Transit City Update

At the TTC meeting last week, there was a long presentation about the status of the various Transit City projects. The TTC’s website contains only the two page covering report with absolutely no details, but lucky for you, my readers, here is an electronic copy. As and when the TTC actually posts this report on their own site, I will change the link here to point to the “official” copy.

Warning: 7MB download: Transit City February 2008

While there may be individual issues to prompt kvetching in this report, overall I am impressed by what is happening. For the first time in over 30 years, we have not only a unified plan, but a unified set of studies. I may be naïve to expect all of this will actually be built, but we are in far better shape knowing what might be than if only one or two lines were on the table.

Here is an overview of the report along with my comments.

Overall Priorities

Of the various Transit City proposals, three have been selected as the top priority for design, funding and construction: Sheppard East, Etobicoke Finch-West and Eglinton-Crosstown. All lines were scored against various criteria, and those coming out on top overall got the nod. This doesn’t mean work stops on the others, but at least we know the staging.

Projected total ridership is highest for Eglinton, Finch and Jane, with Sheppard East in 5th place. Partly, this is due to the length of the routes and their catchment areas. Note that Waterfront West brings up the rear, unsurprising given the area it draws from.

The lines rank roughly the same way for the number of car trips diverted to transit and the reduction in greenhouse gases. There’s something of a compound effect here as several measures all vary more or less as a function of ridership.

Transit City, again with the exception of Waterfront West, touches the City’s priority neighbourhoods where better transit is needed to increase mobility and economic opportunities for the residents.

What’s Missing

Notable by their absence are the Waterfront East lines (Queen’s Quay, Cherry Street and Port Lands) as well as the Kingston Road line in Scarborough. EAs are aready in progress for these, but they don’t make it onto the overall status report.

This is a shame because we must stop making distinctions between “Transit City” itself, and other related transit projects that will compete for attention and funding.

Sheppard LRT

When you put the various scores together, Eglinton, Finch and Jane rank 1-2-3 with Sheppard coming in at 4. Jane, however, has alignment problems that need solving at the south end, and politically, building most of the new lines west of Yonge Street wouldn’t fly at Council. Also, Sheppard has strong support from the local Councillors and it’s better that we take advantage of it before rumblings of “we want a subway” come to the fore.

The EA has started for this project, engineering feasibility studies are complete, some preliminary community meetings have already been held, and the first official EA meeting will be on April 7 (location TBA). The hope is that an EA report will go to Council in July.

One intriguing wrinkle is that the TTC will study a branch of the line down to the Scarborough Town Centre. I find this amusing considering that such a line would duplicate the proposed RT extension, and could pave the way for a full-scale LRT conversion of the RT. That will never be allowed to happen, and we can expect ice-cold water to pour down on this option.

Design at Don Mills Station is a concern given the depth of that station, and the real question is whether the subway should be extended one stop east, or the LRT dive into a tunnel before crossing the DVP so that it could make a connection one level up from the subway station.

One issue that we have debated here at length is the discontinuity of trips crossing Yonge Street, and this shows up in the Finch West study as well.

Etobicoke — Finch West

This project is running about four months behind the Sheppard line, and the TTC hopes to complete the EA by the fall of 2008.

Several alignment issues are to be resolved including the interface at Finch Station, getting across the 400 and the CPR MacTier Subdivision, and the western terminal’s location. This could be at the airport or is Mississauga or some combination of the two.

Also part of this scheme will be service to the developing entertainment centre in Rexdale.

Eglinton — Crosstown

This EA will also get underway in the spring, but given the complexity with a long underground section, the engineering studies will take longer and completion is expected in spring 2009.

Among the issues for this project are the connections with Kennedy, Eglinton and Eglinton West Stations, how to cross the CPR MacTier Subdivision, and some of the same western terminal options as on Finch West.

I will come back to the airport as a separate topic later.

Scarborough RT Upgrade and Extension

Much as I would like to see this as another LRT line, this is well underway as an RT project. The EA completion is targeted for early 2009. Unlike other projects, this one has a stale-date because of the gradual disintegration of the cars and the control system. For those who are wondering, the SRT is still operating on manual control weeks after the snowstorm, and running tolerably well.

One question in this project is that of an alignment for extending the line north of Sheppard. This is well down the priority list from the TTC’s view, but of course more important for Metrolinx. We shall see how the priority debates evolve over the coming years. In any event, no extension into York Region is possible until the line is rebuilt and extended. The question then will be whether we have an elevated RT in the middle of an arterial road complete with the station structures needed to access it.

Waterfront West

Although it ranks dead last in the priority scores, this is a line with a partly completed EA. A major issue here is the alignment through Parkdale as I have discussed in other posts.

Councillor Perks, representing Parkdale, spoke at the meeting noting that a Master Plan is already underway for redesign of the western waterfront and south Parkdale. He asked that decision on the alignment be held off until later in 2008 so that it could be part of the Master Plan.

When local Council members make requests of City agencies, they are usually heeded, but for reasons passing understanding, Councillor Perk’s issues were brushed aside. What’s the hurry? Any line that ranks so low overall won’t be funded for a long time, if ever, unless it has unanimous support and can be easily implemented.

Don Mills

The Don Mills line EA was already underway as a BRT study, and it has now been resurrected as an LRT scheme. Meetings will be held through the summer with a final report to Council in December.

This line has major issues as several readers have discussed in threads here already. There is the question of the interchange at Don Mills and Eglinton (all surface; one surface, one underground; both underground), the interchange at Don Mills Station (a logical, but tricky physical connection point to the Sheppard East line), and the whole question of getting from Thorncliffe Park down to the Danforth.

First off, we need to know whether the Leaside Bridge could handle the extra load of an LRT. It was originally built four-lanes wide for a streetcar extension, and the additional strength permitted expansion to six lanes. Whether there is enough in reserve to handle an LRT line remains to be seen.

Here is a 1928 view of the bridge looking south from the City Archives. Eagle eyed viewers will recognize the old-style TTC overhead poles that were on this bridge originally in anticipation of the streetcars.

If the Leaside Bridge can’t handle an LRT line, then a complete rethink will be needed of where and how the Don Mills line will cross the valley.

From this point south, the line could go down Pape or Broadview. Although I live at Broadview, my money is on Pape as it offers a better location for extension south and west into downtown. There is no way that suburban LRT trains can trundle into downtown via Broadview Avenue.

Scarborough — Malvern

The TTC hopes to have the EA for this route to Council by December 2008. Issues to be resolved include potential service to the UofT Scarborough Campus and where, exactly, the line would end north of the 401.


This line, as I mentioned, has a number of issues to be resolved that will delay the EA until mid-2009. These include the narrow roadway south of Eglinton and whether a connection south via the Weston rail corridor would be preferable.

This gets us directly into the potential territory of Blue 22. If the a line were to run southeast from Eglinton to Union Station via the rail corridor, the need for Blue 22 would completely evaporate. This would also act as a “western relief” line into downtown from the northwest.

I understand that the folks at GO regard this possibility as competition for their own service, but I think they are foolhardy. They have never been interested in serving travel within the 416, and a strong local transit service would complement their own operations.

Airport Connections

The GTAA (Greater Toronto Airport Authority) is strongly supportive of this plan, contrary to statements made by another respected transit author some time ago. They know that their own shuttle cannot possibly handle the demand, and view the extremely low transit share (1%) of airport trips as unacceptable and unsustainable. Building more parking is simply not an option. They would like to see the LRT service come right into Terminal 1. Metrolinx is also strongly supporting this plan.

(Note that the comments above are based on a meeting between TTC staff and the GTAA that took place between the creation of the presentation materials and the TTC meeting, and the presentation was not updated to reflect new information about strong GTAA support.)

A report on airport connections was considered at Toronto’s Economic Development Committee on February 28, and it is on Council’s agenda this week.

Meanwhile, Blue 22 is still on the table, officially, but my guess is that a reasonably fast trip for a regular TTC fare to Eglinton West Station will destroy what little credibility Blue 22 still might have. All the same, it has its supporters, and the death will be long and painful.

LRT Maintenance Facilities

I have already reported here that the TTC is considering two new suburban facilities, one in the east and one in the west, and that joint operation with Mississauga is a strong likelihood for the western carhouse. There will be a report to the TTC by staff later this spring on this subject.

One big issue is the about-to-grow fleet of “City” streetcars. New cars will be on the property well before a new carhouse will be available and the system will run out of space in 2013. Even that date, I suspect, involves using some space at Hillcrest as I can’t think of any other location to build a temporary yard.


The Request for Proposals for new cars is on the street, and the TTC hopes to award a contract for the base system’s cars in September. These would be single-ended cars for street operation largely on the existing system quaintly referred to by the term “legacy” in the presentation.

A separate contract for “Transit City” cars would follow in 2010. These would be double-ended cars for operation on the new lines.

The big problem, of course, is money. Who will pay for all of these new cars?



All new Transit City lines and vehicles will conform to AODA standards (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act), while cars for the “legacy” system will require some way to bridge from streets where curbside loading (such as proposed for Cherry Street, Queen’s Quay and Roncesvalles Avenue) will not be practical. A review of options for the existing system’s routes is underway.

Urban Design

The TTC hopes to put forward a standard design for the new LRT lines where they lie in the middle of arterial roads. Although there will be site-specific needs in some places, we should not have to reinvent the basic street design over and over again.

A selection of views from existing systems brought the expected “ooos” from the gallery, with a fervent desire that we could replicate the palm trees from San Francisco on Sheppard Avenue.

Fare Collection

The TTC recognizes that the new streetcar/LRV design will require proof-of-payment (POP) on its entire light rail network because passengers will not board by passing a farebox. At this point, the question is whether fare cards would be validated on board or at wayside equipment. A related issue not mentioned in the TTC presentation is that of fare-by-distance versus fare-by-time. If one “fare” buys a fixed amount of system use (say two hours), then the equipment requirements are much different from a system where passengers must check in and out of vehicles so that the distance travelled can be calculated.

In the presentation, you will see a Toronto Parking Authority pay-and-display station. One option the TTC is considering is whether these could double as fare vending/loading machines.


The signalling system will be designed to control the Transit City vehicles much more like a subway line than a streetcar line with enforced spacing, speed control and central activation of switches. Whether the TTC can actually make this work remains to be seen, but at least with modern radio and GPS-based vehicle location, such a system should not be as prone to weather sensitivity as technology of past decades. Salt and ground currents in particular are a big problem for legacy signalling systems, and this technology must be avoided for Transit City.

Centre poles will be used for overhead suspension as this is far simpler in the suburban environment where the Transit City routes will be built. Many of you know of my opposition to this design on St. Clair, but that is specific to a tight urban environment where side poles were already in place for the existing streetcar and could have been used to minimize right-of-way width.

Trackwork will include centre storage tracks at key locations, and crossovers both at terminals and along the lines. All switches will be double-blade.

Tunnel design criteria are now under study. Although the presentation does not mention this, an obvious question is whether the tunnels and stations should provide for eventual full subway conversion or be sized for LRT.


Public consultation has been run through Chair Giambrone’s office and an information booklet about Transit City will be prepared by Kevin Beaulieu, his executive assistant.

The EA process itself is under review to determine how it can be streamlined for these and other projects. Dare I suggest that simply having so many projects underway at once will relieve the transit advocate community of needing to educate the people managing each project over and over and over again about Light Rail Transit.

Official Plan Amendments are required to bring the City’s Official Plan and various other schemes, including Transit City, into line with each other. We have The Avenues, the Surface Transit Priority Network, and the Higher Order Transit Corridors. No surprise: they don’t line up with each other.

Staffing is a huge problem because, despite the army of consultants who have fed on the EA process for years, expertise on many areas is rather thin.


With all of this work rolling ahead in parallel, we will have stacks of detailed proposals for new LRT lines lining our library shelves (or at least taking up a lot of disk space) in the near future. Never before has LRT been taken this seriously in Toronto, and such a mass of information, including studies of many different types of implementation, will both set a standard for the GTAH overall and go a long way to showing the public and the politicians what can be done.

Conveniently, all of this will be sitting in full view just before the next round of elections, and the urge to put shovels in the ground and smile for the cameras will move these projects along.

I think back to the TTC’s plan for a suburban LRT network in 1966 and wish that we could have built so much already, but finally we are starting.

62 thoughts on “Transit City Update

  1. Great report! I think the future for transit in Toronto looks much better today than it has in many, many years. One comment you made regarding the shortage of storage facilities for the new streetcars/LRV’s in the near future could, of course, be solved by the relaying of rail north on Coxwell from Gerrard, up to the old Danforth Division at Coxwell and Danforth. That could certainly lead to some interesting connections to the subway for regular or diversion surface routing!


  2. Regarding an extension of the RT north of Sheppard, I always assumed that the most likely alignment would involve running up the corridor just east of Sheppard and Markham to Malvern Town Centre. However, I can see how an alignment like that might bring the NIMBYs out in droves. Then again, I can’t think of any way to get into Malvern proper that wouldn’t bring about the wrath of NIMBYs.


  3. A few responses:

    First, your assertion that a STC to Markham Road connection will double for a direct spur line to STC from Sheppard… I disagree.

    Second, your suggestion that “There is no way that suburban LRT trains can trundle into downtown via Broadview Avenue.”. I again disagree, run the LRT in an exclusive RoW nowhere near Broadview, or, widen Broadview and use River St for the final connections. If the latter, you could even hook this up to the East Waterfront line.

    Using Pape means one of three things

    A – removing parking from Pape (huge backlash from businesses)
    B – tunnel (cost, cost, cost)
    C – not using a RoW (breaking the network)

    Steve: You worry about parking on Pape, but would happily widen Broadview. This would require demolition of many buildings except where the line runs beside Riverdale Park. At that location, the gradient of the park makes widening difficult. In the name of an LRT project, you would destroy an entire neighbourhood. As for an exclusive ROW nowhere near Broadview, how can that be a line on Broadview?

    Your comment on Finch west ending at the airport is brilliant – so long as it uses a logical route. I agree with this fully.

    The idea to make tunnels wide enough for subways is silly in most places – if you are going to build a subway line, why not run subways in it!? These should be LRT subways.

    As for the legacy system (get your fingers warmed up for this one Steve) I say rip it up. St.Clair and Spadina can stay, then put Queen and King into one underground line, and replace Dundas and Carleton with trolley buses, or just regular buses. I’ll leave space for you to respond before I go into some of the other things I feel are “missing” from the report.

    Steve: You’re welcome to your position, but I’ll take it with a few boulders of salt based on your detailed awareness of neighbourhoods in this and other posts.

    One of the biggest things I see missing is a Finch East line, as I’ve said to you in private. With a headway of 1 and a third minutes, there is room for LRT here. Even a two-car 90-foot LRT train could reduce that headway to just under 7 minutes – still frequent service.

    Steve: You’re not the only one who has said this.

    Frankly, beyond UofT, I think the Kingston Road LRT could run straight to Sheppard and Kingston Road. Even if DRT opts for BRT, the connection of Kingston and Sheppard could become a mini transit node (with proper zoning changes).

    Steve: That’ a neat trick considering that you have to get well off of Kingston Road to serve UofT.

    I agree with the idea to extend the SRT into Malvern. I’ll often go to places just to see with my own eyes if there is in fact room to do my transit proposals, and there is far more then just enough room to build a SRT end station just north of the Malvern Town Centre. This would have the added benefit of encouraging walking in the neighbourhood as the nearest rapid transit station is closer then before. This also would leave open the option to extend the SRT into the Zoo, into the York Region, or into Durham, though the latter two would be difficult at best.

    I realize that Transit City is an LRT plan, but I think the TTC needs to discuss BRT, or “BRTish options” along roads like Steeles, Dufferin, and Bathurst. Even a BRT-lite VIVA like system would do much help along Steeles and Dufferin. I know there is a huge argument over transit signal priority, but I find it foolish that it’s “all or nothing”. Give buses priority over signals at the most troublesome intersections, especially where an arterial meets a collector.

    One of the problems I see is that (especially without a Finch East line) how the TTC plans to connect the eastern (Malvern, Sheppard, Don Mills) and Western (Finch West, Jane, Lakeshore) LRT lines before Eglinton is finished (likely will take the longest, as it’s underground). I don’t hear solutions. Of course building a Finch East LRT would solve this as it could then connect to Don Mills, and Malvern.

    Steve: You may have noticed that there will be two carhouses. While we await completion of Eglinton, this would allow for a “Scarborough” and an “Etobicoke” system to operate independently of each other.

    As for BRT, it has a place, but a major reason for the Transit City proposal was to establish a major presence for LRT in Toronto. It would be easy to nibble away at the plan and reduce it to the usual Toronto approach of one line, maybe, but not today.


  4. Thanks for this summary Steve. I am intrigued by your discussion of alignment options for Don Mills, specifically the bit about a southerly extension below Danforth toward the city centre. Is this something specifically on the books right now, or more a vague future consideration? I know the Don Mills EA includes the core as far as University (!) in the study area, but how realistically likely is it that the Don Mills line is going to be built from day one with (drastically needed) service south of Danforth as a goal?

    Steve: Only a vague future consideration. Given that Don Mills is not one of the “top three”, I suspect we may see a change in scope by the time this line is built.


  5. Regarding the “standard” of the transit lanes being in the middle of the road, I envision Eglinton Avenue West in Etobicoke going against that “standard”. I see the LRT running on the north side of the current roadway. The south side of Eglinton West already has a bicycle path. They could even bridge the LRT over Islington Avenue.

    The problem on using the north side of Eglinton is the road connection with 401 west and 427, just west of Martin Grove. A bridge or tunnel may have to be in. Putting it on the south side would be cheaper, but the Eglinton West roadway may have to be shifted north to squeeze in the LRT between the bicycle path and the road.

    Steve: The space north of Eglinton Avenue is the extra right-of-way for the long-abandoned plan of a Richview Expressway (imagine an expressway along Eglinton to connect up with the 400-south). This definitely is an area where the LRT could run to one side of the road rather than in the middle. The real challenge is at intersections where, if they are grade crossings, the LRT would cross just north of the existing road junction and traffic signals.


  6. When I was younger I had more of a love affair for the Scarborough RT. However, more recently I have moved out to Scarborough and have used the RT a little more than for just say sightseeing.

    Earlier this year during one of the snowstorms I got off the McCowan North bus at the Scarborough Town Centre expecting that I would be able to get a ride on the RT. Alas the platforms were deserted save for a few confused patrons with the PA saying that the RT was out of service. The reaction rail for the linear induction motor was of course all slopped over with snow.

    I don’t know what it was that got Bill Davis and James Snow all obsessed over magnets considering the earlier love affair for the GO Urban maglev trains. To put it bluntly nothing would make me happier than to see the bloody reaction rail ripped out and the line operated with at least some custom built LRT cars with an overhead catenary. I am sure that if a little planning effort was put in then the line could in fact be used by the new LRVs. Kennedy station will no doubt need to be given a makeover to accomodate the new Eglinton Crosstown, Malvern and should it happen Converted SRT to LRT line (though I suppose the LRT terminal could be built to the side in one of the parking lots).

    Steve: There remains a problem with vertical clearance at the Ellesmere tunnel. There is no headroom for overhead. Also, if we are going to convert the line, the last thing we need is another orphan fleet. Bite the bullet, replace the Ellesmere tunnel (or even change the alignment of the route) and convert the line as part of the Transit City network.

    Otherwise, we may as well be stuck with the RT technology. I’m retiring in a year, and then won’t have to deal with the RT and its inability to run in the winter. Pitty the poor Scarberians whose travel is sacrificed to the gods of political expediency.


  7. If they are thinking that they may want to extend the Sheppard subway one stop east, to deal with design problems at Don Mills Station (didn’t I raise that probability here last year, only to be shot down?), and there’s also talk of a branch to STC … perhaps there’s an alternative.

    If the Sheppard subway/LRT interchange was at Victoria Park, you have the option (at some later future date), of having both a Sheppard LRT and a subway to STC. Run the Sheppard LRT east along Sheppard from the subway, as planned. While there’s pretty good density to Victoria Park to support the subway, there’s very little on Sheppard east of Victoria Park. So drop the subway south of 401 from Victoria Park, and run it to STC. Though presumably as a post-2020 project.

    Meanwhile, running the Finch West LRT through Yonge, past Seneca and then down Victoria Park to provide connectivity, and service Seneca from both directions.

    Steve: The whole point of Transit City is to avoid having vast sums of capital tied up in short subway projects that do not provide a critically needed addition to the network. I would rather see a short LRT subway on Sheppard to access Don Mills Station than an incremental creep of the Sheppard line east to STC. At last estimate, that was a $1.5-billion project.


  8. Wow! What a fantastically encouraging document. This is actually happening! Pinch me.

    A question about the Don Mills Station: I’ve never been all the way up there, but would it be possible to structure it like in some Montreal Metro stations where the LRT and the Subway empty out onto the same platforms, making transfers a ridiculously easy affair?
    So if the equal signs on the left were the subway and the wider lines were the Sheppard LRT, transferring would be a matter of just walking across the platform.

    ==== ___________

    Steve: Don Mills is a centre platform station and does not lend itself to this geometry. I think a far preferable scheme would be to bring the LRT in on the mezzanine level (one above the subway), probably to the south of the existing structure (this would allow for a westerly extension and ramp back to the surface). Also, at the mezzanine level, the vertical drop from road level is smaller.

    I’m waiting to see the detailed drawings of existing grades, utilities and structures to see what options are really available here.


  9. I’m somewhat curious about how there will transfers between the Finch West LRT and the subway (at Finch West and at Finch) be arranged. There can’t be tons of space in the former place, and Finch West does not seem to have provision for transfers.

    Steve: There are little challenges everywhere. Let’s wait to see what the detailed proposals look like.


  10. It would be nice to see the planned station spacing, and speed / travel time projections. For the Sheppard and Finch lines in particular, good speed is essential.

    Operating both Eglinton and Finch lines from a single carhouse mandates that the Airport connections, which are in the “future” section of TC plan, actually come in service from day one. Otherwise, a heck lot of rail with no revenue runs will be needed just to get the vehicles from the carhouse to Finch.


  11. Steve – too… much… information!!! The graphs should definitely have been presented on a ridership per km basis for fairer comparison.

    Blue 22: my theory is that GTAA’s comments are contractual and until the consortium is dissolved or the contract terminated GTAA can’t be seen to favour GO-Airport which would negate Blue 22.

    Don Mills: My concern about the Leaside bridge is with the rather awkward Y junction at the south end rather than load bearing especially if the DM LRT is in right of way. If the LRT was run ROW on the west side of the bridge only rather than down the middle it might work as long as the junction at Overlea and Millwood could be suitably reconfigured and the bridge supports would handle it. The question is where the portal would go to Pape or Broadview.

    Sheppard: one stop subway extension would be costly but I’m not clear on how much more than a signalled subLRT section – surely the design issues for an LRT crossing are not that much cheaper than a subway crossing? It would probably require an amendment to the EA but it would mean Vic Park station could have a purpose designed LRT/subway terminus and it would likely require a very short shutdown of Don Mills Station to connect the extension to the tail tracks rather than a lengthy shutdown probably of the entire line to shoehorn in an LRT platform.

    Is the problem that once the disproportionate cost of crossing is dealt with, the smaller incremental cost of leaving the TBM in the ground might make Scarborough councillors slip their leash and start saying “why not keep going to STC?” especially when sending the LRT crossing to the mezzanine would likely slam the door due to cost and complexity on any prior reassurances that Sheppard could be upgraded to HRT if demand required?

    Accessibility: when Irish Rail received new carriages (22000 class I think) the Rail Safety Commission refused to allow them into service until contrasting colours were properly painted on some parts as per the agreed specification. This is the sort of rigour we must expect for new cars considering how inaccessible this entire chunk of the TTC has been all these years.

    Waterfront West: I think the powers that be are petrified of any delay to the WW study in case the Front Street Extension is threatened somehow.

    Jane: I think the proposal to route Jane south from Eglinton via the rail corridor is not the way to go. If Janers want to get downtown, they should use the subway at Eglinton West or St Clair West, or press for the extension of the Dundas West car to Jane. The Eglinton-Bloor segment serves its own purpose which should be to connect Etobicoke to the rest of the city rather than be a funnel into the B-D peak flow. But then, that’s what Don Mills is doing…

    I am strongly sceptical of premature incursions into the Weston alignment simply because LRT has a choice of being on road and heavy rail has none. Between the expansion options in MoveOntario2020, GO Airport and hopefully sanity prevailing on upgrading the line through Kitchener it would be dismaying if by laying light rail now we preclude unclogging 401 later.


  12. So if the TC lines will be run more like subways, with enforced spacing, speed control, etc, by default that must imply that these lines should have signal priority at most intersections. Given the amount of time Spadina and Harbourfront have been running without signal priority, I have serious doubts that it will be ever be used in the more car-friendly inner suburbs. I hope to be proven wrong, but I won’t hold my breath.


  13. Steve:-

    Great work!

    The report looks promising for at least the suburban TC projects. I’m truly hoping that Blue 22 is finally dead.

    I echo your sentiments on subways on King and Queen!

    It’s just plain dumb for a myriad of reasons. What follows is a rant, you can edit it per your prerogative.

    Anyhow here’s a few reasons to say NO to a Queen or King subway off the top of my head, many that I’ve gleaned from other discussions here and elsewhere.

    – A subway on one would not negate the requirement for transit on the other (and Dundas to the north and WWRT to the south).

    – The streetscapes would have to ruined to build the subway. There is no place to put the infrastructure (stations) without bulldozing a swath adjacent to the street.

    – Cut and cover would be required to construct the subway as tunnelling would likely interfere with underground infrastructure. The associated costs would be enormous.

    – The soil is ill suited to subway, it’s mostly a sand silt mix and numerous underground streams (and the Don, Humber rivers) intersect the routes.

    – The current streetcar stops are one every block or so, catering to both commercial and residential interests. Rather a poor arrangement for a subway.

    I also noted that you refer to the Sheppard line crossing the DVP. Way up there in “God’s Country” north of the 401 it’s highway 404. It’s a fabulous piece of road, with those special reserved diamond lanes for 2 or more people per vehicle. Now that’s effective use of valuable real estate!


  14. It’s good to see they are designing these LRT lines like subways, and not streetcars.

    What I’d like to see is the anticipated travel time, on, say, the Finch W. line from Islington to Finch Stn. vs. the current bus, and the proposed service frequency.


  15. In terms of Finch West, it would be possible to use the hydro corridor from Yonge almost to Jane, because Finch itself is sparsely developed. By using the corridor, you can serve the massive hi-rise community south of Bathurst and Drewry, and probably speed up travel times. Also, in the name of connectivity, what if the Finch West LRT swung south just west of Bathurst down the Don Valley to Sheppard (serving another hi-rise community prime for development, Bathurst and Sheppard overlooking the valley), and then ran under or through Sheppard to Yonge where the existing interchange could be complicated even further at Yonge and Sheppard?

    Steve: The hydro corridor does not work for reasons that have already been discussed here. One big problem is the crossing of the Don River west of Bathurst Street and another is the need for residual service on Finch itself. Running through that valley to Sheppard to Sheppard Station is intriguing (certainly scenic) but I don’t know it well enough to say whether an easy right-of-way can be established without doing violence to the park.


  16. Re: Michael Vanner / new downtown subway

    A subway for the entire length of Queen or King is an overkill indeed. For the DRL subway, then perhaps Wellington street is a good alignment.

    One station will be within walking distance from the Union hub, yet there will be three transfer points to YUS (Union, King, and St. Andrew) to spread out the load. Folks who head for the King / Bay area offices will not need to transfer at all. Finally, Wellington is neither a major streetcar route like King and Queen, nor a DVP extender like Richmond and Adelaide. Hence, the disruption during the construction phase will be less severe.

    Steve: Going across downtown will be difficult because you must go underneath the existing Yonge and University subway lines, not to mention various PATH tunnels. At University Avenue, ground conditions are difficult for deep construction due to underground water. This is one important reason earlier versions of the DRL were always shown as coming in via the railway corridor or on Queen.


  17. Steve,

    Again, great work.

    My one and only major objection to Transit City is the very disjointed situation in North York, where to make an all-rail trip across the top of the city would require four transfers – Sheppard East LRT to Don Mills, Sheppard Subway to Sheppard-Yonge, Yonge Subway to Finch, and from there, the Finch LRT. The Sheppard Subway, continuing to run as a short shuttle, really messes things up there.

    I would agree with a few commentators here in that I would like to see Sheppard East extended to Victoria Park as the EA was approved for, with a much easier transfer between subway and LRT. (Even if we have to sacrifice Johnny’s!)

    I get the argument that this could be seen as a push towards extending the sucker all the way to Kennedy or STC, but there are advantages to getting the subway to Vic Park. First, it manages to cross the 404 relatively easily, second, it works well for the Consumers Road office/employment centre, the kind of place that the city is trying to preserve to keep jobs in the city (and can easily be intensified as well), and traffic congestion is bad in this area. Some sort of tunnel will be required to connect Don Mills to the route to the east. In this case, I think the city could bite the bullet. It might also reduce the number of transfers required by some riders to get across the city.

    You won’t see me pushing for Eglinton to be a full-fledged subway (this is where TC hopefully will provide the ideal level of service here) or advocate a subway to Mississauga Centre or the Zoo, or anywhere ridiculous (the only subway proposals I really support are Yonge North to Thornhill and a Downtown Relief Line), but I think in this case, a short subway extension is warranted, at least more than the Sorbara extension to Ikea and Wal-Mart at Highway 7.


  18. I, too, echo your sentiments on subways on King and Queen Streets although with all the problems the streetcars are having with traffic these days I just simply can’t help but to think that perhaps SOME undergrounding of streetcars in the downtown core just might not be a bad idea. No full-scale subways though. As for Eglinton, I’ll gladly go along with your belief that it doesn’t need a full subway but it really wouldn’t surprise me if ridership on the LRT would someday get to a point where a full subway is needed. None of us really knows future needs may pop up but one thing I can remember reading as a teen when Edmonton’s LRT opened for business was that one advantage of light rail was that it can be incrementally upgraded to heavy rail. I just think that no future posibility should be ignored, that’s all. Sure, LRT for now but let’s just be open to more options in the future.


  19. This whole idea of upgrading LRT to subway is stupid. So, what, they’re going to take an LRT line out of commission for YEARS to convert it to a subway in the future? Will never happen.

    With Eglinton, either you build it as an LRT subway with no provision for upgrade, or you build it as a subway, period. Besides, an LRT subway is just as good as a real subway. My apprehension about TC is traffic signal delays on the surface and trip times that won’t be that much better than buses, but if a route goes undergound, who cares whether the platform is high or low?


  20. I agree with most bloggers here. Sheppard should be extended east to Victoria Park with a stop at Consumers road. Build Victoria park station with provisions for a shared terminal (LRT) to ease the transfers. This would double or at least triple the ridership on the Sheppard subway by picking up packed in passengers from the Victoria Park buses also. You can route in Hunting wood buses, Pharmacy Buses too.

    Let’s face it Steve, I know you object to any form of extension now, to any subway’s, But for Pete’s sake can you be at least a tiny bit of supportive to this extension, and only this extension, then I would truly believe you are the ” God Of Transit” He he!. Just a Little humor, but seriously, the line is a white elephant since day one but keeping it that way doesn’t solve anything, it just reminds us of that mistake over and over again.

    Don Mills is a terrible transfer point. Let’s all give this little extension support because I truly believe it makes more sense for the LRT east line as well as the Vic park buses which are by the way, at or above capacity. Steve A Don Mills terminus would be an expensive one and more congested and confusing for our riders. Don Mills station should get another entrance from the N/W corner for walk ins as well.

    We can get it some what right here, with a small worthy extension, just as the Phase One original plan stated. There is plans to intensify this intersection with more Offices and Condo’s since property taxes here are 33% cheaper than down town and the extension would justify quick spin off’s.

    Steve, How Much will an extension to Vic Park cost? Can we build it Cut and cover with Pre-cast tunnel Liners brought over and slipped in for quicker construction? Do we have your support on this Steve? Come on give in just a little. I got a bad feeling about Don Mills…

    Steve: The extension to Victoria Park would cost about $500-million in round numbers. Note that it must be tunneled from Consumer’s Road west to Don Mills Station, although the idea of closing the Parkway for cut-and-cover construction is amusing.

    My position is not “no subway under any circumstances”, but that I want to be convinced by a proper study of alternatives rather than letting the subway juggernaut forge onward by default.


  21. I just simply can’t help but to think that perhaps SOME undergrounding of streetcars in the downtown core just might not be a bad idea.

    I think we’d all like something, anything, that could improve the state of Queen or King. Sad thing is, there might be not so much that is possible, unless we find a way to teleport streetcars from one end of the city to the other or something..

    Steve: For those who have not read the details in my analyses of the King and Queen streetcar operations:

    The primary locations of congestion and delay on Queen are not at Yonge Street. On King, there is serious congestion in the banking district during the afternoon as a direct result of losing roadspace to cabstands, and in the entertainment district in the evening thanks to people cruising for parking spaces.

    Teleportation makes for difficult transfer connections with the subway.


  22. Re: Extension of Sheppard subway to Victoria Park

    If the Victoria Park terminal can provide a much more convenient transfer between the subway and the LRT, then perhaps it is a valid reason for the subway extension.

    But speaking of eliminating other transfers, some trips will improve while others will deteriorate if such extension is built. In particular, a transfer will be added to these trips: Sheppard LRT to Don Mills LRT; Sheppard LRT to Consumers Rd offices; Stouffville GO line to Consumers Rd offices.


  23. Talking about the Scarborough East proposed line, Steve, you brought up something I have been thinking of already. I think the Sheppard Subway should be brought east to Victoria Park so that the subway could rise closer to the surface to make an easier transfer to the proposed Sheppard East LRT. An extension of this subway one station east would be very beneficial to the highly comercial area of Consumers Rd. and would help the population of Scarborough have more access to Toronto’s growing transportation system. I believe the North Scarborough area itself is a very large catchement area that deserves this kind of investment.


  24. Steve

    this may be fodder for a different post, but absent discussion of one line or another – what is the most rational way to plan transit which makes the right choices about corridors, efficiency (moves most people in fewest steps/transfers), technologies and so on while allowing citizen engagement in a way that isn’t largely a mix of transit fandom and nimbying?

    It seems to me that the way we are doing it in Ontario is pretty bad and people don’t get an opportunity to see a rational plan, and a lot of that is down to sheer politics – take your comment that councillors in east Toronto won’t support a transit plan that prioritises west Toronto lines for example.

    The system as it stands has lines proposed for all manner of reasons and the public debate consists of a grinding series of arguments. Can we do this better, and if so is Metrolinx progressing in the right direction? Are there jurisdictions that do this well?

    Steve: Transit City was planned outside of the “official” channels and several noses were professionally out of joint that this plan just “appeared” without consulting the usual experts. There’s a reason for this. The only way to fundamentally change the framework of the debate was to drop a completely new plan onto the table and see what happens. Every past attempt has been mired in my-line-or-your-line tradeoffs, debates about subway construction and much handwringing that nothing can be done with transit absent vast amounts of capital.

    In one swoop, Transit City was a network plan, not a plan for two more subway stations, and it showed that by embracing a radical old technology (call it what you will), Toronto could make a major change in how it thought about expanding the system.

    Another vital part of this was that when Transit City was conceived, both the Feds and Queen’s Park were sniffing around looking for what they could spend money on. If you don’t have a plan, or if you have a hoary old one that doesn’t work any more, that’s what’s on record. MoveOntario simply picked up every piece of paper that it could find and made that the first cut at a regional plan. Now Metrolinx has to sort it all out.

    Imagine if we didn’t have Transit City. The only projects officially on the TTC’s books were the Spadina Extension (already funded) and the Sheppard extension to STC. Nothing else.

    It’s not a perfect plan, no plan is ever a perfect plan, but at least we are talking about networks and surface operations for a change, and people who never expected to see a dime of TTC spending have hopes they might benefit in thir lifetimes.

    As for public input, we might have wound up with a slightly different network, but not by much, and there’s always room for Transit City 2. I don’t want to sound dismissive, but so far a lot of the debate here — where there is no lack of public input — has turned on which parts of the lines might go underground, not where the lines will be built. Probably the biggest alignment debate is the whole Sheppard/Yonge/Finch issue.

    Now I am waiting to see how the TTC handles the public participation at the EAs. Do they show up with everything designed right down to the cobblestones, or do they actually talk about local impactsand ways to improve the design. At least this isn’t the St. Clair project where the tender drawings were almost out the door while the “consultation” was still in progress.


  25. I too agree that Don Mills is an awkward transfer point on Sheppard, both with the existing system (subway/bus) and with the proposed TC line. In order to construct a proper transfer facility at Don Mills, the only option is for the LRT to go underground west of Consumers, which can’t be cheap. In addition, significant modifications would be required at Don Mills station, increasing the costs further. We’d be better off extending the subway, even if it’s just to Consumers, were a proper station could be built to suit subway/lrt transfers (maybe even have both modes come in at the same level to help mitigate the discontinuity).

    It would be a shame to end up with a less-than-ideal transfer at Don Mills, when for roughly the same cost (OK, perhaps a bit more), we could have had a proper transfer facility a mere 1 or 2km to the east.


  26. Steve,
    Have you heard anything about how the TTC plans to run the new lines? Will they be run as true LRTs, or wil they continue to use the Spadina / St. Clair model with priority given to left turning vehicles, etc?

    Steve: At this point, I am awaiting the first of the EAs to start the public meetings so that we can see what the designs look like. If all they do is to reproduce Spadina, we are in big trouble.


  27. Though I realise that these “Transit City” LRT lines are different from other streetcar expansion plans the TTC has, it would seem far more sensible to put ALL new lines into the same ‘package” so that a clear plan can be seen and linkages explored. As far as I know the other new lines are:

    1. Cherry Street line – all 500+ metres of it – from King Street to the rail tracks. This is furthest advanced and will supposed to be built in 2009/10 or 2010/11; it has been approved by Council. In due course it is to link with…

    2. The East Bayfront line along Queens Quay East from Union Station to Cherry. The EA for this seems to have stalled, though the transfer of TEDCO lands to Waterfront Toronto requires it to be functioning in 2011. Any idea what’s happening?

    3. Portlands. This is clearly a later development extending the QQ line further east but it would surely be useful to add it to “the list”.

    Are there other plans for new lines?

    Steve: The East Bayfront EA is mired in discussions of the Queen’s Quay redesign and how to handle the tunnel entrance — new portal east of Bay, or combined entrance for both branches on Bay somewhere north of Queen’s Quay (abandoning the existing portal). This is further complicated by a scheme to put a new bus terminal beside the Harbour Commission building. This seems to be losing ground to improvements to the existing GO terminal behind the Dominion Building.

    Other lines: Kingston Road from Danforth Avenue (at least) up to Eglinton. There is a separate EA in progress on that, along with some interesting streetscape proposals for the old commercial strip around Birchmount. Don’t hold your breath for this one. At least some of the funding for the waterfront stuff is committed.


  28. Steve, my very first entry in my new blog offers a bit of a vague point of view in terms of limited stop service. Copying from what VIVA is doing, do you think building a limited stop service right now could help build Transit City ridership before we put a shovel in the ground? Calgary Transit did this before building their C-Train you think this will help promote Transit City in a certain context or put a knife in the back?

    Steve: There is a huge difference between the level of service already running on TTC routes like Finch, Jane, Don Mills, Sheppard and Eglinton compared with any YRT service. A limited stop service on what TTC riders would consider to be barely frequent service is not going to set the world on fire considering that the wait time would outbalance the saving in travel time in many cases. We already have a few express routes, but the problem is always that passengers, those pesky creatures, don’t all want to travel between express stops.

    The 190 is intended to “lead demand” for the Sheppard Subway extension. Well, at about 300 passengers per hour (based on service standards), we could fit all of that demand into two subway cars. The real demand on Sheppard is on the 85.


  29. Tyler Rubini, I read your post about extending the SRT to Malvern Town Center and that idea makes perfect sense to me. The Scarborough RT Extension Report had a page that showed where most of the RT passengers originate from and the graph shows overwhelmingly they come from the Malvern Town Center area.

    I have thought about the NIMBY’s problem for having an elevated rapid transit route in their backyard and I think I might have a solution. The RT presently is planned to have a station at Malvern and Sheppard intersection. I think the RT should continue north on Markham to McLevin Ave. At McLevin the RT would proceed east where it is mosty commercial property – trucks would still have access to business’ there and it would move to the South side of McLevin when it nears a residential neighborhood – it is school property on the south side.

    The RT then would cross Tapscott Rd. and then go underground behind Malvern Town Center. This terminal below ground would have a center platform and the buses would be at ground level. There could be a walkway like Scarborough Town Center has for pedestrians to cross over to the shopping mall to enter the shopping mall at ground level, because the back side of Malvern Town Center is lower then the front side where there is a car park. This would help the business at Malvern Town Center greatly and help the community around Malvern Town Center who already are dedicated transit users.


  30. For the Eglinton Crosstown eastern terminal at Kennedy Station I have an idea. I think the Elinton LRT should go underground at when it crosses Kennedy and the LRT would be at the concourse level at the Kennedy Station. The LRT riders could then go down just one floor to the BD subway or they can use the proposed tunnel to get to the Scarborough RT which will have a center platform like the subway, OR the LRT riders could go up one floor from the concourse level and catch one of the many buses from this major transportation hub. I forgot as well at the concourse level transit users have access to the tunnel that can take them to the GO train as well. Kennedy Station is going to be greater then it already is!


  31. Just out of curiosity, how come the TTC doesn’t even entertain the idea of cut-and-cover anymore for subway construction? Wouldn’t that make it a heck of a lot cheaper compared to LRT?

    I can’t help but laugh at the other commenters here asking you to bless a Sheppard extension to Vic. Park — they should know better than that! The day you bless any subway extension, I’ll call in an exorcist. LOL.


  32. I think that extending the Sheppard line any further is not worth the money. If the lrt went underground at the lights in front of Fairview (a la Queen’s Quay), I think that meeting at the mezzanine level is totally doable. Similarly the Don Mills LRT could work the same way, dive down a block or so south of the intersection, and gently slope down to the mezzanine level, and come back out a block north.

    Steve: The challenge, I believe, lies in taking the LRT on the surface through the interchange with the DVP. There is a left turn queue there and we will get into the inevitable fights about road space and signal timing.

    If “under” is the choice, I prefer that it be the LRT so that we are not building $250-million worth of subway tunnel just to get from Consumers to Vic Park.


  33. re: overall width or ROW and adequacy of space?

    I seem to remember reading that in some sections space was going to be tight. With the stated plan/design to include storage/disablement tracks at intervals, center poles, and the generous platform widths (which are needed in such a scheme) – this works out to significant stretches where the ROW will need to equivalent of 3+ lanes of traffic.

    re: needed RT capacity downtown

    Sooner (rather than later) we’ll need more subway capacity in the core. You reject suggestions because of technical difficulties and cost – not withstanding the technical difficulties and cost of the TC scheme. The downtown economy is the make-or-break golden goose for this city’s economy.

    If Amsterdam can use a floating underground canal to help build its new subway (underneath the main train station), we can deal with a bit of groundwater. (I’m pretty sure the bank towers are standing on bedrock.)

    Amsterdam should be instructive that subway’s aren’t to get rid of surface transit. The new subway isn’t replacing the trams lines that come in and out of the front of the station – it’s adding to the overall capacity.

    re: “Adding to network”

    The TC lines add to a network – but this doesn’t tell us how good a value they might be for the expenditure. We already have a transit network that covers the city spacially fairly completely. Surely there is some type of target/threshold for cost per distance, speed improvement???

    Steve: You cannot reach the point where you are talking about meeting specific targets until you actually design the thing, and that’s where we are today. Transit City is especially important because it will establish the true cost of an LRT network so that we can actually have intelligent discussion about what it might do (and might not do) rather than knee-jerk assumptions that everything has to be a subway.

    I agree that more capacity is needed into the core, but not with how you propose to build it. At some point, we may even have to take away some existing surface road capacity.


  34. Steve, you reported that centre poles would be used for overhead suspension for Transit City routes in the suburbs.

    One of the disappointments of centre poles on St. Clair was that the ROW could not be easily used by emergency vehicles like on Spadina. This turned a protential plus (ROW for emergency vehicles plus streetcars) into a drawback. Would centre poles cause the same problem in the suburbs?

    If the ROW is not wide enough for emergency vehicles, it won’t be wide enough for snow plows either. How does snow clearance work under such circumstances? Is it simply a matter of running a streetcar (or LRV) all night during a snow storm to keep the tracks clear?

    Steve: It should be possible to plough the right-of-way, even on St. Clair, but the city screwed up and dumped a lot of snow in the streetcars’ way.

    As for side vs centre poles, if the right-of-way is wide enough, it should be useable by emergency vehicles (and buses) safely. The problem on St. Clair was limited space for everything, and putting the poles in the middle wasted a metre of right-of-way. The street is narrow enough that side poles would work on St. Clair (they’ve been there for decades already) and there are side poles there today. Arguments about the need for centre poles advanced by the TTC are complete bunk.


  35. M. Briganti, you’re being unfair. Among other things, Steve has spoken favourably about an extension of the Bloor-Danforth subway to Cloverdale. And, now that the provincial government is committed to extending the Yonge subway to Langstaff and paying for 2/3rds of it, he hasn’t been objecting to the idea.

    Steve: The Cloverdale extension only makes sense if the line stays on the surface. Alas, the TTC loves to dig holes, and the cost is astronomical for a small benefit. The Yonge extension desperately needs additional parallel capacity into the core, and the Langstaff extension cannot be done as a free-standing project. The TTC has already flagged this problem in their own comments on the line, although they put far too much faith in capacity improvements.

    FYI, I was at Sheppard Station this morning at about 8:30, and the train on the southbound platform was SRO.


  36. It’s great to see the TTC putting a lot of up-front effort into developing standards that can be used system-wide.

    One area that might need more study is how to handle stations in underground sections. Especially with the goal to limit costs, the guidelines for subway stations probaby don’t apply directly. That leaves tricky questions around spacing, entrances, escalators, elevators, and security.

    Also, I find the LRV slide a bit confusing: in the midst of details about the legacy-system order, there’s a mention of “double-ended”. That only applies to the new Transit City lines, right?

    Steve: Yes, only the new TC fleet will be double-ended. Those lines will use pantograph power collection from day 1.


  37. Bringing the subway over to Consumers Road or Vic Park seems a lot more satisfactory than trying to get the LRT over to Don Mills. The LRT would either require a tunnel or a bridge or will spend many minutes tied up in traffic as it makes it’s way over the 404. Even in it’s own right of way on Shepard, there’s no way you could have perfect transit signal priority for all of the traffic lights associated with the 404 ramps and the mall. There’s just too many lights in too short a distance for it to work well without really slowing down the LRT or creating gridlock.

    Bringing the subway over would benefit all the Vic Park riders as well and it would make that area much more accessable. Given the amount of space up there it may even be possible to cut and cover most of the extension up to the 404 and then drop precast tunnel sections into the hole and shove ’em under the highway from one side (I know there’s a more elegant term for that process than drop n’ shove, but I can’t remember what it is). As for the cost, the $500 million could probably be made up in terms of a cheaper terminus, negating any LRT line over the highway and the reduction in operating costs from not have the LRT and Vic Park buses stuck in traffic over the 404. I’m sure it wouldn’t be too hard to make the case for it.

    One quick question Steve; if they put the Eglinton LRT in a tunnel through midtown, how exactly is that different from a subway? Surely a subway is just an LRT with higher platforms and heavier trains.

    Steve: How is an Eglinton LRT underground not a subway? First, the stations are smaller unless we insist on building out to full 500-foot platforms. Second the tunnel can be smaller unless we insist on building for T1 sized vehicles. But most importantly, the line east of Leaside and west of York is on the surface. We save a fortune by not using a technology that forces us to stay grade separated everywhere. Even if we build the tunnel portion to subway standards, we don’t have to do this for the surface running, and we can easily interline with other surface routes to share infrastructure. An excellent example would be near the Airport which may well become an LRT hub with Eglinton, Finch and a Mississauga line all sharing facilities.


  38. How much of the cost of the Sheppard East LRT would be allocated to the section between Victoria Park and Don Mills? No one seems to have asked that question here. If the White Elephant (oops, subway) were extended to just east of Consumers Road with a station between Consumers and Setters Road would not the station have entrances near both Consumers and Victoria Park, serving all areas? I haven’t checked the lay of the land for space at that point (but it certainly wouldn’t cause housing to be laid waste) and would seem logical at first glance, and station access for the 24 Vic Park Bus can be worked out.

    The cost of a subway east to that point would be reduced by the allocated cost of the Sheppard East LRT west of Vic Park (area). I’m no fan of subways (sorry, Mimmo) but this does seem more logical than a complex terminal at Don Mills Rd. People transfer in many places now so if a Sheppard East rider wants the Don Mills LRT then so what. The purpose of the LRT network is not to make transfer points go away – only teleportation will ever do that!


  39. Hi Steve:-

    I must address your quote under the heading of the ‘Scarborough RT upgrade and extension’; “Much as I would like to see this as another LRT line, this is well underway as an RT project.” I agree with your first bit, for it should be and with cooler and wiser heads prevailing, could be an LRT line. I’m sorry to see though your resignation to the retention of the innappropriate technology that is the RT! There must be some way to convince those that have endorsed the Commission’s summer report of retaining and worse yet expanding ALRT in Scarborough and thereby looking at spending good money after bad on it, to be encouraged to revisit the ill advised conclusion it endorsed and see that there is a Better Way than adopting that flawed one! So as the wool blinded sheep of Scarborough Council had done when they opted for the change during construction of that well underway LRT line and with the caveat that turn-about being fairplay, now is exactly the right time to change horses in mid race. In this case though we’d be unsaddling ourselves of the glue factory nag for Northern Dancer’s offspring by opting for dumping ALRT and improving the future of suburban transit with true LRT. Rather than keeping Scarborough saddled with one incompatable and unreliable line, now’s the time to make the correct choice of modes for our dear Borough of Scar!

    Surely by now, no one with any real desire for a co-hesive transit SYSTEM in our city should be thinking nag any more. By now every one at the TTC should have had their fill of being on the short end of the apology stick with this rediculous farce of a line. I cannot for the life of me understand why anybody could support retention of this reprehensible joke of a boondoggle of a technology. I found the TTC’s own report unconvincing when even I, the neophyte, know the difference. Even trying to save face with the UTDC by buying again into their overpriced, highly suspect product is worse than chaining and publicly flogging Scarborough residents because of their Council’s poor choice years ago. They’ve already been held hostage to decades of this crappy thing! It’s now time for the UTDC to fess up and make amends to the transit industry and more importantly to Scarborians by apologizing for perpetrating this unfunny ALRT joke on them. Light Rail conference attendees (real Transit Agencies with real cash and a real desire to improve their cities) had told the blinkered UTDC that they wanted to buy real LRT (and prove it they did over and over again by buying anything but ALRT), not Mickey Mouse carnival ride technology; and now we’re going for it again without being forced into it this time? Shame on the TTC! After decades of experience, they should know better! They should know that the only value the ALRT has now is as an embarrassing footnote in history to the ineptitude of Scarborough Council as it passes to the scrap heap! Its one positive legacy though can be a superb, rebuilt trackbed up to high LRT standards, thus giving us a really classy bit of rail road and a nucleus in a compatible LRT system!

    And too, surely to goodness, the major strength of the Transit City plans is its cohesiveness as a NETWORK with all of the economies of scale that that can bring us. Why keep perpetrating this one, lousy from the get go, un-connectable bit of ‘tried-but-failed’ ALRT line on the future of a potentially integrate-able SYSTEM of ‘tried-and-true’ LRT!! Since the money must be spent on the route anyways, let’s make it work with the rest of the system instead of blowing it into the wind again on costly junk. Let’s rebuild it to LRT now and be able to see the benefits of that cohesiveness and compatibility that Transit City has suggested (with a great degree of insight) will accrue for our suburban residents. Mr. and Ms. TTC, certainly by now you know the difference between what the RT has done to the TTC’s reputation, not only within the City of Toronto but industry wide, and what should have been industry leading with LRT, right? You do know; don’t you?

    Mr. D.

    Steve: When Richard Soberman held his public sessions for this project, he was openly contemptuous of ALRT and joked about how he had sold us years ago. His direction was clearly headed to an LRT recommendation.

    Then somebody got their hands on the report, and Soberman was nowhere to be found when the final version was presented.

    As far as I am concerned, the TTC does not have clean hands on this one, and I suspect heavy-duty lobbying both from Queen’s Park and from the manufacturer who would be deeply embarrassed if the TTC disowned their technology.

    The SRT continues to be operated manually as of March 6. At least it runs, more or less.


  40. And if only they’d stop playing that annoying classical music at Kennedy, it would be even better.

    I notice they do it at Bathurst too — if the TTC is doing this to keep out kids, they should know it really sounds awful with the echo against the tiled walls and it’s very annoying to other passengers as well who are waiting for buses.

    Use security staff and cameras to keep the areas safe — don’t launch an assault on riders’ ears.

    Steve: You don’t appreciate the thrill of an RT arriving to the William Tell Overture!


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