Metrolinx White Papers Now Online

David Harrison left a comment alerting me to the availability of these papers.  They have gone online earlier today.

For what it’s worth, the Metrolinx white papers are now available in draft form (look at the agenda on their site for April 25 to see them), and extension of the Sheppard subway west to Downsview and east to STC is shown in two of the 3 test concepts they mention, along with an Eglinton subway and downtown relief line along Queen.  This doesn’t mean that they will show up in the RTP, but it certainly looks like they may be leaning in that direction.

I will comment on them when I have a chance to read them in detail.

14 thoughts on “Metrolinx White Papers Now Online

  1. Why would they even think about extending the subway west to Downsview? It’s not needed, and will not serve the corridor well. The only stop I can think of, is Bathurst.


  2. Although the Management Report does not use the words “peak oil” I note that they assume that gasoline prices will double. In specific, on page 4 they assert “The model used to test the concepts… increases marginal auto operating cost by 100%”

    Finally, a note of reality starts to penetrate!


  3. I agree that with the Finch LRT and Eglinton subway/LRT hybrid, Sheppard Subway extension to Downsview serves less and less purpose – however, in order to make that argument strongest, the Finch and Sheppard LRTs need to connect to each other, combining to form a crosstown route. The busiest portion of the Finch bus route is between Yonge and Don Mills anyway, so it makes sense to have some overlap even among LRT service in that corridor segment. Some LRTs could terminate at Finch while others will run through-service to the other side of town. This makes it operationally practical/appropriate to have both Sheppard feeding into Finch East west of Don Mills while having Finch East LRT also extending further east to Malvern or wherever.


  4. I gave the document and appendices a quick run through. I’m going to go negative on what I did read (I know Steve that’s all you ever hear from me).

    I wonder if Metrolynx are indulging in an on-going navel gazing exercise. I realize these are “white papers”, but we should restrict studies to what’s practical and sensible; evolution, not revolution!

    I know cycling is a frequent contentious issue but I don’t think that cycling will ever be a significant mode of transportation, especially outside the core. I do give them kudos for recognizing that “hubs” must be pedestrian friendly, much unlike the vast majority of GO Stations.

    Another observation is regarding a “metro” on Queen Street. I don’t think that the authors comprehend the nature of travel on the 501. This is mostly a short haul route, requiring the stops to be closely spaced. That is not the best kind of service for a “metro”, even an LRT. To better serve areas at the outer ends of the route rail services like GO, subway or LRT (like the WWLRT).

    As to the Sheppard extension it occurred to me that if the line was to be extended to go all the way to the CN/GO rail line from Barrie. This would allow commuters from the north to interconnect with the city system somewhere other than Union as is the case today (I’m intentionally not including the desolate stop inappropriately named York University just south of Steeles). Although I doubt traffic volumes would warrant a subway (as in the current Sheppard line) a westward LRT extension from Sheppard-Yonge would be adequate.

    My last shot is at “HOV” lanes. Unless restricted to true high capacity passenger vehicles (such as buses), these are a license in the current form to continue driving private automobiles. Two people does not constitute high occupancy. Toll roads again are for those who can afford (especially those that can write off the expense) to drive, regardless of transit options.

    Steve: “Negative”? I happen to agree with much of what you have written.


  5. While we are at it with extending the Sheppard subway, why don’t we extend the Yonge line to Timmins? Crazy b.s.

    Steve: Timmins is NDP territory. We will extend the SRT to Peterborough first.


  6. Justin,

    At least if you extend the Sheppard subway west to Downsview, then at least you can drop the “stubway” nickname from the line.

    As for stations, you can easily put in 3 there. Senlac, Bathurst North, and Faywood.

    Steve: If Metrolinx actually builds the proposed express line along the 401 corridor, demands that Sheppard perform this regional function evaporate. It would be much preferable to convert the existing subway to LRT and extend the route as a single line. Alas, it won’t get to York U, but we can’t build an everywhere to everywhere network.

    If only the folks at York U had lobbied for an LRT network reaching north, east and west, rather than a subway line heading south.


  7. Apart from having a Bathurt St stop, the only benefit of a Sheppard subway extension westward would be to offer riders the opportunity to head to Spadina and bypass the busy Yonge line. I wonder if the TTC has ever conducted a study to determine the final destination for riders coming from the Sheppard catchment area? Today, the vast majority head south on Yonge, but where do they end up? I would assume that some people must be headed to University Ave, or other areas west of Yonge St, and a Sheppard W extension would certainly be beneficial for those folks.

    Again, I’m thinking strictly in terms of relief for the Yonge line, which we will need sooner rather than later. Since there’s still room for more riders on Spadina/University, why not consider this option? Building a mere 4km of subway must be cheaper than trying to build a new relief line from Pape Station south.

    Although I still prefer the latter option, Sheppard is affordable by comparison and as such, provides a realistic opportunity. Not to mention the ability for riders to bypass Yonge during interruptions in service on that line (which seems to have been occuring rather frequently), instead of leaving tens of thousands of riders stranded on the street waiting hopelessly for relief buses that can’t possibly handle the volume.

    Steve: A “mere 4km” will cost us about $1-billion. Let’s consider the travel times.

    Presuming that the only intermediate stop is at Bathurst, then the time from Yonge to Dufferin would be about 6 minutes. (This is by analogy to existing running times on the YSNE where stations are 2km apart, and the Sheppard line which gets 11 minutes for a one-way trip including 2 minutes or more terminal time for a trip 50% longer.) If there are stops at 1km spacing, the time would go up to 7 minutes or maybe a bit more.

    Transferring at Downsview will take at least 1 minute to physically move through the station plus half a headway on average to wait for a train for a total of 3 minutes. From Downsview, it’s about 14 minutes to St. Clair West, another 5 to St. George and about 8 more to Union. This gives us a time from being on a train at Sheppard and Yonge to Union Station of 37 minutes.

    If the same passenger were to transfer to a Yonge train, they would take 2 minutes for the transfer (assuming they can get on, an important caveat), 9 minutes to Eglinton, 8 to Bloor and another 8 to Union for a total of 27 minutes.

    This means that only passengers bound for destinations north of about St. Patrick would have an equal trip time either way, subject to being able to board at Sheppard Station southbound. Don’t forget also that someone going to the University district around St. George has the option of changing at Bloor-Yonge and travelling west two stops, and so traffic to that area will not have the “around the horn” penalty.

    I am not convinced that a direct service via Downsview to downtown will attract enough riding to justify its cost as a “relief” mechanism, especially when we can put the same money into one or more services that would have a real benefit.

    That said, there is a very strong argument to make for converting the Sheppard subway to LRT. This would provide the seamless service across Sheppard that seems to be the holy grail of discussions here without the huge expense of subway construction.

    Remember also that the proposed 401 express rail service would negate Sheppard as a route used for long-haul trips and concerns about riding a Toonerville Trolley from Agincourt to Pearson Airport would be a non-issue.


  8. Re: Karl Junkin / connecting the Finch and Sheppard LRTs via Finch East.

    This is a great idea, will cut 3 (!) transfers off the Crosstown trip, and provide direct access to Seneca College, a significant trip-generator, from both the Sheppard E and Finch W lines.

    Perhaps this could be included in the Finch W EA. The cost would be to the tune of 250 – 300 million. That’s substantial, but not crazy.


  9. Re: Sheppard subway versus express line along the 401 corridor

    Having both of them is redundant indeed. Instead, perhaps the Sheppard subway can be a part of that future 401 line? That will cut the construction cost somewhat.

    Since that would be a brand new rail link along 401, it can be built using either HRT technology, the standard gauge or the Toronto streetcar / subway gauge. The cost per km will be about same.


  10. >> Why would they even think about extending the subway west to Downsview? It’s not needed, and will not serve the corridor well. The only stop I can think of, is Bathurst.<<


    I used to live at Sheppard & Wilson Heights. Of these possible stations, only Bathurst has sufficient density now and future potential for more for a subway stop. Bus ridership between University-Spadina & Yonge subway stops is not huge on Sheppard. It’s a mainly residential corridor, with some condos abuilding between Allen & Wilson Heights, walking distance to Downsview Station.

    I’d much rather see a loop closing the Yonge and University-Spadina segments together instead. This had a lot of potential for improved train operation, less downtime at terminals, and moving riders off the Yonge line onto the U-S. Probably not an option now because of the York U subway extension…


  11. Steve says: If only the folks at York U had lobbied for an LRT network reaching north, east and west, rather than a subway line heading south.

    Yes, it’s a shame York has no rapid regional transit links … if you don’t count two Viva lines, one express TTC line, and a network of GO buses.

    But LRT is faster! Wait, no it’s not, now that we have the real story about Transit City.

    And LRT has higher capacity! But the only bus service that’s bursting at the seams is the express to Downsview.

    So what’s the win for York to embrace LRT? Basically, not much.

    Steve: To which I can only reply, if the demand at York is so paltry and is focussed entirely to the south and Downsview Station, what the hell do we need a subway for? The TTC’s own demand projections for the line, as well as YRT’s projections for the extension north of Steeles, show clearly that York U is not the centre of the universe from a demand point of view.

    The whole issue of an LRT network is not to replace one-for-one what is there today, but to provide added capacity and speed for the future. Of course, the students and faculty can always drive and complain about the traffic congestion.

    As for LRT being faster, I am getting tired of the disinformation campaign based on Transit City. Speed on any technology is a function of station spacing, loading times and traffic priority. Spadina is not a model for the new routes, nor is St. Clair. Running times on the originally proposed Scarborough LRT were only slightly longer than those achieved by the RT, and that difference is explained almost totally by the fact that the LRT would have crossed major streets like Lawrence at grade, and at least one extra station was included in the plan. Instead, we got grade-separations so that the roads could pass over the CN Uxbridge subdivision, and this shaved time off the RT trip. It had nothing to do with the technology.


  12. So where’s your commentary trashing Metrolinx’s plans for more subways?

    Don’t ruin your chances of working for them as a transit planner after you retire next year. Just think … Steve Munro, Senior Planner, StreetcarLINX.

    Steve: I am working on it. There is a fundamental hole in the Metrolinx “test networks” — no information about projected demand is included. Therefore, we don’t know whether the Eglinton “metro” is carrying 4000 an hour or 40000 and, by extension, whether the extra cost of a full-blown subway is justified by demand.

    The Sheppard subway just doesn’t make sense and I am quickly coming to the conclusion that a study of converting it to an LRT tunnel is essential. This would allow for one continuous service across Sheppard.

    The Scarborough RT to LRT conversion really needs study considering how far north this line might run, and how much of the TTC’s projected demand may be drained off by improvements in regional services in its catchment area.

    The Queen subway is the real oddball and seems to be left over from ancient plans because nobody can think of anything more creative. Oddly enough, it only shows up on the most aggressive scheme (aka “web”) and runs only from the foot of a Don Mills LRT at Pape in a U through downtown and up to Dundas West. Aside from questions of actual demand for this line, it introduces precisely the sort of transfer impediment for through north-south trips that so many complain of in the east-west Sheppard corridor.

    The maps look nice, and to their credit Metrolinx only describes these as “test cases” used to see what comes out of the model. However, the absence of demand figures prevents any evaluation of which network components are really useful and which could be scaled back or eliminated. Despite Metrolinx’ insatiable demand for money (they will make the TTC look like paragons of fiscal restraint), we still need to build what is needed and will productively use whatever capital we might obtain.


  13. Steve said: The Sheppard subway just doesn’t make sense and I am quickly coming to the conclusion that a study of converting it to an LRT tunnel is essential.

    I believe this may have been mentioned before, but why not investigate the option of running high-floor LRT vehicles on Sheppard so as to allow through service via the Sheppard subway tunnel? Calgary does this and even has lines going into downtown streets with high platforms. The platforms on Sheppard could ramp-up instead of having stairs for accesibility, and although this would require a separate fleet of vehicles, surely it must be cheaper than trying to alter the existing Sheppard tunnel, and certainly better than a forced transfer at Don Mills. I doubt you’ll get the kind of community opposition along the Sheppard corridor like you would in central Toronto (ie St Clair), and to be blunt, Sheppard Ave isn’t exactly aesthetically pleasing, so having an LRT line with high platforms shouldn’t make it any worse.

    In addition, we could also investigate using these highfloor LRT vehicles for the SRT replacement, which would provide connectivity (assuming a spur is built southeast from Sheppard to STC) and a larger order of cars to ensure the cost is competitive. True, we would end up with two LRT fleets, but we have two subway/RT fleets today anyway.

    Steve: The problem of two fleets is that we forever prevent interlining of routes. For example, if someone got the idea of routing some Sheppard service down Don Mills, then we would have the conundrum of which height to built platforms. Moreover, high platforms require considerably more real estate for stairs and ramps on streets, and these are hazardous in snow and ice conditions. Ad-hoc stops cannot be created because of construction requirements.

    Calgary has high-floor cars because that’s what was available when they built the system. I strongly suspect that if they were starting from scratch today, they would use low-floor cars.


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