbourhood stops. An extremely high percentage of heavy rail users are transferees and not walk ins as bourne out in ridership count studies.

    But, the present B/D line will not take much more concentration of traffic on and around it, unless there is a much greater investment in it, ie. a fourth or at a minimum third track being an absolute necessity. Then too, as we have seen discussed in some threads here, the existing transfer points in midtown will not support much more intensity.

    What then is the solution? This is the thorny issue that could have many possible ways to see a resolution. The easy answer is build the extra tracks, rebuild the transfer locations midtown and let it happen. At what cost does this happen though? How many buildings must be levelled and re-erected all along those route(s) before rebuilding can possibly occur?

    I’m going to suggest that this would not be palatable to many in this city. 3 or 4 tracks should have been built when the lines were new, really tough to try this modification now. But what else that might cost less? Paralleling, frequent service surface routes, would give riders choices to an otherwise overcrowded heavy rail line. If these routes, many of which exist now, had the advertised ‘frequent service’ on them, and on them reliably, with frequent service in terms of what is printed on the schedules posted at the car stops, meaning five minutes or less not ten, then a much more inviting TTC would ensue.

    Too, the future may see the construction of the proposed Downtown relief lines thus minimising east-west user demand on the Bloor-Yonge transfer point.

    Quality of life must be a major consideration too as development is looked at along the existing subways. One thing that has put Toronto in the top ranks of livable cities in the world, is its neighbourhoods. We have been built as a city of small lotted single family homes. We are not a city of rows and tightly packed rows of five story walkups. High rises have their place, but ‘must’ not squeeze out what has made this city what it is. This arguement should apply to development along the Transit City lines too. Those who have invested in their neighbourhoods should have their concerns considered.

    Dennis Rankin


  9. There were supposed to be mid-block stations on North Yonge so that the stations would only be 1 km apart. These were cut to save money. I think mid-block stations for the RT were also planned but dropped. Why the stations were never added on later (like North York Center) is beyond me.

    As for redevelopment that follows light rail, that has happened in the US, but I don’t think you’ll see a lot of that here if these light rail lines go ahead. You can never turn North York into a downtown.

    Steve: One important difference for North York Centre Station is that the line was built with provision to add the station later (a relatively level spot 500 feet long), while other locations that would seem appropriate were not graded suitably and, in some cases, the tunnel is very deep.

    I hope that nobody has any dreams that high density housing will spring up quickly along the Transit City routes. The primary intention is to change the quality of suburban transit so that people living there can consider it as a reasonable option. Some development may follow, but anyone hoping for a quick payback should invest elsewhere. As others have pointed out, many of the stations on the BD line have little nearby development and will probably stay that way. The line as a whole succeeds partly due to feeder routes.


  10. I wonder what kind of solution will be adopted for the underground portion of Eglinton LRT: frequent stops and no local bus, or sparse stops + local bus? Buses are often very slow in the central sections of Eglinton due to congestion, but on the other hand, building many underground LRT stops will be expensive.

    For streets with surface LRT lines, I think it is better to rely on the rail vehicles alone: stops spaced somewhat less frequently than on regular routes, but still close enough to make walking to a stop practical for all residents.

    The alternative, express LRT + local bus model, would make LRT slightly faster, but good service management a lot harder, especially in off-peak periods. Look at Steve’s 501 / 502 / 503 analysis. If the co-management of two similar animals (502 + 503, or even 501 Long Branch + 501 Humber) poses such a challenge for TTC, how well will they co-manage animals so different as LRT + local bus? Moreover, even if a frequent (4-6 min) local bus service is declared initially, there will be a permanent temptation to reallocate those buses to another bus route that is really crush-loaded.


  11. As a further point, the downtown portion of route 97 (south of St. Clair) only runs every 30 minutes during rush hour. It’s a wheelchair-accessible route and serves as an alternate to the subway for those who have difficulty navigating all of the stairs in the non-accessible stations along Yonge.

    Steve: And if you feel like waiting 20 minutes or more in your wheelchair in the winter or the rain or the blazing sun for that bus to show up, you can actually get on it. “Accessibility” includes being there frequently enough to make waiting for the service worthwhile.


  12. To Dennis’ comment, the solution is to just leave B-D alone. The problem will reach critical mass once the Yonge and Spadina lines are extended north — then, the powers that be will deal with it. An underground Eglinton LRT will only make it worse. The way I see it, the Eglinton LRT will be a very attractive service, especially the underground portion, as it will operate just like a subway.

    The TTC can waste all the money they want on improved YUS signalling to solve this problem, but they’re conveniently forgetting platform dwell time at Bloor. That will negate any attempt to run trains closer together. They’ll realize this soon enough and pull another Sheppard/$10M savings stunt … “oh, clearly we were wrong”.

    Steve: One big problem at Bloor that ATC will relieve is the problem of long cycle times for trains coming to the station caused by changes to the signal system and operating practices over the years.

    After the Russell Hill crash, the procedure for a single red changed from “stop and proceed” to “stop and stay”. This prevents trains from creeping up right behind each other as they once did northbound at this station. One train could be entering the station at the same time as the preceding train left so that the penalty of the long dwell time was not as great as it is today.

    Southbound, the same tactic was possible until the crossover was automated causing signals that once were single-aspect southbound from Rosedale to Bloor to become double-aspect signals for the interlocking. These hold trains further north of the station than was possible with the old single-aspect arrangement.

    In both cases, ATC will re-establish the ability of trains to creep right up to their leaders at congested stations and reduce the minimum headway.

    The big problem remains at the terminals where there are physical limits on the speed of turnarounds and throughput over the crossover. This can only be resolved by a significant reconfiguration of the terminals, or split terminal operations with half of the service turning back at, say, Finch and the rest continuing north to a new terminal. New crew procedures would also be required so that there was no dwell time for crew changes, relief time, etc.

    Back at Bloor, another problem is the constraint of the concourses and stairways. Trains may hold more people and run more frequently, but the passengers move around in the station at the same speed.


  13. Yes, but won’t that slow down the overall service? I remember when the TTC used to run the Yonge subway with very closely spaced trains the late 1980s — the trains would inch their way up Yonge from Queen to Bloor in the PM rush after 5. It was all stop and go in the tunnels. I remember it would sometimes take almost 15 minutes to get from Dundas to Bloor. Hopefully we won’t go back to that kind of service.

    Steve: Yes, I remember those days. The scheduled service then was roughly the same as now, but we also had G-trains with slower acceleration and narrower doors. All the same, I do agree that the TTC is putting too much faith in their ability to bump capacity on the YUS line. The real question is how to redistribute load, but with all of the focus on new suburban transit, improving service into the core is not on anyone’s A-list except for GO Transit.


  14. I do not want to turn this discussion into a political and economic one. A transit system does not solve economic inequality by itself. There are many jobs that require access to a car (because of no bus service) that pay less than $10 hour. At the same time, many malls located on the metro line pay the same.

    One would think Hong Kong would have no social inequality given that they have invested and continue to invest heavily in transit. They built several metro lines in a decade. Inequality still existed. At least with the TTC, one can go from Morningside to Kipling on a $2.75 token. A similar trip in Hong Kong could easily cost $50 HKD (approx $5.50 CAD). This has the effect of keeping poor people in a certain area because they cannot afford to go “outside” to look for work.

    Still, transit must be invested heavily for envrionmental and logistical reasons. A city that is gridlocked will lose competitiveness. I personally preferred Transit City be built in corridors, where it can the fastest. It is unreasonable to expect a passenger boarding a tram at Neilson and Finch to ride through the city stopping every 500m or so. Stops at about 1000m to 1500m will get the passenger to Kipling in a much shorter amount of time. People who use the TTC for short haul trips can board a local service bus. Transit City trams should be designed for longer haul rides. It cannot be everything to everyone.

    One more note. If the TTC wants to increase ridership of the affluent, they should provide cellular and WIFI service. I have seen people trading stocks using their PDAs and mobile phones in Hong Kong. That was quite impressive. It also makes a long ride on the metro more palatable.


  15. Benny Cheung writes:
    “If the TTC wants to increase ridership of the affluent, they should provide cellular and WIFI service.”

    I’ve heard quite enough annoying, bizarre, alarming, distasteful, and probably illegal cell-phone calls on the Queen car, thank you very much.

    I suppose “the affluent” would be barking into their cell-phones just as loudly as the less-affluent and more mentally-challenged, and so wouldn’t notice. Those of us who prefer to read or relax instead of yakking loudly in a one-sided inane conversation will just have to suffer.

    I’ve been sooooo tempted to take away yakkers’ phones, throw them out the window, and say “Here’s fifty bucks. Go buy a phone with better reception and a pickup that doesn’t require yelling.”


  16. Regarding the discussion about stop spacing in Transit City, it is really something that is quite hard to determine. For example, take the Don Mills line. First, in areas such as Flemingdon Park, the population there is quite concentrated, but cannot be served with just one stop, especially on Don Mills Rd. With the line, the 100 [Flemingdon Park] bus will probably be cancelled or severly reduced, making for a long walk for the residents for a slightly faster trip.

    Further north, from south of Sheppard to north of Finch, there is a strip of high-rises with a mix of incomes as well as condos and rentals along the road, and then low density housing on each side, but with many basement apartments housing new immigrants. A big part of the traffic here heads to Don Mills Subway, and each bus stop serves a few buildings rather well. There is also little congestion on this part of Don Mills. So here, a Transit City line with stops widely spaced would make it inconvenient for a large number of people, while a line with closely spaced stops offers no real advantage to the people here.

    The way I see it, Transit City will provide frequent, reliable and slightly faster service to some, but it won’t really solve anything about the “Three Cities” .

    P.S. Around that corridor around Finch on Don Mills, the community there consists of people of all backgrounds and economic conditions, that are part of all 3 “cities”. As a resident in this area, the situation seems rather desirable, althogh I don’t know why or how it is like this, but I see the rather frequent and mostly reliable 25 and 39 services as part of the reason.

    Steve: I have operations data from the TTC for both the Don Mills 25 and Finch East 39 routes, and will present them here fairly early in 2008.


  17. This is an interesting discussion, on an interesting subject; Toronto’s suburban ring of poverty is certainly a novel concept in a North American setting, at least outside of New York and San Francisco. But I wonder if the temptation to use transit as a social-engineering tool is a dangerous and potentially counterproductive habit.

    For example, does anyone seriously think that North-east Scarborough needs to be served by three (!) converging rapid-transit lines, based on demand? Or, similarly, the Jane-Finch area? These seem like odd choices to make if demand, and demand alone, is truly driving transit planning. Especially since the entire city south of St Clair, with the exception of a couple of improvements along the waterfront, is completely ignored.

    Steve: The intention is not to use transit for social engineering, as you put it, but to redress the inbalance between the quality of transit provided to the affluent “City 1” and the not-so-wel-off “Cities 2 and 3”. Traditionally, in cities with the poor downtown and the middle class in the burbs, a core-oriented transit system can wind up as more of a social service than a vital part of the transportation network. However, in Toronto, we have services that evolved for a much different type of suburb. Our fetish with subway construction, seen primarily as a way of pushing “City 1” out into uncharted territory, actually hamstrung planning for decades.

    The issue with transit is that we need a lot more of it, and we certainly need to learn how to serve the type of neighbourhoods in the outer 416 before we have a hope of tackling the 905. Transit City allows us to make a major commitment to a network of major routes (with more to come if it works) and an overall enhancement of transit’s role throughout the city. Yes, it could fail, especially if resources are not put into better service both in the Transit City corridors and on the connecting bus routes.

    The alternative is to build a few kilometres of subway every now and then, and leaving most riders waiting in the snow for a bus to show up. We have spent an obscene amount of money relative to the benefits to provide subway service on Sheppard Avenue to satisfy Mega-Mel’s dream of “Downtown North York”, and this has done very little for the folks living in “City 3”.


  18. Pursuant to the exchange you and Mimmo had over mid-block stations on Yonge…

    Steve, has there ever been serious/semi-serious discussion or inquiry into the possibility to adding additional mid-block stations?

    In particular, what are the tunnel conditions in the Yonge and Blythwood area? This seems like a highly logical place for a station.

    Steve: Stations can be added only where there is almost no gradient so that the platform will be level. None of the areas between Eglinton and Finch, except for North York Centre which was designed for this, meets this criterion. Moreover, for the area around Blythwood the tunnel is very deep and building a station around the existing structure would be extremely expensive. This is an area that would depend entirely on walk-in traffic, rather like Chester Station on the BD line, and the huge cost of a retrofit cannot be justified for the number of people it would serve.


  19. Steve, to go back to the comments about the Eglinton Crosstown proposed Transit City line wouldn’t it make sense to split this line in two — east and west lines. The east line would have one of its termini at Kennedy, like it is planned and the other terminus would be at the Yonge Station. The western portion could start at the Yonge Station as well then travel westward to the Pearson Airport and Mississauga.

    I feel that splitting this line in two would serve us City 2 and 3’s much better as the routes could be much better managed time wise and streetcar spacing. The streetcars probably wouldn’t bunch up like they do on the 501. I do believe most, not all, riders would be transferring anyways from the Eglinton Crosstown onto the Yonge Subway line anyways.

    Steve: The fine points of how the line(s) is(are) operated are really something for the future. What is important is that the design include turnback capabilities, and that vehicles for Transit City be double-ended so that we are not constrained by where loops will fit. Yonge Eglinton would be a particularly difficult place to fit an underground loop because it is, or soon will be, hemmed in by development on all corners.

    Another important issue will be staging. What segments of the line will open when as, for a project of this size, a “big bang” opening is unlikely.

    These issues need to be addressed in the EA which is supposed to be underway in the new year.


  20. I didn’t realise the ‘Transit City’ lines are meant to exist without local bus service. Has this been vetted by any outside transportation experts?

    With a stop spacing of 500m, it’s hard to see how the service could be ‘rapid transit’. My other question is where did the idea that 5-storey walk-ups are going to be attractive housing options come from?

    Steve: Nobody ever said that five-story buildings couldn’t have elevators.

    As for stop spacing, yes, 500m is going to be a bit of a stretch, although nowhere near as bad as getting to subway stations 1-2km apart. By comparison, the St. Clair line’s stop spacing is roughly 300-350m. I suspect that the stop placements will be driven much more by existing traffic lights and the location of major traffic generators such as high-rise buildings.

    The mention of Mel Lastman’s dream of creating a downtown North York is very relevant to the whole way this metropolitan area has evolved. Originally, the plan was to have the core be served by more subways and expressways. These didn’t get built for various reasons. Instead of these, we have the GO rail system – which leveraged the existing rail corridors.

    The drawback to this evolution is that it’s faster to get from Oakville, Burlington or even Hamilton to downtown than from NE Scarborough or NW Etobicoke. (I had a City of Toronto water man come by to drop off a water meter the other for us to install. He comes in from Stoney Creek every day!)

    Now to get back to Mel. It wasn’t just Mel’s dream to have a ‘downtown North York’ – this was the Metro official plan. My understanding was that after the Spadina and other expressway projects were stopped, the idea was to discourage growth downtown and have the different town centers become alternate downtowns.

    The trouble is that these never attracted the employment intensity really required. If North York and Scarbourough center had really taken off as employmemt centers, the City 1 – City 2 – City 3 map would probably look a great deal different.

    Steve: I agree in general, although anyone who saw Mel in action would know that, to him, Sheppard and Yonge was going to be the centre of the known universe and just had to have a subway junction. His response to LRT proposals was that “real cities don’t use streetcars”.


  21. Hi Steve:-

    My comment about 5 story walkups was comparing NYC’s Manhattan with our less dense more desirable living conditions. Sure 5 story buildings can have elevators, but the 1860s tenements in NYC wouldn’t have qualified, and they were still with us well into this century. So no, I was not suggesting these as ideal, rather the opposite. But what these did do for NYC was densify their city making congestion and the necessity of elevateds and subways an essential part of the planning and construction in that city. Different here, thankfully!

    One thing that comes out in all of this discussion about stop spacing is the flexibility of planning and adjusting stop locations for a Transit City surface route versus the horrendous effort that would be required to add in another stop on a tunneled line. Starting with an idea that one might want, say 1500 foot spacing and then adjusting for local conditions almost sounds like a no brainer. If intolerant planning is adopted for the planning’s sake then ideal opportunities may be overlooked. Mind if after a line is built and demand suggests that a stop be abandoned, relocated or a completely new one installed, well, just do it. It sure won’t take the same efforts as the Yonge Subway.

    I was really impressed with the NYC Subway having lengthened 9 car platforms to 10 cars on the Lexington Avenue line. It must have been a monumental task, but they did it. This line is built to the smaller loading gauge standards of the pre 1900 IRT so adding another car, although streetcar size, was a huge capacity improvement for them. It shows that it can be done, sometimes. I’m not sure, as you suggest Steve, that in Toronto is there opportunity to accomplish this here.

    Although it will be a bit of a slog for them, there is a new residential development going in north of Warden Station’s north parking lot and a recently occupied new community on the west side of Warden across from it. These may well add walk-ins to the Warden Station, but more than likely, demand for a very short ride on the 68 will be the norm. Nice weather days though……. With Warden Station’s redevelopment, it would be nice to see it become user friendly and less of a horse’s patute to access it for those folks.



  22. Hi Steve:-

    I feel that the use of double ended cars is not the better of the two alternatives for Transit City and truly believe that there is room for loops at Yonge and Eglinton and that they be allowed for before construction begins. Structures being planned can and should have their underground areas and foundations built to accomodate transit needs and should be a desire of both the developers and the numerous city departments concerned. Unfortunately since tunneled portions of routes are costly and darned hard to retrofit now’s the time to do it right.

    Single ended cars have increased capacity and less maintenance issues than double enders and should be the vehicle of choice. Unlike the subway which has a much much wider minimum radius, LRVs can turn almost on a dime thus making looping a practical alternative. This is not saying that all curves should be designed to the ultimate minimum, for renewal issues due to wear, etc. come into consideration, but where needs be the LRV can turn in a sharper loop than even a bus.

    Line short turns are one thing, for a third or centre track for changing ends is fairly unobtrusive to the functioning of the through traffic around it, but it still has to be allowed for. Costs incurred in the building of more tunnel for a loop is only one time and the special track costs would be almost the same, (loop or centre track) so capital investment in the initial construction would be a little higher, although not hugely so and not to the point of pricing it out of being the better alternative in the long run. But a double ended system that relies an changing ends at a terminal hems itself in to slower turnaraound times than looping a car at a terminal. This is bourne out in your comments Steve on the times at Finch and why two turnbacks need to be considered when and if the Yonge line goes to Steeles.

    Overall maintenace costs of the cars, increased passenger capacity and better turnaround times should therefore make a single end system the greatly more desirable first choice.


    Steve: I beg to differ. Unless the loop is fully grade separated, conflicts between through movements and turnbacks will limit the capacity through the junction. An underground grade separation at Yonge/Eglinton is unlikely given the problems simply of getting through the intersection. Between pedestrian tunnels and the existing subway structure, it’s crowded already, never mind existing building foundations. The only really big space is under the old bus terminal.


  23. Hi Steve:-

    Yup, exactly. Grade separated, absolutely essential and under the old bus loops. I haven’t been up there in recent times, but my memory says that it can be done. With a will there’s a way! and well worth the effort.

    But there is another possibilty as well and that is that the actual turnbacks for both east and west don’t necessarily have to be at Yonge as the Beach and Queen West cars turned at McCaul and Mutual respectively, somewhat away from Yonge, but not all that far.

    Too, it may be that ridership demands will want east end cars to go to the Spadina subway and there’s where those would turn back, with only west end cars going back from Yonge on a normal basis. Through cars may well be the norm as well although with not the same horror stories as our beloved Queen car I would hope. The second thought on this is that there may very well be quite different demands on an east vs. west Eglinton car so allowing for regular turning at Yonge (or nearby) is most likely the going to be the reality.



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