Richmond Hill or Bust? The Yonge Subway Extension (Part 2)

In the first part of this series, I reviewed the general layout of the Richmond Hill subway extension.  Now I will turn to the question of demand on the new and existing portions of the Yonge line.

Information on current and projected demands is very hard to nail down.  Transit agencies have a bad habit of fiddling the demand models to produce the results they want depending on available funding, political imperatives and the phases of the moon.  Small changes in the assumptions in any model can produce huge swings in the outcome.

Probably the single most flagrant problem with Metrolinx is that the demand model is proprietary to a consultant, IBI, and is not available for general “what if” use.  At the very time we are making decisions about network structures and spending priorities, we are told (by Metrolinx) that budget constraints limit the number of model runs.  Detailed parameters such as the capacity and speed of modelled lines are hard to come by.

In this vacuum, any plausible scheme for transit gains political traction even though it may rest on dubious planning foundations.  I say this not to knock the Richmond Hill proposal itself, but to urge caution in looking at the numbers particularly where the interaction between several alternative lines is concerned.

Projections for riding on both the Richmond Hill extension and the rest of the rapid transit network appear in various documents.  One of them even changed between the point where it was presented at a public TTC meeting and its publication on the TTC’s website. Continue reading