Metrolinx Reviews the Richmond Hill Subway Extension

On August 7, Metrolinx released the Executive Summary of an Interim Benefits Case Analysis for the Richmond Hill extension of the Yonge Subway.  The most important text appears on the introductory page:

This interim BCA appraisal of the project raised a number of key network related considerations.  Considering this, Metrolinx, in close collaboration with the City of Toronto, TTC and York Region, will undertake additional analysis to more comprehensively understand these matters and how they impact the network and project scope. The analysis will include:

  • Possible adjustments in project scope, timing or phasing;
  • Consideration of the extent to which improved service levels on the parallel GO Richmond Hill rail corridor to off-load some of the demand on Yonge Subway corridor (existing and proposed extension); and
  • The cost impacts of the various options on the subway yards strategy, Yonge-Bloor subway station improvements; and a future Downtown Relief Line to bypass the Yonge-Bloor congestion pinchpoint.

The BCA process for this project has identified a range of development and congestion pressures along the Yonge Subway corridor. In partnership with York Region, TTC and the City of Toronto, Metrolinx will be carrying out the work above and report back to the Metrolinx Board on the resolution of key project issues in late 2009.

This statement is the first official recognition outside of Toronto Council that the Richmond Hill subway must be reviewed in the larger context of network performance and the stress that additional loads will put on the system.  When Toronto gave guarded approval to the subway extension, but with a long list of pre- and co-requisites, many complained that this was just Toronto being obstructionist, the sort of behaviour that led to politicians being kicked off of the Metrolinx board.  Things have changed.

The Benefits Case Analysis clearly had its origin in simpler times when Metrolinx projects were considered in isolation.  Page 1 of the BCA lists only three alternatives for consideration:  two subway versions (differing only in the number of stations) and a BRT scheme.  There is no mention of alternatives such as GO improvements or LRT, but at least the potential for overloading the existing subway system is acknowledged.  Later, the report acknowledges that it is part of a larger collection of studies (as noted in the introductory text above), but this is not reflected in the options that were evaluated.

In a bit of accounting sleight-of-hand, only part of the cost of Bloor-Yonge Station improvements are charged to the extension project on the ground that other factors will increase demand and the cost should not all be charged to the extension.  This misses the basic point that the extension would be the trigger, and indeed has already been used to justify upgrading capacity on the existing subway system.

The options shown on page 2 show that demand in the corridor between Finch and Richmond Hill would place roughly 9,000 peak hour passengers on the subway, about 3/4 of the total travel in this corridor.  Most of the rest would be on an infrequent GO service (every 30 minutes) in this scheme, even though Metrolinx’ own plans call for substantial improvement in service to Richmond Hill.

BRT is rejected as an option because its capacity is only 3,000 per hour, and the demand is well above this level.

Footnote 2 of this table states the obvious, that demand peaks before implementation of Richmond Hill Express Rail service currently planned for the 2021-2031 timeframe.  Why would we spend a fortune on expanding capacity of the existing subway system if the demand will be siphoned off by another future project?

Page 3 tells us that the benefit-cost ratio for the subway options is 0.7.  We have to take this with a grain of salt given the underlying methodology.  The lion’s share of the benefit comes from reduced auto commuting (“Transportation User Benefits” on page 4), but this would also occur with improved GO service.  The benefit of those redirected trips would no longer be available as an offset to the cost of the subway extension, and the benefit-cost ratio for the subway proposals would be much lower.  This is masked by the absence of an option which includes significantly improved GO service to which much of the “user benefits” would be assigned.

One major flaw in the Metrolinx BCA methodology is the inclusion of “economic impacts during construction”, in other words, the job creation of building the line.  This “benefit” can only be assigned to a specific project if the money would not otherwise be spent elsewhere.

However, in any evaluation of network alternatives, we can reasonably assume that we have “X” billion dollars to spend on something, and the real question is where we get the best return for the investment.  Claiming an economic benefit from construction skews the evaluation of projects to those that cost the most and therefore provide the greatest short-term job stimulus.  One could argue in the extreme that not spending billions on public transit would be beneficial because the money would be available for other uses such as reduction of provincial debt or tax relief.

This “analysis” is a farce.  Clearly, Metrolinx sees that an isolated review of the Yonge Subway extension misses the bigger picture.  Oddly enough, they didn’t bother to publish the full analysis, only the summary.  I suspect that the complete report would be far too embarrassing given the superficial work visible here.

We must now await the outcome of several other studies, notably those for improved GO service and for the subway options into downtown.  This work should have been underway long ago, but at least, finally, it is started.  Is the era of “I want a subway” planning finally over?

44 thoughts on “Metrolinx Reviews the Richmond Hill Subway Extension

  1. “misses the basic point that the extension would be the trigger”

    I am hard-pressed to agree, at least where the Bloor line is concerned. The crowding levels on that island platform at PM peak are frequently worrying, especially where the platform narrows to accommodate stairs/escalators. To my mind, some way to relieve or at least manage the pressure on that platform is already necessary. Certainly TTC personnel should be proactively monitoring peak crowding and turning off downward escalators during subway disruptions to avoid incidents where people are being forced off the moving escalator when those ahead of them have been unable to move further into the platform area.

    I have previously commented on TTC’s policy of only announcing disruptions on one line to that line, when passengers on connecting lines could be asked to make their connections at other points or requested to use alternate surface routes such as Bay. Instead passengers arrive at Yonge/Bloor unknowing to find crowding and unsafe conditions.

    Steve: The problem is that the TTC has always focussed on the Yonge line’s level for improvements with BD coming as an afterthought, albeit an expensive one at least as complex as an expansion “upstairs”. This is where the DRL comes in by reducing the transfer demand at Bloor-Yonge, among other effects.

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  2. Metrolinx seems to be playing both sides of the same argument. It acknowledges the role a Downtown Relief Line may play in the network, yet neglects the reality that the Downtown Relief Line would remove the need for a Bloor-Yonge renovation, especially if the line goes farther north to Overlea or Eglinton, which would make the existing RTP projections underestimated. The accounting must take the full cost of the Bloor-Yonge renovation when comparing to the Downtown Relief Line. It is true that if neither the DRL nor the Yonge North Extension are built that something would be needed to deal with Bloor-Yonge, but the DRL makes that completely unnecessary with or without the Yonge North Extension.

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  3. It is about time that someone looked at the problems created by a Yonge subway extension, aside from your blog participants. There is a lot more of Toronto East of Yonge St. than there is to the west but the Spadina subway was built without a comparable line to the east. This is probably a carryover from me Mel Lastman and Ester Shriner.

    Steve: The subway was used to sanitize the expressway scheme from criticism. There is no earthly reason for the subway to be where it is other than the expressway corridor and Yorkdale (which determined where the expressway would go).

    Spadina is the west side downtown relief line as it intercepts a lot of passengers west of Yonge street and takes them downtown. There needs to be an equivalent line to the east. If they want to run something up north, extend the DRL, as long as Toronto does not have to pay for it, or beef up the Richmond Hill GO service. Metrolinks needs to look at the entire network to see what needs to be done rather than on a line by line basis. It is good to see that they are somewhat belatedly doing this.

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  4. I have to take issue with your view that GO being the be-all and end-all to relieving demand on the subway system. While improved GO service certainly has its place, most of the GO lines (including Richmond Hill) are poorly located relative to the main demand centres. The Richmond Hill line curves east south of Highway 7, and thus does not provide any service to Yonge south of Highway 7 and does not connect to North York Centre or any other dense areas until Union Station. GO lines tend to be like 400-series highways, in that they are dependent on feeder service (bus and park-and-ride) because they tend to be far away from major demand centres. Furthermore, there is the nasty issue of the freight railways which limit the amount of service GO can run on lines which it does not own.

    The Richmond Hill GO line will certainly reduce demand somewhat on the Yonge line, but not sufficiently. Lots of people from the north will still be using the Yonge line, whether they get there by bus or LRT or get directly on the subway. And anything that relieves the Yonge line by getting 905ers off it will just encourage 416ers to fill it up more. It is unfair to charge York Region massive amounts of money for upgrades to the Yonge line and Bloor-Yonge station because these are already needed without the subway extension. If they want a subway extension, let them pay for it and let the TTC pay for improvements in the 416.

    Steve: I never said that GO is the ONLY solution, simply that it is an important part of the overall package. As for who pays for it, the last time I looked, Queen’s Park was paying for 100% of new transit projects. If we are doing a cost-benefit analysis of network changes, it doesn’t matter who is paying, but that X-billion dollars will be spent by somebody. How that should be spent is the important question.

    The worst thing is to lowball a project by understating its impact and then saying “oops, we need to spend more to fix the problems we just created”. Subway planners are very good at that sort of thing.

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  5. I agree that we should not be afraid to look at a subway going up Pape/Don Mills. To Eglinton for sure, but how much further? I’d be interested to see how much traffic a Don Mills subway to Sheppard could divert from the Yonge line using current ridership patterns. Remember that people don’t like riding crowded vehicles, and even if 2% of people take a longer trip (say from Bayview and Eglinton, to the Don Mills/DRL subway, rather than the Yonge line) that is still a 2% effective increase in the capacity of the Yonge line.

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  6. Steve: The subway was used to sanitize the expressway scheme from criticism.

    Not true. The Spadina subway (to St. Clair and Bathurst) was on the books as far back as 1958 — long before there was any stigma attached to the expressway. I wish you would stop rewriting history like that.

    You seem to think that all Richmond Hillers want to go to Union. The point of a subway extension is to get them on the network so that they can transfer to other subway and LRT lines. You cannot equate GO with a subway extension — they’re two different animals.

    I don’t know if it’s a case of jealousy or what … “oh if they get a subway we have to get one too”, but the fact is that B-Y should have been relieved years ago, even without the RH extension. Why all this talk about it now?

    Why doesn’t the TTC install a x-over west of Bay Lower and terminate/stub the AM St. Clair W. short turns there? Reopen the station and use that as a another transfer point to alleviate St. George and B-Y. It’s only one stop west of B-Y and could serve as an attractive transfer point in the AM peak.

    Steve: Sometimes the degree to which you distort my position gets a tad annoying. I never said that we don’t need a Richmond Hill subway (although depending on the mood I am in, I will put up a strong argument against it). What I said consistently was that some form of parallel service is needed to handle the demand in the corridor. There are many people in York Region who do want to go to central Toronto, and they would use the GO train. Those who want to go elsewhere may well not contribute to demand at the subway’s peak point because they will have left the line somewhere to the north.

    As for a crossover at Bay, that would be impossible as you should very well know because immediately west of the platform are two sharp, steep curves into the wye. As for stubbing the St. Clair West short turns there, you may not know that the TTC plans to extend that service further north, first to Glencairn, then eventually to at least Downsview. Short-turning these trains at Bloor Street would short-change riders on the Spadina line.

    As for the expressway, certainly it and many others were on the books long before the subway proposals, but by the era of the great expressway battles, transit was used to sanitize what had, by then, become a less then welcome proposal.

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  7. Actually, GO transit and the rail corridors it uses tend to be quite close to major demand centres, so I don’t see why it shouldn’t be a major part of a relief strategy.

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  8. Something worth bearing in mind also, and related to the recent Don Mills post/thread, a new GO track connection north of Wynford would allow some Richmond Hill trains to roll into North Toronto for those not bound for Union but much farther north, while the remainder of Richmond Hill trains continue to serve Union via the CP Don Branch. Metrolinx should try to get some figures for such a branched service model, it would be very interesting, very useful information. If there’s a large volume from North Toronto GO heading for midtown, it could be of particular benefit and increase reverse peak ridership (although it is worth noting that Bloor-Eglinton is already the highest reverse-peak riderhip in the system, clocking around 12K in the peak hour)

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  9. To Andrew:

    GO might not be the be-all, end-all solution but it certainly won’t cost us an arm and a leg to implement better quality service along a PREEXISTING transit corridor. To extend YUS to to Richmond Hill is already escalating up into the $5 billion dollar mark for a measly 6kms of new track, and considering the type of land usage en route, I question whether it is even necessary

    People keep hyping up the Yonge and Clark intersection as justification for it but to me this is no more impressive than about five dozen or so other high-rise clusters region-wide that aren’t on any type of radar to get new subways. It boggles the mind as to why we always must go to the most expensive option for areas of lower density (Thornhill, Sheppard through Willowdale) yet a corridor which already has on average 150,000 transit users a day (Eglinton) will be ill-fated with a mixed-traffic road median LRT line.

    Now tell me how York Region is being harmed in any way were this following alternative to be implemented:

    – Electify the exclusively GO owned and operated Bala Sub to allot 5-min headways of train service to Richmond Hill, Langstaff and even a new infill stop around John/Bayview. Remember each train carries 1800 seated passengers; 6-car T1s carry about 1000. Note also, it’s only every second subway train that’ll head north of Finch Stn meaning customers at RHC would have to wait every five minutes regardless for rapid transit into Toronto.

    – Extend the subway only to Steeles Avenue. The simplicity of the alignment to this point means costs can be kept low ($750 million tops). Forget about the elaborate underground bus terminal that threatens to expropriate homes and businesses closeby and just utilize the vacant SW corner at Yonge/Steeles. Centrepoint can always deck over the rest of its parking lot to create new above-grade parking facilities if warranted.

    – Interline the Sheppard Subway onto the YUS Subway. I know Steve has issue with this but if the line will never be extended out then why have it continue to be a white elephant? So for someone whose trip originates from RHC/Langstaff GO destined for points directly along the Yonge Street corridor, only a single transfer at Oriole/Leslie is required.

    Steve: It’s not that I “have issues”, it is that interlining is physically impossible given the way the junction is built between the two routes. We really don’t need to tear Yonge and Sheppard apart again.

    – Relocate Oriole GO Stn such that it’s parallel to Leslie Stn. This would allot for a simple transfer between commuter-rail and subway. That this hasn’t happened yet should infer to us all that our transit-employed contractors can’t keep to a time-limited schedule; so imagine the many years Yonge St motorists and pedestrians and property owners would encounter disruption were they to tear up that corridor for excavation.

    Steve: You may be amused to know that a connection between the two stations has been sitting unopened while agencies fight over who is responsible for things like snow clearance.

    – Reserved bus lanes through Thornhill’s Yonge St for VIVA buses. This will offer better local accessibility than the subway would as it’d make five stops en route opposed to the subway’s 3 and would allow same-level accessibility for seniors and those whom would have difficulty climbing/descending stairs.

    – All the 300-Series express bus routes to Finch GO Terminal from Beaver Creek/Markham could utilize private, reserved BRT lanes through the Finch Hydro Corridor. These services could seamlessly link to Seneca College and Old Cummer GO en route.

    – Markham residents would benefit far more from having the “Don Mills” LRT extend into York Region and run parallel to Hwy 7 between Doncrest and Markville. This links all the major commercial, civic and business centres of that city- Beaver Creek, Markham Town Ctr, Unionville- and the Centennial GO Stn. Were this a grade-separated operation, not at the mercy of local traffic signals, the quality of service could be in the realm of subway operation (2 1/2 minute headways).

    – Toronto itself could operate a Crosstown BRT route through the Finch Hydro Corridor continuously from Weston Rd to Warden. To the west, Finch Ave is wide enough to accomodate reserved BRT lanes in leiu of the LRT line at a fraction of the costs. This could run past Humber College to serve points down the 4/27 corridor~ Woodbine Ctr; Woodbine Racetrack; Dixon Rd- transfer to Eglinton/DRL line; Burnhamthrope (ECC/Vahalla Corporate Ctr); Dundas (Cloverdale Mall); and Sherway Gdns- transfer to B-D Line extension.

    – East of Warden, the Finch Crosstown line could route past Bridletowne down to Sheppard Ave through Agincourt; then along private ROW adjacent the Midtown sub to Malvern Town Ctr. Here it could meet with the SRT line.

    – And I’ve already explained in the Don Mills thread how a 42-km long continuous Jane-Eglinton-Don Mills LRT line in exclusive ROW and a 42-km long DRL subway line from Pearson Int’l Airport to Scarborough Ctr (with BRT for everywhere else) may very well be a better utilization of the Transit City funding than what is being undertaken, which IMO is not in the transit using public’s best interest.

    See, these are projects the TTC/Metrolinx COULD have been recommending instead of jumping the gun by prioritizing subways where LRT hasn’t even been attempted yet and in turn place LRTs where BRT has never gone. Both the original Bloor and Yonge Lines were overcapacitated streetcar routes before subways were ever thought of to handle loads.

    It’s this mentality that anything less than subways for York Region is inferior and ergo challenges their status quo, that’s dooming our entire urban region to transit ruin because the most costly of higher-order metros are being prioritized for the wrong lower-density, lower trip-generating corridors and areas; meanwhile the densely populated, skyscrapered and multiple points-of-interest enriched downtown cores of Mississauga, Toronto and Scarborough continue to go without any new E-W subways. Ridiculous!

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  10. Moving that short-turn further north defeats its original purpose — to provide space for B-D passengers.

    What if they installed a cross-over EAST of Bay Lower — then, only during the 8 – 9 AM rush, every 2nd train from the east passes through, but does not stop at, Yonge Stn. … stopping at Bay Upper instead (before heading west). Stub the St. Clair W. short turns at the lower platform and force the transfers there.

    B-D passengers from the east that want to get to Wellesley, College, and Dundas can board the “even” trains and change at B-Y. Those wanting Queen, King, Union, or University can take the “odd” trains and transfer at Bay.

    Lots of negatives to this approach — passenger confusion, inconvenience, longer waits, etc., but the station is alleviated until a proper DRL can be built.

    Steve: Again, if you look at the way the structure east of Bay Station works, it would be very difficult to insert a crossover there. There is barely room, it’s on a grade, and I’m not sure whether you would need to take out some important structural supports to make room for this arrangement.

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  11. Is Metrolinx planning to open more stations in urban Toronto? M. Briganti alluded to the fact that not all Richmond Hillers want to go all the way to Union. This is just as important in the other direction. How is all-day two-way service going to work when nobody who lives between Union and Oriole (roughly Don Mills and Sheppard) can take advantage of it?

    Is it too much to ask for a GO station at intersections of GO service and subway lines? (eg, shouldn’t it be possible to get a connection with Castle Frank for the Richmond Hill GO?)

    Steve: Please see the discussion of Swan Boats and Trebuchets under “fantasy” on this site. Castle Frank Station is a long way west of the CN Bala Subdivision, and separated by quite a vertical rise. It would require the largest installation of escalators in Toronto, at least half of which would never work, to cover the distance, and riders would be delivered to the BD subway at a point where it is not always possible to board the trains in the peak period.

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  12. “It would require the largest installation of escalators in Toronto, at least half of which would never work, to cover the distance, and riders would be delivered to the BD subway at a point where it is not always possible to board the trains in the peak period.”

    That sounds a lot better than the ‘solution’ we have today: Go to Union, then take the subway back up to Bloor and change there for points along the B-D. Failing that, a station somewhere south of Bloor with a connection of some kind to a streetcar route would give access to east downtown. Its important given capacity issues at Union to get as many people off the trains before they get to Union.

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  13. “Andrew ” I agree 100% with your position. Most GO lines are isolated in the sense that they don’t produce their own ridership demand, they are dependent on buses and cars. The current Richmond Hill GO line is poorly serviced and isolated. Even if they added stops at Eglinton and Lawrence for example, these stations would be complete isolated, and far from any major node.

    Not to go off topic but I have a big problem with Metrolinx plan to create express rail on current CP lines. If the government is truly serious about creating a regional network might I suggest that they start buying or making their own rail corridor. Why must the government focus on existing rail corridors just because they’re there.

    The DRL and Richmond Hill subway lines should be created at the same time.

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  14. > Actually, GO transit and the rail corridors it uses tend to be quite close to major demand centres, so I don’t see why it shouldn’t be a major part of a relief strategy.

    The major demand corridor in this area is Yonge Street, and the Richmond Hill line goes nowhere near there between Highway 7 and Union. Instead it curves east through the Don Valley where connections to the rest of the network are quite difficult in places (especially at Bloor/Danforth). Thus, the Richmond Hill is basically an express line to Union Station, which does not serve points in between along the Yonge Street corridor and offers few opportunities for connections to points elsewhere. It serves a completely different form of demand from local service on Yonge Street. Most of the people attracted by a new GO service will probably be drivers, not passengers on bus+Yonge subway. Certainly more GO service is necessary, but GO will not eliminate the need for improved transit service on Yonge Street.

    As for what mode is necessary for a northern extension of the Yonge subway, LRT is probably sufficient for the time being. However, if York Region wants a subway, they should be allowed to have it if they pay for it as any resulting additional congestion on the south end is simply the positive effect of increased ridership on a subway vs. LRT. A relief line for the Yonge subway will be needed no matter what.

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  15. A few thoughts:

    It would likely cost over $half a billion to twin track the current Richmond Hill alignment because of issues that wouldn’t affect many other alignments – most of the valley run is built into hillsides that are prone to sliding, the existing trestles are all wood and in need of replacing as new bridges are being built, and of course there’s the diamond separation that must be done as well… And that’s assuming folks at MOE/MNR/TRCA would be willing to accept new rail in the Don Valley.

    The alternative alignment that avoids much of the valley, of course, involves rebuilding a wye that is currently being repurposed as a multi-use trail by the City.

    I very much doubt that short headways are achievable on the Bala sub even with twin tracking, and certainly the operating speed will never get above 40mph due to the curvature. So it will always be a slow train into town, electrified or not.

    I’ve used the Oriole to Leslie interchange, and it’s a pretty long haul in the winter, snow or no (the fences have been porous for a lot of the time). The connection is not very intuitive, and if you need to see a fare collector you have to walk all the way to the Sheppard Street entrance. I’d prefer the GO station be moved northward, but that would cause problems for users of the current GO parking location and the pedestrian bridge south of the 401…

    Suggesting that the GO trains could use the old station at Summerhill kind of defeats the purpose of killing the subway, doesn’t it? I mean, won’t the GO riders still contribute to the Yonge/Bloor problems? So we’re left with the Union terminus – in which case the argument that the Richmond Hill GO line in some way relieves traffic destined for uptown Toronto is once again a bit of a stretch. I suppose that you could move the GO station to Dupont subway station. Good luck getting the local residents to buy into that – you thought the Junction folks gave GO political headaches?

    That said, in a perfect world I’d be happy to see all three major expenditures (YSE, GO frequent service and DRL to Eglinton) be made. It’s up to the analysis to determine what order and timing they should be done.

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  16. Will there be a connection between the Richmond Hill GO line and the Eglinton LRT?

    Steve: This would be difficult considering the vertical separation between the CN line in the valley and Eglinton Avenue.

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  17. Hi Steve

    Re: The Spadina subway and expressway.

    I seem to recall that the reason the subway was built on the original alignment was so that it would be easier to build the expressway at a later date.

    Steve: One way or another, the two projects had a symbiotic relationship.

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  18. J Johnson writes

    “All the 300-Series express bus routes to Finch GO Terminal from Beaver Creek/Markham could utilize private, reserved BRT lanes through the Finch Hydro Corridor. These services could seamlessly link to Seneca College and Old Cummer GO en route. ”

    The envirnomental impact on the West and East Don and on the various tribituaries should give people considering transit down that corridor pause. That, and I take it you would put a big honking bridge over the dam east of Dufferin?

    Its 30 minutes from Jane to Finch Station on a 36 bus, when there isn’t a sinkhole and 30 minutes from Warden on a 39. How much damage do we create for the sake of people being able to walk from Go onto a faster bus?

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  19. Steve: “This would be difficult considering the vertical separation between the CN line in the valley and Eglinton Avenue.”

    The vertical separation isn’t that bad since Eglinton drops down part way into the valley before crossing the CN line and the East Don. The real problem is that the track at Eglinton is literally between the slope and the river; resulting in an expensive undertaking for even a simple platform.

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  20. The location of new transit must be driven by where future demand is going to be. Otherwise, if there is no future growth by intensification of residents or employment, then the status-quo transit system should be fine.

    One only has to look at Yonge in North York to see the combination of development and subway, remembering that the subway has been there 30 years now and initially there was little else there. On the other hand, the Spadina line has prompted little to no development. The two have to go together to make the transit expense worthwhile.

    If/when the Richmond Hill extension is built, I expect that development could rival North York’s, but it won’t happen overnight either.

    As long as Toronto keeps (in future) building more employment south of Bloor, then more employees have to come from somewhere. Spreading out the employment centres is a much better use of transit resources overall.

    Although subways are expensive, they are around for a long time. They have to be placed where the most intense future useage is going to be (not just now, but over the next generations), and that means city planning has to be far forward-looking and be meshing with transit too.

    Steve: A few points here. First, “Downtown North York” is nowhere near as dense as parts of the city further south. Second, it is a TTC myth that only looks at development at subway stations, because many parts of the system have no immediate development but lots of demand thanks to surface feeder routes. As an example, my home station, Broadview, is quite busy although there are only five high-rises in the immediate vicinity otherwise surrounded by low-rise residential. However, the bus routes feed in from higher density neighbourhoods to the north. Density doesn’t have to be in walking distance to affect demand at the stations.

    In downtown Toronto, the wild card is population growth. How many of the new downtown jobs will be filled by people living downtown who pose no commuting load at all.

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  21. I think it is time that the Richmond Hill GO line was LRT-ized. Put stops at the Finch LRT (moving Old Cummer), Leslie Subway (slightly moving Oriole), Eglinton LRT, and Queen. Run it every 10 minutes. Presto! You’ve diverted a substantial part of the subway-bound riders of the constant Steeles, Finch, Sheppard and Eglinton lines, and given them interconnections with major east-west routes. All without building underground or acquiring additional rights of way. The north Yonge line, relieved.

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  22. There is a real problem with building subways to handle future demand in the way that we did for Sheppard. If thirty years from now we’ll need a subway (so we think), then if we have the money in 20 years ’cause we surely don’t right now, build it then. Anyone can draw a line down a map and say that there will eventually be enough demand for a subway, and they’d probably be right. High-density development is happening along the Sheppard corridor, but that doesn’t justify the subway.

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  23. Steve wrote about the Leslie and Oriole stations:
    “You may be amused to know that a connection between the two stations has been sitting unopened while agencies fight over who is responsible for things like snow clearance.”

    Kevin’s comment:

    This sort of feuding by government agencies at the expense of the public really angers me. The provincial government has got the power (including power over municipalities), but needs to use it to knock heads together. Something along the lines of “if you clowns can’t agree by September 1, you’re all fired and we’ll solve the responsibility issue by flipping a coin.”

    That said, the most sensible thing to do is relocate the Oriole station 250 metres north up the track so that it is co-located with Leslie. That this wasn’t done in the first place is also a mind-boggling failure of GO to cooperate with the TTC.

    Steve: Your advice about knocking heads might make sense if the Provincial Government were not one of the agencies involved.

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  24. I am curious about what the existing capacity of the Richmond Hill GO line is. Questions like:

    1. Is it possible to re-route the existing freight operations to other parts of the railway network? Presumably this will result in longer freight journeys for which the railways will expect compensation, but my fundamental question is “is this possible?”

    2. Assuming that the answer to the above is “yes,” what headway is possible with the existing track? Are there passing sidings to allow two-way operation on the existing single-track line?

    In short, what can be done with the existing infrastructure?

    Steve: The problem lies in which freight operations you want to move. If you’re talking about the North Toronto subdivision, rather heroic efforts would be needed to divert the CPR freight traffic elsewhere with the CN York Sub as the only available candidate. There are problems at some points along that line due to nearby construction which constrains the ability to widen the corridor. And, no, you wouldn’t fit both CN’s and CP’s traffic on the existing track.

    As for Richmond Hill, that line is very lightly used but has infrequent, peak direction only service today, and additional track will be needed to increase the capacity, as well as a planned grade separation where the line crosses the York Sub.

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  25. I don’t think including the economic impacts is a problem. Yes – if you spend more – you get more spin-off from the construction in terms of (especially) local jobs. However, this doesn’t ignore the overall cost – it just provided an offset . As long as the analysis is done consistently, this is not an issue.

    The biggest issue is the 3,000 capacity for BRT. The existing study documents show capacity already above 3,000 (without any improvements).

    This shows (p. 17) capacity with current transit service NORTH OF STEELES – at about 4200 per hour

    This indicates (see p 15) current peak per direction buses between Steeles and Finch at 350+ between 6 am and 9 am. (Some of these are the VIVA articulated. This means -even at 55 per bus (conservative) , the capacity is at 6,400 pphpd.

    Steve: One big problem with capacity calculations for BRT is that much depends on the nature of the service. If the express lanes are used for line-haul service without making local stops, then you can get far more buses per hour than is possible if there are locations where all or most buses stop. When you must stop service with very short headways, you require a substantial platform space as well as passing space for the truly express trips.

    The buses between Finch and Steeles are almost all express trips that serve no local stops.

    In any event, I was commenting with some surprise that Metrolinx was using an upper bound for BRT that is generally lower than what we see from other agencies. In this case, they seem to be forcing the argument to subway technology by lowballing the only other alternative they consider.

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  26. Re: The Spadina Expressway. Heck, ANY expressway.

    The seminal ideas, complete with plans for the Spadina Expressway, AND the 401, AND the Scarborough Expressway can trace their origins to the 1930’s!!! Except for a subway in the downtown, planned from at least the 1910’s if not earlier, no subway thinking of ANY SORT started to appear until the 1940’s that pushed beyond the Yonge/Downtown idea. The expressway thinking predates this. Only the Depression and the Second World War prevented the car industry from dominating earlier than it did.

    Call it what you want, but the Spadina Line was meant to “cover up” the massive mistake the Spadina Expressway became. I still remember the arguments, even during construction, that the subway should have gone up Bathurst. Maybe, just maybe, building the University Line under University was folly, maybe it should have gone under Spadina or Bathurst in the Downtown. I’ve heard those arguments, stating that then there would have been no debate as to having the subway go up Bathurst north of Bloor. It’ s immaterial. The population densities favored the Bathurst corridor over the Spadina Expressway corridor, University notwithstanding.

    When this is all taken into consideration, it really does seem that City politicians, for the most part of the 20th Century, thought farther and longer about expressways than subways, or public transit. That they didn’t succeed is the reason Toronto didn’t experience the massive ghettos and blight most American cities had, and are only beginning to recover from.

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  27. As someone who took the Yonge line during rush hour for a while, extending the line into Richmond hill, simply means that instead of it being to standing capacity at North York Centre and crush load by York Mills, you will have it at crush capacity around Finch. This means that any Toronto resident south of Finch who wants to use the subway will have to wait as train after train of Markham and Richmond Hill riders go whizzing by, on trains that Toronto tax payers are paying to operate. I think extending the subway beyond the Toronto borders simply turns the TTC into another GO transit.

    Steve: Two points. First, only every second train will go to Richmond Hill. Second, the whole idea of building a DRL and/or much improved GO service is to divert various demands off of the Yonge line to leave room for people whose travel actually is best handled on the existing subway.

    Having said that, part of the problem with “regional” planning is that it has talked about integration, but rarely looked at distributing demand over a network of lines rather than loading it all onto one pet project.

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  28. I think it is worth mentioning, there are consultant reports from the 1950s that talk about the cheap cost of building the subway in the expressway. Doesn’t make it right (and anybody that says it should have been under Bathurst is absolutely correct), but it does go beyond conspiracy theories.

    Steve: A marriage of convenience.

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  29. OgtheDim said:
    “The environmental impact… should give people considering transit down that corridor pause.”
    “How much damage do we create for the sake of people being able to walk from Go onto faster bus?”

    The Finch ‘West’ LRT will create far more damage and disruption from the loss of close knit local bus stops for those unable or unwilling to hike it an additional 400-600m to a LRT stop; to the decreased frequency of transit trips across Finch; to the expropriation and loss of several homes and businesses from on-street ROW construction through neighbourhoods where buildings come right up to curbside. And I don’t buy for a second FWLRT will even conform to that 30-36 minute trip duration you estimated when factoring in commutes being at the mercy of traffic signals and unforeseen issues with other road users due to lack of exclusive private ROW.

    As buses can operate at headways as low as 10 seconds between vehicles (compared to at least one minute headways for rail vehicles), actual busway capacity can reach passenger rail capacities. LRT meanwhile occupies urban space above ground to the complete exclusion of other users (FHC BRT would only take up a driveway’s width of that greenspace off to one side); requires modifications to traffic flow; exposes neighbouring populations to moderate levels of low-frequency ambient noise and in the event of a breakdown or accident, or even roadworks and maintenance, a whole section of the tram network can be blocked. Trams also can run on a lot of electricity (750 V DC/15 kV AC) meaning each added vehicle poses new strain, leading towards overloading our electrical mains.

    Environmental impacts for FHC BRT would be minimal if any because the only source of contamination (greenhouse gas exhaust) is hardly at all discharged from compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles, which could be used for the fleet rather than conventional gasoline/diesel powered vehicles. In the event of a spill, natural gas is lighter than air and disperses more quickly when released. The water in your tap hence suffers virtually no ill effect and undergoes further treatment regardless than what’s seen stewing in an exposed dam. And advances in hybrid technologies mean that by the time this is up and running there’d be zero ecological footprints traced back to operating this service.

    A ‘big honking bridge’ structure (?) over the reservoir as you say really affects no one other than NIMBYs because bridges, elevated guideways, side-of-roadway exclusive ROWs, etc. do not have to be viewed as intrusive or sterilizing to the communities through which they run. But rather they can bring with them: neighbourhood beautification projects, increased property values, act as status symbol, improved quality of life for area resident commuters and increased desirability to reside in those areas. Were such a stigmatism adopted years ago, we would have no B-D and YUS lines through residential neighbourhoods as evident today and no elevated highways and railroads through Toronto’s suburbs and urban centres. Progress sometimes involves what some would deem eyesores but without them the appeal to work and live within Toronto or even next-door to it continually deteriorates because no one is able to get to their destinations in a timely or cost-effective manner.

    PROS OF FINCH/FINCH H.C. CROSSTOWN BRT vs. FINCH WEST LRT

    Utilizing the Hydro Corridor in fact accomplishes several things. For one it spares the taxpayer $1.2 billion dollars off the bat from not building the Finch West LRT line (which must have gone up in projected costs since that total was announced due to the planned extension SE to Don Mills Stn). BRT offers low construction and maintenance costs, low vehicle costs; right-of-way is not required for entire length; and if catered for, has the ability for feeder bus services to join a trunk busway. This is what I alluded to previously when I stated someone desiring a Point-B clear across town should not have to pay a premium fare supplement to arrive at their destination rapidly or otherwise sit on transit for 90 minutes. The Finch Express buses are a start but even it has extensive lengths of local service area that compromise overall speed and time-efficiency.

    The Finch Hydro Corridor runs continuously north of Finch from Weston Rd through to deep Scarborough. West of Weston Rd on-street Finch operation to Humber College is possible due to road width. Spacing though this stretch could mimic the planned stops for Finch West through Etobicoke, even down Hwy 27 if warranted. Within FHC itself stops would occur where the line crosses a major arterial i.e. those that presently have connecting N-S feeder bus routes. Quite possibly BRT through FHC could allot direct transfers to the Jane Line (York Gate), Finch West subway (Four Winds entrance), Finch subway & GO Terminal (Bishop), Old Cummer GO Stn, and Seneca Newham Campus (transfer to Don Mills Line).

    A bridge or brief tunnel across the DVP takes it into Scarborough where it eventually could intercept Bridletowne (Warden-Finch), Woodside (McCowan-Finch), the Burrows Hall/Progress Campus area, Malvern Town Ctr, Morningside Hts and the Zoo. BRT could even route through private ROW in Malvern and Rouge via the railway embankment lands at less expense and with more frequent headways than LRT through the exact same stretch. And of course interlining BRT with lines radiating to the Scarborough Ctr, Agincourt, and even Miliken/Markville/Cornell are a possibility. So why it appears that BRT is the kryptonite to any rapid transit solution here in Toronto when it seemingly does fine for everywhere else, I do not know.

    And depending on how much traffic’s permitted along this corridor between the DVP and Yonge, YRT routes could also run through FHC. This is critical to note because diverting buses off of Yonge gradually will free it of congestion. Ideally were the subway extended to Steeles Avenue only but VIVA routes were given near monotony over bus-only lanes along Yonge through Thornhill, the case for YUS extension to RHC dissipates. Implementing 5-minute headways along the Richmond Hill GO Line further dissipates the claim that RHC subway should be a major priority of ours.

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  30. @J Johnson:
    You cannot complain about 500m stop spacing on Finch West LRT if your solution is to move the entire route 500m away from from Finch, potentially resulting in 1km walks.

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  31. I really do think once GO Transit service is improved on the Richmond Hill line, this project will only be extended to Steeles Avenue or be shevled. I prefer to see money go towards things such as having a bus/streetcar shelter at all stops.

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  32. Re: Rodney

    I really doubt the Yonge extension is going to get cut back. Highway 7 doesn’t make a terrible amount of sense for the Spadina line, but on Yonge it is just about the perfect place to end a subway line at a major hub. We aren’t even talking about a lines crossing on a map situation, the nature of the location is that it will always be a major transfer point between Yonge and Highway 7 for YRT and the 407 busway will always need a link to Yonge street and the Richmond Hill trains. As the RTP stands there will be a terminal with:

    -Yonge subway to Toronto
    -Yonge rapidbus service to upper Richmond Hill and Newmarket
    -Highway 7 rapidbus across the entire width of the GTA
    -407 BRT to Vaughan and York U in phase one, almost certainly with direct service to many destinations
    -Richmond Hill train to upper RH and the Financial district

    This really looks like exactly the kind of thing that Metolinx loves, and it will actually be pretty good if we can deal with the Yonge lines southern end. It’s this terminal that I think will actually get the line built. Quite frankly if there is any place that makes sense for the Yonge line to end in terms of building a properly interconnected network it is Highway 7. There aren’t any other places that even approach this level of connectivity; Steeles is the next best option, but that doesn’t link to GO at all, and is only a marginal improvement in service quality for York Region. Politically, anything short of Hwy 7 is going to look like cutting York out of the subway extension, let alone that it won’t work as well.

    As far as the GO service replacing the line, I don’t think so. It just doesn’t fit the same core demand here, which is basically destinations north of Eglinton; the Richmond Hill train is, and always will be, something between useless and ill suited for those trips. More to the point, York will never accept the GO line as a replacement (although I don’t suppose there will be much talk of the north of Eglinton market). The GO line can relieve pressure on the subway, but it just doesn’t replace it.

    My political predictions aside, I think that the connections created at Richmond Hill Terminal and the reasonable ridership make this project worthwhile, even with the diversion work required. Frankly I think we should not thinking of this line as a threat to central Toronto’s service, or at the RH GO upgrades and DRL as impositions forced by the extension; it should be looked at as an opportunity to get the RH GO upgrades and most importantly to the city, the DRL, built. The DRL especially is a project that could be quite easy to get with a Yonge extension, politically difficult otherwise, and is a hugely important project for the city extension or no.

    Steve: Yes, the whole thing is a package. It is a mistake to ever talk about the RH GO replacing the subway’s function. However, I would like to see a network model including the supposed end-state of VIVA with an LRT network. Odd that this is not included in any of the regional plan.

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  33. Bus/streetcar shelters at all stops would be fantastic, except it’s bound to suffer from NIMFY: Not In My Front Yard!

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  34. Re: J Johnson / FHC BRT

    Such BRT is worth considering as a long-haul express service. However, a number of claims made in your post are debatable:

    1) It will be difficult to run buses on 10 sec headways, given that they have to stop and unload / load passengers. True, the Hydro corridor (assuming that Hydro allows its use for transit) has more space than on-street BRT lanes would have, so you can add multiple platforms at some stops, and passing lanes for express branches. Still, you would likely need four continuous lanes (two in each direction) and very elaborate / expensive stations to sustain that kind of operation.

    Fortunately, such frequency is unlikely to ever be needed in this corridor. Anyway, common sense suggests that it is easier to attain high overall capacity using large LRT trains that move as one piece, rather than using multiple buses that must mind each other.

    2) The criticism of Finch West LRT for having to stop at traffic signals misses the point. The main issue that slows mixed-traffic buses down is not red lights, but having to crawl with jammed general traffic. ROW operation should help with that.

    By the way, FHC BRT would also encounter a number of traffic signals – crossing all major arteries, and crossing secondary streets between them. That is, unless you bridge over / tunnel under those streets which will add a lot to the project cost, or close secondary streets which will likely trigger objections from the residents.

    3) FHC BRT would necessitate a parallel local bus service, even during off-peak time. Therefore, I doubt that BRT would result in lower maintenance costs, since the total number of vehicles in service will be greater. And, more drivers mean more salaries.

    4) Compressed natural gas burns cleaner than diesel and produces somewhat less greenhouse gases, but it still produces quite a bit. It is just a law of chemistry – every hydrocarbon fuel burns to produce carbon dioxide, which is a greenhouse-effect gas.

    You are right that BRT is easier to branch, and that it can handle breakdowns much better than any rail service can. On the other hand, rail service offers smoother rides.

    Anyway, this is not to dismiss the idea of FHC BRT, but rather to present a more realistic view of it.

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  35. My interpretation was that end of state Viva was to be BRT with private right of way. I know that YRT talks about light rail, and that the RTP itself doesn’t specify technology, but the impression I got is that the thinking has shifted towards York pushing the subway and getting Highway 7 ROWs in place ASAP.

    Actually, I would want a close look at the ridership numbers for a North Yonge LRT, it seems alright up to about Bernard, but going farther north? Theres quite a gap between RH and Newmarket, thats not supposed to be developed. If an LRT did only make sense through Richmond Hill proper, I’d rather see BRT only on Yonge for the timeline of the RTP, avoiding the transfer and maybe freeing up funds for LRT on Leslie or Highway 7 (although my feeling is that the post Yonge extension Viva system might be a great candidate for BRT trolleybuses).

    Steve: I think what’s bothersome about the RTP is that since Metrolinx was generally anti-LRT except for the Transit City lines (and even there, they had to be wrestled into agreement), the idea of an LRT network in the 905 never got any serious consideration.

    Consistently in much of my advocacy, the biggest problem has been to just get an option on the table where we can talk about it among alternatives rather than having it pre-empted by a behind-the-scenes decision.

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  36. My concerns with additional GO service on the Richmond Hill line are:

    1. That the track north of Steeles is part of GO’s main line to and from western Canada. Thus, there is a lot of demand for space – GO would most likely have to pay CN to install more tracks (if possible) to see increased service.

    Steve: Er, I didn’t know GO ran service to Western Canada. You mean CN of course.

    2. That the line (like all of GO’s lines) is really centred around getting people to Union Station. From there a great number of people will take the subway (although a large number also walk from Union.)

    My point is that not everyone will want to go to Union, so while GO should share in the responsibility of getting people to and from Toronto, the organization needs to work with the TTC to get relief off of the Yonge and Bloor/Danforth line.

    I would prefer to see a relief line built first (hopefully with a connection to a GO line away from Union, although it would not have to be a necessity), but I do agree with extensions to the current subway lines.

    If it weren’t for the capital costs required (and perhaps a reduction in revenue), the Yonge Extension to Richmond Hill could actually be built onto the Downtown Relief Line. The line could simply continue north from its eastern base on the Bloor/Danforth Line, perhaps meeting up with the Yonge line at Finch, and then keep heading north to Richmond Hill. Just a thought!

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  37. Rainforest says:
    “It will be difficult to run buses on 10 sec headways, given that they have to stop and unload / load passengers… you would likely need four continuous lanes (two in each direction) and very elaborate / expensive stations to sustain that kind of operation.”

    I never meant that they would or even should run at that frequency, but the fact remains with bus rapid transit, it is possible; whereas Transit City LRTs have to operate at a minimum of every five minutes through sections of mixed traffic. BRT can offer long-haul commuters transit service at near subway level frequency (every 2 ½ minutes) and passenger volume capacity (bi-articulated buses can carry upto 275 riders per trip) at a fraction of the cost of a single Transit City Line.

    Let us assume that Hydro does permit continuous BRT through the FHC. The need for four local/express lanes for bypassing vehicles is only necessary in the stretch from Sencea College to Bathurst where YRT routes would interline into the Finch GO Terminal without need for Yonge St as a north-south connector route. This would mean that YRT routes: 2, 23, 88, 91, 300, 301, 302, 303, and 340 will never have to use Yonge St again as apart of their route alignments and would get long-haul customers to a point along the subway line a lot closer to downtown core than boarding way up from Highway 7 would ever allow. Hence we’d be shortening overall commute times and saving $ billions from not having to unnecessarily dredge up Yonge St. This leaves only Yonge local, Yonge express (VIVA), and the Clark and Centre St buses continuing up Yonge St through Thornhill were a breif 2-stop extension to Steeles built instead.

    And if that isn’t enough… there’s still the possibility of routing a brief LRT line adjacent to the Bala and York rail subdivisions from Yonge/Steeles subway (via 500m long tunnel) to Richmond Hill Centre for about the same trip duration (at high speeds could be as little as 7 minutes). The cost for the Steeles-Yonge Stn and associated 500m-feeder tunnel could be covered within the subway extension’s budget, taking advantage of having a TBM already excavating the pathway for this. If anywhere this is the spot in the GTA where light-rail could succeed the most and here’s why:

    1. It could use existing tracks, eliminating the need to build new rail infrastructure.
    2. Double tracking is an exception, not the rule. The less you have, the less it costs.
    3. DMU railcars can run on existing tracks. No need to electrify the line.
    4. Stations could be “no-frills” and at-grade. At best, they’d be glorified bus shelters.

    That is the epitome of building railed mass transit on a budget. Bombardier has already manufactured low-floor, diesel-powered multi-unit trains for Ottawa’s transit network which could just as easily operate right here in the GTA. Stops en route would be at Thornhill Square mall (John/Bayview) and quite possibly Glen Cameron/Yonge with a long escalator/elevator shaft getting customers back up to street level near Clark/Yonge (picture Davisville Stn, it’d look kinda like that). Thornhill residents have made it clear that they do not want a subway stop through their community (only at the peripheries of Clark and Royal Orchard), so it’s not like a cheaper alignment utilizing vacant railside property is all that bad.

    To provide private exclusive rights-of-ways for LRT vehicles would require millions of dollars more than attempting to do the same with BRT technology. Yes there are some expenditures in creating overpasses and underpasses at several minor intersections (no streets need be closed) but these costs are nowhere near as high as the price range would be for light-rail. I will even give you some local real-world examples from roadwork construction projects of how affordable conventional busway ROW can be.

    In September 2008, the City of Brampton put forth a Budget Amendment outlining the ‘Detailed Design’ for Countryside Drive’s roadway widening and reconstruction from 400m west of Dixie Road through to Bramalea Road, a distance of roughly 1.5kms. This part of town, much like the Finch Hydro Corridor has had no prior land usage, just vacant Crown land. This came to a total of $410,300.00 with the funding source from External Recoveries–Region of Peel; of which $162,320.00 (pre-tax) went towards detailed engineering for the watermain and sanitary sewers plus a separate contingency in the amount of $104,880.00 (pre-tax) for any additional detailed design work that may arise during the process of completing the required work.

    To contrast this to FHC, ~ $300-400k would be the cost per kilometre to pave over a right-of-way through it and relocate any preexisting infrastructure (piping, wiring), which may lie within the intended pathway. An even better example to offer up would be the construction of three (3) Credit River tributary crossing structures for a housing development going up in western Brampton. The budget outline for this specific part of road construction came to a grand total of $1,800,000 out of a $6,920,000 cost of the construction of the entire road works. Any costs over such payment would be the responsibility of the developers contracted, and not the city’s.

    Studying the alignment I chose for this BRT route in detail; I have identified a total of 25 intersections (secondary roads, railroads, natural features) where underpasses and overpasses are warranted. These add-ons to the BRT corridor’s budget could total $1.8 million or less per grade-separated crossing to build based on how a fellow GTA city in 2009 is already in the process of building similar infrastructure. Begs the question, why can’t Toronto/TTC do the same?

    Basic BRT costs to construct ROW, including stations and vehicles can be as low as $6 million/km. So that’s $330 million for a 55km long line stretching from Meadowvale/Old Finch to Hwy 27 and Dixon. So with $1.8… meh, let’s call it $2 million extra per grade-separated crossing; we’re still talking only $380 million dollars for the entire Finch Crosstown BRT Line with 75% ROW exclusivity when the Finch West LRT alone, crossing only half the city through mixed-traffic, will fetch the taxpayer at least $1.2 billion. The Yonge subway extension= $5 billion. Something’s not right with that picture, especially when available HC parklands and rail corridors run right by these very locales, begging to be utilized by transit.

    Since my writings here can only deseminate so much information, I’ve decided to compose a map detailing the alignments and stop locations for various BRT and LRT routes here in Toronto which I’d recommend including the FHC BRT (blue), as well my own version of the DRL (orange): http://i999.photobucket.com/albums/af113/jerome_johnson123/RAPIDTRANSIT-1.jpg

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  38. J Johnson says:
    August 15, 2009 at 2:26 am

    “Rainforest says:
    ““It will be difficult to run buses on 10 sec headways, given that they have to stop and unload / load passengers… you would likely need four continuous lanes (two in each direction) and very elaborate / expensive stations to sustain that kind of operation.”

    “I never meant that they would or even should run at that frequency, but the fact remains with bus rapid transit, it is possible; whereas Transit City LRTs have to operate at a minimum of every five minutes through sections of mixed traffic. BRT can offer long-haul commuters transit service at near subway level frequency (every 2 ½ minutes) and passenger volume capacity (bi-articulated buses can carry upto 275 riders per trip) at a fraction of the cost of a single Transit City Line.”

    The Bloor Danforth Street cars and a lot of other lines operated and still operate at headways less than 5 minutes. Spadina operates base service at every 1min 53 sec and in the 60’s there were lines with headways less than 1 minute. To operate buses at 10 sec. headways you would need more than 1 lane in each direction, a lot more than one lane. Now what happens when these buses have you get into and out of stations and cut each other off. It is bumper cars at the Ex.

    “In September 2008, the City of Brampton put forth a Budget Amendment outlining the ‘Detailed Design’ for Countryside Drive’s roadway widening and reconstruction from 400m west of Dixie Road through to Bramalea Road, a distance of roughly 1.5kms. This part of town, much like the Finch Hydro Corridor has had no prior land usage, just vacant Crown land. This came to a total of $410,300.00 with the funding source from External Recoveries–Region of Peel; of which $162,320.00 (pre-tax) went towards detailed engineering for the watermain and sanitary sewers plus a separate contingency in the amount of $104,880.00 (pre-tax) for any additional detailed design work that may arise during the process of completing the required work.”

    Doubt that this has been ‘Crown Land” for a long long time. It was privately owned farm land.

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  39. Steve, The Richmond Hill extension makes more sense than the Woodbridge extension. But, I don’t know if that really matters. Political will and how close we are to elections tend to have more of an influence on the situation rather than common sense.

    I have a feeling that these hearings are a way to delay (and eventually cancel due to costs spiralling). We all know talk is cheap and we can talk about trains, headways, makes, designs, etc. but until a shovel is put in the ground and no politicos involved, I just can’t see it happening.

    Back in the 60s and 70s, it seemed as though we went from one project to another without any stoppage. Can’t say that anymore!!

    By the way, how does Montreal handle their commuter rail situation in conjunction with their Metro in outlying communities (Laval, Longueuil, etc.)? Thanks.

    Steve: The Montreal system has an integrated fare structure which does not distinguish between the type of service you are using. Although it is possible to buy fares for a single operator within the metropolitan region, a regional card is valid for whatever zones it applies to.

    Toronto has always planned on the assumption that two different types of riders and fares would exist, and the GO/TTC worlds would be separate. This was a really foolish thing to do, but GO was starved for funds, and the TTC didn’t want competition from Queen’s Park poaching “their” riders. This sort of planning reached its nadir with some of the demand forecasts for the Sheppard Subway which totally ignored the role of GO in regional travel. It’s easy to simulate a huge demand for suburban subways if you omit parallel rail corridors.

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