Sheppard East LRT Funding Announced (Updated)

Updated May 19:

The question of turnback points and storage tracks on the Sheppard East LRT has come up in the comment thread on this post, and I have now received some details from the TTC.

There will be a crossover at “regular intervals” along the line for turnbacks.  As for storage tracks, there are two potential locations that were shown in the preliminary designs at public meetings.  Neither of these is confirmed yet, and their inclusion will be subject to detailed design and costing.

  • Don Mills Station (third track)
  • Malvern Garage (spur)

No three-track section on Sheppard itself is planned.

Details of the Don Mills Station configuration will be included in a report on the TTC agenda for May 28.

Original post from May 15:

Today at a joint press conference at TTC Hillcrest Yards, Prime Minister Harper and Premier McGuinty announced funding for the Sheppard East line with construction to start in July (Harper) or in the fall (McGuinty).

Included in the announcement was a statement that the route would be served by Bombardier vehicles, and this more or less settles the question about any add-on contract to the “legacy” streetcar order.

A reporter from Radio Canada (the French network) asked about funding for the new streetcar fleet, and this question was later repeated by a reporter from CBC Radio.  Harper emphasized in both French and English that the primary concern of the Canadian government today was with short term economic stimulus.  In his English answer, Harper said that there would be plenty of time for discussions about the new streetcars.

McGuinty speaking in French said that he was optimistic about assisting Toronto in the purchase of new streetcars, and his tone was much more concilliatory than previous emanations from Queen’s Park.  By contrast, to the repeat question in English, we first asked whether the reporter was “working for Miller”, and then complained that Toronto just had one announcement out the door.  He settled down to talk briefly about Toronto and Queen’s Park meeting to discuss priorities overall, but seemed testier in the English response.

All in all, I think the funding for streetcars will come, and there is the June 27 deadline for bid validity.

105 thoughts on “Sheppard East LRT Funding Announced (Updated)

  1. While York region may create a substantial passenger load traveling to the 905 for work, it could easily be handled by LRT and have the benefit of reaching far more points in the 905 for the same money. That greater reach would partly meet the need for more local transit, but would still need better feeder bus service.

    One big advantage that York Region (and other 905 regions as well) has over Toronto is that there are far more opportunities to create LRT lines that either run along one side of a main road or even on their own separate right of way. This brings the speed of the line up to what we expect from a subway line but again for a cost that allows it to reach more trip generators.

    See for an idea of what can be built with the same money as the entire Spadina extension and the proposed Yonge extension north of Steeles.


  2. Mimmo said: Here’s an idea — since the subway only uses one track at Don Mills, why don’t those Einsteins at the TTC convert the other track to LRT for a quick-and-painless cross-platform transfer?

    Steve said: Because you would then limit both routes to a headway that could be handled by a stub-end terminal. See Kennedy Station for a related example.

    Here’s a way to counter-balance both interests… build the LRT platform as intended (on one side), but also extend the opposite platform onto the tail track (as originally planned). That way, 1/2 of the trains would provide a direct cross-platform transfer while still maintaining two operational terminal tracks.


  3. Re: M Huigens

    In theory, this is correct: 15 km of well-used LRT is better than 5 km of subway with tons of redundant capacity. Unfortunately, this particular LRT line – Sheppard East – will also run a lot of redundant capacity in the eastern sections of the route.

    The most useful section of this line will be the section closest to Don Mills – roughly up to Kennedy. For that section, the capacity is just right, the ROW advantage will let the vehicles avoid the traffic congestion, and the two factors together will hopefully promote intensification and higher transit modal share. The somewhat lower speed of median LRT (compared to subway) should not matter much, since most of passengers will head towards the Don Mills station and their trip will be short anyway.

    However, this LRT line will bring only a meager improvement to the areas east of, say, McCowan. The capacity of LRT will be redundant there, while the speed is not good enough (30 – 40 min just to Don Mills, and most of passengers need to travel further from Don Mills). Moreover, there won’t be much improvement compared to the existing bus service, since there is no traffic congestion and the ROW advantage does not matter there (well, perhaps some improvement will occur due to the western part of trip).

    Therefore, I think that it would be a good idea to take 950 M slated for Sheppard LRT plus about 400 M slated for the Finch East – Don Mills LRT bypass, and use those money to extend the subway to Kennedy. Yes, the ridership of the eastern section of that subway would be way below capacity – but at least it would speed up a larger number of trips originating in the north-east of 416, as many bus routes would connect to the subway terminus.

    The Spadina extension is quite the opposite case – it would be better to terminate the subway at Steeles West, and run an LRT line up Jane, reaching Vaughan Mills and Wonderland, rather than just Hwy 7.


  4. Dwight Says:
    May 20th, 2009 at 6:15 am

    “Eric Chow: You have to admit, there is a slight issue about how Toronto’s transit requests routinely come up short against the 905.

    “I do not agree with the above statement. Public transit in York region has only started to take foot hold in the last 10 years. Also, York region can potentially have greater density to support a subway in theory due to the size of the region. However, York region for the longest time has been promoting more jobs and business to move to the region. It could end up that the Spadina line long term could be a route for people leaving Toronto for work in the 905.”

    Density has nothing to do with the size of the region. Density has everything to do with population per square km. York region will never have the densities to support subway until they change their lot size. They barely have the density to support a decent bus service. Ottawa extends 80 km to the west of downtown Ottawa thanks to Harris. This increase in size did not really do much to affect its population for the whole new city but it certainly lowered overall density. In the old city the density did not change. Use your terms correctly.

    GO functioned at its conception because it used excess capacity in an existing rail corridor. It started out with three trains of 10 single level cars in the peak hour for a capacity of 3000 people per hour. Because it was a good service and because the local municipalities increased zoning around stations it is now running six trains of 12 bi level cars per hour for a capacity of 12000 people per hour. This is still short of the 20 to 30 000 people per hour of a heavy rapid transit line.

    I think that GO with a combination of local and express service will soon be running ten to twelve trains per hour along the Lakeshore Line. This will take capacity of to 20 to 24 000 people per hour. Now you are into subway territory except that you won’t die of old age waiting for the train to make it from Vaughan City Centre to Union Station.

    Rather than wasting all of this money on unneeded subway extensions in York region they [could?] build LRT and expand the GO service for less money while providing a more useful system. The problem is that the U of T has a subway line running through it so York U has to have one too or it will throw a tantrum. York region also wants a subway so it can be a big city like its neighbour; it just wants someone else to pay for it. Having a subway makes you a BIG city like New York or London; having only a street car (LRT really) doesn’t count because they don’t know what it can do.


  5. Rainforest, I think ridership might be reasonable as far as Markham Rd. on the SE LRT after the SRT is extended, as just east of Markham Rd. is where the extended SRT connection would occur. Depends on where people are bound for, of course.


  6. Rainforest, that adds up to $1.4b. I think $300m of that is for an LRT garage/yard which could serve future north-south lines in Scarborough, and a fair bit is for vehicles. This would allow for nice network effects down the line, and we have to build it anyways.

    Conversely, extending the subway to Kennedy would cost $1.5-$2.3b at $300-$450m per km. The price will likely be likely be on the higher side of the range, unless there’s no station at Consumer and Brimley. Plus, since Davisville likely can’t handle the additional subway trains, you’ll need a new yard, which is even more expensive for subways than for LRT. Plus, new subways trains are pretty expensive. We might be looking at a neat $3b for a subway like that, and that’s not counting the temptation to go three or four more stops to STC and the convenient land for a subway yard to the north.


  7. Robert – thanks for giving some love to Cleveland, lol. No passenger trains in the Terminal Tower anymore, just RTA. There’s an AMTRAK station hidden in plain sight near the Shoreway; I doubt one in a hundred Clevelanders could tell you how to get there on a bet. The RTA Waterfront Line is a local joke. It’s used during football games and the annual air show, but runs almost empty the rest of the time. You’re right about the waterfront in general.


  8. To Leo Petr: I see the points; but some of them are arguable:

    1) Estimate of $450m per km seems overboard even by Toronto’s inflated standards. $300 – $350m sounds more reasonable. But yes, the total comes to 1.5 – 1.8 B, which is substantially more than 1.1 B (1.4 – 0.3 for the yard) the could be spared from LRT.

    2) Is Davisville yard so small that it cannot support Sheppard line from Yonge to Kennedy? It used to serve the original line from Eglinton to Union, which is shorter, but probably had more frequent service …

    3) The “temptation” to go 3-4 stops to STC is simply a future opportunity, which does not have to be squeezed into the 25-year plan.

    4) “Nice network effects” – I guess this is interlining? That would be nice indeed, but apparently the Roads department does not want LRT trains in the street median running more frequently than once in 5 min. Unless this can be overwritten to a higher frequency, supporting even two branches is difficult.

    5) On, there was a post that suggests trams being much more expensive than subway cars: 12 M for a 6-car subway train versus 6 M for just one new tram for the TTC’s “legacy” network. I do not know if these numbers are accurate, and anyway the TC cars might be cheaper than “legacy” trams, as the latter need more custom features.

    To Karl Junkin: It is true that much depends on where people are going. Sheppard LRT should be quite useful for local trips within Scarborough / north-east, as well as for those heading to Yonge / Sheppard / Finch / York Mills area. But for western destinations, such as York U, Humber College, Finch connection to the airport, many will opt for cars. For downtown and midtown (say between Bloor and Eglinton) destinations, Sheppard LRT won’t be very useful in the present network configuration; although it might become much more useful if integrated with GO train service on the CN or CP lines that run through Agincourt.

    Steve: The pricing for vehicles needs to be clarified. Any supply contract includes the vehicles themselves, plus a bunch of add-ons that do not necessarily scale with the size of the order. I wrote about this at length in a previous post. Having said that, a cost per car of about $2.5-to-$3-million is a fair range. That’s $15-18 million per train, not $12-million.

    However, the new streetcars are longer (30m vs 23.3m) and more complex than a subway car (articulated within the car length rather than at the boundary between cars). Each streetcar must have a full complement of subsystems, while these are shared among units on a subway train. The $6-million per car cost quoted above includes a number of factors over and above the base car price of about $5-million, and the TTC expects the TC cars to come in at a lower price point because they will be “standard” Bombardier vehicles.


  9. Hey, I love what Rainforest has to say about terminating the Spadina subway extension at Steeles and using LRT from there. Hell, that’s what should be done on the Yonge end as well.

    Steve: But it won’t be, because York Region is full of people who think that only a subway is acceptable for their manifest destiny. They’ve been conned for so long that there is no alternative, selling them LRT now would be a huge comedown. Moreover, a whole branch of the TTC dedicated to the 905’s subway dreams would have to find honest work.


  10. Who do you think conned them?

    Do you really think that 905ers stay awake at night dreaming about subways to their doorsteps, or nagging their politicians to get them built? They really couldn’t care less either way — it’s their elected politicians that are pushing for subways, just as ours are pushing for LRT.


  11. Steve wrote, “the TTC expects the TC cars to come in at a lower price point because they will be “standard” Bombardier vehicles.”

    Funny, as I speculated this last Friday in a comment I made that the “add on provisions” to the legacy streetcar contract were not intended for TC vehicles for this very reason.

    Even though TC vehicles will be double ended, I strongly suspect that an off-the-shelf double-ended model has a lower cost than a specially-engineered single-ended model. Why on earth would you use a contract for the specially-engineered price to add on some off-the-shelf models?

    Steve: It’s a question of being the vendor-of-record and negotiating a price for another set of cars rather than going through a completely new procurement cycle. This was a well-understood premise of the original competition — whoever got the legacy contract would be first in line for the TC order even though those would be a different car.

    To make a speculative prediction , I would say that the TC vehicles will be off-the-shelf, mostly built overseas but with final assembly somewhere here to account for 25% of their cost, but the legacy cars will end up having to have a higher Canadian content that is currently being worked out by the provincial and federal governments so they can make that big announcement at the eleventh hour.


  12. Steve: But it won’t be, because York Region is full of people who think that only a subway is acceptable for their manifest destiny. They’ve been conned for so long that there is no alternative, selling them LRT now would be a huge comedown. Moreover, a whole branch of the TTC dedicated to the 905’s subway dreams would have to find honest work.

    Your are simply wrong, most people in the 905 do not really care about the subway. Most still do not know we are getting one. That manifest destiny stuff you are spouting Steve leads me to think you have been drinking too much of the same juice as Dave Miller.

    Steve: The people who claim to speak for the 905 would have it quite differently. If the 905 really doesn’t want two new subways, we can save a few billion for better alternatives. When Toronto raised objections to the Richmond Hill line on the ground that it would overload the existing system, they were painted as obstructionist. Toronto Council did not say “don’t build it”, but that other changes, notably the Downtown Relief Line, are necessary pre-requisites to improve overall network capacity and flexibility. The DRL is part of the Metrolinx regional plan, but not within the first 15 years.

    This kind of tar-and-feather-Toronto and anti-Miller rhetoric undermines the credibility of many critics of Toronto’s transit proposals. No scheme is perfect, and we can disagree on what the appropriate solutions may be. However, treating everything as an evil plot by David Miller is just as bad as assuming that Mel Lastman and Mike Harris are responsible for everything wrong with Toronto. They had a lot of help from people who are still around.


  13. The real problem is that we don’t know how to build a network. Why must every new subway line be an extension of an existing line. I still don’t get why the Yellow line needs two extensions into York region I don’t even get why it needs one.

    Even if a subway extension was needed in the 905, I would think Peel Region (Brampton/Mississauga) should have gotten it first considering their population is much larger then York Region … Oh I forgot the politicans in York Region “Vaughan” are corrupt” — the only time that they’re in the headlines is when they’re trying to boot out their Mayor. Or when one politican makes a claim that another politican expected money under the table.

    It’s going to be interesting to see how Highway 407 station will look. Can you imagine a station in the middle of a field? I think it will be a bigger joke then the Sheppard Subway line.

    Steve: I won’t comment on the ethics or morals of York Region’s pols (many of whom are not in Vaughan). The big problem is that for years, everyone was told that the only transit solution that worked was a subway extension. Indeed, an LRT proposal as an alternative on the Spadina side was rejected by the TTC on the bogus claim that an earlier EA had already ruled it out. Yes, it did — that EA was looking at a loop line linking the two branches, and obviously a loop would have to perpetuate subway technology. This claim — that LRT had already been evaluated — was an outright lie, but it was the message mostly everyone wanted to hear. Now we continue to push northward on two lines that should have been part of a York Region LRT network.


  14. Steve: This kind of tar-and-feather-Toronto and anti-Miller rhetoric undermines the credibility of many critics of Toronto’s transit proposals.

    I do not really have a problem with Dave Miller I am not certain about the Tar and feathers comment as I am not blamming Dave Miller for anything I just heard him on interview make a similar comment to your mannifest Destiny. Miller has passion and believes in certain things, not all of them I agree with but the impovement of transit is one that I do agree with even though some of us disagree with routes and technology used on various routes. I believe however that if Sheppard was built originally as an LRT as a show case project and done properly there would have been a more likly hood of both Spadina and Yonge extentions to being an LRT line. People need to see examples of the technologies working in their area in order to get on board. References to some places in Eroupe or even in the US just does not cut it for individuals who are non transit advocates. I work in Vaughan a 1 KLM from the propsed new end of the subway line.

    Steve: I may have misread your earlier remark and, if so, I apologize. I was reacting to many comments about transit and other matters in this city where the authors slam the Mayor rather than addressing the issues. I certainly agree that people need to see a well-implemented LRT as an example, but we have to start somewhere. Spadina and St. Clair (leaving aside problems it has) are both very different routes from the suburban TC lines and could not show off the technology at its best even if their implementation was without controversy.


  15. @Steve

    I still in support of a extension of the Spadina line to York University. The current transfer between the Downsview subway and bus for getting to York U is like a marathon to see who can catch it before the next one.

    The problem is that replacing the bus transfer with a LRT transfer instead of having a straight trip to York U would get people frustrated and switch to driving their cars, over using the TTC.

    Steve: There are two ways of looking at this problem. First, where are York U students actually coming from? If there were an LRT network in York Region and it fed routes down to York U as a one-seat ride, this would certainly benefit students coming from that catchment area. From a network design viewpoint, should York be a hub, or should it simply be one more stop on a line?

    Second, do students from the south who now use the bus from Downsview actually originate in the Spadina Subway’s catchment area, or is this an artificial travel pattern generated by the subway itself? For example, if there is a strong east-west demand that could be served by the Finch LRT, how many York students would switch to that line from whatever they use today to reach the Spadina Subway? As things stand now, there will be a junction at Finch West Station between the LRT and the subway. If the northern part of the subway were LRT, nothing would prevent the TTC from running a direct service to York U from either side of Finch.

    At this point, the Spadina Subway is a done deal, and all we can talk about is what might have happened with a different view of how the network could be built. I have never seen, for example, a scatter diagram of the home locations of York U students that would indicate where the real demand for transit links might originate. That’s basic planning, and it might have revealed a much different need than a subway line. The agenda was to build that line for commuters and property developers, and York U happened to be a convenient way station.


  16. Steve, you observed above that reducing Sheppard to a single track terminus would entail headways of >130sec, but if scheduled headways at the moment are 5 minutes (according to doesn’t that give scope still increase service substantially to accept higher connecting traffic from the LRT, both in headway and by extending the existing stations to 6-car by completing the rough-ins?

    Or is your concern more that the bottleneck will be on the other side: that LRT trains won’t be long enough to maintain headways above 180sec?

    Steve: There are two problems. One is the LRT side headway, and the other is the loss of a spare track to store trains that are taken out of service for some reason.


  17. Steve, permit me to ask a question that might seem silly – about the design of the Sheppard East LRT.

    Let’s assume that it is politically unpalatable to convert the Sheppard Subway to LRT.

    Let’s also assume that for this reason, the Sheppard Subway must go east and take over the Sheppard East LRT as quickly as possible.

    Let us also assume that bringing the (low-floor) Sheppard East LRT to the same platform level as the (high-floor) subway trains would create additional problems because the trackbed for the Sheppard East LRT would have to be raised.

    Given these three factors, why not move the old CLRVs and ALRVs to Sheppard East (please note, this is the first “silly” part)?

    To ensure accessibility, we could modify the CLRVs and ALRVs by installing chair lifts (this is the second “silly” part)

    The chair lifts would have a dual function. When underground, the chairlift door becomes an access to the platform. Above ground, the chair lifts would ensure accessibility and there would also be the step-down access that Torontonians are used to.

    Something tells me that many people would like very much to see something on Sheppard East – but would prefer the service a lot less convenient – this would justify the extension of the subway eastwards.

    Something also tells me that we will have to keep the CLRVs and ALRVs anyways – retrofitting them for different uses.

    I just wonder if the CLRVs and ALRVs will spend their last days doing what they were originally designed to do – provide fast ‘rapid-transit’ service in our suburban communities.


    Moaz Yusuf Ahmad
    currently in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


  18. Robert,

    You asked some questions about Chicago. I’m a bit more familiar with Chicago, so here’s my response:

    You said:

    a) Dan Ryan Expressway, Red Line south is every 3 to 7 minutes in the a.m. and every 3 to 8 in the p.m.. This line carries a good number but it was there before the expressway.

    Are you sure about this? Because I believe this extension (which used to be operated by the Green line) came about at the same time the highway was being built. More on this later.

    b) Blue Line every 4 to 8 minutes in a.m. rush and every 7 to 9 in p.m.

    The southern arm of the Blue line operates in the middle of the Congress Highway, while the northern arm operates in the middle of the I-90 to O’Hare, although a good portion operates beneath Milwaukee Avenue.

    c) Green line runs every 8 to 9 minutes on the inner half and every 16 to 18 on the outer half, not exactly easy numbers to remember,

    Currently, this line does not operate between highways. It uses an elevated structure through south Chicago, and up Lake Street or a railway embankment into Oak Park.

    d) Orange line runs every 6 to 7 minutes in both rush hours.

    The Orange line makes its way along old railroad rights-of-way near Archer Avenue.

    e) Pink line runs every 10 minutes in the both rush hours with short trains.

    The Pink line is an interesting case. Originally a branch of the Blue line, it operates on a dedicated at-grade right-of-way (with level crossings, and crossing gates where it crosses the street network. On third rail operation. Imagine trying to sell THAT to Toronto. It operated south on the Blue line’s Congress alignment briefly, but then to the restored Paulina Connector to the Green line for access to the Loop. It was at that time that the Pink designation came about.

    f) Brown Line runs every 4 to 6 minutes in both rush hours.

    The old Ravenswood line operates much like the pink one does: on elevated out of the Loop to north Chicago, and then on an at-grade right-of-way with level crossings.

    So, for those routes that are aligned in the middle of expressways: this would be the Red’s Dan Ryan branch, and the outer arms of the Blues. The Congress alignment used to be a dedicated elevated right-of-way, but was moved between the lanes of the expressway when the expressway opened. The O’Hare connection was late. The O’Hare connection is most like the Spadina subway to me. The extension was built at roughly the same time, and there are long and pedestrian unfriendly walks between the platform and the connecting streets.

    The Congress extension and the Dan Ryan extensions are different, though: they’re older, for one thing, and their station design is simpler. It might also help that both expressways are in a trench, and the station entrances are _always_ on the level above, on streets which cross the expressways on bridges as opposed to more hostile underpasses.

    I don’t know enough about the history of the ridership of the Congress alignment, although I strongly suspect that the line was made more inaccessible when the elevated section was moved to the middle of a expressway, but the Dan Ryan extension bucks the suggestion that operation within an expressway always depresses ridership. The line is among the highest ridership of the system.

    Remember when I said that the Dan Ryan extension used to be the southern extension of the Green line? The southern Red line used to operate along the south side elevateds that are now the Green line, which proved to be a frustrating exercise for the CTA, as the ridership here did not match up with the demand of the Howard extension of the Red line through north Chicago. Similarly, the Dan Ryan ridership didn’t match up with the Green line loads up Lake Street. And yet the system had little choice but to interline these routes in this fashion. At least until 1993, when the rail connections were opened that allowed the Red Line to access the Dan Ryan tracks and the Green line could operate to the South Side.

    So, here we have a case where a line between an expressway is operating with higher loads as a line nearby that doesn’t operate within an expressway. But the Red line is longer, and supported with park’n’ride operations, plus connections with transit services linking the Red line with the far south of Chicago.

    Could a subway work within the 401? Certainly the huge trench of the line would make the walks to the stations lengthy and unfriendly, but not as unfriendly as the stops on the Spadina line that are accessed via underpasses. And, also, with the core of the line operating beneath Sheppard Avenue, car drivers might be more willing to park on the outskirts of the 401, and transfer to a subway train, if they felt that they didn’t have a long or hostile walk to take once they got to their destination along Sheppard. As hostile as the outskirt stops on the Dan Ryan might be, the core of the line operates beneath State Street, through neighbourhoods where it is considerably more hostile to park.


  19. Dwight:

    I don’t mind transit in the 905 area as long as it serves a wide area of demand. As of right now, the proposed Vaughan Subway serves nothing more than a barren tract of land. Sure you got the “proposed Vaughan Corporate Centre” which is many years away and won’t be the high-density highrises like Toronto has, more like single office buildings with loads of parking. Then you have the Interchange Centre, again with monsterous loads of parking. Then you have the industrial areas north of Jane and Highway 7, no high density offices, yet again more parking. Vaughan Mills would be a short bus ride away, yet another parking haven. In other words, the proposed area is nothing more than a parking haven. To even get some miniscule part of demand would require a massive reorganization of bus routes to serve that station (rather than Finch) and a 10 storey parking lot. And we all know how all of us here are against more parking lots.

    Richmond Hill, however, has more demand than the Vaughan Subway, with not only the existing demand, but due to the fact that there are several tracts of High-Density residences that a subway line is meant to address. Now while such a subway extension is a good idea, I am only against it because of the RT imposter Viva. I have a thing against buses masquerading as Rapid Transit in mixed traffic while saying they are ten times better than the TTC Subway.

    And I agree with James Elliot: the plans appear to be a done deal. A sad day for Public Transit in Toronto indeed.


  20. M. Briganti, I think you do your arguments a disservice when you use rhetoric like “conned”, ” What are you guys smoking?” and “double standard”. I mean, with that last point, you’re basically stating that people here are lying, and that’s not fair.

    It’s also not fair to compare a 15 km, $900 million LRT line priced at 2009 dollars against a 6.2 km, $900 mllion subway priced at 2002 dollars. That is seriously comparing apples to oranges. If you wanted to be fair, why not list the price of building the Sheppard LRT as a subway, or even just completing the Sheppard LRT to the Scarborough Town Centre.

    Because, back in 2003, when Toronto politicians like Miller and Moscoe, or in 2005 when politicians like Giambrone pushed for the province to provide funds to complete the Sheppard subway, the cost back then was estimated at $2.1 billion. $2.1 billion for a substantially shorter line than what’s being agreed to here. That’s over twice the cost that McGuinty and Harper offered.

    So, maybe now you’ll see why people “gripe” over the cost of subways, while being prepared to accept the still-high cost of an LRT line. As you can see, the LRT line is still a lot less expensive. And we’re getting more line for our dollar.

    I share your frustration over the complications the current Sheppard subway presents to the current planning process. I too wish we could do something to eliminate the transfer point at Don Mills — either converting the subway to an LRT, or extending the Sheppard line to Downsview and Kennedy and running the LRT east from there. However, it’s unfair to blame Miller for this mess. Maybe we should have built the Sheppard subway as an LRT line from the beginning; he had nothing to do with that choice. But what we’re getting is still better than the status quo. And, as Steve points out, tunnelling into Don Mills station will help make it easier to extend the Sheppard subway east when the time comes; say, thirty years from now.


  21. Okay, for the truly geeky, here’s some stats on where trips to York University originate from and how they get there. This is based on 2006 data. A subway extension could influence where York students choose to live, which could then change the percentages somewhat.

    In total, 56% of York U students arrive via transit, whereas 42% arrive via auto (either as driver or passenger).

    38% of York U students come from the 416. 31% via auto, 64% via TTC.

    20% of students come from the 416, north of the 401. 33% drive, 58% take TTC (the rest are mostly local walking trips).

    4% come from downtown (mostly via transit), and perhaps 8 to 10% come from areas that might conceivably use the Spadina subway extension and not a Finch LRT (roughly 3/4 via transit and 1/4 via auto). (The catchment area for this is debatable … for ease of calculation, my catchment area assumes south of 401, east of Etobicoke Creek and west of Don River, plus some southern Scarborough. That is a pretty broad swath and is different from just areas within walking distance of the subway.)

    14% of students come from Vaughan, and 13% come from Markham and Richmond Hill combined. Both are in the order of 55% auto, 45% transit.

    16% come from Peel – 55% transit and 45% auto.

    This suggests a couple of things:

    More than half of the York U students in 416 travel generally east-west, not north-south (although they may use the Spadina extension for a short portion of their trip).

    The southern part of York Region is under-represented for transit usage, even lower than trips from Peel. The subway again may help this to a certain degree, but arguably improved local transit would be more beneficial. If I am not mistaken, there is no double fare to travel from York U across Steeles via YRT, so this isn’t a fare integration issue.

    As a footnote, work trips to the York campus are split roughly 3/4 auto, 1/4 transit. Half come from the 416, roughly 2/3 auto and 1/3 transit. The remaining half from 905 are 86% auto, 14% transit.

    Steve: This may be “geeky”, but it’s the sort of detailed breakdown that illuminates how transit planning can be out of sync with the actual needs of users (or potential users) of the system. Thanks for providing this info.


  22. James Bow Says:
    May 24th, 2009 at 9:49 am


    “You asked some questions about Chicago. I’m a bit more familiar with Chicago, so here’s my response:”


    Thanks for your reply. I have been in Chicago three times in the past 10 years and spent a total of about 10 hours riding. I could not remember what went where and some of it doesn’t go where it used to. The headways are from the CTA website so they are current. I think that your comments reinforce my idea that transit lines that are built where they are convenient [for builders] rather than where they are needed generally do not carry well.


  23. I think one of the major problems facing the Transit City is the public misconception of LRT technology is that its nothing more than a “poor” version of a subway. As you address in Dwight comment, the public should see “a well-implemented LRT as an example”.

    However, I think an aggressive campaign should be done to promote LRT technology in Toronto way before we even open a TC line, because over on the Urban Toronto forum under the Eglinton-Crosstown thread, 60% of 197 people prefer a subway vs. 30% for a LRT network. If we don’t start switching the public view on LRT’s then we would lose out on potential users who have a stereotypical view of Transit City.

    Steve: Nobody will believe commercials about LRT and will simply claim that it’s the Mayor and Chair wasting taxpayers’ dollars again. I have very little use for the “we want a subway” argument on Eglinton. We are getting an underground line covering the distance that has most of the riders on it, and a through service on a dedicated lanes elsewhere.

    The only way to get rid of the stereotype (and the lies) is to build a line, to build it quickly and on time, and to build it in a way that both works and contributes to the neighbourhoods it serves.


  24. Steve wrote, “The only way to get rid of the stereotype (and the lies) is to build a line, to build it quickly and on time, and to build it in a way that both works and contributes to the neighbourhoods it serves.”

    This is very true, and I suspect a main reason why the push was on to build the Sheppard East line first. With the exception of the short distance west of Pharmacy Avenue, this line will not take away any lanes away from traffic since Sheppard is only 4 and 5 lanes wide through a ROW that gives enough space for 7 lanes. This line has the most chance for immediate success and acceptance with the public and has the fewest obstacles that can delay its opening.

    If proper signalling can be installed (and that is a big ‘if’, in my opinion), this can win over a great deal of people. Public support on the rest of Transit City will lie with this project, but it has the best chance of winning that support.


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