Ontario Funds Three Transit City Routes

Today, Queen’s Park announced that it would fund three of the Transit City projects — Eglinton, Finch and the Scarborough RT rehab/extension — as well as upgrading of York VIVA BRT corridors with dedicated lanes.

The announcement is fascinating in places for what it does not say, or leaves for future decisions.  Despite much of the build-it-yesterday rhetoric accompanying the GO/Metrolinx merger, the design and EA processes now under way will run their course.  Indeed, the Transit City projects have been proceeding apace thanks to funding at the municipal level to complete this work without waiting for agencies like Metrolinx to get on board.

The estimated cost for the York VIVA project is $1.4-billion with completion in stages from 2011 to 2013.  Lines that will connect with VIVA include the Spadina and Yonge subway extensions although full funding for the latter is not yet in place.

The Scarborough RT will undergo vehicle replacement, infrastructure upgrades and extension to Malvern Town Centre or to Markham Road.  This project will cost $1.4-billion “depending on the technology choice”, and construction will run from 2010 to 2015.  Connecting lines include “the proposed Sheppard East LRT”.

The Eglinton Crosstown line will run from Pearson Airport to Kennedy with a future extension to Malvern (this is the Scarborough-Malvern TC line).  The line will be tunneled between Keele and Leslie, and the total pricetag is $4.6-billion.  Constuction will run from 2010 to 2016.

The Finch LRT will run from Humber College to Don Mills, and then south to Don Mills Station where it will connect with the “proposed Sheppard Avenue East LRT”.  The project will cost $1.2-billion with construction running from 2010 to 2013.

An obvious question in response to this impressive list is “where’s Sheppard East”?  First off, as I noted above, some lines mentioned in the announcement don’t have funding yet, and the Sheppard LRT is mentioned twice.  Finch is explicitly listed as an LRT project, and the technology choice for the RT is still up in the air (no pun intended).  That choice depends on Metrolinx’ own Benefits Case Analysis (BCA) for Eglinton expected to be available, at least in private session, to the Metrolinx Board this month.  We know that the Scarborough RT BCA looked favourably on the LRT option.

There isn’t much point in building one lonely LRT line up on Finch if it wouldn’t be connecting with a larger network, and I think this suggests a larger LRT network is in our future.

Although the source of funding for Sheppard isn’t announced yet, Mayor Miller speaks of construction starting this year on Transit City.  The only place that is possible is on Sheppard.  Also coming up will be the new streetcar order for the “city” network, yet another opportunity for substantial provincial funding.  I suspect there are more rabbits waiting to pop out of one or more hats.

Finally, lest our friends to the west think I have ignored them in my haste to talk about Transit City, Queen’s Park will also fund rapid transit studies in Hamilton.  No technology is mentioned.  There is strong political support for LRT in Hamilton, but will Queen’s Park and Metrolinx let them build anything more than BRT.  A lot depends on what the studies will reveal about demand and development impacts.

79 thoughts on “Ontario Funds Three Transit City Routes

  1. “More to the point, what vast number of people actually make this trip? Why to we insist on gerrymandering the system for such hypothetical passengers?”

    The same vast number of people who clog the 401 every day. There seem to be a lot of them.

    Steve: But they are not all going from Rexdale to Scarborough. They are going all over the place. The cars that are on the highway at Kipling are not the same cars that are on it by Markham Road. Also, some of those long hauls are really long hauls going outside of the 416, and a local service won’t do them one bit of good. That’s where GO comes in, but most of their services focus on downtown.


  2. Since the suggestion of interlining Sheppard subway and Spadina extension has attracted some interest, I’ll offer a few further thoughts:

    1) Headways north of Downsview should not be a problem, provided that every 2-nd train from downtown short-turns at Downsview. That will leave enough room north of Downsview for less frequent Sheppard trains.

    2) 4-car trains used on Sheppard should not be a problem, either. They just will not occupy all the platform length at the Spadina extension built for 6-car trains. It would be a problem if Sheppard trains were longer than the platforms, but this is not the case.

    3) Finch W LRT would not have to be cut at Keele, but rather would continue to Yonge. Direct access to Yonge is no less important than E-W crosstown, and there are quite a few trip generators on Finch east of Keele, especially between Dufferin and Bathurst.

    Some drawbacks though:

    4) It would not be possible to feed Sheppard tracks into the existing Downsview station which is aligned N-S. A new E-W Downsview station would be needed, and to merge into Spadina extension, the tracks would likely have to continue west of Allen, curve north, and join Spadina extension near Chesswood (proposed Sheppard West station).

    5) The length of westerly Sheppard extension would be greater than 3 km, and the cost certainly higher than 600 million. The existing tunnel continues west of Yonge for 0.5 km or so, but the new tracks will have to continue west of Allen just to connect to the Wilson yard. So, getting to Downsview would be 4 km at 250 – 300 million per km, or 1 – 1.2 B. Merging into Spadina extension at Chesswood would be 1 km extra, or 1.25 – 1.5 B.

    To conclude: I think that the westerly extension of Sheppard is a good strategic plan and should be implemented at some point, but not within the 15-year plan, and perhaps not even 25-year. There are higher priorities that have to be funded first. However, existence of this strategic option is a valid reason not to push the Finch E – Don Mills LRT bypass, which won’t come cheap (probably, around 400 million).

    Steve: When the Downsview extension was built, the intention was for a Sheppard line to merge in turning south, not north. That’s why a York U to Sheppard alignment isn’t straightforward.


  3. Jeez, man ‘Rexdale to Scarborough’ is not to be taken literally – I’m simply offering a viable east-west transit alternative to taking the 401 (or the 400, or Steeles, or the Finch bus east of yonge). I’m not suggesting every single person who drives the 401 would give up their car to use this set of lines, but a much larger chunk of people who travel east-west in the north part of the city could do so more quickly and easily, and BETTER than under the proposed 3 lines (Finch, Spadina extension north, Sheppard East) with the local service options not being that much different.

    Also please note, that my idea is a lot more attractive if the extension to STC is done by subway and not LRT – that’s key.

    This scheme also wouldn’t further clog the Yonge Line, either


  4. Steve: “Also, you would have to design a way to get from an on-street configuration west of Yonge north to the right-of-way. I am sure it’s possible, but likely tricky given existing structures at Finch Station.”

    Amusingly enough, I figure that the biggest difficulty with that section of my idea would not be the bus terminals, although that’s dependent on whether you can fit turning tracks at each end of the TTC’s bus terminal to allow for short turns, but rather the TTC being reluctant to give up parking spots for the right of way now that riders are paying for them.


  5. 44 comments already? wow.

    As for the SRT being extended to malvern town centre – I’ve been saying this for a long time and I’m happy that it looks like it’s finally becoming a reality. There is a large empty field to the north of the mall that is the perfect size for an elevated RT station with a LRT/bus terminal below.

    Steve: My money is still on the SRT becoming LRT. Plans to extend the line further north are unaffordable with RT technology. Also, I am willing to bet that the TTC will quickly figure out how to do the conversion in under three years once they are no longer trying to make that option look as bad as possible.


  6. Steve said … “When the Downsview extension was built, the intention was for a Sheppard line to merge in turning south, not north. That’s why a York U to Sheppard alignment isn’t straightforward.”

    I can’t picture this — two platforms or one? Parallel like St. George and Bay, or perpendicular like Bloor-Yonge?

    All this talk of interlining Sheppard and Spadina is amusing. Even though most of the people that worked at the TTC in 1966 are now dead or demented, somehow their anti-interlining mentality has been passed down to the younger generation through inbreeding. You will NEVER see the TTC interline anything except maybe a bus (even though most major subway systems interline to some extent) — it just goes against their operating culture.

    Take the Eglinton line for example — if it ends up being built as ICTS, it won’t be possible to build an east-to-south (and reverse) wye that would allow some trains coming in from the airport to run downtown via Spadina-University. That would be a very attractive service that would kill the need for Blue-22, but as I recall, the TTC killed this exact same wye configuration with the short Eglinton West subway of the 1990s. Why?


  7. Well, it seems like one minute the technology issue is settled for Eglinton and SRT and the next minute it doesn’t seem to be. Wouldn’t it be nice if this issue could be settled immediately if not sooner? About the only thing that is certain at this point is that there is ZERO chance of the Sheppard subway getting extended anywhere ever.

    Steve: It is intriguing listening to various interviews and hearing the term “LRT” used in reference to lines where this is, allegedly, not yet decided.


  8. The Finch/Seneca problem is easy.

    Extend Sheppard subway to Victoria Park (given that they all seemed to think the sensible thing was to extend it to Consumer Road, the predicted passenger demand for that one more stop more than supports it – good grief, look at the densities around there). And extend Finch LRT to Victoria Park, to new Victoria Park station. End Sheppard LRT at Victoria Park station.

    Of course it won’t happen …

    Though I bet you in 20 years or so, what we will see is that there will be LRT on Finch, much further east than Don Mills. LRT on Don Mills all the way through. This oddball route, will simply become part of a future network.


  9. This 9 Billion dollar in transit infrastructure improvement is certainly great news,… especially when 7.2 Billion goes to the TTC which handles 85% of all public transit rides in the GTA. This is a huge one time cost that generates great photo ops for politicians wearing construction caps holding nice shiny chrome shovels at construction sites when shovel starts digging into the ground. And another great photo ops for politicians riding the new lines in brand new shiny LRT vehicles with wide eyes smiling passengers when the lines are finally finished (noticed I didn’t say finished on budget and on time,… if we’re old enough not to believe in Santa Clause, we’re old enough not to believe in fairy tales!).

    While announcing $4.6-billion funding for Transit City Eglinton Crosstown, along with $1.2-billion funding for Finch West LRT and $1.4-billion funding for Scarborough RT/LRT upgrading and expansion,…. did our dear politicians commit any on-going funding for the day to day operation and maintenance of these lines? Of course NOT,… there’s no photo ops for on-going funding day to day operation and maintenance. So as usual, the more toys the TTC has,… the more tax subsidies the TTC will need from Toronto property tax payers.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m cerainly not complaining,… just wondering. Anyone have any estimates as to how much 7.2 Billion of new TTC toys will add to Toronto taxpayers property tax bill for on-going operation and maintenance? We can assume that a fleet of specialized LRT vehicles will be much more expensive to maintain than a comparable fleet of buses. And of course, there’s the tracks and underground tunnels too,… And we shouldn’t expect the fare box to cover any of the on-going operation and maintenance of the new Transit City LRT lines,…. since the LRT lines won’t even be collecting fares!


  10. Steve Says:
    “The TTC is already studying potential locations for carhouses and will likely propose one each in the northeast and northwest. The big question hinges on the technology choices for Scarborough and Eglinton. Although there is still an ICTS faction here, these lines cannot be built or expanded as planned for the kind of money now on the table.”

    Hmmm,… the city of Toronto already owns lots of land in the north part of the city,… namely the Finch Hydro Corridor running just north of Finch Avenue between Hwy 400 in the west to the eastern Toronto-Pickering border,… all owned by Toronto Hydro, a city of Toronto agency,… since that strip of land is basically useless for housing or commercial use,… and only seem to be used for various parking lots, gardening, parks, etc,… can it be used for a LRT carhouse? Right under all those huge hydro towers,… it shouldn’t be a problem getting all the hydro they need there!

    Steve: That right-of-way is owned by Ontario Hydro, or whatever the infrastructure part of that agency calls itself these days, not by the City. They do not want to have any major facilities under their towers.

    Seeing that Finch West LRT got funding and may expand east to Don Mills,… Finch Hydro Corridor at Don Mills would make a good north-east carhouse location. Jane LRT still need funding but Finch Hydro Corridor at Jane would make a good north-west carhouse location.

    Just a thought,… if Eglinton Crosstown uses Scarborough RT’s current, McCowan Yard,… Eglinton Crosstown & Scarborough line might need to use same technology,… because Eglinton crosstown vehicles would have to use improved Scarborough (currently RT) line to get to McCowan Yard at McCowan & Ellesmere. Thus, it’s kind of interesting they haven’t yet announced a Transit City north-south route for funding,.. that would have allowed Eglinton crosstown (if it’s LRT) to get to one of the northwest or northeast LRT carhouse.

    Steve: I am waiting for McGuinty’s promise of “more to come” in the announcements.


  11. I agree with David Aldinger they need to make up thier mind about the choice [of] technology for Eglinton. Here’s an idea. Why don’t they convert the the cars to LRT technology and give it exclusive right of way along the outer parts of the line via (elevated guidway). This way everyone’s happy. You get your lrts that can be linked to other networks but at the same time it will by pass intersections with its elevated paths. As other people have mentioned earlier it will also make the cost of expanding the line to Malvern Town Centre cheaper.

    Steve: The whole point of LRT is that it does not require exclusive right-of-way. There is no car “conversion” involved because all of the lines under discussion will get new equipment, including the SRT if it remains ICTS technology. What you are proposing is essentially the same infrastructure for Eglinton that an ICTS line would need, but running it with LRT vehicles. This is complete nonsense.

    PS. I hope the government stops the Yonge subway extension too Richmond Hill. The demand does not justify two subway lines in York Region. They’re already getting the University Spadina extension that should be good enough for them. The province should focus on the the DRL line instead.

    Steve: There is a catch-22 here. The need for the DRL is reduced if we don’t extend the subway north into York Region, although certainly not eliminated.


  12. No, clearly York does not deserve any subway lines given that they are not jumping on the LRT bandwagon and insist on their outdated express bus as a rapid transit illusion.

    And besides, who wants to support a subway line to nowhere?

    Steve: I wouldn’t call Richmond Hill “nowhere”, but I will be amused to see the battles over road space once the true needs of BRT become obvious.


  13. Steve said: “What you are proposing is essentially the same infrastructure for Eglinton that an ICTS line would need, but running it with LRT vehicles. This is complete nonsense.”

    I am not in the position to fully evaluate this proposal, but can see a couple of advantages in using LRT vehicles over ICTS, even within a fully-separate ROW:

    1) Compatibility with street-median LRT routes, and branch-ability. For example, Jane route can be operated as a branch of Eglinton.

    2) Can switch to street-median when there is no space for fully-separate ROW, but the street is wide enough for 6 lanes. Thus, LRT vehicles can run in the street median between Vic Park and Kennedy, whereas ICTS would likely require expensive tunneling in that area.

    Btw, what happened to the idea of running LRT at surface level, but outside the street where feasible: Richview corridor in Etobicoke, and the strip south of Eglinton between Leslie and Vic Park?

    Steve: As far as I know, both of these are still active designs for the line, although I am not sure that layout works all the way to Vic park.


  14. Once the Eglinton line arrives at an eastbound point after Leslie and before the DVP, it must use the street ROW in some fashion, either on it or above it, as there are some very pesky condos just east of the parkway right beside the road that might not care to have LRT through their buildings. Or perhaps TTC could buy out say, the 2nd and 3rd floor units, pay their monthly fees and just drive through the building. The only major stumbling block to that idea would be diverting the vertical elevator shafts to work around the line. Too bad this commentary wasn’t made on April 1.

    My point is that, at this stage, speculation is useless because no one really knows yet what is planned (unfortunately, I suspect, even the designers). What really sticks out of course is that the cost estimates so far announced preclude SRT technology on Eglinton. And any planner or politician who thinks Scarborough residents will put up with a frakking elevated line in the middle of Eglinton had better think again (a point that need to be quickly absorbed by Metrolinx).

    Finally, the McCowan yard area is not nearly large enough to accommodate the Eglinton line, so fuggeddaboudit.

    Steve: From discussions about the design of this line, there is a good chance that it will be underground from somewhere west of Don Mills to east of the DVP. This will also allow for a good connection with a future Don Mills Line (or even the DRL for those like me who want to bring it this far north).


  15. Re Steve commenting on why the Jane LRT doesn’t need to go to the Waterfront- “I have a hard time thinking why anyone would actually need it.”

    Because otherwsie those going to the downtown core have to travel on the Bloor-Danforth and then the University/Spadina subway, which will have capacity issues. Connecting to the waterfront LRT gives people an alternative route (with fewer changes) to downtown. I know travel to the downtown isn’t everything, but it’s a lot.

    It also makes it easier to get to the waterfront area (Blue Jays’ stadium included), which can’t be a bad thing.

    As for route: Jane St has four lanes at the southern end, while S Kingsway has three lanes and set-back sidewalk (which implies room for a fourth), so that’s a possible route.

    Steve: A far better route to downtown would be for the Jane LRT to include service east on Eglinton into Eglinton West Station and the Spadina Subway. Taking everyone down to Bloor and Jane, let alone to The Queensway, is really a huge waste of everyone’s time.

    Separate issue: the Transit city map shows Sheppard East with an arrow saying “to Durham Region”… one wonders where they plan to get across that pesky river, and where it would go after. Personally, I’d build a new bridge in line with Sheppard, then run along the north side of the CN tracks to Pickering station, there to meet wiith the Hwy 2 BRT that mght happen one day…


  16. Re Raymond jean: ‘We can assume that a fleet of specialized LRT vehicles will be much more expensive to maintain than a comparable fleet of buses”.

    Umm… no. An LRT car can hold about 150 people (more than double a typical bus), so you need fewer of them. Plus electric motors are simpler to maintain than a diesel engine. So maintainence costs would be lower than a comparable fleet of buses.


  17. Adding on to the point of using area outside of the street where possible, the TTC should make it a goal that the Eglinton LRT Line is on a high speed ROW from the Airport to Don Mills. This would essentially make the LRT “subway-like” up to the eastern junction of either:
    A) Don Mills LRT or
    B) DRL Northern Terminus.

    From that point onwards east, the LRT would slow down and travel in the median of Eglinton into Scarborough and so on…

    It is completely possible and if they don’t do it right then it selling a REAL LRT to Toronto will be impossible. Riding the Gold Line in Los Angeles, it was fantastic to finally ride a real LRT and many of those traits should be applied to this line because they are entirely possible with very minimal costs.

    West End: YYZ to Jane, use exising Expressway ROW
    Central: Jane to East of Laird, Underground as proposed
    East End: Use South end of Eglinton, make a new underpass for the LRT near the grade seperation just east of Leslie and continue on a private southern ROW up to Don Mills (Underground) Station. Then when coming out of the ground resume in the median…

    It will not cost much but will make the route so fast! The Gold Line in LA Travels like at 60-80Km/hr…let’s try to at least reach that speed!


  18. Steve wrote, “My money is still on the SRT becoming LRT.”

    I would say that the “depending on the technology choice” caveat in the announcement may apply more to the extension’s terminus rather than the project cost, despite being in a sentence on cost.

    If I were to cover my bet, I would say: extension to Sheppard and Markham only if upgraded to ART MARK-II technology, and extension all the way to Malvern Town Centre if converted to LRT.

    Steve: That’s more or less what the studies to date show. A short extension isn’t too onerous financially, but if the line is to go further north, the added cost of ICTS quickly makes this mode a non-starter.

    On the subject of Finch and the Hydro ROW, it would make sense to me to make use of this ROW east of Bathurst. I know that Transit City has a primary focus on supporting “The Avenues”, but it should not put blinders on to keep this focus to the point of possible detriment of its attractiveness. At Bathurst, the Hydro ROW is about 400 metres north of Finch, swinging a little further north as it heads east and then swings back closer to Finch before reaching Yonge. If the LRT line were built on its south side, it is still conveniently located to serve the neighbouring residential areas. This would go a long way to fears of clogging up a section of Finch that is only 30 metres wide.

    I would suspect that the trip time over this stretch would be the same as it would be on Finch as the time for the jog north would be made up for in having less contention with traffic. This stretch only has to cross two streets (Grantbrook Street and Talbot Road) and could do so with railway crossing signalling instead of traffic lights (giving true transit priority). Continuing east of Yonge, there is a shopping centre next to the Hydro ROW at Bayview (on the north side) and there is the Old Cummer GO Station at Leslie. If my suggestion of a 404-alignment down to Sheppard is used, then a Seneca station could possibly be located right in the centre of the campus, making the walk that has been discussed here even shorter!

    Steve: Now all you have to do is to convince Hydro to let you use the corridor. This will not be easy.

    I am hoping that there won’t be any money for the subway to Richmond Hill in all this. With $9 billion of a $32 billion fund that is supposed to include non-transit infrastructure, the chances for anything substantial for this extension is quickly going away. That said, the need for a DRL is not eliminated. The subway to Richmond Hill needs the DRL to be in place, but the need for the DRL is not contingent on the subway being extended. Improvements to the VIVA system will increase the load on the Yonge subway, as will the east-west Transit city lines. Hopefully, some of the current budget’s money will go towards studying the DRL and in a few years, it can get full funding.


  19. Re: transit line to nowhere, I think he’s referring to the Vaughan extension which most of us are against. But now that I think about it, I’m wondering if Dalton and his Fiberals can be trusted. After all, it was their idea to bring the Spadina subway to the middle of nowhere.

    The Toronto Sun hit the nail on the head in today’s editorial by suggesting that these recent transit moves are because Dalton thinks he knows everything (when he clearly does not). In light of this, I’m not surprised that this new Finch LRT was pried out of his rear without any consultation whatsoever.


  20. With regards to the Sheppard LRT, that has yet to be announced funding wise I would like to say that it should not be made LRT from Don Mills, instead it should be extended to the Scarborough Town Centre and the LRT should run from there. Would this not in theory increase the ridership of the Sheppard Line, make the need for a transfer from Subway to LRT at Don Mills unneccesary allowing for a direct ride from Yonge to Scaborough. I mean the only reason the Sheppard line has low ridership is because it goes nowhere, if it goes somewhere it will increase ridership, after all the 190 is always packed to the brim at any time of day. What are the chances the line will get extended, it seems the most logical thing to do.

    Steve: The 190 may be packed, but it only runs 8 buses per hour in the AM peak, 9 in the afternoon. This is not exactly subway loading. I ride it regularly, or did until I retired earlier this week from my job at STC.

    If the Sheppard LRT starts at Don Mills than we have a Kennedy Station scenario (Bus, RT, Subway transfer) which is not exactly the easiest transfer.

    Steve: First we need to see the design for Don Mills including both the Sheppard and Don Mills (Finch) LRT lines. I believe that we will see the LRT at the mezzanine level, one up from the subway, and this will greatly simplify the transfer moves between the rail services. The remaining buses will be on the upper level.

    I just think that the Subway, while expensive is the best option simply because of how easy it makes transfers, and because it will increase ridership. Think of it this way, people now have to transfer from the Sheppard line to buses if they want to go to STC, its a pain in the ass and it causes me to sit around and waste time having to transfer and that is why I avoid taking the Sheppard line from Yonge and Sheppard where I work to the STC where I live. I would rather drive, its faster.

    Steve: The problem is the infrequency of the bus service. This is the generic reason why people love subways — the TTC runs vastly more service on them relative to demand than they would on a mixed-traffic surface route. The Sheppard Subway is embarrassingly empty most of the time, but it runs every 5 minutes. I don’t want to think how much power is consumed by all those stations with so few riders.

    If I had a direct route to get to the STC from Yonge, I would take it, I just don’t have time to waste sitting around waiting for a bus at Don Mills. I mean, there is already a place for the Subway station. Given the fact you work near the STC you probably see the place I am talking about, it’s the patch of land on Progress Ave right at Triton, next to the parking lot. It’s perfect for a Subway station, so why not extend it and give people a reason to the take the Sheppard line, ridership will not increase if the same old system of transferring from one vehicle to another to complete your journey is left the way it is. Making Sheppard a LRT line is a mistake, why not just extend what is already there.

    I mean imagine what would have happened if we extended the subway from Woodbine to Kennedy or from Wilson to Downsview using RT Trains or LRT instead of subway, just to save a few dollars.


  21. @ Eric Chow:

    In York Region, ridership even on the busiest routes can be handled by a single-file busway. Hence, bus-only lanes are not a bad idea at this stage:

    1) Cheaper to build than LRT.
    2) Easier to phase in: buses can use the busway for a part of route and then continue in mixed traffic. With LRT, a transfer would be forced until the whole line is built.
    3) Speed of buses in dedicated lanes would be about same as LRT in dedicated lanes.

    As the ridership picks up, busways can be converted into LRT routes. The only drawback of this staging is another round of service disruption while the conversion takes place. But transit construction almost always has to deal with that kind of trade-offs.

    The reason busways are not prominent in the Toronto’s transit plans is not that the technology is inherently flawed, but the fact that busways cannot handle ridership volumes along most of Toronto’s arterials. Outside 416, busways have some potential.


  22. Steve said: “What you are proposing is essentially the same infrastructure for Eglinton that an ICTS line would need, but running it with LRT vehicles. This is complete nonsense.”

    Isn’t that essentially what the new system in Seattle is? It’s grade-separated LRT, though the section already constructed in Tacoma is not grade-separated, even though they are use the same vehicles, and there are plans to connect them.

    If Eglinton is grade-separated, I don’t see any benefit to using the Skytrain Mark II over whatever LRT becomes standard for Toronto; and a big downside, given how poorly the Mark I system behaves with even a small amount of snow, and the loss opportunity to have a common system.

    Steve: The basic issue is whether you believe the line needs full grade separation. I don’t believe so, and feel that the at-grade advantages of LRT (lower cost, easier access, closer and simpler stations) should be taken advantage of. What another city does is immaterial here — the actual need and demand on Eglinton itself should drive the choice.


  23. I have been following the thread on Eglinton LRT and I believe that there are some areas that need to be watched out for. I am glad that they are tunnelling from Leslie to Keele because the “road is too narrow”. I think that there should also be grade separations at some other key intersections namely:

    1 Don Mills and Eglinton, this intersection is rated as one of the busiest in Toronto and the cycle time will be too long to allow all of the automobile moves through the intersection with the necessary left turn phases. You could probably make an argument from a traffic point of view that the entire intersection should be grade separated but definitely the transit.

    2 The Intersection of Eglinton, Victoria Park, O’Connor and Pharmacy works like one massive intersection and should probably be considered for a grade separation.

    3 The part of Eglinton west of the Humber should be on the north side of the street in the old right of way for the Richview Expressway and since all the major cross streets have bee dug down for the expressway’s grade separation the LRT line should cross the roads on bridges. This would increase the speed of the line since it would not have to wait for the traffic signals.

    A 35 km LRT line is almost too long and the extra money should be spent to increase the average speed of the line to make it more competitive. The most recent service summary says that all of the street car lines have transit priority signals. I believe that the priority is to allow the street cars to make left hand turns such as from King to Jarvis or Queen to University. I will say that last week when I rode on Queen’s Quay all the signals turned green for the streetcar just as it got there. I don’t know if this was just good luck or if they have finally figured out how to do it.

    I worry about the LRT lines from the east overloading the Yonge Subway with out the construction of the DRL. There is the need for a higher speed service than LRT or HRT to the northwest, say via the Weston rail corridor and to the northeast, say via the Don Valley and CP rail corridor. I still believe that in order to create a complete transit network there is a need for a service like Sydney’s City Rail that is a cross between GO and Subway to serve these areas.

    The latest issue of Trains Magazine (May 2009) has a short news article about Toronto buying more of the rail lines that its GO Transit operates on to provide more frequent service. That should make MetroLynx real Happy.


  24. Why is every form of transit that operates in an exclusive right-of-way demonized here?

    This is the equivalent of religious fundamentalism — even if we want to standardize on ONE LRT technology, we’re not allowed to run LRT vehicles in an exclusive ROW from Pearson to Kennedy? Says who?

    ICTS has problems with snow, so why was the proposal to run conventional LRT on elevated guideways or in a ditch outside of the tunnelled section nonsense? Statements like these are the reasons why the transit experts don’t take “us” seriously.

    One more thing — to the posters who say that Vaughan and Richmond Hill are “nowhere”, have they ever been up there? Typical downtown uppity “I’m better than you” attitude.

    Steve: Please see my earlier comment about using full grade separation only where it is actually needed. If anything, that’s the sort of debate that can turn “religious” quickly.

    As for “nowhere”, I don’t think Richmond Hill is “nowhere” and the demand projected for the Yonge extension is at least respectable for the outer end of a subway line. The demand projected in Vaughan would make a decent streetcar line.


  25. I must make one clear comment. The reason why a lot of people want to see an exclusive right of way for Eglinton is because there is no other plan for fast (east – west) rapid transit in the Metrolinx plan. Everything else seem to be LRT or BRT, which I, by the way agree should be. If Eglinton is built with an elevated guideway it will provide fast trips across the city.

    Yes one can make the argument that ridership doesn’t justify it however I for one is tired of everyone thinking ridership determines everything. I’m sorry but I don’t think someone from Malvern will be taking a semi-right of way LRT to Pearson or other westend destination. This would be way too long … for riders.

    And to be honest … I’m a big fan of LRT but the merger of the Scarborough rt and Eglinton line will make it one of the longest lines in the region, and with that being said it should be exclusive right of way. It would probably take more then two hours to travel both ends of the line if it was an LRT at semi right of way.

    PS. I just hope the TTC gets it right this time and don’t mess up like they did with stubway, Queen’s Quay, and the Spadina street car.

    As for the rest of the Transit city line I agree with the techonology used however I’m just worried they won’t get signal priority.

    Steve: A few things here. First off, if there really is a need for a regional east-west line across Toronto, there is a perfectly good rail corridor in which this could be operated including a link to the airport. The Metrolinx RTP shows some service in this corridor, but problems remain including arrangements with CP to make use of it. The Eglinton line is not, repeat NOT intended to get people from Malvern to the airport, and any evaluation on that basis is a total red herring.

    The line is intended to stimulate the redevelopment of Eglinton with medium rise, medium density buildings. For that it needs modestly spaced stations, not an express service across the city. Indeed, Eglinton was not intended as an Airport service primarily at all, but that was tacked on later. It will certainly make a good and reasonably fast connection to the Spadina subway and thence north and south to other transit services.

    As for the operation of one gigantic line, there is nothing to say that every train has to cover the entire route, and it’s even possible that the line could have branches extending up Don Mills and Jane. Folks, we need to stop thinking of this as the transit equivalent of the 401.


  26. What is this fascination many people seem to have with putting an Elevated line along the portions of Eglinton that do not have subway tunnels planned?

    On the waterfront they’re planning on tearing down part of the Gardiner Expressway to open up the waterfront and yet people blithely draw an elevated line along Eglinton with far-spaced stops as the be-all and end-all to public transportation needs there. Do these people LIVE along Eglinton? I’d bet that total is zero, yet they suggest destroying the entire area with an elevated line. How divisive is that to a neighbourhood, whether it be in Scarboro or at the west end of the city? Have any of this lot ever been to New York or Brooklyn or the Bronx, or to Chicago or Philadelphia and seen an elevated on a major street? The noise factor alone of such a line passing the many apartment units now and in the future would be reason enough to not do it. The fact that it would eventually turn Eglinton into ghetto-quality living and retail seems not to have occurred to these brilliant minds.

    Those who don’t learn from the past will always make the same mistakes, and everyone who suggests that sort of fiasco fir Eglinton is doing a complete disservice to those who live on or near Eglinton. NOBODY wants an elevated which would destroy what little chance there is to rehabilitate some areas. What is needed is good, reliable transportation – not everyone wants to go 8 miles at a time to get to a job. If you want people to use it then the line must obviously be user friendly. Anyone who thinks the Scarborough SRT technology (or its modern equivalent) is that is out to lunch.

    Thankfully none of those advocating it in these commentaries will have any influence on the decision. The budget doesn’t allow for an elevated, TTC and the local politicians don’t want it, but do want light rail. MacIsaac may want it but consider the source – how can someone who knows so little about anything be in charge – oh, wait, I forgot, this is Canada, we usually don’t put people who know what they’re doing in charge of things.


  27. Rainforest Says:
    “5) The length of westerly Sheppard extension would be greater than 3 km, and the cost certainly higher than 600 million. The existing tunnel continues west of Yonge for 0.5 km or so, but the new tracks will have to continue west of Allen just to connect to the Wilson yard. So, getting to Downsview would be 4 km at 250 – 300 million per km, or 1 – 1.2 B. Merging into Spadina extension at Chesswood would be 1 km extra, or 1.25 – 1.5 B.”

    NOTE: When they created Sheppard Stubway, they dug 6.4km underground tunnel including 5.5km section from Sheppard Yonge upper station to Don Mills Station and a 0.9km long tailtrack section (to store subway cars) under Sheppard Avenue West extending westward from Sheppard-Yonge upper station. The distance from Sheppard-Yonge station to Downsview Station is about 4km but since there’s already an almost 1 km tailtrack under Sheppard Avenue West west of Yonge Street, they’ll only need another 3km of subway tunnel. If they ever extends Sheppard Stubway to Downsview, they won’t need to build new trailtrack to store Subway cars at Downsview end,… since Wilson yard is only a stone throw away.

    Hmmmm,… if the TTC had created the Sheppard Stubway tailtrack at the other end extending almost 1 km eastward of the existing Don Mills Station, the current dilemma of whether to extend Sheppard Stubway to Consumer Road or Victoria Park to meet up with Sheppard East LRT would have been easier to solve. Thanks to Steve, now we know what TTC will recommend.

    Anyways, earlier this year when TTC was coming up with their wishlist to make York Region’s Yonge subway extension to Richmond Hill Centre viable for the existing subway system,… the TTC pegged the Sheppard Stubway line extension westward 3km to Downsview Station will cost $1.4 Billion (the Don Valley west just east of Bathurst will be a challege,… reenforced “Bloor-Danforth type” (subway on lower level, cars on upper level) bridge or go under,… not much of a river but deep valley). The official reason is because the TTC needs a short-cut for the trains at Richmond Hill Centre to get to the Wilson Yard at the end of the night and vise-versa at the beginning of the day.

    Throughout Toronto’s history, all new subway lines and extensions are hard fought with years and years of debate,… but there’s always a strong political figure spearheading the campaign for subway,…usually the mayor,… but not neccessarily the mayor of Toronto as in North York Mayor Mel Lastman for Sheppard Stubway line,… or a York Region mayor for proposed Yonge Subway extension to Richmond Hill Centre. Of course, it doesn’t even have to be a mayor as in Ontario (former) finance minister Greg Sorbora getting $2.8 Billion in funding for Spadina subway extension from Downsview Station to Vaughan Corporate Centre. Is there currently a strong political figurehead spearheading a Sheppard Stubway extension?,…. NO, he’s too busy spearheading Transit City’s much more inexpensive LRT (streetcar) system. And beside, its not likely the current mayor would ever want to add to the legacy of a former rival (Mel Lastman).


  28. Joseph C Says:
    “It will not cost much but will make the route so fast! The Gold Line in LA Travels like at 60-80Km/hr … let’s try to at least reach that speed!”

    I primarily use Subways then streetcars and rarely buses, … but lately I’ve been using TTC buses more frequently. And I’m noticing something odd, … is it just me?, … When waiting for a bus at a bus stop and I’m the only one there, … some bus drivers will slow down and open the doors without coming to a complete stop before opening the doors, … and quite often I’m dumb enough to take the bait and just jump onto a moving bus! And then it speeds off without ever coming to a complete stop. And also buses tend to start accelerating away from the bus stops before the doors are fully closed. Are these bus driver under more pressure to drive “fast and furious”?, … err, I mean are their route schedule more strict now? Or have traffic congestion become heavier and their route schedule have not be adjusted properly?

    On a previous thread, Steve mentions within the TTC based on seniority, bus drivers become streetcar (LRT) drivers, … and streetcar drivers become subway drivers. So if these “fast and furious” bus drivers eventually become LRT drivers and these LRTs will be slowing down from 60-80Km/hr, … safety helmets and protective gears will be strongly recommended for TTC LRT passengers. 🙂 And it would be a good idea if the new LRTs have very wide doors.


  29. Steve, the press release from the Ontario government said that the underground section of the Eglinton LRT line will be 13 km long. So doesn’t that mean that it runs from Leslie to _Jane_ (not to Keele)?

    You can see the press release here:

    I know that the TTC previously said that they were considering whether to run the underground portion to Jane, as you can see here:

    Click to access faq.pdf

    Steve: There have been various lengths of tunnel mentioned. The backgrounder (linked from the main news release) says “This will include a 10 km tunnel through central Toronto (Keele Street to Leslie Street).”

    One other issue is the section from east of the DVP to Don Mills and Eglinton that may go underground to permit a better interchange with the Don Mills LRT.

    I suspect there are still details to be worked out.


  30. Steve said … “The Eglinton line is not, repeat NOT intended to get people from Malvern to the airport, and any evaluation on that basis is a total red herring.”

    Is that so? Then why is it called the “CROSSTOWN” line? CROSSTOWN implies accommodating trips from the far east to the far west (and vice-versa). Call it the EGLINTON MIDTOWN line then.

    There are issues of line length and service reliability here with a semi-exclusive ROW. Ironic how everyone here bitches about how the Queen line is too long, but then are mysteriously silent about Eglinton (which would be even longer). Operating a line that long in a semi-ROW would compromise service reliability on the exclusive underground section.

    Steve: “Crosstown” is a name from the original Transit City plan, and the intention of that plan was to have surface operations with reasonably closely spaced stations in support of the Official Plan.


  31. The Eglinton LRT going to the airport is really intended for the employees who work at the airport. It will save them money (gasoline, maintenance, insurance) and in some cases time.

    The secondary purpose is for the solitary, casual, unrushed traveler going to the airport. However, having experienced the traffic jams trying to get to and from the airport at certain times, the rushed traveler may consider using the Eglinton LRT since it will bypass the traffic jams.

    The business person, with an expense account, would make use of the Blue22 (in whatever form it will take).

    A family will more likely take a taxi or limousine or family/friend to drive them and their several pieces of luggage. However, if they actually live near the line, they may do so to save on money.

    The only question I have is: Will the Eglinton LRT operate 24/7?

    Steve: The Eglinton bus services already operate 24/7, but with the LRT line being partly in tunnel, it remains to be seen what the TTC will do for overnight service.


  32. I remember attending a public meeting on the Sheppard subway in the mid 1990s and a woman who got up and asked the question of how the proposed subway would serve the local community with stops at least 1 km or more apart. Moreover she questioned the massive cost at a time when there was very little money for transit in general.

    What prescience! At that time, when the economy was rather depressed, $900 million likely could have built a big chunk of Transit City.

    Fortunately, that we have learned some lessons and are doing more planning vs. politicking. While extending the Sheppard subway would be nice in some respects, it is good to see Toronto is using good cost-benefit metrics to instead improve transit right across the city.

    As a parallel example, here in Calgary, the city sensibly abandoned a downtown tunnel for the C-train in the early 80s and instead built a much larger network (in contrast to Edmonton, which did the opposite).


  33. I think the finch LRT should terminate at Downsview station. When the subway is built to Vaughn, the LRT should use the busway to access Downsview and from there, an expanded sheppard subway could take them to Scarborough town centre. That would be a good crosstown line in the northern sector of Toronto. The LRT on Eglinton should be merged with the RT, thus replacing it to STC and terminating at malvern. We then will have three east west routes crisscrossing our city from south, to midtown and to the north.

    Let’s face it, when Yonge goes to Richmond Hill, it would be feasable to do this. Expanding the Wilson yard would be a lot more cost effective than constructing a new Yard. Finch should also terminate at the Airport, thus creating a connection with the Eglinton LRT. The yard for these routes can be constructed near the Airport with provisions made for Missisauga to use it.

    When there Busway becomes popular, they can convert it to LRT much easier knowing full well they will have yard capacity with Toronto’s system. This is regional thinking without hurting our local services…Then I would build the Downtown relief line from Don Mills and Eglinton to at least Bathurst/King or Dufferin. Forget about the WFWLRT, it won’t be needed. We have a Billion dollar subway at Sheppard with no prospects for success unless we do this.


  34. I like how Eglinton is going underground for part of its trip. If the Government was smart, the Finch LRT would do the same. While it is nice to say that the LRT will be on dedicated lanes, but it too should be underground to “keep” it out of the way.

    Steve: The Eglinton line will be underground from somewhere around Keele, possibly just east of Jane, to somewhere west of Leslie (the Don River crossing). It will probably run along the south side of Eglinton with an underpass at the CPR east of Leslie, and possibly into an underground station at Don Mills. There is a lot of room for a good underground junction here with the Don Mills LRT and/or a Downtown Relief line extending north from Danforth. East from Don Mills, there is the crossing under the DVP, but otherwise it would be on the surface.

    The Finch line will be underground at Yonge as there isn’t enough space on the surface for a transfer station. The proposed eastern extension poses difficulties, but as there hasn’t been any detailed work on it (at least none presented publicly) I have no idea of how this section might actually be built or exactly what the constraints will be. If the TTC and Metrolinx are smart, they will plan to build this part as Phase II so that the scheme can be fine tuned.


  35. I am 13 years old and I am just curious to know how long would it take to ride the Sheppard East, Finch West, and Eglinton LRT lines from one end to the other?

    Steve: The projected speeds on the new lines varies depending on their design. Because about 1/3 of the Eglinton line will be underground with no interference from traffic, and with stops further apart than if it were on the surface, this will be the fastest of the lines overall.

    The projected speed for the Sheppard East line is 22-23 km/h. From Morningside to Don Mills, the route is 13.6 km, and so a trip over the whole route will take about 35 minutes.

    The Finch West line is also expected to run at about 22 km/h, although the stops, on average will be further apart than on Sheppard. The route is 17.9 km from Yonge to Highway 27 making a one-way trip about 48 minutes.

    The Eglinton line is 30.8 km from Kennedy Station to Pearson Airport. The TTC has not published speed estimates for this line, but we can make some reasonable assumptions. The portion from Kennedy to Don Mills will be similar to the Sheppard East line in the type of on-street construction and stop spacing. It will likely achieve the same 22 km/h speed. From Pearson east to the point where the line is underground may run a bit faster in places, but the constraint will remain the spacing of the cross-streets and stops (this is similar to the Finch line). The underground portion of the line will be more like a subway, and will easily run at 25-30 km/h. For discussion here, I will assume a speed of 28 km/h.

    This gives us 13 km at 28 km/h (about 28 minutes) plus 18 km at 22 km/h (about 50 minutes) for a total one way trip of 78 minutes. By comparison, the Bloor-Danforth subway is 26.3 km from Kennedy to Kipling, and takes about 48 minutes (not including turnaround time at the terminal) to make the trip.


  36. Not sure if any one is reading this section but this is something I came up with regarding transit in Scarborough. I think there is a good argument to extend the Bloor Danforth Line to Eglinton and Kingston Road. During morning peak rush hour, you have the 116 and 116E running along that route. You also have the 86, 86E, 86A, 86D, 34, and 21 buses, running along this route. In total that is 6 buses running along Eglinton.

    I suggest they extend the subway to Eglinton and Kingston. From there they should start the Scarborough Malvern Lrt. Regarding the Lrt: it should have a branch that goes into the Guildwood and up Morningside to re connect to the orginal line at Kingston and Morningside.

    Ps The Kingston Lrt should extend all the way from Port Union and connect to a station on the future DRL. Between Morningside and the Subway station at Eglinton and Kingston it would share the same track.

    Steve what do you think about this? Do you think it’s realistic?

    Steve: First off, there is the question of the bus service on Eglinton. It’s not how many routes, but how many buses per hour operate on the street. These values for the various routes are:

    Morningside 116 (combined): 14
    Scarborough 86 (combined): 20
    Eglinton East 34: 15
    Brimley 21: 12

    Total: 61 (from Brimley to Kennedy), 41 (from Brimley eastward)

    By comparison, the Finch East bus operates 51 buses per hour. I don’t think this is subway territory.

    As for the Kingston Road LRT, this is unlikely to appear in the near future given demand in that corridor.


  37. There is so much talk about the possibility of a 2nd NHL team coming to Toronto and I heard they are looking at Vaughan (Hwys 427 and 7 area)as the potential location. If a new team were to be located in Vaughan, what transit service do you think would service that area to accommodate the crowds?

    Steve: At the risk of sounding facetious, it’s called Highway 407. The demand coming to such a facility would originate all over the GTA and would horrendously difficult to collect via transit. The ACC has the advantage of being at a location that is already the hub of the network, while Vaughan is not such a location no matter what its pretentions. It would be especially challenging for games played in the evening and on weekends when traditionally the 905 transit services are not exactly frequent.


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