Updated January 23 at 11:00pm: Links to updated coverage including signs of movement toward a new transit plan have been added.
From the Star:
Tess Kalinowski writes about support building for a new plan. In this version, a surface-subway LRT on Eglinton frees up money for, possibly, a short extension on Sheppard to Victoria Park and something on Finch West.
It’s too early to tell which combination will win out, and there’s no reference to eastern Scarborough.
Martin Cohn writes about the imminent collapse of the McGuinty-Ford transit deal. We learn that Queen’s Park was prepared to pay the extra cost of expropriating property to widen Eglinton to compensate for space lost to surface LRT, but this option was rejected by Ford.
A Star Editorial congratulates Karen Stintz for telling us the obvious and urges her to begin a campaign for a subway-surface line on Eglinton. At this rate, they’ll be casting a bronze of Stintz arm-in-arm with David Miller.
From the Globe:
Marcus Gee writes favourably about a move to bring Eglinton back to the surface.
From the National Post:
Natalie Alcoba writes about the proposed change including comments from supportive Councillors.
Updated January 23 at 5:50 pm: I recently spoke with Bruce McCuaig, President and CEO of Metrolinx, about this issue. Notes from our conversation are at the end of this article.
Adrian Morrow reports in today’s Globe that TTC Chair Karen Stintz feels an all-underground Eglinton line should just be what it is, a subway, but that it belongs on the surface as LRT for its outer suburban section.
Karen Stintz argues it makes more sense to put the LRT underground only along the most congested part of the route, in midtown, while building it on the surface in the spacious suburbs.
“If the decision is to go with an LRT, it should be at-grade,” she said. “If there’s a decision to put it underground, it should be a subway.”
That’s an interesting position for someone in the Ford camp because it continues the anti-streetcar rhetoric of the Mayor’s office. If Eglinton is built as a subway line, the option of converting it to LRT and resurrecting Transit City falls because a major link (and the proposed main shops for the LRT network) would vanish.
As Morrow points out in his article, other systems use a combination of surface and underground alignments (including Boston where downtown streetcars went underground over a century ago) so that a network of surface routes can share a common tunnel in the congested central area while switching to a simpler surface alignment elsewhere.
If Eglinton were to become a subway, the problem of valley crossings won’t disappear and Metrolinx will still face the problem of either going under several valleys, or bridging them with parallel structures.
The real question a subway option begs is the future of the SRT. If Eglinton becomes a subway, it will not easily through-route to Scarborough Town Centre along the existing alignment, and this will reopen the debate over a Bloor-Danforth extension.
Morrow’s article implies that Stintz may be shifting into the pro-LRT camp, but I am not convinced. If she were really shifting positions, there would be more talk about revival of some parts of Transit City, notably the Finch West line which, unlike Sheppard East, is completely independent of the Ford subway proposals.
The pending release of Gordon Chong’s report on financing the Sheppard Subway will trigger, finally, a debate on the future of Toronto’s transit technologies at Council. We will see whether Stintz is truly an LRT supporter, or simply pitching Ford’s “no streetcars” view of the world.
The Globe article in print is missing its final paragraphs that appear in the online version. It’s a shame that truncation for space robbed the article of its original, stronger ending.
To set them up, I have included here the final paragraph in print.
Historically, the TTC has also confused people about light rail’s potential: Promotional material in the late 2000s mapped the slow-moving St. Clair and Spadina streetcars as LRTs, even though they stop frequently and have to wait at red lights. [Print article ends] Suburban light rail is a different animal.
“It’s not like you have the stores and houses along Eglinton East to generate the demand for more frequent stops,” said transit blogger Steve Munro. “It’s not like the Spadina car.”
To Jarrett Walker, author of the blog Human Transit, burying the Eglinton line is an expensive exercise in road-improvement.
“Be clear: You’re not spending this money on a project to improve transit,” said Mr. Walker. “You’re spending it on a project to protect motorists from inconvenience.”
Jarrett Walker’s blog, Human Transit, is an excellent commentary on a wide variety of transit and planning topics. He is now on tour promoting his book of the same name.
Updated on January 23, 2011 at noon:
The Star has an article by Tess Kalinowski covering the same story with exploration of related issues. In this story we find:
Karen Stintz, who was named head of the TTC by Ford, says putting the suburban east and west stretches of the line in a tunnel is a waste of money because there is relatively little road traffic along those portions.
“It makes more sense not to bury it and use the money to build (the) Sheppard (subway),” said Stintz.
This begs two questions: First off, why spend the money on the Sheppard subway which was supposed to be financed by the private sector. Second, what’s the status of a Finch LRT and of LRT in general in Stintz’ world.
Updated on January 23, 2011 at 5:50pm:
A short time ago, I spoke with Bruce McCuaig of Metrolinx about their view of this discussion. He began by recapping the statements he has been giving to the media all afternoon. The following is a paraphrase.
Metrolinx has been getting mixed messages from the TTC and the City about Eglinton. Metrolinx wants to build “smart and affordable” transit, but the City and Council need to settle on a position. Metrolinx has been working with them already to provide a high quality system on time and on budget.
There is a Memorandum of Understanding with the City, and Metrolinx has proceeded on assumption of support for this. It would be very difficult to build anything without certainty on the City’s part. Metrolinx will build the project, whatever it is, but they need a partnership to achieve this.
Metrolinx wants to give the City a chance to clarify its position. There are no ideas on the table from the City itself, only “musings of one Councillor”.
I noted that early comments attributed to Metrolinx implied that they had a preferred option (the all-underground one) and that they were unwilling to go back to the original subway-surface scheme. This position appeared to evolve through the day to a more neutral one of waiting for the City to make up its mind. I asked whether Metrolinx had any thoughts on where plans might go if money is freed up by returning to the subway-surface option.
Metrolinx feels that the new [all underground plan] can move more people faster, and we support what works for the region. However, it is too early to discuss potential changes to the plan and the follow-on effects. The only plan we have is what’s in the MOU. If the City wants changes, it should say what these are, but it is premature to talk about outcomes after that.
I pointed out that the MOU has never been endorsed by Council and is not really a “City” position.
Metrolinx moved ahead based on the MOU, and we have not changed from this path.
I asked about the status of work leading to public meetings and amendments to the Environmental Assessment that has already been approved. Moreover, will this information be available as background to any Council debate so that the real differences between the subway-surface and all-subway versions will be understood.
Preliminary engineering is underway for the amendments to the EA, and Metrolinx planned to go to the public in spring 2012 with details on the extended tunnel section, the maintenance facility, stations and the alignment for the western terminus. Whether this information is available to Council will depend on the timing of debate there, and Metrolinx has no control over that.
McCuaig concluded by saying that Metrolinx wants to get on with the task of building transit. I can only temper this by saying that we need to build the right plan. What that will be remains to be seen.
Councillor Parker came out pro-LRT on Eglinton about a month ago with a similar expression as Stintz’s, only clearer. These are interesting cracks forming amongst the inner circle.
I don’t get this Don River crossing. Didn’t the Sheppard stubway had the same issue around Leslie Station?
********** Don River
++++++++ Sheppard Stubway
++++++++ Sheppard Stubway
********** Don River
Which one did they put through for the Sheppard Stubway?
Why can’t they do the same for Eglinton?
Steve: Actually, the subway crosses the valley on a separate covered bridge just south of Sheppard and east of Leslie. The valley at this point is also nowhere near as deep as at the Eglinton crossings.
Two more questions:
1) Why did they made Eglinton Crosstown and Scarborough-Malvern two separate lines. Wouldn’t it be just easier to make it one line? (think how the 324 continues as a 322 at Bingham loop, and 322 becomes a 324 at Bingham loop, there is a word for it).
2) what do you think of this: quality vs. quantity (why expand when we can’t maintain the pile of s! that we have for transit, expanding means a bigger pile of s!).
Steve: Eglinton is a very long line as is (originally Airport to Kennedy in the original TC version). Taking it all the way up to Malvern too would really be a stretch. Note that the Coxwell and Victoria Park night buses combined are nowhere near as long. Linking the 322/324 makes one route 29km one way. The route you propose would be close to 50.
As for your quality question, that depends on how you measure “quality”. We could have a huge network of buses running extremely frequent service for the kind of money we seem willing to spend on one rather short subway line. Instead we cut service citing “efficiency” on what we have.
Stintz is throwing out a trial balloon. Reality will hit when/if council finally gets around to debate the issue of Transit City.
The cynic in me predicts that we will get the original LRT on Eglinton and nothing else (no Transit City, no Sheppard subway extension) as the provincial government tries to reduce spending & deficits.
I am not pro- or anti- LRT, but I am pro-transit. As such, I say, enough debates about the mode; now let’s get shovels in the ground and build as fast as humanly possible, before anybody has a chance to change their mind.
Eglinton is a planned and funded project. It has both benefits and flaws, just like its predecessor. It is indeed more expensive, but by only 30% or so of the total project. Reopening the project at this stage invites the real risk that a future change of government will result in project termination.
And anyway, in the current environment of “austerity”, it is far more likely that any savings will be clawed back by the province, rather than devoted to the rest of Transit City. Transit City is dead; please don’t put projects like the Crosstown at risk trying to revive it.
Steve: The problem with your thesis is that the “old” Eglinton proposal was also fully funded and well along on design (something the extended Eglinton subway is not). From what I hear coming out of Queen’s Park, they do not want to build the extended subway because of the cost, and simply want Toronto Council to formally ask this. It was a dumb idea to abandon the original plan, but let’s not give the new plan — which Council has never endorsed — the weight of something that was carefully studied and has overwhelming support. Would your position be the same if it were still the Eglinton LRT that was the “fully funded, designed plan” now under construction?
The Star also has an article on this story.
It adds an interesting quote from the Chair,
While I don’t think burying the Sheppard subway is a good idea, and think the saved money would be much better used on Finch West, this doesn’t seem nearly as out of sync with the Mayor’s office as the Globe’s article. Having Eglinton proceed with surface sections, and then attempting to yoink the saved money from the Province to build a Sheppard subway would let the Mayor back down from a big vote he might lose in a way that allows him to claim that he got his pet subway built.
Steve: But it also means that Sheppard would not be built by the private sector as claimed by Ford.
What’s interesting is that the cracks appear to be talking to each other. What are they up to?
Steve: Possibly recognizing that Ford’s mad scheme for wasting billions on his transit plan is going to have enough opposition at Council to derail it. Better to salvage something the right can call a “victory”.
I posted this on James Pasternak’s facebook, where he linked to this article, and I’ll post it here. I think you have to tunnel under the central part of Eglinton, between Black Creek and Leslie — the housing on either side of Eglinton and the narrow width of the road just doesn’t allow for the proper expansion of the roadways to include transit lanes. It just wasn’t laid out for that.
But more importantly, and Steve I hope you’ll agree with me since you’ve been around this scene long before I was born…
I am sick and tired of these politicians on all levels arguing and whining about the little things. All it’s doing is hurting Toronto in the long run. We should have had the Network 2011 plan by now, or something close to it, but it was stalled thanks to a very stupid decision to build the SRT using ICTS technology that went out of date within a few years of the line’s opening. We should have had Transit City — which wasn’t perfect, mind you, but it was SOMETHING — and then that was stalled by our idiot mayor.
But it’s not Ford’s fault alone, nor is it Miller’s sole responsibility. In my opinion, every politician that has held office in this city since the 1980s, and many of the provincial politicians as well, have equal roles to play in Toronto’s transit downfall. What was this continent’s shining star of public transportation now is cutting bus service that is already so over capacity it can’t serve the population, and it’s all thanks to left versus right bickering and infighting. All the fighting has gotten us since 1984 is one extra stop on the Spadina Line (I’m not counting the under-construction York extension — I will believe that is built only when I see it with my own eyes) and the Sheppard Stubway.
These politicians have sapped all my energy for this cause. Neither side is going to get everything they are looking for, and the finished product won’t be perfect whether it’s a subway or an LRT. But you know what? A finished product is SOMETHING, and it’s better than what we have now. So at this point, I don’t know about you all, but I could care less if it’s a subway or LRT or GO Transit or hovercraft or God knows what — just figure it out and build us some better transit in some form. I just fear my rant will do no good and when my kids are taking the subway to York in 30 years we’ll still be arguing about that Eglinton West extension.
I arise from my self-imposed slumber to put out a few thoughts:
Mayor Ford will likely go with this plan. He just won’t call it Transit City as a way to distance himself from that Much-Maligned-Mayor-Miller (4 M’s, hahaha).
From what I hear, the Ford Bros weren’t exactly against the Eglinton Crosstown LRT from the outset. In fact, they were afraid of being called hypocritical, their anti-support for Rail transit on roads would put them in such an unfortunate position, support one LRT line while killing the rest would likely raise rankles on both sides of the political spectrum. However, their biggest concern was the Sheppard Line, and how, in it is present state, is a money losing bottomless pit.
Commentary from many different sources (John Tory’s radio show for one) has mentioned that a revised plan that keeps the Eglinton LRT intact in all its glory, while finishing off the Sheppard Subway Line would in fact be in line with not only Rob Ford’s All Subway approach, but will score political points in terms of not overspending. Face it, anyone with half a brain can agree that burying the entire line is a very expensive proposition, and this will hopefully allow him to salvage his unfairly tainted reputation.
If Ford STILL doesn’t want to go down this route, then I vote for a shortened subway line from Black Creek to Don Mills. We still need Rapid Transit on Eglinton, and this is one way of doing it: like it or not, those stations will need to be underground, and even if the line is LRT, the stations still should be built as subways in order to allow for future capacity. From that point, there still is financial room from the provincial transit funding package to finish off Sheppard, to make 2 decently sized subway lines. That would indeed be a coup for the Ford brothers, a much needed one at that.
Steve: All very well, but this approach would doom Toronto to losing the network view for LRT generally, and we would still essentially be planning one line at a time with subway technology as the only option. What about Finch West, or Scarborough-Malvern, or the east end of Sheppard including the link to UTSC? You will first have to convince me that spending the billions on Sheppard is actually worthwhile compared with other projects that were cut when Transit City was cancelled.
Finally, the councillors are getting some education on public transit. Too bad a lot of Ford’s lapdogs refuse to listen to transit users. Too bad it is not a requirement that councillors, and especially TTC commissioners, have to actually use public transit and not just the Subway.
Revving up the speculation engine, do you know if there’s any appetite to, if the LRT remains an LRT and goes above-ground as planned, extend the western portion to Renforth and the airport? Or would any freed-up funds go to kick-start the Sheppard subway extension?
Steve: Based on Karen Stintz’ comments in the Star, she seems to be leaning to Sheppard. As I said in a previous reply, I am not convinced that this is the best use of the money.
I find myself torn between the two camps: 1) they’re falling apart, and 2) this is all a chess game that leads to a Sheppard subway and disappointed rational-transit advocates.
It’s very tempting to see conspiracies and chess games in politics. Only in hindsight can we get a clearer view. Hmmm.
From the way I see it, this is less of a case of being anti-streetcar and more a case of realizing that for Ford’s dream (delusion) of a subway along Sheppard to become a reality, the city is going to have to live up to one of its own slogans and live within its means. With the budget chainsaw about to fall at Queen’s Park, the feds having no interest in spending more money, and the private sector refusing to come to the plate as Ford proclaimed they would; the only way to get “new” money for Sheppard is to claw it back from Eglinton. The change in political winds caused by the budget vote just gave Stintz the opportunity to finally admit this reality.
I know that people make too big a deal out of the transfer at Kennedy, but would the Transit City version of the Eglinton LRT be able to through-route to Scarborough Town Centre?
I also heard that existing regulations mean that LRVs at-grade could only run in trains of 2 cars, not 3. Is this true?
Neither of these questions is reason enough to spend billions burying everything, but they are things to consider.
Steve: In Transit City, the intention was not t through-route Eglinton with the SRT because the TTC expects much higher demand north of Kennedy than to the west, and wanted to operate these as two separate lines. Also, the SRT was not originally part of the TC package because the TTC was clinging to the idea of an ICTS upgrade. When TC was designed, the last thing wanted was a technology battle over the SRT overshadowing the LRT network. Conversion of the SRT to LRT came along later once it was obvious even to the TTC’s ICTS advocates that there were overall benefits.
Yes! That is my whole point. The longer that an air of uncertainty surrounds the plan, the easier it becomes for some current or future politician to cancel it.
You seem to agree that the province is looking for excuses to cheap out on the project. At some point we have to stop bickering and agree that what we have, however much it is not what we wanted it to be, is worth building, and therefore worth defending.
Steve: Two points: First, building Eglinton as originally planned isn’t “cheaping out” provided that the money goes, as originally expected, to other parts of Transit City. Second, I argue that Council has never been asked to endorse Ford’s plan, and likely would not do so now if asked. It is the Ford plan which is the interloper creating uncertainty, and it is Transit City that should be defended.
Thanks for your clarification. I understand your frustration having hoped for an LRT network in Toronto myself for decades.
Councillor Parker has a very informed article (in my opinion) on his website.
According to The Star, Stintz has another reason to support the surface alignment: so that there’s money left over to extend the Sheppard Subway. Yes, she may prefer real subways under Eglinton and Sheppard, but this may be dawning on subway advocates that it’s too late to make Eglinton into a true subway.
Unless of course the Bombardier LRV contract can be changed to make subway trains instead?
Steve: The whole idea of the Mayor’s agreement with Queen’s Park was that Toronto was on its own to build Sheppard, and Ford planned to do this with private capital.
As for the LRVs, I suspect that Bombardier would happily renegotiate that deal especially considering that they have not started building them yet (the ones for Metrolinx) and there was no special engineering work involved as with the “legacy” streetcar fleet. The real problem is that this would leave us with a separate project to replace the SRT. Nobody has mentioned how that will be done (and with what funding) if it is severed from the Eglinton project, and whether the line will ever extend beyond McCowan Yard.
So far, the discussion seems to turn on finding a few spare pennies to build Rob Ford’s subway so that he can save face and rescue his transportation plan.
The province did say that they would funnel any surplus from a completed Eglinton line toward Sheppard, however.
Steve: No they did not. They said up to $650-million, not “any surplus”. That’s a long way from the billions the line will cost.
That is exactly my point of view as well. I’ll be the first to admit that Ford is the much needed leader that all of T.O. have been looking for, except in one critical area: transit (why cancel TC on the first day of your job when you never opened your plan for discussion?). He has completely botched the transit file, stunning even conservatives like myself.
But the only reason why I favour finishing off the Sheppard Subway is to allow for a connector route for the northern parts of the city. Unfortunately, with not a peep about Sheppard converting to LRT, this is perhaps the only option for the Sheppard Stubway, and would allow some form of corridor to develop. I realize that this is indeed expensive, and I also realize that TC is a far better plan, but given Ford’s unwillingness to commit to anything that doesn’t translate to Sheppard being buried underground, this is the best plan we can get for now. Or vote him out in 4 more years.
Steve: An important point in all of this is that there has been little discussion of Sheppard east from Kennedy where the subway would swing south to STC, or of service to northeastern Scarborough in general. That’s where the LRT plan is much stronger, and far more likely to be built if only we had someone who didn’t hate “streetcars” in the Mayor’s office.
Finally, I don’t think this, and building the central part of Eglinton will kill the line, rather possibly amend it. Some possibilities include having the termini of the Eglinton lines LRT hubs in their own right (i.e. Jane with a possible Eglinton West LRT to the airport, how’s that for an airport link? Don Mills and an Eglinton East LRT combined with Scarborough/Malvern to the east). There are still other possibilities: the Sheppard LRT can still connect to Scarborough Malvern, albeit truncated and could go to STC instead, making another hub, and the Finch West LRT can still be built. This looks like having two separate LRT networks, one west and one east, but building the central part of Eglinton as a subway while finishing off Sheppard doesn’t really kill the LRT network as a whole.
Steve: Eglinton is an important link between the whole network by linking it all together and providing access to the main shops at the Kodak site. A fragmented network will require more carhouses and heavy repair capabilities. There is also the question of where trains for a central Eglinton subway would be stored.
I am amused by the idea that an Eglinton subway with an interchange point at Don Mills (for example) duplicates the very problem so many complain of at Don Mills and Sheppard, not to mention Kennedy — the imposition of an otherwise unneeded transfer by passengers.
We should not be scrambling to draw new maps just to placate Rob Ford without thinking clearly about what would result. After all, that’s a big problem with his own plan. I do not accept the premise that central Eglinton should be built as high-platform subway because this precludes through-routing LRT on the outer parts of the line.
Note: With respect to another comment Stephen left about Toronto labour relations, I am not publishing it because this will take us right back into the union-bashing environment that has no place in this debate.
If the stars did somehow align and the Eglinton Line was brought back to the surface as originally planned, and if the province allowed Toronto to keep the surplus funding would it not be better to divert that funding to a DRL from Eglinton? Finch West is very important and the people on that route deserve far, far better service, but what is going to be the net effect in real terms of increasing ridership piling onto the Yonge line, especially once the the Eglinton line, in any incarnation, opens?
I would also hope that would allow the Ford camp to declare victory and retreat.
Steve: The DRL needs funding in its own right, and the money diverted from Eglinton is not enough to build it. Meanwhile, we need to talk about the northwest and northeast of the city that were robbed of their LRT lines when TC was cancelled. Taking that money and spending on the DRL will play right into the hands of those who claim a downtown-centric view of transit spending.
As for allowing the Fords to declare victory, I am not inclined to concede a half-baked interim configuration (see my comments above to Stephen Cheung) as if this whole debate must be settled in a week or so without any detailed consideration of the whether the revised plan is really better than the versions that preceded it.
A couple of points occurred to me when reading this in the Globe this morning:
1. This is potentially very good news for Toronto. The current Eglinton Line is ridiculously wasteful and anyone claiming to be a “fiscal conservative” should be running as far away from this project in its current conception.
2. The Globe and Mail’s use of Portland as the model for North America’s light rail is really shortsighted and frankly, getting tiresome. Calgary by far has the most successful light rail system in North America and with its high capacity usage makes a better point of reference for an Eglinton Line. I was glad to see some discussion of Calgary’s LRT but I really feel we need to move away from Portland as a reference. Portland frankly, could learn a lot from Canadian cities rather than the other way around.
3. Martin Luther King Jr. Way South in Seattle does move along pretty briskly right now, but a lot of people are quite concerned about its future, especially as traffic (both transit and automobile) increases with new density. While the lights are synchronized its not entirely true that the Link doesn’t have to stop. I personally have been on Link a number of times when it has had to stop for red lights to allow automobiles to pass. My understanding is they intend to rectify this over time. Personally, I favour the usage of crossing gates where possible. Yes, this will disrupt traffic more than just using traffic lights but it does ensure a genuine priority over automobile traffic for light rail.
Last but not least, this whole episode really drives home how the term “light rail” is becoming too much of a catch all and how it’s undermining the effort to bring genuine improvement through new rail infrastructure. The insistence on calling pretty much every kind of urban and suburban train with a pantograph “light rail” is undermining the perception of these transit alternatives in the minds of the general public.
Critics can too easily dismiss high capacity light rail proposals as glorified streetcars. Mode fanatics can cherry pick data from anyone of a hundred different applications in misguided attempts to sell the advantages over other modes. The TTC and other transit agencies bandy about the term Light Rail without specifying what they really mean (streetcar, urban trams, suburban, etc…) Politicians can throw it out there and it sounds good but they don’t have to provide a lot of detail.
The very flexibility of light rail in engineering is starting to undermine its public relations.
Everyone involved in transit work, especially the agencies involved, needs to become a lot more specific about what they are talking about. Light rail as a catchall term isn’t helping anymore and makes less and less sense when it covers everything from little tourist streetcars all the way up to Frankfurt’s U-bahn.
Steve: Oddly enough, the model I often think of for a surface-subway is using conventional streetcar equipment is not that far away in Boston. The “Green Line” is very old (over a century) but shows a combination of surface and subway running and the flexibility of “LRT” implementation. When I first saw it, the system was operated with trains of PCCs very much like the old Bloor streetcars. It was and is a catalogue of the variety of implementations using the same technology all the way from full grade separation, operation on a protected rail corridor, operation in a central boulevard to street running. Canada now has Edmonton and Calgary each of which demonstrates various ways to build LRT.
In Toronto, we have St. Clair and Spadina/Harbourfront (not to mention The Queensway), but these are at the low end of LRT with frequent stops, cross streets and free pedestrian access to the right-of-way. We also have politicians (and not a few professionals in the transit field) who prefer to present “LRT” in the most negative light possible. The success of LRT elsewhere is, I suspect, at least partly due to the fact that cities like Edmonton and Calgary were not fighting against LRT (and an old streetcar system), but fighting for better transit.
Funny that there is no mention about the transport consultant in the Star article that said we should stop wasting time debating about the Eglinton Crosstown, and actually build it fully as a subway (using subway trains), because the Eglinton Crosstown will be so popular LRT trains will not be able to handle the demand the line will bring.
Anyway this constant going back and fourth is really getting a little much. We already have station designs coming out for the Crosstown, and we are now going to start up a different plan.
Steve: The length of stations designed for Crosstown will also handle 4-car subway trains. The details lie in the position of the platforms (low or high level loading) and the width of the vehicles. Much of the station design does not depend on these factors unless you want to include provision for eventual expansion to 6-car trains, and this has been included on Eglinton from the start. The design work now in progress is on the original tunneled section from Keele east to Laird, and this work is common to whatever technology is chosen.
@ Ira. Do you live in Scarborough? I ask because you comment talking about the transfer at Kennedy not being a big deal really got me. The transfer at Kennedy is a big deal, and is a major reason for thousands upon thousands of Scarborough residents choosing their car over transit. That transfer easily adds another 10 minutes or more to a transit commute that already takes longer than driving.
Steve: The proposed Eglinton Crosstown LRT does not include a transfer at Kennedy. I agree that it’s a pain in the butt (I made the connection from subway to RT for several years myself), but it is not possible to have a through trip for every commuter. There will be a one seat Scarborough-Eglinton ride, or a one seat Scarborough-BD ride (if the subway were extended), or even a one seat through ride on Eglinton (if the Crosstown line continued east on Eglinton). None of the bus routes will ever through route to any of the rapid transit lines. Someone is always going to have to transfer, and the real challenge is to make this as inconvenient as possible for the majority of riders. Kennedy Station as built does not achieve this, but the plans (even the Transit City version) moved the LRT underground for a much more convenient link with whatever else served this location.
And I think this whole debate on LRT vs subway, vs other improvements, suffers from a problem of most of the people advocating anything do not actually live in the outer parts of the city, and do not understand what we go through each day.
Would any of you live at Meadowvale and Sheppard, and ride a LRT train down the middle of Sheppard for 45 minutes, then be forced to transfer at Don Mills to a subway, and then continue your trip again? All while the same trips can be done in 15 minutes by car?
A whole different plan for transit expansion needs to be thought out, that gets outer residents where they are going fast and in a convenient manner.
Steve: I agree with you, but note that for people going to the central area, frequent GO service to northern Scarborough would provide a direct and much faster route. This gets us into the whole problem of GO ignoring its potential role for travel within the 416.
I also must say I am troubled by so called transit supporters saying transfers at Kennedy or Don Mills are not a big deal, etc. Toronto became a transit success because it built a network. Forcing transfers where there does not need to be one, is not building a proper network, or making transit actually think about the transit rider experience.
Steve: I agree that transfers should not be imposed as if they are a trivial issue for riders because they are not. However, as I noted above, it is impossible to give everyone a transfer-free ride. Even people on the subway must change routes, and that’s no picnic in the rush hour.
The fact of the matter is Sheppard was built as a subway, and needs to be finished as a subway. Eglinton is one of the busiest and major streets in the city. It needs something more than an LRT train that takes 45 minutes just to go from Yonge to Kennedy.
Steve: 45 minutes is the time taken by existing bus service. The LRT was planned to take 30.
If this city is going to continue to grow and prosper, we also have to stop this constant talk of supporting current demand and not planning for the future. We did that mistake with the SRT, and now look where we are. Think big and have some vision.
Steve: The demand projections used for sizing the Transit City network looked 25 years into the future and in no case did the numbers come close to overwhelming surface LRT operations. As for the SRT, its capacity problem is that the fleet is too small, not that the line per se is incapable of carrying the demand. The situation is similar to that on King Street where there is considerably more demand than the service actually provided by the TTC (thanks to fleet constraints) can handle.
And above all a lot more people have to start thinking like a resident who actually lives in the outer reaches of the city. Think of the actual complete transit trip, and not just promoting a subway, LRT, etc.
Like I have said, an express bus in the western sections of Finch West which then use the highway for a speedy trip to the subway, would probably actually benefit people better than an LRT on Finch West. And reduce overcrowding and other issues.
But of course, we have not actually ever talked with residents out there or looked at where they are going to find out.
Same goes with the east. Come talk with the residents out here. Almost no one wants an LRT. They want a subway (Sheppard) which was already started to be fully completed like the original plan, they want express buses to key transport hubs, and they want better GO Train service.
Steve: You have made my point, one indirectly, about two things. First, the “Sheppard” subway does not go “out east”, but ends at STC. Indeed, it only stays on Sheppard as far as Kennedy before turning south. Anyone in northeastern Scarborough must still take a surface bus to STC and then transfer either to the Sheppard subway or the RT (or its successor whatever that may be). Yes, people want better GO service, but Metrolinx is not rushing to provide it. We wind up with demand for high capacity to take people downtown from the suburbs who should be on the regional rail network, if only it ran frequent all-day service and included lines such as the one through Agincourt to North Pickering and beyond.
Portions of San Francisco’s light rail system also go underground.
Steve: As do older systems in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. The point all of them have in common is that they don’t stay there forever, and returning to the surface allows a group of routes to share common tunnels while splitting apart to serve a wider set of neighbourhoods on the surface.
No, admittedly I don’t. But I do have to make transfers on the TTC everyday. People who need to go north on Bathurst from downtown have to transfer from streetcar to bus at Bathurst station. People who need to go east or west on Eglinton have to switch buses at Yonge. Every route ends somewhere. I would much rather have Eglinton and Scarborough be one route and eliminate the transfer. I hope that’s what ends up happening.
But I’m tired of progress on transit in Toronto being held hostage to people that are obsessed with Scarborough Town Centre when the Finch buses and the Yonge subway are packed to the bursting point, we have no (affordable) fixed link to Pearson that’s close to being built, and we might end up blowing billions on an underused (by subway standards) Sheppard extension (ALSO to serve Scarborough Town Centre) rather than addressing those issues.
Why is elevated rail not being considered here? The problem with LRT between Laird and Kennedy is that the through routing of the SRT with the Eglinton line makes absolutely no sense in this case, because of the bottleneck it would create. This means a transfer at Kennedy is required, and thus encourages people to drive on 401 instead. In turn this means that there is much more need for the Sheppard extension as a 401 reliever than there would be with subway on Eglinton East, and this means that the SRT should be replaced with an extension of Bloor-Danforth in order to get rid of the Kennedy transfer. Finally the subway portion absolutely has to reach Don Mills in order to handle all the demand from the Don Mills/Eglinton area, and the LRT needs to have Calgary-style crossing arms, Calgary-style stations and very long trains in order to get high capacity (1/2 of subway). Vancouver-style elevated rail would make much more sense in this section, because it makes little sense to tunnel through big box stores, yet high capacity is needed because the traffic problems on the 401 are ridiculous.
Steve: If you think the Eglinton line is going to reduce congestion on the 401, you are dreaming. The highway network has such a backlog of demand, not to mention the effects of future population growth, that the only thing that will really empty the highway will be gasoline at sky-high prices. The problems this will bring for transit puts our existing problems deep in the background.
The transfer at Kennedy is removed by through-routing the SRT with Eglinton, and so it’s not an issue for those riders. However, it will remain a problem for everyone else because you cannot through route everything with everything.
Just a note that the MOU that you posted above defines, in Schedule A, the Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown LRT Project as
That means that the City has already acknowledged that the crossing on the Don Valley may be on a bridge (whether an existing or new bridge) – regardless of what politicians may say.
Steve: Yes, everyone including Metrolinx has been quite at pains to avoid acknowledging that this section exists. They all want to talk of the valley crossings as if they are bound to go under the river even though the MOU says otherwise. Amazing how on one hand an agency can be bound by a document that has not received Council approval, and on the other hand can ignore an obvious escape hatch.
I also take the reference to Kennedy Station meaning that the new line may join up to the existing elevated SRT alignment (note that the definition goes on to describe the SRT alignment, so that reference to the Kennedy Station area does not refer to the existing SRT guideway).
Steve: Even in Transit City plans, the intent was to move the SRT (or whatever succeeded it) to the mezzanine level of the station, between the bus loop and the subway thereby greatly simplifying transfer connections and/or through routing.
As trial balloons go, this is one of those mushy ones that is rapidly losing air.
The way Stintz is quoted, it seems like the options are surface LRT or underground subway (as in, subway like the other “subway” trains). She doesn’t actually seem to mention the LRT going both above and underground – just muddying the waters a little bit.
It’s the article itself that seems to suggest any change would cause delays to the project – again, this is unlikely if the project were to continue as an LRT but with only the central portion underground.
So congratulations to the TTC Chair for making things even more confusing and still refusing to publicly accept that the “all-LRT” surface-underground-surface option for Eglinton was the best proposal amongst all the others.
Worst case scenario:
Someone argues (and convinces the province) that Eglinton should actually have been a subway and the MOU is modified to build the Eglinton line as a subway from Black Creek to Bayview (Christopher Hume suggested Dufferin to Baview some years ago) and surface LRT (but more likely buses) to the west and east.
By not extending the tunnel across the Don Valley and cutting it short a few kilometres, the TTC saves enough money to build the extension of the Sheppard subway to Scarborough Town Centre. They also improve on their promise to build subways by building two, not one.
Like I said, worst case scenario. I sincerely hope that we do not end up recreating the Sheppard Stubway, on Eglinton.
Metrolinx only talks about the merits of an all-underground line, and ignores its drawbacks. Metrolinx already started preliminary engineering work. Metrolinx provided questionable ridership forecasts to justify an Eglinton subway.
Yes, as I’ve said earlier, Metrolinx is eager to put the line underground.
Also, wasn’t Chiareilli hinting at a possible funneling of Eglinton surplus into Sheppard in this article, despite his refusal to commit presently?
Steve: The surplus, up to $650m, is part of the MOU, but there won’t be any if the line is all underground. If the basic plan is changed, I am not sure the MOU is meaningful except as a fig leaf to “justify” handing $650m to Ford for the Sheppard line. As I said elsewhere, the degree to which Queen’s Park and Metrolinx are selectively citing parts of that MOU, and ignoring the fact that Council has never voted on it, is quite baffling. I wish someone would give me a few hundred million on such a flimsy promise.
The vertical alignment (curvature and in limited places grades as well), cross-over curvature, and pocket track lengths have no provision for subway trains of any length. There’s more to it than station box lengths and platform heights (frankly, the platform heights are the easy part – it’s the track geometry you have to pay attention to). The geometry being applied on Eglinton most certainly is not “common to whatever technology is chosen.”
Anybody doubting the lack of subway compatibility along Eglinton should take a close look at the design plates published in the EA.
Steve: Thank you for reminding us of that. However, I would bet that ICTS Mark II trains would fit just fine, and would not be surprised in the least to hear such a proposal from Metrolinx if push came to shove.
I find it interesting that, within the past week, Stintz has made two pronouncements that could be construed as measures to save face for Team Ford where their preferred policy proposals have been found to be politically unsaleable — first, trying to snare council’s $5M additional operating funds and apply it to the streetcar purpose (as per Ford’s proposal), and now, a climb-down on Eglinton that, while looking on the surface to be a policy split with Ford, may actually be intended to allow him to direct funds to Sheppard.
On both of these matters we now have the potential for a more moderate or progressive Council butting heads with a Ford-friendly Commission. Who wins? Is the TTC an independent body, or does Council overrule them if they hold the purse strings? (We should keep in mind that the shoe could someday be on the other foot — a progressive Commission hamstrung by an anti-transit Council.)
Steve: Council rules when it comes to spending money. There are already policies in place requiring the TTC to obey the City’s bylaw about the way in which budgets are prepared and submitted. Also, the progressive Miller Council thwarted Adam Giambrone’s attempt to push through the Transit City Bus Plan mid-year because it would require additional subsidy that Council had not approved as part of a regular budget cycle.
Major projects such as a new subway line require approval to move from “below the line” (proposed but not funded) to “above the line” (funded) as part of the budget process. It is critical that the TTC not overload the future capital debt limitations of the City, although we could have a robust debate about exactly how high these should go. The point is that unless Council changes the categorization, the project stays below the line. The TTC tries to get around this by just dropping new proposals into its budget and saying “we need this”. There are so many projects (two large binders worth of details) that only the really big ones garner any attention. This creates creep in the capital budget, and that has resulted in Council (and the City Manager) taking a much tougher look at what the TTC proposes.
Similarly, Queen’s Park can spike a project simply by failing to put up a share the City might ask for. In the context of Metrolinx, it appears that all new projects (something like the Richmond Hill subway extension) will be built with Provincial money. The TTC can draw lines on a map all it likes, but other governments are paying for them and have the last word.
I find it intriguing that subway advocates always talk about people who take current bus routes that go across the city wanting to go downtown. But, when we start looking into the destinations of people who take the current routes they discuss (e.g. Sheppard, Eglinton, Finch), we discover that people are not going downtown on those routes but instead are traveling to destinations along the way.
Yes there is a need to relieve the Yonge line and build capacity to take people from north to south. But subways along Eglinton, nor express routes across Finch, are not going to do that.
Nor is Transit City type LRT, for that matter, but it at least recognises current destination patterns.
Steve: Transit CIty was never intended to address capacity problems in the core, but to look at improving the suburbs by beginning a grid of higher-capacity routes at moderate cost. Critics can argue that TC does not provide enough of an improvement in that regard, although how we would ever pay for as extensive a network of subway lines is a mystery. But the core is a separate problem requiring a combination of new and improved services such as the DRL and a recognition that GO has to get off its butt, improve service, and start seeing the 416 as part of its service territory. Recent studies about capacity problems at Union show that the problems of doing this are starting to penetrate at the provincial level, and that there is only limited capacity for better peak service at Union today.
If we are re-opening this, and putting things back on the table again, hopefully one of the councillors pushes to re-instate the cancelled SRT (Eglinton Crosstown) extension to Sheppard/Markham (and maybe even Malvern).
Forcing all that traffic from the north, to bottleneck across the 401, to get to the end of the SRT seems to be a waste, and we’ve been talking about this relatively modest extension for what … nearly 30 years?
Unless they can coordinate the opening of the Sheppard LRT with the Sheppard subway extension (to avoid an intermediate truncated bus service arrangement), I think they’ll just go with Finch instead, since there are no conflicting plans there. I wonder if a 2 km subway extension can be built in 2 years or less?
The catch is that Councillors Lee, Cho, and Del Grande might not support this compromise. Also, two Finch West councillors are almost certain to blindly vote against the Finch LRT.
This is so damn complicated!
Steve: Getting under the DVP is the real challenge here. It’s not just a case of digging a trench from Don Mills Station to Victoria Park (even assuming cut and cover and the associated disruption would be tolerated.
Also, widening Eglinton to maintain 3 car lanes/direction precludes the other component of Transit City: to create complete streets with bike lanes and pedestrian-friendly public realms. I wouldn’t support this compromise at all, but for a different reason than Ford.
About the Kennedy transfer. I am not against transfers. I am against the Kennedy Transit, and the possible Don Mills transfer, because they don’t make sense. These two transfers force people to transfer in the middle of their trip for no reason.
Yes transfering from a north-south route to an east-west route. But not transferring on the same corridor, because we decided to use different technology. We have the mistake at Kennedy. Don’t repeat it on Sheppard.
You must be riding different crosstown roads than I do. I ride Finch, Sheppard, York Mills, etc. And a good half to over half of riders are destined to the subway and then usually downtown or somewhere else along the Yonge line.
Yes people get on and off along the route. But a huge number of riders are destined to the subway.
This is why Toronto’s crosstown bus routes have such good ridership. Because they act as feeder buses to the subway (mostly for downtown commuters), and also as local crosstown buses.
That being said, usually over half of riders on these buses are destined to the subway. This is supported by presentation boards at the TC open houses, and by books on the subject.
In fact I remember at the Sheppard open house for TC, they had a stat that something like 65% of Sheppard bus riders are destined to downtown Toronto.
The fact is transit ridership without downtown Toronto being a destination would be pretty low in suburban Toronto.
I use buses to go across town. But most people I know who live out here in the east just drive to locations along Sheppard and other major streets like Finch. The reason? Because you can hop on the highway with your car and be someplace in 10 minutes, compared to an hour with the bus (or Transit City).
I often take the crosstown buses in the evening as well. At in the evening I notice the ridership is even more heavily coming from the Yonge subway.
I also have a problem with the idea that projections show that there is not enough demand for a subway on Eglinton, etc. I would like to know what the TTC projections showed for the North Yonge extension. North Yonge was pretty much like Eglinton. Look at it today. Beyond capacity.
Of course projections are going to be low if you are putting out a slow product that does not attract people to transit.
We saw this with the UBC line in Vancovuer. When TC style LRT was on the books, ridership projections. When they looked at using Skytrain, the ridership more than doubled. Why? Because the Skytrain will offer true rapid transit that can compete with the car. Now of course the projections for future ridership are going to be high.
Toronto also has a history of low balling ridership projections, and then we get stuck with overcrowded conditions after that.
And the worst thing Toronto does, is we think a subway or bus has to be full till the last station at all times.
Go to Europe and it is not like that. Trains often run with only a couple people on board at the end stations. And people even get seats during periods where here in Toronto you can’t get one. And that is because they have more lines, more service, and the don’t think its a waste to provide a good product.
I have to say Steve your quoted travel time of 30 minutes from Yonge to Kennedy is bad. That is in no way much faster than the current bus, and who is going to put up with that if they have a choice? That’s the problem with transit in Toronto at the moment. We have good frequency, etc. But we don’t have enough true rapid transit to get people where they need to go.
Steve: The scheduled trip time today on 34 Eglinton East from Yonge to Kennedy is 42 minutes.
This is just a scheme to pay for Sheppard, but I find it ironic that the LRT supporters won’t even compromise on that.
If the line goes back to surface LRT, the money saved should be used to take it to Pearson. That $2B shouldn’t go into Sheppard or Finch. In fact, I believe the western leg to Pearson is more important than finishing it to Kennedy first. What happens to the SRT? … who knows.
I doubt surface LRT will happen though. Metrolinx wants a fully grade-separated line, and you may end up seeing an ICTS subway on this route. If the route is entirely underground, I’m sure you will agree that LRT technology is not the correct choice. If, on the other hand, it goes to conventional subway, then I can live with the transfer at Kennedy.
As for your earlier comment about it not being possible to through route everything with everything, I was recently surprised to discover that BART’s Oakland wye is a 3-brancher almost identical to ours, and works with very tight scheduling constraints. They through-route in all directions, just like we did. It wouldn’t make sense in our case, but in theory you could route SRT-Danforth, SRT-Eglinton, and Danforth-Eglinton, if they all used the same technology, and the proper curves were in place — although I doubt anyone would find the Danforth-Eglinton route useful.
All I would like people ho are blindly advocating median LRT to think about, is the right for a minute.
So we extend this thing to Pearson Airport.
Do you really think people are going to board a surface LRT on Eglinton, and take a leisurely 60 minute ride along Eglinton, to get to the airport?
People want to get to where they are going fast. I don’t think in any other world city, people are advocating extending what really is a limited stop streetcar line to the airport.
Portland may count. But even their line to the airport uses almost full grade separated track just like an elevated subway, once outside the downtown Portland corridor.
Steve: The expected trip time from Eglinton Station (Yonge Street) to the airport is 48 minutes. It is extremely unlikely that the west end of the Eglinton line will be built if it has to be underground because this part of the line has comparatively low demand. Indeed some here have pointed out that at one time a BRT link to the airport was thought to be sufficient.
If someone is making a trip to the airport, there is already a strong incentive to drive unless you live close to a transit service that goes there. I’m at Broadview Station, and would have to take the subway to Kipling followed by the Airport Rocket. That’s at least 25 minutes on the subway, plus the transfer and wait at Kipling, plus 20 minutes on the bus. For someone coming from further east it would be even worse. I won’t even mention schlepping my luggage to and around on the TTC.
The proposed subway-surface running time from Yonge to Kennedy is 30 minutes. The distance from Yonge to Leslie is about 4 km, and it’s another 7km to Kennedy. At the proposed 30 kmh speed for underground operation, that means Yonge to Leslie (just east of the Leaside Portal) would be about 8 minutes with the surface trip from there to Kennedy taking 22. If the section from Leaside to Kennedy were underground, it will take only 14. Note that the time saved by through routing the SRT with Eglinton is common to either alignment and cannot be counted in deciding between modes. Indeed, from my own experience at transferring, this transfer saving would contribute a good chunk to the overall trip reduction.
There are two issues here. First, there is no fast east-west transit across the entire width of the 416 to provide a backbone for trips north of the 401. The Sheppard Subway only addresses about 1/3 of this distance. Second, the airport, like downtown, attracts passengers from all over the GTA. Building one line to it will not handle all of the demand, and if we can get more “spokes” into that hub, the better. Transit City included both the Eglinton and eventually the Finch lines, both of which connect with the north-south subway system. Service from the west will be by BRT.
If we are going to include the airport in the debate about Eglinton, we really must ask if a tunneled line will ever be extended that far west.
I also feel that LRT advocates have to be honest with Toronto residents about what we would really get. When you people say LRT to Toronto people, they think of Calgary and Edmonton where fully grade separated LRT lines with wide station spacing, provide a subway level of service. But that is not the LRT we would be getting in Toronto, unless you want to put up chain link fences on Eglinton, and have railway crossing arms.
This is kinda what we would get with Transit City. Just watching that video makes me antsy, the trains are so slow. I have been on the Phoenix LRT to. Not bad, but its slow.
Would the completion of the Eglinton LRT ahead of Sheppard have any effect on the ridership of Ford’s Sheppard subway (assuming he even knows how many riders are projected)? It seems to me that some form of rapid transit in an area that is served by buses would attract more riders because it is faster and more reliable if you are going enough distance to justify getting to it.
Steve: My suspicion is that Eglinton would draw some riding, but a lot would depend on the organization of the feeder services and the timing of each line’s opening. For example, if Sheppard goes only to Victoria Park, but is still fed by buses from the east, and opens five years before Eglinton, there will be a well-established pattern. If Sheppard goes to STC, there still remains the question of whether service from Sheppard East will feed in at STC or at Kennedy. Then there’s the question of where people are going and whether a route via Sheppard or via Eglinton makes more sense for them. Finally, if GO ever gets around to running better service in northern Scarborough, this could change the pattern of some long-haul trips (by analogy to people in southern Etobicoke who travel from Mimico Station to downtown rather than via the BD subway). There are too many variables to answer this question definitively.
One important point regardless of the scenario is that transit riders don’t behave like motorists and regard a trip “out of their way” as a trivial thing as a motorist would with the siren call of an expressway ramp. I am always amazed at the degree to which speed in part of a journey gives a motorist the impression that they are saving time. A comparable problem exists when talking to them about “rapid” transit.
Stintz was on the CBC this morning. I didn’t listed to the whole piece, but as I heard it her position was to build the curtailed Transit City version of Eglinton and somehow persuade the province to transfer $2b of the budget to Sheppard.
Steve: The interview is available online. I’m not sure that she was advocating $2b for Sheppard because, for starters, she was not sure that much would be freed up from Eglinton. Whether this scheme does anything more than getting Sheppard as far east as Victoria Park remains to be seen. First off, though, Council needs to decide what it wants, and for that it needs some hard, reliable information about alternatives, something completely missing from debates over the past year.
Last I heard, European debt is starting to become a problem. In Canada, it is not like that.
Sheppard, if they do try to extend it, will almost certainly not be under construction by the next municipal election. Worth keeping in mind.
I agree that ICTS would probably fit, but it’s of no value since it has a much smaller capacity compared to conventional subway for comparable investment and higher operating costs.
Steve: That has never stopped advocates of ICTS before. They will tell us that it can handle whatever capacity demands Eglinton will throw at it.
Steve if the Eglinton line does reappear on the surface, and is extended to the west, would the TTC/Metrolinx revisit the alignment? If I recall they wanted a centre street alignment and I don’t remember seeing anything about a side of street alignment. Having lived in Edmonton for 2.5 years and ridden the C-train many times on trips to Calgary I found the side of street arrangment in use out west preferable to centre of the street alignment here in Toronto. On the LRT extension from the Health Sciences Centre in Edmonton they even grade separated major arterials while leaving smaller side streets at grade. I can’t imagine this would be difficult since Eglinton West from the Humber onwards is essentially a “dead” street with next to nothing fronting onto it.
Thanks for the reply to my post above about the DRL, and please keep up the great work/advocacy.
Steve: Some of the property on the north side of Eglinton is now being transferred to Build Toronto as potential development sites. This will not be available as a continuous strip for the LRT. On the south side, where for parts of the line there are fewer sidestreets, a side-of-road alignment might work, but the TTC is dead set against it because of how the intersections would operate. They don’t want to have the possibility of traffic stopping for a red light while on the tracks at what a motorist would perceive as the “start” of the intersection (among other concerns).
The entire design of intersections on this part of the route in the EA is a mess and is responsible for some of the negative reaction the scheme received.