The Scarborough RT extension study co-hosted the meetings with the Sheppard East LRT which I discussed in the previous post. The presentation materials for the SRT study are available online.
A major piece of work for this study will be to update previous schemes based on changes in land use, travel patterns and availability of rights-of-way since the Malvern extension of the Scarborough LRT was proposed decades ago. (Yes, it was going to be an LRT line originally although the history in the current presentation doesn’t go back that far.)
The presentation claims that ICTS/RT technology was recommended in the Scarborough RT Strategic Plan as being the most effective and lowest cost option. This is not true. That plan dealt only with replacement of the existing line between Kennedy and McCowan stations and did not examine the cost or operational tradeoffs involved in extending the RT north to Sheppard or beyond. Given the high premium for grade-separated operation, the RT quickly become uncompetitive with LRT the further the line goes.
The TTC holds that LRT is unable to handle the demands to be placed on the SRT corridor. However, the projected demand shown in the presentation is about 2,500/hour north of Sheppard, about 4,000 west of McCowan (ie inbound to STC), and 10,000 at Kennedy Station. With the completely separate right-of-way on the existing RT, a 10,000/hour operation with LRT is quite feasible. Two-car LRT trains would provide this on a headway of just under two minutes.
The origin-destination pattern for RT riders is shown on pages 10 and 11 of the presentation. In the 2031 projection, 43% of the demand originates north of the 401, and a further 27% in the area between STC and Lawrence East stations. Just over half, 54%, of the riders are destined for downtown.
As I have written on several occasions, this travel pattern cries out for better point-to-point service from Agincourt to downtown via GO rail service integrated with the TTC operation and fare structure. The intent is not to carry everyone who would otherwise be on the RT via GO, but to divert enough demand from the RT so that it was not burdened with a short, high peak commuting demand. I cannot help pointing out that the CPR lines serving Agincourt pass right through the north end of the study area and are shown on the alternative alignment maps.
Indeed, the 10,000/hour projection does not appear to take into account what would happen if good GO service was available as an alternative. This type of narrow planning and riding projections has infected TTC rapid transit plans for decades, and it’s time we had a broader view of the options.
Four alignments for an extended RT are proposed:
- STC to Malvern using the abandoned Canadian Northern rail corridor to reach Malvern. This option has potential impacts on residences backing onto the rail corridor. (Exactly the same impacts on the same corridorm, further southwest, led it to be rejected for the original RT alignment.)
- STC to Sheppard and Markham with LRT to Malvern Town Centre (existing Transit City proposals)
- STC to Centennial College with LRT to STC via McCowan (this connection is included in the Sheppard East LRT study)
- LRT from STC to Malvern (no RT extension)
Notable by their absence are:
- Evaluation of LRT all the way to Kennedy
- Discussion of northerly extension from Malvern as contemplated by arrows and dotted lines in the Transit City map
- Discussion of the role of commuter rail service as mentioned above
Metrolinx is about to bring forth a draft Regional Transportation Plan of which a central tenet must be that we make best use of all available resources to handle the varied demands on transit in the GTA. It is time to stop treated the TTC network as if it exists in isolation and must handle all demands even within the 416. That approach “justified” the Sheppard Subway by ignoring the contribution of GO to serve growing demand in northeast Toronto and southeast York.
When the options are compared as “good, better, best”, it’s no surprise that option 1 comes out with the most “bests” while option 4 does best only on cost and low environmental impacts. However, since the network options don’t include the three points above, especially the provision of fast service to downtown via GO, the comparison is incomplete and, to be charitable, flawed.
The TTC needs to try again, and include a full set of options dealing with the long-haul trips to downtown.