Bombardier Markets Streetcars

Normally, I wouldn’t use my site to plug a manufacturer’s products, but with some recent discussions here about the relative merits of ICTS/Skytrain and streetcar/LRT technology for Scarborough, I have to make an exception.

LRT is well established all over the world, and Bombardier uses its market presence to great effect in their promotional material.  The jumping off point is a press release for the “Olympic Line” in Vancouver, a streetcar line (and that’s the term Bombardier uses) that will operate during the 2010 winter games using cars loaned by the Brussels system.

But it gets better:  more details are on Bombardier’s Vancouver 2010 Streetcar page which proclaims “The Streetcar Returns to Vancouver”.  You can view the information, photos and videos in the pulldowns yourself.

If anyone thinks that Bombardier might be ashamed of its streetcars, that it needs a Toronto ICTS line to justify its existence as a major vehicle supplier, well, just look at this site.  This is not just a Vancouver page, but a catalogue of Bombardier’s technology, almost all streetcars, worldwide.

Toronto, that “world class city”, lost decades in transit progress to an attitude typified by former megamayor Mel Lastman who said “real cities don’t use streetcars”.  We have a lot of catching up to do.

36 thoughts on “Bombardier Markets Streetcars

  1. I still argue with planners to be, who still want to build subways everywhere. There are some out there, who consider the Sheppard Line a “success” because it carries 50K riders.

    It’s like some people have fingers to their ears, and are not willing to compromise.

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  2. Our methods of planning for transit infrastructure are weak compared to other parts of the world. When I see LRT vehicles traveling through the streets of cities that are 200 or so years old or older it proves to me that proper planning and development are the key to success. Those critics who say we do not need LRT or any other type of transit — When you asked for their alternative all they can say is put more buses on the road.

    Most of the alotment for transit funding has been fueled by our current recession. Does this mean once the recession is over it will be back to the former status quo? In a lot of cases we have the individuals who are giving out cash who have probably never stepped foot on public transit except for a photo op. I am also a believer that the SRT should be a LRT line. I see no long term advantages at all of keeping it as an ICTS line.

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  3. @ Justin

    50k passengers per day is more than twice the ridership of Chicago’s pink, purple, and yellow lines combined. One of these lines serves the downtown core at all times and one does so at peak hours. Meanwhile, Sheppard runs from a minor city centre out to a shopping mall under a suburban arterial. I should also mention that Sheppard is 3.4 miles in length while those three lines combined are 19.8 miles long, with the pink line being longest at 11.2 miles.

    I’ve never understood how a line that carries a hell of a lot of people compared to subway lines in other major cities can be considered a failure in Toronto. To reuse the Chicago example, all but three of their lines carry less riders than Sheppard. What is it about Toronto that makes a 50k rider line a failure while in other cities that would be considered an astounding success?

    Please don’t accuse me of “wanting to build subways everywhere”. I am actually a big fan of LRT as a medium capacity measure, but I’m just legitimately curious as to why the CTA can call the 13.5k rider pink line that serves downtown a success while we call the 50k rider Sheppard line that serves suburbia a resounding failure. It seems to me that it should be the other way around, if anything.

    Steve: See my comments on subway demand later in this thread.

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  4. Re: Justin’s comment about Sheppard.

    I took a friend of mine, who is a driver, on the Sheppard subway to go to Fairview Mall, and he asked me “how do they keep it so clean?”

    Without missing a beat, a stranger walking past said “because no one uses it” and continued walking on..

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  5. Actually, on the bottom of the press release, it is called the Flexity tram. Anyways, whether it is a trolley, tram or streetcar does not matter. It is what it is.

    Bombardier has a large installed base of trams in Europe and some parts of North America. They have zero presence in Asia. So for them, ICTS actually sells better in Asia. In common Korean, Japanese and Chinese, ICTS is a light rail technology.

    Steve: Look at the website they built for Vancouver, and you will see the word “Streetcar”. It’s in the URL for goodness sake:

    http://www.vancouverstreetcar.bombardier.com/

    The point I am trying to make is that Bombardier is marketing the vehicles, and isn’t playing games by calling them “Light Rail Vehicles”. In other words, the term “streetcar” is no longer considered to have a negative connotation.

    As for ICTS, if it’s so popular in Asia, they don’t need us to (re)build a line here in Toronto to market it.

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  6. Vancouver’s Downtown Railway line has been around over a decade, and is now the Olympic Line w/ Bombardier’s streetcars. I’ve travelled the route in the reconditioned heritage streetcars, and the line’s beautiful, lined with medium density housing, and connects Granville Island to the new Canada Line station at Cambie. Great idea, great implementation. And a first for Canada, modern state of the art streetcars for the Winter Olympics.

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  7. How is the Sheppard line not a success? And if the line had actually reached its intended terminus at Scarborough Town Centre (and eventually Downsview) the line would have been much more heavily used.

    This does not take away anything from the utility of light rail. But it’s pretty ignorant to suggest that a line which only saw one-third of its intended length built but gets 50 000 riders is a ‘failure’.

    Steve: All things are relative. 50,000 riders is in the same league as many surface routes, but this must be placed in the context of trip length and temporal distribution of ridership. The Spadina/Harbourfront line carried 48,000 riders per day in 2007. However, this line has extremely strong bidirectional and off-peak demand. Indeed, the Spadina car has weekend service equal to peak period service because there are so many riders. There are many origins and destinations of riders on this line.

    The subway, by contrast, is heavily used, mainly between its terminals, in the peak direction and peak period. Otherwise, it is very lightly loaded. Replacing the subway with LRT would be possible, but with a very different design of the service.

    I don’t use the word “failure”, but regard the huge expense and the associated delay in Toronto’s embrace of LRT a sad commentary on our transit history. The projected demand on the subway had it gone to STC was almost entirely derived from riders who would originate in the northeastern 416 and corresponding southern 905 and who should be going downtown on GO. However the demand model had only the Sheppard Subway as a choice of where to assign the trips.

    The same model predicted over 50K/hour demand at Bloor/Yonge Station triggering the original version of the mad scheme to expand at that site.

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  8. Canadian public opinion has a strange relationship with Bombardier. On some level, I think most people are proud that we have such a major company, but whenever they get a contract in Canada it’s denounced as ‘corporate welfare’, and they’re repeatedly blamed for bad decisions which were actually motivated by the self-importance of local politicians.

    Bombardier is the largest manufacturer of passenger railway equipment in the world, and Canada forms only a small corner of their market. Their products are repeatedly purchased by countries with no demands for local construction, and they get plenty of French and German contracts which – though Bombardier’s operations in both countries are indeed considerable – could just as easily gone to domestically owned companies like Alstom or Siemens.

    Bombardier’s product line is huge, with vehicles that can (and do) meet just about any need around the world, and they can match or beat any of their competitors for reliability. If someone needs ICTS to cement their prestige, it certainly isn’t Bombardier.

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  9. Dwight asked, “Most of the alotment for transit funding has been fueled by our current recession. Does this mean once the recession is over it will be back to the former status quo?”

    I hope not, but don’t forget that our current gas pump price relief is fairly well tied to the current economic times. When the price dropped to the low 70s cents per litre range, I often commented to others who were rejoicing in this that it would end when the economy got better. Low gas prices, or good economy: pick one because you can’t have both.

    As we have been seeing some early signs of recovery, gas prices have crept up to the high 90s. Coincidence? I think not.

    Hopefully, high gas prices will have the public demand that transit infrastructure and operation continue to be funded well. At the same time, I realize that if there is any absence of public apathy, it will probably go to demanding that the government “do something about fuel prices”. Now, if we can only get more politicians in office who realize that the response to that request is to fund public transit better.

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  10. 60K may be more than Chicago’s Pink, Purple and Yellow lines but the trains have fewer and smaller cars, roughly the size of a streetcar. One might almost say that Chicago has an elevated LRT.

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  11. There is a former economist for CIBC World Markets who is saying that 2008’s $147 a barrel crude oil was only a sampling of what is to come. Crude oil dropped to $30 a barrel as the recession hit us, but is now back over $70. He is predicting that by 2012, crude oil will be over $200. When that happens, all that highway infrastructure spending will be almost wasted, as people try to switch transportation modes. As long as Toronto is at the top of Bombardier’s order list, the better it is for us, not so for those ordering later.

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  12. Mel meant that Chicago and NYC don’t have streetcars. Honestly, I think this anti-ICTS rant is getting tiring. We’ve heard it a million times before.

    Casual observers are not going to take you seriously Steve if you keep harping on this — because you’re coming across as some kind of transit fundamentalist/extremist.

    So they’re extending the line using the existing technology … big deal! That’s a whole lot different than building a new line from scratch using ICTS. It seems to me that the LRT advocates aren’t even willing to give ONE inch. A whole LRT network is planned for Toronto, yet you guys get into a hissy fit over a single line?! Do you see the subway advocates who wanted a BD extension to STC doing the same? Get over it — move on.

    What you should be focusing on is the fact that no matter what happens, there will be an improvement of service on Eglinton and into Malvern, and that’s what ultimately counts.

    Steve: I’m not having a hissy fit, but am trying to ensure we do not perpetuate an unnecessary additional technology with known reliability problems and higher cost than a reasonable alternative. Moreover, I’m trying to point out that Bombardier itself is strongly marketing “streetcar” technology and doesn’t need one small ICTS line in Toronto to keep their company alive as a credible provider of transit equipment.

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  13. W. K. Lis’ point is excellent, and one that I wish we’d hear more in Waterloo Region where critics of our proposed LRT are saying ‘cars work just fine, don’t waste our money’. It’s hard work getting people to properly understand population growth and the need for density (and accompanying transportation solutions).

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  14. > Canadian public opinion has a strange relationship with Bombardier. On some level, I think most people are proud that we have such a major company, but whenever they get a contract in Canada it’s denounced as ‘corporate welfare’, and they’re repeatedly blamed for bad decisions which were actually motivated by the self-importance of local politicians.

    I would have to agree with this sentiment, due to the fact that they are not on a level playing field with their competitors, due to Canadian content requirements (they are the only company who owns manufacturing facilities in Canada). As a result they win virtually all contracts for rail vehicles anywhere in Canada, and no doubt as taxpayers we are paying inflated prices due to this. I agree that Bombardier’s LRT technology is excellent, but so is Siemens’ and Alstom’s and they should be allowed to compete fairly.

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  15. I don’t think many people are trying to argue ICTS is better than LRT (it’s not), but rather the costs in money and time involved to change between the two.

    Steve: It’s not just the cost to change the existing line, but the additional cost of extending the technology and continuing to operate it.

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  16. Remember that Bombardier actually bid substantially lower than Siemens, which could be due to their already owning manufacturing facilities here, but in this case it is a win-win situation where Toronto got the best price, and we end up with some Canadian content and a few jobs in Thunder Bay. I wonder how the bidding process might have been affected had the TTC tendered an order for everything right now, consisting of a larger order of legacy streetcars, and an even larger order of more standard transit city cars. Maybe that would have leveled the playing field a bit, giving the foreign companies more incentive to cut the price and build here.

    Steve: That’s a real stretch. When the tendering process began, the status of the Transit City lines was far from certain, and TTC could not have reasonably included them. Don’t forget that a builder would invest in a new plant only with a reasonable guarantee of the larger order.

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  17. Andrew MacKinnon Says:
    June 11th, 2009 at 1:46 am

    As a result they win virtually all contracts for rail vehicles anywhere in Canada, and no doubt as taxpayers we are paying inflated prices due to this. I agree that Bombardier’s LRT technology is excellent, but so is Siemens’ and Alstom’s and they should be allowed to compete fairly.

    I wonder how the people of Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver feel about this comment, as they all recently ordered (and had delivered) products built by competitors to Bombardier.

    At least for the legacy fleet order here, all comers were given the opportunity to compete fairly. If they didn’t want to, that’s their own fault.

    Dan
    Toronto, Ont.

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  18. Andrew: Actually, Bombardier by no means have a stranglehold on Canadian railway procurement. Yes, they supply most of Toronto and Montréal’s needs, but Calgary and Edmonton’s trams have been all Siemens from the beginning (built variously in Germany and California), and the trains for Vancouver’s new Canada Line were built in Korea by Hyundai. Via Rail’s newest carriages were assembled in Birmingham by Alstom (though Bombardier got the deal to refurbish them for Canadian use), and most locomotives come from companies like General Electric and EMD.

    There’s definitely a preference for buying Canadian-built equipment, but that doesn’t mean Bombardier can charge whatever they like, or even that they’re trying to.

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  19. The whole LRT vs. subway also has to take into consider the route that it is taking. For example, a street level streetcar/LRT service along Queen takes forever – I took it just the other day, and yes it is amazing just how slow it is downtown, and there is no room to place it on a ROW through downtown.

    A subway would help – but would not provide as many stops. This does not help the service either.

    Personally, I am totally for the Sheppard subway – the only problem I have with it is that it never reached its targeted terminus at STC. I still believe that if it had been built to plan, the subway would have more people on it.

    The TTC needs to build routes based on actual traffic flow (by actual traffic flow, I mean where people start their trip, and where their trip ends.)

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  20. David Arthur said, “and most locomotives come from companies like General Electric and EMD”

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that EMD shut down their plant in La Grange Illinois and moved all final assembly to the plant in London Ontario. They are no longer the number one locomotive builder as this was a major down-sizing since, from what I understand, the entire London facility could fit in the parking lot of the former La Grange facility.

    The point is, at least there is Canadian competition for locomotive building, and I wonder how adaptable EMD’s London facility is were another LRV manufacturer want to partner up with them to boost their Canadian content.

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  21. Toronto Streetcars Says:
    June 11th, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    “The TTC needs to build routes based on actual traffic flow (by actual traffic flow, I mean where people start their trip, and where their trip ends.)”

    If you do that then most routes would end up downtown and very few would go across the top of the city or up and down in Etobicoke and Scarborough. Toronto had that back in the early 60’s and it was impossible to go anywhere. When they put in the grid system and forced people to transfer the ridership went up. The cities that have the highest ridership also have the highest percentage of the riders making a transfer connection.

    I used to live at Lawrence and Warden and went to engineering at U of T. Should the Warden bus have gone to College and St. George for me; I don’t think so. I used to change to the Danforth Subway at Warden and the University Subway at St. George. This was not a problem as the wait times were short and the service was faster than taking the Bloor street car had been. I actually got to ride the Wye for 6 months and believe me the service was faster and more reliable without it. Because every train at Woodbine went to St. George and every University train ran to St. George.

    The grid system works better than a radial system unless you are only interested in getting people downtown. The trick is to have fast frequent service with convenient transfers. I have nothing against putting in a downtown relief line that went northeast and northwest out to Agincourt and Thistletown but only if it were superimposed on the existing grid system.

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  22. Calvin Henry-Cotnam Says:
    June 11th, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    “Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that EMD shut down their plant in La Grange Illinois and moved all final assembly to the plant in London Ontario. They are no longer the number one locomotive builder as this was a major down-sizing since, from what I understand, the entire London facility could fit in the parking lot of the former La Grange facility.”

    I think that GM in their infinite wisdom, changed the design of their locomotives that had 2/3’s of the market for a new and improved design. It ranked up there with the new improved transit bus they also developed. For some reason their Canadian subsidiary in London decide to keep building the old design and out bid the US parent for locomotive and bus orders. GM in another example of their great corporate wisdom sold off the successful Canadian Subsidiaries and closed their US plants.

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  23. Robert said …

    “I actually got to ride the Wye for 6 months and believe me the service was faster and more reliable without it.”

    Integrated was faster in the morning when everything was on schedule. Afternoon was usually a disaster.

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  24. M. Briganti Says:
    June 11th, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    “Integrated was faster in the morning when everything was on schedule. Afternoon was usually a disaster.”

    Actually it was only faster if the train you wanted was the next one to leave. If it wasn’t then you had to wait an extra headway for the correct train. After the integration ended you got on the first train that came and transferred onto the first train that left St. George for Queen’s Park.

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  25. For those mentioning non-BBD contracts out west – did they have any CanCon provisions in their contracts? I’m guessing not. However, we in Toronto will pay the premium for getting the line built in TB which will allow other municipalities (like Vancouver) to pay less for follow-on orders from the same family. Makes me wonder why TB didn’t apply for the stimulus money to get the line installed rather than Toronto.

    I note once again (getting back to the original post) that Vancouver can trial streetcars on their “legacy” network simply by borrowing them. Toronto displays new cars on flatbeds…

    As for SRT – keeping ICTS means keeping a separate yard system and power supply for one line. The TTC must be required to present an LRT financial option without a separate yard, or where that yard also serves one of the two Eglinton lines. We don’t need four modes (subway, ICTS, LRT and streetcar) when three will do perfectly well.

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  26. Robert wrote:

    “The grid system works better than a radial system unless you are only interested in getting people downtown. The trick is to have fast frequent service with convenient transfers. I have nothing against putting in a downtown relief line that went northeast and northwest out to Agincourt and Thistletown but only if it were superimposed on the existing grid system.”

    The problem is that the TTC is not always fast or frequent. And people are not always going downtown, yet almost all of the TTC’s surface routes connect to the subway at least once. Some type of reliable service is required to move people to other parts of the City. Routes do not have to go to the subway if they will provide reliable service to other areas. That’s part of my point.

    My main point is that if someone has to make more then two transfers to get from Point A to Point B, then other options start becoming more appealing – espeically if one has to walk any distance to get to the first stop (or from the last) or service on one (or more) of the routes is not frequent. That’s my main point – it has to be easy to get around on transit – both for local service, and for longer trips.

    Steve: And I must point out that a DRL East is, in effect, a “grid” line as it would continue the north-south line of the Don Mills corridor and then turn west through downtown. Toronto simply does not have diagonal rights-of-way where a network of lines cutting across the grid could easily be created. There’s the odd rail and hydro corridor, but many diagonals would require difficult construction through existing neighbourhoods.

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  27. For diagonal routes, yes it would be hard. But a tunnel (either for an LRT or subway) would be a solution if the TTC can show demand for that route – again which is why “actual” traffic flow is important. The grid system does work, but our subway system is built to the same design. Look at subways in other cities, and lines go out in all directions. Subways move people around fast, and then the surface routes can get you the last bit of the way.

    Our system is not bad, but my point is that we have to “think outside the box” as well.

    Steve: Be careful when looking at other cities to distinguish routes that were built “cross-country” when there was little above them, or which were dug very deep to avoid disturbing things up top. That gets very expensive very quickly especially at stations which are almost impossible to build without digging a large hole down from the surface.

    There’s nothing wrong with “thinking outside the box”, but that box has consisted of little but subways to the suburbs for decades. Toronto fell far behind because of technological myopia and because of a misguided belief that adding transit capacity into the core was a bad thing. The core grew anyhow, and we continue to face capacity problems.

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  28. There is, or was, a route for a diagonal run of the DRL. You go up Don Mills Road to the Belleville sub and then go out it to Agincourt or beyond. This would have station near Eglinton and Don Mills, Lawrence and Victoria Park, Warden and Lawrence, Kennedy Rd. and whatever. The stops would be at major intersections for transfers but far enough apart to allow for a high speed run downtown. Unfortunately the right of way for this in the west end, the Weston Sub is going to be rather full of GO trains, UPRL, and a few Via and CP freights to take any more tracks.

    Steve: And the Belleville Sub would make a nice line for GO service. It’s in the Metrolinx plans.

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  29. Steve: And the Belleville Sub would make a nice line for GO service. It’s in the Metrolinx plans.

    It will be a struggle to get GO trains on the Belleville sub. CP and Metrolinx need to improve their relationship first.

    Steve: Let us hope that the amalgamation of GO into Metrolinx will bring some people with real railway operating experience to the table formerly occupied by Metrolinx planners with little grasp of the issues.

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  30. Steve,

    Going back to the topic, it seems that Bombardier is quite strongly promoting its various available technologies to different markets – with various products being marketed.

    I note that their streetcar-specific websites are strongly marketing streetcars as ‘the right choice’, while the ICTS-specific website strongly markets ICTS as ‘the right choice’ (ironically at the expense of streetcars).

    I’m quite sure that Bombardier would strongly market subway trains and monorails and bilevel cars with their own specific websites if the curiousity (and potential projects) were there.

    I find it interesting that Bombardier can strongly state that ICTS is the best choice (highlighting a claim that ICTS has the lowest operating costs) for cities and then market streetcars so strongly to Toronto and Vancouver.

    Your feedback is appreciated.

    Cheers, Moaz Yusuf Ahmad

    e. klangvalley.transit@gmail.com
    w. transitmy.org
    tw. twitter.com/transitmy

    Steve: Bombardier’s ICTS blurb makes a point of contrasting trams/streetcars in mixed traffic with ICTS running on its own guideway. This has been the “big lie” since the early days of ICTS and the Government of Ontario’s claim that there was nothing between streetcars and subways, so we had to invent it.

    The cost comparisons are between street running systems and automated grade separated ones, and that’s simply not apples to apples.

    Meanwhile, the new Flexity 2 brochure trumpets the added advantages of this design.

    I don’t think you will ever see Bombardier put out literature saying “our product isn’t all that good, and only a few systems have bought it”. The real comparison is the number of LRT systems worldwide that run Bombardier trams, not to mention those of their competitors. That such a market exists says something about the viability and longevity of the technology.

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  31. Drew said: “I took a friend of mine, who is a driver, on the Sheppard subway to go to Fairview Mall, and he asked me “how do they keep it so clean?”

    Without missing a beat, a stranger walking past said “because no one uses it” and continued walking on.”

    Personal anecdotal accounts like this are telling of what the average daily usage levels of the Sheppard subway is really like, not just the guestimates of a few biased planners whom probably rarely set foot on the line themselves yet seek some sort of “rational” justification for its expansion. The trains are typically half-empty, the intermediate stops always near empty and Don Mills Stn’s passenger numbers are artificially propped up by the milleu of bus routes which pass through it. Direct the bus routes elsewhere and see what happens. Converting over the whole line to LRT may not be the answer but neither are piecemeal extensions of the subway further east (and west) into communities which on their own can barely sustain their own bus routes (85 Sheppard East runs vitually empty off-peak east of Markham Rd, and with modest loads at best west of Markham). These are not ideal places for LRT, let alone the realm of HRT. What’s worse is the assertion that Transit City lines like SELRT will have stop spacings akin to the local service buses it strives to replace, making for a prolengthened crosstown journey to Don Mills Stn regardless.

    However now with the impending Richmond Hill extension of the Yonge Line leading to an inability for customers to board southbound trains south of North York; perhaps a new utility of the Sheppard stub can arise. Seeing as north-to-east and west-to-south track configurations already exist at Sheppard megastation and the need to short-turn train trips within Toronto (preferrably south of Finch) is vastly approaching, why not make some use of those wasted center and westbound platforms at Sheppard-Yonge Stn and create a service track interline? This works on so many levels because the Sheppard stations were designed to accomodate upto 6 cars per trainset (I doubt a 7th car trainset would be required yet per this proposal). So now transferees off the Sheppard Line to the YUS Line don’t even have to switch trains and vice versa; such that a one-seat ride straight from Fairview to the downtown core would be possible, with every second trip heading north of there straight to RHC (i.e. no Finch turnback). And if one finds themselves for whatever reason on the wrong train, the interchange to connect with their intended trip-bound train at Sheppard-Yonge is as simple as going up/down a single escalator or elevator.

    As a result, the SELRT could be an easier pill to swallow since one whole transfer point en route is effectively being eliminated. Plus given the lower ridership levels along Sheppard, there’ll always be a seat and standing room awaiting the passengers boarding at the mid- and lower Yonge subway stops. And just to touch up on something Steve mentioned to me earlier, I don’t understand why the SELRT even has to be buried beneath the DVP. Just how deep a descent from the surface is platfrom level at Don Mills Stn to require such a drastic gradient drop/climb and was an elevated guideway (bridge) crossing ever under consideration? From a costing standpoint a bridge seems to be a cheaper alternative to what been sanctioned.

    Steve: As I have written here before, there is no west to south curve at the Sheppard Yonge junction. Through routing trains from Sheppard to Yonge would be extremely complex. The real fix for the Yonge line’s capacity is the DRL fed by the Don Mills LRT to an interchange at Eglinton. Screwing around with the Sheppard Subway is just throwing good money after bad.

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  32. “that will operate during the 2010 winter games using cars loaned by the Brussels system.”

    Curious that these cars are on loan from Brussels. I wonder if Brussels gets a reduction in cost for used cars?

    Steve: I would assume there is some arrangement between Bombardier and the Brussels system, but what does that have to do with the proposal? The point is that Bombardier is taking advantage of the Olympics to market its product.

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  33. Steve: As I have written here before, there is no west to south curve at the Sheppard Yonge junction. Through routing trains from Sheppard to Yonge would be extremely complex. The real fix for the Yonge line’s capacity is the DRL fed by the Don Mills LRT to an interchange at Eglinton. Screwing around with the Sheppard Subway is just throwing good money after bad.

    Re Steve: While I generally agree with you on this, there are a growing number of issues the Don Mills LRT will not remedy even if connecting to a Don Mills-Eglinton subway. York Region is in the process of expanding its rapid transit services along major arterials (VIVANext). This may likely include a Hwy 7 LRT corridor stretching from Cornell (or planned Locust Hill GO?) right across to the Richmond Hill Centre subway. This route will likely be more appealing to Markham residents than transferring off at some point (assuming DM LRT’s even extended into York Region) and taking it all the way south to the DRL.

    Transferring off at Sheppard for these people spares them no less interchnge hassles than boarding at Yonge St unless interlining we to afford these long-haul commuters a one-seat POP. Furthermore Don Mills LRT presently is a #5 priority of the 7 proposed Transit City lines, meaning its completion may come well after the RHC extension and the DRL to Eglinton even more indefinitely in the future. Meaning that by the time they’re both completed the bulk of Markham residents will already be conditioned to taking the Hwy 7 corridor across to Yonge for their one-seat Pop into the downtown which guarantees them an hour’s commute from RHC compared 90 minutes overall from Beaver Creek to OSC then southwards along a DRL.

    What concerns me most though are the overcapacity issues on the north-end preventing midtowners from being able to board trains. This is why I’m intrigued by giving the Sheppard Subway more to do than merely be an underground bus with fewer stops. Grafting it onto YUS, or SUSY for coy acronym’s sake, gives the line the legitimacy it currently lacks and ensures inner-416 residents will always have a seat when entering a train. And while I agree with you that it’d be costly to reconfigure its connection to Yonge (if they are any pdfs of the track configurations around Sheppard-Yonge that you could link to me I’d appreciate it), but doing nothing by not trying at least to make using the Sheppard Line as part of one’s commute any easier through the elimination one of the arbitrary transfer points will discourage mass appeal for its service and commuters will find alternate ways to head into the downtown.

    Methinks adding a west-to-south curve at Shep-Yonge (I’m not certain of how much of a turning radii is required here but there’s a possible right-of-way underneath Albert Standing Park that curves back into Beecroft/Poyntz that could be tried) is less complicated or expensive than any other other alternative: be it converting the subway to LRT or extending the subway to Victoria Park and certainly better than the $130 million dollar expenditure to bring the Finch/Sheppard East LRTs down to platform level at Don Mills.

    Steve: A west to south curve would be horrendously complex to build and, yes, curve radius is a big issue if you try to turn from west of the station to southbound Yonge. Northbound, the existing curve misses the station completely. I would not be at all surprised if the curve you propose costs substantially more than $130-million.

    I agree that the subway to LRT conversion is a great idea, but politically it just won’t fly, certainly not in the short term until people can see what “LRT” running in that sort of context can do.

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  34. Some of the staff reports prepared for Community Council for the Hullmark project (SW corner of Yonge and Sheppard) include site plans that show the approximate limit of the NB-EB track. They don’t show the actual track but you can clearly see that the limit of underground construction is curved to follow the edge of the tunnel.

    http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2009/ny/bgrd/backgroundfile-20123.pdf

    As to the issue of York riders overloading the Yonge line south of Eglinton: in theory, that is supposed to be addressed by turning back half the Yonge trains at Finch, so that every other train starts empty at Finch and gives 416 riders a fighting chance of being able to board. (Keep in mind that all the riders from Steeles and points north that currently use Finch will be diverted to new stations, so the number of riders boarding at Finch will be greatly reduced.)

    Steve: The north-to-east curve’s location is mirrored by the east-to-south under the other corner. The point here is that there is no west-to-south, and adding one would be very complicated. Note also that considerable demand arrives at Finch Station on the Finch buses, eventually to be LRT lines.

    The issue with subway capacity is that there are construction issues for more capacity at stations downtown, notably Bloor-Yonge, and concerns about the ability of the Bloor Subway interchange to work properly. Funnelling all traffic through one junction is not a good idea.

    The DRL is not intended to serve people in Markham. It is intended to divert traffic that now uses the inner part of the Yonge line onto a parallel route.

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