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.

I spent an evening at the open house for the Sheppard LRT project at Agincourt Collegiate.  This post contains comments on some aspects of the project. 

[Update June 13]  The display boards are now online at the project’s website.

Scope of the Project

The project now extends from Don Mills to Meadowvale.  In conjunction with the EA, there will be an Official Plan Amendment to designate all of Sheppard as a “Higher Order Transit Corridor” so that the OP is in sync with this part of Transit City.  Similar amendmends will come up as work on other TC lines requiring them comes up.

There has been discussion of an LRT link south from Sheppard to Scarborough Town Centre via McCowan or Brimley, but there are no details on this scheme beyond a brief indication on a map.  This option is tied up with work on both the Scarborough RT extension and the Scarborough/Malvern LRT line.

Carhouse Options and Network Connections

The large-scale street map of the route shows a possible spur into Malvern Garage, but there is also talk of using the Hydro corridor lands near Meadowvale for a yard.

At the west end of the line, all options for connecting to Don Mills Station include non-revenue trackage (to be built in mixed traffic) to just east of Don Mills Road for a future connection to the Don Mills LRT line.

Agincourt GO Station

The LRT station will be located west of a new Sheppard Ave. underpass at this location, and pedestrian access will be via a new road north from Sheppard into the station property.

Sheppard Subway Connection

Two options of five that were studied remain under active consideration.  Further design work, not to mention a policy decision, will be needed to resolve which of the two will actually be built.

“Option 5” involves a subway extension to Consumers Road where it would connect with the LRT line.  The subway would be just under the surface at this point (rather than 18m down as it is at Don Mills Station), and there would be a direct vertical transfer from the surface LRT platform down to the subway.  As I mentioned above, service tracks would extend west from Consumers to Don Mills.

“Option 3” takes the LRT into a tunnel at Consumers Road and brings it down to the same level as the subway.  The existing station platform would be extended, and passengers would walk directly from the LRT half of the station into the subway half at platform level.  Some separation between the two modes would be needed as a safety measure for platform overshoots. 

The LRT tunnel would be built to subway clearances so that the line could be extended without major reconstruction.  Equally, although the TTC doesn’t talk up this option, the LRT could be extended west via the existing subway tunnel.  This option preserves both possibilities and keeps everyone happy.

As with Option 5, the service tracks extend from Consumers to Don Mills.

Options that were rejected include:

  • A concourse level connection between the LRT and the subway at Don Mills Station.  This was rejected because less of the LRT tunnel could be reused if the subway were ever extended east.
  • An all-underground configuration at Consumers Road.  This would require the LRT to drop into a tunnel somewhere west of Victoria Park so that an underground LRT terminal could be above a deeper subway terminal.  This was rejected because it is very expensive with little benefit compared to Option 5.

The relative cost of the two favoured options are $235M for Option 3 (LRT to Don Mills Station) or $350-375M for Option 5 (Subway to Consumers).  The difference is comparatively low because a tunnel built to subway specs is required for both options from Don Mills to Consumers.  The big difference is the presence of a subway station at Consumers in Option 5.  These costs do not include the service trackage to Don Mills Road which is estimated at $10-15M and is common to both options.

Street Design

Transit City includes a standard design layout for its streets, and this has been applied to Sheppard Avenue with a few flavours taking into account the present and likely future land uses.  Typically, the road includes two traffic lanes each way, a bike lane each way, the LRT right-of-way and the paired transit island / left turn lane configuration we have seen on other TTC projects.

On the inner part of the line, the “shadows” of some turn lanes and stations are used for in-street landscaping.  On the outer part of the line, there is already a well developed green border of the street, and this will be retained.

At bridges such as Highland Creek, extra road width will be obtained by building new peestrian bridges outside of the existing structures.  This will give room for bike lanes where the sidewalks are now.

Operating Speed and Stop Spacing

The TTC looked at two alternative designs for the line.  One had an average stop spacing of 800m while the other used 400m.  Traffic simulations showed that with the wider spacing, the line would operate at an average speed of 26-27kph.  At the closer spacing, the speed would drop to 22-23kph.  They had expected a larger impact, but what actually happens is that the saving from fewer stops is partly offset by longer loading times at the remaining stops, and by traffic interference at the major cross-streets that are not transit stops.

To put this in context, the distance from Meadowvale to Consumers is a bit under 14km.  The trip time for the maximum length journey would be about 32 minutes on the wide spacing, or about 37 minutes on the narrow spacing.  For most riders, the difference in the in-vehicle time would be more than offset by the longer walk to a station.

As a reference point, the TTC cited operating speeds of three existing routes:

  • The Spadina streetcar has an average stop spacing of 280m and operates at 14kph.
  • The Sheppard East bus has an average stop spacing of 290m and operates at 17kph.
  • The Bloor-Danforth subway has an average stop spacing of 875m and operates at 32kph.  (Note that stations are closer together and speeds are lower in the original part of the line from Woodbine to Keele.  This is about 12km long and has an average spacing of about 630m.)

The cited speed for the bus is a bit on the low side because it is for the section of the route west of Don Mills.  However, two important points about the Spadina car are that it is a shorter route and terminal dwell time has a proportionately larger effect on scheduled speed, and it is a route with strong, bi-directional demand at most stops.

For either the LRT with 800m stop spacing or for a subway scheme, a comparatively infrequent surface bus would operate.  I have discussed how this arrangement works against the goals of the Official Plan by encouraging high density point development around widely spaced stations, and won’t belabour the point here.

Next Steps

The final EA report will go to the June TTC Commission Meeting, and to Council in July.

Assuming that funding is available from at least Queen’s Park and the City, construction would start late in 2008 or early in 2009 with utilities relocation.

The controlling factor for opening date is fleet availability, and we won’t have any idea where that sits until the TTC reports on its new streetcar/LRV order in fall 2008.

59 thoughts on “Sheppard LRT EA Final Open Houses (Update 2)

  1. About a future change at Don Mills by either extending the subway east, or converting the subway to extend the LRT west, I previously wrote, “I won’t go into how I suspect that a staged conversion could take place, as there are some complicated details that are rather long-winded, but it seems feasible.”

    After going through this, I have posted the long-winded details at


  2. Again, I posted a new map of the proposed stops based on the big map. There’s two mid-block stops, with standard pedestrian crossovers to access the stops.

    I’ve still have a lot of concerns, and would agree about the subway to Victoria Park being logical, especially if the subway extension to Consumers is chosen as the means to connect the two Sheppard East lines. I also think that a spur to STC is warranted, especially as ridership drops on the 85 past Brimley or McCowan, and the 190 takes a lot of the load. Splitting the service makes sense to me.

    I also note that Meadowvale was now the eastern terminus, rather than Morningside. I hope they don’t think an extension to Twyn Rivers and Pickering is a logical continuation.

    As for speed, regional rail makes more sense for people in Malvern to get downtown quickly – the CP line runs almost right behind the Malvern Town Centre. And there’s a connection to Agincourt GO as well that hopefully will be very useful once GO starts real service on that route.

    Anyway, here’s the map. Mind my sometimes snide remarks.


  3. The Agincourt GO underpass diagram shows a single-track railroad bridge. That seems to needlessly constrain future GO capacity expansion. Surely, constructing a triple- or at least double-track bridge would be more prudent.


  4. I did notice one sentence in the frequently asked questions that assures me that this line is not going to take transit priority seriously:

    “However, while no left turns will be permitted from Sheppard to a side-street or driveway, a motorist will be able to simply travel past their intended destination to the next signalized intersection and make a U-turn from the left turn lane on a special ‘advanced green’ signal phase, and return to their intended side-street”

    My idea of transit “priority” does not include advanced greens for motorists so that they can turn “prior” to transit.


  5. Leo Petr said, “The Agincourt GO underpass diagram shows a single-track railroad bridge.”

    I suspect the TTC’s planners haven’t yet talked with the folks at CN yet. For quite some time now (likely at least two decades), CN has insisted that all new bridge construction on single track lines be built with room for a second track.


  6. Steve, you mention the right of way for the proposed richview expressway. I wanted to note that there is literally enough space here to add an LRT line beside Eglinton, and throw the entire Allen in there too. I have toyed with the idea of running the LRT line in an above-ground berm like a rail line, but the connection at Jane becomes troublesome. There is no reason why we cannot put the line in the middle of the road, and extend the road far enough away so that there is greenspace between the LRT trackage and the road itself.


  7. Nick J Boragina wrote about Eglinton on the Richview Expressway lands, “There is no reason why we cannot put the line in the middle of the road, and extend the road far enough away so that there is greenspace between the LRT trackage and the road itself.”

    An example of this is in Melbourne on St. Georges Road for about a 3 km stretch where route 112 runs. The median is quite wide and the northern 2 km has each track as the border between the median and the road while the east track shifts to be next to the west track for the southern kilometre.

    You can see what this is like looking north from the point where the tracks separate at


  8. Steve, I like the Consumers Road terminal better, it helps the Sheppard subway quite a bit by getting ridership from the Consumers Road office complexes. The LRT can terminate on the North platform and the subway to the south. Would there have to be a third HRT rail installed between Don Mills and Consumers, for storage etc…

    What happens when the Sheppard subway gets an increase in ridership and trains run every two minutes, would it be a problem with one platform? The third rail would allow subways in the future to creep up to Consumers. Steve, what would it cost to build Willowdale station? Were provisions made for a future Willowdale stn. When we build the LRT we should look into this. The stop spacing from Bayview to Yonge is quite far.

    Steve: I don’t think Sheppard is ever going to get down to 2 minutes, but I do agree that a stub terminal operation is very short-sighted. Just look at what it meant for the RT at Kennedy and McCowan.

    If the subway goes to Consumers, I think the LRT should stay on the surface with a direct vertical transfer from a covered station down to a shallow subway structure (they can’t go deep because of a conflicting north-south sewer on the east side of the intersection). Also, keeping the LRT on the surface simplifies provision of the requested additional stop between Consumers and Victoria Park.


  9. w zenetos wrote, “I like the Consumers Road terminal better, it helps the Sheppard subway quite a bit by getting ridership from the Consumers Road office complexes.”

    Just how many people from the “Consumers Road office complexes” are within walking distance to Sheppard and Consumers Road? Some will benefit for sure, but I would speculate that over 60% would have to take a bus that will still run to Don Mills Station.

    As for costs, the now projected $865 million is not out of line with the original $555 million. On June 5 (at, I took the original price, and using the $40.8 million per kilometre on surface extracted from original TC plans, I removed the stretch from Consumers to Don Mills, then added the tunnel approach cost, including the surface connecting tracks. On top of that, the cost for the 2.4 km from Morningside to Meadowvale was added, and I came up with $863 million.


  10. Steve

    Your covered terminus sounds like a better idea at Sheppard/Don Mills given that non-revenue trackage is, I thought, contemplated even under the underground connection schemes.

    Steve: The covered terminus is the TTC’s idea, not mine, although I think the scheme deserves further study.

    The non-rev trackage (now rev trackage) could be in non-row except at peak and unlike King enforced. You could pay a heck of a lot of traffic cops with the cost of an underground connection…

    This “disadvantage” would be that both boosters of a Sheppard East subway and a Sheppard East subLRT conversion would find their cases harder to push given that the segregated cross-valley connection would then become a separate item.

    As for Sheppard at 2 minutes, would it be better in the circumstances to complete the 6-car rough-ins and leave it as five minutes rather than incur the cost of extra sets and drivers?

    Steve: The problem I have with the 2-minute headway is that even with 4-car trains we would have a design capacity of about 20K/hour which would completely overwhelm the Yonge line.

    The most optimistic projections for Sheppard back when it was first proposed and the demand model sucked every rider available from about Eglinton to Steeles onto the line were about 13K. Most of those riders came from the same catchment area as the GO Transit services that exist now or could be built/expanded.

    The model also predicted a demand of 55K at Wellesley in the AM peak, and that spawned a mad scheme for additional platforms at Bloor-Yonge.


  11. Stephen Cheung,

    “Neither was Wilson to Downsview from what I know. From what I hear, they never really had any “major” ridership predictions for that portion. But it is still there nonethless. I have no doubts someone is going to pull out “that extension is cheaper” stick, but the point here is that the demand on that portion of the Spadina line is greater now than it was before.”

    This is a bad example, as the construction of the extension from Wilson to Downsview was done not because of any particular merit, but purely due to political considerations.

    If I recall correctly, the extension was approved in 1989. Now, at the time, there were two competing subway plans: Metropolitan Toronto was still advocating for Network 2011, which would have put down subways between 1985 to 2014 in five phases:

    1. Sheppard subway from Yonge to Victoria Park
    2. Downtown Relief Line
    3. Eglinton West busway from Spadina subway to Mississauga Border
    4. Extension of Sheppard at both ends to STC and Downsview. Spadina subway extended to Downsview at this time (like, 2008 or so).
    5. Upgrade of Eglinton West busway to full subway.

    In 1984, Network 2011 was projected to cost $2.1 billion. And in 1985, the newly elected Liberal government at Queen’s Park blanched at the cost. After hemming and hawing, they came up with an alternate plan, to try and get shovels in the ground, but at lower cost. The projects included:

    1. Bloor subway extension to Sherway Gardens.
    2. Sheppard subway from Yonge to Victoria Park, assuming Mel Lastman could raise 50% of the costs through private contributions (he couldn’t)
    3. Scarborough RT extension to Sheppard and Markham Road
    4. Eglinton West LRT from Spadina subway to Black Creek
    5. A Yonge-Spadina belt line, built by extending the Yonge subway WEST from Finch station, along the Hydro right-of-way corridor to Dufferin, and south on Dufferin to Wilson

    As an aside, the placement of both the Network 2011 plan and the Petersen alternate plan reflect the make-up of Metropolitan Toronto in those days, with the regional government split up into six cities. The “west bloc” of Etobicoke and York had to be balanced with the “east bloc” of Scarborough and North York. East York and Toronto could generally just go hang.

    But the centrepiece of the Petersen proposal was the Yonge-Spadina belt line, which was supposed to eliminate the terminal operations at Wilson and Finch, allowing the subway to run as two separate lines, with trains spaced closer together — possibly as close as 90 seconds apart. This would, they suggested, eliminate the need for a Downtown Relief Line and, with additional busways, possibly the Sheppard line as well. (Lastman went ballistic, of course, and this is why the Sheppard line was added back into the Petersen proposal, albeit with the private funding caveat).

    So, we have two plans: Network 2011 and the Petersen proposal. Network 2011 and the Petersen proposal. What to build? What to build? How do we get shovels into the ground?

    Well, of course, what’s the common piece between the two plans: the extension of the Spadina subway from Wilson to Downsview. So it was built, after some decision making about whether the platform should run north-south, for an extension to Dufferin/Finch (and, later, York University, as York interests intervened to expand the Petersen belt line), or east-west, for an extension along Sheppard to Yonge, should the Sheppard line be built as an extension of the Spadina subway. WEIRD!!

    At the time, councillors admitted that it was an expensive line running “from nowhere to nowhere”. But they agreed to it because they wanted SOMETHING. But now that this is all that we have, I’m less sure if this was a good idea. That’s a fair chunk of money to waste, that could have been spent productively elsewhere, assuming somebody had shown a bit more political leadership.

    Building a subway extension simply because it’s politically expedient is backwards, in my opinion. The only questions should be: is the ridership there or, is the ridership ever going to be there.

    Steve: And to compound the tragedy of it all, when Peterson’s Liberals were unexpectedly ousted by Rae’s NDP, what did we get? A plan to keep all of the subway proposals alive as a matter of job creation. The NDP didn’t want to hear a word about spending money wisely to get more transportation where it was needed. All they cared about was propping up the construction industry that was in free fall thanks to the looming recession.

    For this failure, I can never forgive the NDP and Bob Rae in particular. We had a chance to change direction away from megaprojects to build what the city actually needed, and they didn’t want to hear a word of it.


  12. What did we get after Harris came to power? Draconian cuts to all transit and a truncated Sheppard stubway as a sop to Mel Lastman. The William Davis era may not have been perfect in part because that gadgetbahn mentality early on but at least there was an interest in transit issues that eventually was completely scuttled by our friend Harris in the years since. It just hasn’t been the same even with dear old Dalton in charge.


  13. This is late coming in as I just noticed this comment while searching for info on the Sheppard East LRT. But I note a similarity on what James is saying compared to what is actually happening. In either case, we are looking to build an extension to possibly “connect with a bigger project”. The only question is how should that connection take place.

    Downsview, when it was built, was indeed a connection in the middle of nowhere. But that is now changing. More businesses are popping up on Downsview park. More condo buildings are springing up near the station. Let us also not forget the Scarborough RT in which it is now over capacity considering all the condos popping near the area. Comparing this to Sheppard to Victoria Park, we would already have a dedicated ridership base in terms of high density apartments. I’m pretty sure the Condo developers would want to get a piece of this pie.

    The Toronto Star has several articles that indicate the Sheppard East line is to be built first. I agree with Eric Chow’s comments that it should be built last until a final decision has been made on the Sheppard Subway’s terminus.

    But lo and behold the decision may already have been made. I still think this is a decision which limits the growth of the Sheppard Subway. Allowing Sheppard to simply languish at the state it is not the right way to build a subway.

    Steve: It is no secret that various options are under study (this has come up both at TTC and at Metrolinx).

    Extend the Sheppard line east from Don Mills to Consumers to bring it closer to the surface for a vertical link to an LRT terminus/station above.
    Run the Sheppard LRT into a tunnel to Don Mills Station with shared platform access to subway and LRT trains.
    Extend the Sheppard subway west to Downsview.
    Route the Finch West LRT south to meet the extended Sheppard Subway.
    Extend the Finch LRT east to Don Mills.

    A definitive choice on any of these has not yet been made.


  14. Yes, I remember those choices, but no one seems to consider any extension to Victoria Park, and it is not on the list. As people on this thread have stated before, Victoria Park is a more logical place for a transit hub, given its proximity to high density residential areas, and that it is a stone’s throw away from Consumers. It is folly for the transit planners to expect these people who live around the intersection to take two separate modes of transportation just to get to the Yonge Subway line. Where is the foresight?


  15. I couldn’t help but notice that your list of five options under consideration doesn’t include a conversion of the stubway into LRT. Is this officially off the table now?

    Steve: I think that idea is pretty much dead. Nothing is “officially” off the table, but I don’t think that it is being taken seriously.


  16. Why didn’t the TTC propose an LRT stop at Sheppard Avenue East and Conlins Road in order to provide easy access for employees to the long-term care facility on the southeast corner?

    Steve: I don’t know, although it seems like a fair question. At least as an LRT line, it won’t be hard to add a stop there.


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