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.

TTC Staff Report

This report contains (at page 11) forecasts of subway riding for year 2031 of

  • SB to Steeles:  AM peak period, 25,000; peak hour, 14,000
  • SB to Wellesley:  AM peak period, 65-70,000; peak hour 36-39,000

Current ridership south of Bloor is 27-28,000 during the peak hour, and this represents a potential increase of up to 50% in demand at that location.

Sadly, what is missing is an estimate of the conditions in 2017 when the Richmond Hill line is projected to open.

York Region Estimates

York Region peak hour estimates for 2031 (page 12 in the TTC report) project:

  • SB at Richmond Hill: 10,600
  • SB to Steeles:  14,200
  • SB to Finch: 17,900

This is a very troubling figure because a substantial portion of the subway’s capacity is consumed before the trains reach Finch Station.  The TTC’s operational strategy will be to make Finch an AM short turn point so that half of the trains will begin their trips southbound from there empty.

Also of interest is the relatively small contribution of Steeles Station to the accumulating demand.  Why does it need a 26-bay bus terminal?  This requires detailed explanation given the cost and impact of the large terminal.

A table of “all day” station usage projections by York Region (page 12) in the report does not make sense because the “all day” figures appear to be the sum of peak hour boardings and alightings.  These need to be factored up to a 24-hour period.  The AM peak hour boarding figures for year 2031 are:

  • Richmond Hill: 25,200 (of which the vast majority arrive by transfer from another service)
  • Langstaff:  2,700 (of which 2/3 are park & ride customers)
  • Royal Orchard:  1,400 (mainly walk-ins)
  • Clark:  1,600  (mainly walk-ins)
  • Steeles:  4,400 (of which over 75% are transfer riders from other routes)
  • Cummer/Drewry:  1,700 (75% transfers)
  • Finch:  8,700 (4,800 walk-ins!, 2,700 park & ride)

Again, a major shortcoming is the absence of opening day, 2017 projections.

Metrolinx Projections

Metrolinx’ backgrounder on demand projections must be read with care because the network it modelled is not identical to the one in the final, approved Regional Plan.  An updated projection based on the final network has not yet been published.

In the backgrounder, the Richmond Hill GO service is assumed to be a very frequent “express rail” line, but this was cut back to a “regional rail” service in final version.  The projected peak point demand on the line was 18,100 during the peak hour with considerable bi-directional demand.  This is more than twice the capacity of the planned 15-minute service recently proposed by GO Transit for year 2020. 

The Metrolinx backgrounder is silent on important details such as the location of the peak demand (is it at Richmond Hill or further south) or of the origin-destination pattern this demand represents.

The same backgrounder projects a peak point demand of 25,100 at Wellesley Station, well below the TTC’s projection.  However, this network includes the combined effect of the frequent Richmond Hill GO service and the Downtown Relief line projected at 17,500.

TTC Staff Presentation

This exists in multiple versions:  the one presented by staff, the one handed out at the meeting, and the one posted on the TTC’s site.  The overall thread is the same, but with some changes in the details.

In a no-DRT scenario, the demand projections by Metrolinx are higher than those in cited by the TTC for 2031 (42K/hour peak at Wellesley versus 36-39K in the TTC model).  If the DRT is added, as mentioned above, the demand at Wellesley drops to 25K/hour, lower than today’s peak.

Riding can be diverted away from Yonge or otherwise accommodated in various ways:

  • Reducing the headway from 141 seconds (today) to 105 seconds.
  • Added capacity of the TR cars with their through-train gangways and the option of adding a 7th car to the trains.
  • Diverting riding to the Spadina subway.

In the staff presentation, the estimate of ridership diversion is 2,300 for the peak hour to the Spadina/VCC subway extension.  That’s 8-10% of current riding at Wellesley (27-28K/hour), but at no point does the discussion touch on what demand on Yonge would grow to, if capacity were available, by the time the VCC line opens in 2015.

The TR cars will add about 10% to train capacity, and a further 10% can be provided with a seventh car.  A further 35% improvement is available by reducing the headway.

In the verbal presentation, it was stated that the TR fleet would bump capacity by 3.2K/hour.  This implies that the current service capacity is 32K/hour (about 1,250 per train).  However, the TTC’s loading standard for subway trains is 1,000 passengers, and 1,250 is a crush load that cannot be sustained over a long period.  Therefore, the verbal presentation overstated the existing capacity (and the potential gain) by 25%.  The actual capacity of the Yonge line for service design purposes is 25.5K/hour, about 10% below the actual demand today that takes us into crush territory as all regulars on the line know.

The projected additional peak demand on the extended Yonge line is 8,400/hour for 2031, and for the purposes of analysis, the TTC assumes half of this will materialize on opening day.  This gives us:

  • 4,200 new riders
  • 2,300 diverted to Spadina
  • 3,200 (claimed) additional capacity on the TR cars (a more appropriate number would be 2,500)

for [drum roll] a net reduction of 1,300.  Therefore we can operate the same level of service as today in 2017 and could even accommodate growth with the seventh car.

Oddly enough, this analysis changed by the time the (longer) version was posted on the website, and the TTC now claims that the gains and losses will simply net out to zero.

This is a bogus analysis because it ignores growth in existing riding (even one percent a year without compounding would add nearly 3,000 per hour) and in the backfill effect possible if service were improved.

York Region’s 2005 Analysis

In 2005, York Region published a full EA (done the “old” way with lots of useful detail) that included a Yonge Street “rapid transit” configuration.  In some configurations of this scheme, the subway would be extended to Langstaff with BRT and/or LRT for the remainder of the network.

The evaluation concludes that an extension of the YUS to Langstaff is highly desirable, although reservations are expressed about funding and the priority of such a route in the overall scheme of the TTC’s plans.  Remember that this was written before the TTC had embraced the Transit City scheme, and only subway expansion was seriously under consideration in Toronto.

The projected demands at the Steeles cordon in 2021 are 10,700 per peak hour on the subway and a further 8,300 on a GO service assumed to operate at a 15-minute headway.  By 2031, this is forecast to rise to 12,200 on the subway and 9,100 on GO.

These numbers are lower than the York Region figures cited above by the TTC, but without knowing the underlying assumptions in the two models, it is impossible to say why there is such a difference.


Despite many different demand analyses, the common message about the Yonge line is quite clear — there will be many more riders coming south from the 905 into the 416 and we need to make room for them.

Within the 905 itself, the demand southbound to Steeles in 2031 is substantial.  The most important information we don’t have is the origin-destination pattern of all of those new riders.  Are they assigned to the Yonge line in the models because it is the only reasonable alternative (ie: the model is force-fed) or do they really, naturally want to flow down the Yonge corridor?

How much of the development that will generate this demand already exists or is likely to be built by 2031?

In the final post in this series, I will turn to the ways in which future demand may be addressed by various network configurations.

24 thoughts on “Richmond Hill or Bust? The Yonge Subway Extension (Part 2)

  1. I like the idea of Steeles Station being underground but I think it would be a white elephant if they built that many bus bays at this station. If this line makes it up to RHC then a lot of the YRT buses wouldn’t need to travel all the way down to Steeles to get on the subway. They could board up at RHC or one of the other station on the Yonge line north of Steeles and including the Steeles Station. Maybe some of the GO buses could be tranferred up to the Steeles Station to free up some land at Finch for development. I think that the Brampton buses that use Finch Station could use a station on the VCC extension- even before this Yonge extension is complete.


  2. I’d just like to say that Langstaff would be an awful terminus — assuming Langstaff isn’t meant as a synonym for Richmond Hill Centre. All the good stuff is on the other side of the 407.

    Langstaff & Yonge is just a cemetery, a hydro corridor, and a gym. There’s not much development potential.

    Langstaff & GO station is a residential area far from Yonge with no development potential.

    Richmond Hill Centre has a lot of land that is being redeveloped, and it’s next to a Viva hub that’s a much better feeder than GO alone.

    If you are going to build a subway all the way to Langstaff, cross the bloody 407 and terminate it at Richmond Hill Centre.

    (The GO station is under the 407, so it touches both on the Viva terminal and Langstaff Rd.)

    Steve: Looking at the 2005 document, it appears that what was called “Langstaff Centre” in that EA is now called “Richmond Hill Centre”. The “Langstaff” name has been reassigned to the station south of 407 in the 2008 plan.

    “Richmond Hill Centre” is south of Richmond Hill at the GO Station just north of Highway 7. This is the south end of the municipality, just to add confusion to everything.


  3. Sorry for being another annoying thorn in your side Steve…

    As for Steeles’ Bus Terminal, I crunched the numbers. YRT/VIVA will have a reduction of two platforms (One for expresses moving to RHC, and another for removal of Pink – Blue will apparently stay in the corridor with reduced frequency), so 8 bays total not including one for offloading. TTC will have 3 for 53, 3 for 60 (the Steeles services), 1 for 97, likely one for 98 to move a block west and one offloading for a combined total of 17 platforms.

    These TTC and YRT/VIVA routes cannot be reduced or reallocated to another terminal, no matter how much other people argue. All but two routes join south of Centre, and those two that don’t are the Yonge Street buses (99 local and VIVA Blue). The TTC level has only the Steeles buses (53 and 60) and Yonge (97).

    GO Transit currently uses 5 bays at Finch. Although they may decide to move some services to York Mills for better access to the 401, they will still use a Steeles terminal. 5 bays will increase the total to 22… does this number not sound familiar?

    Steve: Yes, it does. We could quibble about how much traffic will be bled off of the Steeles West bus once York U has its own subway station, but that won’t make a huge difference in the bay count.

    As for GO, I am not so certain. There is a lot of duplicate mileage between GO and TTC services on Yonge Street between York Mills, Highway 401 and Finch Station. Extending this up to Steeles seems even more out of the way. Similarly, continuing to bring the Newmarket service all the way down to York Mills will duplicate a long chunk of subway service.

    The GO route structure flows directly from the lack of fare integration. GO acts as its own collector/distributor within Toronto to avoid riders needing a double fare. By 2017, I would hope to see GO and TTC fares merged.

    Yes, this means that some riders will now have to transfer, but we don’t build billions worth of subways just to maintain a parallel network of surface bus routes.


  4. Steve, even with your 2031 numbers, how could/could LRT handle the demand? Would this be too many passengers or could LRT do the job? Would the trains/cars need to be so long as to make for a strange journey beyond Richmond Hill Centre?

    Steve: As I said before, the real question is the origin-destination pattern for these riders. We already know that the vast majority of trips arriving at Richmond Hill Centre will be transfers from other modes such as North Yonge GO or VIVA service. Is there a market for an LRT line continuing further up Yonge? How many passengers could originate on a Highway 7 service? Where are they going? Downtown? Midtown? Uptown?

    I would have much more faith in claimed needs for various schemes if the planners would actually produce detailed information about travel patterns now and in the future.

    Meanwhile, we have a conundrum: All of the demand estimates, let alone policies that would encourage greater use of transit, suggest that we need much more north-south capacity from the 905 into the 416 including in the Yonge Street corridor. However, we risk overloading that corridor by concentrating on a single solution rather than a network of lines.


  5. A 12-car GO train every 10 minutes provides the same capacity as Yonge currently carries, but yet the GO train station is not officially part of the Richmond Hill Centre station scope of work.


  6. With regards to the Steeles station and it’s huge underground mega bus terminal:
    During the Q&A section of the Yonge subway extension at Mitchell Field (which can be found on webcast at – System phases / vivanext subways – webcast – December 3, 2008 – Q&A), someone inquired if this Yonge subway extension can be built in phases like from Finch to Steeles first instead of all the way to “Richmond Hill or bust”. The main technical presenter stated yes for “consideration” because at the planned Steeles subway station there will be a cross-over track at the south end of the station.

    Steve says:
    “Steeles Station is an odd duck in the overall scheme. It is not the end of the line, far from it, and yet the station will have a 26-bay underground bus terminal (page 15 in the presentation). This terminal is huge, and the platform is over 1,000 feet long. Luckless souls whose buses use western reaches of the station will find they have an immense walk just to reach their bus from the subway.”

    If you listen to one of the earlier technical webcast from York Region,.. you’ll see they were actually considering a 25 to 38 bus bays,… that’s right 38!,… for this underground mega bus terminal!

    Currently at the intersection of Yonge and Steeles, there are 120-130 buses per hour going through the intersection (source York Region webcast at – System phases / vivanext subways – webcast – November – technical – slide 11). There’s 4 ways to enter this intersection so that means from each of the 4 directions there’s an average of 30 buses per hour.

    In these webcast, York Region is saying once the Yonge subway extension is completed to Richmond Hill Centre,… the new Steeles Subway bus terminal WILL service 120-130 buses per hour. Huh??? That intersection already service that number of buses NOW without the Yonge Subway extension to Richmond Hill! Wasn’t part of the main reason for the Yonge Subway extension was to REDUCE the number of buses travelling up and down Yonge between Hwy 7 and Finch,… but especially between Steeles and Finch (currently about 350 buses/hour at rush hour but will be 10 buses / hour during day once Yonge subway extension to RHC completed).

    The underground Steeles Subway bus terminal will have 3 ramp entrance,… to service buses coming from the East, West and North. According to the TTC report, each of these entrances will service about 40 – 45 buses per hour. Hello,… that’s a 33%-50% increase in bus traffic coming from the East, West and NORTH (from York Region). So the Yonge Subway extension will decrease the number of buses travelling on Yonge between Steeles and Finch (from 120-130 per hour to 10 per hour) but will increase the number of buses travelling to the Yonge – Steeles intersection from the East, West and North by 33-50%.
    It’s the same number of buses going through the Yonge Steeles area whether we have Yonge Subway extension or not!

    Currently at the intersection of Yonge and Steeles there is no bus terminal. Currently there are 120-130 buses per hour using that intersection,… to go down Yonge to Finch station. Say in the morning AM rush hour, a bus using that intersection travel down Yonge to Finch (counts as one bus), drop off it’s passengers at Finch and then go back basically empty,… counting again as a bus using that intersection,… basically like double counting? So in the AM rush hour, you’ll have about 60-65 packed buses to Finch being counted along with 60-65 not so full buses coming from Finch. But once they build the Yonge Subway extension to Richmond Hill Centre,…. they expect to service 120-130 buses per hour at the underground Steeles mega bus terminal,… which is an endpoint,… so each one of these buses coming in will count as one. During the AM rush hour each bus coming pack full and leaving almost empty will only count as one,… this is an endpoint. Thus,… even though they’re saying the number of buses using this intersection will remain the same,… it looks like they’re saying we’ll get twice the number of bus passengers arriving on these buses!!! And that’s with the Yonge Subway extension going through,…. wasn’t it supposed to reduce buses?????

    Hmmm,… ok, so the new subway trains and ATC should increase capacity on the Yonge line by like 40%,…. but a new Yonge Subway extension will NOT reduce the number of buses,… in fact, at the new Steeles bus terminal area they’re expecting an average 33%-50% increase in bus traffic coming from the East, West and NORTH (from York Region),… and they could be carrying much more passengers! And this is just at the Steeles subway station,…. I haven’t even considered the other bus terminal at Richmond Hill Centre feeding the Yonge subway line,….

    BTW, earlier this month, the York Region subway planners thought their chances of getting the Yonge Subway extension all the way to Richmond Hill Centre was about 75%. I wonder what they think now,… given that the TTC have publicly said they’ll support it only if it’s not at the cost of any Transit City LRT projects, not at cost of maintenance and operation, expansion of Yonge Bloor, etc,…. and would rather see an LRT on Yonge going to Richmond Hill Centre.


  7. I can’t speak to the projected origins and destinations in the various models, but I can report on data from the 2006 Transportation Tomorrow Survey database.

    This database suggests that, of all riders currently boarding at Finch in the AM peak period, about 68% are bound for the downtown loop area, from St. George and Bloor/Yonge southerly. (Another 5% are bound for NYC and Sheppard, another 5% for Lawrence and York Mills, and about 15% for the rest of the Yonge stations between Rosedale and Eglinton; the rest are spread across the rest of the system.)

    The question is what downtown stations can be considered as being close enough to Union Station to have the potential to siphon trips onto GO, if the Richmond Hill service was attractive enough. The GO trip to Union would likely be faster, but as destinations become progressively further north, the time savings become less (longer walk from Union Station; shorter TTC trip). Only 22% of Finch riders get off at King, Union or St. Andrew; this increases to 29% if you add on Queen and Osgoode. GO also has the disadvantage of longer headways, although the GO 2020 15-minute peak hour headway will help.

    Steve: Another important factor here is the question of fare integration. If people can travel via GO at the same price as on the subway, then there is less disincentive for doubling back a few stops from Union.


  8. In terms of Steeles station, I could also see the Bathurst 7 bus extended in order to provide direct access between the high-density clusters it serves north of Finch and the subway, which would add another frequent route to the mix. What I don’t get about Finch, though, is how little ridership originates there in these projections given the LRT projected for Finch West, and the unbelievable frequency (undeterred by the Sheppard subway) of Finch East local/express buses, now near 2 minutes apiece.


  9. It puzzles me that while the Richmond Hill GO line is being evaluated as a tool to divert long-range trips from Yonge subway, the Stouffville GO line is almost off the radar. It is not listed for frequent Express service, even in the Metrolinx’s 25-year plan.

    The Richmond Hill line will have to compete hard against Yonge subway even when the fare integration is implemented. That GO line is indirect, will have a lower frequency, and only one downtown stop.

    In contrast, frequent Express service on the Stouffville line (or at least its section within 416) would act as a subway substitute for the north-eastern areas, and beat a trip via Yonge by a large margin. The GO schedule time from Agincourt (at Sheppard and Kennedy) to Union is 23 minutes, which is less than from Sheppard / Yonge to Union via Yonge subway (about 25 min).

    Are there any technical hurdles that make the frequent service on Stouffville line particularly hard to implement?

    Steve: Only that it is a single-track line. A related issue for all of the lines that can feed in from the northeast is the limitation on the number of trains we can get through the Union Station approaches.


  10. I would argue that (hopefully) by 2017 if we have fare integration, we have service integration as well. No need for busses running duplicate routes from different agencies.

    I’m sure there is some rationalization to be done in this regard up north. You have VIVA, TTC, and YRT routes running the same lengths of road and this certainly can’t continue as time goes on.


  11. On the Steeles bus bays.

    I’m going to add things up myself.

    VIVA Blue and Pink
    Routes 23, 88, 99, 91, 2, 77, 5, 300, 301, 302, 303
    Routes 60, 53, 97, 98 (logical)

    This is 17 bays, as reported. Even if each GO bus had it’s own bay, this is 22. Now lets peel this back:

    Does anyone seriously think Blue and Pink will continue to run after the subway is built? If they do, would GO bother continuing some of it’s routes like the “B” service? Surly an empty VIVA Blue bus could head down to York Mills as easy as a GO bus can. Many of those GO routes head down the 401 into Durham, these would not need to move. All of YRT’s express routes running out of finch take the 407, why would they then go to Steeles and not RHC? Now we are down to 11 bays. While there is a chance that routes 5 and 77 could be diverted to another subway station, lets assume for a moment that this will not happen. Lets also be generous and add back VIVA Blue to the mix so that one can go to Yonge and Steeles on one YRT fare (The subway would likely be a TTC fare) Before we settle on 12 bays, lets also remember that some of these routes (YRT’s 23 and 2 in particular) run infrequently and could, if they had to, share a bay. Lets, again, be generous here, and assume 12 bays for loading. Now add one bay for YRT to offload at, another for the TTC to offload at, and an extra bay for a TTC new NG hybrid bus to break down at in the winter. We reach a max of 15, and that’s being very generous.

    All of that can be summed up this way. The only reason to build a 22 bay station is if you plan to end the subway at Steeles.

    Which, as I mentioned earlier, is a good idea. Don’t be afraid to plan ahead, but we should not go an inch north of Steeles on Yonge, until the entire Tranist City network is complete.

    Steve: Assuming that part of the scheme is to retain YRT/TTC duplication due to fare zones, a reasonable person would look at the cost of that humungous station. Probably $100-million more than it needs to be at a minimum. Interest on the capital debt will be at least $5-million a year. How much better service could we run by avoiding costs we don’t need to incur that exist in the project because nobody will scream as loudly as possible “stop planning for separate fare zones”.


  12. Nick said …

    “but we should not go an inch north of Steeles on Yonge, until the entire Tranist City network is complete.”

    What a total croc! It’s statements like these that give all 416ers a bad name. As a downtowner, can I say that we shouldn’t build any LRT line in North York until the DRL is complete?

    I really hate this 416 vs. 905 attitude. We need to make it easier for the 905ers to get downtown as our city’s economy needs them. As for us downtowners (specifically those on King and Queen), we deserve to suffer because we can’t get our act together and lobby the way York Region does. Why? Because we have Adam Giambrone and David Miller running things. Otherwise, we’d be seeing specific plans for a DRL now, and not 20 years from now.

    Steve: The reason you don’t have a DRL has nothing to do with Miller and Giambrone. It was a deal cooked up between Jack Layton and Mel Lastman to support the Sheppard Subway at the expense of further investment in core-oriented capacity.

    The DRL was not included in Transit City because that collection of projects was intended to enhance transit in the outer 416 without spending a fortune on subways (except for Eglinton). The real question is where the DRL should fit in the overall scheme of things, and I will turn to that in the third part of this series.


  13. The TTC has ACTIVE yards in the following places:

    Wilson, Davisville, Greenwood and McCowan.
    I know there is a non-active one in Keele or around that area.

    Steve: Keele Yard is just east of Keele Station, but it is only used these days to store work cars.

    Will there be yards in Vaughan Corporate Centre or Richmond Hill Centre (think McCowan style).

    Steve: VCC no. RH Centre, maybe. They really should be looking only at storage tracks, not full-scale yards with running maintenance capabilities.

    For VCC (7/Jane) there is that whole bunch of tracks between Keele and Jane, which I will assume it is CP/CN tracks. So will the trains have to come down to Wilson?

    Steve: Yes, the trains will be stored at Wilson Carhouse which has room for expansion. The distance (in running time) from VCC to Wilson is really not that great. At the end of service (after the last train running north to VCC), other following trains from the Yonge line would run in northbound at Wilson just as they do today after the last train to Downsview.

    I do not see any chance for a yard on the Yonge line for Richmond Hill Centre…So I guess down to Davisville yard they go.

    Steve: The issue for the TTC is to look at the number of trains that will be operated from Davisville that will go into service very early in the day northbound. The running time from Finch to RH Centre is about 16 minutes and so we’re not talking about a huge change in operating hours.

    I will be addressing this issue in the third post in the series.

    By the way, do the trains “sleep” at the yards?


  14. Karl Junkin Says:

    “A 12-car GO train every 10 minutes provides the same capacity as Yonge currently carries, but yet the GO train station is not officially part of the Richmond Hill Centre station scope of work.”

    The forecast peak hour demand is 14 2000 passengers which would require 7 GO trains not 6 assuming that you want everyone to be seated that far North un less of course the first train is train zero at time zero then you will fit it all in during 1 hour. Since this is a 2031 demand it would seem a bit of an overkill to spend $2.4 billion to accomplish what the GO service could do for less money, with a more comfortable ride and without overloading the Yonge subway or Bloor-Yonge station. The current one way trip time on GO is 40 minutes so it would work out to a 100 minute round trip time that allows for a 10 minute turn around and recovery period for each trip. This is 10 trains on a 10 minute headway. I am sure that the total cost would be less than $2.4 billion.

    The New GO locomotives cost about $5 million while the coaches come in at just under $3 million. The cost of a 12 car train is $41 million so the cost for 10 complete train sets plus 12 spare coaches and 2 spare locomotives is $460 million. How does this compare with the cost of equipment and upgrades needed to improve the service on the subway? This is not as bad as comparing apples and oranges; it is more like comparing oranges and tangerines. They both do a similar job with different priorities. When I first read Karl’s comment I thought he was nuts but as I read it and investigated he is absolutely correct.

    Steve: To be fair, you must also add in the cost of double tracking or providing enough passing sidings that a 10 minute headway can operate reliably on this line, as well as resignalling All the same, we’re nowhere near $2.4-billion.


  15. Rainforest Says:

    “In contrast, frequent Express service on the Stouffville line (or at least its section within 416) would act as a subway substitute for the north-eastern areas, and beat a trip via Yonge by a large margin. The GO schedule time from Agincourt (at Sheppard and Kennedy) to Union is 23 minutes, which is less than from Sheppard / Yonge to Union via Yonge subway (about 25 min).

    “Are there any technical hurdles that make the frequent service on Stouffville line particularly hard to implement?”

    It is quite narrow in places and does share the right of way with the Scarborough RT. I believe that you might need to get rid of some of the industrial sidings between Lawrence and Steeles to get enough width to double track but you could run an hourly service with only one passing siding needed, probably around Unionville. The problem comes when you try to fit in reverse peak service during the rush hour which might require two different passing sidings.


  16. To Robert Wightman: thanks for the info.

    Too bad if the Stouffville line is harder to double-track than other GO lines.


  17. Steve:
    “To be fair, you must also add in the cost of double tracking or providing enough passing sidings that a 10 minute headway can operate reliably on this line, as well as resignalling All the same, we’re nowhere near $2.4-billion.”

    I know but I do not have a breakdown of the equipment and resignalling cost for The Subway. Like you said I’ll still bet the GO option is a lot cheaper, especially if you do not need to rebuild Bloor Yonge Station.


  18. The CP mainline has the highest potential in terms of east-end ridership. It serves Agincourt, Malvern, Morningside Heights, Cornell, and even the Eglinton/Don Mills area.


  19. Re: Jonathon “The CP mainline has the highest potential in terms of east-end ridership. It serves Agincourt, Malvern, Morningside Heights, Cornell, and even the Eglinton/Don Mills area.”

    So, the route would follow Don (and the existing Richmond Hill line) from the south to CP line, and then continue north-east using the CP line.

    This is an intriguing option, but what about the width constraints? The relevant section of Richmond Hill line is mostly single-track, however it looks like there is space to add at least one more track. I don’t know about the CP line (but it should be noted that the GO service will have to coexist with freights).

    Steve: There is a direct link via CP’s Don Sub on the east side of the valley from Union up to Leaside. This is the route the old Peterborough Via service ran on. The track has been inactive for some time, and GO Transit should grab it before CP tears it up.


  20. Re: Jonathon
    “The CP mainline has the highest potential in terms of east-end ridership. It serves Agincourt, Malvern, Morningside Heights, Cornell, and even the Eglinton/Don Mills area.”

    “There is a direct link via CP’s Don Sub on the east side of the valley from Union up to Leaside. This is the route the old Peterborough VIA service ran on. The track has been inactive for some time, and GO Transit should grab it before CP tears it up”.

    This is the line that the Tories proposed restoring passenger service to Peterborough on. The only problem is the 15 mph speed restriction because of lousy track beyond the split off at Agincourt yard. It would be a useful line for getting people from North Scarborough and North Durham to downtown Toronto but as a DRL I don’t think it would help much. It would make a nice connection with the Leaside bus at Millwood.

    Steve: Yes, this is the Peterborough line and it would do a nice job of getting folks from Agincourt and environs to downtown if it had enough service on it.


  21. Steve mentioned old connections between rail lines.

    There is also a connection between the richmond hill line and this “Don Sub” if that’s the proper term. It splits at Bond Park, near Don Mills and York Mills, runs under Lawrence near Leslie *cough*station potential*cough* connects to the CP line near Eglinton, heads past Thorncliffe Park *cough*station*cough* and then has the connection Steve mentioned earlier with the rail line to the south.

    Moving the Richmond Hill GO line here would not only offer a shorter, more direct routing to Union, but could add two stations. The station at Thorncliffe Park (behind the hydro lines) could also serve as a transfer point for any rail lines heading into the mid-town.

    Steve: As I have already written, this subdivision was abandoned many years ago and it is now a bike path. Even if it were still active, I suspect it would best be used as the peak direction track with counterpeak trains staying on the CN. It’s all a moot point anyhow.


  22. In response to Miroslav Glavic, Steve wrote, “They really should be looking only at storage tracks, not full-scale yards with running maintenance capabilities.”

    Even some minimal maintenance facilities could be possible. In Buenos Aires, their newest subway (Subte) line, Línea H, has a current southern terminus with some storage tracks and limited maintenance facility just beyond the station. Take a look at

    The line is being extended further south, with the tracks curving to the right between the station and the storage/maintenance facility. By the way, I believe much (if not all) of the storage tracks on Buenos Aires’ system are underground.


  23. The main issue never discussed in the transit discussion is which dorection do we want the city to develop. As it is plain to see the people love the subway and hate taking buses/streetcars, especially since it’s quite cold here for most of the year. We can observe this fact taking a survey of new residential developments mostly being developed in and around subway stations. Just look at the developments around North York Centre, Kipling, Bayview (yes, on the Sheppard line). Torontonians prefer the subway to all other forms of public transportation and the devlopment patterns prove it. Although I agree the the YUS line should be extended to York University in the West and Steeles in the East, we should concentrate on the areas around the core to avoid furthering urban sprawl. Transit City would be great if the LRT lines were actually subways. Most importantly Eglinton Avenue desparately need a subway line at least from Keele to Laird to start with. There is no point in roughing it in for the future. Make one investment, NOW. Furthermore, the Sheppard subway needs to connect to Downsview. This will not only make the line more useful in terms of itself, but will also get some riders coming from the North and East off the Yonge line Southbound and onto the Spadina-University Southbound.


  24. Who cares about Richmond hill. Let them walk to Steeles.

    Steve: I hate to tell you this, but those folks north of Steeles deserve good transit too. The problem is (a) how to pay for it and (b) how to avoid overloading the TTC’s subway system.


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