At the Empire Club today, Mayoral candidate Rocco Rossi proposed that all of Transit City, except for the Sheppard East line, be put on hold pending a financial review.
Rossi may not be familiar with local issues, but he should at least know that Queen’s Park (and, for Sheppard, Ottawa) is paying for these lines, not the City of Toronto.
There are issues with Transit City about which I will write in coming days, but stopping the projects is hardly the correct approach. It smacks of simplistic anti-Miller campaigning — whatever David Miller did must be wrong and so we’ll stop, or at least slow down, the plan.
I will be generous and assume that the candidate may be badly advised, but this is the second gaffe of Rossi’s platform (the first is the proposal to sell Toronto Hydro), and I can’t help thinking he’s headed for an electoral graveyard.
Updated 11:30 pm: I am advised that Rossi is aware of funding from other levels of government, but is concerned about future operating costs. He might start by looking at the extension to Vaughan which is expected to increase net TTC operating costs after any incremental fare revenue by well over $10-million annually when it opens. The projected riding north of Steeles Avenue is lower than on the Eglinton LRT.
I’m not sure you could bend the LRT trains in and out of the sliver of land currently occupied by the bus terminal as it is entirely north-south oriented.
As for the GO Terminal, it is in the middle of the hydro corridor and if anything Hydro One would prefer the existing buildings to go away rather than accommodate any further construction.
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I see no advantage to having the LRT run north-south through the bus terminal, as it would probably still be underground anyway. The LRT can connect to the existing underground passageways between the bus terminal and subway from a perpendicular alignment under Finch Ave E.
As for running through the hydro corridor, I don’t see that as an efficient strategy because it would prevent the LRT from replacing the 39 route. It is extremely inefficient from a resource management and cost perspective to have two modes serving the same corridor needlessly, and that applies to the 97 Yonge as well. If the subway is designed as a local service between Finch and Steeles, as it should be, then the 97 Yonge could arguably terminate at Sheppard and only run between Sheppard and St.Clair. Let’s not burn a greater value of operating dollars in the long term to save a lesser value of capital dollars in the short term.
Forget I mentioned the YRT/Viva not going south of Steeles, you’re right that they use a separate terminal on land can’t be redeveloped in the hydro corridor.
If we want a long-haul service through the hydro corridor, let GO lay some tracks there and run their trains through it. TTC’s priority is not the long-haul market, it’s the short-to-medium-haul market. Always has been.
Yes, the 39 will still exist, but there is no reason why it could not share the same platform with the LRT.
Yonge Street is also north-south oriented, and one of the originally proposed connections had the LRT turning up Yonge Street to a centre-of-road platform down to the subway’s mezzanine. Besides, I suspect that “using the bus terminal” does not necessarily mean using the exact structure as it exists today. It would likely be torn down to be replaced with something better suited to LRT (and route 39) operations. This may or may not involve part of the property being freed for sale.
Keith L said:
For starters, there already exists a large amount of retail and high density housing around Markington Square and Morningside Mall with additional amounts of both scattered along Eglinton East and Kingston road which would be covered by such an extension. When you combine that with the lack of a major highway anywhere nearby, it’s far more likely residents along that route would use a subway line if provided with one.
As for the issue of municipal, provincial and federal services located at Scarborough Town Centre, how much do they actually contribute to ridership on the RT? If I’m not mistaken, the majority of traffic currently on the RT (and I’m sure Steve has the stats to prove or disprove this even though he will hate me for dragging him into this) is due to all the buses feeding into STC rather than people going to the mall or the government offices; a pattern which isn’t expected to change with extending the Bloor-Danforth line to STC. This is due to a lack of any other heavy rail (subway or ICTS) routes in the area where buses would concentrate to provide access to the rest of the city. If that were to change by say extending the Sheppard line to Kennedy for example, it wouldn’t surprise me that most routes north of the 401 would end up there rather than at STC.
Steve: When I worked in Scarborough City Hall for TDSB, it was quite disheartening how few people got there by transit. The problem was that they came from all over the GTA, and most of them drove because it was the only reasonable option. Indeed, a subway extension would have made little difference for most of them.
In addition, if the Bloor-Danforth line were to end up at Kingston/Morningside and if we’re talking about ditching Transit City for subways, you’ve forgotten about UofT Scarborough which would benefit more from a station at Morningside than at STC.
Steve: As you may have noticed, I prefer to build the northern 2km of Scarborough Malvern as part of the Sheppard project to give UTSC connectivity that way.
Keith L said:
It’s simple for Metrolinx. Eglinton and Guildwood Go stations will be seeing heavy rail traffic after the electrification of the Lakeshore line; with possibly additional traffic coming from VIA rail at Guildwood. A direct subway connection at either one or both Go stations would not only give people who commute in from Durham to work in the east end a viable alternative to driving, but also will draw traffic from the east end of the Bloor-Danforth line due to the shorter trip time offered through GO to downtown Toronto. Also, if buses are your thing, a subway stop at Morningside & Kingston would provide a more attractive location for a regional terminal due to the proximity to Highway 2A, which has room for the addition of bus only lanes, as well as provide a more convenient route to access Durham’s proposed LRT network.
As for the other benefits, simply read up on the Scarborough Malvern LRT proposal. After all, all I’ve been doing is suggesting that part of it should be built as a subway line since all other Transit City lines are apparently better off as subways.
And because I’m feeling snarky (sorry Steve):
Keith L said:
Isn’t that similar to some of the reasoning behind why we are building a subway to nowhere right now?
Steve: Building one subway with dubious justification does not make building one or two more the correct choice.
Karl Junkin said:
It should be noted that the section of Finch East between Yonge and Don Mills has low development potential (all low-rise residential). In addition, widening the street to accommodate the ROW will be harder than in other places. According to Toronto’s MapIt (map.toronto.ca), the gap between the buildings is 36 m or more (OK for LRT), but the gap between the property lines is mostly 29 – 32 m. So, massive expropriation would be required.
Finch East hydro corridor (unlike Finch West) touches some places of interest: mall at Cummer & Bayview and Old Cummer GO station. It could serve Seneca College from the north.
Hence, a case can be made for placing a portion of Finch East LRT in the hydro corridor. It is a small loss in the operational cost (as parallel bus service would be needed for that section of the street), but a probable gain in the construction cost and in the service speed.
Not much parallel bus service- although there is a bus on Finch East every 79 seconds I believe in the AM peak, at least half of those are express which only stop at transfer points, picking up transfer passengers who would just as easily be served by the relocated LRT. Actual local ridership on that portion is probably quite low (discounting transfers from Bayview, Leslie and Don Mills who don’t care if the service runs on Finch or just north of it). Old Cummer GO station is a valuable connection
@Michael Forest: Finch East is wide enough. This is the same issue that Finch West experiences east of Bathurst St., and that issue was manageable. The width is in the Official Plan even if it doesn’t already exist, and would merely accelerate existing long-term plans. It’s just under 2km between Bayview and Yonge, which is the stretch where expropriation would apply (it’s not an issue east of Bayview as properties no longer face Finch, except the odd commercial/institutional property), a distance less than that between Bathurst and Yonge which is over 2km. It’s really not “massive expropriation,” since we’re only talking about slivers of frontage. Weston/Eglinton is experiencing “massive expropriation” – big difference.
You don’t make your case with the examples you cited. The GO Station can easily shift its platform 100m to be conveniently accessible directly from Finch Ave (as it should be, not with the needless extra 100m walk that currently exists). With the LRT service available, GO can rid itself of the small parking lot who’s insignificant location is what the station is ill-advisably named after. You are not considering the expense of a LRT grade-separated crossing with the railway that does not exist at the hydro corridor, but does already exist at Finch. Expropriation is cheaper than that grade-separation.
You might also like to note that most of the buildings for Seneca (where students/faculty are ultimately bound for) are much closer to Finch Ave than they are to the hydro corridor. There is less incentive for both staff and faculty to use transit if transit is going to throw them into the hydro corridor, a location that is farther away than half the parking spaces, unlike Finch Ave, where a well-designed stop can provide sheltered access almost immediately upon disembarking. Crossing wide expanses of parking lots in the dreads of winter, as would be the case if running in the hydro corridor, is also a poor selling point. This is all, of course, assuming the LRT even reaches as far east as Seneca, which I believe it should, but it technically isn’t funded as far as I understand things.
Whatever you gain at Cummer/Bayview, you will probably lose more at Brahms/Linus/Finch. You also cut off those riders coming from Wilfred Ave and Estelle Ave, for whom 39 Finch is their main route. Cummer/Bayview has the 42 Cummer service, which is not the route the LRT is trying to replace or alleviate. It isn’t a “small loss in the operational cost.” Serving the same corridor with two modes is inefficient and over the longer term racks up significant added expense, which could damage the credibility of implementing LRT. It is best to do smart infrastructure design that serves the local needs effectively with the capacity to perform reliably than to do a cop-out and hide in the hydro corridor under the false pretense of saving costs.
Besides, there really is no significant speed advantage in the hydro corridor when you consider the probable reality that there’d be only two stops more on Finch than in the hydro corridor. Finch Ave is where the ridership is, and so that’s where the LRT should go.
Express services are there as a capacity management strategy, not an average speed increasing strategy.
Karl Junkin writes:
The funny thing is that the main entrances to Seneca face the parking lots to the north. There’s another building going up at the north end, which “create[s] a new main entrance – a front door if you will – to welcome everyone who visits Newnham Campus.” Yes, it faces the parking lots and hydro ROW to the north.
Anyone arriving or departing campus via an eastbound Finch East bus has to press the walk button of they won’t get a pedestrain signal to cross Finch at Seneca Hill!
Express service between Seneca’s campus and Finch Station is one possible reason to put in the Finch E LRT. Otherwise, heavy bus service will have to be maintained on Finch East.
The cost of the grade separation would be an issue on a hydrocorridor routing but could be made back in part by ease of construction. With no existing traffic to worry about in theory a hydrocorridor ROW should proceed much more quickly and therefore save both direct and indirect costs – among other things, you shouldn’t need a paid duty officer to supervise construction impacts to a field…
However, the crossing of the parkland west of the GO station might cause a problem at the EA stage. Also, if Finch West LRT crosses Yonge under Finch, how does Finch East LRT get to the hydro corridor?
As for Old Cummer itself, the grade separation itself could prove useful if Metrolinx considered putting in a western platform and track at Old Cummer in a 2-way all day scenario, since the overhead or subsurface structure could also carry intending passengers via a set of lifts either from the LRT to GO and vice versa or from the eastern carpark to the western one. Seems like a lot of trouble to go to though.