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. We live in a city where the only reliable ways to get around at rush hour are the subway, if there’s no delay, and foot or bicycle, if unpoliced Toronto drivers don’t kill you at intersections. As many have said, we have a great transit system for a city of one million… I can’t see any meaningful improvements since I first rode as a child, thirty-five years ago. In reality, transit decisions around the world are political, and this is only too apparent in Toronto.

    I don’t think Miller should shut up, though he’s a lame duck, and Giambrone has made an @$$ of himself. As badly as the two play to the 905, they already had no truck with the city, or with transit: ‘no love lost’. If Miller can make McGuinty think a Provincial riding or two is in jeopardy within the 416, and that might cause a minority government, then Miller (and the 416) becomes ‘the balance of power’: not a bad place to be, and the only way Toronto will get the funding, or political and financial reforms egregiously overdue.


  2. Leo Gonzalez, “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?” No, they don’t, because they haven’t been to these cities in the way we have, or as Margaret Thatcher put it, “A man who, beyond the age of 26, finds himself on a bus can count himself as a failure.”


  3. I have a question, why is it always (as in the past 15 years to now) that Etobicoke gets prioritized last before Scarborough? Even with the changes to Transit City, Scarborough will have part of the new SLRT, Sheppard LRT and Eglinton LRT while Etobicoke will really only have the Finch LRT (I don’t call the Eglinton LRT part of the Etobicoke network as it only touches the extreme eastern border).

    Steve: Historically, Etobicoke has thought of itself more as a middle class, car-oriented community, and many of its Councillors have not concentrated on transit improvements. There is also a strong commuting link to the west which is not served by any TTC transit schemes.


  4. Considering that Toronto has the 6th largest budget of any government in Canada I think it is time Toronto became a city state. Only then will we have a government that can deal with the unique problems that Toronto has, including transit, and have progressive tax measures available to fund such initiatives. MPP Bill Murdoch suggested this in passing not long ago, but from a Toronto stand point we really need to consider this and start a grass roots movement towards this end.


  5. By what argument would a busway in the Richview Corridor be superior to the LRT? What would be the endgame here–an express busway in the rail corridor to replace Blue-22 when it falls off the table?

    Steve: I think this has more to do with some folks in Metrolinx wanting to limit the Eglinton line to the “subway” portion so that a technology change is possible without having to build more infrastructure.


  6. There are those who want to cancel the Transit City lines entirely and build the Downtown Relief Line. Firstly, there has been no study of where the DRL would go and type of rapid transit it should be (heavy rail vs. light rail). Second, no environmental assessment has been done on the DRL. Third, no funds were even allocated for a study, no less an EA, or for any kind of construction. Fourth, switching to the DRL would just delay for years, TC was announced in 2007 and here in 2010 we are just beginning to start on the Sheppard East LRT, that’s 3 years. Fifth, how much would a heavy rail DRL cost, in comparison with Transit City?

    Yes, I want a Downtown Relief Line. I would like to see funds for a study to start now, but with the city being short on funds as is, what would you cut? Pothole repair?

    Steve: The TTC already has put out a request for proposals on a DRL study, but has not yet awarded a contract.


  7. To those who like to trot out the “open 1-2 km of subway a year” line – as others have pointed out, this makes little sense – is every station or every other station going to built with expensive crossovers and terminals, or do you keep running the surface routes as is until some point when more stations are built? Better to build a whole line at once, which still means building 1-2 km a year, just not opening it up until the whole thing is done. Thanks to Greg Gormick, word is out that LRT does not mean the same thing as the Queen streetcar, and that LRT is a suitable transit form for Toronto. ie. Subways everywhere is not the answer. The word on LRT needs to be amplified and repeated – it’s the most economical form of rapid transit we can build. If the struggle to get funding for LRT is this difficult, where do the subway-everywhere proponents think money is going to come from to build ridiculously expensive subway lines?

    All in all, a big disappointment, but what else is new for supporters of better transit in Toronto after the past 25 years of delays, deferrals, cancellations… it’s hard to be optimistic, but the fight must go on.


  8. Finch is a major road, so I cannot understand why a connection between Finch West and Finch will not be considered. Especially for people who may want to travel between those two points (or from west of Finch West station to Finch in order to get onto the Yonge Line.) Everytime I have been up to the north end of the city, Finch always seems to be a very busy street with slow moving buses.

    Steve: I agree. Finch east of Keele would be an important part of this route, but as things stand we won’t see it for over a decade.

    As for the DRL line being built before Don Mills – the DRL is important as well.

    As for the Waterfront West line, drop it for now – the TTC is already causing enough of a mess with the Lake Shore and it’s lousy service. A ROW is not going to fix the problem in my opinion, but only angry local residents and businesses even more.


  9. What exactly is the downside of this? Frankly, ridership on Eglinton west of Jane is not exactly overflowing, given that buses run at best every 10-11 minutes off-peak. The corridor is vast and not pedestrian friendly, kind of welcoming to a busway, and Jane seems to me a better artificial transfer point than Renforth or Commerce Drive. And the east portion is still above ground from Leaside to Kennedy. The tunneled portion of Eglinton is where higher-order transit such as LRT is really necessary.

    Steve: The downside is that we lose the connection to the airport, something that Metrolinx kept telling us was vital to the regional plan. This connection would be shared with an extension of the Finch line. Building a surface LRT on Eglinton West, and running, say, every other train out to the airport (with heavier service in the underground section) is precisely the sort of design LRT exists for.


  10. Given that the funding announcements where made by the Premier, I am wondering what if anything was agreed to on paper in a binding way? If I was the mayor and spent the time and money planning these lines with the expectation that they would be funded. I would at this point be considering legal options to recoup those costs. As well as to protect the city from future governments being put in the same position.

    Steve: These are provincial projects 100%, and therefore the city has no hold over Queen’s Park beside being assured that the up front costs of planning and engineering would be paid for, something that has already been done for the funded projects. The City is holding the bag for the unfunded projects, but I suspect that can be sorted out once the political rhetoric cools off.


  11. When Transit City was first announced, the promised cost was $6 billion. I could be wrong but if I recall correctly, when the TC projects were incorporated into MO2020 they were still $6 billion. The province, however, committed to the lines not the price tag. As the price tag of all the MO2020 commitments ballooned, I think some cuts were inevitable.

    Steve: There are a few important differences between Transit City as originally costed and the projects this evolved into. First, the Sheppard line was not going to have an underground connection at Don Mills (although I think that design was short-sighted), and that bumped the cost. Eglinton’s tunnel got longer than originally planned (including underground stations at Don Mills and at Kennedy). Finch grew an eastern extension thanks not to the TTC but to Metrolinx. The SRT was not part of Transit City as announced, but that project was recently converted to LRT (which it should have been all along) and added to the project list.

    The fleet projections were on the low side, although one can argue that we don’t need to buy all of the cars up front as the network and demand will grow over time. However, there is an incentive in current funding arrangements to front-end-load fleet costs into the base project as these get better provincial funding than ongoing replacement and fleet expansion projects.

    The carhouse costs would have been spread over the entire network including lines that have not yet been funded. For example, the Finch carhouse would also serve the Jane route, and part of its cost would have been in the Jane project estimate. Similarly, the Sheppard carhouse was intended as the base for Don Mills, and Eglinton would have eventually shared a carhouse in the east end with the Scarborough Malvern line. However, the carhouses have to be built up front and contribute disproportionately to projects that will only partly use their capacity.


  12. I’m currently running for council in St. Paul’s, Ward 22 – right at the intersection of Yonge and Eglinton.

    For all the talk of reducing the scope of the Eglinton LRT, you wouldn’t know it from the current dialogue going on here. My opponent, Chris Sellors, recently wrote a comment in the National Post exclaiming that our community would be better served taking the $4.6 billion allocated to us in Transit City and building a subway instead – 18 km at first (based on a price of $250 km a year), then 1/2 km more each year.

    I entered the race planning to be a champion of Transit City. Yet with all the damage that’s been done to it, I wonder if it’s beyond saving. The people here have been promised the moon – “We could have a vastly superior subway line!” – and in the process completely threw LRT under the bus, so to speak, with faulty comparisons to streetcars and St. Clair.

    I believe, one way or another, Eglinton needs rapid transit. I still believe in saving Transit City, rather than building an Eglinton stubway, but I’m having a harder and harder time coming up with why, in the face of the Eglinton LRT possibly being reduced in scope, and possibly mortally wounded.

    So my question for you, Steve, is this: Is LRT really the better way to go along Eglinton, or does Chris Sellors have a point?

    I also encourage everyone reading to send me a response, via my website,

    Steve: There has never been any doubt that the central part of an Eglinton line will be underground. The issue about LRT arises when we get east of Leaside and west of Weston where, in both cases, a full subway is not required either for demand or road space reasons. If we insist on full subway, there’s a good chance that the line will never reach Kennedy, and it certainly won’t get to the airport.


  13. The reason for mini-projects (1-2km per year) rather then mega projects (Transit City, er village, uh Hamlet???) , is that they can occur completely within an election cycle. Mega-projects with decades to complete, often get stymied by a simple fact, Government X makes the announcement, gets turfed, Government Y has different priorities so they pull out most of the money, the project gets scaled back to it’s new funding level, then you start building a few small pieces here and there, Government Y gets turfed and Government Z has their own priorities so you end up with instead of a subway across the top of the city, what finally gets opened is a subway to a shopping plaza. Not only that, it’s not even properly connected to the shopping plaza.

    Think about it, Sheppard opened in 2002, if you add 2km per year, we would have been to Downsview Station in 2006. The York U extension would probably be part of the Sheppard line rather then the Spadina line. Heck they would probably be opening the York U stop this year or next at the latest. If this were a CITY project it would probably end up heading South West after York U to service the Jane/Finch area and the West to a new transit hub near Finch and Weston Road. Or put BUS only lanes along Keele Street to service York U from the Keele North Station then continue West with another station at Jane and another at Weston Road.

    A subway station at Jane and Sheppard would take a lot of pressure off the Jane bus.

    Then of course they could add to the East end, heading East under Sheppard, ending near Scarborough Town Centre. Yes they would probably be completing this in 2020 or even later, but like I said, it’s easier to find $500 million a year, then it is to find $10 Billion. You basically end up doing like a lot of other cities will large subway networks, you basically never stop building it.


  14. Re: Truncated Eglinton line / LRT vs. subway

    The subway option on Eglinton is still a non-starter — the stations would be much more expensive if they were built to accommodate a full six-car subway, and the line would have to be shortened even further to compensate. ICTS might be a good compromise though. Its below-surface costs are much cheaper.

    As for the rest of the network … it stinks. Both the Sheppard and Finch lines will be useless in their new configurations and will only serve as subway feeders. Not only that, but they’ll fracture the existing bus routes. What’s going to happen to the Finch bus east of Keele? — one route, two? What about the 36E Milvan branch?

    The SRT? A five-year closure? Uhmmm … yeah. An extended closure like that is reason enough to keep the line as ICTS and simply point a gun at Bombardier and force them to build more Mark I trains.

    I’ll bet that, deep down, even Steve is thinking that this revised plan isn’t worth building, but he’ll never admit it.

    Steve: In the spirit of the glass being half full, I would not cancel the projects just because we are only getting half. If we never start, we will never get the rest of the lines. I am sure that subway advocates would not have cancelled the Sheppard line just because it was stopping at Don Mills, and hope burns in their hearts that the line will eventually reach STC. I feel the same way about the LRT network.


    Scheduled completion is 2015. Essentially the same line that was cancelled in 1994 but a bit longer. The 1994 version have to have a start date in 1985. 1985 to 2015= 30 years

    BLUE 22
    First proposed in 1990. Completion date 2015 ?? Probably 2020.
    1990 to 2202 = 30 years.

    This one has been around for a long time. Last study seems to be around 1985. Early start date as per Metrolinx is 2020. Probably 2025 and completion in 2030. 1985 to 2030 = 45 years

    Start date 2001. Revised completion Sheppard 2014 all others around 2020. 2001 to 2020 = 20 years . There is BUDGET Creap already so this will be revised yet again, guaranteed, so elapsed time will become 25 years or 30 years.

    The following one is interesting:

    First proposed in 1929. The TBM arrives May 2010. Completion ?? maybe 2016. 1929 to 2016 =87 years

    Steve: Your dates are a bit off. Blue 22 is to be open for 2015 for the Pan Am games. DRL has been around as the Queen Street Subway for well over 40 years. Transit City was announced in early 2006.


  16. @M.Briganti: There actually isn’t much difference between LRT and HRT underground stations. LRT still requires a 150m cut and cover box, even if no special trackwork is present. HRT is more expensive because of finishes and such, but if starting with 4-car trains, those are the same length as a 3-car LRV consist, so even finishes would, interim-wise, be somewhat comparable.

    Because the cost differences are, as a %, marginal, it really makes no sense to not build subway compatibity into the tunnel. Yet that’s exactly what’s happening as the tunnel has all kinds of LRT-exclusive elements.


  17. To all those who are critical of Dalton McGuinty: Do you really think Tim Hudak and the Conservatives will be better? Hudak was part of the Harris bunch that arguably set transit back a decade. And the NDP doesn’t have a hope. McGuinty deserves a huge amount of credit for at least moving the transit agenda forward. He must be shaking his head at all the ingratitute.

    Steve: It’s not ingratitude. It’s disappointment. Because the whole move to start spending serious money for transit has been pushed off into the future, there is no guarantee we will even have McGuinty around to establish this as a fundamental part of Ontario budgets. Moreover, even when times were good, McGuinty was dragging his feet on re-establishing provincial support for areas downloaded by the Harris Tories.

    The case where I really think McGuinty is taking heat unfairly is the HST which was implemented because Harper blackmailed Ontario into doing this as a condition for additional federal funding. It’s Harper who should be blamed, but McGuinty is portrayed as the villain even by the provincial Tories.


  18. Playing Politics

    Wach government needs to brag about its achievments. Mini projects of subway extensions/new stubways can be well into construction within their mandate. When a new government runs Toronto needs to be there with hands wide open, you want to win Toronto Seats? We need this money for 4-5 stations, knowing these projects can be well into construction by the time election time comes around. Politicians like photo ops. 🙂

    Lots of Mini Projects = Lots of Photo Ops

    Again RAPID LRT works well in sprawlled settings where you can have full control of traffic. Dallas DART, Calgary CTrain, LA Metro. Toronto needs FULL GRADE SEPERATION, exclusive right of way for transit vehicles. Transit City increases capacity, and yes more reliable transit times, but is a marginal inprovment in speed.

    LRT comes in many different forms. Our proposed Transit city form is a hybrid of our current St. Clair Street Car and the Calgary CTrain/LA Metro. We need something faster.

    Think about it each intersection competes for left turn, green time, pedestrian time, now add to that Signal Priority. All it takes is a few complaints and signal priority is shut off.

    Besides we are at a point in history where gentrification of the city is happening, suburban sprawl is most likely at its peak now, oil will rise in price, and in general I think the new cliche is being in the city. I think its safe to say ridership will increase alot in next 20 years due to these factors.

    Introducing a new LRT technology just creates a bunch or transfer points in our system. Subways = consistent monolithic non stop rapid transit for decades to come. It’s worth the wait and cost.

    Toronto needs to be unified and consitent in its subway growth strategy and make it look glamorous. That way when the government is up for election we are there for open hands pressing hard for a new extension or stubway, or by that time stubway extension.

    500 million to a billion is easier for government to digest and easier to sell to the rest of province/Canada. On the other hand several billion just gets rest of Canada pissed off and it makes goverment look good by pissing on the transit project ie. transit city.

    Lets give our politicians what they want. Lots of Photo Ops for mini projects. The Pigs Love it !


  19. Steve said … In the spirit of the glass being half full, I would not cancel the projects just because we are only getting half …

    I would. There’s no guarantee that the lines will ever get extended. Look at Sheppard … forever doomed to be a stubway. What makes you think the same thing won’t happen with these lines? So, I have to agree with Miller on this — it’s either all or nothing. Let’s wait to hear Smitherman’s plan on the 28th — I’ll bet it doesn’t include TC. If it doesn’t, TC is pretty much doomed.

    Looking back, it’s funny — I remember when BD was supposed to open 1/2 and 1/2 because of funding constraints (with the St. George/Woodbine segment first), until the province came along and did the exact opposite of what they’re doing now — loaned the TTC $60M to speed things up! … and that’s why that crossover east of Lower St. George (which is being worked on later this month) was built by the way. I never understood why it was left in — it has never been used.

    Steve: Actually it is used fairly often for emergency turnbacks. I have ridden trains through it.

    The TTC never tried the 2-route non-interlined St. George/Woodbine and Keele/Eglinton system which would have made use of it, and if the line had opened in two phases, I’m pretty sure the entire system would have ran as a single Woodbine/Eglinton route (with a temporary closure at St. George) until the western section opened.


  20. We have under funded our transit for way too long and have a lot of catch up to do. I might be satisfied with building 1-2km per year but only if its 1-2km per year on say 4 different lines at least until we catch up to where we should be.

    I’ve often heard that Toronto has a good transit system for a city of 1 million, so if we are almost 3 million and over 5 million in the GTA. How much more transit do we need to be comparable to our size?

    Steve: The question is a bit trickier than this. It’s not just a matter of population but also density. Cities like New York or Tokyo have vastly more people per hectare than the GTA and can be well served by dense networks of both subway and commuter rail lines. Torontonians have subway envy, but many areas will never justify subway construction because we have built too much sprawl. Indeed, the real challenge to GO is to become a serious all-day, two-way commuter rail system, a regional subway if you will, rather than waiting for the Yonge subway to reach Barrie or the BD line to get to Oakville. The recent focus on Transit City, important though it is, diverts attention from many other projects that Queen’s Park has no idea about funding or timing.


  21. Ugh, another broken promise. McGuinty should have really set up a trust fund for these sorts of projects like what was set up for the Spadina subway extension, so that politicans could never again raid transit funding to reduce the deficit/spend it on subways/spend it on other things such as roads.


  22. Just a thought here on reshuffling some of the projects, with Finch being relegated to stub status, would deferring it come up with enough cash to complete the other lines as expected? If there’s a shortfall I’d finish Eglinton to Kennedy so that at least the Sheppard East carhouse can be used by the three lines. Granted it’s quite a distance to deadhead, but if the Scarborough RT conversion is interlined with Eglinton it would be a useful initial through-service. The interconnections between Sheppard East/Scarborough and Scarborough/Eglinton are where costs might get a bit constrained. Hopefully they’ll be able to work them out.

    Pearson has it’s Blue 22 project (another rant for later), if it ever clears the hurdles put up by residents along the route. Hopefully, the next Federal government will come to its senses and pay for the western connection on Eglinton to the Airport in time for the Pan Am Games.

    Steve: The section of Eglinton West that will be built won’t open until 4 years after the Pan Am Games on the proposed schedule, and would not have been open even on the old schedule. Perish the thought we demolish the only remaining “reason” for building Blue 22.


  23. Steve, I do understand that a system is based on population and density of a city. As such, cities such as NYC and Tokyo are able to build more transit.

    I agree we need both urban transit and regional rail. I don’t think it would make much sense to expand the Y to Newmarket or the BD to Oakville- Such service needs to be handled by a regional rail network, with urban systems at the centre of each population zone.

    I don’t know how much you know about Taipei, but it is a city of similar size to Toronto. Taipei started building its transit network in 1986, the system opened in 1996 and today they have about 100km of rail. They have several lines currently under construction and several more in development. Here is a website for your convenience. A map is included, which shows all of the current lines, the ones under construction and the ones planned. The overall result is an extensive network of rail.

    I’m not entirely sure how the Taiwan government is paying for this, the income tax rate is only about 6%. But they seem to understand the importance of getting people on transit and out of their cars.


  24. Has anyone done up a map of the revised plan? Given how much people complain about how little sense the subway diagram makes, it could really serve to show people how absurd these cuts are.


  25. Steve said: “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?”

    Well, my original question was more directed at the possibility that a high quality LRT line might cause riders to bypass Finch West station and go to Finch station instead. But yeah, I already guessed that the province wasn’t that smart.


  26. According to William Molls’ post, Chris Sellors proposes “taking the $4.6 billion allocated to us [Eglinton line alone?] in Transit City and building a subway instead – 18 km at first (based on a price of $250 km a year)”.

    While $4.6 billion / 18 KM is about $250 per km, I find there still seems to be a discrepancy. The reduced Eglinton LRT is 20km long with only half the stations being underground (according to your attached pdf). I don’t see how shortening the line by 2 km would provide enough funds to put the surface portion of the line underground as a full subway.

    Steve: Note that the underground station count in the “short” version is 1 higher than in the “long” version. The extra one is Kennedy which was not definitively underground when the original costing was done.


  27. Transit City could have been designed to have exclusive right-of-way on all the lines. No level crossings. No transit priority signals. Very expensive to have underpasses and bridges on every single intersection.

    However, they decided to save money by using level crossings instead of bridges and underpasses, on some of the intersections. They hoped going that way they would get the funds to build the entire project.

    Wrong. The higher authorities would seem to prefer build very little, or better yet, none at all. What good is it to decide to put in cost savings, if even that is not acceptable.


  28. Let’s take a look at what the idea of 1-2 km per year entails. Let’s go for 2 km because that is about 1 concession, Eglinton to St. Clair or Yonge to Bathurst.

    You have to dig a pit to put in your tunnel boring machine and allow for removal of dirt. This requires a lot of real estate on the surface during construction. Since you would need one for each segment this is a lot of temporary easements which cost money. You might be able to leave the machines in but you still need a new access pit.
    Each station would need provisions for a crossover. This would increase the length of the cut and cover section by probably 60 m on top of the 150+ for the station or 210 m for each station.
    You would need to put in temporary interchanges at each new terminal station. There are no Bloor or Danforth car lines running to existing interchanges to use for two more years.
    It would take 10 years to build the 20 km of tunnel for Eglinton, and the car house is at the outer end. Do you build the inner end without cars or the outer end without a subway connection? It does not matter if it is LRT or HRT it still needs equipment, or are you going to build an expensive interchange like the one between Yonge and Sheppard?
    What do you do about equipment? Buy 2 to 4 trains a year for 10 or 20 years? That is not really cost effective.

    The TTC did sort of what you suggest with the extensions to Bloor Danforth, first to Islington and Warden then to Kipling and Kennedy but the construction for the inner extensions was cut and cover after tearing down rows of houses north of Bloor and Danforth. I doubt this method would go over very well anymore. The last two were along rights of way that did not need to disrupt streets nor houses; there are not many of those left.

    The two extensions to Yonge were twice as long and featured a major station that was going to be built at York Mills anyways and a crossover that was also necessary. The one extension to Spadina was also built in an area that did not go through any houses nor disrupt any streets.

    Joe Says:

    “Lots of Mini Projects = Lots of Photo Ops”

    How about lots of mini projects = lots of opportunity for people to complain that the system never gets finished and the disruptions never end, St. Clair all over again.

    The plan for Eglinton LRT calls for two pits for Tunnel boring access and removal of dirt, one at Black Creek and the other at Brentcliffe. Since the maintenance/storage facility is west of there, the segment from Spadina to Weston road is going to be opened first. The construction of the subway interchange provides a natural point for new tunnel access and dirt removal.

    The Spadina extension could be built this way as it goes from nowhere, to nowhere via nowhere, but its funding is already in place. Lines that go under major built up intersections would create a lot of disruption with no major benefit. An extension from Finch to Steeles on Yonge would be possible because there is going to be a turn back facility and major underground station there anyways. Beyond Steeles you are only screwing York region so who cares? But extending Yonge farther creates lots of problems on the south end so maybe stop at Steeles. It takes a lot of bus traffic off Yonge south of Steeles and gets rid of a hodge podge of interchanges at Finch. I would just build a couple of underground passageways from the new station to the north side of Steeles and let York build what ever station it wants at its expense.

    There are a few places where it is possible to build couple of km a year and open it but in most areas it just adds a lot of extra expense and disruption so bite the bullet, build the whole line – or a major portion of it – and then open it. That is my $0.02 worth anyway.


  29. Many of your readers might be happy to here that I will be away for 17 days so I will not be pontificating with my not so humble opinions. I respect the right of everyone to have a different opinion from mine but I wish that some people would think through their ideas to the end or have someone play devil’s advocate for them before submitting them. I know that I don’t always succeed in this but I try. I hope to ride the lines in Memphis, New Orleans and St. Louis while I am gone and anything else in between. I will report on anything interesting I find.


  30. Paris has just that sort of a system. The regional train network, RER, is considered to be part of the subway system, as its lines are shown on the same map as the actual subway system. Now, we are confined to existing rail corridors, but that doesn’t preclude frequent service that parallels the subway lines. Also, I had thought that a distant-future element of Transit City, one reason why the Sheppard LRT connects to the subway on the same platform, was to convert the subway to LRT operation. This makes a lot of sense, because it eliminates an extra transfer, and some extra capacity as well.

    Steve: The through routing option was proposed in a study done by Richard Soberman for the Residential and Civil Construction Association of Ontario. It has no official status.


  31. My earlier comment made me decide to spend time I don’t have making such a map… it’s crude, but it’s there.

    I’ve erased all the now-unfunded (or never-in-the-first-place-funded) lines. It’s back to the horrid patchwork we’re all used to.


  32. Yonah Freemark has just posted an outsider-perspective article about this.

    I actually feel somewhat better about the situation after reading it and looking at the map. Finch LRT as a feeder for just the Spadina line begins to make a certain amount of sense.

    Steve: What is missing is a network view. We need more than small extensions here and there. I do agree, however, that regardless of the short term success of the “Save Transit City” campaign, the whole issue of transit and how to pay for it has been elevated to a high level in the election campaign, and will likely still be on the table next year for the provincial vote.


  33. I would rather have a definite 50% than a possible 100%… my problem is that the cut sections and unfunded lines are in a limbo. The goverment should set a timetable for funding *all* of Transit City, even if it’s over a period of 15-20 years.


  34. I’m glad to see people challenging the practicality of building one or two km of subway every year. Apart from the sensible arguments already brought forward in this thread, I can only imagine the logistical and scheduling nightmare of having to reroute buses to reach a temporary terminus every year or two. That kind of confusion — let alone the extra transfers and associated waiting times — does nothing to encourage ridership growth.


  35. I have to admit that while I am pro-subway I had hoped Transit City would have worked in its original form. It seemed to have potential as an end to end solution, but I now feel the current proposal isn’t worth it anymore. You either build it all or nothing.

    I also feel like there’s a bit of chicken and egg with the “NYC and Tokyo have the density” for subways. Subways drive up urban density becuase people and riders far and away prefer subways to LRT’s. If you want to combat sprawl and give people a reason to live in the city, build the transit they WANT to use (subways). I know it far more expensive but subways really are a “build it and they will come” proposition. LRTs are the “good enough” solution.

    So in closing if I could see the TTC / Metrolinx do anything in the next 20 years it would be …
    – Connect the Sheppard line to Ellesmere in the east, Eglinton W in the West.
    – Build the Blue 22 to provide direct airport to Union Station high speed connectivity bypassing the TTC entirely.
    – Build the Queen St. Subway Relief line to drive up the density of the city core even higher.
    – .. And finally build the Eglinton W Subway between Eglinton W out to the Airport…

    I realize its far more expensive but its the only


  36. mjnribeiro wrote, “people and riders far and away prefer subways to LRT’s”

    That is true for Toronto in the sense that a small child prefers McBurgers to something they have never really tried.

    The fact of the matter is that there are people who will NEVER be swayed to use public transit unless it is on rails, period. Toronto has never experienced real LRT, so this of course means subways.

    Now, if the TTC could build a true LRT route, and take advantage of every possible advantage of LRT available, we would end up with a lot of people shouting ‘when will the LRT line be extended’ and ‘when will the LRT line in my part of town be built’. The problem is that involves a very big “IF” – I have some serious doubts about the TTC’s ability to pull this off, as they seem to have a knack for not being able to light a match while standing in the middle of an inferno.

    For a median-running line, Sheppard East hands them the perfect situation on a silver platter: the road was designed with an allowance to have seven lanes of traffic but has not yet used all this space (east of Pharmacy), and very few on-road parking exists. If done right, the construction can be done with minimal traffic delay, possibly with less than will occur when the road needs resurfacing in the next few years anyways. Also, there will not be a reduction in traffic lanes (except west of Pharmacy) which is nice for the first crack at this. Nothing like bringing out more opponents for future projects.

    The construction is only half the battle of winning over the public, then the operation has to make people feel good about LRT. If people feel they are passing by traffic more often than traffic passing by them, they will feel there is value to LRT. If they find themselves waiting at an otherwise green light when no one is boarding or leaving, their ‘poor service’ meter will rise.

    The future of LRT in Toronto rests on the first line to open and it remains to be seen whether this will be a huge success or a huge failure. I doubt it will be in the middle.


  37. The 1-2 km of subway per year can be done in segments so that it can be more feasible, or with sections opening at a time. The most important part of the idea is getting a stable funding source and having a concrete target in transit expansion that doesn’t change with every election. The money needs to be a modest amount set aside on a yearly basis. That kind of stability is necessary to effectively build the network. We build subways because we have a decent network right now that needs expansion. It’s what the privileged MTO seems to do in building the highway network. And look at it: it’s impressive just how expansive the highway network is.

    Learn from the major transit expansion schemes: they’re bound to fail. Transit City is failing as we speak.


  38. Calvin

    I couldn’t say it better my self. I think would be more interested in LRT if they saw how it’s built in LA or Calgary. I really think the TTC played a part of killing Transit City. Ex: Eglinton could of been on the side of the road at Leslie and in the Richview corridor.

    Same thing goes for parts of Finch and Don Mills.

    I don’t blame the average Torontonian for not liking LRT — we only have our street cars as examples. (which are in fact not even LRT but it doesn’t help when politicans and the media keep grouping it as the same)


  39. Meanwhile, China is expanding its investment in rapid, $1 trillion (no typo) and 1,900 miles (3,000 km) of rapid transit. See this link.

    China (population 1,338,612,968) vs Canada (population 34,101,000) means that Canada is about 3% the population size of China. But 3% of $1,000,000,000,000 is about $25,000,000,000, and we can’t get a fraction of that?


Comments are closed.