Subway Financing Falling Apart? (Update 3)

Updated June 4 at 10:20 am: The Star has published an article discussing road tolls and other ways to squeeze money out of drivers to pay for transit improvements.  David Gunn weighs in on the folly of a Sheppard subway, and Toronto’s transit woes in general.

Updated June 2 at 2:00 pm: Inside Toronto has published an article discussing the zoning increases needed to make the Sheppard Subway a reality.  This includes an illustration of the intersection at Victoria Park developed at the density likely to exist.  The drawing is from Tridel, a well-known developer, not from some wild-eyed lefty trying to frighten the locals.

Although Mayor Ford has disowned the concept of road tolls as a revenue source for subway funding, Gordon Chong continues to press the issue saying:

“I was hired to put all the options on the table and that’s what I’m doing. Road tolls are off the table for the Ford administration. But they’re still part of the toolbox. If you choose not to use that tool, that’s your choice.”

Honesty about the real cost of Ford’s obsession with subways is rare, but refreshing.

Missing from the discussion is the whole question of what development at this density will mean for suburbs through which subways are built, and by extension along Eglinton Avenue which may encounter the same fate.  Just because you have a subway (or underground LRT) doesn’t mean that the neighbourhood or the roads can accept the resulting traffic and population.  Many people who live in the new buildings along Sheppard do not travel by TTC, and they will simply add to congestion on the road system.

Updated May 28 at 10:30 pm: The Star has published a followup article with reaction to Royson James’ column.

Original post from 9:18 am, May 28:

Today’s article by Royson James in the Star brings the astounding news that the crew running City Hall have already run aground on their mad scheme to build subways with private sector investments.

Gordon Chong, the former TTC Commissioner and politician hired to run Toronto Transit Infrastructure Limited (TTIL) has barely moved into his office and is already talking about tolls and congestion charges.  How this will sit with the “war on the car” crowd remains to be seen.

The subways will also need better government funding and higher development fees.

According to James, Chong says that

claims that the private sector will step in and build the line on their own are not realistic

This statement should surprise nobody, but coming from the current administration at City Hall it is an astounding admission of the bankruptcy of thought behind the Ford transportation plan.  What was touted as a miracle of private sector investment quickly has turned into the usual exercise of looking for government handouts and new revenue tools.  The private sector might be lured in somehow, but to what degree and to what benefit is uncertain.  After all, with a potload of public investment, there’s less reason to give away the store in return for private capital.

This view, not yet an official City policy but certain to generate lots of debate, has implications for Metrolinx whose own “Investment Strategy” will be funded from the same collection of revenue tools.  How many hands will be in motorists’ pockets at the toll booth, and is there enough revenue available to both municipal and provincial treasuries to build all of their pet projects?

Discussions at the provincial level have deliberately kept a low profile for fear of spooking voters, but the background info has been out in reports and workshops for a few years.  If we want a big transit network, we have to pay for it, and this will mean public sector investment on a grand scale, however it might be disguised in neocon flim-flam.

When TTIL was created and Dr. Chong hired to run it, I feared the whole question of sound financing would disappear into research and consultation for an extended period, long enough to get Mayor Ford through the troubles of the coming 2012 budget cycle.  With Chong’s public acknowledgement that private sector financing won’t get us anywhere, we must turn to the larger question of Ford’s fiscal wisdom and the state of Toronto’s finances.

Coming years will not be pretty for transit budgets as the City wrangles its deficit, and Queen’s Park sits back saying “you’re already getting enough”.  Now at least one of Ford’s team has the courage to say there is no Tooth Fairy, no pot of gold hidden at City Hall to fund the something-for-nothing plan Ford sold to gullible voters.

79 thoughts on “Subway Financing Falling Apart? (Update 3)

  1. Speaking of the Planning and Growth committee meeting, Raymond Cho was trying to get his constituents to attend Monday’s meeting to express their support for Transit City since that plan had 3 transit lines running into the ward (Sheppard East, SLRT extension to Sheppard and Markham and the Malvern-Scarborough LRT). I was at a TTC open house for the Sheppard East LRT in 2010 where Raymond Cho addressed the crowd and said that the area needs subways not light rail. Now that the ward will see no transit improvements whatsoever, it looks like he has a change of heart.

    I do have a question though. If the Sheppard stubway is extended to Downsview and Scarborough Town Centre, what’s the projected ridership for the line? A lot of the bus routes in the area already use the bus bay at Don Mills. Extending the line will allow the Warden and Kennedy buses direct access to the new subway. On top of that there are the buses that stop at STC. I don’t think this will have much of an impact on ridership since theoretically there would be 2 lines stopping at STC (Eglinton-Scarborough and Sheppard). Many people might still continue to use the Bloor-Danforth line too so I think the increase in ridership along Sheppard with the extensions will be marginal at best.

    Steve: The TTC has not published an updated ridership projection. However, I agree that people would tend to transfer to the Eglinton and BD lines, not Sheppard. The original projections decades ago for Sheppard depended on its being the only route to downtown (via the Yonge subway) from the northeast. Further in the future, if the “SRT” is ever extended north to Sheppard and Malvern, or if frequent GO service were implemented on the CPR line through Agincourt or the CN Uxbridge sub, this would intercept a good chunk of the traffic on which the original, high projections of Sheppard subway ridership depended.


  2. During the election campaign, I am almost positive I remember Raymond Cho being quoted as saying he was telling his constituents to vote for Ford because “he would build them a subway”. I though to myself, can this guy not read a map?

    It is a little too late for reality to set in for this gullible fool, but better late than never.

    Steve: I would not call Cho a “gullible fool”. He may have believed that Rob Ford would do what he claimed, but has been one of the first Councillors to become openly disappointed and at times very pointed while criticising Ford’s proposals, sometimes with bone-dry humour.


  3. Raymond Cho may have been one of the first councilors to openly criticize Ford’s transit plan but I think he is partly responsible for the lack of transit improvements in his own ward. During the TTC open house on the Sheppard East LRT I attended, he wasn’t too supportive of Transit City.

    Subsequently, he did seem to believe that Ford would replace the Sheppard East LRT (Don Mills to Meadowvale) with a subway despite the fact that Ford’s election campaign transit maps clearly showed the Sheppard subway extension stopping at Scarborough Town Centre. Now he is upset (rightfully so) that the Sheppard East LRT and Scarborough-Malvern LRT will never get built while the SLRT won’t be extended to Markham and Sheppard.

    I’m glad Cho is criticizing Ford for canceling Transit City and is advocating for better service for northeast Scarborough but it feels as if it’s too late now. Instead of getting improved service as early as 2013 (two years from now!), northeast Scarborough will probably never get improved transit service.


  4. Thanks by the way for the “subway” definition. I guess a rose is a rose by any definition. But, as far as the province “caving in” for a buried LRT, I like it. It may be more expensive initially, but given the usual howls of protest over disruption of surface traffic, I think it’s a far more sane idea that the insanity of having to deal with special interest groups etc. Case in point being the St. Clair West renovation that so many locals screamed about. According to what I have read, the business people like what they see, more walk in business and shoppers and strollers like to enjoy the area. Given my druthers, I will be happily dumping my car when I retire and would love to see shiny new transit for old poops like me to use.


  5. Steve said … “However, I agree that people would tend to transfer to the Eglinton and BD lines, not Sheppard.”

    You might be wrong on this. The TTC did a O-D survey on transfer movements at St. George vs. Bloor-Yonge — this was not the original integrated service study, but one that came later in ’74 or ’78 (can’t remember which right now).

    Interestingly, they found that in the PM rush, more passengers shifted to BY instead of St. George so that they could get seats on westbound Bloor trains before they were filled at St. George. This may very well happen on Sheppard — ie. that more people would take Sheppard from STC (over Eglinton or BD) and transfer at Sheppard-Yonge to get a seat on a Yonge train going south.

    Steve: You assume there are seats to be had at Sheppard station. Yes, there are many possible ways demand may adjust through the network as more and more links are added. If we ever get a DRL to Eglinton and Don Mills, or better GO service (including attractive fares) to the northeast, travel bound for the core will have more options.


  6. I think that Raymond Cho’s flip-flop on Transit City is very admirable. We should always expect politicians to be open to changing their positions in light of new information and facts presented.

    The foolish thing for a politician to do is stubbornly refuse to budge on an issue, when evidence continues to mount against him/her.


  7. “We should always expect politicians to be open to changing their positions in light of new information and facts presented.”

    There hasn’t been any new information since the election. Everything is unfolding exactly as predicted by Ford’s opponents. Cho was foolish to believe Ford’s promises when there was plenty of evidence they where impractical.


  8. “in the PM rush, more passengers shifted to BY instead of St. George so that they could get seats on westbound Bloor trains before they were filled at St. George.”

    I and my wife have been known to choose St. Andrew/Osgoode over King/Queen if leaving work in the PM NB peak (5.00-5.30) because eastbound Bloor trains are filled by Yonge. It would be interesting to see how that O-D study would look now, especially since eastern demand is being fed by SRT. We probably won’t see it any time soon if there’s a danger the need for DRL is even more obvious than before.

    Steve: Shhh! If any study even hinted that we need the DRL, the TTC would bury it because they really don’t want to build that line. They would rather spend billions trying to stuff more people onto YUS rather than improving the network overall.


  9. Maybe I’m being too pragmatic here but why doesn’t Ford try to “pilot” his plan: try to get the federal money for the Sheppard LRT to extend the subway to Victoria Park and create a transit-oriented development plan around that hub, with high density and a TIF to support it. $300 million should pay for most of it and we could see if the developers come – if they do it could create some revenue for the City’s share of costs. It would also bring the subway to the border of Scarborough and possibly a BRT could connect to the SRT/Eglinton LRT extension at Scarborough Town Centre.

    Steve: Because his campaign proposed that the Sheppard subway loop south and connect into the BD line at Kennedy. An extension from Don Mills to Victoria Park would be too much of a come-down.


  10. “They would rather spend billions trying to stuff more people onto YUS rather than improving the network overall.”


    Steve: The DRL would compete with the Richmond Hill subway extension for funding, and some within the TTC don’t want to entertain another route into downtown.

    Also, I read somewhere that some on TTC management are still upset over the retention of streetcars, even though the Streetcars for Toronto study convinced the TTC it was the smart thing to do.

    Why [would they still be upset over the retention of streetcars]?

    And Metrolinx may reconsider ICTS for the Eglinton LRT.

    Why? Is it because it would save them from having to convert the SRT? Are there more important reasons that that?

    Steve: It’s all part of a long-standing anti-streetcar, anti-LRT stance in Toronto, not to mention lobbying by Bombardier who would love to get a showcase line running across Toronto.


  11. JJ_lover said: “Maybe I’m being too pragmatic here but why doesn’t Ford try to “pilot” his plan: try to get the federal money for the Sheppard LRT to extend the subway to Victoria Park and create a transit-oriented development plan around that hub, with high density and a TIF to support it. $300 million should pay for most of it and we could see if the developers come – if they do it could create some revenue for the City’s share of costs. …”

    First of all, Ford is notoriously unattentive to details. Any scheme of a multi-stage subway construction is too fine-grained for him.

    Secondly, $300 won’t build 2 km of subway plus a new terminus station with a large bus terminal; that’s more like $600 – $700 million.


  12. According to some reports, Hudak is disinterested in a GTA-wide transit agency (Metrolinx), and would rather transfer control to the municipalities.

    In case Hudak wins the fall elections, what’s the chance that Ford gets to scrap part of the Eglinton line (for example, only builds the Black Creek – Yonge section, and the SRT replacement) in order to redirect funds to the Sheppard subway?

    Steve: This is complete madness. In effect, Hudak would download the cost of regional transportation back to the municipalities who were looking for Queen’s Park, through Metrolinx and GO, to expand it. This is Mike Harris all over again, but now affecting the 905, not just the 416. Imagine how infrequently the GO train will reach Oshawa if Durham Transit is responsible for it.


  13. Steve says:

    “This is complete madness. In effect, Hudak would download the cost of regional transportation back to the municipalities who were looking for Queen’s Park, through Metrolinx and GO, to expand it. This is Mike Harris all over again, but now affecting the 905, not just the 416. Imagine how infrequently the GO train will reach Oshawa if Durham Transit is responsible for it.”

    This is a very scary thought. The GTA will choke on congestion and the economic, social and health costs of said congestion will grow exponentially. This does not make the GTA sound like an attractive place to work and live.


  14. Steve said: “This is complete madness. In effect, Hudak would download the cost of regional transportation back to the municipalities who were looking for Queen’s Park, through Metrolinx and GO, to expand it. This is Mike Harris all over again, but now affecting the 905, not just the 416. Imagine how infrequently the GO train will reach Oshawa if Durham Transit is responsible for it.”

    I am pretty sure that they cannot “download” GO Transit. Those routes can operate under GO Transit logo, or Metrolinx logo, but they will remain in the provincial hands.

    The issue is about new local lines, such as Eglinton in Toronto, Hamilton LRT, or VIVA busways. McGuinty prefers to oversee them by directing the funding via Metrolinx. However, Hudak might just give the funds to each municipality where the line will run.

    For some reason, Ford wants to prioritize Sheppard subway above everything else. If TTC, currently dominated by Ford’s allies, gets full control of transit expansion money within Toronto – what’s the probability that they will trim the Eglinton line to the shortest possible segment, and redirect the funds to Sheppard subway?


  15. I have one question on this whole subway expansion matter. If there needs to be density in order for new subway to be built why does the DRL get overlooked more than any other proposed project. There is ALEADY density around Downtown Toronto and there will for sure be at least 40,000 riders that would use the line and that would help to run the line at less of a deficit than the current Sheppard subway, the Sheppard extension, the Y-U-L extension to Vaughan and Richmond Hill. It would also be much easier to attract development near the core than on Sheppard. I think politicians today lack simple common sence.


  16. Gordon Chong was hired to run TTIL to make Rob Ford’s subway pig fly.

    From what Chong’s been open about saying to the media, it looks to me like he’s disclaiming himself in case it doesn’t to prevent his own professional reputation from being trashed by the result the conditions imposed by Rob Ford for the Sheppard subway extension’s financing making it change from a long shot of a plan to an impossible plan. I don’t envy his position one bit and I don’t blame him from engaging in some CYA considering how Rob Ford’s got him stuck between a rock and a hard place.


  17. Uh, if you have a subway-density intersection without a subway you have problems. Your article which outlines that the opposite is also true, is true.

    Chicken and the egg. I vote building the subway first.

    I also vote building the subway somewhere that’d actually be useful, and not on Sheppard.


  18. The stations are way to far apart for a subway to work on Sheppard. In the recent years, many Chinese restaurants and malls had gone up on Sheppard. Although that seems great, what most did not realized that most of these destinations are 5 to 10 minutes away from the planned subway station. That means most would rather drive or bus instead of taking the subway.

    With no other source of income, no construction would happen at the end of Ford’s term. Maybe Toronto could actually finance its own LRT system afterwards. 5 km of LRT extension every year is possible unlike subways.


  19. Michael Forest said: According to some reports, Hudak is disinterested in a GTA-wide transit agency (Metrolinx), and would rather transfer control to the municipalities.

    Any links you might share to any of these reports you refer to? The PCs chide the Liberals for not funding Metrolinx in their platform; it would be pretty bad for their image to do the same thing they chide others for.


  20. Re: Karl Junkin

    I did not read the PC platform myself. I’ve seen this info on UrbanToronto.

    Apparently, the PC platform does not explicitly mention the fate of Metrolinx, but they want to “give more power to municipalities”.

    Reducing the role of Metrolinx does not necessarily mean reducing the capital investments in transit. Technically, they can continue investing, but transfer all decision-making to municipalities. Under normal circumstances, either approach (centralized or local) has its merits, and I am not sure which is better.

    But in our present circumstances, such a transfer of power could renew the Eglinton-vs-Sheppard contest, delay the construction, and trigger more cancellation penalties (if more of the previously ordered LRV are no longer wanted).


  21. A large part of the reason that the Sheppard subway is underused, and why many residents of nearby condos don’t use it much is because it doesn’t really serve much of the traffic along this corridor, much of which isn’t going downtown. There are a large number of major employment areas along the Sheppard corridor, or which would be served by the Spadina extension and the proposed SRT extension: York University, North York Centre, the business park at Consumers Road, Scarborough Centre, Centennial College, several shopping malls…) Highway 401 has 300000-400000 cars a day on any given section (e.g. between Highway 404 and Victoria Park there are 332000 cars a day). Transferring between subway and either bus or LRT kills ridership and causes people to drive. Sheppard is relatively dense by suburban Toronto standards and extending it will make it incrementally useful for more people (especially 401 drivers, and people who currently use busy parallel bus routes like Finch East).

    That said, there are more cost-effective ways to improve transit in this area, like the Stouffville GO train line, that should be done first. However the Stouffville GO train line serves a completely different type of demand than the Sheppard subway, so the projects aren’t really mutually exclusive.


  22. @Michael Forest – can you cite (or give us a link) to these reports you’ve read please. I hadn’t heard this about Hudek before but I would really like to see what he said about transferring control etc. Thanks in advance.


  23. Development along Sheppard in way to support a subway is a pipe dream, regardless of whether or not local residents support the building of towers. Looking at current development along the Sheppard line pretty much proves this.

    It is an axiom well known north of Eglinton that the farther you get from Yonge, the harder it is to sell a building or sell people on going there, be it commercial or residential. So, if anything, the current amount of development along the Sheppard line has been the easiest development to occur.

    But, it has not been easy.

    There was a success, surprisingly, with a rental unit development at Sheppard and Don Mills, built within an existing rental unit hub; yes, somebody built a rental unit. Its probably the one current example of a building success directly responsible from the building of the Sheppard line.

    What condo development that has occurred until this year was either at Yonge or Bayview. But, realistically, that development on Yonge really has nothing to do with the Sheppard line – the amount of people living at Sheppard/Yonge and commuting along Sheppard has not increased significantly due to the subway. As for Bayview, note that the condo developers at Bayview indicated owners didn’t take free TTC passes when offered. It wasn’t worth owner’s time time to even sell them on Craig’s List. That’s how little condo owners thought of using the TTC, even when prompted with basically free service. So, current Condo development hasn’t really been TTC driven.

    Yes, there is a large amount of condo development going on around Leslie (you know there is some density expected when a gourmet food store is opening at the bottom of a condo tower). It can only help with walk in traffic for the area as a whole; from what I see, patrons at the IKEA, Canadian Tire and even the Starbucks are 98% car drivers. IIRC, that whole area was almost gifted to a developer by North York council to make the subway seem viable. But, even with the cushy terms, developers did not build until there was demand; and the demand that has developed was more driven by the ease of access to the 401 with the opening of Esther Shiner Blvd, not by the TTC. Given that the two stations serving that area will be accessed in unpedestrian friendly ways, either at the top of a hill (Bessarion) or by taking a 5 minute detour to go under the railroad tracks (Leslie), I can’t see this area becoming a transportation hub. And, the development, once finished in 5 years, will be maybe 2/3 the size of what is being asked for at each station on a Sheppard expansion.

    There is some question as to whether commercial development, which drives more TTC users then condo units, will go on the line. There has been no office tower development along the Sheppard line. None. Northwest of the Bayview station property owners are now seeking approval to get a 29 story condo and a 5 story commercial building. Those 5 stories will be the first new commercial units (baring units in the bottom floor of condo pedestals) along the Sheppard line. And the current office park around Consumers Road is not full by any means. The farther out we go from Yonge, the less enticing commercial units become. So, without much commerical demand, that rendering by Tridel is not going to include any commercial activity more then bottom level restaurants, dentist offices, banks, coffee shops and travel agencies.

    So, if there is not the demand for the necessary level of development @ each stop along Sheppard, and even then not the demand for people to use the subway, why are we building this thing? If the subway opened in 2020, we would probably be looking at haphazard development happening by 2030-2040 and then still focused on the car culture. Even if the future development money is earmarked, do we want to hang $4 billion of transit infrastructure onto a line which won’t begin to fill it in until sometime after Justin Beiber can get a senior’s discount and even then will be mostly people wanting to drive?

    In essence, what Ford is pitching is not all that different from what Mel pitched. Build it and people will take it and people will want to build around it. But, it hasn’t happened that way in areas more conducive to development. Which leads one to wonder if this was built based on borrowing money from future growth, whether lenders who do their homework would actually provide money to the city at anything like a reasonable term.


  24. “Reducing the role of Metrolinx does not necessarily mean reducing the capital investments in transit. Technically, they can continue investing, but transfer all decision-making to municipalities. ”

    If you make decisions, you have to find money, so a putative Hudak Provincial government seems to want to get out of the decision making business. Decision making power is useless to municipalities if it is dependent on the whim of higher orders of government who can simply ignore the funding requests.

    In any case, Metrolinx is only in existence a few years – to rush to decide it needs to be rebooted as some kind of voluntary association of regional governments is to remove the Provincial input necessary to reconcile the demands of Toronto with that of Caledon or Halton and allocate priorities somewhat evenhandedly, and to dissuade anyone from making a career out of transportation planning in this part of Ontario since you will never know just what kind of agency you’ll be working for in 6 months.


  25. Hi Steve

    In looking through the plans that have been proposed I am curious to know if anyone has an idea of how many people would be required to live in these towers and how long it would take to sell all of those condos. The number of units being put onto the market looks huge and those units would have to compete with other projects being built in other parts of Toronto that have more amenities nearby.

    Steve: This point has been brought up in various ways, notably in comparison to the annual sales of condos in the GTA — about 16,000. And, yes, that’s for the whole GTA. Sheppard cannot possibly take a substantial bite out of that. That’s another of the follies — just because 1,000 units will generate x-million dollars of revenue does not mean that the market can actually absorb those units at the scale required.


  26. @Pete: Here is the original source – PC Changebook.

    Page 14: “We will reduce the number of agencies, boards, and commissions, and the hidden billions they consume.”

    Page 23: “We will give cities and towns the power to decide what happens within their boundaries.”

    However, there are no specific plans for a Metrolinx reform at this time.

    Steve: Hmmm … page 23 could be read as an attack on the OMB, but I’m not holding my breath. Developers would scream if they had to deal with Council decisions as final, or maybe they would just find new ways to grease the wheels for approvals.


  27. @Vic

    I think the reason why the DRL keeps getting ‘overlooked’ is because while operating costs may be more subsidized, initial construction costs are much higher. In New York City, their Second Ave. subway line is currently costing $2 BILLION per kilometer, and counting. While it is unlikely that a Queen St. line would cost that much, considering the densities I could see costs reaching upwards of $1 billion per kilometer. When it comes to building subways, the current political thinking is to build them in lower density areas and then increase densities around them to raise ridership to keep operating costs under control.

    Some say that we should only be building underground where there is enough ridership and density to support the line, but I think we are reaching the point where even that will be too expensive to sustain. Personally, any new full rapid transit lines should be elevated rather than tunneled, but elevated rail has almost as bad a stigma tied to it as toll roads do.

    Steve: I really should point out that a DRL to Eglinton and Don Mills passes through a lot of comparatively empty space. The section on Pape (assuming that route is used) and a chunk coming into downtown from the east would be dealing with situations somewhat like the central part of Eglinton. A DRL and a Queen Street Subway are not necessarily the same thing.


  28. Here is an article pointing to some current research suggesting that the Ford ship is already sinking only 6 months into the term. An approval rating of only 57% now.

    Another article indicating that trying to build the Sheppard subway with no public money is impossible.


  29. Wanted to add that at the very least, I am pleasantly surprised that Rob Ford, the suburban mayor/councilor who claimed Toronto couldn’t take in more people, has become such a proponent of high densities and TOD.

    Not too sure if this is his attempt to reach over to the other side, or if the irony is lost on him.

    Steve: Yes, the irony is totally lost on him. The biggest contributor to the “war on the car” is more people living in the city, a point he made often.


  30. There is some kind of tower style structure going on at the SE corner of Victoria Park and Shepppard. I e-mailed Councillor Kelly (he is east of Victoria Park) to ask what is going on. Many people thought the gas station was bought for Sheppard East LRT issues, but now it is for the Victoria Park North subway station. I am assuming it will be called VPN since there is a VP station already and on all the fantasy maps I seen, it is called VPN. Maybe it will be the Golden Arches Subway Station. However the map/figure on the Inside Toronto article shows Johnny’s Burgers being bought. I don’t think that will happen. JB is an icon in Scarborough. SW corner/area is all commercial type. Hallmark, movie studio company (I think Atlantis), one Pizza Pizza, ATRIA towers. I see room but there will be the following issues

    404/401/Sheppard is already a huge bleeping mess (not just a regular mess). From VP/Sheppard to Don Mills Station it takes 5 minutes (according to Google Maps). During rush hour it can easily take you 15-20 minutes. Sheppard/404 is waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too close to 404/401/DVP intersection for it to be redone.


    You have 10 VAN HORNE, 25 DON MILLS, 85 SHEPPARD EAST (to Sheppard-Yonge Station) and 139 FINCH-DON MILLS all using the West exit. 25 DON MILLS is quite busy, not just rush hours.

    Adding that many towers will mean thousands upon thousands of people, if you ask Councillor Kelly about that many people then he will tell you that he will ask them to take transit.

    That many cars and even transit riders will screw up the intersection. Look at the Danforth line…look how many towers wow geee (end sarcasm here).

    The towers around Bayview/Sheppard…are not cheap or anywhere near cheap. However if you want to buy me a 2 bedroom place at that boat shaped tower at the North East corner of Bayview Avenue and Sheppard Avenue East, I won’t stop you 🙂

    Will all these magical towers be just at Sheppard/Victoria Park or will we have to flood Pharmacy/Sheppard, Warden/Sheppard, Birchmount/Sheppard, Kennedy/Sheppard and Midland/Sheppard and more? (yes I know subway won’t go to Midland).

    Just because you build a subway line does not mean gigantic towers will pop up, by the way 3-5 story building will not be enough. If our Mayor says tolls then he will kicked out of office so fast.

    Again, why are we expanding the system when we can’t keep up maintenance of the current system?


  31. I notice that the full-page ad for the Aspen Ridge Scenic on Eglinton condo in the Star today has a prominent picture of an overground Eglinton LRT (and it looks very nice!). I wonder if this is a sign that the private sector doesn’t believe Ford’s promises and has already moved on to Plan B.

    Steve: Well, that development (east of Eglinton and Brentcliffe) would probably have been served only by Laird Station on the original scheme anyhow.


  32. Eglinton LRT
    Scheme # 1 surface east of Don Mills
    Scheme # 2 subway east of Don Mills

    Has to be above grade partially between Don Mills and Brentcliffe.

    Steve: Yup, that’s obvious, but nobody at Metrolinx wants to say so out loud for fear of having Rob Ford tear up his agreement. The fact that the MOU explicitly states that the river crossings may not be underground doesn’t seem to insulate Metrolinx folks from avoiding the subject.


  33. It looks like the funding for this project is not going to appear from government or the private sector or from under anyone’s pillow. Council will never approve anything that will risk putting the city in debt for Ford’s pet project and road tolls and new taxes are against Ford policy.

    The main problem here seems to be that, simply put, the $4 billion and change price tag is a hell of a lot of money for a subway that is not the be-all and end-all solution for Toronto’s transportation problems.

    However, given that the option of going back to surface light rail is off the table as long as you-know-who is in City Hall, doesn’t it make sense to build what we can afford, and ASAP? The suggestion to extend eastward to Victoria Park (North) is worth consideration. The $330 already on the table might be a good start, at least. Consider that Victoria Park and Sheppard might be an interesting place to test the tax increment financing plan. If it works, keep extending. If it doesn’t, hope/pray for Eglinton to come in under budget. If extending Sheppard incrementally is all we can afford, it makes sense to do it. Especially when all other options are drying up. Waiting for a new mayor seems like another long and wasteful delay for Transit users.

    Ford’s promise of a seamless Downsview to Scarborough Centre ride by Pan Am 2015 now seems like a very unfunny joke, and someone should play his campaign video back to him. But he may need to get something at least started before he goes back to the polls.

    Steve: Building incrementally poses challenges. Unless the work runs more or less continuously, there is a lot of overhead to stopping and restarting construction, particularly for deep bore tunnel rather than cut-and-cover. Also, surface facilities at the terminal cannot be built to handle surface connections that may only be in place for a few years until the next extension. It would be a waste to build a big terminal at Vic Park only to abandon it when the line goes further east. From a regional point of view, the demand to extend “just one more station” would always loom in the competition for funding of other projects.

    I agree that Victoria Park might be a “more logical” place for the line to end than Don Mills, at least to get past the congestion around the DVP, but $330m won’t get you that far.


  34. David Gunn could very well be speaking about Transit City. Didn’t he oppose Transit City as well (although I take it not as vigorously as Rob Ford’s Sheppard Subway)?

    Why would you think a terminus at Victoria Park might be more logical? Besides ending at a former municipality border, I can’t see any advantages. I thought the Sheppard LRT would have been underground (or under the road surface) until east of the DVP anyways.

    Also, if Don Mills is a more heavily used route than Victoria Park, I would think it would make more sense to have the hub at Don Mills, so riders from Don Mills Road headed east don’t have to change modes again at Victoria Park.

    Steve: I am not endorsing Vic Park as a terminal, merely observing that the subway should have gone that far to get past the congestion at the DVP. This was the original plan, but they could only afford to get to Don Mills. Starting construction now and only going to Vic Park would probably cost far more per kilometer than building a longer extension, and would be hard to justify on any grounds other than that it looks nice on a map.


  35. EGLINTON LRT River Crossings

    The Schematic Design Eglinton LRT Presentation stated that the Don River West Bridge (East of Brentcliffe) was to be widened. Along with the Don River East bridge east of the DVP.

    So what is the schematic design for the Eglinton Subway?

    At least between Victoria Park and Laird.

    Just asking.

    This has all been sorted out. I am sure, and the problem is solvable. Is,or has there been, a schematic design presented at any time?

    Steve: I’m not sure what document(s) you are quoting or referring to. There was a design shown in the EA documents for the original form of the line with the LRT on the surface, but nothing has been presented for the all-underground version, and Metrolinx is quite evasive on the subject.


  36. John said: “I notice that the full-page ad for the Aspen Ridge Scenic on Eglinton condo in the Star today has a prominent picture of an overground Eglinton LRT (and it looks very nice!). I wonder if this is a sign that the private sector doesn’t believe Ford’s promises and has already moved on to Plan B.”

    I think it’s more a matter of them not bothering to make any changes to their advertisements or pamphlets/brochures, rather than a quasi political statement. The sales office for the large development at Kennedy and the 401 (Village Green Sq) had heavy emphasis on a planned transit hub that would be built on the site. That hub included a relocated Agincourt GO station as well as a station on the future Sheppard subway extension. Less than a year later, Miller’s Transit City plan was announced, but the developer (Tridel) never bothered to change any of the info at the sales office or on their brochures. For a while, it seemed like false advertising, especially last year when they broke ground on the Sheppard LRT 700m to the north of the Tridel site. However, as is custom in this city, the plans changed yet again and now the Sheppard subway is supposedly back on the table.

    There is also a condo going up on Kingston Rd near Guildwood. The on-street adverts show an LRT vehicle cruising down the median of Kingston Rd, which under the current administration, will not happen. I don’t blame developers for failing to keep up the with the City’s constant and never-ending changes to rapid transit plans. It would be a futile effort to do so. In this city, until something is built, nothing is guaranteed, and too often we end up with nothing.


  37. After reading what our mayor said with regards to the plan to sell the single-family houses that TCHC owns on top of his views on trying to finance the Sheppard extension, I’m starting to wonder if Rob Ford really does have no idea how to fund capital assets to the real benefit of taxpayers.

    Steve: All he cares about is freezing taxes, and if he has to sell the furniture in City Hall to pay for it, he will. Far too many taxpayers fall for this sort of thing. Ford isn’t finding “waste”, but selling assets allows him to show he held taxes down and it looks like the same thing. Until there’s nothing left to sell. Remember Highway 407.


  38. Cho is a moron. He first supported the Sheppard subway, insisting it should go to Morningside and the zoo. Then when nothing looked like it was going to get built, he backed Transit City. When the election came along, he tacitly backed Smitherman and now that it seems that higher order transit won’t reach Malvern, he’s throwing a hissy fit.

    As a former Malvernite, I say that this guy is past his expiry date. He wins largely because of name recognition. He’s utterly useless and despite his grandstanding, he has no real principles or long term vision for the city and the ward. He just wants something built, so he can cut a ribbon and retire.


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