Transit City Update December 2009 (Part 1)

On December 16, the TTC will receive an update on the status of the Transit City projects.  This post is a brief synopsis along with my own comments on the progress, or lack thereof, on this plan.

This is a long post, and I have placed the break here for those who don’t want to read the whole article.  The Eglinton LRT is covered here including comments on the December 2009 version of the design presented at recent open houses.  I will deal with the remaining lines in Part 2.

Eglinton LRT

Toronto Council approved the Transit Project Assessment (TPA) Study last week.  Preparatory construction work is to begin in mid-2010.

The Eglinton line is planned to open in three stages:  2016 from Eglinton West to Commerce Blvd., 2018 from Eglinton West to Kennedy, and 2020 from Commerce Blvd. to the airport.

A tug-of-war between the City/TTC and Metrolinx over the design and technology for this line appears to have been resolved, but we won’t know for sure until details are finalized.  Metrolinx prefers to see Eglinton as a regional line while the City sees its local function as more important.  I side with the City, and find Metrolinx’ fetish with how quickly one can reach the airport from the wilds of the eastern GTA unconvincing.  If Metrolinx cared more about this function, they wouldn’t have the actual construction of the airport segment off in 2020, but would be pushing for early implementation.

Of course, that would compete with the Union Station link (aka Blue 22) the details of which are still not finalized.  Obviously a frequent, TTC-fare service from Eglinton West Station (and later from Eglinton Station) would not do wonders for demand on an infrequent, premium-fare service from Union.  SNC-Lavalin, the private operator for an airport link built largely with public funds, should make their money while they have a chance.

Early completion of the airport segment would also be a benefit to the Pan Am Games, but strangely we have heard nothing of this possibility.  Perish the thought we might provide good airport access at a reasonable fare.

Airport access is also proposed as an extension/branch of the Finch West LRT.  Council’s approval included a request that both links be studied together.

  • City Council request the Toronto Transit Commission to have the Eglinton Crosstown LRT connection from Martin Grove Road to Pearson International Airport and the Etobicoke-Finch West LRT connection from Humber College to Pearson International Airport evaluated together as the Transit City Light Rail Network, and that evaluations of options include maintenance and operating costs from a network perspective as evaluation criteria.

Part of Council’s approval included specific conditions related to the ongoing debate with Metrolinx.

  • City Council request the Toronto Transit Commission to expedite the implementation of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT and the City Manager be requested to report to the Toronto Transit Commission on any impediments or specific issues that need to be resolved in order to eliminate delay.
  • City Council direct that no specific discussion on the deferral of the construction of “any stops” will occur with Metrolinx without first consulting the local Councillor(s) well in advance of that consideration.
  • City Council direct that the deferral of the construction of any stops shall not occur without the Toronto Transit Commission seeking approval of City Council.

The connection to the Mississauga BRT at Commerce Boulevard remains problematic because all transferring passengers would have to cross street traffic to reach the LRT platform.  This is hardly an integrated “mobility hub” in Metrolinx parlance, and this junction needs a major rework.  (See page 20 of part 1 of the display panels from the December open houses.)

A related issue for the west end of the Eglinton line is the option of side-of-road operation.  The TTC is steadfastly opposed to such arrangements, but uses a catch-all argument about access to neighbouring properties that does not apply in some circumstances.  Notably absent from the TPA is any design drawing that could be used to evaluate and compare centre-of-road to side-of-road schemes.  This issue also affects the section between the portals east of Brentcliffe and west of Don Mills.

In a recent round of public meetings, the TTC showed the most recent version of the proposed design.  Changes since the last round include:

  • The left turn scheme for many intersections has been modified so that the U-turn occurs on Eglinton rather than on the intersecting street (details below).
  • The route between Martin Grove and the Airport has been confirmed to go via a proposed interchange with the Mississauga/GO BRT at Commerce Drive.
  • Weston Station will have a centre platform west side of the intersection.  Connection to a proposed GO station east of Weston Road will require a walk of about 250m.
  • The former Kodak lands will be the site of the maintenance facility for the Eglinton line, and access will be at-grade via a traffic signal.  Other schemes including underground and elevated sections were rejected for cost reasons.  Acquisition of the Kodak lands by purchase or expropriation has been approved by Council.
  • Keele Station has moved further west to better serve York Memorial Collegiate.
  • Caledonia Station’s main entrance has been moved east of the Newmarket Subdivision, and a new bus loop for the 47 Lansdowne (via Caledonia) bus will be built on the north side of Eglinton directly across the street from the old Gilbert Loop site (now a parkette).  Calling this “Caledonia” station is something of a misnomer considering that Caledonia Road is three blocks east of the station, and does not even appear on the site plan.
  • Bathurst Station has gained a secondary entrance at the west end of its platform at Peverill Hill.
  • Chaplin Station has moved further east to eliminate any conflict with the Belt Line trail and to provide a secondary entrance at Latimer Ave.
  • Avenue Road Station has moved further east and has gained a secondary entrance at Highbourne Ave.
  • Yonge Station has been moved east so that it straddles the existing subway station rather than lying mainly to the west of the intersection.  The connection between the two lines will be much more direct in this scheme than in the June 2009 version.
  • Mt. Pleasant Station has moved further west to avoid incursion into residential sidestreets for station access, and to better serve the nominal location of the station.
  • Bayview Station has moved further west and now includes a secondary entrance to Howard Talbot Park on the south side of Eglinton.
  • The station serving Leaside has moved from Brentcliffe Road to Laird Drive.  This places the station closer to where people actually live, rather than beside a potential future development site.
  • Don Mills Station will be underground in a short tunnel.  The plans show a surface centre platform for the Don Mills LRT north of the intersection as well as a bus terminal in the north-east quadrant on now-vacant land.  No provision is shown for an underground link to the Don Mills LRT platform, although this would be possible from the planned link to the station entrance within the bus terminal.  The real design issue here is to leave enough room in the reconfigured Don Mills Road for an LRT platform that would include access down to a passageway into the station.
  • Wynford Station will be a centre platform on what is now the bridge over Wynford Drive.  That street will be relocated using existing ramps so that Wynford crosses Eglinton at grade at a new intersection.
  • At Warden Avenue, the original proposal for rerouting left turns has been dropped because traffic analysis showed no benefit from it.  This will be a “standard” LRT intersection with farside platforms and nearside left turns.

The station spacing on Eglinton, especially from Yonge to Laird, remains an issue for the communuity.  Although the TTC cites an average spacing for the underground section of 850m, the distance from Mt. Pleasant to Bayview is 1.1km, and from Bayview to Laird is 1.0km.  The TTC persists in stating that no surface bus is planned along Eglinton even though this area has many seniors for whom the walk to transit will be substantially increased negating travel time benefits of the LRT.  This position provokes needless opposition to the overall proposal, and shows a lack of sensitivity on the TTC’s part.

The proposed left turn scheme has been revised at many locations to replace the June 2009 right-U-turn plan with farside U-turns.  Vehicles making a left turn off of Eglinton would go beyond the intersection into a left turn queue, then cross the transit right-of-way with signal control, weave to the opposite direction’s curb lane and finally turn right to their intended destination.  This change makes the U-turn part of the move much less difficult because the turn includes the width of the right-of-way.

Whether the signalization for this will actually work, especially from a transit point of view, remains to be seen.  The detailed traffic flow models have not yet been published, and a supplementary report to Council on the subject was not particularly illuminating.

This scheme will be used at Kipling, Islington, Royal York, Scarlett Road, Jane (see below) and Birchmount.

Other left turn arrangements include:

  • The turn scheme proposed for Martin Grove has been modified to eliminate the U/right movements for turns off of Martin Grove to Eglinton.  These turns would be made in the “standard” nearside manner.
  • At Jane, left turns from Jane to Eglinton bothways would be made via U-turns north and south of the intersection.  This is a modified version of the original scheme, and the design anticipates construction of the Jane LRT.  Whether these U-turns will be practical remains to be seen.  Notably, the intersection design does not appear to include widening for the Jane LRT right-of-way and platforms, and this means the whole thing will have to be torn apart again when that line is built.
  • Victoria Park Station remains east of the intersection as a centre platform, but the east-to-north left turn scheme has been revised to eliminate a crossing of the LRT right-of-way.  In June’s design, traffic would have turned north at Jonesville (west of Victoria Park), while in the December design, left turns will be made via three rights at Eglinton Square.
  • At Pharmacy, left turns via medians will be used in all directions.

Council’s approval included the following conditions:

  • City Council request the Toronto Transit Commission to provide detailed analysis on truck movements prior to the completion of the final design.
  • City Council request the City Manager, in consultation with the Toronto Transit Commission, to report on a truck operations plan including appropriate highway signage, in conjunction with the detailed design for the Eglinton LRT.

Kennedy Station’s redesign is a separate project, and no report on the design alternatives is yet available. 

In the June presentation, an option of using a single large 13m bored tunnel was presented as an alternative to the more conventional twin 6m tunnels.  The single tunnel option has been dropped because it would make stations very deep and it would be technically challenging due to nearby building foundations and geologic conditions.

Even the twin tunnels will be challenging because both these tunnels and the box structure at stations will be designed to fit within a 23m boundary.  This is required by the 26m road width on the older section of Eglinton Avenue.

Part 3 of the November presentation includes details of the construction techniques and staging.  Further detailed design is required for each station site.

Current plans include construction of some of the surface alignment during summer 2010.  Although the location has not been determined, this would be an excellent chance to test the workability of the left turn configuration proposed for some intersections.  Better that we find out how it will work (or not) before committing to construction of this design for the entire line.  (Such a test would be limited by the absence of actual LRT service, but would establish and test the scheme for road traffic.)

Finally, Council approved submission of the TPA to Queen’s Park, but with a caveat that station designs be reviewed to determine whether additional entrances could be provided in locations that now have only vent shafts.

  • City Council request the Toronto Transit Commission to consider full property acquisitions for use as secondary station accesses, not solely for fire vents, where practical.
  • City Council approve the Transit Project Assessment Study subject to Part 2 above being implemented in the final Environmental Project Report when submitted to the Ministry of the Environment.

This article will continue with Part 2 and the remaining lines in Transit City.

12 thoughts on “Transit City Update December 2009 (Part 1)

  1. Do you have any idea whether there’s any chance that some of the flaws might be fixed? (The weird connection to Mississauga Transit at Commerce Drive and the lack of a station between Mt. Pleasant and Bayview, for example?) Or are things pretty much set at this point?

    Steve: I think that there is hope for Commerce Drive, but a station between Mt. Pleasant and Bayview is unlikely. The grade down to Bayview will make such a station very deep and quite difficult to build.


  2. I would like to see side of the road running for Eglinton between Brentcliffe portal and the west portal to Don Mills Station. Something can be done about the entrance to Celestica, like getting rid of it. There are no roads that run south from Eglinton along here and there are not likely to be any as it is parkland.

    Steve: I would not be surprised if Celestica (or whoever owns the land that interchange serves) has ideas of redevelopment. That would certainly be the case with two rapid transit lines meeting at Don Mills and Eglinton. In any event, if the Celestic ramp stayed, it could have a traffic light — it’s not as if the TTC hasn’t proposed enough of these elsewhere.

    I would also like to see side of the road along the west end of Eglinton along the old Richview expressway right of way with the proviso that something has to be done to protect against cars making right hand turns from cross streets on the side of the right of way. There is at least one place in the US (I can’t remember where) that is having accident problems because the idiot motorists, when they see a red light, look off to their left and if they don’t see anything coming they make a right turn at 20 mph, often getting T-boned by an LRT coming from their right. Signs saying “No Turns On Red” don’t seem to help. Maybe Darwin will win out eventually.

    Two grade separations for the expressway are already partially built and I would like to see all the intersections grade separated, at least Royal York, Kipling, Islington and Martin Grove. This would speed up service, thus making Metrolinx happy and help with turning movements thus appeasing the motorists and their councillors.

    The location of the station at Weston is partially dictated by the decision to build at grade. I believe that it has to be to the west to get a level portion. Since even being at grade will cause access problems to the car house have they given any thought of building this section elevated? This would eliminate a level crossing with Black Creek Drive, make access to the car house easier and allow the station to be to the east of Weston Road. I can’t remember what problems would be created at the bridges for the Weston and MacTier Subs though. I will check those out the next time I am near there.

    I picked my daughter up at the Airport recently and noted that the express bus fare to downtown Toronto was also $20.00, the proposed Blue 22 fare. Since the bus will drop you off right at the front door of your hotel where the bell person can grab your bags, what is the big advantage of being dumped at Union then hauling you bags to a cab stand and paying a cab to take you to your hotel. I don’t think enough cynics like me have looked at this plan.

    Steve: Maybe SNC-Lavalin will buy the Airport bus service and abandon it just like so many bus routes in other parts of the country.

    The Interchange with Mississauga BRT definitely needs a lot of work. There should be a short underground passage between them or the LRT should be over the BRT so you just go up or down a flight of stairs, escalator or elevator.

    The LRT to the Airport will be much more useful than Blue 22 as it will carry the people who actually take public transit to the airport, the employees. No one who is working there at entry level wages can afford $40.00 a day to get there. I like the idea of extending the Finch LRT there from Humber College on a private right of way and not centre reservation. Any developer of the Woodbine race track site would be very stupid if they were not willing to allow the LRT line a private right of way through the heart of their development. They only have to look at how many people the TTC brings to Yorkdale and Scarborough Towne Centre, two suburban malls, to see how beneficial it would be. I think that each iteration of the plan gets better, maybe they will eventually get it right. Can we rename Caledonia Station to Gilbert? If we put a short turn switch there we could bring back the Gilbert destination sign.


  3. The only way people are going to see any service without intermittent stops between Mt. Pleasant and Laird, is if the TTC maintains 56 Leaside service to Eglinton Stn. In other words, the same damn problem that exists on Yonge north of Eglinton, and the entire Sheppard line.

    Do these planners not think?!?

    Steve: Whether it’s the 56 Leaside, the 51 Leslie or some other residual form of 34 Eglinton East, there is a more general point here that the TTC has missed. We are spending millions to make the system accessible not just for people who cannot walk, but for people who have difficulty getting around but are generally mobile. A long-overdue service standard is the provision of service where underground stations are far apart and walks to stations are beyond a certain threshold. Running such routes every 30 minutes is not “service”, and it is an insult to anyone to say that such a surface bus provides “accessibility”.


  4. It would be interesting to get both Metrolinx and Bombardier staff in a room, with the media present, and ask them just why there is such a push to make Eglinton a regional transit line with a technology other than conventional LRT. Some questions should be asked as to how many conversations they’ve had on this subject and when and where those chats took place.

    Steve: As far as I can determine, the idea of an ICTS line on Eglinton is really most sincerely dead. However, some of the attitudes that underlay the proposal are not, and they influence how Metrolinx looks at the LRT scheme.


  5. Glad to see someone else is in agreement with me on the mess at Black Creek Drive. A subway service-level route will be forced to share green time with a road classed as a divided highway – pure genious! The connection with the carhouse should have been a high-speed flying junction but instead will be a low speed, one-car-per-cycle T-intersection. Try feeding three major routes into and out of this location without horrible traffic timing conflicts, even just between LRVs. On top of that the Weston and GO connections get screwed up. All this in a wide-open valley with plenty of available land for structures and approach grading. Nobody is going to care about ugly structures in this location – just try the same with the “Raised” option for the Davenport Diamond Grade Separation and the howls of protest will be more deafening than the pile driving!

    Maybe Metrolinx wanted all that money diverted towards the sound barrier walls that will stretch most of the length of the railway corridor to the airport. That’s so we won’t think we’re getting sick from pollution just because we can’t hear the trains.

    These people make me CRAZY!

    Steve: Actually, Eglinton carhouse will host only two lines (Eglinton and Jane), and the service frequency will not be much different from what we see on the busy streetcar lines. Carhouse moves will not occur all day long and the only time all cars will be running into or out of the carhouse will be at the very beginning and end of service when traffic on Eglinton will be light.


  6. If we follow your logic about the DRL heading north of Danforth to meet the Eglinton LRT (since it has to be underground anyway), and since the Eglinton LRT is being built to subway specs, does it not make sense then to build the DRL as a continuous-loop square-shaped subway line (with the underground Eglinton LRT trackage as HRT) from Day 1?

    This assumes of course that the DRL would meet Eglinton in the west-end (around Keele) at some future date as well. And so, you would have an Eglinton West LRT radiating out from the north-west corner of the square, and an Eglinton East LRT radiating out from the north-east corner. This is consistent with your view of Eglinton not being a crosstown regional service.

    The benefit with this type of layout is that riders on the central portion of the Eglinton line could ride around the loop in any direction and get a direct ride downtown (and not be tempted to use the already overburderned YUS at all). What’s your view on this type of layout, and do you think it has any chance in hell of ever happening either now, or as an upgrade in the future?

    Steve: This is the sort of thing that might have been built if we were starting from scratch decades ago. However, I have my doubts that the west side of the DRL will be built any time soon, and DRL east has an uphill battle.


  7. Steve, what do you consider the best solution to the Bayview-Laird zone? A bus on 10 minute headway?

    Steve: Yes, and similar treatment for other areas with widely spaced underground stations such as Yonge Street and Sheppard East. This is not just a question of placating the locals, it is a question of accessibility. The TTC keeps talking about making the conventional system more accessible and goes to huge expense to retrofit the system, but then makes service much harder to reach by eliminating surface service.


  8. Steve, do you have any idea what will be done with the 54 Lawrence East when Eglinton opens?

    Steve: Not really, although one option that has been discussed is taking it east from Leslie to the station at Don Mills an Eglinton. That seems a rather odd way to do things, and I am sure there will be many discussions between now and 2018 when the line opens.


  9. “Metrolinx prefers to see Eglinton as a regional line while the City sees its local function as more important”

    I agree with you Steve that the it should be a local line. If Metrolinx wants better regional cross-city connections, then GO should interline between the Stouffville/Lakeshore East and Milton/Georgetown lines, prefably with a 15-20 min headway. (Demand permitting – and it there isn’t demand, what are Metrolinx worried about?)

    The airport should be more involved with the LRT connections. I have seen nothing to suggest they want it.(!) I’m glad the city council wants the two lines studied jointly – the notion of a network, rather than a set of lines seems to be gaining traction.

    Side-of-road should always be the preferred option, even if it isn’t practical most of the time.

    If the Weston Rd stop is to povide a proper interchange with a future GO station, it must be built closer to the GO station. The distance should be as small as possible, and only one of the stations can be moved.

    Steve: My understanding is that the airport wants the connection, and the LRT might even be extended within the airport to serve multiple points. Why Metrolinx has it so far out in its plans is baffling especially when we hear so much about the airport and the Pan Am Games.

    The problem at Weston is that moving the station further east would put it on the grade into the underpass at the railway.


  10. Steve:”The problem at Weston is that moving the station further east would put it on the grade into the underpass at the railway.”

    Then the vertical arrangement of the LRT should be changed to either elevated or underground!

    Steve: That requires a lot of money. Elevated won’t work because of neighbourhood intrusion and because of the clearance needed above the railway and its (future) overhead power supply system.


  11. Apparently, York South-Weston Councillor Frances Nunziata and the Mount Dennis Community Asssociation will host a meeting today, Monday, to discuss the Eglinton Crosstown Light Rail’s impact on the Mount Dennis community. It is to be held at the Salvation Army, 1100 Weston Road, just south of Eglinton Avenue West.


  12. W. K. Lis says:
    December 14, 2009 at 10:42 am
    “Apparently, York South-Weston Councillor Frances Nunziata and the Mount Dennis Community Association will host a meeting today, Monday, to discuss the Eglinton Cross-town Light Rail’s impact on the Mount Dennis community. It is to be held at the Salvation Army, 1100 Weston Road, just south of Eglinton Avenue West.”

    I attended this meeting at the locals are not happy about a number of things:

    1) The amount of property being expropriated. A large number of complete properties are being taken along with frontages from many others, especially on Eglinton west of Weston Road. A large number of businesses who rent are going to have to move and they are not happy with the expropriation method; but this is set by law and Toronto has no choice in how they do it.

    2) Most are not happy with the surface route through Mt. Dennis and think that they are being treated more poorly than other areas because they are a lower income neighbourhood. I think that they may have a point here.

    3) They think that the far side stop stations at Black Creek Drive are not going to be very pedestrian friendly to people going to the proposed seniors’ centre on the south east corner.

    4) Property owners on Eglinton west of Weston Road are not happy with the access to their driveways as they think it will be almost impossible to make a right turn out of their property onto Eglinton and having driven along in this evening’s rush hour I see their point.

    5) The 32 Eglinton West via Emmett Ave. branch will still run to Keele West station after the LRT opens. I guess that these stations are farther apart than on Eglinton between Laird and Mt. Pleasant, RIGHT! And the population density is also higher.

    6) The Mount Dennis Community Association executive has bought into and supports the TTC’s choice of street running though their community. Some of the reasons in their criteria sheet that support this decision are:

    1) More local stops?

    2) More pedestrian friendly?

    3) Impact on heart?

    4) Easier transfers? “The walk from the west side of the rail corridor (where the GO and Airport trains will be running) along the south side of Eglinton Avenue where the LRT will stop is more-or-less level and short enough to be convenient. There will likely be a need to widen the Eglinton right-of-way by taking additional land immediately west of Weston Road to accommodate the LRT lines and Station platform, which will create some short-term disruption; however, the long-term solution of a prominent, safe above-ground Spadina-streetcar-style stop seems to us to be preferable to any of the underground options, and something that can enhance Mount Dennis’ main intersection.”

    I have neither added nor removed anything from this quote. I have never seen so many hyphens or commas in one sentence. I wonder if anyone has told them that the Airport line won’t stop there and neither probably will GO. Just about every property for 3 or 4 blocks will be partially or totally expropriated for this station.

    5) It will preserve the Kodak Employee’s centre.

    I said to the president of the Association that it appeared that these criteria and weightings had been chosen to justify this decision and she replied that they had not seen all of the finalized drawings and that they might have to rethink their choices. Someone made a suggeston, one that was wildly and widely supported, that the association address a TTC meeting to express their concerns. There were only two people who spoke out in favour of the surface route. They are apparently going to be put on the agenda for the February TTC meeting when the detailed proposal for Eglinton will go to the commission. Aside from the executive of the community association the locals are up in arms.


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