Kingston Road LRT Update

The Environmental Assessment for the proposed Kingston Road LRT will hold three open houses on March 26, 27 and April 2.

The project’s March 2008 Newsletter includes the meeting locations, a map of various proposals and a breakdown of travel in the corridor.

There are two primary options depending on whether the line stays on Kingston Road all the way west to the existing streetcar network at Bingham Loop (Victoria Park & Kingston Rd.), or if it travels west along Danforth Avenue. Sub-options include connections to the subway at Victoria Park or Main Station.

At the risk of prejudging the evaluation, the route north from Kingston Road either to Main or to Victoria Park would be quite difficult. Victoria Park is a narrow, 3-lane residential street south of Gerrard. Main is a narrow, 4-lane residential street, and has a curved alignment (not shown on the map) and a grade down to Kingston Road. I believe that a connection north to either station from Kingston Road is not practical. (Anyone who wants to argue this point is urged to actually visit the neighbourhood or at least look at Google Maps before taking on this issue.)

The Danforth alignment is more straightforward, and also provides a better connection to the rapid transit network. In the origin-destination survey, only about 1/4 of the respondents showed their AM peak trip as going “downtown”.

Planning for the revised Victoria Park Station (warning – 10MB file) does not show a possible streetcar service, but could accommodate it.

Finally, the Walk 21 conference last fall included a paper about redesigning Kingston Road into a strong shopping and pedestrian community in the Cliffside area. This neighbourhood is now dominated by strip commercial and parking lots, but its transformation is supported by the business community with the new LRT line as a catalyst.

This project is in an odd state of existing in theory, but never appearing on maps showing our bold new Transit City network. This very strange situation makes many wonder whether there is any hope of the project actually being funded and built.

21 thoughts on “Kingston Road LRT Update

  1. I believe that Kingston Rd. West of the Danforth is too narrow for an LRT and that it should feed into Main Station so that it can have a track connection to the rest of the system I also believe that the 502 street car line should be extended to connect with the LRT at the Danforth. This would eliminate a vehicle and route change at Victoria Park and provide another track connection. This would be more of a necessity if they go into Victoria park Station. If they really need another subway connection send it up Coxwell to the subway and call it route 522A. If they think that Danforth Avenue is too narrow they could use the CNR ROW from Danforth to Main St. and then swing north to the station. Kingston Rd. is definitely too narrow for an LRT line South West of Danforth to Victoria park or Main St.


  2. Looking at the document, it says that they want to widen the median to build a nice green path or what not. However, the figure looks like they want to put a streetcar without its own right of way down Kingston Road.

    No offense, but isn’t that pushing it? Take out 2 lanes AND make 1 of them less useful?

    A proper 4 lane cross section with bicycle lanes and a LRT in the middle is great but what they got proposed here is just plain stupid….

    Ever heard of being “practical” and acknowledging the “reality”


  3. In prehistoric times the LITTLE YORK route of the T&YRR went north from Kingston Rd via Walter, Lyall, Kimberley and Gerrard to Main St to avoid the hill and reverse curve on Main. Can’t see that happening, nor can I see tracks on Main now. Try imagining an artic curving west to north at Kingston Rd and Main. Oh, the horror!.

    Frankly the best route is west via Danforth to Main Station, which also allows direct connection to the city system. Danforth east of Victoria Park could sure use revitalization – it’s currently a very depressed area, unlike Kingston Rd between Victoria Park and Kennedy.

    As suggested, however, I’m not sure we’ll ever see this built when there is so much political desire for the Transit City plan and a shortage of funding. This plan seems doomed to be swept under the carpet and, if the EA hadn’t already been started before Transit City was announced, I doubt this would be on the radar at all.


  4. Steve

    As a resident of the Main & Danforth area, I agree with your assessment of Main and Victoria Park: both of these streets are unsuitable for streetcars between Kingston Rd and Gerrard.

    I suggest that the new Kingston Rd route run along Danforth to Victoria Park. Traffic on Danforth becomes heavier west of the ‘Daneighth’ intersection (thats the Danforth Rd/Danforth Ave intersection for you nonlocals), and traffic gets even worse west of Victoria Park. Best to get the streetcar to the subway as quickly as possible, rather than stuck in heavy traffic.

    The 502 and 503 should be extended up Kingston Rd to Danforth, with a new loop built at the Kingston Rd/Danforth Ave junction, or maybe a bit past it at Kingston and Cliffside

    If additional connections with the streetcar network are necessary, putting tracks on Gerrard from Main to Victoria Park, and then up Victoria Park to Danforth is an option.


  5. I have to agree that the best setup is running into Main from Scarborough while also extending the 502 to Danforth and bringing it into Coxwell instead of running downtown. If there’s really no money for both, still better to run in on Danforth than up Vic Park, but I have a nasty suspicion that could be the end of Kingston Road streetcars. Assuming the line would get a decent frequency the service on Danforth would be very good for the area (even if there aren’t any stops between Main and Vic Park, a stop at the corner would be an improvement on the walk from Vic Park station in the winter…


  6. The Main Street (Southwood, I believe it is known as south of Gerrard) is a complete joke. I went to high school around there. It’s not a streetcar candidate, period.

    Victoria Park is indeed not a good candidate either. I think it should stick to Kingston Road though, not use Danforth, it would create a confusing and disjointed network to do it that way.

    What surprises me is that they have not considered running it to Coxwell… I’d have thought such a consideration would be obvious since the TTC has indeed made the proposal of converting Coxwell south of the subway back to streetcar operation back around the turn of the century. A loop around Coxwell is perhaps a problem, but I think it might be the best route as far as a network perspective concerned. Keep It Simple…


  7. It occurred to me that the EA mentions GO Transit integration but the routes illustrated don’t really seem to support this idea very well – even the route to Danforth GO is kinda useless if you think about it, nevermind its feasability problems on Main St. If they wanted integration with GO trains, why not include a branch line up McCowan to connect to Eglinton GO? It would make more sense than the Danforth GO connection by far.

    Steve: Integration seems to have been a fetish in transit plans whether it made sense or not. There are only two possible candidates — the Lake Shore service and the Stouffville line. The former parallels Kingston Road, and it certainly doesn’t make much sense providing a transfer at Danforth Station when a much more logical connection is to the subway. As for the Stouffville line, it has its own good connection at Kennedy Station and will also meet the future LRT lines east and west on Eglinton. Of course this wasn’t on the books when the EA got started, but I am always amazed at how planners can persist in looking at conditions from a decade ago as the basis for new schemes.


  8. The city could use its ownership of its right-of-way on a road to widen it to allow use of an LRT or streetcar. All the concession roads roads were at one time just two lanes. Over the years, the city’s (or township’s) ownership was exercised to widen the roads.

    I remember that Keele Street, between Bloor and Annette, was a two lane road. It was similar to the present Caledonia Road between St. Clair and Eglinton. When the Bloor-Danforth subway was being built in the 1960’s, the road was widened to accommodate the extension of the Weston Road trolley buses to the new Keele Street Station.

    If the city wanted to, it could do the same with any of the east-end roads.

    Steve: In fact, the standard right-of-way on roads in older parts of the city is one chain, or 66 feet. Suburban roads with enough room for four traffic lanes, an LRT right-of-way and sidewalks need more than this. As I said, please actually LOOK at Victoria Park or Main north of Kingston Road and you will see that space for expansion is not available unless you feel like some serious expropriation and demolition. Also, the turn west to north at Main and Kingston Road would be very difficult as it is tight, on a grade and there is no way to widen the intersection without tearing down a building.


  9. I wonder if there is much demand for trips between points on Kingston Rd, without transferring to the subway?

    Right now, if one wants to get from Morningside Mall (Kingston / Lawrence) to Kingston / Queen, it’s 3 transfers: 86 to 102, to 12, to 22/502/503. Actually, it is easier to use subway and make 2 transfers.

    A scheme that includes an all-Kingston route could look like this:

    – Coxwell 22A bus covers all Kingston Rd: extended all the way to Morningside Mall, and goes there all day, 7 days a week. I suggest bus rather than streetcar for that route, as the demand will be light during evenings / weekends, and hence a bus can provide better frequency. A couple of buses should keep serving the short Coxwell 22 Danforth – Queen branch, so that possible delays on Kingston do not destroy service regularity on Coxwell.

    – In addition to the 22A service, each segment of Kingston gets its shortcut route to subway. The TC’s Kingston / Morningside / Malvern LRT will cover the segment north of Eglinton; a new streetcar route will run from Main or Vic Park subway along Danforth and then Kingston up to Eglinton; bus 12 will keep serving the section of Kingston from Vic Park to Danforth. The latter two routes would run during peak hours and perhaps midday, but not on evenings / weekends.

    – For the light rail connectivity, a short service track on Gerrard from Main to Vic Park may be added.

    Steve: There are many ways to carve up routes in southern Scarborough and we will always have the problem of a diagonal Kingston Road crossing through the rest of the street grid. Travel patterns are diverse in this area, and it will be difficult to find one route that will work for everyone.

    I’m going to cut off suggested routes with this comment as we could go on forever, but not very productively given that nothing is likely to be implemented for at least a decade.


  10. Why not just run the Kingston line right on through to the downtown core and connect with the planned Waterfront east plans. Granted it would be quite a long trip but TTC has already shown a penchant for accepting long routes (Lakeshore, Transit city) and if the line were run as an LRT in it’s own ROW it would be less affected by delays that currently afflict the Lakeshore line.

    A branch could connect it with the subway but I wonder if it would be economically feasible (time wise) to do the Kingston-Danforth-Yonge route (despite being a subway) vs the direct route route along Kingston.

    Steve: As I mentioned earlier, the travel survey shows that less than 1/4 of the riders on Kingston Road are going “downtown”. A route oriented to that type of travel will not attract as many riders as one which connects with a variety of north-south routes via the subway.


  11. I would have to say that the Kingston Road streetcar should run along Danforth to Main, not Victoria Park, because it would allow a transfer to GO and the 506 Carlton streetcar. Also, running the streetcar to Main would provide service on the section of Danforth between Main and Victoria Park which would otherwise be eliminated.

    Steve: Eliminated? Why? Probably there would be less duplicated bus service, but I suspect that something would survive albeit not on as good a headway as today.


  12. “Steve: As I mentioned earlier, the travel survey shows that less than 1/4 of the riders on Kingston Road are going “downtown”.”

    Is it fair to say though that the reason people are going N-S to the subway is that the existing streetcar routes aren’t getting people to downtown fast enough? Pouring more people into the B-D isn’t the answer either since it reinforces the bottlenecks at the YUS connection points.

    Steve: Most people are not going downtown and that is independent of their mode of travel. A route that perpetuates the idea that the good folks in Scarborough have no place to go but Queen and Bay is doomed. They would use the subway to access other routes serving Scarborough and eastern North York, and the Bloor-Yonge issue is not a primary concern.


  13. I’m wondering if it would be worthwhile to extend the (although rather sporatic) 502/503 cars up to Danforth, if other readers say that both Victoria Park and Main Street are unsuitable for streetcars.

    Although I think that the cars from the Kingston LRT would do wonders for regular service on Kingston and Queen in terms of reliability, I don’t really think it’s a viable option anymore.


  14. Looking at the Service Summary, I noticed that the Monday-Friday midday Downtowner 502 streetcar service has a headway of 20′ between Victoria Park and Coxwell. The Kingston Road 12 bus has a headway of 12′ 30″.

    I, for one, would prefer a more frequent headway, no matter what vehicle is running, be it bus, streetcar, or horse drawn omnibus. Next would be capacity.
    If the Kingston Road bus is replaced by an LRT, I would want the same headway, or better. Hopefully, the replacement LRV’s will include additional vehicles for, as I see as, a shortage we are having now with our current streetcar fleet.

    The TTC can start now by increasing the 502 midday service to 12′ 30″.

    Steve: The 502 has been a 20-minute midday service for some time, although gaps of 30 minutes and more are seen regularly due to bunching (try to imagine such widely spaced service as “bunched”) and, wait for it, short turns. It’s a self-defeating situation where poor service begets low ridership. As for vehicles, we have lots of spares in the off-peak. All we need to do is to actually run them.


  15. Steve: Do you know why the route ends at Eglinton? Why not push it on the last few yards to Guildwood to make the connection with GO/VIA or on to Morningside/Lawrence to allow connections up to the UofT?? campus and the commercial district there.

    Also, who decides on the possible routes? Main St does seem a ludicrous choice, but why not Danforth -> CN corridor -> Clonmore/Gerrard -> Vic Park. That would at least pick up the commercial area at Gerrard/Vic Park. Yes, I know Clonmore is very narrow, but it’d be more viable than Main. Are these really the best three routes they could come up with?

    Steve: The Kingston Road LRT project got underway before Transit City hit the streets, and some rationalization of route proposals is definitely needed. That said, the question remains whether the “ideal” route to serve, for example, UofT is the Eglinton/Malvern line or the Kingston Road line, assuming both were built.

    At the inner end, I personally prefer Danforth to Victoria Park because this keeps the line from turning into a Danforth carline and makes the subway connection at the first possible place where the two routes come close to each other. Also, I think it would be better that this be styled as a “Transit City” add on rather than simply as an extension of the 502.

    However, given that this is not exactly at the top of the priority list, any discussion of fine details of routes is to some extent moot.


  16. Steve, I think the city is going through the motions and setting us up for a let down. The old Victoria Park-Birchmount tracks are protruding through the ashphalt and it makes me sick to my stomach. To think that we had service in this corridor well over 50 years ago and now we are arguing and planning where to put it again.

    In Philadelphia they run LRT on smaller streets than Vic Park south, why can’t we? So what if it’s in mixed traffic. That segment moves quite well during rush hour so why is it being ruled out. It is only 1.1 kms from there to Danforth.

    Then, you can build non revenue track from Main to Vic Park on Gerrard. Why is the TTC and planners so narrow minded that they rule out all possibilities. This routing would serve Birchcliff and southern beaches better. I think we need to build this line first before any Transit City lines since it was discussed long before Transit City. This part of Scarborough has suffered enough.

    I also think that extending the RT south to Kingston road via tunneling would also help. One stop at Midland and Danforth Rd and then to Midland GO and finally, Kingston road. We will be upgrading/extending that line anyway so why not go south also. Then we can extend the 502 to there and have another service go east from there to Guildwood GO. This would serve that part of neglected Scarborough much better.


  17. Hi Steve:-

    As a resident right on the Danforth near Vic Park I wish to add my opinion to what I think would be the best for our neighbourhood. The cars should run to Main Street via Danforth and at the same time none of the stops, from VP to Main anyways, need be eliminated as they are widely spaced here now. There is enough room on the Danny in this stretch to allow for regular streetcar track, with rush hour limits on the use of the cartrack (as Eglinton E. does now with its HOV lanes) and safety islands ala the old St. Clair.

    As to the use of Victoria Park south of Gerrard to the Kingston Road for another streetcar connectiion to the subway, why not? It’s been expressed that the street is too narrow to allow this to happen. I truly don’t believe that its narrowness should eliminate it as a player in the grander scheme of system betterment. True it is only three lanes and in our staid old blinkered Toronto where our traditional attitude of ‘if it hasn’t happened here it can’t be possible’ could say, in that vein, that a carline on a street like that won’t fit. Well, for many decades, Pittsburgh, the City, whose privately developed streetcar system that I love to cite as the most positive view of what can be done with streetcars in an urban environment, proved with their route 44 Knoxville, that you can indeed run a route, with double track broad gauge on a TWO lane residential street and still get to the end of the line where the streets are wider. We have a three lane street, so there should not be a problem with that short stretch of route to gain a better connection to the rest of Toronto.

    Once ridership demands and money allow for it, then a straight through connection on the Kingston Road from VP to Danforth Road could and should be considered and constructed.

    For your consideration!



  18. I got the impression from the open house, that a key driver in this EA is the need to rebuild Kingston Road between Victoria Park and Danforth.

    So they are going ahead with this, not so much because they are about to build an LRT. But if they do want to, at somepoint in the future, they don’t want to have to dig up a recently reconstructed road.

    My guess on how this will end, is the conclusion that Kingston Road between Danforth and Victoria Park isn’t suitable for LRT, and the recommended routing will be along Danforth to either Victoria Park or Main Station.

    At that point, they’ll go ahead with their Kingston Road reconstruction without streetcars or bus lanes. And at the same time, the LRT proposal will just sit on the shelf until 2015 or 2020 while the Transit City routes take precedence.


  19. I recently received a flyer in my mailbox (on Mar 26th to be exact) about the meetings taking place on the 26th, 27th and April 2nd. I was unaware of the proposal to run a streetcar north on Victoria Park from Kingston Rd. This proposal requires widening of the road, which is preposterous! The distance from the centre line of the road to my front porch is 33′. Widening of the road would mean I would lose my front yard and I’d open my front door to step onto the sidewalk. Who would by a house like that in the future? Quite frankly, I don’t know why that option is even on the table. What happens to all the children who live in the houses on Victoria Park between Kingston Road and Gerrard? That stretch of real estate (on the east side) does not have a laneway in the back so we would all be taking our lives in our hands when we enter and exit our homes.

    Steve: I rode up Victoria Park from Kingston Road this morning, and there is no way it can accommodate a frequent transit service. The road is three lanes wide with one parking lane on the west and a single travelled lane in each direction. Widening is out of the question for precisely the reasons described above. How options like this even get into studies is beyond me, other than to give “options” that will be evaluated and discarded to give the impression that there was some reason for wasting all that money on EA consultants in the first place.


  20. Catherine writes “The distance from the centre line of the road to my front porch is 33′. Widening of the road would mean I would lose my front yard and I’d open my front door to step onto the sidewalk.”

    But the city-owned street is 66′ wide. So that front yard belongs to the city, not you. I’m not convinced that running LRT down Victoria Park is an option (though perhaps a simple extension of the current tracks from Kingston Road to Danforth in a non-exclusive right-of-way might be an idea); however I fail to see why one would purchase a property on a major artery, and not understand the risk that the city might start using it’s land.

    Steve: There are two issues here. First, that part of Victoria Park is the old boundary between Toronto and Scarborough, and just how much of it is reserved as street right-of-way is anyone’s guess without a survey map.

    Second, just because the land is there doesn’t mean we take it. Widening the street would have a major impact on this neighbourhood at a dubious value to the transit service. If the 12 Kingston Road were running every two minutes, I might agree that there was demand down there for an LRT line, but it’s every 6’15” and I don’t see the density changing enough to make the difference.


  21. You can actually get a fairly good idea of property lines relative to building locations on the City’s online mapping service. There is an option to turn on property lines and building outlines.

    Steve: Thanks for this. Looking at Victoria Park Avenue, it is clear that the right-of-way is 66 feet wide just like all nearby streets, but I wouldn’t want to try telling people we were digging up their lawns for a new streetcar line.


Comments are closed.