How Many People Will Ride the Eglinton Line? (Updated)

[Update:  As promised, I have received the updated ridership projections TTC is using for Transit City.  They have been added in the body of this post.]

Recently, there has been a lot of ink about the technology choice for an Eglinton rapid transit line, whatever it may turn out to be.  Earlier this weekend, after a nagging period when I thought the ridership projections looked a bit off, I went back to the source material to check.

In the Globe article on July 24, Adam Giambrone says that the route’s projected 9,000 riders in the peak hour of the morning rush in 2021 don’t justify a subway.   Hmmm.  9,000 you say?

[This section has been updated.]

Let’s have a look at the original Transit City projections and the revised values now in use as part of the EAs in progress.  Original values are in parentheses.  Current values are for 2031 and reflect anticipated population and employment growth, although further refinements are possible as the EAs progress.

  • Eglinton:  5,000-5400 (4,700) (see below)
  • Scarborough-Malvern:  4,600-5000 (3,900)
  • Don Mills:  2,600-3000 (2,900)
  • Sheppard East:  3,000 (2,700)
  • Jane:  1,700-2,200 (2,700)
  • Finch West:  2,300-2,800 (2,300)
  • Waterfront West:  2,000-2,400 in 2021 (Taken from EA document) (2,200)

The revised values are current while the originals date from March 2007.

The Eglinton projections do not include Airport ridership.  However, traffic to Pearson will generally not co-incide with the peak time, location and direction and is unlikely to make much if any impact on the required level of service.

In the Sheppard EA, there is a note that peak ridership on a full Sheppard Subway to STC is projected to be about 5,000/hour versus 3,000 projected for the LRT east of Don Mills.  This appears to support arguments that a subway network will attract more riders, but the TTC also notes that the majority of the additional riders are merely diverted from other transit services.  What is unclear is the impact of less accessible transit service for local trips and the effect on transit usage and pedestrian amenities in the areas between subway stations.

If we look at the Eglinton projection of 5,400, we can expect that a full subway would attract more riders, but still well below the level needed to justify that level of capital investment, and still leaving the question of what other routes these riders might have used.

Even with revisions, none of the lines was expected to come anywhere near subway-level demand.  I am particular struck by the drop in the estimated demand on Jane which begs the question of whether it is an appropriate corridor for this technology.

[End of Update]

Eglinton is a particularly important case because it is at least two separate routes west and east of Yonge, and the demand accumulating at any point will be affected by what routes and services intersect it.  For example, as on the bus service, riding east of Eglinton West Station will be lower than to the west because many trips will transfer to the Spadina subway.  East of Yonge, the provision of an alternate, fast route to Danforth or further south via a Don Mills or Downtown Relief line will drain much load that would otherwise continue west to the Yonge Subway.

Many months ago, I asked Metrolinx to release the detailed ridership projections for each component and segment of their various “test case” networks.  I was assured that this information would be published concurrently with the draft Regional Transportation Plan.  Alas, that plan sits in limbo and will not appear until, at best, late September.  The modelling is for the test cases was done long ago, and there is no reason Metrolinx should keep the results secret. 

Of course, the numbers may not back up some of the plans people have for various rapid transit schemes, and the data could set off a debate about just what sort of network is really needed.

The last thing we need is a huge rush this fall to ram through a draft plan just so that Queen’s Park can announce something in time for the next election.  Given both the economic situation and the frosty reception from Ottawa to fund MoveOntario, let alone Metrolinx, the pressure to approve something, anything may have waned a tad.

Without question we need to spend more on transit, but let’s do so where and how it’s demonstrably needed rather than pre-announcing routes and technologies. 

53 thoughts on “How Many People Will Ride the Eglinton Line? (Updated)

  1. They’re looking at it from a totally different standpoint — other than BD, there really is no solid E-W regional/express link across the middle of the GTA.

    Besides, with the exception of Eglinton, those numbers you quoted don’t even justify LRT!

    Why is it we’re not hearing you say Eglinton doesn’t need a subway, and Jane doesn’t need an LRT? … because, based on those numbers, Jane doesn’t.

    Steve: I am waiting to see the revised demand numbers. Also, those are 2021 numbers and updates to 2031, to get in step with Metrolinx plans, are pending. If transit riding goes up as expected, we will be out of bus territory on those routes fairly quickly and as the subway advocates are always telling us, we need to plan for the future. However, that future will include more lines than Transit City, and we cannot assume that any one line will just rise at a constant, say, 3 percent forever as riding may be diverted elsewhere in the network.

    By the way, I never said Eglinton doesn’t need a subway. What I said was that the demand over the length of an Eglinton route doesn’t justify a subway from Kennedy to the Airport. That’s the whole point of an LRT network — use surface running where possible. Eglinton from Leaside to York doesn’t have room on the surface for LRT, but only that part would be underground.


  2. It’s also worth questioning what mode share and other assumptions are contained in the projections. Transit is gaining in ridership across the board and one would like to think that irrespective of gas prices that city policies will continue to cause trends in favour of transit usage.

    Even then, the same demand conditions will cause differing ridership numbers between bus, LRT-in-ROW and full segregation/subway because of transit times and perceived differences in journey quality (number of stops/accelerations/decelerations both at stops and junctions/signals).

    Additionally while the type of development along the corridor will be largely governed by the Official Plan, the pace of development will in part be influenced by transit availability and desirability.

    One thing I thought of when driving along Eglinton between Laird and Bayview today was that once the subLRT goes in, serious thought should be given to running ventilation and other access through a median where Eglinton is five lanes, essentially reducing Eglinton to four lanes by sacrificing lanes like the bus lane eastbound between Mount Pleasant and Leslie, as opposed to exhausting through subway style sidewalk grids which are both undesirable to walk on and a source of noise close to Eglinton residences.

    This would make Eglinton more of a boulevard and provide a visible surface benefit to burying the subLRT, but could continue to retain small turning lanes at major intersections.

    Steve: I suspect there would be concerns raised if the median structure effectively reduced Eglinton to one lane each way when parking was allowed in the curb lanes. Any blockage in the one travelled lane could not be bypassed.


  3. Buses on Eglinton West run about every 2 minutes apart, (in peak) and combined service on Eglinton East to Laird is near the same. Buses can carry about 55 people (service load) so let’s do some math on this one.

    Remember, the TTC has a self-proclaimed service minimum of 7 minutes on rapid transit routes.

    Steve: It is now 5 minutes. They changed it back from 7 a few years ago as part of the Ridership Growth Strategy.

    I think we established elsewhere that a transit-city LRV would be able to carry (with 2 cars) about 250 people. Even assuming ridership would almost double as a result of the new subway (be it LRT or otherwise) that still means that LRV’s running at 5 minute intervals could handle this load. Even if you increase service to only 3:30 you could end up seating everyone (lots of pro-growth ridership assumptions in this one).

    Compare this to a subway car, each one of which has room for 166 people. You’d have to run a 4 car train (670 capacity) at 12 minute intervals to keep service levels. Running trains at every 7 (the minimum) would literally mean that even at the most “packed times” everyone (assuming that there are exactly 50 people travelling at 1 minute intervals) would get a seat on the train. This is not the proper way to operate transit.

    However, one day, we may need a subway – far into the future, and it would be a shame to build in such a way to preclude this from happening. Think about Yonge street – we really need a second subway there but there is no room for such a thing!


  4. Steve, are there reliable numbers for the ridership on the Sheppard line? How does it stack up to the projections that were made before its construction?

    Steve: I will have to do some digging and get back to you on this. My early Sheppard files are in my archives. Part of the problem lies in the fact that the line was originally going to STC, or at least to Victoria Park, and many of the early estimates reflect the greater catchment area.


  5. You’re forgetting (and so is Mr. Giambrone) that a full Eglinton subway would probably take about 100,000 daily riders away from the Bloor subway on Day 1 (from N-S bus feeders).

    This would ease overcrowding on BD and at B-Y/St. George by moving 1/3 of the transfer loads to Eglinton W. and Eglinton stations. Why does nobody mention this?

    I find it hard to believe that on Finch or Jane, LRT will be needed based on ridership increases if nothing is done now. Ridership on those routes has been steady for the last 20 years. These projections are like pulling numbers out of the air.

    So, if you’re going to use ridership numbers as the sole basis of determing where lines should go, and not based on speed or geography (which is what Metrolinx is doing), then to be consistent, you would have to say that the Jane and Finch LRTs should fall off the map. Those numbers are well within the range of articulated bus service on 2 minute headways.


  6. Steve, I take the 32 Eglinton buses, and I can tell you that during peak hours at Eglinton West there are just as many people boarding the bus as there are getting off the bus. The demands are consistently high all the way to Eglinton.

    Steve: The point is that the load changes over. If everyone who was on the bus west of the Spadina continued east to Yonge, there would be a need for higher service in that section. If additional north-south routes are built, this will affect the peak demand on Eglinton itself and therefore the justification, such as it might be, for a full subway.


  7. How many rider on a westbound #34 Eglinton East or on a eastbound #32 Eglinton West get off their repective buses and continue on the other Eglinton bus east bound or west bound? I don’t have any numbers for this but from my own perspective I see most of the riders get of the #34 and get on the Yonge line, mostly southbound. I don’t ride the #32 but I imagine most of its riders do the same as we #34 riders do.

    I don’t think that a cross town line up on Eglinton is needed. If they do go with LRT, which I hope they do, I hope that they have it like the buses and Eglinton East LRT from Kennedy St. to Eglinton Station and Eglinton West LRT that travels from Eglinton Station to a possible Airport ling (extend the airport monorail south?).

    Steve: I agree about the loading patterns. Very few people transfer between buses at Eglinton Station. As for the airport, the GTAA’s scheme is to have the LRT come right into Terminal 1 because their monorail has limited capacity.


  8. People don’t travel straight through across Yonge on Eglinton because it’s a bus route! People are simply better off detouring south to the Bloor subway, travelling across town, then heading back north on a bus. Case in point: when I was living at Yonge and Davisville, I was working at Birchmount and Eglinton. Instead of simply taking the Yonge subway one stop north and then the 32 bus across Eglinton, it was faster to head south to Bloor, go across to Warden and then take the Birchmount bus back up to Eglinton.

    Once there is a reliable, through-service on Eglinton, many more people will use it for cross-town trips (as long as it’s as fast a a subway, of course). Steve, are you confident that the TTC will be able to manage the interlining that will be required on an Eglinton LRT route between the outer ends and the underground portion?

    Steve: They will manage interlining properly as long as they let cars/trains go on a first come, first served basis just as they would for a surface route. Slavish adherence to schedules screws up service every time.

    As for going out of your way, it is actually faster to go from Yonge & Davisville to STC via the Yonge and Bloor subways and the RT than to travel north to Sheppard, and east via the 190. Why? Because the 190 runs so infrequently and unreliably.

    I concur that a better service will draw riders off of the Bloor line for longer trips, but the question is what proportion are these potential trips of total riding?


  9. Remember we’re not just talking about #32/34. The underground section encompasses parts of several other routes like 54, 51, 56, 100 etc. If the TTC are seriously talking about no buses on Eglinton that means an additional transfer at the Eglinton line for those riders. If that’s the case, rider retention should dictate that the TTC ensure that the ride from their transfer to Eglinton takes no more transit time than a continuous bus.

    Steve: Yes, this is an important point for the 51 and 54 which both come down Leslie where we can expect there to be a station, likely at grade. How they would turn around is a bit of a mystery. It might make sense to through-route the 51 and 56 (Leslie and Leaside for those who don’t know the route numbers).

    The 100 Flemingdon Park would be affected also by the proposed Don Mills line and it’s hard to say if it would survive in its present form duplicating connections to both subway lines that the LRT routes would provide. Both it and the 81 Thorncliffe Park may become local circulators. If they fed into LRT lines that were on almost completely segregated rights-of-way (tunnels mainly) west and south of Don Mills and Eglinton, then the time for a transfer will be offset by the speedier run to a subway line.

    On another point, I was looking at the Eglinton West overhead last night – is there any plan for a GO station at Eglinton on the Bradford line, and would there be value in relocating Weston GO to Eglinton too?

    Steve: The Bradford line crosses a bit west of Caledonia where the LRT will still be underground. I’m not sure there’s much justification for a station just to connect with GO unless there is going to be frequent all day service on that line. As for the Weston Station, removing it would not sit well with the folks in Weston itself who have endured a difficult EA regarding both GO and Blue 22 for their neighbourhood. The last thing they want is all the hassle of increased service and community separation without having trains that actually stop to serve them.

    This does bring us to the more complex problem of interchanges between regional and local routes. Often, the locations where existing or planned corridors cross do not correspond to the sort of node where a subway or LRT station might be built. Indeed, the tendency of such locations to be “poisoned” for development by a railway, expressway or hydro corridor means that many such junctions will serve only as transfer points assuming it is even feasible to make a connection (401 and Yonge is an example of something that looks great on a map, but is impossible to build).


  10. Few transit lines are anything like close to capacity when they are first built. Even the Yonge and Bloor-Danforth lines were far, far under capacity when they were first built. Now they are packed, especially the Yonge line. The thing is, transit lines have a tendency to attract a lot of development nearby, which eventually get them to capacity.

    This is true even with the Sheppard Line – look at all the condos going up around there. And when the north Yonge extension was first built, trains used to short turn regularly at Eglinton. Now they are crowded all the way to Finch. Rapid transit lines should be seen for what they are: a subsidy for high-density development. Current ridership counts always greatly underestimate future demand because of this.

    I guarantee you that if an LRT is built on Eglinton, or probably any other major road in Toronto, a lot of condos will be built there and it will reach capacity fairly quickly, perhaps in 20-30 years. Then we will have to replace it with a subway. This doesn’t mean we should build the subway today, since it is almost certainly cheaper to build a LRT today and replace it with a subway than to build a subway today. And of course, it makes little sense to build subways in the middle of nowhere because there will be no benefit to existing residents. However, your ridership estimates basically assume that population density is fixed, which is blatantly false.

    Steve: They are not “my” ridership estimates, they are the TTC’s. Also estimates done both by City Planning and by Metrolinx are based on projections of future population and job densities, so the growth you talk about is incorporated in them.

    However, I take issue with the claim that subways generate development and ridership. This is a fiction perpetuated by the TTC (among others) for decades complete with photos of high-rise clusters such as Yonge-Eglinton and Bloor-Keele-High Park. Ridership growth on North Yonge comes overwhelmingly from bus routes feeding into the north end of the line. The people packing the trains southbound at Sheppard in the AM peak did not all walk into Finch Station. That’s why provision of alternate ways to get this demand downtown is an important part of the overall network design. The towers in North York from Sheppard to Finch represent only a drop in the total demand, especially the commercial space which, if it is leased at all, tends to build counterpeak flow.

    On Bloor-Danforth, the streetcar routes already had a long history of being fed by many, many bus routes and this continued as the line was extended east and west. Victoria Park is an exception to the otherwise low development around stations. Warden is only now getting underway, and Kennedy/Eglinton growth was supressed by Scarborough Council fearful of competition with their STC.

    There are few high-rises from Main west to Broadview because city policy has encouraged retention of stable residential neighbourhoods. (I happen to live in a high-rise near Broadview Station that was a product of the subway era, but this station is an exception.) Similarly, there’s not much west from Spadina until you get to the Crossways development at Dundas West where additional density is only now about to appear, 40 years after the subway was opened.

    A vital part of Transit City and the Official Plan is the development of linear rather than point density along major routes. With subway-like stop spacing, this sort of thing won’t happen, or if it does, the buildings will remain car-oriented.

    On Sheppard, yes, there is new development, some of which will actually feed the subway. However, many of the people who buy in locations like the condos southeast of Bayview Station have jobs north of the 401, or even in the 905 region. They are not served by a subway station that is (a) quite a hike away, (b) has lousy accessibility (one elevator when it works) and (c) is oriented to downtown-bound travel.


  11. I don’t know why lots of people seem to believe that the proper way to provide transit is to pack people in like sardines. Even the TTC has begun to acknowledge this fact from it’s new offpeak loading standard being equal to a seated load. From a customer service perspective it would be great if an Eglinton rapid transit line could provide seats for everyone … that’s the way to increase transit mode share, by providing a comfortable ride. We don’t have to determine the appropriate mode solely by multiplying crush load by maximum number of train cars per hour.

    Another thing that hasn’t been mentioned is the number of train cars required to operate the service. An LRT would have to run more frequently than a subway due to its lower capacity, and would run at a lower speed on the surface than the subway would in an exclusive right of way, resulting in a higher quantity of cars needed. I don’t know how much more a subway car costs than a LRT car, but the cost of the rolling stock has to be considered.

    What about the capital costs of building a LRT facility for Eglinton? I can’t imagine they’d be repaired and stored at existing streetcar facilities. An Eglinton subway could probably be repaired and stored at existing facilities, especially if they’re going to be expanded anyway as a result of the Spadina line extension.

    Steve: There is no room for expansion of any existing subway yards at Wilson (the spare capacity will be taken by the York extension), Davisville or Greenwood. A new yard will be required no matter what.

    The basic problem is that the demand on the outer part of the line (roughly the section that will be above grade as LRT) will not be in subway territory and could well be below that on the existing Sheppard subway line. You may save on vehicles with a subway, but you will pay through the nose for infrastructure, not to mention station operations.

    It’s worth remembering that during the off peak period there are more people manning stations (collectors, janitors, assorted repair crews for station and tunnel infrastructure) than driving trains. On Sundays, there are 47 trains (94 crew) in service on the BD, YUS and Sheppard lines. There are 69 stations, some with multiple, manned entrances. Moving to underground operation, whatever the mode, incurs substantial additional operating costs.


  12. The Ontario Science Centre is at Eglinton East and Don Mills. Both 34 Eglinton East and 25 Don Mills have frequent service to the Centre. However, why does the parking lot gets pretty full. Could it be how many people they can get into a car vs the day that a day pass is used on? Then there is the l-o-n-g walk from the stops to the entrance.

    Would people switch from the car to the LRT to get the the Science Centre? For some it would.

    It would also have to depend on if the buildings along the route will be rebuilt to be more transit friendly rather than so automobile friendly as it is now, such as the Science Centre. That is, will the buildings be rebuilt closer to the road and with less parking spots out front.

    Steve: That parking at the Science Centre would make a lovely site for a shallow LRT station for both the Eglinton and Don Mills lines


  13. Steve,

    I think the Eglinton crosstown is going to turn into what the 501 is right now.

    Also, all these LRT’s…people are set on their own ways, You mention Broadview a lot so to go from Broadview Stn. to downtown you take one route, though you can take one of the two streetcar routes from the station (I can’t remember their #’s at the moment), though most likely you take the BD line then go south on YUS.

    Steve: Actually, it’s the 504 (King) and 505 (Dundas), and they do good business from the station itself and from the stops down Broadview. It is often impossible to get on trains westbound at Broadview to go south on the YUS. People adjust their travel to what is provided. The biggest problem for people on Broadview is all of the short-turning that takes place in the PM peak, evenings and weekends so that big gaps appear in service. I have stood at Broadview & Queen at midnight waiting for a car north to Danforth for 20 minutes or more while a regular headway of 504s comes down Broadview and goes west. Those cars short-turned at Parliament eastbound.

    People are set on their ways and might not adapt so quickly to changes. These LRT’s are going to obviously affect the buses that they will replace (32/34 for ELRT), people are going to have to go to the middle of the road (like Spadina) from the sidewalk where people have been going for years and years and years. Also many stops will be removed (according to Giambrone and project managers). All these changes, are they worth it?

    If the Sheppard stubway would of being a SUBWAY and not a stubway (from STC to Weston Road), it could be connected to the airport.

    Think about this for a minute….I will call them Line to combine LRT & Subway.
    Finch West Line can be connected to the airport, Sheppard Line could of been connected, Eglinton Line could be connected to the airport.

    That “rail” service Blue 22 in about 100 years to come…..

    You could have a way to get from the Airport to North Toronto, Mid Town Toronto and Downtown Toronto. Not every Tourist goes downtown.

    Steve: The Blue 22 line to the airport turns west between Lawrence and Sheppard (look at a map) and would not connect with an extended Sheppard subway. If we serve the airport with a network of LRT routes (Eglinton, Finch/Etobicoke, Mississauga/Eglinton, even a Blue 22 LRT), there will be a huge set of potential destinations. We don’t need a subway to accomplish this.

    I used to go to Humber College night time (Finch/27) and I used to live at that time at Finch/Neilson, even at midnight, that takes a long long time.

    Steve: And it will continue to take a long time regardless of what is built because you are trying to go from one side of the 416 to the other. The Bloor subway takes 50 minutes to go from Kennedy to Kipling, and you have to get to and from it at both ends of the trip.

    People will eventually get used to the new lines but it will take some time. Do they take THAT into consideration?

    What about since you can’t make a left turn in your small street that ends/starts on Sheppard/Eglinton/Finch/Kingston/Jane, that you have to go to the nearest major intersection and all that traffic will be moved onto OTHER streets. I do not want extra traffic on MY streets.

    Steve: And so instead, we will build a nice subway line costing billions, put the station blocks away where you won’t want to walk, and run a surface bus every half hour, if at all.


  14. In retrospect, then, was it actually a good idea to stop building the Eglinton West subway? I really HATE giving any credit to MegaMel Lastman and Mike Harris, but…..

    Steve: Mel was the Mayor of North York, not York or Etobicoke. Just think, we could have had a subway that ended in, oh, Weston.


  15. I’m shocked at the lack of marketing going on with this issue. If I may go off on a tangent, this reminds me of the old Canadian Alliance “environment” policy of saying that kyoto is bunk (not that different from the current policy) but also saying that the CA policy would indeed cut carbons but also cut other kinds of pollution. They COULD have sold this well by saying “our policy cuts more ____ pollution then kyoto does” but they screwed up the marketing, and now everyone almost unanimously says they are/were anti-environment. I see the same thing playing out here.

    The fact is that we ARE going to be building an eglinton subway (and therefore we also ARE going to be building the eglinton west subway) the only debate is what kind of trains to run in it. Frankly, if we started going around and saying this I bet we’d get alot more support for an LRT subway. In short you want to sell the idea that you can build a subway with small fast quiet sleek and pretty trains. “All the benefits of the subway without any of the drawbacks” instead we sit and argue about LRT surface operations.

    IMHO if we are going to win this PR battle, we need to sell our position better. We ARE going to build the eglinton subway, only we are going to do it cheaper then they are.


  16. Regards to my comment about MegaMel: remember, it was he who promised the mayor of York that the Sheppard Subway would not be built without the Eglinton West Subway, and then of course went back on his word. So, he might have done us a small favour. Still, it’s tempting to think would sort of another mess we’d be in if the Eglinton West subway was built INSTEAD of the Sheppard line. Remember: Mike Harris said we could have one or the other but not both.


  17. Had the Eglinton West Subway been built all the way to Weston Rd and eventually to the Airport, how much of the line would have been underground? I would assume that the further west you’d go, that there would be a pretty good portion of it at grade, outside (just below grade) or even elevated. Steve, was there any detailed design reports or plan and profiles released to answer this question?

    Steve: No, but I expect it would have been all underground with the possible exception of getting across the Jane Street flats.


  18. Steve, what were the initial ridership projects for the canceled Eglinton West Subway? How do those projections compare with the initial estimates for the Sheppard line.

    It’s always been my view that the wrong subway was canned. If I remember correctly some underground infrastructure such as sewer connections were moved, so some of the initial work done in 1994 & 1995 could potentially make some future underground work be it full on subway or underground LRT a bit easier to complete.

    Steve: I need to dig into my archives for this.


  19. I think the Eglinton line ridership projection is severely inaccurate. For people who walk by Eglinton Av. West (people like me) everyday you will see how that road moves like the Gardiner everyday and the TTC is saying that it only projects 9,000 riders/hour or whatever the projection is. I dont think they have seen the number of cars there + the number of people that take that bus route (the 32).

    I hear people saying everyday that they wish these was some kind of a subway there which would take the pressure of Eglinton Av. W. I’m not saying that we need a subway but I’m saying we need more than an LRT. After all I thought our major throughfares weren’t supposed act like a highway.

    Steve: An LRT subway gives you the speed and absence of congestion you seem to advocate without the need for massively overbuilt infrastructure on the outer part of the line.


  20. To Vic,

    I am going to assume, you are talking about Eglinton Ave between The Allen, and maybe Keele/Tretheway.

    I live in that area, and I can attest that much of the problem is that one lane is continously blocked by parked cars, even during rush hour. If the city actually enforced the parking laws, you would see an improvement. Good luck with that though.

    This (among other things), is the reason why the line will be underground in this area.


  21. I was actually refering to the part between the 427 and Black Creek but i could imagine the traffic problems there are over there as well. But i cannot see the lane between Eglinton and Balck Creek being expanded unless you take out the bike lanes and with the city’s proposal to significantly expand bike lanes around the city, i can’t see this happening. Therefore you would see traffic congestion which would backup Eglinton for miles and miles and i would imagine that Keele/Tretheway would feel this as well (refering to the traffic on that portion).


  22. My take is that there a great deal of potential demand for rapid transit service to the ‘north’ of the existing E-W service. A subway level of service (in terms of speed, frequency and reliability) on Eglinton (gosh I have trouble spelling that!) would attract riders and development.

    I won’t venture a guess as to how many, but would point out that rapid transit services have consistently grow ridership. Even the much questionned Sheppard Line – based on the numbers I’ve seen on the TTC website, have grown from about 35 thousand per weekday in 2003 to about 46 thousand in 2008. From the statistics on the SRT, this also seen ridership grow – to the point where it’s at capacity.

    Steve: The SRT is at capacity because of the available fleet, not because of the infrastructure. If they had more cars, the TTC could run 6-car trains, and the headways can be tightened up a bit even with the stub terminals.

    All day ridership on the Sheppard line is not the point, it’s the peak demand. Note that it originates almost entirely at Don Mills Station although the stations further west will pick up some load as development occurs.

    I get that LRT technology has some advantages in terms of branching to street level. However, it has drawbacks too. These are:

    – in at grade operations, the wiring infrastructure is subject to the elements – this degrades reliability and increases maintenance costs. (In the worst case, a significant ice storm would wipe out service for weeks.)

    Steve: A severe ice storm has never wiped out the streetcar system for weeks, but snow and ice have stopped both the subway and the RT for days. This is a misleading comparison because you ignore what has actually happened on the existing system.

    – track is also subject to faster deterioration and decrease in reliability – especially when encased in concrete (as opposed to ties on roadbed)

    Steve: That statement may be true for the “thundertrack” the TTC used to build without rubber insulation and steel ties, but it is not true for modern streetcar track.

    – the TTC’s preference to use concrete encasement means that the line would be shut completely for months at a time every couple of decades.

    Steve: The new track construction has taken a long time to build because the work also includes building a new, mechanically separate foundation, and in the case of St. Clair and Bathurst, a lot of utilities work in the curb lanes. When the track is eventually replaced, only the top layer of concrete needs to be taken out, and the work will go much more quickly. Also, with double-ended cars and crossovers, some service could be maintained.

    – unless completely physically segregated, at grade in-street ops are subject to lower speed limits

    Steve: The primary constraint on speed is stop spacing and loading design (all door vs pay as you enter). Subways run faster because their stops are further apart and they use all-door loading from a level platform.

    – grade crossings/intersections have accident rates that degrade reliability (even accidents not related to LRT service often result in the intersections being closed to tram traffic.)

    – platform space is generally less generous

    The TTC does staff booths at subway stops. This doesn’t mean that these couldn’t be converted to POP (as in Vancouver.)

    Steve: Vancouver’s design replaces station collectors with a comparable if not greater number of security personnel both to mind the stations and to perform random fare checks.

    Eglinton has some inate advantages for building a subway.

    1. The central section must be tunneled
    2. In many parts of the west end, there is plenty of space to cut and cover without disruption to surface traffic and residents.

    Steve: If we were the only city in the world considering an LRT network, I would take some of your criticisms to heart, but when such backwater towns as London, Paris, Berlin and Madrid (that bastion of subway construction) can embrace LRT, I can’t help thinking it has a place. Yes, the TTC does a bad job of running its streetcar system, and the St. Clair project is a textbook case of screwing up a good idea with horrendous implementation. The City has to take a lot of the blame for that too as the delays and design compromises were not all of the TTC’s making.


  23. I know a few DRIVERS from the 32, I’ve been told repeatedly that the line is severely CRUSHLOADED, A LOT, not just rush hour, I’ve stood at Eglinton West Station, and I’ve watched the flow, it is crazy! The buses are PACKED from The Station till around Jane, sometimes farther west too.

    I live a 15 minute walk away from Islington, it’s not accessible or safe to walk though, so I depend on the buses to get to the subway, mostly the 30, 50, and 37, I used to Volunteer 2 blocks east of Eglinton & Dufferin, it is FASTER for me to take the BD from Islington change to a northbound train at St George and take a bus from Eglinton West, than it is to take the train from Islington to Dufferin and go through the stress of taking a CRUSHLOADED 29 bus up to Eglinton and walk east…

    Steve: And what is proposed on Eglinton is a line that would run in a completely segregated right-of-way, mostly underground, all the way from Jane to Yonge and beyond. The current AM peak service on the 32 is 2’06” or about 30 buses/hour with a design capacity of under 2,000. A comparable headway of two-car LRT trains would give vastly greater capacity and speed.

    Everyone knows that bus operations in mixed traffic are at the limit of their capacity today, and that’s why Transit City looks to LRT as an alternative.

    I should also point out that an LRT line is likely to have stops at Eglinton West Station, Oakwood and Dufferin, roughly a 600m spacing. For a full-scale subway, you may not have the stop at Oakwood. In any event, you won’t get dropped at the door the way the 32 might do today. That’s one of the tradeoffs of underground operation, no matter what the technology.


  24. My fear is that by prioritising Sheppard East and Finch West over Eglinton in terms of EAs etc., the enthusiasm for building LRT will have worn off by the time a rail gets laid because the TTC will have managed to attract even more bad press in the way they did on St Clair. I hope I’m wrong, but if I’m not the line which needed to be built most won’t get built at all.

    Steve: The Eglinton EA is supposed to start this fall. The delay has been to get a lot of the preliminary alignment review out of the way so that there is sufficient detail to present at the first public meeting. At that point we will have something concrete to talk about.


  25. My prediction … Metrolinx will recommend that the Eglinton line be built as ICTS with underground and elevated portions so that it can run non-stop from Pearson to STC and beyond. Steve, you can start banging your head against the wall now.

    Steve: This is not hard to predict. Rumours of this based on Richard Soberman’s 2006 scheme have been floating around for months.


  26. If the TTC is now citing 9,000 riders are we going to see something like the Surface Subway Proposal that was citied in the Sheppard LRT or something which is a lot like Calgary’s LRT?

    Steve: The issue here is the distribution of demand. Unlike Calgary, a long section of this route will be underground and I believe that most of the heavy demand will correspond with this section.


  27. Steve says: ” … when such backwater towns as London, Paris, Berlin and Madrid (that bastion of subway construction) can embrace LRT, I can’t help thinking it has a place.”

    I haven’t seen those systems (London and Paris trams are a tiny part of the system compared to subway; haven’t been to Berlin or Madrid), but I have seen tram systems in Budapest, Zurich, Frankfurt, and Istanbul; as well as in Edmonton and Salt Lake City. These tend to be a pleasure to ride, and I absolutely agree that LRT is a great mode, which can provide subway-like service on the cheap if it’s designed and operated properly.

    However, from the perspective of system design and operation, Toronto has by far the worst street-level rail network of any that I’ve seen: dense stop spacing, far side stops, poor stop design, no traffic priority, no POP fares, poor headway management … I could go on. The worst part is that, as new lines are opened (such as St. Clair), all these design and operational “features” are repeated! The TTC is clearly not learning, either from its own mistakes or from internationally recognized best practices. Given the TTC’s well-established record, only a foolish man would bet that TransitCity will be a world-class tram system by any measure.

    If your objective is to save money — and billions of dollars are at stake here — due diligence would suggest that the savings will almost certainly be outweighed by poor performance. For that reason I support building Eglinton as a subway, and I reject the spending of even one more dollar on surface LRT until the TTC can show that it will do it right, starting with the St. Clair line.

    Steve: So we should spend billions on subways because the TTC is incompetent and the City won’t embrace true surface transit priority? A sad state of affairs.

    As for London and Paris, yes the trams there are a small part of a bigger network. I mentioned them because even in those subway-dominated locales, the possibilities of LRT are being felt. Both are cities that discarded their tram systems as part of “modernization” and are now seeing the value of modern versions of that mode.


  28. I agree with Andrew. The TTC and City need to prove they can build and operate a true LRT line. St Clair would have been the perfect opportunity, but they failed miserably. I still maintain that if they don’t get it right up on Sheppard (all indications are that they won’t), Transit City is doomed. We’ll be left with a disjointed service along Sheppard and still no rapid transit along the busy and congested central Eglinton corridor.


  29. If it comes to building Eglinton line using ICTS, then a better way is “LRT+” line: same gauge / vehicles / low floor as on other LRT routes, but fully grade-separate for the whole length (even the flank sections).

    This will be a paradigm shift compared to the original design: such a line will cost more (about same as ICTS would), be faster and provide higher capacity , but with less emphasis on local service. However, at least the advantage of compatible vehicles / spare parts / maintenance facilities with other emerging LRT lines will be retained, and a station at Pearson common to this route, Finch W, and possible Mississauga routes will remain possible.

    Those advantages would be almost completely forfeited if ICTS technology is selected.

    What makes Bombardier so interested in expanding ICTS in Toronto, anyway? With either subway or LRT expansions instead of ICTS, Bombardier still has a good chance of getting lucrative contracts (and has got to build some new subway cars already).

    Steve: They may be after a lucrative PPP arrangement to build and operate the line, and probably want another chance to showcase this technology. Given the way the TTC is presenting LRT, do you blame them?


  30. I think that the ridership stats for Transit City have to reflect the amount of people that will not be taking the new services, because T.C. offers no speed advantage over sitting on the bus.

    My view is that the ridership stats are so low, because T.C. is going to do nothing to attract new riders to transit.

    The Sheppard line for example is only projected to save 10 minutes over taking the current bus, if you ride end to end. I can’t see that attracting people in droves, and the ridership counts reflect that.

    Steve: As I have said before, you are not going to save vastly more with a subway unless it has frequent stops (unlike the design for Sheppard) because people who don’t live right at a station will have considerable access times and poor (if any) surface transit.


  31. I looked at the new ART MKII’S from bombardier. They are already operating in kuala lampoor and other countries with positive results. Yes the MK I’s were terrible but the MKII’s are a night and day difference.

    If Eglinton is merged with the RT using the ART MKII’S then I support it. Eglinton sits at the Middle of all GTA cities and having this as a crosstown route from the airport to Malvern would help this city a lot. I predict at least 250,000 riders a day would use this line. People from Bloor/Danforth and other routes would take this line and having it as LRT is a recipe for disaster.

    I’m glad transit city is becoming a failure because I think this plan is more political then ever. Why rush the Sheppard LRT before Eglinton which I believe is a priority before FINCH, Sheppard and all the other proposed expansions. Jane and DON MILLS can be upgraded to articulated Trolley buses with 2 minute head ways.

    How about Dufferin street. This route has had problems for years but no one is planning anything for this route which could use articulated trolley buses NOW. Transit city only mentions LRT but routes like Jane, Don Mills and other’s don’t even justify that based on your ridership numbers. Articulated trolley buses should have been included also in transit city.

    In Greece, where i had just returned from, have been using trolley buses for years and the new ones they just bought from Germany at 1 million euros each are fast, comfortable and reliable. they even have padded seats, low floor entries with WIFI. The Greek government was looking at LRT for these routes but decided against it and went with these trolley’s instead and let me tell you, the people are happy with this choice. I wish I was able to get the manufacturer of these buses because they were really nice.


  32. I am not promoting ICTS, and still prefer LRT on Eglinton, but modern ICTS is actually really good.

    The JFK Airtrain is amazing, and the TTC really should look at doing the RT upgrade properly to take advantage of the Seltrac system.


  33. Another advantage for using ICTS technology is that when the RT is converted to handle the ART vehicles, both it and Eglinton (if it uses ICTS) would be able to share a larger carhouse.

    Steve: One way or another, we will need more carhouse capacity regardless of the chosen mode. Even for the SRT extension, there isn’t room at McCowan Carhouse, let alone for an Eglinton line.


  34. Steve, on the subject of TTC building capable LRT lines, what do you think of the Sheppard East in its planning so far? Do you think it offers any hope for decent service?

    Steve: Yes, actually I think they have done a good job of balancing the “light” and “rapid” transit aspects of the project. The challenge now will be to get the traffic signals to actually favour transit operations rather than impede them. That decision does not lie with the TTC, but the TTC needs to make a strong case for the benefits.


  35. @Justin Bernard

    But would ICTS work better than plain LRT, if each runs on a fully-separate ROW?

    Any reasons related to capacity / speed / costs?

    Steve: If LRT is on a fully-separated ROW all the way from Kennedy to Pearson, then almost by definition it is not LRT, but simply a subway running with streetcar-type vehicles.

    Since new LRVs will use all-door loading, there is little difference in stop service time, but stop spacing will affect overall speed as well as access times for passengers getting to and from the line.

    The savings come through surface operation where possible. This lowers capital costs for subway (or elevated) construction, allows stops to be closer together without the extra cost of station equipment and operation, and avoids the visual intrusion of an elevated structure and stations (a major issue at locations where redevelopment of pedestrian-friendly neighbourhoods is desired). Surface operation will be slower than ICTS, but the question is one of tradeoffs.

    It is worth remembering that the Scarborough LRT was originally going to be at grade, but was changed to an elevated through the Town Centre to avoid blocking access to nearby properties. Of course, the same blockage is created by the bus roadway, but nobody mentioned that back when Scarborough Council was bamboozled by ICTS proponents including the TTC.

    The LRT was also going to cross intersecting streets (Lawrence, Ellesmere, etc) at grade, but that was avoided by (a) the railway grade-separations and (b) the elevated structure along Highland Creek west of STC.

    At the time, the “slower speed” of LRT vs ICTS was cited as a mark against the former mode, but the difference was caused almost entirely by the unfair comparison of the two modes and the proposed use of high-floor CLRVs on the line with associated loading delays.


  36. It would be a huge mistake to build Eglinton as ICTS just so that it could provide a transfer-free ride to STC and beyond.

    It would be better to build the outer sections as light rail and the inner underground section as a conventional subway with St. George like transfer facilities. Then, as ridership increases, the subway could be extended outward as an express route, while the LRT would remain as a surface local route.

    I’m sure even Steve wouldn’t find fault with this.

    Steve: I am honour bound to find fault! Extending the subway under an existing working LRT would be a challenge especially at station locations. Not imposssible, but challenging.

    We would also get into the inevitable debate about how long to wait for the second phase of subway construction and whether we might as well get it over with now.


  37. Steve says: “I am honour bound to find fault! Extending the subway under an existing working LRT would be a challenge especially at station locations. Not imposssible, but challenging.”

    Brussels started with pre-Metro lines, which were streetcars running in tunnels. Then the pre-Metros were converted to full Metros. I don’t know how exactly the managed the transition, or if they did the transition by parts. Anyone know more about Brussels’ methodology?

    Steve: The difference is that the tunnel already existed and was merely converted to subway use. The station platforms had been designed to simplify conversion from low platform (streetcar) to high platform (subway) loading. Such a design would be more difficult today because of accessibility requirements.


  38. In spite of being somewhat more of a subway advocate than you are, all I can say about the possibility of Eglinton getting a full subway is that should that end up being chosen for Eglinton people along there had best lobby like there’s no tomorrow on keeping station spacing as close as possible. Now I’m not saying a station is needed at every block but stations most definitely be NO further apart than if LRT wins out. Heck, I could show you places on a TTC map where in-fill stations on the YUS and BD subways might be justified. These are mostly on the outer ends.

    Steve: It’s worth looking at the proposed locations for stops on the Sheppard East, Don Mills and Scarborough Malvern lines, all of which are contained in the displays that were used at the public sessions. The TTC is shooting for 400m station spacing on average.

    The original Bloor-Danforth subway from Woodbine to Keele is roughly 12km long (six concessions). There are 20 stations, hence 19 spaces between them for an average spacing of about 630m. Some are closer (e.g. Yonge and Bay), some further apart. The problem when people talk about “subways” is that’s the sort of line they think of with a station (primary or alternate entrance of which there are 9) a short hop away.

    On Eglinton eastbound from Yonge there are seven stops in the 2,000m to Bayview (not including Eglinton Terminal) for an average spacing of under 400m. In the next 2,000m to Leslie, there are five, and in the next 2,000m to Don Mills there is one.

    There are many riders who use the stops west of Bayview (I know, I grew up there and still visit regularly). As an LRT subway, we will be lucky to have a stop every 1,000m (Yonge, Mt. Pleasant, Bayview) and a lot of people will have a walk they don’t today, including me and the majority of residents of the high rises along that stretch of Eglinton.

    All of this will be in the interest of speeding someone from the wilds of Scarborough to Pearson airport. If you tried to do this with a bus line (take away stops in the name of speeding up service), the TTC’s own service planning criteria would flag that thousands of people would have longer walks to transit that were unlikely to be offset by faster in-vehicle trip times, and the proposal would be shot down in flames.

    There is always going to be a trade off between local and regional travel, but the more expensive we make the infrastructure, the more likely that local demands will be dropped in the name of economy.


  39. After reading some of the above comments, I remembered that a couple of the Eglinton EA reports from the 90s are kicking around at my work, gathering dust.

    The 2011 projections for the subway were in the area of 15,000 in the AM peak hour, peak direction, peak point (eastbound approaching Eglinton West station), and around 5,000 at the west end of the subway (at Renforth — this was for the long-term line assuming the full extension out to Mississauga). There were also projections for a BRT alternative, in the area of 10,800 eastbound approaching York Civic Centre station. (The BRT alternative included a tunnel through the central area, and in the west section it would have separated into branches heading north at each of the main arterials.)

    Surprisingly, the preliminary design for the subway alternative was bored tunnel all the way west to past Martin Grove. I had thought all the alternatives were trenched through the west half of the corridor. There was a caveat in a presentation that the design west of York C.C. could be changed in the future since that was going to be a longer-term project.

    Steve: Looking at the old demand projections, it’s important to remember how often the TTC modelled travel with no additions to the commuter rail network. The model had no place to put all the demand going downtown than on the new subway lines, and this inflated the demand projections. There is far more GO service today than was included in some of the demand models 20 years ago, and further improvements are already in the pipeline.

    If your desire is to create a “demand” for subways, the easiest way is to model a network that contains no alternatives.


  40. Steve:-

    In your reply to David’s comment you wrote:

    “On Eglinton eastbound from Yonge there are seven stops in the 2,000m to Bayview (not including Eglinton Terminal) for an average spacing of under 400m. In the next 2,000m to Leslie, there are five, and in the next 2,000m to Don Mills there is one.

    There are many riders who use the stops west of Bayview (I know, I grew up there and still visit regularly). As an LRT subway, we will be lucky to have a stop every 1,000m (Yonge, Mt. Pleasant, Bayview) and a lot of people will have a walk they don’t today, including me and the majority of residents of the high rises along that stretch of Eglinton.”

    I think that now during the planning stage there has to be consideration the existing ridership. If it was my neighbourhood (King/Bathurst) and I would have to walk several blocks for a “subway” I would be making considerable noise!

    Granted it is far too early to guess what will be implemented (if anything if Metrolynx keeps poking it’s nose into it) but what is the likelihood of existing bus services such as Leslie providing overlapping surface transit in addition to the ELRT. To the east between Leslie and Don Mills there isn’t a significant source of traffic and the LRT should be on the surface beyond Don Mills anyway so shorter distances between stops would be economical.

    The same overlap could be done for the west side of Yonge. I’m sure one of the routes currently going through or terminating at Eglinton West could continue to service Eglinton to Yonge Street. Stops at or near Keele, Dufferin, Eglinton West, Bathurst and Avenue Road should be sufficient for a subway LRT if proper surface transit is also available.

    I know this isn’t the prettiest solution, but it is plausible.

    Steve: Yes, it’s plausible, but this doesn’t mean they would actually do it. Note that the Leslie bus runs quite infrequently, and not at all during some periods. This would be akin to the experience of people who live on Sheppard between stations who get much, much less frequent service, if any, now that the subway is open.

    As for King & Bathurst, if there were a subway down there, the stops would probably be at Bathurst, Shaw and Dufferin. Wave goodbye to Tecumseth, Niagara, Strachan, Sudbury, Atlantic and Fraser.


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