From time to time in the Georgetown South Corridor debate, the issue of a direct connection between Dundas West subway station and the GO platforms at Bloor station surfaces. Oddly enough, although a connection at this point for the Airport link would be quite useful, the usual “design” mooted is for a walking transfer via Bloor Street. This is bad enough for TTC-to-GO connections, but for Airport passengers with luggage, it’s a joke.
Since the late 1980’s, the TTC and GO have contemplated a direct link at this location, and provision for this was included in the property deal between the City of Toronto, the TTC and what became in time the Crossways Development. Nothing ever came of this in part because service on the Weston corridor was peak-only, and the cost was considered excessive for the potential use it would see. This situation is no longer true because there will be all-day service at least to Georgetown plus the Airport link, however it is implemented.
A preliminary design for the connection was done by TTC in April 1987. This design would require some revision today both to provide full accessibility (elevators) and to fit with the planned new platform arrangements at Bloor station on the rail corridor. In the interests of informed discussion, I have scanned the 1990 report on the history of this connection as well as the 1987 plan.
The report has been reformatted slightly, but the text is unchanged. The drawing has been split apart from four separate images on one large page for ease of viewing online.
TTC GO Connection Report
Key Plan of Stations
Subway Platform East End
Control Area of Connection
Section View of New Connection
Any update on Crossways’ position on this matter since 1990? I’ve heard informally it hadn’t changed at all.
This is another clear case of the needs of transit users being ignored.
Dundas West station does need a second entrance/exit in case of emergencies, which will also improve TTC patron access from Bloor east of the railway bridge.
Because of the planned all-day Georgetown GO service, Dundas West station will be a regional transit node. As such, the GO station name of Bloor should be changed to Dundas West as well (the older of the two names), to avoid confusion.
I know alot of people’ll say it’s not that confusing have 2 different station names, but it’s not immediately obvious to a newcomer to transit (especially potential airport travellers).
Transit station naming and signage needs to be made as simple as possible to use, as it serves people with a wide range of reading and understanding abilities.
A place where GO trains, subways, streetcars, and buses meet, with shopping next door? My god, it’s a mobility hub!
The walking route via Bloor Street is pretty dismal; this tunnel would be a huge improvement. Plus, couldn’t it be designed to also address the second-exit fire code issue for this station?
Steve: Yes, it could, although it probably needs an exit to the open air somewhere other than the GO platforms.
Because of your article on DUNDAS to GO connection I went back and re-read the GO_Expansion_EA-report_draft-Rev6 2002.pdf.
I was interested to learn in section 3.7.2 that Bloor GO station had “covered waiting area”. Is this their name for a bus shelter? I was also surprised to learn about the public washrooms, and the connection at Dundas West Station to the “College (506) streetcars. If I remember the 506 schedule correctly it is only a few baby night cars that go there. This would result in a rather long transfer.
Someone had better tell VIA that they cannot load trains at Aldershot, Oakville, Brampton and Guildwood stations. It is true that BLUE 22 would need separate, high level platforms. It would be nice if the people who wrote these reports would get their current facts straight so that we might have some confidence in their recommendations.
It is also interesting to note that these plans are for the current track configuration and make no allowances for extra tracks or having two island platforms serving two tracks each.
I cannot seem to find in my archives any of the detailed plans for this line with all of the many tracks and station layouts. Maybe they do not exist in the public domain but if you know where they are please let me know.
I sort of like the plan for two short tunnels coming off the station levels, option 7. I have no idea how well it would work but it seems to have one major advantage, simplicity. If I am missing something here please let me know. Any one of these plans would be an improvement over those cold, windy, wet walks during the winter when I worked on Bathurst at Harbord in ’75 and ’76.
The idea that such a connection would not be a good idea when it was initially proposed due to cost concerns is simply proposterous. Same as the reason that the Weston Corridor only held rush hour service.
From what I gather, at the north end of the northbound platform is an exit to Randolph Avenue. There are a bunch of apartments that are off of Randolph and Perth, and thus a significant trip generator. Building a connection between Bloor and Dundas West with an additional connection at Randolph should have been a no-brainer. We are now stuck with undertaking this project at a time when construction costs are much higher.
Bloor Station itself is rather decrepit-looking, with a trailer that serves as a ticket office. One can only hope that if this project goes forward, the station facilities are much improved.
It is a mobility hub, as Matt said above, there’s even Autoshare, Zipcar, two or three rental places and the railpath for bikes, so you’ve got pretty much every transport method except swanboats and airplanes (but hey, Blue22)…
Living in that area, I’d love to see a better connection to GO, and knowing people from the other side of the tracks, a direct connection to Dundas West would be very convenient, and in my opinion, very well used. Most people there use the Symington bus to loop around the tracks to get the station.
I’m just wondering, as it’s not clear in any of the plans, if it would be possible to enter the GO station from the Crossways mall area without going through the TTC fare-paid area. It looks like the connection only benefits riders transferring to/from the ttc and not those who just want to get onto the GO/blue22 from the area northwest of the station. I realize it’s not a huge group of people, but i am in that group and sort of want it for my own benefit 🙂
Steve: If you read the report, you will discover that the last time this was discussed (twenty years ago), the mall owner did not want a connection as they viewed it as a way for undesirable elements to gain access. Whether this is still their position, especially if a major transfer station evolves literally under their noses, is another question.
Quite amusing reading. Kudos to those that drafted the initial lease in the 60’s that had the vision to foresee this connection. Then you have the TTC which was trying to get more than what the lease called for. Finally a property developer which used this occasion to try and extort the government. By the way, it’s funnier if you hold your pinky to the side of your mouth when you read the $1,000,000 part.
In 1989 you can understand Crossways resistance to this connection. Daily commuters would not do much to their bottom line. Now with the airport link about to become a reality, this would totally change their business case. They are still in the hotel business aren’t they? A good negotiator now could probably get money to flow Metrolinx’s way. If they are still resistant perhaps an aerial bridge from the GO platforms to the subway station somewhat aligned with Edna Ave. Just be careful where the foundations go near Dundas. That’s where I want the DRL station box to go. 🙂
I was amused to learn that, in 1990, there was a Provincial “Fare Integration and Service Co-ordination Initiative”. Didn’t they know that fare integration was impossible without the Presto farecard?
Steve: Some things require organizational will and commitment a lot more than technology, and the technology won’t achieve goals people hope for if it only duplicates an existing, fragmented system.
I went through the Crossways complex in November. I think that the TTC should avoid a connection with it to keep undesirables out of the subway and off the GO trains.
“if it would be possible to enter the GO station from the Crossways mall area without going through the TTC fare-paid area”
Sorry my last post above was worded poorly. I meant being able to enter the GO station from Dundas street and not inside the mall, either via Dundas West station or an entrance by the mall (without going through the TTC fare-paid area).
I’m being sort of a dreamer here, but a large GO logo on Dundas West station, plus signage indicating trip times downtown and to the airport of ttc vs go, plus maybe fare integration would really alleviate the subway and encourage more efficient travel patterns.
Steve: As designed, you would have to go through the TTC paid area. However, in the coming new world of fare integration, the ticketing system should be able to figure out that you are entering the Dundas West “hub” to ride the GO train. The idea of a “paid area” belonging to a specific carrier would be obsolete.
I don’t think the Crossways Corp is in much of a position to make demands any longer. Their retail base has shrunken greatly and what remains is a joke. This property always had so much business potential but it has failed miserably. It is an ugly monster of a building whose sole purpose seems to be generating gale-force winds at street level on a clear, sunny day. Unless their residents are getting hosed on rent there can’t be much money to be made here the way it is now versus the property taxes. I’m not sure what they’re waiting for to make change as the rest of the residential and business community has pretty much left them behind. Had The Crossways been joined to the subway from the beginning the development patterns in the area likely would have been dramatically different.
If it was parking that was required, TPA would have that land expropriated faster than you could blink.
I am shocked that this connection isn’t already included in the plans for the airport link/Georgetown GO corridor. Metrolinx consultation papers are filled with discussions about transit/mobility hubs and this location is a non-brainer. The current configuration is not only unacceptable, it is an embarrassment.
It seems that both GO and TTC lack any sort of will to do something about this … this is precisely the time when politicians need to bang heads and remind them that transit is there to serve people.
Steve: But of course, we just got rid of the politicians on the Metrolinx board because they were getting too ornery. The board currently has four meetings planned this year, and will probably not be overworked. Meanwhile, the staff and the Ministry of Transportation will make all the real decisions.
I wanted to add some small thoughts as a local. The transport connection may look great on a map and thrill transit nerds but it also has a local aspect. Even though this connection would really serve commuters more so than locals most local people are in favour of creating a transit hub connection.
1. “From what I gather, at the north end of the northbound platform is an exit to Randolph Avenue. There are a bunch of apartments that are off of Randolph and Perth, and thus a significant trip generator.”
Not really, most of the buildings are subsidized housing and the one next to the tracks is the Red Cross (and a few other very small businesses). Most people there are hanging on and not taking many flights anywhere. There is increased density in the overall area and probably new buildings going up on Bloor at Sterling in the near future but I would not say there is a large pent up demand.
2. This is all affected by the potential development at Dundas and Bloor of the “Giraffe” [which is] currently before the OMB. There has been much talk about putting a TTC entrance under Dundas to provide access from outside the Crossways. This is to get around a major stumbling block in terms of developing that site. Who knows how the OMB will affect the final plans.
3. Safety. While the Crossways is not an unsafe spot to be there have been issues with people being robbed after they leave the TTC Station. Community wide there is concern about tunnels and other spaces that may provide places to loiter or hang out. This happened years ago when against the community’s wishes for an overhead bridge to re-connect Paton Road (over the Barrie GO line) the City wasted a ton of cash on an underpass instead that quickly became a scary place and now sits covered up because nobody used it. Locals will want some kind of security as the connection is pretty long and is somewhat remote.
Part 2 of this would be safety at the GO Station itself. A new connection will take people away from the current exits on Bloor and reduce the number of eyeballs under the bridge. I don’t see this as a problem as developments along Bloor will replace those people. In theory there would also be access to the TTC via Randolf Avenue (which accesses the GO station by walking over Railpath) which would be cool but raises issues of safety.
My point here is that even good transit access ideas have an impact on the communities that surround them and people here hope that these connections don’t become dangerous areas in the off peak hours.
4. The Crossways (often called the Crotchways; can you guess what we call the Galleria Mall?) is a disaster that managed to get built due to some loopholes. The owners have never been friendly to the community and it shows. It’s no retail hub, they couldn’t even keep an LCBO store open there! There are one or two good stores, kept open by the residents of the building but most of the space (including their shortsighted addition from 2003 that doesn’t integrate at all with a future rail hub) is rented to the City Health Department, a vocational college, or empty. This place is how NOT to build a high density building on a corner across from a subway and most people using a GO connection will never give it a second thought. The businesses are one story above street grade (dumb) so its unlikely that commuters will ever see the Crossways. All it can add is access to the GO station and not much more.
5. Metrolinx not having a plan? I don’t really need to go there, I don’t have all day.
6. Many locals would like there to be a Lansdowne GO station to the east on Bloor as well for the Barrie line (the Line that Metrolinx doesn’t talk about) . I believe that Metrolinx is saying that they want the station to be at St. Clair. Diesels can’t do both, electric could: that’s the rationale people are being told.
7. Cost. Going back to item 1 I guess is cost. The cost of the airport link will have to be low enough to compete with taxis and limos. People I have talked to in the area still won’t take the train if it ends up costing 100 dollars for a family of 4 to get to the airport. I am not sure what the pricing will be but because the link is a 407 style for profit company (GO would have been the smarter choice and I still think GO will eventually take it over) I have to wonder. Single person to airport makes sense but in residential areas a lot of airport traffic is more than one person and without a family rate nobody will take it.
8. This whole story reflects more than anything the feeling for many years that rail was a dying technology. You can see all sorts of evidence in the area where companies and even the City gave up on rail and even tore up tracks. The rail companies themselves got rid of excess capacity (leading to Railpath). One can blame anybody they want to about why a connection was not built but from what I have seen there just has not been the demand or the interest. These days when people speak up about local concerns regarding regional transportation plans there are always morons who say “you shouldn’t have moved next to tracks” but these lines have been pretty quiet for the last 40 years and now that there is renewed interest (for all the right reasons) locals do have a right to help shape things and to ask how they would be served by this development.
As a local I would like to see:
A GO station at Lansdowne.
GO security staff at both Stations.
GO to the airport and added stations along the route.
A connection design that augments the area and allows paid access from the east side of Dundas. It would be nice if the connection was not a windowless tunnel. Any connection will have to be wheelchair accessible so let’s build something interesting.
The Current cost for a bus to downtown is $20.00 which if I read correctly is what the proposed Blue22 fare was to be but the Bus will drop you at your hotel while Blue22 will force you to drag your bags from Union Station to your Hotel or take a cab.
With respect to putting more stops on the Bradford line: there are currently 9 stops with a 1h32 run time. Each stop adds about 4 minutes to the total trip time from past experience. I don’t think the riders from the North would like the extra 8 minutes of trip time. I don’t think that there would be any excess capacity to carry people who wanted to get on at St. Clair Or Lansdowne to Union. The TTC is building this white elephant called the York extension to the Spadina subway. It can carry the people who would get on at these stops downtown. I grant that there should be one connection between GO’s Newmarket Sub and the subway but I doubt that Bloor and Lansdowne is the best spot.
GO and Union Station do not have the capacity to be a local transit system for Toronto except for a few outlying stations like Guildwood, Etobicoke North and Agincourt. Don’t hold your breath waiting for GO to electrify any lines beyond Lakeshore and Georgetown, if they do those. The costs is around $20 to $50 million per mile that does not include equipment. An EMU would cost $4 to $5 million dollars per car if it has to meet AAR collision requirements, they are akin to a 747 being able to survive a crash into a mountain.
If GO had any brains they would take the Weston Sub to Bramalea and the entire Newmarket Sub plus the Union Station Rail Corridor which they own and declare them off limits to any freights while GO trains are running and use non AAR compliant cars. This would cut the equipment cost by 40% to 60% and reduce energy costs as the cars would be lighter. If they could get a route out to Agincourt some way and buy the Havelock Sub then they could also run Uxbridge and North Durham trains with this type of equipment. One of the last papers that GO published on their upcoming electrification study said that the consultant was to look at all possible types of equipment and not just the electrification of the existing service. One can only hope that they do a good job with this study.
As for the lines being not too busy they were still railway lines and if you buy next to them you should expect that they would be used. It reminds me of the complaints by people in Campbellville and in Markham after they moved in and found out that most of the trains ran between 10:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. and not during the day when they had visited. “Caveat Emptor,” do your homework before you buy. There was a reason why it was cheaper than a similar place more than a km away.
Thanks for the info Robert. I don’t agree with you per se about caveat emptor as you are misreading my point.
The area affected by Metrolinx’s plans is far greater than 1 km. I would also note that houses on the west side of the corridor are about 150,000 more than the ones on the east side so price is not always a good guide as my cheaper house is further away from the tracks.
Very few people even 15 years ago could have found accurate information about the corridor and in documents created by the City Planning department in the late 70’s rail was written off. I would point out that right now it would be impossible for a citizen to see the plans and contract for the airport link (as people have been asking) with SNC Lavlin. Many people also moved to the corridor areas before the internet so trying to find out info via sites like Steve’s would have been non-existent.
And few of the thousands of pro public transit residents who moved near the corridor would have guessed that when increased use came, as many wanted, it would be a dusted off plan from 1991 using technology from 1909. Most would have assumed that GO would lead this PUBLIC transit project in all respects and be with the times offering a technical solution, electric, that is cheaper in the long run.
Your point is, and this is not a knock at you, caveat emptor, be warned that in the future people in government will do stupid logic defying things. In that regard Robert all of us may end up in the same boat. : )
January 4, 2010 at 11:23 pm
“And few of the thousands of pro public transit residents who moved near the corridor would have guessed that when increased use came, as many wanted, it would be a dusted off plan from 1991 using technology from 1909. Most would have assumed that GO would lead this PUBLIC transit project in all respects and be with the times offering a technical solution, electric, that is cheaper in the long run.
“Your point is, and this is not a knock at you, caveat emptor, be warned that in the future people in government will do stupid logic defying things. In that regard Robert all of us may end up in the same boat. : )”
The problem is that as long as GO has to meet the AAR and Canadian equivalent standards Electrification will not be cheaper within the life span of the equipment unless diesel goes up to $10.00 per litre. GO bi-levels cost about $3 million per car, cab cars cost more because they have to meet locomotive crash standards and are subject to the 92 day servicing requirements that locomotives are because they are considered a locomotive since they have a control stand. Diesel locomotives are $5 to $7 million a pop while straight electrics are $8 to $10 million and dual modes are about $12 million. AAR compliant EMU’s are between $4 and $5 million each.
Loook at what Malaysian Railways paid for 36 six car trains set of EMU’s.
From the International Railway Journal today:
“Malaysian Railway to buy 36 EMUs:
“Malaysian Railway says it expects to issue an international invitation to tender within six months for a fleet of 36 suburban electric multiple-unit (EMU) trains in a deal that is likely to be worth around $588 million.”
This is 36 trains set of 6 cars each for $588 million or $2 722 000 each, and it probably includes spares.
Here are the Rough Order of Magnitudes Expenditures, ROME, costs to electrify the Lakeshore line from Hatch Mott MacDonald, GO’s consultant:
I think that when the province saw those costs for the Lakeshore line they had a heart attack. They want to look like they are doing something but no party is going to be able to commit that amount of money over that length of time. I believe that is why the province or Metrolynx told the consultants to look at all forms of technology. I don’t think that they are going to look at ICTS, cable cars or anything else exotic. I believe that there is too much money invested in steel wheel on steel rail to re-invent the system. What I think that the province wants is some way to run non AAR compliant vehicles and save themselves a bundle of money.
GO Metrolynx owns the Weston Sub up to Bramalea station, the entire length of the Newmarket Sub, the Uxbridge Sub and the GO sub in Durham region. I think that they own or have an option on the CP line from Leaside into Union and they own the Union Station Rail Corridor. I’ll bet that they could buy the Havelock Sub from CP. If they could get a right of way from Leaside to Agincourt then they could run whatever type of equipment they wanted as long as they kept the freights of those lines during their operating hours.
If GO could do this, they could run lighter equipment which would use less power and accelerate faster than AAR equipment. They could also run closer headways since CTC signalling limits it to about a 10 minute minimum. Not as many tracks would be needed along the Weston corridor, the noise would be a lot less and with EMU’s they could put in more stops or run a skip stop system while running the long haul GO service with a few diesel trains which would make less noise through Weston as they would not be accelerating.
It is not stupid to refrain from electrifying the existing system as long as AAR rules apply. It would be financially imprudent to do so. I honestly believe from reading between the lines of their press releases and off the cuff comments from some of their personnel that they want to electrify but not under AAR rules. This would mean that the lines that would not be electrified would be Georgetown from Brampton to Kitchener, Milton and the Lakeshore, the three heaviest lines because they still have mainline freights on them.
It seems to me that CN would have been pretty dumb to cede their rails to Metrolinx without protecting their right to have some daytime slots. Between late/early running and maintenance that would leave CN virtually nothing. Light rail rules might work (sort of) in Ottawa but that’s a pretty different setup.
Mark Dowling says:
January 5, 2010 at 11:14 pm
“It seems to me that CN would have been pretty dumb to cede their rails to Metrolinx without protecting their right to have some daytime slots. Between late/early running and maintenance that would leave CN virtually nothing. Light rail rules might work (sort of) in Ottawa but that’s a pretty different setup.”
Very True! According to the reports that I have read CN runs three freights a day on the Weston Sub and switches five industries on the Newmarket Sub. I think they still switch something around Milliken on the Uxbridge Sub. Since the Weston Sub is going to have at least four tracks for all its length it should be possible to set up one track for CN when needed and keep the GO and Air Rail Link on the other three tracks.
If CN needs to get something down to the harbour front they might be able to use the Bala Sub. I don’t know if there are daily freights on Newmarket and Uxbridge or if it is switched as needed but there should be some way to switch when there is no GO train around. Perhaps they could park it on a siding until GO is clear. This is no different than what they do now except that there would probably need to be a longer window of safety required.
The fact that the high platforms on the proposed Pearson Line are 69″ from the centre line of the track is to meet AAR clearance requirements.
It is possible for a freight line to cross a subway or light rail line because I have seen examples of this in the US. They just have to take extra safety precautions to prevent accidents. If we are going to go to cab signalling with positive train control then this should not be a problem, hopefully. GO has to get out from under AAR rules if they are going to operate an even more frequent service with any degree of efficiency.
Robert Wightman said
Here in Malaysia there is a tendency for government agencies to overpay for purchases by a factor of 2 (or 3). Malaysian Railways (KTM) also bought 4 sets of used 20 year old 2-carriage DMU trainsets from FEVE for a total of RM30 million (about EUR6 million or USD 8 million) back in 2009.
Apparently Costa Rica and Argentina bought the same 4 DMU trains for EUR2 million … for the whole set of 4.
This generated a 5-day controversy in the Malaysian Parliament (see this link and related postings).
I’ve been following the plans for expansion of suburban commuter service in Malaysia very closely (in fact, I have been pushing for it since 2006) and I really do hope that the numbers that KTM is using for the new EMU purchase are accurate and comparable to real world numbers.
That said, I think that your points are quite valid and the cost of investment in electrification are very complicated and will require a lot of will to justify.
The benefits of early investment cannot be ignored. Malaysia and Indonesia, two countries that invested in the electrification of commuter rail corridors for their main cities, have saved a huge amount of money compared to Bangkok, which has just started the process.
Cheers from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Moaz Yusuf Ahmad
I’m quite critical of the lack of rail lines run by TTC and came to the conclusion that merging Go Transit with TTC would create a more appropriate rail network without having to build more subways.
Doing a search to see what a merged rail map might thus look like, I found out that, under Metrolinx, this is going to happen. If they do it right, then, for example, a person doesn’t have to go laterally east to St. George Stn before making a 90 right angle turn south – they could jump off at Dundas West and grab the Go Train into Union.
It just makes sense, and begins to approximate the rail layout of other transit systems. As it stands, a system with only two main lines is woefully insufficient, and I’ve finally let go the hopeless hope that a true subway system will ever be built. This, done right, is about the best consolation prize.
I’ll talk more about it on my site. Thanks for reading.
Steve: But this will only work with true fare integration where we treat GO as part of the local network, not as a separate system that goes out of its way to discourage “TTC” riders from boarding through high fares. People spend a lot of time kvetching about the fare boundary at Steeles Avenue or the Etobicoke Creek, but don’t say a word about the discriminatory fares charged by GO for riders within the 416.
January 13, 2010 at 6:35 pm
The problem with putting GO into the city fare system is that GO and Union Station do not have the capacity to carry a large number of local riders. I have ridden Georgetown and Milton trains into and out of Toronto and they all had standing loads before they crossed the Toronto boundary. I believe that the Lakeshore lines also have this problem. With the current type of operation they do not have the capacity to serve as a local system for Toronto and a regional system for the GTHA. As long as GO operates standard heavy mainline rail they cannot afford the equipment nor run the headways needed to do both jobs. I have mentioned my pet system where GO could act as a downtown relief line and a Pearson rail link if they could run the Weston sub as a separate line none under the restrictions of AAR rules.
Metrolynx said that the study of electrification would look into alternate systems. I can only hope that this means electric rail that is separate from mainline rail so that it does not need to meet the overly severe AAR requirements.
Steve: I don’t dispute that GO does not have the capacity. However, if anyone is going to talk about people hopping onto GO for a “local” trip, the fare integration issue must be addressed. Also, many trips within the 416 are quite long and are only treated by GO as “local” by virtue of where the 416/905 boundary lies. This is, in reverse, the same sort of fare discrimination 905-ers complain about with cross-border trips requiring two fares.
Steve: The following exchange was carried on in emails rather than comments here. I have extracted material from that thread.
The FRA in the U.S. just released a rule change for the implementation of Positive Train Control that will take effect in March. on of the changes is:
“The U.S. will require stronger front-end frames on new passenger railcars and some locomotives to help prevent them from collapsing or telescoping on impact. The rules apply to all U.S. regional passenger railroad operators and to Amtrak.”
This will increase the cost of all coaches but DMU’, EMU’s and cab cars will go up even more because they have to meet all the requirements for locomotives and for passenger coaches. This is why GO must look for ways to run as many lines as possible with either space separation, totally different lines, or temporal separation, GO and main line equipment cannot be on the track at the same time.
Greg Gormick replies:
Here is a press item re Bombardier:
Robert Wightman asked:
Greg Gormick replied: