Metrolinx: The Big Move (1)

This morning, Metrolinx unveiled its draft Regional Transportation Plan at a press conference.  Coverage is already online at The Star, and the report is available on the Metrolinx website.  (That link goes to the agenda page for the next Board meeting, and the RTP is linked from there as Appendix A to Report 8.  The companion Investment Strategy is in Report 9.)

Although referenced in the draft RTP, a number of background papers are not yet online.

  • Modelling Methodology and Results for the Draft Regional Transportation Plan, September 2008
  • Climate Change and Energy Conservation, September 2008
  • Mobility Hubs, September 2008
  • Transit Technologies, September 2008

I am still digesting this morning’s presentation, the draft plan and the investment strategy, and have a technical briefing later today.  Comments on all of this will start to appear this evening.

8 thoughts on “Metrolinx: The Big Move (1)

  1. Haven’t read the RTP in detail, but at least the document acknowledges local transit service:

    “Local transit agencies have a critical role to play. High quality local transit is essential to the success of the regional transit network, and the entire RTP. Improvements to local transit systems, and better integration of local transit with walking and cycling, are necessary to realize the full benefits of the enhanced regional transit network. Local transit serves demand within municipalities and also feeds the regional transit network, providing the critical first or last leg of the regional traveller’s journey. The quality and reliability of this transit service will play a significant role in affecting changes in travel behaviours.”

    Steve: The big issue, as yet unsettled, is who will pay for all of this new local service.


  2. I noticed three major deficiencies in the present version of Draft RTP:

    1) GO REX is a vital part of the plan, but absolutely no details are given as what upgrades will be needed (just more rolling stock? double/triple tracking? rebuilding stations?) and, consequently, how much it might cost. For new subways or new LRT lines, cost estimates can be made based on the historical data and / or other cities, but there are no such comparison points for GO REX.

    Suggestion: select one GO line (Brampton / Georgetown will do) and undertake a detailed case study concerning the above.

    2) Toronto Downtown transit. The 15-year plan heavily favors projects that will bring more passengers to Yonge and Spadina subways, while all relief projects (DRL, Stouffville GO REX, and Richmond Hill GO REX) are pushed past the 15-year mark. Hence, we are on the right track to overwhelming Yonge subway and largerly defeating the purpose of many other transit investments, as people will be forced to drive downtown because they can’t even get standing room on the subway.

    Suggestion: swap the priorities of the Yonge North subway extension and the eastern wing of DRL. Include DRL from downtown to Danforth in the 15-year plan, while deferring Yonge North to the 25-year plan.

    3) Scarborough transit network. The total funding slated for Scarborough is formidable: 1.75 B for the SRT upgrade and extension, 800 M for Sheppard E LRT, and 600 M for “Scarborough-Malvern” LRT. Combined, this is 3.15 B.

    Despite that, the proposed Scarborough network is going to be transfer-rich, ill-balanced (a lot of capacity in the north-eastern corner at the expense of other parts), and lack interoperability (subways, ICTS, and TC light rail are all totally incompatible).

    Suggestions: undertake a Scarborough network case study, and create a Scarborough mini-plan within RTP. Consider two or three alternative layouts of LRT lines and (possibly) subway extensions, for the total cost similar to the above 3.15 B but resulting in a better, more convenient, more balanced network.


  3. What I find most interesting is that Peak Oil was officially acknowledged. From 1.2.2:

    “Trends like population growth,… Peak Oil,… will all have significant long term impacts…”


  4. Although Peak Oil is acknowledged, Metrolinx still produced the following totally bizarre modal breakdown for the year 2033:

    Walking/bicycling: 12.5%
    Transit: 26.2%
    Cars: 61.3%

    This is, of course, quite absurd. By the year 2033 we will be so far over peak oil that virtually all oil produced will be used for things a lot more important than burning it up in cars. Car use will be a fringe activity of the ultra-rich, who will pay accordingly.

    Unless, of course, some totally unforseen “star trek” technology is developed to save the car. Looks like fuel cells are not going to do the trick. But rational transportation planning should not be based upon some sort of unknowable breakthrough.


  5. The real issue with Peak Oil, isn’t oil at all, but rather Peak Energy, using current technology there are only 7 ways to obtain energy, sun, wind, gravity, biomass, muscle power, nuclear and fossil fuels. The first 5 have been used by people for thousands of years, but are available in relatively small quantities, Biomass refers to the burning of biological material, which may be converted to an alcohol first. Muscle power refers to the use of human or animal power. Nuclear has the problem of long term waste materials, and fossil fuels are getting more expensive due to their being harder to extract and make available. The real issue is that we now use massive amounts of energy to move people and goods around.

    The problem with the car has always been using a 1500kg metal box to transport a 75kg person and 10kg of goods, meaning it takes the energy to move 1585kg to move 85kg, Long term, transit isn’t the answer either, as it also uses large amounts of energy. To deal with Peak energy, we really need to completely redesign the urban environment, so you don’t need to move people and goods long distances. If you would have put forth the concept in 1708 of travelling from Barrie to Toronto for work everyday, as many people now do, they would have locked you up in the lunatic asylum.

    Personally, I think we would be best served if the targets by 2033 would be:

    Walking/Bicycling 65%
    Transit 30%
    Cars 5%


  6. Whether the response (e.g. the modal breakdown for 2033) is adequate or not, it is interesting that Metrolinx has cited Peak Oil, climate change and rising obesity rates as important considerations.

    But what’s more interesting is what transportation planners working for the province-other than for Metrolinx-are saying about our future infrastructure needs.



  7. “Suggestions: undertake a Scarborough network case study, and create a Scarborough mini-plan within RTP. Consider two or three alternative layouts of LRT lines and (possibly) subway extensions, for the total cost similar to the above 3.15 B but resulting in a better, more convenient, more balanced network.”

    Agree completely, in fact I wrote a paper (school project) saying essentially that last year. The Scarborough network as proposed has some serious problems, and there are enough workable ways of developing a better system for the same price we really should have a dedicated study.


  8. It’s quite encouraging to read the comments here – thanks Steve for offering the forum and analysis.

    One larger problem is the focus on the Airport as a hub – yes, we may have a huge travel demand to it and it’s a big employment area – but since we don’t count ANY of the jet travel emissions in our already excessive greenhouse gas emissions profile, if we ever hope to begin to really reduce our emissions to a semblance of mere stabilization we must must must re-assess and trim how much we fly about. So sure, plan for some connectivity, but go beyond the 1990s in the assessment of climate change and our responses, and don’t put billions into serving a smog-brown elephant.

    The first example is the rail link to Pearson – we need to use that corridor for better public transit first, not the Blue 22.

    There’s still a problem with the WWLRT – it seems it’s likely still kicking around though we could save a couple hundred million and provide better service for Etobicarians etc. by exploring doing a direct line in on Front but that’s impossible though recommended in the WWLRT EA 16 years ago along with a caveat that the WWLRT as now proposed isn’t worth it.

    And overall, we’re putting in transit to both job and residential sprawl and tending to avoid upgrading the transit in the true dense urban core. ROWs on King and Queen won’t be readily done, and yet the power structure of both Metrolinx and the province and the city itself tends to siphon off the resource from the density for sprawl.

    And yes, the targets for bike and walking are feeble, and thanks Wogster for suggesting the appropriate level of mobile furnaces and carcoons.


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