Eglinton LRT Design (Part 1: Introduction & Western Segment)

My apologies to regular readers for the delay in posting news and comment on the last round of Eglinton LRT designs.  Over the next few days, I hope to catch up on this and other topics.

June 2009 brought a major round of public meetings for the Eglinton LRT complete with a detailed look at how the line would be implemented.  The display panels for the current proposals are available on the project website.

The Eglinton line is a huge project, and if it’s done right, will show off the capabilities of LRT versus other modes.  The line will be partly on the surface, partly grade separated (mainly underground), and will be a real test of fitting infrastructure appropriate to demand levels across much of the city.

The comments below follow the display panels in the order presented by the TTC to save readers from jumping back and forth to locate various topics.

Part 1 of the display begins with general introductory information.

Page 4 gives an overview of the timeline for the project study, and this shows an important feature of how the TTC is using the new Transit Project Assessment process.  In the old Environmental Assessment process, a full year could be consumed just getting to the point of deciding, formally, what should be studied.  This could be a tedious process, and public meetings to debate the obvious never required large meeting rooms.

People who attend such meetings want to be shown concrete proposals for comment, and the old process was filled with “we can’t tell you because that’s part of detailed design”.  By the time a project actually reached that stage, the response to any criticism would be “we can’t evaluate alternatives because the EA has already been approved”.  This catch-22 frustrated even the most dedicated of transit watchers and advocates.

The study schedule is still two years long, but three quarters of it is now consumed with “preliminary planning”, and we’re over half way through that stage.  Far more details are available and both the City and TTC do appear to be seeking meaningful comment to fine-tune their proposal and to inform the development of alternative designs.  Strictly speaking, this is not necessary under the legislation, but this less formal process creates expectations other agencies would do well to follow.

Based on feedback from the current round, the project team will finish the preliminary design, hold a public open house in the fall of 2009, and then proceed through the formal project assessment, a step that  has almost become an afterthought.

Page 5 lists major issues raised at the first round of public meetings.

  1. Provision of parallel bus service.  The underground section of the line will have far fewer stops than the existing bus services, but the TTC has resisted a commitment to provision of an Eglinton bus route for this section of the line.  Residents of Yonge north of Eglinton and of Sheppard Avenue East know all too well what happens to their service when a subway draws most of a corridor’s demand off of the street.  They are left with, at best, infrequent service.  The TTC would do well to revisit this concern, especially as it relates to existing stop usage and demand patterns.  The “we want to provide faster service” rational gives little comfort to those who lose close access to transit.
  2. Construction effects.  For the surface parts of the route, there will be the usual upheaval of roadwork including utility relocation where needed.  On the underground segments, the preferred scheme involves a bored tunnel (discussed later) that may also reduce construction impacts at station sites.  However, the exact technique to be used for the line (possibly more than one depending on location) is not yet finalized, and station impacts will likely vary from site to site.
  3. Noise and vibration.  All new lines (including subways) are built with mechanical isolation of the track structure to limit transmission of vibration into the ground.  Track noise (mainly wheel squeal) should not be an issue on Eglinton because there are few curves, and these will be built to more generious standards than those on the existing streetcar system.
  4. Traffic effects.  This page states that the traffic effects for the novel left turn designs proposed on Eglinton are shown in later panels.  Yes, the designs are shown, but not the results of traffic studies.  I will leave my comments on that for later in this article.
  5. LRT surface versus underground running.  Some have proposed that the entire line be underground, in effect a full subway.  The whole idea of an LRT network is both to recognize that the demand justifying a subway simply doesn’t exist for many parts of routes, and that surface real estate can be better used by a transit right-of-way.  This topic continues on Pages 6 and 7 of the display.

Page 8 shows estimated travel times for existing bus and future LRT services.  The biggest gains, of course, come in the central section where the route will be underground and stops will be spaced more like a subway line with operating speeds to match.  This table and the general goals of Transit City on Page 9 underlie an important point about how people use transit — they are going from everywhere to everywhere, and the network, not any single line, is vital.  By analogy, highway 401 is of little use to someone who can’t get to or from it, and few trips are self-contained on the expressway.

Pages 10 onward present various design issues.  On page 12, we see that in general two traffic lanes will be provided across the entire route.  However, there are two important caveats not mentioned on this panel.

  • The removal of frequent bus service, including the effect of stops at many intersections, will release road capacity for general use in the busy central part of Eglinton where the line will be underground.
  • The proposed left turn and surface stop designs (discussed later) have implications for intersection behaviour.  This has not been fully explored by the study.  Indeed, Page 13 shows a typical intersection layout completely different from what is proposed for Eglinton with left turn lanes and farside stops in the scheme now familiar on the streetcar rights-of-way.

Page 15 shows a typical station.  This design presumes box tunnel (or at least station) construction, and the arrangement will be very different if the single bored tunnel is used.  This sort of discrepancy is inevitable in a process that shows designs as they evolve rather than trying to provide a single, integrated proposal.  Personally, I prefer that evolution to be visible so that people can understand the issues leading to a final design.

Page 16 talks about stop spacing and the goal of faster service.  Existing stops on Eglinton are much closer together than in the LRT proposal.  As I mentioned above, the project team should include stop usage information in their presentation so that the effect of the wider spacing and the need for a supplementary bus service in the central section can be discussed in context of real neighbourhoods and passenger demand.

Pages 17a and 17b (17 and 18 in the PDF) present the issue of left turns at major intersections.  The TTC’s concern is that the inclusion of green time for these turns will affect the LRT’s ability to provide fast reliable service.  (I will resist the urge here to talk about the way this has been done on streetcar routes.)  They prefer to divert these turns elsewhere, and propose two alternative schemes.

  • One version is an extended version of a “hook” turn where traffic first turns right, then makes a U-turn to achieve the desired direction.  The U would be placed some distance from the intersection, likely at the next cross-street either side of Eglinton.  However, this design not only adds travel time for motorists, it creates the need for left turns to enter the north-south cross street, weave over to the centre lane, and then U turn into the opposing traffic.  If the number of left turns is high, there will be roadway capacity issues with these extra movements including questions of queueing space.
  • Another version places the turns on Eglinton itself, but in a U removed from the station location.  Aside from similar issues of traffic weaving and lane capacity for the turning demand, it is unclear how simply shifting the turns away from the stops eliminates the problem of green time for the LRT.  The relatively slow U turn movement will be made across the tracks at a location that would not otherwise have an opening in the transit right-of-way.

Both of these schemes do not appear to be well thought-out, and the absence of traffic modelling for them seriously undermines their credibility.

The remainder of Part 1 deals with design from Pearson Airport to Weston.

Updated at 9:05 pm:  Although the discussion below focuses on stations where there are major proposed road layout modifications for left turns, there are many more station locations that this may indicate.  The line schematic on Panel 18 (PDF page 19) lists the following stations east from Martin Grove:  Widdicombe Hill, Kipling, Wincott, Islington, Russell, Royal York, Mulham, Scarlett, Emmett and Jane.  It should be noted that if the entire line to the airport went underground, many of these stops would be lost.

Between the airport and Martin Grove there are two broad alignments for which detailed study is still underway.  One alignment generally follows Eglinton Avenue and Highway 427, while the other follows Highway 27 and Dixon Road.  A related issue will be the potential integration of an extended Finch West LRT into this scheme, not to mention any future BRT or LRT service from Mississauga.

One important, but subtle, part of this section is the presence of stations in areas near the airport.  Both alignments include stops outside of the airport, but they serve completely different neighbourhoods.  Evaluation of the alternatives should not just be a technical exercise in fitting the LRT into a corridor, but also of the demand (present and potential) at stops near the airport.  Too often, the airport itself is seen as a destination independent of what surrounds it.

Martin Grove Stop:  This intersection has some vacant land that is proposed for rerouted left turns, some quite long.  The stop itself uses a shared centre platform for the LRT on the east side of the intersection.

Kipling to Scarlett Road Stops :  This entire strip features rerouted left turns and nearside platforms. What is noticeably absent here is any evaluation of an alignment along the north side of Eglinton where there is considerable vacant property left over from the Richview Expressway scheme.

By this I don’t mean a completely separate corridor north of the sidewalk, but something akin to the arrangement proposed for the waterfront where transit would occupy a pair of lanes on one side of the street.  Crossings would still be a single intersection, but with the LRT and its associated pedestrians separated from much of the road traffic.

The TTC dismisses side-of-road alignments generally in the project’s FAQ saying that there are serious problems with access to adjacent properties.  However, for this section of the line, the property in question is part of the road allowance and will likely remain as open space.  This is a very different situation from, say, a side-of-road alignment through the section west of Kennedy Station.

Jane Stop:  The design at Jane has two options, and both must take into account the future Jane LRT.  They also both involve rerouted left turns, but I don’t think these have been clearly thought out especially for option 2.

The displays refer to a possible maintenance facility connection, but this is for carhouse moves from the Jane LRT to the proposed maintenance yard at Black Creek.  A related issue here is the possibility of through routing service from the Jane line to the Eglinton line on its busy central section.

  1. In this option, all stops are nearside like a conventional streetcar intersection.  If the Jane LRT only comes south to Eglinton (or if some service turns east here), then a nearside stop eastbound may not be appropriate because a shared stop for all eastbound services would be needed.
  2. In this option, both lines run side-of-road on the north and west sides (Eglinton and Jane) with a shared stopping area on the northwest corner.  This would make transfer traffic simple, but again there would be a problem if Jane trains were turning east on Eglinton because they would miss the eastbound stop.  This arrangement, however, would dovetail nicely with a north-side alignment for the Eglinton line west to Martin Grove as I proposed above.

Weston to Black Creek:

This is a challenging section with several options.  First off, there is the question of topology.  A wide river valley at Black Creek must be crossed somehow, and this could be done at grade, underground or elevated.  To the west of the valley, there is a crossing with the Weston rail corridor followed closely by Weston Road itself.  The land then falls away again to the crossing with Jane Street.  Each of the five options has its advantages and disadvantes, not to mention associated costs and complexities.

To all this must be added a shop connection to the proposed maintenance yard on the Kodak lands between Black Creek and the rail corridor.  The elevation of the LRT as it passes the yard affects the configuration of any access tracks.

  1. This is the all surface option.  The line would emerge from a portal on the east side of the Black Creek valley in the middle of the road, stop at Black Creek Drive with a standard farside stop layout, continue west under the rail corridor (possibly with a station) on Eglinton itself, and then across Weston Road to a centre platform station west of the intersection.  That station would fit, but with difficulty and existing turn lanes would certainly disappear.  Weston Road does not lend itself to the relocated left turn scheme proposed for the western part of the line. 
  2. In this version, the LRT would emerge from its tunnel on the south side of Eglinton and would cross the valley on its own bridge including an elevated station at Black Creek Drive.  The bridge would end opposite the maintenance yard (which would have its own elevated entry and exit tracks), and the line would go back into tunnel to pass through Weston.  Weston Station would be underground on the west side of Weston Road.
  3. This version places the LRT bridge north of Eglinton, again with an elevated Black Creek Station.  Yard connections are somewhat simpler than in version 2 because the yard is on the same side as the LRT.  West of the valley, the concept is similar to version 2.
  4. This version is completely underground and must be deep enough to get under the river bed.  Black Creek Station would be underground, and the yard would be reached by ramps up from the tunnel to grade.
  5. This version is a variation on option 3 with Weston Station moved east of Weston Road so that it could also connect with a future rail corridor station.  This scheme is the only one to omit a station at Black Creek Drive itself.

Option 5 certainly has the feel of a scheme that was added once the problems of the other four were visible, and I suspect that this will be the preferred grade-separated arrangement.  The combination of a new bridge and the tunnel through Weston will add to the project’s cost, and the real issue is a detailed evaluation of operations through the valley and through Weston Road for the all-surface version.

I cannot help thinking that some of these schemes are leftovers from plans for a possible ICTS line in this corridor where surface operations would be impossible.

In the next installment of this series, I will follow the line from Keele east to Warden, Part 2 of the project display.

32 thoughts on “Eglinton LRT Design (Part 1: Introduction & Western Segment)

  1. Steve: This comment was submitted in another thread before the main article was written. I have moved it here. Note that it refers to parts of the line that will be discussed in sections 2 and 3 of the series.

    I was at the Eglinton Corridor Light Rail Transit meeting at York Memorial School last night and I was impressed with the design for the line some of the highlights are:

    Most of the surface stops are near side and the ones that are far side are usually done for a rational reason. There are a couple that I worry about though.
    I like the one proposal for a 13 m diameter tunnel with one direction being built over the other and the platforms being on the same side, i. e. both on the north or both on the south. This type of construction means that there will be no major cut and cover to build station and it would reduce construction time and probably costs over dual tunnels with cut and cover stations. Turn backs would be done by ramps between stations that would allow trains to go up or down from one level to another in the same wide tunnel. Madrid uses this method for their lines.
    They are designing the subway and surface stations to handle three car trains with all platforms being 90 m long.
    There are almost no left hand turns from Eglinton on the surface at an intersection with a station thus the ability for near side stops.
    They are looking a doing a complete grade separation until west of Weston Road. This might be all in a tunnel or partly on a elevated over Black Creek. The major problem with a tunnel would be access to the car house at the old Kodak plant. They are also looking at a car house at Don Mills.

    I have a few problems with the design for the subway section from Mount Pleasant to Brentcliffe. They are looking at only having a station at Bayview and at Brentcliffe. This would make for a long walk in that area. The construction engineer said that there would be no surface buses anywhere along Eglinton but a woman from transportation said that either the Leslie or the Leaside bus would still run to Yonge St. I hope so.

    Steve: I concur. The stops east of Yonge are more widely-spaced than to the west, and many of them are well-used. This underscores the need for riding counts at each stop to determine the effect of removing stops and the potential market for a surface bus. In the interest of full disclosure, I will reveal that I regularly use one of the stops that would be removed, but I’m not alone.

    The construction engineer said that they still had to finalize the design for Kennedy station as it would have three LRT line in it, Eglinton, Scarborough Malvern and the SRT LRT line. I asked if they were going to convert the SRT to LRT and he said we hope so. Maybe that was just the wishes of the construction engineers but it is nice to hear some one say that.

    Steve: I wish that the Commission itself would get around to saying that too. They are still officially in favour of RT technology, although that decision preceded the decision to extend the line to Malvern.

    The biggest complaint they are having is from the elimination of left hand turns at major intersection that force motorist to go to the next light, U-turn then come back to the intersection for a right hand turn. We cannot inconvenience one person in a private car to speed up 300 people in a LRT train. For the most part it was a well thought out plan. The next round of meetings is in November when they hope to have finalized the route to the Airport, the section from Keele to Weston Road, the location of the station the station at Laird or Brentcliffe but not both, the intersection at Don Mills and the station at Kennedy.

    Steve: I have commented at some length on the left turn issue elsewhere, but it’s not just a question of “inconveniencing one person … to speed up 300”. Depending on the volume of left turns, the cure may be worse than the disease. If the turns are routed onto the north-south streets, then they will add to the load on those streets including both queuing and traffic weaving concerns. If the turns are simply moved east and west of the stop locations, the turns will still need an LRT crossing location complete with a signal.


  2. Steve, can you explain to me why the TTC wants to build modified left turns (turn right at an intersection to go south, then make a u-turn at the next light to go north)?

    Steve: This comment was left in another thread before I wrote the parent post. As I said in the article, I have problems with the proposed left turn arrangements on two counts.

    First, there is no traffic simulation to show how this arrangement will actually behave both at the intersection and in the U-turn locations nearby for various levels of demand that may be present at the affected locations.

    Second, the entire line from Jane Street west to Martin Grove could be configured with the LRT lanes to the north side of the street. This would require a rethink of intersection operations, but this type of alignment has been dismissed out of hand by the TTC. (See comments in main article.)


  3. I note one option for left turns is not explored – proceeding through the junction then right-turn/right-turn/right turn. It wouldn’t work everywhere but it’s a safer option than u-turns. Along Eglinton East there are some open lots with parking where a “loop” could be contemplated.


  4. Regarding the Weston to Black Creek segment, Option 5 certainly makes the most sense. I live in the area, and the additional walk to the central station is only a few minutes. This would also simplify connections with other transit in the area, especially if the Weston GO station were moved, too.


  5. The left hand turn idea seems very odd, and a bit clumsy.

    I’m curious as to why we can’t just have true transit priority, and have the LRT get the green BEFORE left-hand turning drivers.

    Alternately, how about the Calgary model where the ‘train’ has railway lights and guards and over-rides traffic signals whenever it crosses a road/intersection?


    A second line of thought, I know Steve, you’ll make a face; but the more I look at this…..

    Why not just go ALL Subway in the west, since we’re almost 2/3 of the way there now in the design proposals…………

    Steve: Weston to the airport is a rather long way to stay underground especially with all that vacant land right beside the road. If we can’t build LRT where there is lots of space, why bother doing it anywhere else as in …

    And in the east go ALL LRT on the surface? I know the City makes faces about taking lanes away on Eglinton, but nominally, east of Yonge one lane is HOV right now anyway, so taking way that lane shouldn’t be held again the LRT. Eglinton should be able to cope….

    Steve: That HOV lane only operates in the peak period and is parking at other times. You are talking about making the street functionally three traffic lanes, including parking/loading, for both directions, let alone the extra space needed at stops. I know the area well (I grew up near Mount Pleasant and Eglinton and my family still lives there), and what you propose isn’t just a matter of being “able to cope”.

    I just think this 1/2 and 1/2 proposal which, if done perfectly, might be the best of both worlds (Subway and LRT), providing speed, reliability and sensibly spaced stops.

    However, it may if not designed just right, give us the worst of both worlds instead, with stops too far, and service too slow and/or unreliable.

    I’m also noting that as we add more tunnels, might we be getting closer and closer to the cost of a full subway in any event?

    Steve: So far, the only “added” tunnel is at Weston, and that was going to be a likely candidate anyhow. Don Mills will probably need to be at least partly underground too for a reasonable junction with the Don Mills LRT and possibly a DRL East subway. However, that’s a location where underground construction should be fairly easy because there are no buildings to worry about.

    That leaves a lot of surface operation. With the marginal cost of subway construction vs LRT running at least at $200-million/km, putting the whole thing underground will easily chew up a billion or more.


  6. I’m wondering about the LRT Crossings at Jane and Eglinton. Is the proposed Eglinton yard also going to provide service to the Jane LRT, and if so, that’s obviously going to require switches and curve tracks at the intersection.

    Steve: That is mentioned on the panels and in my write-up.


  7. Steve,

    Your comment to Grzegorz just gave me a second question: If the LRT lanes move to the north side at Jane from the middle, it will have to do the same as the Scarborough-Malvern LRT is planning on doing when it crosses that river (because the bridge is too narrow)…it will go diagonally then back to west-east on the north side……how much of a nightmare will that be? Will the roads at Eglinton and for the SMLRT have like those train crossing barriers with flashing red lights?

    Steve: A lot depends on how the line pops out of the tunnel (assuming it is underground) from Weston. If it is going to run on the north side of the road, it can emerge in the correct location. Only if the line is on the surface from Weston will a crossover intersection be needed. This should not be beyond the abilities of Toronto traffic engineers. The light turns red for westbound autos, and the streetcars go in both directions. Autos getting in the way become scrap metal. I really do get tired of having to assume that all morists are terminally stupid.

    Now to my original question, You have been doing this more than me and anyone else so you might know the answer:

    They sort of screwed up the 512 St. Clair … delay after delay plus a lawsuit from the BIA (or was it a citizens/residents group?) … When the TTC did the 510 Spadina, how many months/years/decades did it take to make it ROW?

    Steve: It was a lawsuit from a residents’ group, not from the BIA on St. Clair. The original Spadina proposal was in the 1970s, and it ran aground because some merchants in the garment district objected to a potential loss of parking (the conversion of angled to parallel parking). The biggest problem came from the NDP at Council who painted the Spadina LRT as a juggernaut that would divide the community and would exist only to serve the proposed development at the railway lands. This original design by the TTC had as few stops as they could get away with, and reminds me of current Metrolinx attempts to downplay the need for local service.

    The idea came back again over a decade later. There were objections, but the project was handled somewhat better and local stops were an important part of it. I doubt they added much to the travel time as they are at locations where the streetcars would have stopped for traffic lights anyhow, and demand on the line would have been more concentrated at already busy stops like Queen, Dundas and College.

    How many years/decades will the CrossTown take? This is the one line that can screw up the whole city, split it. Giambrone told me they will do it in three sections at the time, would that help? This line has a huge impact on most North-South routes (up to Kennedy), route diversions, route splitting (ex: 7 Bathurst) and so forth.

    Steve: There is little by way of route splitting proposals because most stations such as Bathurst and Dufferin have no provision for a bus loop where the route could be broken. Everybody in the world does not want to get off at Eglinton and transfer to the LRT line.


  8. As for the left turns, I also noted that they also didn’t consider another option. In fact, it is already used in Toronto, and I believe on Eglinton itself, at Victoria Park. Left turn cars go past the intersection, then turn left onto a side street, which then leads to the cross-street, where the car makes a left onto the cross street.
    Left turns from the cross-street would still be made at the intersection, while turns from Eglinton would be made at the side-street. The traffic lights can be timed so the 2 left turn lights are at the same time as the cross street, so Eglinton will always have 3 reds simulatenously, meaning vehicles on Eglinton itself will usually only have to stop once. (The only problem would be left turn cars would usually have to wait at least one cycle.)

    Steve: The more general issue is that the TTC is inconsistent about whether left turns should be able to cross the right-of-way at all. In the name of better intersection efficiency, they want to move the turns away, but in some schemes and locations, they retain a U-turn across the LRT. This is inconsistent with the idea of removing all conflicting movements. Your proposal is only a variation on the U-turn beyond the intersection, and only work where the local road system is suitable for it.


  9. Currently, making a left turn from Eglinton involves waiting for clear traffic opposite you. Maybe two cars or one truck will get through in a heavy traffic situation.

    If there is an advanced left, maybe 3 vehicles will get through before through traffic is given the go ahead.

    Generally, it is easier to right turn, unless humans or bicyclists dare get in the way of a car.

    I have to see more detail on how the left turns will be handled. Especially in the case of the large tractor-trailer or the tandem trucks, what will the design be to handle them.

    As a transit user, however, I like what I see. I just hope that they do go underground at Weston Road. We do need, however, a station at Laird Drive.

    Also I hope that the underground stations will have a more variable Montréal stations look to them, and not the Queen’s Quay or Union stations look.


  10. Placing the line along the north side of Eglinton west of Scarlett is unfortunately complicated by a large condo tower recently built at the northeast corner of Royal York and Eglinton, a house (which has been there for quite some time) obstinately planted where alignment would be just west of Royal York, and grade issues (and a church parking lot) at Islington.

    The notion is a lovely one (living in the area, I’d like it very much), but sadly impractical.

    Steve: Thanks for that clarification. I’m not sure some of the Metrolinx folks, who wanted to put an ICTS line in a trench there, know about the condo, and I had forgotten about it myself.


  11. Despite all the difficulties there may be in its implementation, I was glad to see the rerouted left turns in this proposal. Other than a few isolated intersections on the Scarborough-Malvern LRT, this is the first indication I’ve seen that the TTC does not plan to export the Left-Turn priority used on Spadina and St. Claire across the entire Transit City network.

    I hope that the engineers put effort into perfecting these rerouted turns rather than making it a false dilemma between the current proposal and the even more imperfect Spadina/St. Clair/Sheppard design.


  12. It’s funny that they say placing the tracks on the side of the road causes a lot of problem and yet they have this planned for the rebuilt of the current Harbourfront section and a small section of Morningside beside the campus.

    Yet they can’t place it on the west end of Eglinton where there is less access point than on Queen’s Quay. Most access points on that segment are signalized except a few near Scarlett and Jane.

    Steve: There are still rumblings from the TTC about the impracticality of the Queen’s Quay arrangement even though it’s their official position.

    Bringing the underground segment just west of Jane should also allow a better connection with the future Jane LRT. So riders don’t have to cross traffic to transfer.

    Will they use up all of the $4 billion they have planned for a line that they don’t even know how exactly it would look like as of now?

    Steve: They have to be careful not to overspend. Some bright spark at Metrolinx actually had the idea of stopping at Weston and letting everyone who wanted to get to the airport use Blue 22. That shows you the brainpower in that particular organization. The idea was dropped, but going all the way to the airport costs money, and it won’t be used up staying underground all the way to Jane.

    Should they also start ordering cars for the lines sometime soon?

    Steve: Yes, especially for Sheppard and Finch. The opening date for Eglinton is a bit further off.

    I think the TTC and their planners are stubborn about their tactics in implementing LRT across Toronto.

    Steve: You will get no arguments from me on that point, although a lot depends on who you’re talking to.


  13. I’m glad they’re worrying about left-turns; I’m just not convinced they’re close to the right answer yet. Some of the drawings are quite over-the-top — the suggestions for Martin Grove have the complexity of a highway interchange.

    Since in so many cases there’s plenty of room, why not simply have two dedicated left-turn lanes (in each direction) at these intersections? Seems like the green time they’d require would be on par with the extra green time the cross-street will need if it’s handling rerouted turning vehicles. And surely the intersections can be designed to keep waiting cars well clear of the tracks.

    Plus, a simpler design may be safer — after all, as long as there’s north-south traffic, “conflicting movements” are unavoidable. All motorists aren’t terminally stupid, but some are, and the more byzantine the route for going left the higher the chance some will decide to make the turn illegally. We only need so much scrap metal.

    As for a parallel surface bus, it seems like the worst of both worlds to design the route assuming there isn’t such a service, and then be forced to introduce it later. It would be interesting to know what the TTC might change in the LRT design if they assumed such a bus would exist.

    Steve: One issue with a double left turn lane is that it makes the distance across the intersection for pedestrians trying to reach the transit stops longer. I still want to see actual numbers for each location to know just how much capacity is needed and whether the proposed arrangement is even feasible. When I consider the crap we go through trying to get true transit priority downtown, I am amazed that this proposal is even on the table.

    It’s almost as if they are deliberately proposing something too complex so that it will get shot down and be replaced by something else. If I were really cynical, I would think they were trying to set up a case for going totally grade separated in preparation for “converting” the line to ICTS just as they did decades ago with the SRT.


  14. Just out of curiosity what happened to the Eglinton BCA? Wasn’t it suppose to be released two months ago by Metrolinx?

    Steve: That was the “old” Metrolinx, the one with politicians and the occasional public meeting. I have no idea where that document is now, or if it ever reached a final stage.


  15. I agree with the north side of Eglinton being rather problematic east of Islington.

    However, what I would be very interested in seeing an evaluation of is a combination of the south side of Eglinton east of Islington and north side of Eglinton west of Islington (the crossing from south to north side of Eglinton would be on the east side of Islington, grade-separated). With two small elevated overpasses (one on the north side just west of Wincott and one on the south side by Mulham) could potentially alleviate a lot of headaches, at a marginal increase in cost, with greatly increased service quality. Have the new bridge across the Humber also cross back to the north side of Eglinton to the east of the river, and plug the portal by the first houses encountered on the north side of Eglinton east of Jane.

    I think option 5 for Black Creek crossing is by far and away the best option. There is nothing to service right at Black Creek and Eglinton anyway, the bus doesn’t even stop there! I am in some disbelief that they would consider dropping a station there at all.


  16. Bigger picture – is Metrolinx still considering building the underground portion of the Eglinton LRT to subway standards? I know this would add costs but if they are serious about building the downtown relief line then Eglinton could provide the possibility of creating an inner city subway loop like the London Circle Line – not an immediate priority but like the Bloor Viaduct maybe something we should plan long term. A lot of transit demand in the inner city will be neighbourhood to neighbourhood which the existing system won’t serve well – let’s create options for the Toronto of 2030 where you could take a non-stop subway from Parkdale to Leaside or South Riverdale to the Junction. Just my two cents.


  17. DOA.

    This plan has just killed the entire transit city IMHO. Taking away people’s left turns is not going to go over well, at all. There are elections between now and the time this is to be “finished”, if this sticks, it’ll end up in the trashbin.

    Steve: As I said, the cynical among us might think this design is calculated to produce opposition to LRT that is entirely undeserved.


  18. More on left turns. As I said earlier, they need to remove this silly idea from the plans or it will kill LRT in Toronto.

    There is tonnes of space here. Why not move the entire street? Imagine a highway cloverleaf design, you can turn right and end up turning left. The only real concerns are cars on Eglinton turning left. One “leaf” in the northeast corner and another in the southwest corner could deal with this. It’s taken me about 5 minutes to come up with this and I’m just some guy with a laptop. There are better ways to do this, and I don’t know why the TTC is not accepting that. Perhaps this is all part of a tactic to get what they want (IE ask for more and “settle” for less – which is what they really wanted in the first place).

    Steve: In many locations, there isn’t enough room to build a partial cloverleaf, and this sort of structure sterilizes streets by turning them into car-oriented spaces.


  19. @Nick
    I don’t think interchanges, especially cloverleafs are visually appealing nor promotes urban development. Not that it isn’t a good idea.

    Using diamond interchanges would save space, but Eglinton will become a more freeway like road. In this case, why not go with plan B, stick the LRT ROW underground at intersections that receive great volumes of traffic.

    It promotes a more subway like LRT and speed.

    Although I really think something like a diamond interchange could be done at Martin Grove Rd. It would help the LRT cross the highway more easily but it all depends on how it gets to the airport.

    Steve: The problem with LRT underpasses is that the line spends much of its time ramping up and down rather than running on the surface. Those ramps present a greater barrier, visually and physically than a surface right of way, and all passengers are forced to use an underground station for the benefit of left-turning motorists. Part of the “embrace” of LRT is to really accept that road capacity will be reduced for cars in favour of transit.

    Also, re subway speeds, that has a lot to do with the station spacing. If you want a fast trip to the airport, then we have to lose about half of the surface stops.


  20. This LRT idea is folly. Our future has always been, and always will be, the zeppelin.

    Steve: Transfers will be easily handled with the new improved flying swanboats!


  21. One important factor that will help us visualize what the impact of left-turn lanes will be on the LRT, and visa-versa, is the frequency of the LRT service. I’ve done a rough calculation based on the reports predicted 175 million riders a year. That breaks down to about 27,000 riders/hr assuming 365 days/year and 18 hours/day with meaningful ridership. Divide that in half for rides each way 13,500 riders/hr. Then comes the tricky part of estimating what the average trip length will be – certainly not end to end. I’ve assumed an average ride of 1/4 of the full route length. That gives about an average 3400 riders/hr in one direction at any single point on the line. The new LRT vehicles will be able to handle something like 200 passengers, so that makes 17 LRT/hr in each direction, or better than one every 4 minutes. But that’s an average load. The rush hour load will obviously be much heavier, probably requiring about 2 minute service. So, in rush hour we can expect a streetcar to be at each intersection at least every second light cycle, if not more frequently.

    Steve: As a rough-and-ready method of estimating, that’s not bad. One caveat, though, is that the greatest demand is in the central part of the route where service may be more frequent. The outer parts, with the grade crossings, could have trains less frequently and therefore less interaction with other traffic.

    You also assume that each vehicle constitutes one train, but Eglinton will run with at least two-car trains, and the stations will be designed for three. This changes the headway versus demand calculation quite a bit.


  22. Like Steven @10:38, I believe partial grade separation of interchanges makes more sense than these off-intersection hook turns….since the hook turns are not consistent across the city, this is going to be accident prone due to excessive weaving in traffic, etc.

    Since Steve does not like LRT undepasses, it would also be possible to do raodway underpasses of the north-south cross streets. Depress the N-S movements only; turns onto Eglinton are still on the surface, turns off Eglinton to N or S are still on surface. The “green time” currently used by the N-S through movement is reallocated to LRT or the turning movements. Doesn’t have to be at every main N-S street, but could be used in the places where traffic volumes and space allow.

    West end of the line should be on the North of the roadway in the current current grass space. In this case I would use LRT underpasses and partially trench the LRT if needed.

    At GO Weston, it seems stupid they have not planned the connection station and are not presenting it now. It will affect the locations or need of the adjacent stations…TTC should build it now and let GO outfit their platform when needed.


  23. With regards to slide 15, I thought that there was not going to be a separate concourse at the station. Couldn’t costs be significantly reduced by having the trains run at the concourse level with platforms on the outside?

    Steve: Trains cannot run at “concourse” level because this space is occupied by utilities. Also, a single platform reduces the number of elevators and escalators needed to get people from surface to platform level. In any event, the design shown on this panel is for a box structure station. If the TTC goes with the single bored tunnel, the station design is completely different as shown in part 3 at slide 62.


  24. The whole rerouted left-turn issue is just goofy. It won’t garner any support from the driving public and shows a lack of imagination. Consider slide 23 (Royal York stop) though any will suffice. With proper signal priority programming both LRTs and left-turning cars can be accommodated thus:

    1. From the car point-of-view, if you are at a red light in a left-turn lane and an LRT is at or approaching the intersection, then the through-portion of the light cycle will happen first followed by the left-turn portion. If no LRT is present or approaching, then the left-turn portion will happen first as usual.

    2. From the LRT point-of-view, if you are approaching an intersection that is currently red, you are guaranteed the next cycle will be green-through for you. If the intersection is currently green, it will be held green until you pass through. If left-turning is currently happening, that cycle will be triggered to end ASAP.

    3. Because these factors are aimed at getting the LRT through the intersection , the LRT platform should be located on the far side of intersection. I.e. The LRT goes through the intersection, loads-unloads passengers, then leaves. This removes the dwell time from the light priority logic. It also has two other main benefits. 1st the real-estate of the intersection is balanced out. The near side of the intersection is the left-turn lane, the far sign is the LRT platform. Obviously reversed for the other direction. The 2nd benefit is that if LRTs do stack up for whatever reason, the 1st LRT will be at the platform while the others will wait before the intersection. Priority signaling in this instance would pause. The added time then for the following LRTs to cycle through the intersection would then regap the LRTs, thus unstacking them.

    On the other-hand, having a driving public who are now conditioned to doing U-turns many times a day rather than once or twice a year could also be interesting.


  25. Neil solution seems fairly elegant, and basically what some have proposed for Spadina, I think. Of course, without the system switched on, Spadina gets the worst of both worlds!

    Steve: Yes, Spadina was designed for “transit priority” with farside stops, but the actual implementation often results in cars stopping twice at each intersection. There are also problems at major crossings where green time for streets like Lake Shore take precedence over transit service. If this sort of thing happens at each major intersection on Eglinton, we will have yet another example of the “War on Transit” by motorists.


  26. Regarding the timing of left-turn phase off Eglinton versus the through phase, I think it is dangerous to swap it dependent on whether the LRT vehicle is present. Left-turning motorists routinely rush through an intersection when their phase has expired. Since LRT vehicles are heavier than cars or buses, the risk of collisions will be higher.

    It is probably more safe to always begin with the through phase on streets with an LRT line, followed by left-turn phase.

    I like the idea of general traffic underpasses for streets that cross an LRT line, although that might be suitable for some intersections only.


  27. As someone who has visited Melbourne a few times, I find the use of the term “Hook Turn” rather confusing. What is described in the panels is more appropriately called a Michigan Left (see for more information).

    Hook turns (see or for details) are performed without turning off of the original street and completed as the traffic signal changes for the cross-street direction.

    Steve: Sorry for mixing the terms. My critique of the proposal is unchanged. If the TTC and its consultants had actually published detailed information about projected traffic movements, lane capacities, traffic signal timings, etc., I might take the proposal seriously. Right now it looks as if someone was too lazy to address the basic issue of transit versus left turn priorities with conventional intersections.


  28. Re: Parallel Service on Eglinton

    Two bus routes-Leaside and Flemingdon-run from Eglinton Station and then south across the Don connecting to the subway.
    If the Don Mills LRT (or the Relief line) is ever built connecting Eglinton Avenue to the Bloor-Danforth subway wouldn’t that siphon off some of the riders of those routes (depending upon where it connects with the subway)?

    If that happens, then wouldn’t the TTC’s next move be to reduce the frequency of the service?

    Steve: The whole point is to set a minimum level of service rather than running a bus every half hour and then complaining that nobody rides it. The service level should not be determined by what other route might run there today.


  29. I have a questions that is slightly off topic. With regards to the DRL route, wouldn’t it be more feasible to run the DRL route past Dundas West Station, and allow the subway to emerge onto surface level next to the railway corridor which is currently proposed for the Blue 22.

    Steve: There is no room in the corridor for another set of surface tracks. Moreover, they would have to go under or over the CPR at West Toronto.

    Essentially this new proposed route would serve local service between Eglinton and Don Mills, through the downtown core and on to the western leg of the line other developing communities. At Dundas West Station the subway can act like an express line running along the rail corridor. Here there will be much fewer stops, one important stop one would be at Eglinton so that it can connect to the Eglinton LRT. There would also probably be a stop at Lawrence and somewhere else before the subway can terminate at the airport. There would be 3 benefits in doing this. 1st You wouldn’t need to push the Eglinton LRT all the way to the Airport it could end at highway 427. 2nd A subway line to the airport would integrate with the existing transit network more effectively, and 3rd it would make traveling to the airport more cheaper for citizens; they wouldn’t need to pay 10 dollars for a trip.

    Steve: The proposed fare for the Air Rail Express is much higher than $10. However, a DRL west would probably stop at Eglinton, and that line (as well as Finch West) would provide the airport connection. The likely demand for DRL west is lower than DRL east, and I expect that the west leg would only be built at the same time as the east leg for political reasons, not for transit planning.


  30. Why not “Philadelphia lefts”, where the drivers are expected to go forward a block, then turn right three times?

    Steve: Because in almost every case the local street layout doesn’t make that at all easy. These are suburban neighbourhoods designed with an inward facing street grid and long blocks facing onto Eglinton itself. Only a few of the affected locations lend themselves to this sort of arrangement, and then we would face opposition from residents who don’t want traffic forced into their neighbourhoods.


  31. Steve,

    Has anyone actually officially complained to the commissioners about the stop spacing east of Yonge Street, particularly the lack of a station at, or near, Laird?

    Steve: I don’t know about Commissioners, but they have certainly heard about it in the public meetings. Whether anyone will listen, however, is another matter.


  32. Steve,

    My idea of Eglinton Crosstown LRT, it’s good being elevated from the airport to Jane St. in its own LRT lane. But at Weston Rd. the street is too narrow to accomdate it at that intersection. My suggestion is option 5 that it go underground east of Jane St., make the Weston Rd/Mt. Dennis stop underground east of Weston and west of Georgetown GO train line, skipping Black Creek Stop. I understand the important connections to storage LRT facility is important if the old kodak building be turned into one. Then it could travel elevated north side of Eglinton(if necessary) in its own lane tunnel portal east of train tracks crossing Black Creek Dr., the river and go underground east of Black Creek. What do you think of my suggestion? Will the LRT be big and wide enough to hold luggage on it and the seating arrangements?

    Steve: An elevated system is a total waste of money. For the level of service that will be needed west of Weston, it can run at grade. Unfortunately, the TTC persists in planning it as if every single train will run to the airport. As for the cars, they will be roughly the same width as existing vehicles. The seating layout is most critical for dealing with luggage.


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