Transit Village

Recent reports (here in the Star) show this week’s version of Transit City according to Queen’s Park.  Needless to say, this does not sit well with the folks at City Hall (Mayor Miller’s letter and comparison table).

Metrolinx claims that the City agreed with the proposed changes, but as David Miller makes quite clear in the letter linked above, this is not the case.  However, it appears that Metrolinx is getting mixed messages, one from the politicians and another from TTC staff.

This scheme is presented as the scaled down, what-we-will-do-now plan, and the construction timelines now reach out 10 years.  Although this is claimed to simply be building in ten years what was originally proposed for eight, this is actually a considerable cutback in the scope of the first phase of Transit City.  There is no indication of when, if ever, more of the plan will be built.

After the surgery, here’s what is left on the map:

  • Sheppard:  Cut back from Meadowvale to Conlins Road (the carhouse site), a relatively small change.
  • Scarborough RT:  Reconstruction is deferred until after the Pan Am Games (sumemr 2015).  Phase 1, as planned by the TTC, will proceed ending at Sheppard, but Phase 2 north to Malvern has no definite construction date.
  • Finch:  Cut back to run from Finch West Station at Keele to Humber College.
    • The section east of Yonge, an invention of Metrolinx in the 2009 funding announcement, deservedly fell off the plan. TTC never took this segment seriously.
    • West from Yonge was part of Metrolinx regional vision for cross-city travel, a vision that is much shorter than a few years ago.
  • Eglinton:  Once touted as a high speed regional link cross the city, this line will now end at Jane.  Although the option of an airport link is in “phase 2”, I suspect that the real agenda, long advocated by some at Metrolinx, may be to bring the Mississauga busway east via the Richview expressway corridor.  This would ensure that Eglinton could never provide the direct, cross-city regional link to the airport so trumpeted by Metrolinx, and would avoid threatening the premium fare air rail link with reasonably priced competition.

The real problem here is that funding “announcements” no longer have any meaning. There is no guarantee anything will be built, or whether the announced scope will actually match the as-built project.

The remants of Transit City, even if they are built, leave anomalies in the network.

  • Finch West is an isolated route with its own carhouse to support one line only slightly longer than than SRT.  Who knows when or if the Jane line (another user of the Finch carhouse) will ever connect Finch to the rest of the network?  I fear that Finch may never actually be started.
  • Sheppard does not include a potential extension south to UTSC.  This connection was openly discussed by folks at Metrolinx and the TTC as a way of serving the games site and giving the Sheppard line a substantial eastern destination.  However, it has disappeared from the plan even though it would be sensible and a worthwhile addition to TC.
  • On the SRT, riders must make do with current technology, although life (by way of second-hand Vancouver cars) might be breathed into it.  As you freeze on platforms for the next several winters, send cards of thanks to Queen’s Park.
  • Meanwhile, Malvern Town Centre gets no service at all.  This is quite a come-down from its original role as a major terminus.

The SRT Project

In related news, the TTC decided today to include the underground connection from the SRT to the Sheppard line (price premium $65m) as an alternative design in the project’s EA to placate the local community.  TTC did a poor job of presenting the surface LRT option and making it seem far worse (noise, vibration, sleepless nights) than is likely.  It fell to Vice-chair Joe Mihevc to champion TTC track technology, but the damage had been done.

I could not help comparing the warmth of reception and sensitivty to this neighbourhood’s concerns with the shabby treatment given to the Weston and Mt. Dennis deputations about the Eglinton line’s configuration at Black Creek and Weston Road.

One remaining uncertainty is the modification needed on the Sheppard LRT to provide for eventual construction of an underground connection to the SRT extension.

The TTC also discussed the mechanics of replacement bus service during the SRT reconstruction.  Staff claim this will require 70 buses/hour.  This shuttle and its service level trigger the need for a temporary terminal at Kennedy.  Nobody seems to have realized that if the SRT closes after Sheppard opens, some demand now funnelled to the SRT from north of 401 can be taken west to Don Mills via the Sheppard line.

Other Transit City Routes

No funding has been announced and no dates settled for the remaining Transit City routes:

  • Don Mills:  This route is tied up with discussions about a possible Downtown Relief Subway.  Where the money will come from to pay for any of this is unknown.
  • Jane, Scarborough-Malvern and Waterfront West are completely in limbo awaiting word on their position in the overall Metrolinx priority list.

There is no word on how Queen’s Park would fund the rest of The Big Move including these remaining Transit City lines, the second phases of the funded projects, or additional regional services.

The Lost Network

What we have lost with these cuts is the network view of transit.  Fragments of lines, only what we can squeeze out of the budget, will leave us with a disjointed network failing many of the original hopes and aims of Transit City.

Many other projects, part of the Metrolinx regional plan, are nowhere to be seen.

Unless sustained, substantial funding comes into play, we will be back to endless debates on one line at a time.

Dalton McGuinty could have been the transit Premier, but his focus has moved to other areas.  Transit City is only a shadow of the original scheme, and ongoing funding for TTC operations and maintenance are well below the level needed to run this large transit system.

Transit takes a long view, the determination to hold out through long economic and political cycles. How many more decades must we wait for real commitment to transit at Queen’s Park?

83 thoughts on “Transit Village

  1. I find all of this so horribly depressing for such a great city. Toronto deserves so much more than it has. It needs more subway, and LRT lines as well. I feel at the age of 30, that I will never live to see this happen in my lifetime as the pace things have been going.


  2. I had just moved to Toronto, indirectly from Vancouver, when I attended a TTC meeting that was open to the public. Coming from Vancouver to a new city I wanted to get to know the my new home, the TTC and what was planned. Mr. Adam Giambrone wasn’t there that day but Vice-Chair Joe Mihevc was the one who introduced the Transit City Plan, his enthusiasm for this project was contagious for this transit fan. I have always hoped all of these lines would become reality and the improvements and extension of the SRT.

    A lot of bus routes serve the Malvern Town Center area and they are used heavily. I saw a rendition for the planned bus station at the SRT(LRT) stop at the west end of Malvern Town Center and thought this was great for the residents in this area as well as business’ there. I don’t have a stake in this plan, I live between Warden Station and the improving Victoria Park Station, I was just hoping that the residents in the Malvern area deserved a better link with a rapid transit link and station.

    As well as living in Vancouver, Montreal and now Toronto I have also lived in a smaller city with a not so good transit system. With all my experiences I would like all of GTA to find the funds to have good transit service in all corners. Toronto’s system is good but it always needs improvements of course and Dalton McGuinty pulling the rug out from all these previously announced plans is really cementing my vote in a different direction. I am voting at the municipal level and provincial level with transit being the main issue for this voter.


  3. I have the strangest feeling like we’ve been through something like this before. Can’t quite place…WAIT! I HAVE IT: Network 2011! “Those who forget history…”


  4. There were a lot of people mocking the old plan as “Transfer City” – particularly the Sheppard LRT-Sheppard Subway-Yonge Subway-Finch LRT run, this now adds one more transfer – a bus, no less – to that trip. With the Jane transfer as well, and a stranger transfer point to a resurrected 13 Rouge Hill bus, I think the moniker works for the entire network.

    Is this new plan one designed to fail? It doesn’t make any sense. I would even suggest that it might be better to sacrifice one route to at least ensure that the other routes are built properly if this is what we are stuck with.

    The last SRT replacement PICs had the Malvern extension shown as a deferral, so that part isn’t new, but they wanted to get this moving as quickly as possible.


  5. It’s 1986 and Network 2011 all over again. Please, don’t let this contemptuous slap in the face to the people Toronto ever be forgotten.


  6. The TTC, David Miller and Adam Giambrone (mostly the former) have done a lousy job of explaining Transit City and LRT. I took it upon myself to fill that gap with a recent article in The Toronto Star. The reader response was overwhelming, obviously indicating that many Torontonians are hungry to know about the positive role that rational and properly implemented LRT can play here in Toronto.

    But the real problem is, has been and will continue to be Metrolinx. It’s nothing but another gooey layer of bureaucracy laid on the existing anti-transit provincial bureaucracy that is MTO. It’s no secret that Metrolinx does not like LRT and has done everything possible to derail it as an option for Toronto.

    MTO’s highways-at-all-costs stance has been known for decades and it is still in full force. That’s no surprise. What is tragic is that we now have a another provincial agency that is nothing but a plush perch for fresh-faced, career-oriented bureaucrats who know less about transportation than my cat. The organization’s collective lack of knowledge and experience is embarrassing.

    Even worse, Metrolinx has set out to muzzle its critics, including Steve Munro. While briefly employed by them as the speechwriter for its chairman, I was asked to act as their public shill. The expectation was that I would attack Steve publicly and demolish his pro-LRT arguments while posing as a so-called independent transportation writer, concealing my affiliation with the agency. The Metrolinx mandarins didn’t like it when I pointed out that not only was this dishonest and a complete indictment of their alleged policy of inclusiveness and public dialogue, it was impossible. As I have told Steve on several occasions through the 40 years that I have known him, he has forgotten more about the TTC than I will ever know. Furthermore, I agree with him fully on LRT.

    The result of this and other Metrolinx issues with which I was most uncomfortable was that I quit. No great loss. You really can’t turn a transportation journalist into an apologist for an organization dedicated to nothing more than its own empire building. This now means I’m effectively barred from any communications work for the province, but so be it. To quote the blacklisted writer, Lillian Hellman, “I will not cut my conscience to fit this year’s fashions.”

    Until the province stops meddling in the affairs of the TTC, nothing is going to happen to seriously advance the case for true LRT in Toronto. At the same time, the TTC and City Hall need to get their acts together — fast. They have collectively messed up St. Clair, failed to confront major issues such as transit priority signalling and fumbled in their limp attempts to explain LRT to Torontonians. Their communications and community relations work has been appalling.

    Transit City and many other worthy municipal transit initiatives now hang in the balance awaiting the outcome of this fall’s election. The only way this situation is going to change is if we elect a mayor and a majority of councillors who understand the issues and the technologies, and then act accordingly. That includes standing up to — but not declaring open warfare on — the McGuinty and Harper governments. Their fair contribution to any transit improvement scheme is vital. What’s not required and shouldn’t be tolerated is provincial or federal interference in decisions affecting largely local transportation investments and operations.

    Isn’t Metrolinx always beating us over the head with their pronouncements about their dedication to the resolution of regional transportation problems? When did they add local transit to their mandate?

    P.S. My thanks to that Toronto Star reader who took the time to send the editor a glowing endorsement of my LRT article. However, I must decline her suggestion that I run for mayor. Now, as far as getting an honourable, transit-savvy candidate elected….


  7. ” We have been through something like this before”

    The City of Toronto and the Provincial Government have very serious financial problems and to date have shown very little evidence that that are interested in controlling spending.

    There seems to be a problem with the estimated costs for the original proposals. If the present scheme is tendered and costs are close to the budgets it should be no problem to complete the fill-ins (Finch and the Airport link).

    The DRL should be in place before Jane and Don Mills are built. Maybe that’s the plan.

    The funding process has to be revised.

    I am not interested in any legacy left behind by Miller. I am starting to think he is the problem.


  8. What’s happening to the 905 projects?

    Steve: The recent funding discussions have only been about the “top 5” on the Metrolinx list — the VIVA busway plus four Transit City lines. Metrolinx has not yet addressed the larger question of funding the rest of its proposed network, nor the timing of implementing any part of it.


  9. There was another article in the Toronto Star this morning about how Kathleen Wynne pretty much flat out threatened David Miller with the total cancellation of Transit City/Village if he didn’t shut up, take the disjointed pieces of light rail and used ICTS cars being offered and smile.

    What happened at the commission meeting yesterday? Did they approve the Toronto Rocket option order? Was a decision made about Queen, and was there any discussion about how Transit City’s become a rapidly moving target for the TTC and the city to plan around ever since Dalton McGuinty dropped the $4 billion surprise?

    Steve: Yes, the TR order was confirmed, although the money to pay for it (along with necessary changes at Wilson Yard) are not in the “above the line” capital budget. As I noted in my update on the Long Branch car, staff has been asked for a report to the June meeting on the Dundas West option.


  10. “Metrolinx claims that the City agreed with the proposed changes, but as David Miller makes quite clear in the letter linked above, this is not the case.”

    Seriously, how on earth can Metrolinx ever even think saying the city has agreed with something they don’t is a good idea??? You can’t say someone’s agreed with somethign when you know full well they will go on every available media outlet and make it crystal clear they don’t in very short order.

    Quite simply, Metrolinx has lied.


  11. Hey Steve, did they make any mention of the timelines for starting to completion of construction of the (scaled back) Eglinton line?

    Steve: This is in the table included with the Mayor’s letter which is linked from the beginning of this article.


  12. A sad day indeed. Sadder still is how neither opposition party has really stood up to fill the vacuum in leadership on transit.


  13. Stop with the Grand Schemes!

    All these failed plans are BIG GRAND EXPENSIVE SCHEMES. Why not stick with a simple realistic plan of 1-2 subway station openings a year. Infrastructure building is not for me or you, its for the next generation. Why? because its long and expensive. We are lucky if we can be part of the construction process in our time.

    We come to province and feds begging for billions of dollars, and all it takes is a economic downturn or change in policy for the grand scheme to collapse.

    Not to mention introducing lrt with hrt technology creates more transfer points and incompatibilities with the network.

    Lets try to come up with a realistic (sorry to say “conservative” formula) for slow and steady subway growth, meanwhile introducing transit city bus plan.

    LRT in Toronto will be slow.

    LRT is fast in a sprawlled setting with controlled access crossing gates like Dallas Dart, L.A. Metro, or Calgary C Train. LRT in Toronto will NOT fucntion like this. They are having a hard time getting the headways and signal priority to work on Eglinton Right now.

    Toronto needs full grade seperation. Steve even made the comment that 30km/hr on Eglinton West LRT is High.

    In the 1980’s no one wanted to pay for Danforth Subway Extension into Scarborough so the politicians of the time stormed up a “brilliant” economical idea called SRT. In the long run it ended up costing Much more then originally planned, and today requires a significant investment again. Imagine what could of been yesterday (1990ies) and today if they just extended the subway over a longer period of time. There would be a subway with no stupid transfer point, and no stupid debate to replace the today’s SRT. Thats right it would of been a subway.

    Right now we are at a point when car ussage is at its peak, its more likely transit will become more and more used in future. = Increase ridership.

    SLOW, CONSISTENT, STEADY, PATIENT, GROWTH I think thats something I learned in my 1st 30 years of life If I wanted to accomplish something.

    Its the hard reality of life. Network 2011, Transit City. Its like starting a project around your house realising you took on too much. All it takes is one slip up and the whole renovation goes wrong. Try renovating one room at a time. One Degree at a time, one vacation at a time, pay down one debt at a time. Stop with the stupid big scemes.

    Thank You For Opportunity to let me post


  14. I wonder if the Finch West line will wind up running to York U. instead of Finch W. station. This make any further extension eastward problematic. On the other hand, connecting two major trip generators (York U and Humber) makes some sense.

    Finch W. was always going to start out isolated, wasn’t it? I guess the concern now is that it will be too short to justify the carhouse.

    The possible busway across Eglinton will pretty obtrusive (to judge by the construction of the York U busway, continuous jersey barriers and all). Jane and Eglinton makes a lousy place for a “transit hub” as there’s nothing there but parkland.


  15. There’s an article by former TTC GM David Gunn in today’s Star.

    Steve: I have some remarks on this later in the comment thread, and may write a free-standing article, if I have time. While Gunn did a lot of good here in Toronto, his analysis oversimplifies some important factors including the distinction between transit policy as part of city building, and a bean-counter’s view of running an “efficient” system. Spending more money and running more service is not necessarily a bad thing.


  16. So in the end, not only will we have a truncated subway system, we’ll also have a truncated LRT system. We are being left in the dust by so many US and European cities, it’s embarrassing.

    Do our provincial (and federal) leaders not visit other world cities such as New York, London, Madrid, etc, and see how woefully behind we are? Rather than trying to bridge this gap, we are making it worse. It’s actually quite sad that many western Europeans who immigrated here in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s are now living in a city (and country) that has fallen significantly behind the places they left.

    At this rate, it’s just a matter of time before we start to see a significant increase in emigration from this country, if it hasn’t already started. I know I’ve considered it, and several people I know have already moved back to Europe.


  17. Oh so depressing in so many ways.

    If Finch gets built, it will be another stub, grinding away in the teeth of those who dislike the TTC. If it isn’t built, the city will lose out on an opportunity to reduce poverty, violence and taxes. The increased wealth generation caused by this line will outstrip the operating costs easily. Admittedly, not sure how subways as envisioned by Rob Ford are going to help Rexdale better then this line, so at least if its built, its better then focusing on building subways in Scarborough only.

    The only vague positive is the Eglinton line will provide a much needed mid city crossway. I assume there is enough political will along the line for at least that to get built.

    In 2050, somebody will be talking about finishing one of these lines and wondering why people were so silly to build stubs as against full lines.

    To top it off, there are no political alternatives to this mess, and Dalton knows it. Anybody who thinks the way to get a better system is by voting for Mike Harris II in the form of Hudak or the NDP, who are unlikely to get into power for the next 10 years, isn’t really listening.

    There are no transit champions left in politics. The mayoral candidates who trumpet the subways havn’t costed it effectively, are pandering to those who think we can have our cake and not pay for it; that, and they have no vision. The city councillors are either ward focused or following the TTC line or antagonistic towards spending money.

    And in the 905, they sit back and chortle about Toronto not getting its way, while they complain about the doubling of their commute times every 7 years.

    Without vision, there is no hope.


  18. I think this plan, twice cut, is now fatally pointless. Cutting north-south lines from the first phase made it weak, and cutting it again by this much kills the network effect entirely.

    The Eglinton line is a subway with different rolling stock at this point. Until grade separation reaches Kennedy in 30-40 years, we can’t interline it with anything, so we might as well make it a subway with the same rolling stock. However, we have higher subway priorities, so it should just be postponed yet again.

    Scarborough RT conversion+extension is a great idea and I think they should go ahead with it. Switching from Bombardier’s creaky, proprietary toy train to standard LRT will make it much more pleasant to ride, and the extension to Sheppard is very welcome.

    (As a UTSC alumnus, I wouldn’t mind a branch of Scarborough RT along Sheppard and Military Trail to UTSC, but that can be stage 2 or 3.)

    In my experience as a rider, on Sheppard, the two bottlenecks to good bus service are the bridge over the 401 and the Agincourt grade crossing. The latter is being grade-separated right now. The former we might as well solve by bringing the subway to Victoria Park.

    Finch is a good plan and relatively cheap, but not vital. Cutting the section from Keele to Yonge is penny-wise, pound-foolish. I think it would be better to postpone than stubify, as we’d want it to be good from day 1 to prove the value of LRT in Toronto.

    Here’s how I would shuffle the money:
    1) Scarborough LRT extension to Sheppard
    2) DRL from Queen to Pape
    3) Sheppard to Victoria Park

    I could add more, but I suspect DRL is going to be a huge money sponge.

    This would give us an excellent demonstration of LRT strengths (“Man, remember how crappy RT used to be? I sure am glad they put in LRT instead. We should build more of it”). It would also expand the core network in concrete ways.


  19. Blaming McGunity for the shortfall in operating funding allows the TTC to escape the points that David Gunn made in his Toronto Star editorial today. Namely that :

    Contract settlements exceeded the CPI, 31 per cent vs. 20 per cent
    The bus fleet grew from 1,468 vehicles to 1,782, or 21 per cent.
    Kilometres operated grew from 95 million to 124 million, or 31 per cent.
    Ridership grew from 411 million to 471 million, or 15 per cent.
    (no mention of the increase in the size of the workforce)

    If the expenses rose in line with the CPI then the shortfall would have automatically been reduced.

    Steve: Gunn’s comparisons missed some vital points.

    Contracts settlements were, in the main, imposed by arbitration, including the one that will end in April 2011 which included three 3% increases. It’s easy to blame the TTC for costs imposed on them by others. Also, changes in working conditions, some imposed by Queen’s Park, constrained the amount of work the TTC can assign to one driver, and this added to the number of drivers required to cover the same amount of service.

    Ridership grew less than mileage operated because the TTC was restoring service to a better level than Gunn left it. If I have a single criticism of Gunn’s tenure, is is that he was too busy putting the wheels back on a worn out system to concentrate on the issue of service quality. Some of those problems remain today as I have discussed at length elsewhere. Also, when you look at the growth in mileage, a great deal of it is on the rapid transit system (the Downsview extension and the Sheppard Subway). The surface system has seen growth only recently. (As a side note, subway trains rack up vehicle mileage at a much faster rate than the surface system because of their higher speed, and because there are 6 cars/train (4 on Sheppard).)

    Gunn himself presided over an era of cutbacks in the bus fleet as the TTC waited for the industry to produce a vehicle that was technically acceptable. Toronto has only recently made up for years of reduced purchases and built the fleet back up to the level needed to address the backlog of riding. Yes, the Ridership Growth Strategy does cause TTC to operate some underused services, but the whole idea of a transit network is that people rely on it everywhere, all of the time. Toronto has built neighbourhoods that won’t generate heavy transit demand, but we have a duty to serve those neighbourhoods.


  20. Given the current anti-TC climate among the mayoral candidates and the postponed construction dates, it’s highly unlikely that anything other than Sheppard will be built. With the reduction in funding, why doesn’t Miller suggest that the whole system be built, but as BRT (with Eglinton using electric trolley buses)?

    Steve: Eglinton needs to be underground in the central section, and trolleybuses won’t provide the capacity the line will require.


  21. When everything is said and done I have a feeling only a portion of the 53.5 km of the 76 km of light rail that survived the cuts will get built. I’m a pessimist so I’m presenting my worst case scenario of how Transit City er Transit Village will get built.

    I have a feeling only the Eglinton West section of Eglinton will get built. Basically from Yonge-Eglinton out to Jane-Eglinton. Toronto desperately needs a crosstown line on Eglinton that stretches from Kennedy station to the airport. This will never happen. I forgot about Blue 22 but I’m skeptical if that will get built either. They’ve been talking about it for ages and that’s all politicians do, talk! Well they draw pretty lines on maps too but that doesn’t doesn’t help the people who rely on transit to get to work.

    Having the Finch LRT run from Finch West station to Humber college with no connection to Finch station at Yonge street is nonsense. It’s repeating a mistake we’ve already made, not building the Sheppard line all the way to Downsview. Since so much of this line was chopped chances are it will eventually be canceled altogether.

    It looks like Sheppard will get built to Conlins Road. Does the Provincial Government propose running buses on the rest of the route or have they forgotten about the people who live there or do they just not care?

    The Provincial government created the mess with the Scarborough RT in the first place by pushing ICTS technology on the city and now they refuse to rectify their mistake. After 2015, I can see whoever the Premier is at the time basically saying we’re not committing anything to this project which will force the TTC to close the line down and run buses.

    Personally, and this is just my opinion, I don’t believe the other Transit City lines will ever get built even though Jane and Don Mills could use high order transit.

    The population density isn’t there to justify a Malvern line but it’s such a remote area of the city that it needs fast, reliable transit so residents of the area are not stuck with four hour round trip commutes on a daily basis. The Waterfront West line is important too for the same reasons. It’s tough for those living in Mimico to get around the city.

    The Province will find cash to build the subway extension to Richmond Hill Centre though. I think at that point I will buy a car since the Yonge line will be so busy it will be too much of a hassle to try and use it anymore.


  22. There’s a line from a recent Christopher Hume column that really resonated with me: “It’s full steam ahead into a future that will leave our children beggars”. He was talking about a badly-designed condo building on King St E, but I think it can be applied to so many more things in North American culture these days.


  23. I am completely irked by the audacity of the Liberal government to quite literally pull the funding out of transit.

    I agree with you that Dalton McGuinty could have become know as a trasnsit premier but no longer. He is way too short sighted.

    I am envious of other cities that I have traveled to that have convenient, well integrated systems that allow you to travel around the city very easily. I am very concerned about the repercussions that the lack of funding is going to have on the quality of our lives and the status of our city. We are never going to be a world class city unless we can build a network of transit not only in this city but around the province.

    Major changes in the way politicians/citizens think is needed and it is needed now.


  24. Dalton McGuinty also wanted to be known as the “Education” Premier and look at how his ministry bobbled the ball on sex ed. But of course those of us waiting for Transit City to be built know who is getting screwed so to speak.
    As you commented about “funding” announcements, well I guess they are a load of clap-trap!


  25. Steve Munro said: Sheppard: Cut back from Meadowvale to Conlins Road (the carhouse site), a relatively small change.

    Not a relatively small change for me. So to get home, I will have to take the Yonge Line from Lawrence to Yonge/Sheppard, the Sheppard Subway from Yonge/Sheppard to Don Mills, the SELRT from Don Mills to Conlins and then a bus from Conlins to Meadowvale? That is just crazy.

    Steve: It’s “relatively small” compared to chopping off Finch at Keele (from Yonge), or Eglinton at Jane (from the Airport).


  26. Why not stick with a simple realistic plan of 1-2 subway station openings a year.

    Why does every amateur transit commenter always trot this line out? This is the single stupidest idea thrown around in transit-related discussions. Subways are massive construction projects requiring a complex sequence of planning, design, preparatory work, digging, tunnelling, open-pit construction, etc. The projects are most efficient when executed at once. You wouldn’t build an office tower 1-2 storeys a year; you wouldn’t build a nuclear power plant 1 reactor a year.

    Take the tunnelling, for example. Do you propose to tunnel 1-2 km a year? The cost of the tunnel boring machine, and the associated costs of getting it underground will have to be paid in full at the start of the project. Do you want to leave it in the tunnel, to restart and drill another 2km every year, before shutting down and being mothballed until the next year? Do you want to lay off the TBM operators every year and rehire new ones (with all the associated training costs) at every restart?

    As usual, the politically attractive soundbite-grade opinion is complete nonsense, but that never seems to stop every two-bit politician from putting it up as The Common Sense Solution Those Bureaucrat Socialists Refuse To Consider.


  27. At the risk of sounding delusional, how large is the leap of faith that the Provincial government (and possibly the Feds) will fund the deferred projects come mid-late 2010’s? If everyone has recovered economically by then, hopefully some funding for the rest of the system will come along. Everyone pretty much agrees that the status quo will not work, so finishing what they started rather than starting from scratch sounds like the best thing to do. These are of course politicians, so one can never tell.

    Steve: I believe that the Liberals had some idea of being able to announce more construction sometime before the 2015 election. Metrolinx is supposed to report on an “investment strategy”, that is to say taxes, tolls, or whatever, to pay for everything. Without new revenue, Queen’s Park is in a tight spot. However, until the HST implementation and McGuinty’s sabre rattling about higher taxes generally are behind us, they can’t propose any new transit-related taxes.

    All that said, by 2015, the Liberals will have been in power for quite a while, and McGuinty may be beyond his “best before” date. Without some renewal in the party and major new policy commitments, they could fall victim to “it’s time for a change”. As it is, they will have to get through 2011 first. That’s the whole problem with the Transit City delays — who knows what flavour of government we will have by the time the money is supposed to flow.


  28. Now I’ve calmed down from my previous comment, something else struck me: where are the opposition parties in all this? Why don’t we see someone from the Conservatives or the NDP popping up on the news saying how terrible the government is and what they would differently? Is there a media bias, or do we have ‘opposition’ parties who haven’t read the job description?

    We’ve got about 18 months until the next provincial election, and I haven’t the faintest idea what the transportation policies are of the other parties, if any, and what they would do about Transit City/The Big Move etc. (Do you Steve?)

    Steve: The NDP is already on record as demanding that Transit City funding be restored, and even the Tories have made similar, if less strident, noises. They have not been widely reported as the big media story these days is Miller-vs-McGuinty.


  29. Joe. said: “Why not stick with a simple realistic plan of 1-2 subway station openings a year.”

    Because that method was used to try to get funds to extend the Sheppard Subway to Victoria Park for about a decade with no results.


    One thing I’ve been pondering about the trimming of the Finch West line, could that be an attempt to artificially increase the number of riders that would use the new subway extension?

    Steve: No, I think it’s an easy way to keep the line on the map (while deferring construction for 5 years), but not committing to the full route. Who knows what will actually happen that far in the future?


  30. Oh my god, if that is all that is going to be built, just cancel Transit City all together, and use the funding to build the Downtown Relief Line.


  31. It would be nice to see the new expected cost of each line. They claim that the original 8.15 billion are still on the table. So, did the cost of SLRT, SELRT, or the Eglinton tunnel go up, forcing them to cut Finch and the west of Eglinton?

    Regarding Finch West, the proposed truncated line does not make much sense. Without the Keele – Yonge link, the line won’t serve trips from Etobicoke to Yonge / Finch / Sheppard cluster, from Yonge subway to Humber, or from Yonge to York U. Trips from Etobicoke to the Spadina subway extension could be served just by enhanced bus service.

    Either they should defer all of Finch West until it could be fully funded, or fund all of it from the beginning.

    Perhaps the City could pay for the Keele – Yonge section, it would be in the $300 – $400 million range and not beyond the City’s capabilities.


  32. Megaprojects always have the problem, they take too long to build, the transit city announcement was in 2007, it will now be 2020 before it’s completed. In that 13 year period, there will be 4 city elections, and at least as many provincial elections. There is a pretty good chance that there will be a different batch of politicians between the beginning and end of that process. Each batch will want something else.

    Better is if they fund mini projects, a mini project could be extending a subway by 1-2km. For example extending Sheppard to Victoria Park. You put 4 projects in the pipeline. One is under design, one is under EA, one is being funded and one is being built. Now instead of looking for $10 Billion your looking for $500 million, easier to find when your looking at having the section open in a year or two rather then a decade away.


  33. Steve, is there no way the city could go ahead with their plan of paying for the construction to start this year as previously targeted even without the committment that the province will cover them for it later?

    Steve: The problem is that these are provincial projects, and it would be tricky for the city to start building them without a clear agreement that they would eventually get their money back. If the province does not want to play ball, the city is stuck. However, I think that hte province is blowing a lot of hot air with their explanation of why the city proposal won’t work.


  34. I don’t live in (or anywhere near) Toronto, but I completely support my tax dollars (and I pay a damned lot of them) going towards Toronto-Area rapid/mass transit (over many other social and fringe group funding BTW). Why? Largely due to the economic and environmental cost of commuting in the GTA, one of the chief engines of growth for Canada (like it or not).

    So – instead of all the gnashing of teeth and wringing of tear-soaked kleenexes, what are some alternatives for a grass-roots movement to pressure the government(s) into funding Transit City?

    Am I being naive?


  35. This line about “1-2km per year” versus “megaprojects” makes little sense, as each of the “1-2km” segmets would clearly just be this year’s snippet of… the megaproject! Or am I just nuts?


  36. I think Dalton has had a Bob Rae Epiphany; there is not a limitless supply of money. Health care is taking a huge whack of money so he is replacing RN’s with RPN’s while hospital CEO’s rake in huge salaries. Then he pisses off all the Pharmacists in Ontario from Starkman to Cosmo my local pharmacist. After the mess Harris and Eves made of education he commits to the full day kindergarten and junior kindergarten before he realizes the true cost of it. Since Eves and Harris destroyed transit he wants to be seen as the saviour without ever thinking or asking the local governments what they want. As a result we have the York Spadina extension which would probably fund half of Transit City and which will serve relatively few passengers, but they are in the 905 where Hudak has a chance of winning seats. Since he has almost no chance of winning any in the 416 it is politically expedient to screw with Transit City as long as the GO lines are expanded and the subway goes to Vaughan. And lest you think I am a Toronto cry baby I live in Brampton.


  37. I am a little confused here. It appears to me as though the cuts currently being discussed were to bring cost overruns down to the $8.15b limit. If this is so, then the recent $4b cut is in addition to what we are hearing.

    Why is the Finch Keele to Yonge section estimated to be $300m-$400m. This is equivalent to St.Clair which came in about $100m even with all of the other extraneous projects included.

    It appears as though the major cost of the Scarborough RT change is in the Kennedy station and the extension beyond McCowan. Is it practical to avoid the life extension of the existing system and minimize the cost by converting just the existing RT to LRT operation and to run as an isolated system. There should be room in McCowan yard for 3 or 4 trains (Rush hour and spares) and leave the rest on the main line when the RT closes. The Kennedy construction can then be done as a part of the Eglinton line and the northern extension of the RT done after Shepherd is completed.

    Steve: Finch costs more because it includes a carhouse and the fleet for the line. St. Clair did not have to pay for a new carhouse or any new streetcars. Sadly, the considerable expense of the carhouse will not be spread over a very large operation without the rest of the Finch line (east to Yonge, southwest to the Airport) or the Jane line which would also use this yard.


  38. Dalton McGuinty said that though the funds would be delayed, Transit City would still be built – though on a different schedule. While everyone wanted his head for this, I did give a benefit of the doubt to him. After all, it isn’t just the delayed funding that killed many of Toronto’s transit projects, but regime changes.

    Unless we see a revised schedule of when these projects will be finished, Dalton lied. Transit City, or at least parts of it, will not get built.

    Assuming everything proposed does get built, at best it will be repeating the mistakes of the past. The Finch LRT will be another spur line, like the Sheppard subway. People who were critical of the lack of a cohesive north-end crosstown transit connection will see such a project fall even further into the background in favour of a mess of multiple transfers. The S(L)RT, which had the potential to go from a needless transfer to a major transit corridor connecting Kennedy station to Scarborough Center to Malvern Center and beyond… will still end up being a needless transfer, just to Sheppard now. And as pointed out, Eglinton’s inability to reach the airport is a missed opportunity.

    What’s most frustrating about this, is that those who want to see even this become a reality, your best bet is to continue to vote Liberal for the next couple of elections. This will ensure that another government doesn’t give it the axe altogether, just Dalton delaying construction for another couple of elections or so…


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