Rejigging Transit City

The entire purpose of this post is to hold comments dealing with possible alternate transit plans that were originally left in the thread “Why I’m Voting For George”.  That thread is becoming polluted with issues that are far from the mayoral campaign, and I will move all related comments to this new stub.

64 thoughts on “Rejigging Transit City

  1. Michael Forest wrote:
    “The original plan to run Jane and Don Mills LRT lines at surface all the way to Bloor is clearly unfeasible because of the street width”

    Kevin’s comment:
    Presumably the TTC staff is in possession of that miracle of modern technology, the tape measure. I’ve got one too, and can assert because I’ve seen it with my own two eyes that there is plenty of room on both Jane and Don Mills for not only a TC LRT line but also Dutch-style fully protected bicycle infrastructure.

    Steve: Kevin: You are not paying attention. The parts of these lines we are talking about are from Bloor or Danforth north where Jane and Pape are narrow streets with buildings right out to the lot line. Even the TTC admits that to put LRT on these streets would reduce car traffic to one lane in each direction, and the station platforms would be, to put it mildly, a challenge.

    This is twice in two days that I’ve wrote “I’ve seen it with my own two eyes” in response to a member of the “can’t be done” brigade. I know that those pesky annoyances called “facts” do tend to get in the way of some people’s opinions…

    Since the time to plan and build public transit projects is greater than the four-year municipal election cycle, it is quite reasonable to criticise Mr. Smitherman’s election platform’s statements about what he intends to do in a second Smitherman term. I have two criticisms of his subway plan:

    1. The extra $7 billion cost. Certain fundamental principles of mathematics dictate that he can’t freeze property taxes, scrap the Personal Vehicle Tax and pull $7 billion out of thin air.

    2. It is not worth it. For an extra $7 billion we could expand Transit City to put light rail on every one of Toronto’s major arterial roads. With enough left over to help subsidise using GO as a higher order of transit in Toronto to double the capacity of the Yonge and Danforth subway lines. That would be a much better use for an extra $7 billion.

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  2. Steve wrote about some parts of the Jane and Don Mills Transit City lines:

    “Even the TTC admits that to put LRT on these streets would reduce car traffic to one lane in each direction”

    Kevin’s comment:

    Yes, that is one of the major advantages of Transit City. Our streets are public space that should belong to the people. The City is for people, not cars. I 100% whole-heartedly support the Transit City reallocation of public space to the people. Yes, on some parts of Jane and Don Mills this means reducing private car traffic to one lane in each direction, something that is a major public good. I strongly oppose the tunnelling of Transit City lines in those parts of Jane and Don Mills because:

    1. It is very expensive. This is wasted money that could be better used for other things.

    2. It is less effective in suppressing private automobile use. It thereby fails to contribute effectively towards achieving the goals of Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David McKeown, to end the present situation where car pollution in Toronto kills 440 people every year and injures 1,700 so seriously that they have to be hospitalized. With mortality costs alone of $2.2 billion. For the Toronto Medical Officer of Health’s Offical Report on this issue, see:

    Click to access air_pollution_burden.pdf

    Steve: And my position is that you will never, ever, sell a transit incursion on that magnitude. That may be your preference, but it is no basis for civic policy.

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  3. Kevin Love said: “This is twice in two days that I’ve wrote “I’ve seen it with my own two eyes” in response to a member of the “can’t be done” brigade. I know that those pesky annoyances called “facts” do tend to get in the way of some people’s opinions…”

    Michael’s response:
    My opinion is based on facts. I personally stood at the Bloor / Jane intersection, and wondered how TTC hopes to squeeze 2 LRT lanes and 4 general traffic lanes on Jane. This is physically impossible. The street has 4 lanes (no space for left turns), two sidewalks, and then buildings on both sides.

    If you suggest to use the 2 central lanes for LRT and only leave 1 general traffic lane in each direction, then what happens if a car or track gets broken in that lane? How do other cars or tracks even get out of that trap?

    Another source of facts is the MapIt tool, at map.toronto.ca. It can be used to show the property lines and buildings.

    Kevin Love said: “Since the time to plan and build public transit projects is greater than the four-year municipal election cycle, it is quite reasonable to criticise Mr. Smitherman’s election platform’s statements about what he intends to do in a second Smitherman term.”

    Michael’s response:
    To criticize, certainly yes. But to use as a justification for not supporting Smitherman in this election, when any subway construction will not happen until after the next election cycle, I am not so sure. Note that such position can pave the way for Mayor Ford, who can’t stand a streetcar in any form and shape.

    Kevin Love said: “For an extra $7 billion we could expand Transit City to put light rail on every one of Toronto’s major arterial roads. With enough left over to help subsidise using GO as a higher order of transit in Toronto to double the capacity of the Yonge and Danforth subway lines. That would be a much better use for an extra $7 billion.”

    Michael’s response:
    First of all, the claim about an LRT line on every major arterial for $7 billion is a significant exaggeration. SELRT, first in the pipeline and almost entirely on surface, is projected to cost $75 million per km. At that cost, $7 billion buy about 93 km of LRT. The width of the city from the western to the eastern border is about 30 km (less in the south but more in the north). So, you can cover three major E-W arterials. Or, you can go N-S first; Bloor to Steeles is about 14 km but many N-S LRT lines will require tunneling in the southern section. So, you could probably have 5 or 6 N-S LRT lines. Either way it is a significant length, but falls well short of the “every major arterial” claim.

    Secondly, are you sure that Smitherman wants to spend extra $7 billion on subways? Let’s look at the details of his proposal. The BD extension to STC is 5.5 or 6 km in length dependent on the route, and should cost about $1.8 billion. But most, if not all, of that cost would be covered by transferring the SLRT funding.

    Then, he wants a 4-km Sheppard extension to Downsview, that’s $1.2 – 1.5 billion. And finally, a BD extension to Sherway Gardens, also 4 km but partly in the rail ROW, so should be doable for about $1 billion. The priority of those two extensions may be questionable, but in any case it is well short of $7 billion.

    Also, note that some of Smitherman’s extras are for the LRT network: a branch of SELRT to UofT Scarborough, an extension of Finch LRT to Woodbine, and getting the Eglinton LRT tunneled through the Weston / Mount Dennis community (rather than running on surface there). Those projects are not currently funded by Metrolinx, but Smitherman wants to add them.

    Steve: Smitherman also includes the Waterfront East line including service to the Port Lands. Waterfront Toronto has nowhere near enough funding available to pay for this, and so this is a net new project.

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  4. Ed wrote:

    “The “higher order transit” is really a supersubway…”

    Kevin’s question:

    What did you have in mind? A system of local and express subways as in New York City? The cost of rebuilding the Yonge subway line with local and express tracks would be astronomical. It would involve rebuilding the foundations and public basement areas of major downtown buildings. The disruption to the surface and “Underground City” would be immense during construction.

    Cost is the most significant reason driving my support of Transit City (and LRT in general) and of using GO as a higher-order transit system. One km of surface TC line can be build for about 1/12 the cost of one km of subway. While the cost of upgrading stations, signalling and track to allow GO to be used as a higher order of transit is not cheap, it is a fraction of the cost of equivalent subway capacity at $300 million per km.

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  5. While Transit City is not perfect, it is still needed. We do not have another decade to argue where the next metro line will go. China is building hundreds of kilometers of track in less than the time it takes to build a tram line here.

    Why is the people in Toronto so against guide ways? It is much cheaper to build them than digging tunnels. On streets like Richmond and Adelaide, does it matter that a guideway is more visually intrusive? There is no street life any ways. When I go look for a restaurant to eat, would I go check out the restaurant scene on Richmond? No. It is either Queen or King. Let’s run trams on a guideway on those streets. Without vehicular traffic, it will run much more reliably. In China, they even run buses on dedicated guideways.

    Building stations above ground is much more cost effective. Instead of building tunnels like the PATH system, one can build predestrian crossings to the various buildings. This eliminates predestians on the street level which will reduce accident rates. Look at Wan Chai station in Hong Kong. One can walk all the way from the station to the Victoria Harbor using bridges and not see a single traffic signal.

    To Kevin’s comment, there is no need to reconstruct the basements of various buildings in downtown to build a metro. If one build a tunnel say 30 meters below ground, interference to structures will be a lot less. This was how the Marunouchi Line was built in Tokyo. When one digs deep enough, one can avoid everything.

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  6. Re: Jane South of Eglinton I’m not sure it would be so hard to sell a reduction to one lane of car traffic where necessary, especially if the first lines of Transit City are run well and see good ridership. Then the “I want Transit City here” mentality could trump “I want two lanes of traffic.”

    But the stronger argument is geographic. From a motorist perspective, Jane doesn’t really function as an arterial approaching Bloor, because it ends there. Bloor is a decent E-W arterial, but for most trips in that vicinity Dundas is better (fewer lights, overpass at Royal York, the Junction neighbourhood easier to negotiate that Bloor West). To get to the Gardiner on-ramp at the South Kingsway requires an awkward right-left jog onto Bloor and then the South Kingsway. This winding road is one lane its entire length, so reducing the width of Jane would not create a new bottleneck of Gardiner-bound traffic. Islington provides the better Gardiner/QEW access and Keele/Parkside the better Lakeshore access.

    Then from a transit perspective we have not only a subway at Jane and Bloor but two parking-constrained destinations nearby: Bloor West Village and High Park. Extending the St Clair line to Jane would add connections to the Corso Italia neighbourhood.

    And finally, from an avid cyclist’s perspective, we don’t need bike lanes on Jane: too many hills. Keele is much better for on-road cycling and the adjacent Humber Trail for quieter trips.

    Yes, it will be hard to reduce auto traffic to one lane in the name of Transit City in general, but I think the geography and land use near Bloor and Jane merit a special case.

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  7. Michael asked:
    “Secondly, are you sure that Smitherman wants to spend extra $7 billion on subways?”

    Kevin’s answer:
    Not all on subways. But there is a $7 billion hole in his plan. From the National Post.

    “He said the way to afford the plan, which costs $7-billion more than is currently committed to transit, is to “contract with the private sector.”

    “In this model, the public always owns the lines and pays for them over time,” he said.

    He proposed setting up a “Transit Trust Fund” that would pay for the expansion and would be made up of the city’s share of the gas tax, dividends from Toronto Hydro, parking authority and development fees.”

    Kevin’s comment:
    To assert that private sector contracts along with the city’s share of the gas tax, dividends from Toronto Hydro, parking authority and development fees will add up to $7 billion by the year 2020 is based upon the principle that 2+2=7.

    Not to mention the fact that losing dividends from TH, parking authorities and development fees from a City budget that is already in deficit will unleash a flood of red ink, made even worse by his promise to freeze property taxes and scrap the Personal Vehicle Tax. His promise to balance the budget just doesn’t add up.

    Steve: I agree that George’s scheme for funding subways does not add up. Having said that, I must return to the fact that Joe Pantalone isn’t going to be elected, and George is much more amenable to revising his plans than Rob Ford.

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  8. Michael wrote:

    “…the claim about an LRT line on every major arterial for $7 billion is a significant exaggeration.”

    Kevin’s comment:

    Plain vanilla LRT without tunnelling, street enhancements or any of the “extras” that add significant costs is about $10 million per km. Source: Wikipedia

    So for $7 billion, that buys us 700 km of light rail. If we exclude roads that already have subways or LRT I think we’ve got all the major arterials covered.

    Steve: You have to be very careful with these costs because many do not include a large vehicle fleet or maintenance facility. The fleet size is dependent on the service level, and a lot of the new LRT systems have service we would not consider particularly good. That, in turn, affects the size of a maintenance facility which, in some cases, may already exist (e.g. for an extension of an existing system). One of the goofs in original TTC estimates for Transit City is that they left out the carhouses.

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  9. Steve wrote:
    “You have to be very careful with these costs because many do not include a large vehicle fleet or maintenance facility”

    Kevin’s question:
    Steve, what is then your opinion? What is a reasonable cost per km planning number for “plain vanilla” LRT in Toronto? I’m thinking no tunnelling, no pedestrian enhancements, just track laid down the middle of the street, the new Toronto streetcars running at a headway of 150 seconds during peak hours and five minutes off-peak, barriers to keep private cars out of the right-of-way and signal priority at intersections. Plus storage, maintenance and other ancillary facilities.

    What is a reasonable per km cost that I should use for planning?

    Steve: A reasonable speed for street running with Toronto style stop spacing and signalling will be around 20km/h. This means that a double-track km represents 1/10 of an hour’s worth of running time, or 360 seconds. (If a line were only 2 km round trip, it would take 1/10 of an hour to make the journey.)

    This will consume 360/150 or 2.4 vehicles plus spares for peak service (off peak headway has no effect on fleet size). That’s over $10m worth of vehicles right there. As for maintenance yards, the first one in a system is always the most expensive as it will contain special, one-of equipment for major repairs, while added yards can simply be running carhouses.

    Sheppard Carhouse is designed to hold 100 LRVs and will also include maintenance facilities. (Ashbridge Carhouse also has maintenance facilities because the existing buildings at Hillcrest won’t be able to handle the new LRVs.) The cost will be roughly $300m, and so that’s $3m/car. If the carhouse is ever expanded, the marginal cost will be lower. This means that your hypothetical 1km of track will incur something like $20m worth of carhouse and vehicle costs. For this reason, a $10-20m/km all-in cost is impossible to achieve.

    Note that the service you propose as a reference translates to only 3600/150 or 24 cars per hour (12 trains, or a 5′ headway, if they run in pairs). The planned level of service on Eglinton, for example, is considerably higher.

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  10. Putting an eastward extension of the Bloor-Danforth line to Scarborough Town Centre in an election platform undoubtedly attracts a number of Scarborough votes. However, Scarberians, in my view, would be better off with a “Scarborough-North York” line that, regardless of the technology choice or specific street alignment, would run in a generally north-south alignment with its own termini.

    Yes, the Bloor-Danforth line can be extended to no end. The problems in Scarborough are, to a significant degree, related to poorly-designed transfer points, and the unreliability of aging equipment and infrastructure. The “snakes and ladders-styled” alignment of the current SRT route may also distort riders’ travel preferences and increase the TTC’s operating costs for the area, but without numbers, that’s a point that is open for debate.

    The benefit of the SRT, on the days that it is working, is that a delay at Donlands subway station does not prevent someone boarding at Scarborough Centre from reaching Kennedy in something like twelve minutes. At least there’s the possibility of the Bloor-Danforth delay being cleared while in transit on the SRT. As an extension project, the same people would just end up crowding the Scarborough Centre platform.

    Transit City or not, I think that it would be wise to terminate the eastern Bloor-Danforth line at Kennedy, or at Midland or Danforth Road if either of those made for a better customer transfer experience. But only if the latter two possibilities could be retrofitted to become Eglinton line stations at a later date, if the tunnel was ever extended eastward. In general, as my position evolves on the transit file, I think it would be ideal to keep Eglinton for Eglinton, Sheppard for Sheppard (not direct to Scarborough Town Centre), and to create a base “Scarborough-North York” line that includes STC and that can be extended north of Sheppard, and south of Eglinton, if ever required.

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  11. To reply further to Kevin L., when I say “supersubway”, I mean something subway-like (fast acceleration, many doors, no “premium” seating) combined with extremely high-capacity stations. There is no way, in my opinion, that you could cheaply make the GO train system do this. You’d need entirely new rolling stock, propulsion systems (electric MU is mandatory), and completely new stations.

    In addition to the cost of the above, consider:
    1) You seem to envisage that the GO lines will interface with the TTC at a few select station in order to act as a relief line. When I think of 10,000 or 15,000 people/hour trying to transfer between the GO and TTC at Main St., for example, my mind boggles. That’s droping in another Yonge/Bloor, and that sort of interchange traffic is implied in your vision. Note that, unlike the subway, your superGO will not have all those busy “local” stations such as Dundas, King, Spadina, Broadview to take pressure off the main interchange.

    2) GO’s core ridership, which are from Oshawa and Oakville and Richmond Hill, will be served how with your supersubway? There’s no room for expresses in your scheme. I don’t think the Oshawa riders will be impressed at a ten-minute stop at Main to load/unload half the train.

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  12. Kevin Love said: “Plain vanilla LRT without tunnelling, street enhancements or any of the “extras” that add significant costs is about $10 million per km. Source (a link to Wikipedia).

    Michael’s response: I opened that link, and it actually says “costs of most LRT systems range from $15 million per mile to over $100 million per mile”. Your estimate is at the very low end of that range. I think it is more useful to make predictions based on the cost of SELRT which is being designed right now, in the Toronto environment, and with all of the associated costs (cars, carhouses, expropriation of some properties etc) included. SELRT is almost as “plain vanilla” as it gets: less than 10% tunneled, only a few places where property expropriation is required; and still it comes to about $75 million per km.

    Kevin Love said: “Not all on subways. But there is a $7 billion hole in his plan.”

    Michael’s response: I don’t contest your assessment that Smitherman’s financial plan has a hole. But, at least when it comes to transit, his proposed network mostly makes sense. If Smitherman proposes some changes to Transit City, he will turn the steering wheel gradually and with caution, rather than trying to negate all previous planning like the other main contender in this election.

    Regarding the funding for Smitherman’s transit add-ons specifically, I think that he hopes to get some of them funded by the Queens Park. He can’t use that line in the election campaign because it would sound vague and become an easy target of attacks; but given his connections, there is a reasonable chance of him getting such funding after the elections.

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  13. Bradley Wentworth said: “Jane South of Eglinton I’m not sure it would be so hard to sell a reduction to one lane of car traffic where necessary, especially if the first lines of Transit City are run well and see good ridership.” “From a motorist perspective, Jane doesn’t really function as an arterial approaching Bloor, because it ends there.”

    Michael’s response:
    I agree that the loss of Jane’s function as a throughfare is not a big concern. Rather, my concerns are related to the operation of local traffic, if each direction has only one lane and that lane is physically constrained by the sidewalk on one side and the LRT barrier on the other side. The list of obstacles includes:
    – Broken cars of trucks
    – Passenger cars belonging to residents or businesses who have no off-street parking
    – Delivery or mail trucks stopped to make a delivery
    Plus, longer trucks won’t even be able to make a turn, as they require more than one lane for that. Say, a light pole needs to be replaced; how do you bring the new pole?

    Perhaps the solution is to install no physical barriers between the LRT and the general traffic lane, pave the LRT lanes, but disallow their use by general traffic except to bypass an obstacle or for the trucks to make a turn. The enforcement of that can be achieved using the modern electronic equipment rather than by hiring a legion of traffic policemen. I’m not sure whether the local residents will be delighted with such design, because in a sense they get the worst of both worlds: a significantly restricted motor traffic, and a less than exclusive transit ROW. But at least, this option may be discussed.

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  14. Proposed funding does the following up to 2020

    2015 Spadina SW Ext complete and in operation
    2015 Sheppard E LRT complete and in operation
    2015 Eg LRT tunnel and underground stations complete
    2015 Blue 22 complete and in operation (diesel)-2020 electric????

    2015-2020 Finch W LRT section complete and in operation
    2015-2020 EG LRT complete and in operation East of Jane
    2015-2020 Scarborough RT rebuilt and in operation

    The province has to clean up their financial position big time to go forward after 2020.

    Steve: Everything from here down is conjecture, and even the list above is uncertain without additional provincial funding.

    2017-2022 (say) DRL (east & west ) complete and in operation, hopefully.

    Why is the DRL rarely mentioned?

    Steve: Because the only plan it appears in is the 25-year version of Metrolinx’ The Big Move. Some folks within TTC hate the DRL because in competes with their dreams of stuffing everyone on the YUS.

    2020-2025 Finch LRT East section complete and in operation
    2020-2025 Eglinton LRT complete to Airport
    2020-2025 Finch LRT to airport (a long shot)

    2025-2035 Don Mills, Jane and Malvern LRT’s maybe

    2030-2035 extend St Clair LRT to Jane

    Somewhere in that time frame the waterfront lines and the Waterfront West LRT have to be fitted in .

    If someone wants to change the LRT’s to subways eveything gets stretched out.

    2010 to 2035 means 6 provincial governments and 6 mayors to disrupt the process.

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  15. In winter, diesel buses work better when they are either stored in a garage or hooked up to a block heater. Else, they will need to be idled until they are ready to run.

    Streetcars don’t. You just turn them on.

    Roncesvalles and Russell store most of their streetcars outdoors. Which makes them unsuitable for buses, as is.

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  16. Anyone who thinks that people at the south end of Jane or Don Mills / Pape are going to allow their roads to be destroyed is deluded. Look at how angry people got at what’s been done so far, Ford might even win, imagine how up in arms the city would get if you take away all of their precious roadspace.

    We do not live in a dictatorship.

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  17. If Smitherman wants to extend the Sheppard Subway to Downsview, wouldn’t it make sense to do it while the Spadina extension is under construction?

    Steve: The part of the line affected by a Sheppard/Downsview connection is separate from the extension which begins north of the tail tracks at Downsview.

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  18. I’ve never understood.

    Why do some in TTC desire to stuff everyone on YUS? Seems to me that to do so would constrain transit growth in Toronto. Wouldn’t TTC desire to be a larger organisation?

    I’ve simply never been able to understand this mindset, and what could be behind it.

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  19. Michael asked how one-lane roads deal with:
    “– Broken cars of trucks
    – Passenger cars belonging to residents or businesses who have no off-street parking
    – Delivery or mail trucks stopped to make a delivery”

    Kevin’s answer:
    It is possible to see exactly how these situations are dealt with in Toronto’s current extensive set of one-lane laneway systems. Examples include St. Nicholas Lane and the laneways parallel to Yonge Street that allowed Yonge to be opened to pedestrian traffic and go car-free in the 1970’s. Come to think of it, Joe Pantalone has promised part of Yonge to be car-free again if he is elected. Another reason to vote for Joe today.

    In addition to Toronto, many European cities also have one-lane streets. So we are not re-inventing the wheel here and can see solutions to these situations currently at work in Toronto and around the world. These solutions are:

    *Motor vehicle breakdown. A tow truck backs up from the nearest intersection, hooks on and tows the motor vehicle away.

    *Storage of motor vehicles while not in use. Unfortunately, both Don Mills and Jane have an ample supply of local motor vehicle parking.

    *Deliveries. Depending upon the specific situation, deliveries may be made either through the back door, from a truck parked around the corner or by cargo bicycle.

    Steve: And a quick visit to Google Maps, or some knowledge of the neighbourhoods involved, would tell you that there is no lane system paralleling either Jane or Pape north of the BD subway line. If you are going to suggest an alternative, you should at least know what you’re talking about.

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  20. It seems to me that much of the debate over the merits of Transit City comes down to a “subways are better than streetcars” argument, as if the former is always the best choice and that the latter is at best a poor substitute. Indeed for at least one TC line will be for a significant part of its route a subway in all but name. Almost 30 years ago San Francisco put the Market Street section of its LRT lines as a subway (these is a heritage line running on the surface).

    Subways have their place but many of the proposed lines and extensions (other than the one to YU) don’t seem to have the ridership potential to justify the cost. As I’ve said previously, my sense is that most favour subways because they provide transit to those that don’t have cars or wish not to drive them while not reducing road capacity for those that do. This is especially the case in the inner suburban neighbourhoods such as mine in Southwest Scarborough (not far from Kennedy station). I certain recognize that TC is not perfect and some of the route choices are not ideal but at least from a cost perspective it will deliver more higher order transit at a fast rate than subways.

    I can see why the extension of the BD line to Scarborough TC is very attractive, especially as the existing SRT is already past full capacity and also such an extension would allow for seamless travel without having to transfer from one train to another, but I can’t help but wonder if we are not overlooking other opportunities to improve transit without necessarily focusing only on extending exiting lines. There is a GO line that now has a stop at Kennedy which could provide another means of travel downtown (even faster than subway) if it ran 2-way all day, without necessarily double tracking the entire route (I’m thinking of the Deux Montagnes line in Montreal).

    In my case I’ve now often used the Lakeshore GO rather than bus+subway (I’m roughly 10 minutes walk to Scarborough GO) even thought GO is roughly $1.35 more than TTC cash fare. There may be other potential routes ( perhaps using LRTs ) that could be quickly built that do not necessarily impact existing road capacity. And I think it’s important that we start looking at transit on a regional level and try to full understand from where people are travelling and where they are going – I’m guessing less of “from the ‘burbs to downtown” and increasing reverse commutes or crosstown (e.g. from Agincount to Pickering TC or from Rexdale to Malton). None of the current plans address that.

    Phil

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  21. If there’s not enough room on Jane or elsewhere for an overbuilt St Clair type reservation, there’s always single track

    Steve: I am aware that this post is partly in jest, but must point out that the frequency of service expected on the Don Mills line would make passing sidings rather frequent. This setup only works for low frequency services.

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  22. Steve wrote:
    “… there is no lane system paralleling either Jane or Pape north of the BD subway line.”

    Kevin’s comment:
    True. I don’t quite understand your comment; I never claimed that there was such a laneway system. This system is what allowed Yonge to go car-free in the 1970’s and what supports Joe Pantalone’s proposal for a much smaller part of Yonge to go car-free today. Still three hours left to vote for Joe.

    I am not today proposing that Jane or Don Mills be car-free streets. I was asked some questions about how to deal with issues on one-lane streets. I answered with how those issues are, in fact, dealt with on one-lane streets in Toronto.

    Steve: I read your comment as an implicit suggestion that problems on Jane or Pape could be addressed with a laneway system, or something equivalent. This does not exist, and so your remark about Yonge Street does not apply in the other contexts.

    Steve wrote:
    “If you are going to suggest an alternative, you should at least know what you’re talking about.”

    Kevin’s comment:
    This is a little unfair. For three years I lived on St. Joseph Street right next to St. Nicholas Lane. With my own two eyes I have seen addressed all of the issues that I was asked about. I’ve seen tow trucks back up from the next intersection to remove stalled motor vehicles. I’ve seen a wide variety of off-street parking being used. I’ve seen deliveries being made by trucks parked around the corner, through back doors and by cargo bicycle. I’ve seen a one-lane street functioning and working well.

    I do believe that I know what I’m talking about because I’ve seen it with my own two eyes.

    Steve: Yes, on Yonge. I have lived for 30 years at Broadview and Danforth, and have a rather good idea of what Pape (the primary route proposed for the DM LRT line) and Broadview (the alternate) actually look like. There are no lanes. Your Yonge Street analogy is interesting but totally inappropriate to the issue of fitting an LRT right of way on Jane or Pape.

    Please note that this is the end of this discussion as I think we have exhausted this thread.

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  23. Benny Cheung said: Building stations above ground is much more cost effective. Instead of building tunnels like the PATH system, one can build pedestrian crossings to the various buildings.

    I agree and have said so before. An El is a reasonable compromise, perhaps on the streets Benny mentions or on the ROW proposed on the DRL Now site, which also uses existing rail ROWs. Given the lost years when no subways were built and the current budgetary difficulties an El could be help us catch up faster and cheaper.

    Oh and ROB’s comments citing projected completion dates of various transit projects is depressing.

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  24. Instead of expensive tunneling and overhead guideways, why not use open trenches for subways/LRT (a good example of this would be the new West LRT in Calgary between 45th Street Station and Westbrook Station along 17th Avenue SW)? Much more affordable, and not as time-consuming to build.

    Oh, given that Rob Ford won the mayor’s race, I guess we can get ready for a showdown between the new city hall that wants to scrap the Transit City plan and the Provincial Government that intends to keep it.

    Steve: One reason the Spadina extension costs so much is that open trenches are “not acceptable” to the community through which the line will pass. It will be fascinating watching the new gang try to figure out how to build cheaper subways, and what lengths they will go to for acceptably low bids.

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  25. “If there’s not enough room on Jane or elsewhere for an overbuilt St Clair type reservation, there’s always single track…

    Steve: I am aware that this post is partly in jest, but must point out that the frequency of service expected on the Don Mills line would make passing sidings rather frequent. This setup only works for low frequency services.”

    But with new large capacity street cars the frequency can be less and then single track might be a possible , low cost solution. I have seen single track sytems with passing sidings run frequent and reliable service in other parts of the world. In fact the single track forces the trains to not bunch up and run more on time.

    With limited money and limited space single track might not be a bad idea.

    Steve: We are talking about a headway of under four minutes. That means trains passing each other every two minutes.

    In any event, given current events, can we please stop trying to design an “LRT” line to be rammed down the middle of a narrow street? There’s this little matter of community feedback everyone seems to be ignoring, and the feedback tonight has not been kind to people who try to avoid the obvious: a surface LRT will not fit on a four-lane street.

    Enough already!

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  26. In any event, given current events, can we please stop trying to design an “LRT” line to be rammed down the middle of a narrow street? There’s this little matter of community feedback everyone seems to be ignoring, and the feedback tonight has not been kind to people who try to avoid the obvious: a surface LRT will not fit on a four-lane street.

    Not specifically about a surface LRT on a narrow street but the notion that a city and/or transit authority can’t do something that is completely unpopular with “the community” seems pretty inaccurate. No one along Cambie Street in Vancouver wanted the Canada Line tunnelled using cut-and-cover and yet that’s exactly how it was done, because the province and the city and TransLink wanted it done that way.

    Similarly with the Spadina extension, you say it’s being bored because people living along the corridor find cut-and-cover “unacceptable.” Well that might be the case but if the city and province and the TTC really wanted it done with cut-and-cover, it would get done that way. Now, that’s not to say that ramming something through wouldn’t have a political cost (in both the Toronto and Vancouver cases) but it can certainly be accomplished if the conditions are right.

    I realize Vancouver and Toronto are not the same cities but you can’t convince me that the politics of transit are so radically different in both locations that things can get rammed through in Vancouver but that that would categorically not happen in Toronto. If anything, I get the sense that the TTC (and the city and the province) are much, much less worried about “public consultation” and the “voice of the community” here than in the Lower Mainland. The TTC especially seems rather deaf to the concerns of its riders and the city’s residents.

    I mean, take the St. Clair streetcar right-of-way, for instance: I’ve yet to hear of any strong community support for it — and in fact have heard way more about people who didn’t want it to happen — and it got done.

    Steve: And we heard endlessly about St. Clair through the year leading up to the election to the point that even the “progressive” candidate mused about how he should have voted against it. If we still had the option of simply drawing lines on a map, we could go out and “build” an LRT network anywhere we wanted to. With the albatross of St. Clair around our necks, we would be doomed to serious opposition.

    The Cambie Street experience was one of bait-and-switch where people were sold the line on the basis of tunnelling, but that’s not what they got.

    The competing interests of “fiscal responsibility” and the love of subways simply will not produce the transit network people claim they want.

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  27. The Cambie tunnel was the result of a P3 public-private partnership. Although it was completed on time and for budget (what P3 proponents love to point out) things like the Cambie tunnel, labour disputes, lack of community consultation, and inadequate design are rarely mentioned by P3 proponents.

    It has single track termini and no provision for extended platforms. Ridership is unexpectedly high and capacity will be an issue very quickly.

    It appears the Evergreen line, the next project, will be in public hands.

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  28. The post was indeed partially in jest, although I was thinking of Jane rather than Don Mills – not primarily single track, but double with selective use of single as the roadway varies / no strip malls are available to be trimmed back. The funny thing about that rendering of the Valenciennes single track extension is that the French will somehow get by with only one lane/direction for cars. Those silly Europeans eh?

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  29. There’s this little matter of community feedback everyone seems to be ignoring, and the feedback tonight has not been kind to people who try to avoid the obvious: a surface LRT will not fit on a four-lane street.

    I understand the issue of community opposition, but have we really regressed to the point where we can’t even consider a four-lane street (four lanes!) for transit in this city? How did we survive all this time with streetcars on four-lane roads in the city?

    And are there no creative solutions to this problem? The tracks could be placed in a side-of-road configuration, reducing the roadway to two lanes. The road could even be converted to one-way travel (many of the north-south streets near Pape are already one-way). If you’re concerned about on-street parking on Pape, the street already has express no-stopping bus-taxi-bike lanes during rush hour, many shops have small off-street parking lots, and there are larger parking lots near Danforth. The city’s transit plans shouldn’t be held hostage by a few dozen underused parking spaces on a major arterial street.

    Anyways, why are we even discussing Jane when that line isn’t even funded (and will likely never be), and when the section south of St. Clair is largely irrelevant anyways? The point of the Jane LRT was to provide higher-order transit in the areas between Steeles and St. Clair, with major connection points at Finch and Eglinton (and to a lesser degree with an extended St. Clair line).

    Steve: When I said a surface LRT won’t fit, I meant with exclusive lanes plus room for platforms. It doesn’t matter where you put the lanes, parking vanishes, and this is a big no-no in almost every location. The argument is in any event moot, but I could not help noticing how repeated attempts to justify such a design are precisely the sort of “we know what’s good for you” planning Ford supporters (and even some Miller supporters like me) have been, pardon the pun, railing against.

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  30. From the context of the sentence:
    “precisely the sort of “we know what’s good for you” planning Ford supports (and even some Miller supporters like me) have been, pardon the pun, railing against.”

    I think you mean “supporters”:

    “precisely the sort of “we know what’s good for you” planning Ford supporters (and even some Miller supporters like me) have been, pardon the pun, railing against.”

    Changes the whole meaning of the sentence, it does.

    Steve: Yes, it does. I will repair the original statement, although I suspect that we will find that Ford “knows what’s best for us” far more than he is willing to let on.

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  31. I noticed some people tossing about GO as a cheaper alternative to subways but at the same time suggesting it is more expensive than LRT; I would, cautiously, disagree with that if talking about expansion of existing GO corridors.

    If dealing with an existing corridor that is in a right-of-way wide enough for additional tracks, these tracks can be added for about $5M/single-track-km (stk), before any and all bridgeworks and underpasses (i.e. new grade separations in general), which have costs over and above the $5M/stk average. Interim wise, an on-the-cheap solution could allow existing bridges to be left as-is and operated with either single track or gauntlet track until service levels require an expansion to something wider.

    The $5M/stk average is the cost for the Georgetown South Project when you exclude all the new grade separations and bridge widenings. So expansion of GO services in existing rail corridors is cheaper than LRT. GO Stations can be less than $10M a pop as well (for example, Lisgar, a recent addition, only cost $3.5M (although it should be noted this is a single-platform design, serving only one track). Even if stations are as frequent as every 2km (the closest spacing GO/Metrolinx would be willing to entertain), that would only be an additional $5M/km of route.

    Only if extensive grade-separations or expansions of existing undersized grade-separations are required would expansion of GO corridors be more expensive than new LRT lines.

    Electrification for GO costs extra, at about $3.3M/stk according to Caltrain (less according to Hatch Mott Macdonald), plus vehicles.

    Steve: The critical point in all of this is the availability of a corridor in which to run trains, the comparatively wider headways (something that makes single track operation at select locations possible), and the absence of major infrastructure work including electrification. LRT by contrast assumes double track from the outset, electrification for frequent service, major reconstruction of the road on which it will operate, or grade separation in some locations. LRT also bears a significant cost/vehicle for carhouse and maintenance facilities.

    It is absolutely vital that we not get into the my technology can be even cheaper than your technology debate to the point that what we are proposing doesn’t actually do the job intended. The obvious difference between a GO service and an LRT line is that the latter is intended to serve local communities with much more frequent stops and turnover of passengers. GO, as currently designed, assumes that most people board or leave at one major station.

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  32. It doesn’t matter where you put the lanes, parking vanishes, and this is a big no-no in almost every location. The argument is in any event moot, but I could not help noticing how repeated attempts to justify such a design are precisely the sort of “we know what’s good for you” planning Ford supporters (and even some Miller supporters like me) have been, pardon the pun, railing against.

    Good god, so much hand-wringing over a few parking spaces! No wonder we can’t build any real transit in this city. How did the Bloor-Danforth line ever get built? That project required the expropriation and demolition of hundreds of homes in established neighbourhoods. And now we’re paralyzed by parking spaces!

    Steve: Yes, they are. And if Mayor Ford is true to his word in “listening to the community” those parking spaces are here forever. Indeed, it will be interesting to see how Ford deals with the first instance where community interests collide and we start hearing about the “greater good”. Almost socialist, that sort of talk!

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  33. K wrote:
    “Let the dark ages in Toronto begin”

    Kevin’s comment:
    I don’t think things will be that bad. Mr. Ford has got to get a budget passed by City Council. Here is my prediction for the next four years:

    1. Ripping out streetcar lines – not going to happen.

    2. Building the promised Sheppard subway – not going to happen. His plan to finance it is based upon the principle that 2+2 = 7 and that the province is going to give him York Region’s money. Neither one is happening.

    3. Ending those TC lines for which contracts are already signed (for example, Eglington) – not going to happen. The multi-million dollar penalty clauses would be waste that would haunt him forever.

    4. Reducing City Council from 44 to 22 members – not going to happen.

    Things that Kevin predicts will happen:
    1. A lot of conflict with City Council. Mr. Ford has never played well with others. Kevin predicts that Mr. Ford will blame City Council for preventing him from building the Sheppard subway, ripping up the streetcar tracks, reducing City Council and all the rest of his agenda that isn’t going to happen.

    2. BIXI will launch next spring. It will be a success from day 1.

    3. Kevin predicts an embarassing hate slur directed against members of a group of people that Mr. Ford has already made it abundantly clear that he does not like. Yes, it will hit the international media and Jon Stewart will make fun of Toronto. Pick one of the following for the target of his first hate slur:
    *Immigrants
    *Cyclists
    *Homosexuals

    4. Mr. Ford’s much-ballyhooed “ending of the gravy train” will fail to generate any significant savings.

    5. If Mr. Ford is able to get his tax cuts through City Council, the budget will bleed red ink and the last remnants of the reserve funds will be exhausted. A short-term “balancing” of the budget may happen by selling off city assets like Toronto Hydro. But once the reserve funds are gone and he’s sold everything off, what then?

    Ontario voters can go through big shifts in government choice. For example, going from Bob Rae’s NDP to the hard-right Harris government. So transit advocates have to be ready with plans ready to go in four years when we have a chance to tilt things back to the other side.

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  34. According to this article, it looks like Ford has his 23 Councillors needed to pass his motions. I am so scared for the future of Light Rail in this City.

    Steve: Not touching them is not the same as supporting them. There are still the issues of the new cars and carhouse, and ongoing track construction, notably on Harbourfront/Spadina.

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  35. Jacob wrote:

    “I am so scared for the future of Light Rail in this City.”

    Kevin’s comment:
    Yes, this is a setback. But look on the bright side. The initial Transit City lines, for which contracts are already signed and orders placed, will happen. If there is excellent execution (not like the bad execution on St. Clair) and the lines run well, then we can point to this success and argue for extending it across the City.

    Rob Ford’s platform is impossible to execute, particularly his financial plan which defies certain principles of mathematics. Four years from now he will have discredited himself. That’s our opportunity. To quote from The Ballad of Sir Andrew Barton:

    “Fight on” says Sir Andrew Barton,
    “I am hurt, but am not slain;
    I’ll lay me down and bleed a while,
    Then rise to fight again.”

    Steve: Claims by Doug Ford in the Star that the plan is not to get rid of streetcars are not entirely correct, and Rob Ford plans to meet with the Premier to see whether the contract for new streetcars can be cancelled.

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  36. I hope that Rob Ford at least finds some way to save the Eglinton line. I mean, this is supposed to be an approximately 10km tunnel between just west of Keele and just east of Laird, which is all intents and purposes a subway. I would be perfectly willing to accept Ford changing the plan to a conventional subway (with the subway portion extended west to Jane or Scarlett and east to Don Mills to make it useful, this could be largely done on an elevated viaduct to reduce cost) while cancelling the east and west surface portions but I cannot accept cancelling the Eglinton line together. This is the longest subway tunnel we have seen proposed in a long time and I would hate to see it cancelled.

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  37. JT said, “I understand the issue of community opposition, but have we really regressed to the point where we can’t even consider a four-lane street (four lanes!) for transit in this city?”

    I would say that due to financial restraints, yes. If money were not an issue, we would be building not just a half dozen new subway lines, but also adding some new streetcar routes on some downtown roads along with various suburban LRT lines.

    We need to play catch-up for more than four decades of neglect, and the best way to jump-start the city to getting a reasonable framework of a higher order network is with LRT over new subway lines (notwithstanding the DRL). While LRT has the benefit of being able to move from being as rapid as a subway line in its own right of way to being in mixed traffic like a streetcar line, our initial experience in LRT must avoid the latter. A significant portion of the population simply does not see LRT as anything more than “just a streetcar” and it is imperative that the initial implantations must showcase that it isn’t. There is a reason why Ford’s transit plan NEVER mentioned the term LRT: he wanted to play on the idea that streetcars are bad to not only to attempt to make the idea of removing streetcar routes seem appealing, but also to do the same about stopping Transit City LRT lines.

    Any attempt to shoehorn any part of any line onto a four lane street will be seen as adding a new streetcar route, not adding a new LRT line. Once the first LRT operations are in place and everyone is enamoured by their operation (assuming that the TTC can do that), the idea of a branch extension on a four lane street might actually be attractive.

    Its all about timing. Can we just set aside the discussions about LRT lines on four lane streets for now and focus our efforts on making sure some showcase examples get built?

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  38. Regardless of what Mr. Ford does to Transit City, it may be time to check out alternatives. For example, I was just handed a flyer on the street for Zipcar toronto. Car sharing seems like a great idea about now…

    Anyhow, thought I’d share that they were giving away free driving with a promo code “75ZIPCANADA” with those little flyers. I signed up on the spot.

    Cheers!

    Steve: Imagine if every one of the people now riding the Scarborough RT drove a Zipcar instead. Where would we put them all?

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