Waterfront LRT — Bremner Boulevard Option

At the June 18 TTC meeting, a report on the Supplementary Agenda recommends that the Commission approve the concept for the portion of the Waterfront West LRT between Union Station and Exhibition Place.  The linked document is the full report including illustrations.

The preferred route from Union Station (which itself must be expanded to accommodate increased streetcar traffic from the eastern and western waterfront lines) runs:

  • south in the existing tunnel to the end of the railway viaduct,
  • west through a new tunnel under the Air Canada Centre Galleria, under an office building now under construction at York and Bremner, and under Bremner itself to emerge in a portal near Simcoe Street,
  • via Bremner to Bathurst where the street name changes to Fort York Boulevard,
  • via Fort York Blvd. to its crossing under the Gardiner Expressway,
  • via the land under the Gardiner and a former railway underpass under Strachan Avenue to merge with the existing Exhibition Loop trackage.

An alternative route via Fort York Blvd. all the way to Fleet and the existing Bathurst/Harbourfront route tracks is the less-desired alternative.

The report discusses the capacity problems at Bathurst/Fleet/Lake Shore where the long cycle times limit the number of transit movements per hour.  This has been a long-standing problem at a supposedly transit-priority location.

Changing the route as described above is expected to shave considerable travel time off of the run from southern Etobicoke into Union Station.  At this point, the WWLRT route west of Dufferin is still under study (as part of a south Parkdale overall review), but the TTC is looking at routing some service from 501 Queen and 504 King into Union via Dufferin Street and the new WWLRT.

The TTC will send this proposal to Metrolinx for inclusion in its grab-bag of regional transit schemes.

Sheppard LRT EA Final Open Houses (Update 2)

Update 2 (June 18):  The EA report on the Sheppard LRT came before the TTC and it was extremely warmly received by all present.  A few updates worth noting:

  • Property owners at Settlers’ Road (roughly at the ramps to the Atria development) asked that a stop be added at their location because the spacing from Consumers to Victoria Park is longer than the target average for the line.  They have been working with TTC staff to come up with a suitable configuration.
  • The Don Mills Station connection option includes examination of running both services on the same platform with the subway using the north track, and the LRT using the south track.  This has operational issues, but the TTC is looking at this as an alternative to extending the platform far enough east so that there would be competely separate loading zones.
  • There is a strong push for the Consumers Road subway extension option as a way to improve service to this business park and spur development of much vacant (read parking) land there.  Also, it is hoped that this would reverse the area’s drop in employment of about 25% over past years.
  • The projected cost has risen from the original $555-million in the Transit City announcement to $865-million largely due to the cost of the subway connection at Don Mills (originally this was costed as a surface station) and an increased estimate for vehicles. 

The original post follows. Continue reading

Caribana Cash Grab (Updated)

Update:  At the TTC meeting on June 18, the Caribana pass was approved at a cost of $18, the price of two Day passes.  Sanity prevails.

At this week’s TTC meeting, a report recommends that a special two-day Caribana pass be issued for August 2 and 3.  Great stuff!  Give the tourists a souvenir.  Simplify ticketing.

But wait.  The price will be $20, or $2 more than the cost of two Day Passes “to offset the cost of production”.   Are we really supposed to believe that it will cost $100,000 to produce the 50,000 passes the TTC expects to sell?

I have no objection to event-based transit passes for conventions and other gatherings, and the idea is certainly not new in Toronto.  Tourists are found money for the TTC, and the last thing we need is to put them in a situation where they pay more for their “special” pass.  

Collecting fares is part of the business of running the TTC.  Selling special passes simplifies TTC operations because visitors only need to buy one pass.  These can be sold through hotels, not just a handful of downtown subway stations.  Pass holders enter vehicles quickly rather than pulling together odd amounts of cash.  Service runs more smoothly, and all door loading is possible at major stops.  That quality of service is worth something, if only fewer delays and short turns.

Doesn’t this count for anything at the TTC?  Maybe the lesson they need is that of basic market forces — have a pile of unsold, overpriced passes on August 4.

The two-day pass should be sold at a discount relative to individual Day Passes.  Show our visitors that we welcome them on the TTC.