Metrolinx has started the publication of its Benefits Case Analyses with the York VIVA system. The SRT replacement study is also completed, and I expect to see it online soon.
These papers will appear in a section of the Projects Page on the Metrolinx site.
The core of the system radiating out from Richmond Hill Centre north to 19th, east to Unionville and west to Vaughan Corporate Centre would be finished by 2013. In Option 1, the remainder of the network would be completed by 2018, or if Option 2 is chosen, by 2026.
A quite fascinating part of the BCA comes in the ridership estimates. In the “Base Case” (just leave VIVA as it is with provision for modest fleet expansion), the projected 2021 ridership is 28.0-million per year. This rises to only 30.3-million for either of the options studied. Similarly, 2031 ridership is projected at 31.3-million for the Base Case, or 34.0-million for either of the optional networks.
Various factors are at work here.
The core of the demand falls on the first stage network that is common to both options, and the impact of the extensions is so small that it doesn’t make a difference (Before anyone accuses me of VIVA-bashing, that is a direct paraphrase from the report.) Although the implementation of the Rapidways will give existing users a better riding experience, the comparatively small jump in riding suggests that most of the potential market is already using the system.
Updated: In a comment posted following this post, “Dave R in the Beach” notes that the big jump in ridership is from current ridership of 6.8-million to the Base Case value of 28.0-million, and this is largely due to the subway extension. In my response, I observed that the marginal gain from either BRT network is small and may reflect the comparatively small contribution the reserved bus lanes make to overall trip times when the much longer subway segment of the journey is included. [End of update]
An unknown acknowledged in the BCA is the question of land use planning. Will York Region redevelop along the Rapidways, and how much will this contribute to future demand?
In the end, the BCA does not specifically recommend one option over the other, but the message about getting most of the benefit for 60% of the capital cost is quite clear. We will see how this fares when Metrolinx puts together its detailed plan for project staging.