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. Thanks for the summary Steve. I’m out of town for the week and was unable to attend the open houses. Since this is my “local” LRT line, my interest is definitely higher than usual and from the sounds of things, I’m very happy with this.


  2. Extending the subway to consumers to make a transfer is not a very smart option, as it might require two transfers for someone taking the sheppard LRT to the epected busy Don Mills LRT line.

    As for stop spacing, it’s logical to add stops at each stoplight. I’ve done some crude calculations for that and they are below.

    Don Mills to Consumers – 1200M
    (Consumers) to Vic Park – 670M
    to pharmacy – 435M
    to warden – 830M
    to Aragon (small street with lights) 300M
    to birchmount – 530M
    to allanford (near agincourt mall) – 400M
    to agincourt mall entrance – 235M (can be skipped)
    (and if skipped, allanford) to Kennedy – 430M
    to Agincourt GO (logical stop) – 410M
    to Midland – 400M
    to Glen Watford (small street) – 215M
    to Brimley – 640M
    to McCowan – 790M
    to Shorting (smaller employment street) – 825M
    to Scrunthorpe (smaller street south of malvern garage) – 610M
    to Markham Rd – 240M
    to Progress (and possible SRT station) – 310M
    to Gateforth – (smaller street. Skip? maybe not) – 390M
    to Washburn Way – (bigger street in Malvern) – 230M
    to Neilson – 820M
    to Murison – 400M
    to Brenyon Way – 500M
    to Morningside – 600M
    to Water Tower Gate – 410M
    to Dean Park Rd (I grew up here!) – 1220M
    to Meadowvale – 810M

    average this, from consumers to meadowvale, and I get an average of 562M. Some of these would be logical for mid-block stations however.

    I’m actually glad I did this, many of the stops should logically be located at near 400M intervals, without that being ironclad (IE- dont put a stop somewhere just because it’s been 400M since the last one)


  3. Steve, was there any word on signal priority?

    Steve: No explicit details, meaning that we are probably facing the same problems we have today on St. Clair and Spadina. Comments about how the wider stop spacing service would be held by traffic lights at the mid-stop crossings suggests that the model didn’t have much if any priority built into it.

    I will follow up on this.


  4. Steve said: “[With option 3,] the LRT could be extended west [of Don Mills? or Consumers?] via the existing subway tunnel. This option preserves both possibilities and keeps everyone happy.”

    I thought you had said in an earlier post that using the existing subway for LRT was impractical because the difference in platform heights for subway versus LRT.

    Steve: Since then, there has actually been a proposal to extend the LRT via the subway from a “real” consultant, Richard Soberman, and I know this option has some adherents within the TTC. I took a detailed look at the subway line, and it may in fact be possible to perform a retrofit. At least it’s worth looking into the details. (One thing I had forgotten about was that the round portions of the tunnel are bigger than on the original parts of the subway because they include provision for the double-tie track suspension.)

    Steve said: “The difference is comparatively low because a tunnel built to subway specs is required for both options from Don Mills to Consumers.”

    Is the cost of tunneling per KM $200 million for subway versus $100 for LRT? (I’m less sure of the LRT cost.) Is the difference due to double-bore for subway versus single-bore for LRT.

    Steve: If the subway goes to Consumers, it has an underground station. If the LRT goes to Don Mills, the station at Consumers is completely on the surface. That’s the big difference.


  5. Steve
    With regard to the paragraph “Operating Speed and Stop Spacing” my thoughts on the subject are as follows. Although speed and long distances between stops are probably a plus for the long haul rider, I don’t really think that most pasengers mind if the stops are closer together where passengers can get on and off closer to their starting point or destination point. I think what matters most to the passenger is that they do not want to be stopped “dead” in traffic nor do they want long, unnecessary waits at signalized intersections. I think if they have the closer stops and a good signal system that gives the trains priority over motor traffic, clean light rail vehicles, both inside and out, that line will be well accepted and heavily used.



  6. I wonder how the service to the Zoo will be shaped once the LRT is in operation. A bus from the LRT eastern terminus at Meadowdale is not appealing, just too many transfers.

    Perhaps the LRT should be extended to Zoo. That section would be lightly used, but Zoo-bound passengers would travel other sections as well, hence increasing the total ridership.

    Steve: Service to the zoo is outside of the scope of this project. Until we know how far the line will actually go (all of those dotted lines off into the 905) options like a direct zoo service don’t yet have a context.


  7. “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.”

    Well, one thing that comes to mind is that the subway typically uses the northern platform at Don Mills, leaving the southern one empty for storage purposes. That should be where the LRT’s offload, then, for operation purposes. Otherwise, I’m seeing a spur tunnel to send an overshooting subway train off to one side in order to prevent it from crashing into an LRT vehicle.


  8. RE: Zoo connection

    Staff from the TTC and the Zoo are scheduled to meet at the next Scarborough Community Council meeting and I would assume they would float their ideas at this meeting. This item has been deferred for the past 2 meetings…i’m not sure why, but interesting nonetheless.

    Steve, which is your preference for LRT/Subway connection out of these two? Apologies if I have missed it from an earlier post/thread.

    Steve: I prefer the LRT connection at Don Mills Station. There’s an argument to be made for bringing the subway east of the 404, but that will inevitably lead to a request to go “just to Victoria Park”, and so on. The demand projections for Sheppard East are nowhere near subway capacities. As for the Consumers Road, a great deal of it is still a fair walk down from Sheppard and this is a major disincentive to transit use regardless of the mode. There will always be a demand for some sort of route circulating through the area.


  9. I just completed my overview of new points on the Sheppard LRT at before coming here. Funny how we both described option 5 for the subway/LRT interface first! 😉

    One issue of my own is the platform at the Agincourt GO Station. I really feel that the GO network will become more and more important for intra-416 transit and a centre platform with stairs/elevator up to the GO platform would be a wise implementation. As the plan is now, it will be quite a walk in distance, plus uphill when going from LRT to GO, between the two platforms. Perhaps my opinion is coloured by an incident a couple of decades back of exiting an eastbound bus just as the GO train was pulling into the station and doing a mad dash across traffic to get to the pre-POP entrance in order to catch the train. Even then it was quite a dash while the bus stop was half the distance to the track and more or less the same elevation than the proposed stop will be.

    Nick J Boragina went through some traffic light calculations. I would add that the plan shows a new light at Palmdale (between Pharmacy and Warden), no stop now but possible space for a stop at the Agincourt Mall entrance, and a mid-block stop between Washburn Way and Neilson. There may have been a few other differences, but you got it quite accurate.

    About the difference in cost between the two subway options, Steve wrote, “If the subway goes to Consumers, it has an underground station. If the LRT goes to Don Mills, the station at Consumers is completely on the surface. That’s the big difference.”

    I think there are a few other differences that should be considered. While it may be possible that a one-level-below-the-surface subway station costs $120M, don’t forget that the subway extension proposed is a “shallow” extension, that I suspect is somehow less costly than other subway options. The savings in the tunnel construction could very well be eaten up by this station being built, but it strikes me that the cost of extending the platform at Don Mills east to accommodate a 60 metre LRT train plus a 100-150 metre safety buffer space would easily be just as expensive, even with the existing platform already roughed in for a six-car subway train.

    Steve jumps in: There is a difference between the two tunnel designs although it was not evident on the drawings.

    The subway is 18m underground at Don Mills Station, and will rise gradually as it moves east. There are two physical constraints on this. First, it must go under the 404, and next it must rise close enough to the surface to clear a large sewer at Consumers Road. The only “shallow” part of the tunnel is the easternmost section.

    If the LRT goes to Don Mills, the tunnel portal will be west of Consumers and the problem with the sewer does not exist. The LRT still has to get under the 404. As for the station extension at Don Mills, you have to dig the hole regardless of whether it’s used by a subway or LRT structure. Adding an extended platform does not require the other trappings of a station such as escalators and elevators because the existing station exits would likely be used for the LRT as well as for the subway at Don Mills. Therefore we would not be building a full “station” for the extended platform.

    Harold said, “I don’t really think that most pasengers mind if the stops are closer together where passengers can get on and off closer to their starting point or destination point.”

    I recently had a chat with someone from Pittsburgh and was told that there has been some grumbling about how some parts of their LRT system has stops that are considered to be too close together which makes for a longer and less comfortable commute. That said, the 400-500 metre spacing for Sheppard should be acceptable to most users.

    Rainforest said, “I wonder how the service to the Zoo will be shaped once the LRT is in operation”

    Since I went to the session at the Malvern Community Centre, I took a look at the SRT materials as well. There was a mention of possible future zoo service likely being provided by a branch of an LRT line, which of course was out of the scope of that project, so that was all that was said.

    I had originally thought, like James Bow, that opposite side loading would be most efficient, from a passenger point of view. For operational purposes, it would be better if there were two tracks in the terminal for both modes, as something will eventually cause a train to stay there beyond its welcome, and we wouldn’t want this point to be a major roadblock for the whole line (either line).


  10. I went to the Malvern meeting tonight. I heard TTC is thinking of bringing the LRT underground to Don Mills Station from Brian Drive and Sheppard Ave E.

    Also, there TTC has hired consultants to study the feasibility of turning the Sheppard Subway into LRT so that it can offer a seamless line from Yonge Street to the Zoo.

    I am liking what I hear so far and cannot wait to see it happening right behind my backyard!


  11. Regarding Nick’s comment on whether to extend the subway to Consumers or bring the LRT underground to Don Mills station: has the TTC investigated just how many riders on the current Sheppard East bus transfer to a Don Mills bus and vice-versa? If the overwhelming majority do not (which I believe is the case), then a transfer at Consumers is probably the logical choice, since we’re going to be building a subway-grade tunnel anyway. However, if LRT can be run into the existing Sheppard tunnel, then it’s a no-brainer. Bring the LRT underground at Consumers and convert the subway to LRT for a transfer-free ride. The added benefit with this option would be a possible future westbound extension from Sheppard/Yonge on the surface, either up to connect with Finch or over to Downsview station (something that could not be done if we keep the existing subway).


  12. I definitely prefer Option 3. This will address the main concern of transfer, and forcing riders up a few levels to make a connection. Also, if the subway is to be extended, will that not require another Class EA?

    I can be wrong, but isn’t the diameter of the Sheppard Tunnel larger than the rest of the system? Seems to be there is enough room for overhead equipment.

    Steve: I believe that you are right on both counts.

    A two-year EA just to extend the subway over to Consumers Road would be an expensive and unnecessary addition to the timeline for this project, but I think there is already an approved EA for the line all the way to STC. That would cover the extension.

    Yes, I believe the Sheppard tunnels are bigger. The real constraints come in the box tunnel sections at crossovers.


  13. One of the problems with converting the sheppard subway to LRT (and I used to push this but do so no longer) is capacity. Currently, during rush, the ‘stubway’ as I call it, tends to fill up all seats, and have a number of standees. We can roughly guesstimate this to be between 70-100 persons per subway car. For the sake of argument lets estimate this to be 100 (since ridership will hopefully grow as we near 2020) and make this total number 400 per train (which runs at 5:30). Current 75-foot ALRV’s can fit around 100 people as a service load. although our new LRV’s will be longer, they will be low-floor, and that will certainly lead to some kind of decrease. I’m going to assume that a 100-foot new LRV will be able to carry 115 people – I think that’s fair. Now lets assume they always run in 2 car trains.

    To provide this level of service to the sheppard subway, we’d need to run the LRV trains every 4:15 during rush. That is only to provide crush-loaded service at current service levels. Sheppard subway trains have the capacity to fit 664 people, which would bring our headway way down to 1:55 between Don Mills and Sheppard-Yonge. Current bus headway on Sheppard East is 4:35 at peak. Even assuming this bus is crush-loaded (which it’s not) that means you can half fill one LRV vehicle (not the 2 you’d need for a 2-car train)

    In short, it’s *possible*, especially if you are short-turning trains at Don Mills, and branching half of the remainder into STC, but even then you’ll end up with crush loaded trains at Bayview, and empty ones by Markham Rd.

    Steve: Then Nick had second thoughts, and wrote another comment which I have moved here:

    On second thought, those numbers I calculated earlier are not as bad as I had feared – especially now that a spur to STC is being seriously looked at. Having a 2:30 headway though the stubway, 5:00 outside it, and 10:00 east of STC might work, and might work well.

    Of course, if we do this, the option of extending the stubway west will rear it’s head once more.

    Steve: The design load for the new LRVs is 130 per car. This is the average, not the crush load, and is the value used for service design. A two-car train would hold 260, and 30 trains/hour (a 120 second headway) would carry 7,800 passengers per hour.

    As you note, headways in the “subway” part of the line could be closer than on the surface part, and we would not have to run all of the trains out to Meadowvale.


  14. I interviewed Giambrone when he came to that open house on that school in Pharmacy. By the way he took the ttc to Don Mills station then a $3 cab ride (this coming out of his own mouth). He told me that Don Mills Station will NEVER be like Kennedy Station (At that time the Don Mills LRT was not taken into consideration of the questions I was asking him).

    Will the track’s width/size (I have no idea what the proper term is) for the LRT be the same or different than the subway? (remember how it is impossible for the SRT trains to use subway tracks and vice-versa, even if they built a connection?).

    What about a “three floored station”, I have no idea how deep the subway platform is at Don Mills Station but what if the Don Mills LRT platform goes about the Sheppard subway station and then the LRT underneath the Sheppard subway station? (king of like St. George, Bloor-Yonge or Sheppard-Yonge). Which line goes on which “floor” can be specified later on.

    The three floored thing would work if the current station is partially underneath the actual station, then the subway station/don mills lrt station could be like Bloor-Yonge.

    What do you think of the “double-sided” train style for the Sheppard LRT, coming out of Mr. Giambrone saying there will not be loops at the end.

    Steve: Yes, the track gauge will be the same for the LRT as for the subway. Back when the RT was designed, there was no need to integrate the two networks, and the provision of trucks for TTC gauge on the small RT car order was not justified as an extra cost.

    A three-tier station was one of the options they look at and rejected because the LRT tunnel could not easily be reused by a subway extension as it would be at the wrong elevation at the Don Mills end.

    Double-ended cars with centre platforms are a must for the new Transit City lines. They simplify the provision of terminals and intermediate short-turn points.


  15. Steve: If the subway goes to Consumers, it has an underground station. If the LRT goes to Don Mills, the station at Consumers is completely on the surface. That’s the big difference.
    Both options still require a new underground station regardless though; the underground Don Mills LRT station would still count as “a new station”, since it needs its own dedicated tracks and platform (the platform is the same level, but still new and dedicated), and would be comparable in cost to any subway station minus bus terminal.

    Speaking of bus terminals, Consumers would not need a bus terminal anyway, since the Don Mills one is huge and already there on the other side of the highway.

    For building code issues, I would expect a new exit in the complex dedicated to the LRT portion of the platform would be required by law (fire code). So where is all this extra money coming from since tunneling costs are the same and the fact that Consumers station would be significantly shallower than the Don Mills LRT station?

    Steve: Actually, there are multiple exits from Don Mills Station, and one of the existing ones is far enough east that it could likely serve the extended platform within building code constraints.

    I haven’t seen the presentation materials since they’re not online yet, but I can’t help but suspect someone has said “we need a bus terminal at Consumers station”…. but I must disagree here; no, you don’t need a bus terminal at Consumers, you just need the LRT bay, which can be shared by a route or two of buses if you really wanted to anyway.

    So the difference in costs could be 10s of millions less than presented.

    Furthermore, a shallow subway station at Consumers would also have no mezzanine level between surface and platform (has a small station building instead for fare gates… like Wellesley for example), while a Don Mills LRT station would have a pretty long staircase for its dedicated exit (18m is ~4.5 or 5 floors worth of a climb).

    Steve: See comment above about using the existing exist structures at Don Mills.

    These estimates are either extremely rough, or somebody is factoring in unnecessary extras. I’m leaning towards the latter.

    That said, I support the idea of a Consumers subway extention, but only on condition that the LRT swing north up the greenspace along the east side of the 404, and then run along Finch to Yonge (and through on Finch West LRT).

    Having Don Mills LRT, Sheppard East LRT, and Subway, in addition to buses, all transfering there at the same time is going to be crazy and is prudent to avoid such a mess. The same platform level for two out of the 4 points fo transfer (where the “points” are subway platform, Sheppard LRT platform, Don Mills LRT platform, bus terminal) does help the situation, but doesn’t solve the situation.

    By keeping Sheppard LRT – Don Mills LRT, Don Mills LRT – Sheppard Subway, Sheppard Subway – Sheppard LRT at separate points for their transfers, crowd control becomes vastly more manageable. A system that appears to be less crowded by distributing the transfers may be conductive to keeping the system in good standing by riders’ perception (meaning higher ridership).


  16. I’m still not in favour of leaving the Stubway as is. Nor am I in favour of the two options presented. While Option 5 extends the subway east of the Sheppard Bridge at 404 (where from what I hear, serious bottlenecks develop), it misses a critical area of ridership, that is Victoria Park and Sheppard. There are several apartment buildings in the immediate vicinity, not to mention the 24 Victoria Park bus route, which from what I hear has increased ridership as of late. To simply extend the subway to Consumers and requiring those at Victoria Park and Sheppard to either walk or take another mode of transit BEFORE they get to the subway is rather inconvenient.

    I still prefer an extension to Victoria Park but that is as far as I would go. No Warden, No Scarborough Town Centre connection. Getting a good foothold (not a toehold) in Scarborough will address some of the issues in that area.


  17. Aren’t there light rail vehicles that can pick up power from overhead wire and a third rail? Couldn’t those be used on a Sheppard subway conversion?

    Steve: The challenge is to have low platform stations with third rail operation. People can easily walk out onto the tracks, and that eliminates third rail designs. There are other ways to get headroom including re-engineering the trackbed so that it does not use the double tie structure.


  18. Karl Junkin said: “I support the idea of a Consumers subway extention, but only on condition that the LRT swing north up the greenspace along the east side of the 404, and then run along Finch to Yonge (and through on Finch West LRT).”

    Although I like the idea of a continuous Sheppard E – Finch E – Finch W LRT line, implementing it will be a challenge. Many sections of Finch E are a lot narrower than either Finch W or Sheppard E.

    From Yonge to Trudy Rd. (between Leslie and Don Mills), Finch E has just 4 narrow traffic lanes, no central turn lane, and houses are located pretty close to the road. It is hard to imagine a surface LRT fitting there, unless the general traffic is constrained to 1 lane per direction, and that is unlikely to pass. To complicate things, there is a steep hill west of Leslie, which is not good for LRT. From Trudy to Vic Park, the public right-of-way is reasonably wide, but again gets narrower from Vic Park to Warden. I did not have a chance to look further east.

    Btw, the City’s public right-of-ways map used for planning, shows both Finch W and Finch E uniformly wide. That makes me wonder how accurate that map is in other instances.

    If Finch E LRT ever materializes, it will likely require either substantial tunneling or the use of Hydro corridor.


  19. I believe the right-of-ways are uniformly wide because the property lines are actually 36m apart. On Finch, till Bayview at least, the sidewalks are usually a lane width away from the road, and so there’s enough to expand into a 3 lane configuration.

    However, I think the Sheppard LRT should not swing up to Finch East, but rather continue through the tunnel to Yonge, and then continue on Sheppard to Downsview. It should also meet the Finch LRT there, with it swinging down instead of continuing to Yonge, so it doesn’t have to go though the narrow parts of Finch west of Yonge and offers network connectivity, even though the ridership on Sheppard West may be less than Finch.


  20. It’s interesting to see how the TTC is basically is overlooking an obvious solution that isn’t being considered here: if anyone here has been on Sheppard, it’s obvious that everything east of Kennedy is filled with warehouses and may have a weaker case for LRT in general than even Morningside.

    Instead of building the line to the Zoo, why not allow the LRT to go towards Agincourt (last real cluster of density, with two GO lines) and then head south towards STC (connection with the SRT/LRT), following the path the Sheppard Subway intended to do? It would eliminate the hub at Markham/Sheppard, which at best is questionable in utility.

    Finally, if the Sheppard East LRT is built as planned, we would be the only city IN THE WORLD to require passengers to transfer from LRT to a five-stop subway just to travel along one corridor.


  21. Finch is wide. When I investigate these things for my sometimes radical proposals, I first check google maps to see if there is space, and if it looks possible, I take a bus ride in the area. Finch East (and west) would both need an extra lane added to the outside, so the inside lanes could be converted to LRT (or, since parking is not really an issue for most of finch, just build the LRT on the outside! there’s a thought for you) This could be done easily. Sheppard east of Don Mills is nearly the same (I’m not 100% about parking)

    The danger of extending the sheppard line to Consumers is that they will want to go “just one more stop” to vic park. Then the complaints will roll in that we are “so close” to Warden, another trip generator. After this, we will be “halfway” to Agincourt GO, then “just a bit more” to STC, and if we “Bring it around back” we can connect to Kennedy too. I honestly expect this would result in Sheppard going from STC to Downsview, and the possibility of having a pretzel-line with trains running from kipling (or square one) though kennedy, STC, Don Mills, Sheppard Yonge, Downsview, Wilson, St.George, Union, Bloor-Yonge, Sheppard Yonge once more, Finch, and Langstaff. While that might be a subway builder’s dream and a transitfan’s fantasy trip, it’s not good for transit, and should not be done, especially when you consider what else we could do with the money.

    I’m still on the fence about a sheppard subway LRT conversion, but I’m more for it then I was this morning. The issue would become a working turn-back loop at Don Mills, and I fear the TTC would muck it up somehow. I doubt the TTC is ready for double-ended LRV’s to tell you the truth, considering how poorly they operate the current single-ended ones. I’d support this if it ment we could extend sheppard to Downsview. I’ve seen with my own eyes people get off the subway and on the wilson bus at York Mills, head to Wilson Station, then walk up to the subway platform. Add to this the ridership on the York U Rocket and route 84, and I think you have a minimal ammount of ridership for an LRT line.


  22. I am against converting the subway to LRT. It will be very disruptive to passengers, forcing people onto crowded buses while the subway is closed for 6 months or so, and it will be quite costly. Nevertheless, it will only provide a very minor benefit. If the subway and LRT are on the same level and the subway and LRT schedules are synchronized so that both arrive at Don Mills at the same time (easy to do if decent signal priority is installed), then the transfer will be a very minor inconvenience. In addition, if ridership increases much more on the stubway, which is inevitable given the pace of condo construction, then capacity will be an issue and we will have to close the subway for another 6 months to convert it back to subway standards.


  23. By the way, I may have missed it, but has there been a firm decision on vehicles that are double-ended versus single-ended? I must admit, I would feel kinda nostalgic for going on a charter tour and being able to ride a Witt or a PCC (or by that time a CLRV) from downtown out to Scarborough or along Eglinton.

    Steve: Yes, definitely, the vehicles for the Transit City lines will be double-ended. The drawings refer to crossovers at various locations.


  24. HW wrote, “I think the Sheppard LRT should not swing up to Finch East, but rather continue through the tunnel to Yonge, and then continue on Sheppard to Downsview. It should also meet the Finch LRT there…”

    Now that’s beginning to sound like one of my York Region Options ( and click on York Region Options)! Instead of building the Yonge Subway north of Steeles, the same funding could build three parallel LRT routes could be built: Yonge from Steeles to Major Mac, Don Mills/Leslie from Steeles to Highway 7 (a north extension of TC’s Don Mills line), and Dufferin from Downsview to Langstaff Road. The segment of the third line between Downsview and Finch would be useful for the operation described by HW.


  25. After thinking about this in detail, I’d be very surprised if the Sheppard subway gets converted to LRT. The amount of work required at all the stations would be quite extensive and surely cost prohibitive. Lowering the platforms seems to me to be a huge job, and one that has several peripheral consequences such as escalators and elevators. Sheppard Yonge would be a nightmare to reconfigure, assuming both platforms are done. I just don’t see the TTC shutting down a brand new line for months (years?) to reconfigure it, while at the same time building a subway-grade tunnel to Consumers. Given the latter, the intent is to one day convert the Sheppard LRT to subway, so why would they hack up the existing stations on the Sheppard subway only to have to “re-reconfigure” them again sometime in the future? Conversely, if the City is confident that the subway will never be extended and that LRT can handle growth throughout this century, then why build a subway-grade tunnel to Consumers?


  26. I agree with the above posters who want the Sheppard Subway extended to Victoria Park. This proposed Vic. Park station would be fed by the future Sheppard LRT, the heavily used # 24 bus and the 167 Pharmacy North bus, the 190 Express bus and the 224 buses. The Don Mills Station would be used for the future 2 Don Mills LRT’s (for both directions), 10 bus, 139 bus, 169 buses.

    I am sure that transit gets more popular as fuel prices rise I am sure that more bus routes could be created to use the well designed Don Mill bus depot. The Sheppard Subway is young and this huge investment should not be abandoned just because it doesn’t carry the volumes that the Yonge St. subway does. Electric rail, Streetcars, LRT, Subways and the SRT is what is going to keep Toronto competively employed as more of us are no longer able to afford to gas up our cars and more of us get more environmentally aware that public transit is the right way for any large urban area.


  27. I know it’s not Steve’s favourite idea. But I can’t get around the notion that the logical end point of the Sheppard Subway is Victoria Park.

    To be clear, Sheppard probably shouldn’t have been built; at least not yet. It was at best #3, probably lower on the list of area that made sense for new HRT construction. (downtown, York U (without Vaughan), and Eglinton all making more sense to me. Be that as it may, we have the line now.

    To spend significant dollars and create significant inconvenience to passengers in order to LOWER capacity on public transit route strikes me as profoundly illogical.

    Granted the full capacity of the line, is at this time under-utilized, but given not only increased gas prices and green-consciousness, but also the large amount of new development in the Sheppard corridor (Concord Park Place alone will house close to 10,000 people!) it seems to me that any excess capacity on Sheppard today is forseeably useful in the near to mid term.

    While I don’t support extending the line to STC at this time, I do think its makes sense in the longer (much longer) term. So from that perspective I can’t object to bringing it out to Victoria Park. I still would not prioritize such an investment; but the idea of ending the line at Consumers Rd is so illogicial it’s beyond laughable.

    Victoria Park is an enormously busy bus route, one which would greatly benefit from a terminal at Sheppard and an appropriate route division. Further, there is a huge node of commericial density at this location, and residential to boot.

    Consumers is an illogical end point. And extending the tunnel to Consumers a few hundred meters is simply value-for-money given the benefits it would derive.

    Now, if anyone’s asking I don’t think Sheppard should be at the front of the Transit City list. And this debate would be moot if we deferred it for a decade or so.

    Putting aside the existing HRT expansion proposals I would rank Eglinton as the most important and useful addition propoposed by Transit City. Thereafter, Don Mills, linked to a downtown relief line makes good sense.

    Sheppard can wait.

    But if [we] must do it, then the stubway should go where it was supposed to in Phase one, which is Victoria Park.

    Steve: The TTC’s projections for a Sheppard Subway east of Highway 404 show a maximum demand of 5,000 per hour, 25 years from now. That’s not subway territory by a huge margin.


  28. Toronto can’t afford subways, and neither Ontario nor Canada would like to do anything about it. Not that they need to; Subways don’t make our city streets vibrant- LRTs do. No one is saying that we absolutely must abandon the Sheppard subway, rather I think what we’re saying is that we need to think outside the box. That just because we built it, doesn’t mean its perfect. Like the TTC ensures that newly introduced service improvements are financially feasible, maybe we ought to do the same with the Sheppard subway. Not to mention that were we to extend the stubway, Transit City’d go down the drain because we’d have spent all our money.


  29. I agree with the people that protest the extention of the subway to Vic Park. Consumers is prudent, Vic Park is not; Pharmacy-Birchmount is pretty weak, and the Vic Park/Sheppard intersection isn’t that strong itself either (there’s more development in the Consumers area, check the satelite maps), so there is no argument for a subway towards the GO Station, realistically.

    I can agree that it makes sense from a theoretical network context, but the ridership is simply not there; nor will it materialize just because a subway magically appears. Even if ridership is double the projections of the TTC, it will still be OK on LRT (although it will be near its max by that point).

    Consumers may be prudent in future though. If the Downtown Relief Line gets built, as Metrolinx is interested in seeing happen (as am I), then after it is built, originally all south of B-D, the next phase of the DRL would probably see the Don Mills LRT Pape tunnel get converted and the subway would end up in Thorncliffe, or Flemingdon (pressure would probably be quite high to link it to the Eglinton LRT-subway).

    If that were to happen, then the Sheppard and DRL could be connected via Victoria Park; but that cannot happen if the Sheppard Subway is extended to the intersection of Vic Park and Sheppard; the next stop after Consumers would have to be on Vic Park south of the 401 to accomodate the subway’s turning radius.

    This would allow the Sheppard Subway, AND the Sheppard LRT (and the Don Mills LRT, too) to take pressure off of Yonge rather than contribute to it, which is the dreadful mistake that they are currently making in all of this (the reports to date would lead one to think they are oblivious to this reality, one has to wonder how that could possibly be, as they were aware of it earlier in the decade before TC came about).

    While I understand why some people would want to Sheppard Subway converted to LRT, I really don’t think it is realistic to expect it to happen.

    BTW, Steve, why are you putting so much confidence in this proposal by Dr.Soberman? This is the same expert that got strong-armed by the TTC into preserving the SRT instead of converting it to LRT, shouldn’t you be a little more skeptical? Especially considering that Chair Adam Giambrone has made a statement to the media in the past suggesting adamant opposition to the idea of downgrading the Sheppard Subway (which would be against existing TTC policies anyway), virtually guaranteeing the odds Dr. Soberman is going to be strong-armed again into preserving the Sheppard Subway even if his study may support otherwise?

    Let’s face it, downgrading the Sheppard Subway to LRT is far too politically embarassing to be allowed to happen. Even if it makes sense, it is somewhat naive to think the politicians at the helm will allow it.

    I also agree that logistically, it is a very problematic proposal to execute. It would be extremely disruptive with questionable results.

    For this reason, I would suggest a longer-term approach into DRL integration (it’ll be over 30-40 years, but), since that one is politically palatable.

    Steve: It’s worthwhile to point out that I am not the only wild-eyed radical who has proposed this scheme. I’m not counting on Dr. Soberman’s holding his position for long, but the idea is being seriously considered. As for Admiral Adam’s comments, I think that there’s been enough flak about possibly closing the Sheppard line that he is taking a prudent position to avoid a fight. He too can always change his mind.


  30. Converting the stubway to LRV operation is all about getting rid of that pesky transfer. Vic Park, Don Mills, or anywhere, when you add a transfer, it makes transit less attractive. Imagine someone going from Sheppard and Markham to York University. They could take Sheppard East LRT to the Stubway then hop on a 196A bus, where they can avoid a transfer at Downsview but may have to wait at the platform. If they don’t like this they could try to take the Bloor line or Finch bus, but these just create similar problems.

    Current stubway operations are so sorry that I’ve been down to Davisville to propose in writing that they shut the thing down after 10PM to save money. We can provide most of the capacity with busing during the construction.


  31. I don’t think anyone’s mentioned a couple of wrinkles with stop spacing. Those transferring from connecting buses or even GO trains don’t save any walking time because in either scheme, each transfer point has its own stop. And even for those who do get a shorter walk, the walking time is fixed while the extra riding time is proportional to the length of travel. I don’t think it’s a huge deal for the current length of the route, but I wonder about the long term implications across Transit City lines.

    For example, given the local optimization with stop spacing, the notion of extending this line into the 905 seems odd. Maybe Pickering would benefit from upgrading its main bus route to LRT, but having it feed towards GO Transit, rather than onto a long ride along Sheppard, seems like a better model.


  32. Stethen Cheung, I agre with you 100% but I also guarantee you 100% that any extension of the Sheppard subway other than to Consumers Road will never happen. In fact, I’m totally convinced that option to put the LRT underground west of Consumers WILL be the chosen option. If the present subway gets extended even the least little bit may the ghost of Pierre Trudeau appear at the foot of the bed of all us who’d like to see it extended!

    Steve: Poor Pierre’s ghost is probably enjoying a party or languishing on a beach somewhere. Why drag him back to annoy Tory supporters? A personal appearance by Dion complete with a speech that never ended would be a far worse punishment.


  33. Each of the two subway / LRT connection options has some advantages. Option 3 (Don Mills) will include a more convenient transfer from Sheppard LRT to both the subway (same platform) and the Don Mills LRT. On the other hand, Option 5 (Consumers) will bring the subway closer to Consumers Rd. offices, and help de-crowd the Don Mills station.

    I’d vote for Option 3 though, as it is slightly cheaper, and presumably can be implemented faster (shorter tunnel plus no new underground station). With the tunnel being built to subway specs, the subway can be extended in future if / when the demand is there.

    Regarding the stop spacing, the projected impact on the travel time is rather small (5 min). But it is conceivable that a line with wider intervals offers a more comfortable ride and hence is better at attracting transfer passengers.

    Perhaps a reasonable compromise is to set a close stop spacing from Don Mills to Midland or Brimley, where local densities are higher. Then, go semi-express to the eastern terminus, making that part of the route more attractive for transfer passengers. Parallel local bus service will then be needed for the eastern part of the route only. That bus could go to STC in the west (a useful connection anyway), and used to serve the Zoo, or Port Union / East Ave in the east.

    An LRT branch running from Don Mills to STC will definitely be useful. Probably, single cars on 10-min headways will be sufficient. This should be in addition to the 5-min headways on the main route, rather than diverting every 2-nd train to STC.


  34. In reading all the various points about whether option 3 (Don Mills platform) or option 5 (Consumers Road) is the best transfer point, it occurs to me that future predicting is difficult, at best, because it cannot take into consideration changing public opinion through experience.

    Going back to Steve’s original comment on option 3 in reference to both a future extension of the Sheppard subway AND conversion of that line to LRT, “This option preserves both possibilities and keeps everyone happy.”

    Transit City needs to get into operation first. Once the public is used to this new mode of transit, the need for one of these options will become a matter of public opinion. Right now, neither option seems logical, but protecting for each is prudent. Saying today that we will convert the Sheppard subway to LRT is politically embarrassing, but after a few years of people using the Sheppard LRT and transferring to subway, the public might be screaming for the conversion. Likewise, extending the subway east cannot currently be justified, but things could be drastically different a decade from now.

    My concern for spending money to protect for a future change, is how likely the change is to be feasible later. I have argued that building the Eglinton tunnel to subway standards a waste because once the line is bursting at its seams, taking it out for several months just won’t happen. In the case of Sheppard, I suspect that conversion could take place in stages with much shorter outages, and possibly with the ability to maintain a limited service. 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.


  35. “The TTC’s projections for a Sheppard Subway east of Highway 404 show a maximum demand of 5,000 per hour, 25 years from now. That’s not subway territory by a huge margin.”

    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.

    I do not see any evidence of any significant buildup in the Sheppard/Consumers Road area. There’s the townhouse complex immediately north, a couple of apartment buildings to the west, and a lot of office development to the south. That’s fine and all, and Consumers Road could make a decent transfer to the LRT.

    But what should be developed is a Transit Hub, and extending it to Victoria Park should be considered. We’ve got numerous apartment buildings in that area on north side of Sheppard between Victoria Park and Pharmacy, all of which could appreciate a subway in that area, two proposed condo sites on the south side of Sheppard across from the apartment complexes, three shopping plazas (one I expect to dissappear to make way for a proposed transit terminal, I say the southeast corner), several office buildings just south of the intersection, and a busy bus route which links even more apartment complexes to the north and south to a possible subway connection. Like Wilson to Downsview, this may not see any “immediate benefits” but as intensification grows along that corridor, things may change and possibly for the better. Evidenced by the now Sardine (Scarborough) Rapid Transit.

    If we want to concentrate on a efficient LRT transfer, buiding to Consumers Road is “good enough”. But if we want a potential transit “hub”, build it to Victoria Park. Leaving the subway as is and building the LRT to extend to Don Mills sort of “amplifies” the folly which is the Sheppard Stubway. It needs to be extended to be of good use to the transit network. The only question is “where to?”


  36. Stephen Cheung: While I agree with your points regarding an extension to Victoria Park, I need to clarify why you support this particular subway extension whereas others (notably the extension to the Vaughan Corporate Centre) you vehemently oppose.

    Opinions coming from the right wing typically oppose any significant expense, and I’m sure any extension to Victoria Park is going to cause significant expense pains for the right wing folk. I’m surprised that you haven’t called for the Sheppard Subway to be utterly mothballed and used as the next landfill (right-wing idealogues will find any solution to any “problem” despite the solution causing more problems than the original problem itself.)

    Due to whatever haggling is going on regarding where the Sheppard East LRT should start or stop, I think this line needs to be considered LAST. Much more of a case can be made for Eglinton Crosstown, plus it is probably one of the easiest to link to our existing streetcar network (assuming that the track gauge is still the same, will it?) The delay will allow for any planned expansions for the Sheppard Subway and focus on the apparently oh-so-complicated question of where the LRT meets the subway.

    Unfortunately, as one said earlier, TTC wants the Sheppard LRT to be built first so that the subway option is completely off the table. I don’t know about you, but I consider that unacceptable.


  37. I agree with Eric, this line should be last on the priority list as Eglinton should be priority #1 and Finch west/east should be #2. As I commented on the R/T report, this line is a political motivator to kill any ideas of expanding the Sheppard line. Ridership doesn’t justify LRT or subway on Sheppard but we have a stubway to Don mills anyway, built by political influences.

    I thought we were steering away from that but I see transit city for Sheppard and the R/T corridor as political. Let’s build Eglinton and Finch which are maxed out with buses and then we can use these extra buses for our other maxed out routes. We can then build one car house for these two routes since they will meet at HWY 27/Eglinton.

    This is battle #2 between Eglinton or Sheppard and the political movement favours Sheppard yet again. The people or councillors living along Eglinton should be screaming about this as the ridership levels for transit city priority is being overlooked on this. Remember when during the Harris era that we had to choose between Eglinton west or Sheppard but some old school mayor convinced us otherwise. If we built Eglinton west we would be talking about it going to the airport and east to kennedy by now.

    Steve: At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the projected demand on Eglinton is well below the level at which a full subway is justified. The central part will be built to accommodate a future upgrade to subway, but for many decades, surface operation is all that is needed.

    Some people make disparaging comments about “sleeping cars” on the Eglinton LRT to the airport, but forget that the line would be in tunnel to somewhere around Weston or Jane, and then would run on that beautiful, wide right-of-way (originally reserved for the Richview Expressway) out to the airport through Etobicoke. The amount of time consumed by the surface portion of the trip would be small, but the savings in construction costs would be huge.


  38. Eric Chow: Once again (and this isn’t the first time, you seem to have a problem with the concept of Right-Wingers supporting transit, do you? I know that the policies of Mike Harris were quite hurtful in this aspect, but I shall point out that McGuinty has not done that much better. The transit system is still in chaos (as evidenced by the recent TTC strike) and I prefer the issue of transportation itself as a non-partisan issue. I will have differing views on other transit-related issues (like say UNIONS) but overall I support transit as a whole. Even if I do drive to work.

    As much as I do not like it, the Sheppard Subway is here to stay. Reverting this subway line to an LRT simply sends the wrong message that says “Subway development does not work”. Then when we really need one (like say the Downtown relief Line that most of you ask about), we likely won’t get it as any transit detractor will point out the failure of the Sheppard line.

    Also, it should be pointed out that even if we construct tunnels to Consumers Road, be it Subway or LRT, Victoria Park is not that far away, about 670 meters by Nick J’s estimates. Given that we are already building a tunnel twice as long between Don Mills and Consumers Road, a short extension to Victoria Park is a no-brainer. Something like this should be done right the first time.

    I’ve said it before and again, I would not support the Sorbara line in any shape and form. While a connection to York University is beneficial, a connection to the “middle of nowhere” is absolute lunacy. And yet this piece of lunacy may yet be built.

    Money issues on extending the subway to Victoria Park? Kill the Sorbara Line and use it to build the subway extension as well as the Sheppard East LRT. If cost is still an issue, than build it as a BRT. There are many ways to skin a cat, but then, there are wrong ways too.


  39. Matt, re providing connections with Durham: not all Durham residents are heading downtown and can take the train. Those taking trips to Scarborough are stuck on the 401, either in a car or on a GO bus that is also stuck in traffic. We need other options to getting into Toronto, which are sorely lacking at present.

    DRT is planning on connecting its Highway 2 BRT to the TTC somewhere in Scarborough, but a final location has not been announced. From what I’ve heard, Scarborough Town Centre, Scarborough College, and even Kennedy Station are possibilities. Only the former makes any sense to me, since Scarborough College just provides a connection to TTC bus routes rather than higher order transit, and Kennedy Station is just too far. A secondary connection to the Sheppard East LRT would provide more options, though.

    In the longer term, the ideal scenario would be to build a regional terminal on the SRT extension to Malvern close to Sheppard, and then let DRT buses connect there, which would get the SRT and LRT connections at one location, possibly using the planned GO BRT lane on the 401 after leaving Pickering.


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