Who Will Ride the Yonge Subway?

Updated January 9:  The 2009 Subway Fleet Plan has been scanned and linked from this post.

Toronto’s Executive Committee voted on Monday to approve submission of the EA for the Richmond Hill extension to Queen’s Park, but added a number of riders on their support for the line.  This parallels actions taken at the last TTC meeting to strengthen the pre-requisites for City participation in this project.  The conditions include:

  • Full funding for construction and operation of the extension beyond Steeles Avenue at no cost to Toronto.
  • Full funding for any cost of an additional subway yard.
  • Completion of the Automatic Train Control system on the YUS line, including the Vaughan extension.
  • Any measures to relieve capacity problems at Bloor-Yonge would be funded as part of this project.

City and TTC staff have been requested to report directly to the January 27 Council meeting on various potential ancilliary costs including:

  • Bloor-Yonge station expansion
  • Fleet expansion and subway yard costs
  • Second entrances to other downtown stations
  • Need for an eastern Downtown Relief Line
  • Need for extending the Sheppard line west to Downsview
  • Sequencing of these options relative to the Richmond Hill line’s construction

Notable by its absence from this list is any reference to GO Transit’s Richmond Hill service.  This must be included because the level of GO service has a big impact on the modelled ridership for any future TTC network.

Karl Junkin, who comments here regularly, presented a deputation on this item which is supposed to be linked from the City’s site.  However, that link is currently not working.

Karl Junkin Yonge Analysis

Karl covers a lot of the ground that was in my own report on TTC fleet planning and other posts about the Richmond Hill extension.   Staff have been directed to meet with Karl and provide comments on his concerns in a report to Council.

Much of this turns on hte question of how many people will actually be riding the subway in 2017 when the Richmond Hill extension is planned to open.  TTC staff have, to their considerable discredit, played fast and loose with teh relevant data depending on the argument of the moment.

When it suits their purpose to conjure up a need for vastly more trains on the line and increased capacity at Bloor-Yonge, then the estimates can be stratospheric.  When the goal is to pretend that the Richmond Hill extension can be accommodated with no increase in service, then — Presto! Chango! — more riders but no more service.  The word “bamboozle” comes to mind here, although somewhat less Parliamentary language might be more appropriate.

Let’s review the estimates we have seen recently.

Report to the Commission, December 17, 2008

The forecast AM peak hour demands for year 2031 are:

  • Southbound at Richmond Hill — 10,600
  • Southbound to Steeles — 14,000
  • Southbound to Finch — 17,900
  • Southbound to Wellesley — 36-39,000

This compares with the existing demand:

  • Southbound to Wellesley — 27-28,000

However, if we look at the Subway Fleet Plan 2009 which forms part of the briefing material for the 2009-2013 Capital Program, we learn that ridership growth of 1.35% per year will drive a requirement for additional service.  This works out to 11-12% compounded over eight years taking us to the opening date of the Richmond Hill extension, and therefore raises the future demand at Wellesley to 30-31,000 in the peak hour.

From this, we can deduct the 2,300 per hour that the TTC claims will be diverted from the Yonge line to the Spadina/VCC extension for a net demand at Wellesley of slightly more than we have today before we take into account the new riders from the Richmond Hill extension.  The diversionary effect is more than made up for by anticipated riding growth over the next eight years, but the TTC does not take this into account.

Finally, the 2009 fleet plan also mentions that the subway is currently running at about 10% over the design capacity.  The current service is 25.7 trains/hour or a design capacity of 25,700.  The current demand of 28,000 is about 9% higher than the design capacity.  The Richmond Hill report uses a per train capacity of 1,150, but this is the crush capacity, not the design capacity and cannot be reliably operated for extended periods.  This fiddle neatly masks the need for additional service simply to deal with existing demand let alone any growth.

Metrolinx Projections

Metrolinx produced a background paper listing projected 2031 demands for their Draft Regional Plan.  This plan included:

  • The Richmond Hill and VCC subway extensions
  • Frequent, electrified GO Transit service to Richmond Hill and beyond
  • The Finch, Sheppard and Eglinton LRT lines
  • The Don Mills LRT line to Danforth and Pape
  • The Downtown Relief line from Pape Station to downtown

The projected peak hour demands were:

  • Richmond Hill extension — 8,800
  • VCC extension — 7,000
  • Richmond Hill GO — 18,100
  • Downtown Relief — 17,500
  • Yonge Subway — 25,100
  • Bloor Subway — 16,000

Remember that these are year 2031 projections, not 2017 opening day.

The TTC presentation cited the Metrolinx figures for the DRL and for Yonge, but did not include the other figures.  Quite obviously, the Richmond Hill GO and DRL lines together play major roles in diverting traffic from the Yonge subway, but the TTC neglected to mention this.  Reducing the demand on both the Yonge and Bloor lines is vital to limiting the need for fleet growth.

The TTC cites a Metrolinx estimate for the Yonge line of 42,000 assuming no DRL, but they don’t mention whether there is any improvement in GO service in that modelled network.

The Toronto Rocket Trains

The new TR trains will eventually replace the remaining H-4, H-5 and H-6 fleets on the subway network.  The new trains are expected to have a capacity about 10% greater than the existing fleet because they are unit trains with a continuous car interior.  No space is lost to cabs or to inter-car gaps.  However, the number of TR trains now on order is insufficient to operate the current service on the Yonge line, let alone the extensions to VCC and Richmond Hill or an improved headway.

The new trains are expected to be about “10 times more reliable” than the fleet they will replace, and this will allow the spare factor to be dropped from the current 19% to 10% according to the fleet plan published as part of the Subway Service Improvement Plan in April 2008, and reiterated in the 2009 plan.  However, when planning fleet requirements, we have to be careful to count this saving only against the oldest cars.  The T-1 fleet is already supposed to be much superior to the H-series cars and saving in spares only applies to the replaced H fleet.

Fitting the Issues Together

Several add-on projects have been cited as possible side effects of the Richmond Hill subway project.  These are:

  • Substantial increase in the capacity of Bloor-Yonge station
  • Increased fleet to handle demand on the Yonge line
  • Increased station capacity on Yonge south of Bloor
  • Extension of the Sheppard Subway west to Downsview to simplify train storage
  • Creation of a new storage yard somewhere on the Richmond Hill line
  • Addition of a seventh car to the TR trainsets
  • Completion of the ATC system to permit closer headway operations with Toronto Rocket cars

The seventh car option would yield about 10% more capacity, but the TTC claims that such trains cannot be operated without platform doors and ATC.  Leaving aside questions of door reliability, this gives us the conundrum of how to operate the system as the Yonge line gradually switches from six to seven car trains.

From a fleet planning point-of-view, headways on the entire YUS must be reduced (with a concurrent increase in fleet size) even if the additional capacity is only needed between Bloor and Union southbound in the AM peak.  The number of trainsets needed to operate a much shorter DRL is considerably lower.  This affects both vehicle costs and carhouse needs when comparing the options.

I have written extensively elsewhere about Bloor-Yonge station.  Even without the question of constructability, the basic question is the loss of flexibility as considerable growth in riding is funnelled through one transfer point.  If the demand is spread over three routes (Yonge, DRL and GO Richmond Hill), the system as a whole is not as vulnerable to the loss of any one component.

The proposed Sheppard extension is intended to save on dead-head mileage.  No storage yard in York Region can possibly cost as much as this extension, and I regard its presence in the TTC’s proposal as a veiled attempt to revive the Sheppard subway’s fortunes in the guise of supporting the Richmond Hill line.  There is an unparliamentary word for that sort of tactic.

Concluding Thoughts

One way or another, there will be a growth in demand for transit service between York Region and downtown Toronto.  The question must be how we should serve this demand and whether there are combinations of projects that produce a better, more robust network of services at comparable cost.

Metrolinx is supposed to make such network-based analyses, but it fast tracked the Richmond Hill line without considering the side-effects it would have on the existing system.

I will be generous to the TTC and suggest that they are suffering from an overload of work and an inability to produce the same unified analyses that I and others put together in our spare time.  This is not a question of amateurs getting it wrong, but of professionals doing a half-baked job.

Toronto and the GTA face very large expenditures for transit improvements, and we deserve well informed, credible advice.  Later in January, we will see what actually appears on Council’s agenda.

31 thoughts on “Who Will Ride the Yonge Subway?

  1. Steve, does the Toronto Council know something that we do not? I mean Mr. Miller is so confident that Transit City and the Yonge extension can built? Is Mr. Flarherty going to shower us with cash? Why are we building another extension when the Scarborough ICTS line’s fate is still unknown?

    The Sheppard West extension should be built with all these extensions going on. After all, there is no east west link except the Bloor line. From a network point of view, it must be built. However, I would much prefer that the Yonge and University line run in a loop.

    No matter how much we extend the metro lines, the Yonge line can never have a frequency below 90 seconds. Since a loop line eliminates turnbacks, frequency can be increased to every 60 seconds with ATC. This is a much better way to use money for capacity increase.

    Steve, you should be happy about a new tram technology. Bombardier has invented the PRIMOVE cantenary free system. Trams can now pick up power from the ground while it is still safe for predestrians and motorists. This should make tram technology a lot easier to sell to the public. Perhaps this will divert some support away from metro construction in York Region.

    Steve: Picking up power from the ground is not quite as simple as it sounds, especially in our climate.

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  2. Steve said … “The number of trainsets needed to operate a much shorter DRL is considerably lower. This affects both vehicle costs and carhouse needs when comparing the options.”

    This further supports my idea for a short 2.5 km parallel rush-hour only subway under Church between Sherbourne Stn. and King, with intermediate stops at Wellesley, Carlton, Dundas, and Queen.

    How can this not be the cheapest and most effective solution from a capital and operational perspective? Why isn’t the TTC examining this option?

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  3. In the short-term, there is no reason why a DRL can’t simply have 2 stations. Pape and Queen (or King or Union …). In terms of evaluating the costs for comparison to a Bloor-Yonge rebuild, that is all that is required. Any other stations, etc., would be gravy – and while they may make sense, a decision to choose a DRL over a Bloor-Yonge rebuild (or vice-versa) should be made on a bare-bones DRL, rather than an 8-station line from Pape to Spadina.

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  4. There are many things worthy of comment in this entry, but I’ll confine myself to some of Karl’s analysis and the discussion vis a vis GO trains and fare integration.

    First, as to Richmond Hill-to-Finch travel time savings: he asserts that most of the time savings would be realized between Steeles and Finch due to traffic. This comment primarily demonstrates his lack of experience in commuting down Yonge Street from Highway 7 to Steeles. Yonge Street has two lanes in each direction north of Steeles, and no dedicated HOV / bus lanes. A dedicated transitway would have addressed this issue, but that plan is sadly dead.

    Second, it is my opinion that fare integration and higher frequency GO service will serve to further divert a large portion of the downtown-bound potential traffic from Yonge subway, but will have no impact on the travel needs for people from York Region to get into uptown (St Clair and points north). I think that Yonge Bloor improvements, Wellesley, College, and the DRL all are needed more for Transit City and general TTC ridership growth impacts than they are for any York Region improvements. The problem with Karl’s thoughts about implementing GO frequent service beyond every 15 minutes is the lack of twin tracks through the Don Valley. I don’t know if the current ROW has embankment room (or even property) to easily implement this. (There’s also the Doncaster grade separation that must be done, which although mentioned in Metrolinx’ document, has no engineering plan in place at this time.)

    One final note: the Bala sub does serve passenger rail: Ontario Northland trains, not VIA. That is why Metrolinx listed it as “CN passenger.”

    Steve: If you look at the GO study from 1986 that I published, you will see that they considered it feasible to upgrade the Bala sub including a grade separation at Doncaster.

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  5. Benny: Ground-level power supply has been problematic for the new tramway in Bordeaux, where they use it in the city centre and switch to overhead wires in the suburbs. The mayor has even threatened to tear up the third rail and install wires along the whole route if they can’t improve it. (The system is also substantially more expensive, and has no clear benefits.)

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  6. Why underneath Church Street? Bay is the superior choice in this regard as trains could be routed right into Union Station. Being a relief line intermediate stops could exist at Bloor (Yorkville), College (College Park) and Queen (City Hall) only with the Union stop’s platform area extending north upto Wellington to serve the CBD/Financial district. These stops of course would have connections to the corresponding Yonge stop within the fare-paid zone. Also this would involve the closure of some of the PATH network from where it crosses Bay (at least during construction). However the benefit includes diverting some trains away from the overcapacitated Bloor-Yonge interchange.

    The proposal involves utilizing Davisville’s third track option as the location point where Yonge Local and Yonge Express (via Bay St) trains could split with the seamless option for passengers to have a cross-platform interchange should they desire one southbound commute over the other. South of Davisville Yard, expansion of the portal to the right of the subway tunnel into St Clair Stn could be expanded to allot a shallow tunnel to route directly underneath Yonge St til about Davenport Road when the line would start its approach onto Bay Street.

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  7. “The forecast AM peak hour demands for year 2031 are: Southbound to Wellesley — 36-39,000”

    That’s quite the number. Steve, do you know any numbers for peak loads on subway lines in other cities so we can compare?

    Steve: You have to be careful about comparisons because there are differences in train lengths and widths (in effect, in the capacity of each train), and of course some systems have local and express operations. I have seen figures over 50K/hour quoted, but these are not direct matches for Toronto. The important point in all of this is what demand the overall infrastructure — trains, stations, signals — can handle safely and efficiently.

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  8. I am sure the Richmond Hill Center extension is more of a way to play politics to drum up some federal cash for our other needed transit projects. The feds are more likely to fund transit projects that extends past regions. My former hometown of Vancouver is just completing the Canada Line which will link Richmond and the airport there to that city’s rapid transit infrastructure-they are called zones in Vancouver. Toronto has the funding in place for the west leg of the YUS line to Vaughan Corporate Center. My birthplace of Montreal has just completed it’s extenstion of it’s orange line to Laval with three station there. All these cross regional (Vancouver it is Zones) rapid transit plans got funds federal funding.

    I am sure if the feds pony up the funds for the RHC extension Toronto can strong arm the feds to fund our other transit projects because these improvements will be needed more so. Also I think the Bloor/Yonge needs to be improved without any extension. Anything to speed up transfers at this exchange is greatly needed-even today.

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  9. Steve, curious. You mentioned train lengths. You also have made reference to the TTC possibly adding a 7th car to the subway. I’m wondering how this would make our train lengths compare to the rest of the world – IE would we then have the longest trains in the world? We had the longest cars in the world in our subway for a while, and we have the longest commuter rail trains in the world right now. If adding a 7th car would indeed push our subway trains to also be the longest in the world the question becomes why – why do we have the longest everything, clearly, we must be doing something very differently then the rest of the planet.

    Steve: Some systems have longer trains, but not necessarily with comparably sized cars. Even Toronto used to have 8-car G trains that were the same length as the 6-car H trains, and had poorer performance under load as well.

    If you have your heart set on reading about transit capacity, please visit the following documents which are chapters from a 1999 Transportation Research Board report, the Transit Capacity and Quality of Service Manual. Warning: The full document is about 350 pages.

    Part 1: Introduction and Concepts
    Part 2: Bus Transit Capacity
    Part 3: Rail Transit Capacity
    Part 4: Terminal Capacity
    Parts 5 & 6: Quality of Service & Glossary

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  10. both extensions are political. (Spadina/Yonge)

    Steve, we are both going to ride the branch, on that opening day with Admiral Adam and his version for YRT.

    I think it was you that said it (or someone else), about the costs being double or more than the sheppard stubway, both this extension and the stubway being the same distance roughly … what’s the reasoning for the extra cost?

    Steve: The Sheppard line was actually built some time ago, opening in late 2002. The Richmond Hill line will open in 2017, 15 years later, and this will certainly push up costs. Also, the budget includes $350-million for rolling stock and maintenance facilities. On Sheppard, these were paid for from one or more separate project budgets.

    Whether this makes up all of the difference or not, I can’t say. The Harris government put the project on a short leash, and there were some cutbacks on Sheppard. Also, the cost we think of today was a final cost. Some of the $2.4-billion estimate is a contingency that may or may not actually be needed.

    Finally, note that the estimate is in 2008 dollars, not in as spent dollars which will be quite a bit higher.

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  11. David Arthur wrote, “Benny: Ground-level power supply has been problematic for the new tramway in Bordeaux…”

    Benny was not referring to this type of power supply (essentially a third rail that is powered only when a tram is over it), but to Bombardier’s PRIMOVE system which uses induction to transfer power to the tram (it has been compared to the system used by electric toothbrushes!). While this system should not have issues with our climate as the system in Bordeaux would, I still think it is too new a technology to go with at this time. I am also concerned with what effect this system would have on a person with a pacemaker.

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  12. For the record, my commute involves traveling on Viva Pink to/from Finch via RHC, so I am familiar with Yonge’s differences north and south of Steeles. The real stop-and-go travel happens south of Steeles. It is much smoother sailing north of Steeles.

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  13. PSC Says:
    January 9th, 2009 at 10:49 am

    “One final note: the Bala sub does serve passenger rail: Ontario Northland trains, not VIA. That is why Metrolinx listed it as ‘CN passenger’.”

    As only the Bala Sub runs between the York Sub and Washago, I believe that you will find that VIA’s transcontinental trains 1 & 2 do run on the Bala sub north of the York Sub at Doncaster. Admittedly there are only three trains per week in each direction but VIA does have a presence.

    I had the privilege to travel Yonge Street north bound from the 401 to Steeles today. It must have been awhile because I don’t remember all those high rises. I am still in favour of the enhanced GO train option as it will cost a lot less money.

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  14. Karl J said: “For the record, my commute involves traveling on Viva Pink to/from Finch via RHC, so I am familiar with Yonge’s differences north and south of Steeles. The real stop-and-go travel happens south of Steeles. It is much smoother sailing north of Steeles.”

    My mistake, Karl. I frequently travel Blue / Pink from RHC to Finch (although I more frequently drive) and my experience has been the opposite; I’ve found that the section through Centre / John Street to be the slowest of the ride.

    I tend to ride during inclement weather, though, and the lack of viable north-south routes from Steeles to 7 forces traffic onto Yonge at John / Centre and Royal Orchard. (It’s largely due to lack of crossings of the Don River tributaries outside the major routes of Yonge, Bayview and Bathurst, but the CN tracks at Clark play a role as well.) I suspect my problems are related to excess volume, while yours are related to (over?)control via traffic lights.

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  15. As I am a fan of all manner of alternate subway alignments, I’ve got to say I’m intrigued by the suggestions in the comments here for ‘express’ lines under Church or Bay, but I’m left wondering where they would rejoin the University leg of the line. If they rejoin at Union, wouldn’t that just increase congestion at St. George, the other “problem” station? Union itself would also be difficult to add capacity to, given it’s proximity to so man other downtown buildings, although at least it’s got capacity increases in the planning pipeline.

    If (and it’s a big if) this kind of line were to be considered, it might make more sense to route the return portion of the ‘express’ line up Spadina to Spadina Station (Say with stops at John, Queen and College). This would have the added benefit of making the downtown section a bit more ‘Manhattanish’ in terms of stop density.

    I’m not really sure if all that would be worth it, but it might help downtown. Of course the next crazy expensive step would be express lines buried under the current YUS all the way out into the burbs… ;-}

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  16. Robert Wightman said, “As only the Bala Sub runs between the York Sub and Washago, I believe that you will find that VIA’s transcontinental trains 1 & 2 do run on the Bala sub north of the York Sub at Doncaster.”

    To avoid having to turn the trainset, VIA operates one way down Bala south of Doncaster and the other way up the Newmarket sub. I’m not sure what the usual practice is, but I do know that last Saturday the departing train went up the Newmarket sub.

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  17. J Johnson said … “Why underneath Church Street? Bay is the superior choice …”.

    A subway under Bay St. is impossible — how would you go under the PATH, and how would you connect to the Bay-Yorkville station? — under the abandoned platform? … and even if you could do that, how would you connect it to BD so that its trains could access Greenwood? The existing wye is in the way.

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  18. Centre St. I’ve noticed tends to be prone to congestion, too, but that’s just one set of traffic lights. I don’t think I’d call Royal Orchard comparable though. South of Steeles to Finch runs into several signialized intersections at a tighter spacing than north of Steeles, and there’s a huge volume of converging bus routes that has a real impact on service/speed through that stretch. The left turn into Finch terminal doesn’t help, either.

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  19. M. Briganti said … “A subway under Bay St. is impossible — how would you go under the PATH, and how would you connect to the Bay-Yorkville station? …”.

    Looking at the developments surrounding Bay Street in contrast to Yonge, I think it’s fair to say that Bay has a built-up form more suited to subway traffic- high rise condos, office towers, hotels, City Hall, the financial capital of Canada, high-end retail, etc. It was probably a mistake not to utilize Bay as the downtown arterial ROW for the subway, with Yonge taking over north of Bloor.

    But anyway, YUS has its own train yards at Wilson and Davisville, with high likelihood of another one springing up around the 407. And the existing Lower Bay Station could be reconfigured/renovated such that its platform forms part of the new station’s. That’d create a seamless interchange with the Bloor-Danforth Line, and more importantly split the heavy passenger distribution loads currently on Y/B, now with Bay Stn.

    Steve: The east end of Bay Station platform is well west of Bay Street. By the time the subway is under Bay, the tracks from the upper and lower levels have already started to converge for the switch at the west end of Yonge Station.

    As for PATH, there are three crossings at Bay Street (between the Sheraton Ctr and Hudson Bay Company; First Canadian Pl and Scotia Plaza; and Toronto Dominion Ctr and Commerce Ct). I don’t know how much of a disruption to retailers it’d be to close down these walkways for a fixed amount of time to build a tunnel perhaps one level below (as mezzanines could exist on the same level as the existing PATH retail strip a la Union or Dundas Stns)? But in terms of long-term ROI, an alignment here to alleviate the downtown quadrant of YUS is long overdue.

    Steve: You have missed the underpass just north of Dundas between the Atrium on Bay and the bus terminal.

    The main north-south walkway from Union Stn up to to City Hall is well to the west of Bay, and wouldn’t be affected by construction. As such the main inconvenience for pedestrians comes from not having an east-west walkway underground north of Union to utilize for what I’m guessing would be an 18-24 month period. Once construction’s complete however there’s no reason why the passageways couldn’t be restored, even revamped. Translation: it could be a win/win for all party’s involved- transit users, CBD workers, suburbanites, innercity dwellers, retailers, developers, etc.

    Steve: I find the whole discussion of a Bay Street (or Church Street) subway quite tiring because the real issue is to redirect demand that shouldn’t be on Yonge somewhere else, preferably on a line far enough away from Yonge that it has some purpose in its own right.

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  20. Miroslav Glavic Says:
    “I think it was you that said it (or someone else), about the costs being double or more than the sheppard stubway, both this extension and the stubway being the same distance roughly … what’s the reasoning for the extra cost?”

    I actually attended some of those Open Houses for the Sheppard Subway line when just before they started construction in March 1997. I don’t have a project breakdown of the cost, but I did find an overview from 1997 that stated the total (projected) cost to be $875 million (of which the Provincial Share was $571 million, Metro (Toronto) Share $297 million and the Federal Share at $7 million,… yes, that’s right $7 million from the Feds,.. it’s not a typo,… it’s more like the price of a house in Bridal Path!,… even tonight’s Lotto 649 $9 million jackpot is more)

    Anyways,… when it opened, the 6.4 km (including tail track) 5 station Sheppard subway line costed just under $1.0 billion in 2002 (factor in inflation and that works out to $1.1 billion in 2008 dollars & thus $171.9 million/km in 2008 dollars).

    The $2.4 billion (2008 dollars) 6.8 km 6 station Yonge subway extension cost more than DOUBLE the Sheppard subway line on a per km basis ($352.9 million/km in 2008 dollars). For the Yonge Subway extension from Finch to Richmond Hill Centre here’s the final Project Cost Estimates (2008 dollars)

    $650 million Stations and Area Facilities
    …….($5 million Finch Improvements)
    ……($70 million Cummer/Drewry)
    …..($195 million Steeles)
    ……($70 million Clark)
    ……($65 million Royal Orchard)
    ……($85 million Langstaff/Longbridge)
    …..($160 million Richmond Hill Centre)
    $600 million Tunnels, Special Structures and Operating Systems
    $240 million Subway Trains
    $110 million Storage and Maintenance Facilities for Subway Trains
    $675 million Engineering and Other Costs
    $125 million Property
    —————————————
    $2,400 million $2.4 BILLION total

    Steve says:
    “Steve: The Sheppard line was actually built some time ago, opening in late 2002. The Richmond Hill line will open in 2017, 15 years later, and this will certainly push up costs. Also, the budget includes $350-million for rolling stock and maintenance facilities. On Sheppard, these were paid for from one or more separate project budgets.”

    Ok,… so let’s factor out the $350-million for rolling stock and maintenance facilities ($240 million Subway Trains + $110 million Storage and Maintenance Facilities for Subway Trains),.. that’ll put the Yonge Subway extension at 2.05 Billion or $301.47 million/km versus the $171.9 million/km (in 2008 dollars) for the Sheppard subway line. Ok,… so Yonge subway extension is now 75% higher than Sheppard Subway line on a per km basis. Why??? Are we considering the higher cost of Yonge Street frontage vs Sheppard Avenue frontage when we dig tunnels underground???

    Seriously,… Why is the 6.8 km 6 station Yonge Subway extension from Finch to Richmond Hill Centre is projected to cost significantly more than the cost of the 6.4 km 5 station Sheppard subway line completed just 6 years ago.

    – Both uses the same construction techniques – tunnel boring machine for the tunnels and Cut and Cover at subway stations
    – Both of them had to deal with the Don River East,… both choose to build a bridge over it. Sheppard line has $15 million enclosed subway bridge just east of Leslie station.
    – Yonge Subway extension includes a mega underground 26 bay bus terminal at Steeles,… Sheppard line has a very large underground bus terminal at Don Mills.
    – Yonge Subway extension includes a large Union Station of the North terminal at Richmond Hill Centre,… but the GO station and Bus terminals are already there today and are quite new so they don’t need to be built.
    – The most challenging part of building the Sheppard Subway line was placing the new East-West Sheppard Subway station directly on top of the existing North-South Sheppard Subway station on the Yonge Line,… all without distrupting service while passengers were still using Sheppard station on the Yonge Line! At the intersection of Yonge and Sheppard, during construction the whole intersection was just a big hole in the ground!,… right on top of the Yonge Subway line,… they had to build a temporary roadway for Yonge beside this huge hole,… and another temporary roadway for Sheppard too! There is absolutely nothing on the proposed Yonge subway extension that even comes close to the kind of complexity at the Sheppard-Yonge Subway station.

    Whether you look at the Yonge Subway Extension as $2.4 Billion ($352.9 million/km in 2008 dollars) or without the $350 million for rolling stock and maintenance facilities ($301.47 million/km in 2008 dollars),… that still places the proposed Yonge subway extension as amongst the most expensive in the world on a per km basis! And that’s WITHOUT including all the conditional “speculative costs” Toronto & TTC are now adding!!! The $2.63 billion 8.6 km 6 station Spadina Subway Extension ($305.8 million/km) isn’t much better either. Only Jubilee line extension of the London Tube (20 years ago) was more expensive and that works out to about just under $400 million per km (2008). And that extension crossed the Thames River 4 times, tunnel under historic London and all 11 stations were designed by high profile architects! Wiki Jubilee Line Extension & wiki through each 11 stations,.. our subway extension doesn’t include stations looking anything like Canada Water, Canary Wharf & Stratford station.

    http://mic-ro.com/metro/phototour.html?city=london

    Wait a minute,… if you’re spending $2.63 billion for the 8.6 km 6 station Spadina Subway Extension you better do it right and spend $8-15 million on each station to have some of those high profile architects design who helped make the London Tube’s Jubilee Line Extension such a huge bottomless money pit work on yours too!

    “In anticipation of the extension of the Spadina subway north from Downsview, the TTC has hired a gaggle of globe-trotting architects to design six new stations.”,… “Among them are two leading U.K. practitioners, Will Alsop and Norman Foster, both of whom have worked in Toronto. Alsop, of course, is the author of the celebrated “flying tabletop” at the Ontario College of Art and Design. Foster’s only local project is the University of Toronto’s Leslie Dan Pharmacy Building.”,… “Alsop has worked on the London Underground, as has Foster, whose firm designed the enormous stop at Canary Wharf.” (Some say you can fit the entire Olympia & York Canary Wharf office tower inside the Canary Wharf train station!) Will Alsop designed the North Greenwich station on the Jubilee line.

    http://www.thestar.com/article/538111

    Steve says:
    “Whether this makes up all of the difference or not, I can’t say. The Harris government put the project on a short leash, and there were some cutbacks on Sheppard. Also, the cost we think of today was a final cost. Some of the $2.4-billion estimate is a contingency that may or may not actually be needed. Finally, note that the estimate is in 2008 dollars, not in as spent dollars which will be quite a bit higher.”

    Well,… we all know that new Subway extention and subway lines (even Sheppard) goes overbudget,… the only question is how much they go over-budget by,… the London Tube Jubilee subway extension went over-budget by about 66%,… and just a couple of weeks ago, TTC chair Adam Giambrone warned the $2.4 Billion Yonge Subway extension might even go over-budget to $4 or $5 Billion,… And that was before Toronto and the TTC added all their conditional requirements!

    Steve: Actually, it is those “conditional requirements” that Giambrone was talking about with the $4-5 billion figure.

    Speaking of Mike Harris,… where’s Mike Harris and his common sense revolution when you need him??? Seriously! I mean, why are we extending subway lines at $300-350 million per km to low density suburban areas like Vaughan Corporate Centre (which is just full of big box stores) and Richmond Hill Centre,…. when Toronto is struggling to find funding for LRT at about $40 million per km to service much higher density urban areas within Toronto???? Shouldn’t it be the other way around??? Come on Mike Harris,… we need some common sense here!!!!

    Steve: We are extending them because York Region has been extraordinarily good at convincing Queen’s Park that the future of civilization depends on these two subways, and because the TTC has done a spectacular job over decades of convincing people that there is no alternative.

    York seems to have even more of an inferiority complex than North York did in the days when Mel Lastman said “Real cities don’t use streetcars”. It is outrageous that this sort of crap still happens while we are supposed to be carefully considering a balanced, well-designed regional plan.

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  21. “- Yonge Subway extension includes a large Union Station of the North terminal at Richmond Hill Centre,… but the GO station and Bus terminals are already there today and are quite new so they don’t need to be built.”

    Quite frankly, they could use more platforms even for the existing routes, shelters that don’t have fashionable 3m air holes between the walls and the roof, and a bus approach that doesn’t require a sharp 270* turn for a bus to get out of the station. But that’s likely cheap, and can be done on the surface.

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  22. Calvin Henry-Cotnam Says:
    January 9th, 2009 at 10:25 pm

    “Robert Wightman said, “As only the Bala Sub runs between the York Sub and Washago, I believe that you will find that VIA’s transcontinental trains 1 & 2 do run on the Bala sub north of the York Sub at Doncaster.”

    “To avoid having to turn the trainset, VIA operates one way down Bala south of Doncaster and the other way up the Newmarket sub. I’m not sure what the usual practice is, but I do know that last Saturday the departing train went up the Newmarket sub.”

    Calvin Henry-Cotnam Says:

    “The Newmarket sub is abandoned an torn up from Barrie to Washago so the West bound Via goes up the Newmarket Sub to North of the York Sub Then backs around the curve south to west to get on the York Sub then east on the York Sub to Doncaster and North on the Bala Sub. Via trains 1 and 2 run on the Bala Sub from Doncaster tr the north end of the sub. They do this to avoid turning the westbound train at Union as there is no loop track anymore.”

    Actually the Newmarket Sub has been torn up between Barrie and Washago so VIA trains 1 and 2 travel on the Bala Sub from Doncaster north to Capreol. I know that the west bound VIA goes up the Newmarket sub to north of the York Sub then it backs around the curve in the northwest quadrant to head east bound on the York Sub to Doncaster and then turns north. I am not sure about the south bound train. Via does this so that the trains can run through Toronto as there is no facility to turn trains at Toronto Terminal Railways any more. I am not sure what the south bound train does but VIA’s 1 and 2 both go through Richmond Hill.

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  23. Raymond says:
    “- Yonge Subway extension includes a large Union Station of the North terminal at Richmond Hill Centre,… but the GO station and Bus terminals are already there today and are quite new so they don’t need to be built.”

    Leo Petr Says:
    “Quite frankly, they could use more platforms even for the existing routes, shelters that don’t have fashionable 3m air holes between the walls and the roof, and a bus approach that doesn’t require a sharp 270* turn for a bus to get out of the station. But that’s likely cheap, and can be done on the surface.”

    Steve: I think Leo meant to say 3mm. If the holes were 3m, there might was well not be a wall or a roof.

    Well, if you want a large fully enclosed bus terminal up at the Richmond Hill Centre station, … you can have the large mega underground 26-28 bay bus terminal with 3 ramps covering 270* planned for Steeles station! 🙂

    BTW, … with Steeles station coming in at $195 million including that underground mega 26-28 bay bus terminal, … and Richmond Hill Centre coming in at $160 million including ANOTHER new mega 28 bay bus terminal up there too, above ground bus terminal. Wow, York Region is going to have 2 places to dump a whole lot of bus passengers onto the Yonge Subway Line. Note: a regular subway station would probably cost about $40-50 million, … but subway stations on this extension like everything else being about 75% over cost comes in at $65-85 million, … that’ll give you an idea of how much more they’re spending at the Steeles and Richmond Hill Centre stations, … not only that, but at these 2 stations, it seems that they’re spending more on building mega 28 bay bus terminals than building subway stations! So I think it’s better to call them the Steeles BUS station and the Richmond Hill Center BUS Station!

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  24. What I find amusing is that Yonge subway pphd is about the same as Vancouver Skytrain Expo line. This is despite the fact that Toronto subway trains are bigger, hold more passengers, and require bigger tunnels to operate.

    From my understanding, this is because the automated driverless Skytrains have more sophisticated signalling etc which allows them to achieve better headways than in Toronto.

    That’s just like stupid Toronto: penny-wise/pound-foolish. Spend way more money than Vancouver on bigger trains, bigger tunnels etc.. yet get the same result cuz we scrimp on signalling etc. WHICH IS MORE EXPENSIVE?? To install more sophisticated signalling or to dig bigger tunnels? I’ll bet you the digging costs more!

    SO in other words, Toronto spent more money to get more or less the same result as Vancouver. Good going, losers.

    Steve: This demand figure is only for the extension north of Steeles Avenue. You are not alone in wondering why we need a full-blown subway to carry LRT-level demands. I, of course, might wonder why Vancouver is so enamoured of Skytrain.

    As for “losers”, Vancouver seems perfectly capable of wasting money. Can you say “Olympic Village”?

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  25. Robert Wightman posted a repeat of what I said about VIA using the Bala sub in both directions north of Doncaster in a context that suggested I didn’t say that (“…but VIA’s 1 and 2 both go through Richmond Hill.”). What I was pointing out is that the part of the Bala sub south of Doncaster, the part that is especially being discussed regarding upgrading for GO service, is used by VIA for three eastbound trains per week.

    Steve: Somehow I don’t think that this matters very much one way or the other. Even if VIA gets up to daily service, it’s not as if we have to build a separate track to handle their train.

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  26. “Steve: I think Leo meant to say 3mm. If the holes were 3m, there might was well not be a wall or a roof.”

    Actually, the hole really is enormous. The Richmond Hill Centre architect failed to account for snow or rain when designing the shelter. During winter, the benches and floor of the shelter are covered with snow.

    Here’s an illustration:

    There are similar issues with the smaller Viva shelters too.

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  27. A northern extension up Yonge St. could end up overloading Bloor station. One option I have not heard is to use the Spadina leg as a relief line.

    Build an open cut branch from Yonge St., along the Finch hydro corridor connecting to the Spadina line north of Finch station. Trains on Spadina would split at Finch, half going to the west to York University and the other half going east and north on Yonge. Running non-stop from Finch to Yonge should minimize the time disadvantage.

    Yonge trains would all turnback at either Finch (Short turn) or Steeles avenue. Service north of Steeles would be provided exclusively as a branch of the Spadina line.

    Passengers coming from the north have the option of switching trains at Steeles but others should just stay on the train and go around by Union as many do today.

    Steve: This is an expensive and roundabout way to divert passengers off of the Yonge line. Also, your proposed alignment has a few problems.

    Presuming that the junction north of Finch West Station is possible (I am not sure whether the curve into the Hydro corridor runs afoul of any buildings), there is the little matter of the reservoir east of Dufferin Street. This is clearly shown on the map of the Spadina extension.

    Trains coming south from Richmond Hill could not serve the existing Finch Station which is south of the Hydro corridor. A station in the corridor west of Yonge would pose problems with Hydro itself similar to those discussed in another thread about using land under the corridor at Highway 7.

    Many riders from north of Steeles are bound for points other than the core area and they would be taken a considerable distance out of their way.

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  28. I was just wondering this: Is the massively oversized underground bus terminal at Steeles Station really intended to be converted at a future date to a streetcar or subway terminal for a future east-west Steeles line? Seeing how the bus terminal runs east-west directly under Steeles Avenue and is probably as long as a subway train, this would seem to be the only explanation. A great example of forward planning if this is actually in the cards, otherwise it would be much cheaper to expropriate the Centerpoint parking lot and build the bus terminal there.

    Steve: I suspect that the Steeles terminal is large because of a possible staged expansion of the subway. However, we would spend a lot of money on a terminal we won’t need in the future.

    The terminal’s placement, offset to the west side of Yonge, is to avoid expropriation of property on Steeles, south side, east of Yonge. The design, and the walking distances involved, may have made sense if the bus loop straddled Yonge, but not with the entire structure shifted west.

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  29. Has TTC ever produced any planning or policy document that acknolwedges the fact that Go Transit moves people within Toronto? Sometimes it seems like TTC doesn’t even realise Go exists…

    Steve: The original plans for the Sheppard Subway ignored the possible contribution of GO for handling riders from northeastern Metro to downtown. This inflated the demand figures in their model to “justify” the line.

    On the Richmond Hill line, they are using a model that includes GO, but they are using that model’s output, including the effects of the DRL, to justify claiming that no additional service would be required on the subway in 2017. This is transparent nonsense, but it’s the sort of thing agencies produce when they are trying to sweep problems under the rug.

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  30. Steve says:
    “Presuming that the junction north of Finch West Station is possible (I am not sure whether the curve into the Hydro corridor runs afoul of any buildings), there is the little matter of the reservoir east of Dufferin Street. This is clearly shown on the map of the Spadina extension.”

    No real buildings in the way. Just a little parking lot west of Yonge. Then mainly residential area til between Bathurst & Dufferin,.. they probably won’t be happy with an above ground train. Then the G Ross Load Dam & Reservoir as you mentioned just east of Dufferin, if the subway is on surface it won’t have much room going south of the reservoir since TTC will need to expand Finch for Finch West LRT, going north goes through parkland. But between Dufferin and Keele (York University) there’s lots of huge gas storage tanks on both sides of the Finch hydro corridor,… hmmm, subway derailment next to huge gas storage tanks,… also as for putting subway tracks here,… well the TTC just spent $17 million on the Bus Only lanes along Finch Hydro Corridor from York University (Keele) to Dufferin Street then south along Dufferin & Allen Road to Downsview Station,… for the now infamous route 196 York University Rocket which is usually packed to be shared with its empty twin Viva Orange route (both of Metrolinx leak fame!). The newly rerouted 196 York University Rocket & Viva Orange routes will be opened this for Sept 2009,… not sure if York University strike will be over by then! 🙂

    http://www.toronto.ca/wes/techservices/involved/transportation/downsview_york/pdf/report/01_executive_summary.pdf
    http://www.ttc.ca/postings/gso-comrpt/documents/report/f3400/_conv.htm

    I have a question about headway on the current Yonge Subway line. Often southbound Yonge train will stop at Eglinton for Subway Operator break or shift change,… this adds about a minute and a half to the stop at Eglinton station. And the next train can’t come in until the one switching subway operators leaves,… I know this time is all factor into the headway and how many trains the TTC can fit onto the Yonge-University-Spadina line. If instead of using Eglinton for switching subway operator, they use Davisville where southbound train share a “centre platform” not with the northbound train but with tracks in the Davisville Yard. The photo at the link below shows someone walking on the southbound platform beside the southbound train at Davisville and the other side of this “centre” platform service the Davisville Yard.
    http://www3.ttc.ca/Subway/Stations/Davisville/station.jsp

    The southbound train switching subway operators would come into Davisville “centre” platform on the Davisville yard side and take it’s break,…. the next train can come in on the regular southbound platform,…. as it approaches, the train that just switched operator can leave the Davisville. Would this allow the TTC to put another train on the Yonge-University-Spadina line and thus increase capacity (though slightly at 2%)? Is there another one of these 3 track stations on the Spadina line? At Wilson yard?

    Steve: There is a big problem with TTC assumptions about future operations because they don’t allow for this sort of routine delay. There are actually two types of delay at various locations, although at Eglinton they are quite noticeable.

    One is caused by crew changes. These occur on the BD subway at Coxwell causing delays of various lengths depending on whether the new crew is ready to go when their train comes in.

    The second is caused by holds at headway control points. The intention of these holds is to smooth out running times, but they can also create queues when the headways are short (peak periods) and running times are longer than needed. For example, it is quite common to queue westbound between Sherbourne and Bloor not because a train is having a long dwell time at Yonge due to passenger load, but because it is waiting for a clear signal. This happens at many other locations.

    If the TTC attempts to operate much shorter headways, there will be severe problems of trains queuing on the shoulders of the peak when typical running times are shorter than the scheduled amounts.

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  31. Gordon Keith Says:
    “A northern extension up Yonge St. could end up overloading Bloor station. One option I have not heard is to use the Spadina leg as a relief line. Build an open cut branch from Yonge St., along the Finch hydro corridor connecting to the Spadina line north of Finch station. Trains on Spadina would split at Finch, half going to the west to York University and the other half going east and north on Yonge. Running non-stop from Finch to Yonge should minimize the time disadvantage.”

    Instead of building subway along Finch Hydro Corridor from Yonge to Bathurst to Dufferin to Keele then to middle of York University, about 6-7 km of subway,… Why not just go along Sheppard West from Yonge to Bathurst to Allen Rd (Dufferin),…where Downsview Station is? And since the existing Sheppard Stubway line already has about 1 km worth of tail track west of Yonge, you’ll only need about 3 km of subway. And as an added bonus, the Sheppard Stubway will be about 9.5 km long,… might actually start to look like a real Subway line.

    The Yonge Subway extension is already talking about building this Sheppard West line as a route to get trains from the Yonge Subway extension to Wilson yard,… so they will need the correct undergound connection to make the turns from Yonge south line to Sheppard west line and sheppard east to Yonge north (might have to use existing north to east wyes backward),… which would be the connections they would use for your Spadina relief line idea.

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