Why Transit City is an LRT Plan (Part 1)

One year ago, with much fanfare, the TTC launched the Transit City plan.  Those who have followed the debates on my site will know we had a lot of discussions about whether lines were in the right place, what demands would be placed on the system, whether the cost estimates were reasonable and many fine details of individual route designs.  As I said here, it felt as if I was running a one-man Environmental Assessment for the whole plan.

The official EAs are now starting for some routes (Sheppard, Finch West and Eglinton), and Waterfront West is already underway.  Although not officially part of Transit City, we also have studies for the eastern waterfront and Kingston Road.

Notable by its absence in Transit City is one common part of every EA that has gone before:  an alternatives analysis.  Many here have debated the LRT-only premise, and even some of the professional planners are miffed that Transit City came out as a single-mode proposal.

I have little sympathy for this view.  In years past, studies for a variety of transit projects have gone through the motions of looking at alternatives, but the fix was in from the beginning.  Some current resentment is at least partly a question of sour grapes among those who have a brief for other schemes sidelined by the Transit City announcement.

This post will appear in several segments as I get a chance to write them, and I may do some polishing along the way, possibly even pulling the whole thing into a single paper in a few weeks.  I will open the posts to comments, but will concentrate on getting all of the material written and up first.  I’ve found that moderating the comments can take a lot of time, so please bear with me.

My current plans for this series are:

  • The origins of Transit City (this post)
  • Why LRT?
  • A comparative review of technologies
  • Expansion and extension options for Transit City

Public agencies wishing to pillage my work should feel free to do so provided credit is given.  This material is produced pro bono. Continue reading