Transit City Status Update

This month’s TTC agenda includes a long update on the status of the Transit City plans.  I will not attempt to précis this report, but will touch on points of particular interest.

Funding is in place to allow continued work on Environmental Assessments [sic] and other engineering work, but the real challenge comes later this year when construction is slated to begin on Sheppard.  The fog may clear a bit once the provincial budget is announced and we know just how much money will flow to Metrolinx and to transit in general.

A related problem, of course, is the question of new LRVs for the existing and future streetcar/LRT networks.  By the time the budget is out, the TTC should know what the bids for new cars look like, and Queen’s Park will have to decide whether they are serious about paying for them.

Design for Narrow Right of Way

The TTC clings to the idea that it would be possible to operate an LRT service carrying significant hourly demands over narrow streets that do not now have streetcar service.  One variable in this is the definition of “narrow”.  Pape Avenue, for example, is a classic 4-lane street with buildings to the sidewalk line on both sides.  Finch from Yonge to Bathurst is not as tight and has more options for redesign.

Work on alternatives continues, but I hope that the TTC does not compromise the acceptability of the overall plan by excessive reliance on the surface options.  An equally valid outcome of the exercise will be to establish that there are some places where LRT just won’t fit.

Centre Poles for Overhead Support

This debate still rankles from the St. Clair battles when TTC staff insisted that the centre pole design was the only acceptable alternative even though side poles had been used on St. Clair for decades.  The current report offers this interesting rethink on the situation:

Centre-located poles are preferred from an urban design perspective (removal of some visual clutter from the street) and because they cost less to construct and are less prone to damage and maintenance requirements. Side-located poles are preferred from the perspective of emergency service providers – notably Toronto Fire – because this design leaves the transit right-of-way wide open and unobstructed, thus making travel on the right-of-way much easier for emergency vehicles. 

I would believe the point about visual clutter if a visit to St. Clair did not reveal that where there were once two poles there are now three — two holding up street lights and one for the TTC.  As for emergency services, we have been told many times that the fire department had no problems with the St. Clair design, and yet here we learn that they would prefer no poles in the right-of-way.

Sheppard East LRT

The EA was filed with the Ministry in January, but four requests that this be upgraded to a full review have been received.  This statement is a bit odd considering that the new, streamlined EA process was supposed to sweep opposition, from NIMBYs to pesky transit advocates, aside in the face of transit’s manifest destiny.

In any event, construction is planned for this year for the Agincourt grade separation and for the line itself east of McCowan to Neilson.

Various options for the connection at Don Mills are still under study including  provision of a Finch East LRT to Don Mills that would dodge down to Sheppard.  Frankly if we want a through east-west LRT corridor, why not just stay on Finch which is already a heavily used bus route to avoid a massive transfer requirement where the LRT service ends and the remaining bus route begins.

Finch West LRT

Detailed design work continues especially on problem locations such as the Highway 400 crossing, the Yonge-to-Bathurst section mentioned above, and the terminal at Humber College.  Extension of the line beyond Humber to the Woodbine Live development and Pearson Airport is the subject of a separate study.

Eglinton LRT

A considerable amount of work is underway on alignments and construction schemes due to the large amount of underground operation.  As with the Finch LRT, there is a study of connection into Pearson and this includes various agencies including Missisauga Transit.

Scarborough RT

I have already discussed the Metrolinx Benefits Case Analysis for this project in a separate post.  At this point, we have a BCA that clearly supports the line’s conversion to LRT, but thanks to the TTC’s earlier machinations on the RT’s renovation, this option has not been presented in detail to the public.  One big problem is the perception, voiced here by some comments, that LRT isn’t good enough for Scarborough when others are getting full-blown subways.  The challenge will be to present the LRT option as giving Scarborough more transit overall while maintaining the quality of service on the existing RT link.

Meanwhile, our friends at Metrolinx continue to lobby for a continues RT operation linking the Eglinton and extended SRT routes.  The Eglinton BCA, not yet released, must consider the trade-offs between a completely grade-separated line (and the constraints this might have on its overall length), the demand projections and the benefit of a regional vs a local operation.  This brings us back to the whole debate about “Avenues” and the Official Plan where surface LRT is intended to stimulate the growth of neighbourhoods.

The RT’s BCA report didn’t come out quite the way some had hoped and it showed clearly the advantages of lower-cost LRT.  This will be a fierce debate, I am sure, given the Eglinton line’s central role in the future transit network.

Scarborough-Malvern LRT

With the planned extension of the SRT (likely as LRT) into Malvern, the “-Malvern” suffix is obsolete and this line will now end at a junction with the Sheppard LRT.  In a way, this is useful as it changes the focus of the route to one that will serve UofT Scarborough campus.

Waterfront West LRT

Construction of Park Lawn Loop is planned to begin in June.

Other parts of this route are still going throuhg design refinements, notably the section fom Dufferin to Sunnyside which is integrated with the Western Beaches Master Plan.

Don Mills LRT

Because of the number of areas of special concern along this line — narrow right-of-ways at the south end, the interchanges at Eglinton and at Sheppard, and the potential connection with a Finch East LRT — this project is deep in redesign to address challenges and evaluate options.

Jane LRT

 Design work continues on this line especially with respect to the narrow right-of-way on parts of Jane Street and the alignment for the north end of the route into Steeles West Station.

Upcoming Meetings

With various projects running in parallel and in various stages of completion, public meeting schedules will keep transit advocates travelling across the city.  Based on information in this report, the broad schedule looks like this:

  • Sheppard:  EA complete.  No meetings planned.
  • Finch West:  Early spring
  • Eglinton:  Summer
  • Scarborough RT:  Spring
  • Scarborough(-Malvern):  No date given, but the report implies a final round of meetings fairly soon.
  • Waterfront West (Parkdale):  EA completion planned for June 2009.  This implies that any new alignment details must get through public review in the spring.
  • Waterfront West (Long Branch):  EA completion planned for summer 2009.
  • Don Mills:  No meeting planned pending resolution of design issues.
  • Jane:  Design work to be completed late 2009.  No meeting planned yet.

26 thoughts on “Transit City Status Update

  1. Being a YIMBY because the Eglinton LRT and Jane LRT will “go through my backyard”, I am also interested in where they will be putting the storage facilities. (As a kid, I lived near the Roncesvalles carbarn.) According to the report, properties are recommended for Sheppard and Morningside area, Finch and Jane area, Eglinton and Black Creek area, Don Mills corridor (?), and the Portlands area (?) (for the existing streetcar fleet).

    Steve: Sorry I didn’t include this list as I thought it had been published in a previous update.


  2. Uhhh…isn’t it more than passing strange that this report describes a significant and entirely open-ended design effort to address “narrow rights-of-way” *after* deciding on the routes? I more than chuckled at the notion that these areas include Jane St. “south of Wilson Avenue”–i.e. virtually the entire jane LRT route. Isn’t this the sort of thing that should have been considered before the lines were chosen?

    Steve: As someone who had input into the choice of the lines, I can tell you that I argued strongly against trying to fit them through narrow corridors. The tradeoff became one of getting a plan out for discussion based as much as possible on surface running, and of having to deal with some redesign later. There was no perfect way to do this, however, I think that the original plan took on too much of a “set in concrete” nature through the rounds of public meetings, and the arrival of alternatives for public debate is long overdue.

    Yes, adding to the underground sections will cost money, but we need to be realistic about where we can place this type of facility. Stay on the surface where possible both for accessibility and cost reasons, but go underground when the alternative is unacceptable.


  3. Eglinton and Black Creek suggests the Kodak lands, doesn’t it?

    I was hoping they’d have more information on the Sheppard subway – LRT connection dilemma. The idea that they are going to have the Finch East portion only come to Don Mills is less than encouraging. How are they planning to make a convenient transfer/interline this way?

    Originally, they were talking about the Sheppard LRT stub-ending into the existing subway platform at the same platform level. Obviously this cannot be done when there is going to be through-routing on Finch East. It doesn’t work.

    If they take it across Finch East as far as the 404, and go down the east side where there’s room for a ROW, they can keep the LRT entirely at grade and connect at Consumers, where they’ve already proposed a potential extension of the subway whose EA is already complete.

    Taking the subway and Finch East interlining point to Consumers also has great benefits for crowd control. If it ends up all at a single point at Don Mills and Sheppard, it will make Kennedy look like a walk in the park.

    There should be another public meeting on Sheppard for the Consumers – Don Mills portion. There is a lot of information to put out on this short-but-complex segment, and they are not sharing it in this update.


  4. @Matt

    Some people, myself included, have tried to suggest alternatives. I suggested Keele north of Eglinton, south of which it starts to meander in a mix of surface and underground until eventually reaching Dundas West. They received from me a submission complete with map graphics for a Keele alternative. While parts of that are still underground anyway, I imagine it could have been easier to construct than Jane.

    Steve: What’s really galling is that only a handful of alternatives is shown in the report as suggestions, some of which are manifestly ridiculous such as extending the Jane line through Swansea to connect with the WWLRT. This is a testimonial to the shortcomings of the EA process.


  5. I got a bit of a chuckle out of the WWLRT connection. WWLRT will be using legacy fleet. It would be very unlikely that interlining could take place here. MAYBE to Exhibition, but I wouldn’t count on it.


  6. Steve,

    Some thoughts on the “Sheppard – Finch crosstown” and the LRT bypass via a portion of Finch E:

    1) Is Finch East wide enough for a surface LRT line? I surveyed the street once, and the section between Yonge and Leslie does not look particularly wide (definitely not as wide as Finch W or Sheppard E). In the vicinity of Yonge, it is just four lanes, even without left-turn lanes. In addition, there is a steep hill halfway between Bayview and Leslie. Rail vehicles do not like that kind of landscape.

    Steve: The network planners seem to like drawing lines on maps before they actually survey the streets and neighbourhoods affected.

    If it happens that a large portion of that “Finch E LRT bypass” has to be tunneled, then the cost rises dramatically, and the wisdom of such investment becomes questionable.

    2) At 22 kph, will the combined Finch – Sheppard LRT route be attractive as a true cross-town operation? Note that the city is wider in the north than at the Eglinton or Bloor-Danforth level, due to the lake’s geometry.

    If the vast majority of riders take a portion of the route anyway, then is it so important to create a cross-town?

    Steve: Metrolinx is obsessed with crosstown trips and assume that everyone who works in Mississauga lives in Durham and vice-versa. Both the Eglinton and now the Finch-Sheppard projects are burdened with this mentality born of spending too much time sitting on the 401 and the Gardiner (of which there is a terrific view from Rob MacIsaac’s office). Many people want to travel much shorter distances, but the network planning is skewed for the long-distance market. This is nonsense, but it’s Metrolinx nonsense and therefore must be right.

    3) It is not clear how the bus service on Finch east of Don Mills would be organized. Would the bus route terminate at the LRT stop, and force a transfer and potential capacity issues? Would the buses be redirected to the Sheppard subway terminus? Or, would they continue to run to Yonge / Finch, express between Don Mills and Yonge? Either solution has certain drawbacks.

    Steve: This part really baffles me. One might think someone proposing a split in the Finch East route might bother to look at the existing demand patterns and service design. Oddly enough, Richard Soberman’s proposal of converting the Sheppard Subway to LRT seems to have vanished from discussion.


  7. While we are way overdue for new rail transit in Toronto, and LRT is more than fine by me overall, the TransitCity plan reminds me of a Snakes & Ladders game board, or an old Rube Goldberg contraption plan.

    Is there a city on earth that has, or is contemplating building, a half dozen plus short-run, suburban, disjointed neighbourhood LRT lines other than Toronto? Isn’t the idea of LRT that it can operate much like a subway line, i.e moving lots of people over long-ish distances, not like a bunch of stub lines dumping people onto the already overburdened, old subway lines. Isn’t this a misuse much in the way that everextending subways into GO territory is? Most of the TransitCity lines look more like bus routes.

    We can do better.

    Steve: Have a look at the RATP (Paris) map of its extensions. All those disjointed lines in pink on the map are LRT. While you’re looking at that, don’t forget that Paris is a radial city while Toronto is (mainly) a grid and both route and travel patterns are different because of our respective geographies and histories.

    Yes, the Transit City lines look like bus routes, but with volumes well beyond what buses could handle in most cases.


  8. Steve:

    Though I realise they are not Transit City lines the TTC is also working on three or four projects with Waterfront Toronto. Surely the TTC should be receiving reports on them too? The projects are:

    a. From King Street down Cherry Street to the railway berm. I thought this streetcar line was due to be built in 2009/2010 so it would be there when the first people move into the West Don Lands. Its EA is completed and approved and I think the plan is to have people living in WDL by mid-2010. (Once built this short streetcar line could provide a better ‘short turn back westbound’ for 504 King streetcars than Parliament.)

    b. Queen’s Quay east from Bay to Parliament. This streetcar line was supposed to be completed in 2010/2011 and be available when the Corus (and George Brown) buildings on QQ are completed. The EA for this seems to have ground to a halt over the best way to get into the tunnel to Union. In due course this line will go east to Cherry Street, and further, and link up with the Cherry Street line.

    c. Redesign and rebuilding of QQ west from Bay to Spadina to improve waterfront access. This will involve moving streetcar tracks, to the south, I think. Doubtless it too is held up by the tunnel debate.

    Then there is the redesign and rebuilding of Union (subway) Station. I had thought that the project would be ‘full steam ahead’ once the sewer under Front Street was relocated but that was finished in 2008 and I see no sign of anything going on. I think the TTC approved the design quite a while ago.

    Do you want to comment on what’s going on? (Here or as part of another thread.)

    Steve: The Waterfront Toronto projects have been embroiled in ongoing planning for the implementation of the new street design as well as a protracted debate about the location of an east portal from the Bay Street tunnel. Those of us who regularly attend working group meetings have waited a very long time for our next meeting at which the new design will be revealed. We are still waiting.

    As for Union Loop, just because the TTC does a drawing doesn’t mean that it’s a workable design. It has to fit in with the City’s Union Station Project and that’s only now nailed down. Again, we’re still waiting to see a final version everyone agrees on.


  9. Re: Finch West

    What are the odds that the Pearson extension follows the “Pearson EL” (ARL Pearson spur) from Woodbine Live(!)?

    Steve: Probably quite low given the incompatible technologies and the likelihood the “private sector” would want to soak us royally for letting our “public” system compete with them.


  10. Karl Junkin Says:
    “Some people, myself included, have tried to suggest alternatives. I suggested Keele north of Eglinton, south of which it starts to meander in a mix of surface and underground until eventually reaching Dundas West. They received from me a submission complete with map graphics for a Keele alternative. While parts of that are still underground anyway, I imagine it could have been easier to construct than Jane.”

    The Jane LRT or whatever North-South LRT route in the west end hitting the Bloor-Danforth subway line at Dundas West station is great,… IF we know that the DRL West will also meet the Bloor-Danforth subway line at the Dundas West station as well. Otherwise, if the DRL West and this major north-south LRT does not meet at the same station,… then we’ll have another Finch West LRT-Yonge Subway-Sheppard Stubway-Sheppard East LRT TRANSFER City crosstown route. In other words, the TTC needs to figure out the route for DRL West first before this North-South LRT route in the west end (currently Jane).

    Just east of Dundas West station is the CN/CP railway corridor,… does it have room for LRT going North-West? Double-decking? It’s going to be quite busy with all the GO train and Blue22 upgrades. Anyways, I think this LRT route starting from Dundas West station should go in a north-west direction following this Railway corridor if possible, if not then still north-west following Dundas Street West then Weston Road until it hits Jane Street just north of Eglinton West,…. or even Black Creek Drive until it hits Jane Street between Lawrence West and 401. Why north-west? Because Spadina subway line travels in north-west direction and you don’t won’t these two lines crossing and servicing the same areas.

    Generally the density of Jane Street between Bloor and Eglinton is similar to Keele between Bloor and Eglinton. But the density of Jane Street north of Eglinton is far greater than that of Keele north of Eglinton,… thus I think Jane Street north of Eglinton should get the LRT route. In addition Keele north of Eglinton is just 2 km west of Allen Road/Dufferin,….a corridor already serviced by the Spadina subway line. And with the Spadina subway extension going from Downsview in a north-west direction and hitting Keele and Finch before it gets to York University and then Vaughan Centre (Hwy 7 & Weston),… it’s better to try to keep these two lines from crossing each other,… especially when there are high density areas along Jane like Jane & Finch and Jane & Sheppard that are currently underserviced by the TTC.

    Steve: The whole Weston corridor is a hot potato as we have seen recently. That’s why Transit City stays off of it. The logical approach to the airport is from the south, not via Rexdale, and this could be provided by an LRT in the Weston Corridor joining up with the Eglinton line (which is underground until roughly that point anyhow). But Blue 22 is not to be denied.


  11. The orphaned project in this is the Kingston Road EA (Victoria Park to Eglinton). Though it’s website was updated last week, and it’s now called the “Preliminary Planning for a Transit Project Assessment Study” – (someone should tell the person who chooses the URLs 🙂

    And it’s apparently going to have Spring meetings as well. It’s hard to guess how this piece is going to fit into the puzzle.


  12. On Finch W sharing an ROW with the ARL spur into Pearson, Steve said:

    Probably quite low given the incompatible technologies and the likelihood the “private sector” would want to soak us royally for letting our “public” system compete with them.

    To clarify, I wasn’t suggesting that the LRT ride the mainline track. Rather, I was suggesting that it seems reasonable to consider expanding the single track elevated structure to accommodate the LRT tracks. Although it would minimize opportunities for local service in the vicinity of Pearson, the proposed path of the spur seems ideal for routing from Woodbine Live!.

    All jokes aside, at this stage in the respective planning processes, is this a feasible option? Could you comment on its relative merits?

    Steve: The real question is whether the ARL spur station will make a convenient connection with the transit hub of routes that will come from the south. Finch LRT riders will not be going to the airport as a destination, but as an interchange point with other routes from Toronto and Mississauga. The new LRT terminal is supposed to be under Terminal 1, but until I see the details can’t comment on the appropriateness of your proposed alignment. In any event, I doubt SNC Lavalin would be thrilled to have to expand their structure to carry two more tracks.


  13. I was at a WWLRT meeting. It was “unofficial” in that it seemed to have been put on through Councillor Grimes’ office via the Waterfront Planning Group, who may or may not be an amateur sideshow serving as distraction.

    The usual NIMBYs were out. The thing with the WWLRT design along Lake Shore Blvd is that they can’t quite fit everything in, at least through Mimico, even though Lake Shore is one of the wider streets in Toronto. (And there’s no bike lane.)

    The meeting flyer had “present” and “future” waterfront LRT pictures. The “present” was a westbound ALRV at Queen and Spadina, amusingly signed “501 HUMBER”. The “future” was some streetscape I don’t recognize as part of Lake Shore (though it might be), with a centre pole overhead support and not an LRV in sight.

    Since the plan for Lake Shore is to use the existing tracks, does that mean that centre support is right out? Centre poles are going to come pretty close to the closed side of the streetcar.


    Steve: I cannot help being disappointed by the inept way in which some of the public participation for these projects is handled. Basic things like that ALRV — not even signed up for Long Branch, and not anywhere on what is supposed to be the WWLRT — not to mention centre poles that cannot reasonably be retrofitted to Lake Shore.

    If the people responsible for this are consultants, they should be fired. If they are TTC staff, well, there’s always a lucrative job as a consultant.


  14. Appreciate the RATP link, Steve. But Paris proper is already well-served by what? 8 or 10 subway lines? Unlike Toronto (despite the fallacious excuse our mayor keeps using that it is {ask anyone using the King or Queen streetcars}). Wouldn’t it be great to have LRT running the length of King/Queen, perhaps with only one direction on each, as a next best option to actual subway?

    Steve: And Paris is a much denser city and has been for a very long time. When Paris was building metros, Toronto had just extended the city boundary all the way to North Toronto. The point I was trying to make is that even a subway city like Paris is building LRT as a logical expansion of its core subway network. There are places for selective expansion of subway technology just as there are in Toronto, but it’s not the only answer.


  15. Steve comments:

    “I cannot help being disappointed by the inept way in which some of the public participation for these projects is handled….
    If the people responsible for this are consultants, they should be fired. If they are TTC staff, well, there’s always a lucrative job as a consultant.”

    This was not a production of the Transit City office. I phoned them to inquire why it wasn’t on their web page, and they said they had just heard of it.

    However….this meeting was sparked locally by the two public consultation meetings held in South Etobicoke late last year. I attened the one at James Bell, and reported back to here on the poor presentation materials and clueless staff (City and consultants) allegedly running the show. Of course this just gets the NIMBYs going, and the local councillor can’t afford to alientate any more ward residents, so off we go on a NIMBY round of consultations.

    The really misleading thing is that the flyer promised the attendance of the chief consultant or planner (I forget which–can check later), and Adam Giambrone (labelled “tentative”). So it darn well looked official. Which is why I went back to the WWLRT project page for more info.

    The one hope I have, is that unlike “SOS”, it’s gonna be “SOL”, and hopefully that’s SOL by name and SOL by nature.


  16. Hi Steve. I’m baffled by something, and am surprised no one has mentioned it yet . Why is construction on the Sheppard line starting in the corridor between McCowan and Neilson? Are they planning on running buses on the ROW through that stretch until the line is completed all the way to Don Mills or Consumers? It just strikes me as very odd. Why not start building the line eastward at Don Mills (or Consumers) and open up sections of LRT as construction is completed? Clearly the western end of this line is the most complex and expensive portion, but it is the logical starting point for construction.

    In addition, imagine how annoyed businesses and residents will be along the eastern leg of Sheppard when, after months or years of construction, they will still have buses running on the street for who knows how long, because the ROW will dead-end at McCowan. The western portion will clearly take the longest amount of time to build, so it should be the first portion to be built.

    Can you shed some light on this decision? I’m afraid this is going to make Transit City look like a joke…

    Steve: This is a question of building the part where the design is completed to get it out of the way. Also planned this year is the grade separation at the Uxbridge Subdivision, and construction in that section of the line cannot get underway until that’s done. Finally, the design at Don Mills is still undecided.

    You may remember that the ONLY reason Downsview Station exists is that this was the only piece of subway extension (common to both the York U and Sheppard lines) that Council could agree on. We all know which line won out, but Downsview was built to get a head start.

    Transit City would look more of a joke if we waited for every line on every plan to be agreed to, approved and funded. The whole point is to build what we can as soon as possible. The pieces will come together quickly enough.

    After all, today saw the announcements of acres of GO parking with no train capacity to handle the passengers. Maybe they are hoping the tooth fairy will bring more trains.

    I could make lots of fun of everyone’s announcement, but am getting rather tired of slurs against Transit City. It’s not perfect, but neither is Metrolinx regional plan or any of the other schemes on the table. Transit City takes a lot of knocks because it’s seen as the “Miller Plan”, and knocking TC is a way to get at the Mayor. Nobody is writing articles about the “MacIsaac Plan” even though parts of it are incoherent, and most of it is unfunded. It suits the political dynamic to work that way.

    There are things about Transit City that need changing, and I expect we will see some of those changes. But as with any plan, including the Metrolinx RTP, that sort of change has to come in periodic network-based rethinks, not in reacting to every blog post that complains about some esoteric aspect of a future alignment.


  17. Why not speed up LRT movement from off the Queensway south on Windemere east along the middle of Lakeshore Blvd to British Columbia Blvd and hook up at the eastern CNE loop (tracks). This basically worked in the 60’s from Mimico to Sunnyside. It would give access to the western beaches, Gus Ryder pool, the tennis club, dance hall, Ontario Place and CNE. Why do the planners want to take the new line over already crowded routes. I have read that the Parklawn loop may be started June 2009. Maybe you could board a streetcar there to go downtown on the route I suggested?

    Steve: There is already a proposal to go south from Queensway to Lake Shore via Colborne Lodge Road (the east side of Grenadier Pond) that accomplishes roughly the same as what you are proposing. This is one of the optional alignments for the WWLRT. And, yes, Park Lawn loop is supposed to be built this summer.


  18. There is a Draft Western Waterfront Master Plan report, in PDF form: , which includes accommodation for the WWLRT. Quoting as follows: “Need for a Queen/Roncesvalles connection is key to future decision-making – i.e.,
    • If connection necessary (which it appears to be), then we propose that the Streetcar cross the railway to the North at or before Dowling – in order to avoid a new bridge across Gardiner and Railway
    • If connection not necessary, then we propose that the Streetcar stay in the LSB median as far as Colborne Lodge.”
    They use “Streetcar” when it should be “Light Rail Vehicles”, of course. But it is a draft.

    Steve: Unfortunately, the document doesn’t actually show the proposed routes for the WWLRT line, and the site for the project itself has not been updated to reflect the new plan.


  19. How will the TC lines join at subway stations where they terminate? Will they go underground, â la Spadina and Queen’s Quay streetcars? There has been vague suggestion that some of these LRT lines might, at some future date, extend beyond their current planned station terminii. Is contingency for this eventuality being planned in at station junctions?

    Steve: That is part of the detailed design now underway. Here’s a rough overview of what I know so far.

    Sheppard East: This line will either terminate at Consumer’s Road to meet an extended Sheppard Subway, or will go over to Don Mills. If at Consumer’s, the LRT station would be on the surface with the subway underneath. If at Don Mills, the LRT would be below grade. This scheme is complicated by a proposed easterly extension of the Finch LRT (see below).

    Don Mills: The TTC continues to design the south end of this line on the basis of surface operation through East York. This is madness, but getting them to change direction is extremely difficult. There isn’t room on the surface for the volume of LRT traffic and passengers that would have to be accommodated by a surface LRT station, and this more or less demands an underground connection. That brings me to the idea of the Downtown Relief line continuing north of Danforth, but I am not going to belabour that point here.

    At Sheppard, it is uncertain whether the Don Mills LRT would be on the surface or underground. Right now, surface appears to be the preferred option.

    At Eglinton, the east-west service will already be underground, and an underground LRT station on Don Mills would also make sense. This is a large, busy road intersection, and fitting in large volume pedestrian movements here could be tricky. This could also be the northern terminus of the DRL.

    The Finch West line will almost certainly be underground at Yonge Street. The main design issue is to have a layout that permits through running should the line be continued further east.

    Finch West crosses the Spadina Subway (extended) at Keele/Finch Station. The design for the interchange here isn’t settled, and I believe that the anticipated transfer demand will settle the question of whether the LRT should be underground here.

    A general note about surface LRT stations: Because the new fleet will be double-ended with doors on both sides, island platforms can be used for surface stations. This allows the vertical access to be shared by both tracks. The offsetting design problem is that more road space is needed for a wide surface platform.


  20. If Transit City does nothing, you Giambrone and Miller will be run out of town! People have every right to be critical of a plan that has many flaws yet wants to be implemented overnight.

    Steve: Aside from the fact that Transit City will do quite a lot, thank you, I can think of another major plan that has many flaaws and wants to be implemented overnight — the Metrolinx Regional Transportation Plan. There is a glaring political double standard here. Metrolinx is supposed to be something close to an oracular revelation, not to be questioned, perfection itself, even though the plan was produced by people with many biases, dubious technical knowledge and shortsighted, political considerations in the choice of routes and sequencing.

    Attack Transit City all you want, but hold Metrolinx to the same standard.


  21. I would definitely encourage Councillor Cho to not support an LRT carhouse in the Morningside and Sheppard area and to use the remaining available land in the area for schools, daycare and greenspace.


  22. Transit City will come up short of what it is supposed to do and will result in many people continuing to drive. This whole notion that LRT lines will drastically improve Toronto’s transit and traffic is ludacris!

    TTC should focus on the following:

    1) Replace the SRT
    2) Build the Eglinton LRT
    3) Implement a Sheppard East Express bus that only stops at major intersections or only stops on Sheppard (east of Kennedy Road)

    The Sheppard East LRT plan is way over the top! The bus service is perfectly fine and the main problem is between Don Mills and Kennedy? Why do we need an LRT east of Midland? Spend money on fixing existing TTC problems (i.e. Queen Streetcar, SRT)!

    Steve: I agree that we need to deal with Eglinton and the SRT (they will both make wonderful LRT lines), but the issue on Sheppard is that projected future demand cannot be handled by buses. That’s why it’s an LRT line.

    The City and TTC are doing nobody any favours by the delay in getting some detailed design info out of their urban design process that is supposed to set standards for how lines like this are fitted into the street.

    Meanwhile, the continuing inaccuracies in the National Post’s coverage of this issue tells me that they are less interested in fair reporting that in making Transit City look bad.


  23. Steve: Two comments were submitted back-to-back by Rodney Smith and Peter M about BIA issues with the Sheppard LRT plans and they linked two separate articles. I have consolidated this here, and have comments on the issues raised in the articles below the links. In respect of copyright, I will only quote from the articles. You can read them in full at your leisure.

    National Post, March 6, 2009

    Inside Toronto

    Steve: The BIA on Sheppard East attacks the planning for the line on the grounds that every detail isn’t nailed down, that funding isn’t in place, and the vehicles are not yet ordered. They fear disruption on the scale of the St. Clair project, although the biggest impact will be for the Agincourt GO Station grade separation, a project that is needed even without the LRT to sustain more frequent service on this line.

    The BIA also attacks the lack of detailed design for the Highway 404 (DVP) crossing and the connection to Don Mills Station. I beg their pardon, but anyone who has actually been following this issue knows that there are three separate proposed designs that are now going through detailed study. These are:

    A subway extension to Consumers Road with a surface LRT station/terminus.
    An LRT subway dropping into a tunnel west of Consumers Road, passing under the DVP and connecting to Don Mills Station. There are two sub-options, one with the connection at subway level (platform to platform) and one at the mezzanine level.

    A decision on all of these is bound up with both the Don Mills LRT plans as well as any proposed conversion of the Sheppard subway to LRT (unlikely) or provision for future eastern extension of the subway from Don Mills. The specific option may not have been chosen, but the details of each of them is well-understood.

    As for cars, the TTC will choose a vehicle provider for the “city” fleet in April, and it is likely that this will lead to a family of cars also for Transit City. We don’t yet know the details of provincial and federal contributions to many projects, but the Sheppard LRT is one of the early projects on lists waiting for funding.

    (It shares this status with the Richmond Hill subway, but nobody is trying to stop that project on the grounds that we have no idea how we will actually pay for it, or how little York Region will actually contribute to the project.)

    The Post article says there is no decision on how the line will cross GO. Totally false. There will be an underpass. If there are details to be worked out, it is in the access to businesses affected by this construction, not in the design of the LRT line.

    The article goes on to attack the project in the context of the next mayoral election and the desire of the right wing of council to find issues on which to attack both Miller and TTC Chair Giambrone. I would not call the Post article unbiased by a long shot, and it should be regarded as an opinion piece.

    The Inside Toronto piece, while echoing many of the same BIA concerns, is much less inflammatory.

    The irony of the right’s use of Transit City as a springboard for an attack on the mayor pits them against those who would improve transit generally. Yes, we can have a debate about whether we should build more subways or (gasp) ICTS rather than LRT, but that’s a debate on planning, financing and future development patterns. If the right really thinks they can expand transit without using surface modes, notably LRT, they have no claim to the “fiscal responsiblity” that is a favourite topic.


  24. Has the City ever looked at a Sheppard East LRT/Sheppard Subway connection at a location other than Don Mills or Consumers Road?

    Steve: No, other than a much older scheme to make Scarborough Town Centre the forced destination of every trip by routing the subway there. That’s great of you want to go to STC, but not otherwise. It’s the same sort of gerrymander than screws up transit routes in the 905.


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