The display panels from the SRT Extension Open House are available on the project website. My comments below follow the sequence of the presentation.
First up, we have a chart purporting to explain why we must use RT technology for this corridor. The chart on page 7 shows the following future projected demands on the line:
- North of Kennedy Station 10,000/hour
- West of McCowan Station about 4,000/hour
- North of Sheppard about 2,000/hour
As a point of reference, the current line capacity at Kennedy is about 3,800/hour.
Even though the target capacity of 10,000/hour (about which more below) is well within LRT capabilities, the presentation states:
The peak demand on the line dictates that the SRT must be in an exclusive right-of-way over the entire length of the line. A switch to a semi-exclusive right-of-way would include a transfer to a new line.
This puts all of the mixed RT/LRT options behind the eight-ball because it imposes a transfer that should not be part of the design. The one option that is not even studied is LRT all the way to Kennedy because, of course, that has already been rejected in a separate process that is outside of this EA.
If the demand north of Sheppard is only 2,000 per hour, this translates to 7.7 2-car LRV trains/hour or a headway of just under 8 minutes (the design capacity for the new LRVs is 130/car). South of Sheppard, the line will be entirely on private right-of-way where much closer headways are reasonable. One could even conceive of three blended services:
- Kennedy to Malvern
- Kennedy to Meadowvale via Sheppard
- Kennedy to Sheppard
This would provide a full capacity as far as Sheppard, with 1/3 of the total running through to the two terminals via on-street rights-of-way, and all trains would run through to Kennedy eliminating all of the transfers enroute from northeastern Scarborough.
There remains the question of that 10,000/hour projected demand. By the time, if ever, that Scarborough is built out to a level where that demand would be generated, there will be considerably improved regional services in the same catchment area on the Seaton GO service. Two decades from now, will we still be pretending that GO trains only exist to carry people originating in the 905?
If, as population in northeastern Scarborough builds, those who wish to travel to the core area choose to use the regional services, then that 10K/hour demand may never be reached.
But that outlook wasn’t on the table. Even though the presentation states:
All four network alternatives meet the project objectives.
the comparative evaluation is strongly coloured by the assumptions about an RT/LRT mixed implementation and its requirement to transfer. It’s no surprise that the LRT options are not carried forward.
Next come the various alignment alternatives. At this point, there are no recommendations on that score (come back for the next round of consultation later this summer). One new alternative, much different from those shown in the first round, is a route via Neilson Road north from Highway 401.
One alignment uses the abandoned rail corridor north of Sheppard, and design panels show how this would impact on the back yards of the neighbourhood through which it passes. I’m amused to see this design debate because the original Scarborough line was going to follow the same right-of-way further south, and there were substantial objections from the local residents. That’s why the line runs parallel to the CN Uxbridge Sub rather than diagonally from Kennedy to STC.
I have no illusions that the RT rebuild and extension won’t go forward, and probably the only thing that might replace it would be a scheme to extend the BD subway further north. The sad part in all of this is that we could have had an LRT network in Scarborough 30 years ago.