Metrolinx vs Toronto: What To Build on Eglinton

Jeff Gray and Matthew Campbell report in today’s Globe on the potential for conflict between Metrolinx and the TTC over the future of Transit City and, in particular, the choice of technology for the Eglinton line.

I have written at length about this before and won’t rehash the arguments here, but a few remarks in the article deserve comment.  Rob MacIsaac parrots subway boosters with this gem:

“If you’re going to travel from one end of that line to the other, we think you’d probably better pack a picnic lunch,” Mr. MacIsaac said.

“We would like to find a way to speed it up for people who are travelling longer distances.”

And why, he asked, build something that could end up overcrowded?

“There’s little point in spending a lot of money on an LRT line that will end up with passengers whose faces are pressed up against the windows.”

Why indeed would someone ride from Scarborough to Pearson Airport or Mississauga when MacIsaac’s own plans call for an express route across the 401 corridor?  The whole point of a network is that it must serve a variety of demands — some long haul, some local.  Just as we now have GO Transit for commuters from the 905 to downtown, we would also have high-speed services for trips across the 416/905 region.

A trip from Scarborough to Pearson is longer than a trip from Pickering to downtown Toronto, and comparable to a trip from Richmond Hill.  Misguided planners and politicians insist on treating it as a local trip that should be stuffed into the TTC network.  Having created this straw man, they claim this justifies a full-blown rapid transit line on Eglinton.

As for demand, the TTC’s projection for Eglinton is 9,000 per hour, and this would be on the busy central part of the route that will be underground.  Outer parts of the route will easily be within the capacity of surface LRT which has the added advantage of lower cost and more attractive station spacing for local demands.

Despite its protests that its work is only “test cases”, not formal plans, Metrolinx is showing its true colours by making technology choices long before they have demonstrated the need for their network schemes.  Public consultation is a sham designed to give people a warm fuzzy feeling about Metrolinx rather than engaging them in a real debate.

MacIsaac’s comments about Eglinton show that the real agenda is to push through a major rapid transit project, likely a western extension of the Scarborough RT.

The Metrolinx Board has not met publicly since June 13, and the regional plans were last on the agenda on April 25.  Their next meeting is scheduled for late September.

It’s time for the Board to tell the chair to stop musing about network options that are not yet even a draft plan.

43 thoughts on “Metrolinx vs Toronto: What To Build on Eglinton

  1. And once again, we have to wait for a real network, due to inference from am agency who wants to push their own agenda.



  2. As crazy as this sounds, I think MacIsaac has a point. If the line were to connect to Pearson, excess capacity and speed would be essential – especially across the long-distances being considered. That a subway was considered before, only further justifies the decision. Furthermore, that the line connects to Pearson makes it as much a regional issue as it is a Toronto one.

    My concern is not that MacIsaac’s comments are inappropriate, but rather that it should go further than just comments. I say, if Metrolinx is interested in ‘upgrading’ the Eglington line from an LRT to a full subway, they should cover its costs.

    If Metrolinx can cover the cost of a subway which provides superior service to that of an LRT, we can only benefit.

    Steve: As I said in my post, MacIsaac seems to have forgotten that there is an express route across the 401 in the Metrolinx plans to handle long-haul trips like Scarborough to the Airport. By pushing the Eglinton subway, he shows that either (a) he doesn’t understand his own plan or (b) he has an agenda completely separate from the “planning” his organization is supposed to be carrying out.


  3. …and now that Metronlinx’s Chair is musing about the type of technology that should run, maybe he’ll pull a technology rabbit out of his hat and tell us that ‘we have just the thing’ for this line: an untried, experimental technology that is better than LRT, but not quite a subway. This making decisions in guise of musings has to be stopped here, or else the whole process will become a big sham.

    The notion of “seamless” transit is another strange bird. Who on earth would use a local service line to travel from Mississauga to Pickering on a regular basis? I think the idea of easy connection between different systems is somehow morphed to a need to provide local through service from Hamilton to Oshawa on a single route, ignoring the whole point of having regional service connecting to local services as a network.


  4. Steve, what time period does the 9,000/hr projection for Eglinton refer to? 2008, 2012, 2020, ?

    Steve: I believe that the projections are for at least 20 years out.


  5. There is demand for a long-distance cross-town route somewhere north of Bloor and south of Steeles. I don’t see the sense in putting this route along the 401 — connections with other transit routes, including the subway, will be very awkward, and there’s no walk-in traffic. (Park-and-ride lots aren’t an option either, because the area is too built up.)

    So yes, if what Metrolinx is floating is a cross-town express on the 401 and an Eglinton subway/SRT extension (a little faster than LRT, much more expensive, and less useful for local riders), I agree that seems pretty silly.

    But if Metrolinx shifted their cross-town route to run along Eglinton instead of the 401, you’d get true long-distance (i.e. faster than typical subways) service along with the local service provided by Transit City. They’d feed each other, and actually pass within walking distance of many destinations. Eglinton really is one of the best east/west corridors we’ve got — giving it only enhanced local service may be a major missed opportunity.

    Steve: But, of course, if what we get is only a regional line along Eglinton, we will never see the Transit City service and local riders will be stuck with whatever residual service runs on the surface. This is no way to achieve the goals of the Official Plan, something that is totally ignored by Metrolinx in its pursuit of long-haul riders.


  6. I’m posting my reply to the article on the Globe here:

    In all fairness, I’m no “transit expert” by any stretch. I’m not going to suggest any easy solution, but there are a few things we should all keep in mind if we want what’s best for our city.

    1. Most of us know that we don’t live in a world with unlimited money to spend and we shouldn’t expect that from the government, even though it seems to us like they have it (city, province and feds alike). We have to get the best bang for our dollars and as much as I love subways, they are not the answer for the city at this point in time.

    2. Politicians love to dilly dally til the cows come home. As citizens we have to become more proactive and make our voices heard that we want better transit for EVERYONE. We elect representatives to serve US, not themselves. We’ve got to put them on the hot seat more often!

    3. For god sakes, we have got to start building NOW, not later. We can worry about expanding these new lines (that have yet to be built) later, and we can expand existing lines to the best we can today. And yes, I realize that projects like these have to go through EAs and public consultations, but aside from that, cut the crap, and git ‘er done!

    4. Enhance the GO rail network. Better regional service for everyone is key. Case in point with Eglinton, build it as drawn out in the TTC plans, BUT, complement it with the proposed Crosstown line by reopening the Summerhill station on Yonge street. Work out a compromise with CPR so that Passenger service can be run on the North Toronto. Europe has the right idea where Freight gives way to passenger service, we have it backwards here. The government has to do something about this soon, but it is nice to see that 2 WAY rail service is coming soon on a few GO lines.

    I look forward to what the future brings for transit in the GTA, and hopefully the public starts to care more and more about it as the days go by so that the guys pulling the strings realize we won’t sit idly by watching as nothing gets done.


  7. What have they proposed for the 401, rapid-transit wise?

    And what is their estimate of the number of riders a full Eglinton subway would drain away from the Bloor-Danforth subway, and what about its impact on the Yonge-University-Spadina subway (considering any sensible plan on Eglinton would require its own downtown branch — so as not to overburdern YUS).

    We’re dumber than we were in the 50s — can you imagine if they had built BD without the University line? Isn’t that what Metrolinx is proposing?


  8. Perhaps he’s afraid that a network gets built he’ll be out of a job. Job security planning board through indefinite planning – what a concept. The added advantage of building nothing is that he can’t be criticized for any problems.


  9. I am just so glad that all levels of government are talking about transit. In another Globe article Ottawa is has stated it will be sending over 6 Billion dollars for upgrading most of it’s infrastructure. Hopefully most of this infrastructure means public transit in all urban areas in the GTAH and other large cities in Ontario. I am sure that they will figure out what is best for Eglinton and the other busy routes once this funding is in place. Ontario is really planning for life in the new age of less and less oil. I am so grateful for all this news and to be part of these public consultations. Find the best idea for Eglinton because it looks as though the funding is there and this just isn’t talk.

    Steve: Actually the Globe article is quite clear that this money is mainly not for transit, but for many projects around the province.


  10. I’m going to speculate here — and this is pure speculation — that George Smitherman has something to do with this. It is a potential “hey look at me, I’m different than David Miller!” should he decide to run for mayor.

    Steve: No, I suspect that Furious George has nothing to do with this at all as rumours about this scheme for Eglinton have been circulating long before he became Minister of Everything.


  11. M Briganti, they haven’t “proposed” anything yet in that the RTP is not out, and I don’t think we should treat anything that has been talked about yet as being a firm proposal.

    What has been talked about in their papers is turning GO lines into “Regional Express” lines with very frequent (<10 minute) headways all day. One of these lines would be a new line running along the 401 corridor somewhere.

    No specific technology nor route has been publicly discussed yet.

    As for YUS, the “test cases” talk about building a new regional express line to York Region to get those commuters off the subway.


  12. Steve: But, of course, if what we get is only a regional line along Eglinton, we will never see the Transit City service and local riders will be stuck with whatever residual service runs on the surface.

    You may be right that a regional service along Eglinton would skim off enough trips (e.g. people who currently take the bus from Yonge to Kennedy) for people to lose interest in improving the local service. But I don’t think that’d be the right approach, given how narrow and built-up Eglinton is in the core, and its “Avenue” potential elsewhere.

    What I’m really suggesting is doing both as a single project: keep the Transit City project as is, but add tunnels for the regional line. The regional line would only stop at major connection points (e.g. Don Mills, Yonge, Allen, Jane) but would allow easy transfers so that someone going to Vic Park could switch from the regional to the Transit City line at Don Mills. Personally, I think both lines benefit: the regional line gets much better feeder/distributor service, and the Transit City line is under less pressure to widen stop spacings: it can truly optimize for local service.

    And yes, I know it sounds expensive. But building the regional line over the 401 wasn’t going to be cheap either.

    Steve: As anyone who has riden the Eglinton buses will know, the loads change over completely at least once during a trip. People don’t ride from Kennedy to Yonge for the most part. Similarly, on Lawrence East, the demand from Victoria Park to Yonge is almost completely separate from the demand in Scarborough. Metrolinx has to get its head around local service and demand, but their entire planning and modelling exercise ignores this.


  13. Hi Steve

    Just how demand is there for these so called long distance riders? It seems that existing demand on Eglinton is either local or downtown, rather than cross town to far flung destinations. I think that Metrolinx is using a handful of riders to justify their own choice of mediums and prejudices. It would also appear that the lessons of overbuilding (the Sheppard Subway and the SRT) have been ignored.

    The TTC and the city should use this intrusion into TC to finally dump the SRT line and replace it with LRT.

    Steve: The TTC did nobody any favours with the whole dance about modes on the SRT. Through the public meetings it was clear that Richard Soberman was going to push for LRT conversion, but in the end the report came out as RT retention and expansion.


  14. Steve, one of your earlier posts (from last year — describes) says that cars for Transit City — longer than the current articulated streetcar — would have a designed capacity of about 4,300/hr and a crush capacity of 5,000/hr when run at 2-min headways. This is far lower than Eglinton’s 9,000/hr requirement — will the cars be bigger, or will headways be shorter?

    Steve: 2-car trains yield the requirement.


  15. Hmm,

    While I have some question about the value of Eglinton as underground LRT, I have even more questions about it as a subway, in the short-term.

    Still more of concern is this poppycock about using ICTS technology….

    Yuck, if there were on thing I could change in Transit City it would the retention of the SRT. The last thing I think we need is more of this particular medium of transit.

    My concerns about Eglinton as LRT amount to the cost of doing all that tunnelling; which I can’t imagine doing with out making the tunnel subway-grade, which means a price tag of in/around $3.25 Billion. That’s alot of money for LRT capacity technology. I would be just as inclined to let the LRT run ont he surface, in an ROW, which I realize would cause drivers to make faces, but Eglinton is wide enough to permit 2 reserved tracks and 1 lane each way for cars. We could build that for under $1 Billion I suspect.

    IF one is to go to all the trouble of tunnelling and building subway grade tunnels, then I do see an argument for a subway.

    Though I don’t think anyone believes Eglinton yet merits such capacity.

    Anyone for splitting the difference? How about Subway on Eglinton West (from Yonge); and leave Eglinton East as buses for the forseeable future?

    Whatever we pick lets not use ICTS, please and thank you.

    In any event, Eglinton is ages from being built under any plan or any medium, its more complex and costly than any other proposal.

    Let’s call it a subway in 2030 shall we. And in the meantime focus on getting everything else that needs doing done. Including building new subways where they are more useful, such as the downtown relief line.


  16. This thread is very much like the “Transit too Important for Politicians” thread. Rob MacIsaac is, after all, a political appointee. I personally see Metrolinx as an agency that will propose many Transit schemes/scenarios and churn out a rainforest’s worth of reports and studies. No actual shovels in the ground will result from the never-ending flow of reports and studies and true transit needs in Toronto and the GTA will continue to be set back decades due to all talk – no action.

    The politicians will pat themselves on the back and say that they are doing everything to facilitate transit improvements. Am I cynical? You bet I am. The creation of Metrolinx is a excercise in public relations for the politicians. Already we are seeing a conflict in what is needed within Toronto versus regional needs. This will only continue because Toronto versus GTA needs are different as night and day.


  17. If Metrolinx can actually secure the funding for Eglinton subway without compromising other transit projects, then it makes sense. The usage can eventually grow higher than 9,000 pph, and even if the line never gets fully packed, the speed, convenience, and development potential a subway brings all count.

    However, the fiscal environment remains very uncertain, and hence a push for either Eglinton or Sheppard subway out of the whole network context bears a risk of sucking away funds and derailing all other projects. That risk should be balanced against the risk of the Eglinton line being built as LRT and later exceeding its design capacity.

    One option would be to use the LRT technology, but build the central tunneled portion of Eglinton line to handle really long (5 or 6 cars) LRT trains. The outer surface portions will be just for 2 or 3 car trains originally, thus keeping the Phase I costs down. When the line opens, it will be served by small trains that can run in the on-street ROW of outer portions.

    If the demand rises in future and an upgrade is needed, then the outer portions can be rebuilt as fully grade-separate (tunnel / elevated guideway / trench dependent on the section) and handling 5 – 6 car trains. The total capacity will then approach that of a standard HRT subway. Since very little work will be required on the tunneled central section (perhaps just remove the shields that had covered the previously unused platform length), the whole line will not need to be shut down for a long time.


  18. Well here’s a simple solution. DON’T RUSH INTO THIS. The TTC should use SRT type vehicles on this route and instead of building the “crosstown route” they should simply build the part with the most demand first. Than gradually as ridership increases, expand it and I mean expand as in actually complete the expansion and not make another LRT such as the case in Sheppard. I don’t know why they want to rush everything and if they took the time to actually study this properly they would find the correct solution. LRT is not the answer to everything in the city.

    Steve: The problem is that politically, the part with the most demand is nowhere near the airport or Rob MacIsaac’s de facto constituents, the voters who live in the 905. It’s all or nothing.


  19. I think Metrolinx needs to give Bombardier something to build. The Thunder Bay plant will close by 2010 if there are no new orders. With the Toronto tram order being on hold, an ICTS order will keep Thunder Bay running for another two years at least. Something like the lenght of the Eglinton line can generate an order for at least 150 ICTS MkII vehicles.

    Actually, Bombardier updated their website recently. According to them, there is at least a 50% capital cost savings when a city opts for ICTS as oppose to a heavy rail metro. The $9 billion estimate seems a bit high.

    On a side note, we should try to attract the long haul riders. Given that Mississauga houses so many jobs these days, many people are doing 60 km commutes just go to work. Most back office workers for the banks are already there. This might be an untapped market for the TTC.

    Steve: Thunder Bay is going to be busy building subway cars for Toronto for years. Your statement is flatly incorrect, and in any event it is not Toronto’s job to keep Thunder Bay employed. This would be like telling us it is our job to all go out and buy SUVs to keep jobs in Oshawa.


  20. Steve said … “As anyone who has riden the Eglinton buses will know, the loads change over completely at least once during a trip … People don’t ride from Kennedy to Yonge for the most part”.

    This is flawed thinking. People will not ride that bus across town because it takes too long as a bus route. That doesn’t mean the same would hold true for a much faster Eglinton LRT or subway that could make the trip in half the time.

    Steve: Point taken, but what I was driving at was the fine-grained local demand on the route that would not be served by a subway or RT with widely spaced stops.


  21. At this time I’m still figuring out how this RTP process will work. In late September will we see a map that proposes corridors (and ridership estimates for each one)?

    Obviously the potential ridership will change depending on what other choices are made on parallel and intersecting lines, so it could be a complex game of modelling what works best — in relation to the whole network.

    If long-haul service is achieved along the 401 or the CPR line, then why does Eglinton need to be long-haul?

    Or, if the 401 and/or CP options have been put aside as real options, then we need to see that — and be told why.

    It’s useful that the discussion is moving to include potential ridership as a key criteria for determining mode choices, but of course there are other major deciding factors for the success of each line:

    (Transit-supportive) development potential along the route
    Local, semi-local vs. long-distance needs
    Cost and time-line to build
    (and … Vote-getting potential)

    These are only some criteria, and I will be looking to transit professionals and outside experts to comment on the quality of the estimates that go into the RTP. (i.e. does the research or modelling hold up to scrutiny).

    In my mind the Spadina extension did not get this kind of scrutiny, nor did Blue 22 (now called the TARL, I hear — for Toronto Air Rail Link). Methinks that part of the reason the Peterboro line got such ridicule was the emergence of ridership estimates vs. high cost — and uncertainty whether the affected railway had been consulted.

    Even if the public ignores some already-pipelined projects, will there be time for detailed examination during the RTP process? Or will other considerations dominate the discussion?

    We could get caught up in conjecture over background political maneuvering, or the issue of financing could suck up much of the media coverage and public-realm discussion.

    And how will we in this region approach this whole (new) enterprise this fall? We are creatures of habit, and that extends to predisposed viewpoints and attitudes.


  22. The real question is what was Metrolinx thinking when they proposed a rapid transit route across the 401. It’s been discussed over and over again that it would be entirely dependent on bus and car traffic, since it would be unappealing to pedestrians.

    If there’s one corridor in the entire region suited for BRT, this is it. Though there’s the slight problem of existing lanes.


  23. Perhaps this isn’t the best place for me to be airing my fantasy, but bear with me for a moment, I promise it is good.

    In my imagination I have come up with a compromise LRT solution, a hybrid if you will: build a second set of underground tracks, very shallow, just beneath the surface tracks on Eglinton Avenue. These are the express tracks that only come up to the surface once every 2 kilometers or so, and they have shared stations with the local LRT, up on the surface.

    When the express LRTs are underground, they don’t have to deal with traffic or intersections or anything else. Effectively they are a subway but without subway stations, just stations like any surface LRT. Meanwhile the LRT on the surface does it’s local job just as planned. An added appeal is they won’t cause an extremely wide road with the need for 4 tracks, except at the major stations.

    I have no idea if this is cost effective or even possible, but it provides a hybrid of local service and express, and a maximum capacity we are unlikely to ever surpass.


  24. Steve, I just reread the Globe article and it states that yes the money is indeed for public transit as well as for bridges and roads, but the article states first that it is for ‘transit’. The article is called “Ontario, Ottawa to spend billions on infrastructure”. Read it again and see for yourself.

    Steve: The article talks about a lot of projects around Ontario that have nothing to do with transit, and specifically that this does not include the money for the Spadina subway extension. Moreover, it appears to me that little if any of this is new money, but rather the final conclusion of an agreement between Ottawa and Queen’s Park allowing previously announced funds (some from the Liberals) to flow.


  25. If the capcity of the LRT vehicles meets the volume expectations but providing a local LRT service does not meet the needs of longer-distance travellers, shouldn’t Metrolinx explore the option of implementing combined local and express service in the Eglinton tunnel to meet the differing travel requirements before making the leap to the more expensive subway?

    Steve: Yes, but it is unclear why the regional service needs to be in the same corridor. GO Trains, for example, don’t run down Yonge or Bloor Streets.


  26. I’ll post what I posted on Urban Toronto:

    Now let’s think logically:

    Originally the TTC was building a subway on Eglinton. It even got started. Then it was cancelled by Harris.

    Over the years traffic in this city has grown considerably. Population in the GTA has exploded. Streets are full at all times. Gas prices are high and people are looking for alternatives. Transit is finally being considered the green alternative.

    And in spite of all that, the TTC now says there won’t be enough ridership on Eglinton to justify a subway? How is that logical? At all???? They’ve officially backtracked on their position even though more and more people are taking public transit? What what?

    Steve: The Eglinton Subway was never justified based on ridership. It was part of a catch-all set of routes proposed in various studies and embraced by the Peterson government just before it was defeated. Bob Rae kept it alive long enough to do some preliminary construction, and then Harris killed it. The Sheppard line was part of the same bundle.

    The TTC has never said that Eglinton needed a subway, at least not in terms of demand. Back in the days when the only thing they looked at was underground construction, then, yes, a subway was the only available “solution”.


  27. Eglinton needs to be built as LRT, but there’s a smart way to do it.

    If there is room for a subway (and according to people there is) then lets build smart. If there is room then there must be room for 2 tunnels. Lets not be hasty and build our single-tunnel LRT in the middle, lets build it on one “side”, if you will, so that if, at some future date, we do need subways, we can add a second tunnel. Not only will this allow us to have LRT for now (and the next 20-30 years) and to save on costs (building one tunnel) but if we do it right (the stations will be tricky but its possible) then we can have everything ready for a conversion if and when it’s needed.

    Steve: “Tricky” isn’t the word. What you propose sounds simple, but the station configuration would be very difficult. Also, your plan would add very substantially to construction cost. The big issue in building “subway ready” tunnels is that the station locations are built with a long enough flat section for longer trains (as on Sheppard) and avoiding grades and curves that subway cars cannot handle.


  28. If Bombardier is looking to sell ICTS cars they don’t need to sell them to Toronto.

    There is demand for the ICTS ART Mark II. The expanded use of ICTS ART Mark II in Vancouver (6 carriage trains for the Milennium line and more trains for the Expo line and the future Evergreen line). Beijing’s airport express rail has just opened and Yongin will probably be expanding soon too.

    Here in Malaysia they are gearing up for the expansion of the Kelana Jaya line.

    Once called PUTRA, this line was the first to use the ART Mark II design. It will now be expanded to 4 carriage trains and extended another 10 km (even though there isnt enough space for all the peak hour passengers – but that’s another story).

    Another proposed 45 km line may end up using the same technology as the Kelana Jaya LRT line.

    As for Toronto, I did once think about using ICTS for Eglinton. I admit that. However, the point is quite correct that Eglinton is best suited for local routes.

    So here is an idea (crazy as it might seem). Leave Eglinton as a Transit City LRT project, and abandon the SRT alignment from Ellesmere to McCowan and replace it with, what else, an LRT.

    Extend the SRT from Ellesmere up to Sheppard and the 401 and then extend it across the 401 to fulfill the “regional” line function that MacIssac thinks is necessary. Imagine, the elevated ICTS traveling along the 401 corridor, crossing from the north to the south sides to reach the major points of interest like “NY Towers” and Yorkdale and the MTO site and the Weston 401 Power Centre and the Labatts Brewery…and then, on to the Airport.

    Yes, he can have his SRT and extend it too…but Eglinton is left alone for local service.

    Cheers, moaz

    (from Kuala Lumpur)


  29. Enough of this subway talk! Metrolinx is nothing but hot air with no logical action. LRT is the only mode that is fiscally acceptable in my view. Build within your means. The $2.2 billion dollar price tag may seem hefty but it is better then dropping over 20 billion on a line that will never reach subway requirements for fifty years.

    There’s lots of ways to increase speed and reliablity, but LRT is the way to go. Has Metrolinx even talked about a 3 tier bus service on the bus network? LOCAL, LIMITED STOP, EXPRESS, you want cost effective means look no further then that. Busses I guess doesn’t have the hooplah when there is no WI-FI on it.

    To sum it all up, Commuter rail running at least every 15 mins. with Local and express options in rush hour. LRT’s where they can be sustained, and the three tier bus service. Thats what needed!


  30. I’m a bit constipated on this. On one hand, a subway built today would likely be viewed as a solid investment in fifty years from now. Even if initial ridership were not over 9000/hr (and do we know whether the TTC’s estimates for that take into account current or projected future gasoline prices?), there would be long term value there.

    Having said that, it all comes down to money. If Metrolinx can somehow work out sustainable financing for a $90B scheme, then by all means let’s build the subway.

    I just can’t see that happening, though. I’m already dreading the political firestorm that is sure to break out when the draft investment strategy is released in September, unless the strategy gets watered down to the point where we will only be building MoveOntario plus a few other things (e.g. Regional Express).

    And if we’re in a position where our total cash intake is in doubt, then we need to look at affordable mechanisms, and on Eglinton and on Sheppard that means LRT.


  31. I get the feeling that the folks at Metrolinx have probably discovered some inconsistencies and drawbacks to Transit City, and are offering alternatives. For example, on the one hand you have ads on TTC subways describing Transit City as being ‘rapid transit’, yet the Sheppard East community consultations showed the opposite.

    Steve: I have to jump in here. Those ads were paid for by ATU Local 113 and the reference to rapid transit and streetcars are, to put it mildly, needlessly confusing.

    Far-side stops combined with a lack of signal priority does not equal rapid transit and in fact, is not much better than the existing bus service being replaced. And let’s not kid ourselves, it’s highly unlikely that we will see true transit signal priority on TC lines. Not only has it not been activated on any of the existing ROWs in the city, even bus terminals at subway stations have transit signals that delay service. I refer specifically to Don Mills, where it’s not uncommon to see a bus wait almost two minutes before getting a green signal to turn left onto Sheppard Ave or Don Mills Rd.

    It’s no wonder Metrolinx is dubious about LRT on Eglinton because really, other than perhaps the underground section, we won’t really be getting true LRT as seen in other cities. And speaking of the underground section, since the outer portions of the route require less service, that implies that an interlined operation would be required for the central portion, and we all know how successful the TTC has been with this type of operation both on the streets and in the subways.

    The TTC and City have no one but themselves to blame for the lack of confidence being displayed by some groups with regard to Transit City. They City has repeatedly shown that the movement of auto traffic far supercedes transit, and that culture will not change anytime soon. If they want to prove me and others wrong, then they should start by activating transit signal priority at places such as Don Mills station, and along the St Clair ROW. But I won’t hold my breath for that to ever happen.

    Steve: Somehow I doubt that in those bastions of car-culture, the 905 regions, you will get much support for true transit priority either unless the bus comes once every 20 minutes and doesn’t make a dent in existing traffic. Metrolinx may think the TTC and City are screwing up, but there is no indication anyone else will do a better job.


  32. Steve, to expand upon your comment: “…it is unclear why the regional service needs to be in the same corridor. GO Trains, for example, don’t run down Yonge or Bloor Streets.”

    These subways are the major transport corridors, and in Yonge’s case is overcapacity at rush hour. Given that Transit City will significantly increase the loadings on both these lines, regional service is crucial in these _corridors_. This does not mean under Bloor or Yonge, but as has been suggested numerous times, by implementing all day 2 way service on the Richmond Hill GO line, and creating GO Train regional service on the CP midtown line parallel to the Bloor-Danforth subway.

    As Ed Drass said above, it is not yet clear that Metrolinx’s RTP addresses the local, semi-local, and regional service mix along major transit corridors in Toronto.


  33. At this point let’s wait and see what Metrolinx actually comes up with in the RTP. If they treat it as a plan etched in stone we are in serious trouble, but if not, we can work with most of the things they have suggested in one way or another. There seem to be a lot of people assuming that Metrolinx will be completely unreasonable, we have yet to see this. I suspect that the biggest danger is not so much Metrolinx refusing to negotiate, but in politicians getting overenthusiastic about the RTP and funding things before we can work out the flaws.

    As for specific projects, if they find a funding source for their Eglinton subway, it’s still workable. They have never said a “Metro” can’t use low floor vehicles with overhead power collection. We (Toronto) want a rail service on Eglinton with potential to allow redevelopment and interline with the rest of our network. Metrolinx wants something with enough speed for long distance travel that won’t look like less than we were getting before Harris. These goals aren’t incompatible. As long as the stops are as frequent as on Bloor Danforth and the technology is compatible with the surface network I think the goals for Eglinton are satisfied from Toronto’s side, and if we agree to grade seperate it all I think we can probably make peace with any declared interest in a heavy rail line.

    As for Sheppard, to me the problem is how we have been thinking about the subway. This is fundementally NOT a local route, but the first phase of the 401 corridor. For some reason people seem to be looking at the Sheppard subway and a 401 regional express as seperate projects, they quite simply are not. The Shepard line IS the central portion of such a line, and should be thought of as such. If Metrolinx recomends a subway on Sheppard, they are trying to push a combined local and regional agenda, as their position would dictate. We as a city can work with this if we can get an acknowledgement that the 401 REX and Sheppard subway are the same piece of infrastructure. We can save money by eliminating stations (for example, how about a route stopping only at Consumers & Yorkland, Warden & 401, Kennedy & 401 and the STC) and put a surface rail line (on Finch or Sheppard) into the city’s long term plans to get the real local service we also need.

    In short, let’s wait and see. Something sensible could still come from the RTP, and we may yet be able to work with the more problematic possibilities. Yes, whatever Metrolinx comes up with will almost certainly be more expensive than Transit City, but it is also trying to do more. Higher order service does not necessarily scuttle our plans for local service if we assume Metrolinx is reasonable. Fundementally we should not be trying to say light rail or nothing out of fear of the single megaproject killing local ones, we need to negotiate a funding agreement that let’s us pay for what Toronto needs, while the region as a whole builds on top of that. Regional projects will need regional commitments, and we should be willing to accept them. If Metrolinx declares the RTP to be non negotiable, and that their larger projects should be paid for by Toronto alone we’ll have a big problem, but we’re not their yet, and it’s not time to panic.

    Ultimately I’m trying to say calm down, the RTP could be bad, on the other hand it might not be. It will be bigger than what Toronto needs in isolation thats the point of it being regional. Individual projects in ANY plan will need reworking and negotiation, and some people seem to be assuming this won’t be possible. Of course there’s the risk of a single megaproject taking the funding from equally important local projects. By the same token, Transit City alone could well get no funding from outside Toronto and only ever build one line. We have a regional process that is getting very close to producing a plan, let’s at least see what it produces before we tear it to pieces.

    Steve: I see this as a “the glass is half full” view of Metrolinx, and will be pleasantly surprised if this is what they produce. However, my actual experience is that they don’t understand how local transit works and don’t factor it into their planning. This leaves a gaping hole in their plans — how will people actually reach the regional systems they hope to build? Will we pave over Oakville to expand GO’s parking lots?

    Moreover, suggestions that they model alternative network configurations are met with cries that this is too time consuming and only a few can be studied. This is supposed to be a plan for the next 25 years, and if it takes time to do some proper modelling, then do it. How are we supposed to evaluate alternative strategies?

    Somehow, based on recent comments from MacIsaac, we have moved from test cases to specific implementations without benefit of a detailed review. Was that the agenda all along, and was all the public consultation just so much hot air?

    To date Metrolinx has not produced any demand figures to justify their technology choices. Indeed, the “test cases” had arbitrary technology choices (by Metrolinx’ own admission) simply as an exercise to see how the network would behave in the model. Just because they put a subway on a street doesn’t mean that there are actually enough customers to use it, but we don’t know because they have not published the detailed data.

    Some outcomes might be embarrassing. What would the Richmond Hill subway look like beside a frequent, all-day GO train service to Union Station?

    Some may be surprising. What is the potential demand for a downtown relief line? Is the focus on new suburban services ignoring a looming problem in handling traffic to the core? Do we have to convince politicians (both in the 905 and the 416) that downtown Toronto is going to grow and it needs more transit whether they like it or not?

    That’s what real planning is all about, not about listening to whatever huckster has a land deal or a technology package to sell as part of a new master plan.


  34. Well i dont think we should even listen to Metrolinx in the first place since they are pushing this spadina subway extention that wont get enough ridership north of Vaughan. I would rather cancel the Vaughan extention and use part of that money for an Eglinton ICTS project that would get more ridership.


  35. I think that it is possible to satisfy express and local needs on Eglinton with LRT. Leave it as a 2-track LRT between stations, but at stations on the surface, quadtrack it (local LRVs pull off to the side to service the platform while the express passes them in the center tracks). Underground, most stations should be serviced by the express tier anyway, except the first couple at the outer ends, in which case, build express tracks into the underside of the platform – this results in a 4-track corridor though since space for slopes obviously becomes necessary for these sections. Between the Allen and Mount Pleasant though, 2-track tunnels/stations should be fine – but include longer platforms to accomodate both local and express runs at once, otherwise major backlogs will ensue.

    This should be able to service various markets at reasonable cost.

    A completely 4-track corridor end-to-end I think is completely unnecessary.


  36. The ultimate fear in all of this, is when all the infrastructure gets built, will we see REX buses running every 20 mins.? Here’s something else, and I have only a GED to my credit here… Who is going to pay for the day to day costs? What about fare zone boundaries? What about the technology of choice? ICTS on Eglinton is beyond laughable, it is shocking and is ignorant for Metrolinx to suggest it.

    The previous reply I sent, after some thought, convert the GO lines to LRT. This may seem insane but I am going to give some thought process as to what can be done.


  37. @Karl Junkin, local / express track combination for Eglinton LRT: this is an interesting idea, please raise it at an Eglinton EA meeting if you have a chance.


  38. I support Metrolinx. This idea that we ought to stretch out any available transit funding as much as possible, even if it means diluting service, is no way to build a city! We keep talking about “local transit”, but what exactly does Eglinton have to do with local transit? This is a major road!

    Steve: See my previous comments about the Official Plan and how Eglinton will redevelop.

    You can support Metrolinx all you like, but their vast capital requirements will not be met by the funding that is likely to be available. The question then is whether we build a few lines vastly in excess of what is needed, or a network that benefits a wider community.

    Of course, for those who live in York Region, the answer is obvious. Spend all available money on them and hope they vote the right way in the next election. That’s no way to build a city.


  39. “Asad @ July 28,2008 at 1:25 pm”

    The Metrolinx maps , which are very nice maps , state , ” The information displayed on this map is conceptual only and is presented for discussion purposes’.

    Given the past history of the Ontraio Government/ City of Toronto and TTC on transit matters nothing will come of this .

    Maybe if some of these proposed subway/LRT lines were privatized then maybe something would happen. Private rail lines and subway lines seem to work in Japan.

    Metrolinx will just produce reports , followed by more reports , followed by even more reports. The Ontario Government is good at producing reports.


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