The Missing Half of OneCity

Last week brought the excitement of the OneCity network announcement, followed by mildly supportive words from Queen’s Park and its agency Metrolinx, followed in turn by rather stronger provincial denunciation of a City that can’t make up its mind on transit.  Queen’s Park can hardly talk about consistency given their happiness to leap into bed with Rob Ford’s subway plan until Council gently reminded their provincial cousins that the Mayor had not bothered to ask for Council’s approval.  Meanwhile, delivery dates for provincial “commitments” drift off into the 2020s with the flimsiest of excuses about the limitations of an overheated construction market.  This is the same provincial government who talks about the power and capabilities of international companies just itching to work in the Toronto market.

All this kvetching detracts from two major issues.  First, once we get past the obvious conflicts created by proposals for the Scarborough Subway and the Scarborough/Etobicoke express services taking over the GO/ARL corridors, the rest of OneCity doesn’t step on any provincial toes.  As with so many of the debates here (and on other transit blogs), it’s the “I’m 100% right and you are 100% wrong” outlook that gets in the way of intelligent conversation.  There may be a role for the Scarborough Subway, although I am less certain about the proposed services taking on GO corridors.  At least we should get more information about the options and effects, not to mention defensible costs and demand projections (something neither the TTC/Toronto nor Metrolinx have been strong on in either Transit City or The Big Move).

Second, and at least as important, is the complete absence of money for improved service and maintenance, including a huge capital backlog on the TTC for vehicles and facilities.  The Ford era saw “savings” through cuts in presumed future growth.  A bus order for system growth was cancelled, and a new garage dropped from the plans.  The size of our future streetcar fleet was trimmed about 10%.  Who knows how many cars we really need given the strangulation of streetcar routes for service by the TTC.  Service growth in general was artificially depressed by changing loading standards to fit more people on each  vehicle.

These were all one-time fixes, fudges that got Toronto through two budget cycles while meeting the meddlesome demands of an administration for whom transit was just too much fat waiting to be cut.

The sad part is that thanks to two years of see-no-evil budgeting, nobody really knows what the true backlog in operations and maintenance might be, or what it will cost to put things aright.  Even if OneCity gets some sort of approval and funding, its projects won’t see a rider for years, and in some cases decades.  Should people who cannot get on the King streetcar or Finch West bus have to wait a decade for someone to address their problems?

OneCity is a plan for enhancing transit on major routes, but it’s only half of a network plan.  Most Torontonians will still ride on ordinary bus and streetcar routes for part or all of their journeys, and they are just as deserving of good service as those who will have new subway and LRT lines.  Indeed, even those who will, someday, see a new faster route should not have to wait for its construction.  “Coming in 2021” is cold comfort to someone waiting for a bus in February 2012.

If Council refers OneCity to staff for a report on costs and first-cut details of projects, we will learn more about the options for rapid transit in Toronto.  A long-overdue, informed conversation may actually happen rather than endless posturing for one neighbourhood or another.  But it will only be half a conversation.

Toronto needs to know what it will take to bring better service before we can build our rapid transit dreams, and what might come to many corners of our city that will never see a subway, LRT or BRT line.  What is our goal for these neighbourhoods?  What does “good service” mean to this newly enlightened Council?  How much will it cost?

These questions are just as important for transit’s future as contemplating the route of a new subway or the mechanics of a tax increase.  Council needs to ask them loudly and strongly as part of an integrated review of Toronto’s transit network.

Meanwhile, down the road at Metrolinx, a little humility might be in order.  This is an agency which, until fairly recently, did not even acknowledge the importance of local transit as part of the regional system, and still boasted about its high farebox recovery thanks to cherry-picking the most cost-effective services.  The provincial “investment strategy” must sustain not just the simplest, cheapest lines on the GO Transit map, but a wide range of services across the region including those provided by local carriers.

Is Toronto, is Ontario, serious about transit being a real alternative, about providing a “car-free” option to a much wider market of riders, or do they both simply prefer to hold press conferences with pretty maps?

The maps are nice, and the accompanying studies will fill yet more space in my library (or storage on my hard drive), but it’s the space and time in between that’s most important.  Riders will wait a very long time for some of these brave new transit lines to appear, and they deserve better than a walk to a crowded, infrequent bus route or a drive to a parking lot that fills before 7am in the meantime.

Toronto Council should demand that the TTC look not just at shiny new lines for the indefinite future, but that it address its real requirements today.  If the “new TTC” gets bogged down planning for the 2020s while transit continues to wither from overcrowding and underfunding through the 2010s, they are not doing their job.

21 thoughts on “The Missing Half of OneCity

  1. Population growth, both within the 416 and from outside in the 905 into the 416, will increase demand for more service. When Rob Ford picked the 10% cuts out of the air, I just know there will be problems, if not now but soon. Why did he pick 10% as the number? Did he expect a 10% reduction in population? If Toronto is increasing in population, not decreasing like in Detroit, service across the board should have stayed at the same level.

    Aging infrastructure, inflation, and population growth will increase the demand for public transit, maintenance, and other services.

    “Customer-service excellence,” Rob said. I don’t see it.


  2. Steve,

    You make some very good points in this. I view the One City Plan and it’s accompanying map as a brilliant strategic political move. The only tax that Rob Ford approves of is Property Tax. What will happen if One City increases property tax to cover transit expansion and Ford needs to increase it to cover the 2013 or 2014 operating budget? Even the smallest increase put on top of the transit increase will seem huge and people will see him as the politician who made promises he didn’t keep. One City goes after the only funding Ford has. It’s an “in your face” offensive move.

    The actual map — which is extremely political — offers almost every councilor something that benefits their ward. While it does not address the most important subway line for (the East-West City Subway Loop or the full drl line) it has a bigger broader purpose.

    I believe Toronto needs to raise a lot more money than they can with a property tax hike and I worry that the other levels of government will not come to the table — if they do it won’t be for long. We need to create a dedicated funding stream that will not be dependent on political will, one we can put in place that would be extremely difficult for any level of government to take down, and one that will generate enough funds to expand our transit system effectively. While I campaigned for toll roads during the municipal election, research I have done since has me believing the best solution is a 1% dedicated regional sales tax to go directly to regional transit expansion. We will need to combine it with operational funding from both the Prov. and Fed. levels of government.

    I tip my hat to Councillor Stintz for having the guts to suggest a tax increase for transit.

    Steve: I too have long felt that a regional sale tax should be the primary source of new transit revenues, but suspect that we will get some form of local property tax as well if only so that Toronto will have money to pay for local initiatives. As for the other governments, especially federal, we need to stop making every plan contingent on their coming to the table today. If most of the money short term is city money, fine. We will have the Metrolinx revenue strategy in a year, and some of that will come to “Toronto” projects like the DRL (whatever we call it) now that Metrolinx sees its importance. For Federal help, we need to await the demise of the Tory regime, but that’s comparatively nearby in the scope of a 30-year plan.


  3. The missing half of OneCity has got to be the missing western half of a DRL. Again, a rail corridor alignment is nowhere close to where commuters through downtown actually want to go. Queen Street from Roncesvalles to Carlaw would be an ideal alignment; and before anyone cites King as having more density, one only need look at large swaths of Bloor-Danforth or the planned tunneled segmment of the Eglinton line as examples where mixed commercial-residential land use around subway stops works. And as the Sheppard Line proves, residential condos at a subway stop doesn’t guarantee ridership.

    I’m curious also about through-routing LRT at Kennedy now that the SRT corridor under OneCity would be defunct. Couldn’t it be made such that one line runs continuously from Pearson Airport to U of T Scarborough, perhaps if not fully grade separated have some of busier stations be trenched underneath intersections? At any rate I hope nothing irreversible happens until everything’s thoroughly considered.

    Steve: I think a “DRL west” under Roncesvalles is madness, but we have beaten that issue to death here before, and as I said in the post, I don’t want to rehash that now. A related problem, because this is a “Toronto” plan, is that rather than looking at how GO might become more “local” within the 416, OneCity simply ignores it and proposes highjacking two of its corridors. If we are doing true network planning, we need to think about what GO will be in 10 years, 20 years, possibly a long enough time for GO/Metrolinx to stop pretending that inside-416 traffic isn’t their concern.

    As for the lack of through-routing at Kennedy, that’s a TTC operations desire. It’s rather odd that such an important decision is taken without bothering to at least ask the TTC Board or Council what they think about it. Metrolinx is rather selective about when and who it asks for advice and consent to plan changes.


  4. The ARL must stay as an express service. Turning it into a local line will discourage J and F class passengers. Which cities have a local line going into an airport? The Hong Kong Airport Express lines takes 25 minutes to reach Central. Taking a local train from Narita Airport to Tokyo will take hours. The same is true from Kansai Airport to Osaka Station.

    One does not understand how important the ARL is in attracting J and F class passengers. In addition, this will become a valuable asset for the Star Alliance. First, the ARL terminates at Terminal 1. This is a Star Alliance fortress hub. Passengers travelling onwards to Terminal 3 (Skyteam and Oneworld) must switch for the LINK train. That will become a 20 minutes disadvantage for the non Star Alliance traveller.

    The ARL also opens up additional flexibility for the business traveller. An example will illustrate this clearly. A lawyer finishes a meeting at 5PM at an office say at Yonge and Bloor. It will take him 30 minutes to reach Union Station. From there, he may wait 20 minutes for the next ARL train to YYZ and perhaps check in his luggage. So, he departs Union at 5:50 PM. The ride will take him to Terminal 1 by 6:15 PM. Since he is a J or F class passenger, he will be promptly screened. By 7:00 PM, this lawyer will be at the Maple Leaf Lounge finishing up some work before boarding AC787 for LAX.

    Why is AC787 so important? It is also codeshared with UA, NH, TG, SQ, OZ and CA. From LAX, the Star Alliance is able to take this lawyer to major Asian capitals before the start of business.

    LAX-PEK CA984 01:40 05:20 +1
    LAX-HND NH1005 01:00 05:00 +1
    LAX-ICN OZ203 00:20 05:00 +1

    Without the ARL, one would have to leave work a little bit early to account for the traffic jams and delays. This is not good for productivity. With Oneworld and Skyteam, one would have to wait until the next day and arrive at the destination in the afternoon. This is not condusive for business. So, a $20 ticket on the ARL is a worthwhile expense. In business, being able to leave the work day as scheduled and arrive before the start of the next work day is the rationale for a J or F class ticket.

    Let’s take a look at Europe. The same lawyer arriving at YYZ at 6:15 PM has the following options to reach Europe before the start of business.

    YYZ-FRA LH471 18:40 8:20 +1
    YYZ-CDG AC880 20:40 9:45 +1
    YYZ-LHR AC848 20:40 8:35 +1

    This type of connections is what Toronto needs to become an important international city. For passengers needing an express connection downtown, the Eglinton Crosstown nor a local ARL will work.

    Steve: Please note that I am publishing this detailed note only because someone earlier in the thread, in effect, asked for it. All that said, my feeling about the ARL and the arguments above is that there are economic problems for the city far more important than the types of trips and travellers described here.


  5. @ Benny Cheung

    This is shocking – you mean that without a new airport express service, fat cats coming to Toronto might not be able to make their perfect connections to arrive in Hong Kong for the next business day? Or at least, they might have to keep doing what they’ve always done and take cabs? Quel horreur!

    If your argument is that the ARL should be built because Star Alliance needs another big subsidy to cater to its elite customers, good luck. If the airlines/airport could attract many more of those uber-valuable J/F ticket holders with an ARL in place, why aren’t they chipping in for the cost?

    No matter how you slice it, this amounts to another white elephant catering to the proverbial 1%, with everyone else left to settle for the 192 Airport Rocket or paying through the nose for parking.


  6. @Benny’s scenario has one or two fatal flaws.

    His mythical lawyer finishes a meeting at 5pm and thanks to the ARL will arrive at Terminal 1 at 6:15. The fare will be $20.00 (such an optimist) after schlepping an overnight bag to Union Station (on the first subway car to come along no doubt). If our legal beagle has to fly from Terminal 3, that’ll be another 20 minutes via the LINK train.

    It’s hard to believe that a limo couldn’t get the lawyer from a downtown office to Pearson in less than 75 minutes – even in rush hour. If the lawyer has a friend or two, significant savings would be realized in both money and sheer bag carrying effort. If a Terminal 3 destination is needed – all the better. These people are used to travelling in style. Bag carrying doesn’t fit the equation unless time savings are significant.

    The ARL was a promise implied in the Pan Am games submission. The province therefore has to keep its word. After the games are over, it will be a white elephant until more stations are installed along the way, fares are lowered and it becomes a true downtown relief line.


  7. Steve

    We live near the West Toronto Diamond. Incredibly hot day yesterday.

    They worked all night last night, just as a cool breeze was coming thru the window. All night. Bang bang, clang, beep beep incessantly, hoot hoot…

    Prichard said he would buy up houses if necessary. We plan to get the hell out of here next year (most of our neighbours have left) because it will all only of course get worse as the ARL falls behind schedule, etc. I feel we will have to lie or play down the massive grade separation for the next sucker that buys into this neighbourhood.

    Do you think there’s a chance Metrolinx would buy our house? They could use their massive idiotic PR to persuade some first-time homebuyer that it’s just great living near a mega project that apparently will benefit the 1% only.

    Thank you for any advice.

    Steve: I doubt they will buy your house. I bounced the question of noise from the supposed reduced level of activity on this project off of Metrolinx, and asked how they intend to deal with the effects along the Eglinton LRT project. Here is their reply:

    Regarding the noise from the West Toronto Diamond, the majority of our work is conducted between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Monday to Friday and between 9:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. on Saturdays. However, the Georgetown corridor is an active rail corridor and some work can only take place when trains are not running. In situations where work must be conducted outside of these hours, our community office makes every attempt to contact as many people as possible in the surrounding area. Metrolinx apologizes for any inconvenience such situations may cause.

    For the Toronto LRT projects we will comply with the City’s municipal noise by-laws. We will seek exemptions to allow work outside of the regular noise periods to minimize the duration of disruption to transit, roads, businesses and communities. Construction contracts will include detailed specifications on minimizing construction noise, in accordance with municipal and provincial standards.

    Through our community liaison offices, we will work proactively and cooperatively with local BIA’s, business groups and communities to provide notices of upcoming activities and construction updates and we will work to minimize any potential construction impacts.

    The bit about exemptions from the regular noise periods to avoid other disruptions begs an interesting question of “whose disruption” is more important. It will be interesting to see how active and effective ward Councillors will be in ensuring that the interests of all parties are respected.


  8. @Raymond Lawlor

    I’m a business traveller and most definitely NOT a fat cat. Like I tell my friends, I am a commuter, my commute is just a little longer than most. Many of us don’t have the luxury of working close to our families and friends. We aren’t the uber-rich, we’re the uber-commuters and we value good transport options to get to work as much as everyone else does. I think the problem with the ARL vs. Local service debate is that we are having it at all. It’s not either/or. We should have both, like they do in many cities around the world.

    Now, in a world of limited money, should we have the ARL before we have a local service? I don’t think so. I think that the full Eglinton LRT to Pearson should have been funded before the ARL but that ship has sailed. But, I do think we should have both. When I land at LHR I can pull out my Oyster Card and take the tube or pull out my Heathrow Express app and take it to Paddington depending on where I need to be and when I need to be there and the cost of each option. It’s not much different than when I’m at Kipling and make a choice between taking the GO train or the subway to get into the city.


  9. The current situation is extremely disappointing. OneCity has little chance of passing city council in my view, a tax increase will be hard to sell and large parts of it need to be heavily modified in order for it to make sense. Finch LRT and Sheppard LRT are being pushed far into the future making them likely to be cancelled altogether due to the provincial and municipal elections. The Sheppard LRT is highly controversial because of the existing subway line, but funding for a subway extension is non-existent and delaying the light rail line until 2017 is laughable. This seems to be a tactic by the provincial government to kill the LRT and make Ford happy, while refusing to fund a subway. The only thing that is certain is that something will be built along Eglinton. GO train expansion and the DRL are obviously high priority projects but they aren’t being taken seriously.

    We cannot allow the GTA to grow by several million people over the next few decades and build thousands of new condominium towers without massive investment in transit. Virtually every new condo tower in the GTA has a large underground parking garage full of cars and every new condo tower will dump more traffic onto our congested road network. It is unacceptable that large portions of the road network like DVP, Gardiner, 401, Highway 7, etc. suffer congestion not only in rush hour, but in the middle of the day, evenings, and weekends, and that there is little alternative to these roads for many people.


  10. Steve, a question on the capital side of the streetcar renewal. Does the cut of 15 vehicles, bringing the total procurement to 189 cars, represent a meaningful threat to service levels as presently envisioned? I seemed to remember reading somewhere that given the much larger capacity of the new cars the present system could be operated with 160 vehicles or so, with the remaining then-44 earmarked for future growth and/or extensions to the network. Do these numbers make sense? If so I suppose 189 is not such a terrible number, but I am not sure of the arithmetic.

    Similarly, the TTC seems to be sending mixed messages on whether those 15 vehicles have truly been cut or just deferred beyond the present budget window, with certain literature still referring to an eventual buy of 204. It’s certainly not hard to imagine the next mayor, or indeed the current Council, adding those vehicles or more back in as funds are secured. To your knowledge, will the City have the ability to do this in, say. 2016 or 2017? Or does the new 189 number imply an early shut-down of the production line for the downtown cars as Bombardier shifts to the Transit City LRVs?

    Steve: It is not clear whether the 189 cars represents a permanent or temporary cut because it was made while Rob Ford’s minions still controlled the TTC. The real question is how soon they will be put back into the capital budget along with various other cuts including a bus order and a new garage. The problem with equivalent-capacity service models is that this does not deal with growth in the inner city population over past years that the TTC has not been able to serve. There is a pent-up demand for more capacity and the TTC needs to address this now, not in some vague future.

    At this point, the TTC Chair seems to be preoccupied with drawing lines on maps rather then minding the core requirements of the system. With luck, we can get this changed by Council as part of the budget debates for 2013.


  11. Raymond Lawlor says:
    July 5, 2012 at 8:33 am

    “@ Benny Cheung

    This is shocking – you mean that without a new airport express service, fat cats coming to Toronto might not be able to make their perfect connections to arrive in Hong Kong for the next business day? Or at least, they might have to keep doing what they’ve always done and take cabs? Quel horreur!”

    Thank you Raymond. I am glad someone else finds Benny’s ramblings a little out of right field. With Benny nothing could be out of left field.

    I have been trying to find the total capital costs for the Georgetown South Project and the Air Rail Link but I could only find them for 2011/12 and 2012/13. I tried searching the MetroLinx website but they are champions at storing information under useless labels. I clicked on one that looked promising and the text was in what looked like a cross between Vulgate Latin and Spanish so I gave up.

    The costs that I have in millions of dollars are:

                2011/12    2012/13    Total
    ARL           25         77         102
    GTS          266        235         401
    Total        291        313         513

    For this half billion dollar expense what does the GO rider get? Not a whole lot before 2018 according to rumour. They might save 5 to 10 minutes off the trip time but they could have probably done most of that by getting rid of the construction. There will be no 15 minute rush hour service, no 30 minute peak counter flow service, no off peak service. There might be another train or two in the peak.

    Most of the $400 million being charged to GO should really be charged to the ARL because without it ARL could not happen. GO could probably run at the planned frequencies with very little being spent. SO Benny, we are spending $500 million over two years, (I can’t find the expenses before 2011/12) so your fat cat lawyer can get to Europe or Asia faster while the regular GO passengers have to put up with second class service. Come on Cynthia, tell Dalton to smarten up.


  12. Steve, I think you should speak with more disdain and bluntness against the Ontario Liberals as you have with Rob Ford’s first year. Because arguably they are just as dishonest and hypocritical about their intentions, just in a much quieter way than Ford.

    Steve: If you are implying that I have a fondness for the Liberals, you are far off the mark. Any positive feelings for them arise from the fact that they are preferable to the Tories. As for Rob Ford and his ilk, there is a huge difference in his open contempt for his opponents.

    Both Queen’s Park and the Ford crew have a fondness for creative accounting.


  13. Steve, is there any particular reason that you assume that the two GO corridor’s would be taken over by the OneCity proposal? I really see nothing in what little has been produced but rapid transit level service with fare integration. No, TTC operation would not make a whole lot of sense, but I don’t see any real likelihood such a setup would get beyond a line in a study dismissing it.

    I thought you were in favour of upgraded GO service? Moreover, this sort of S-Bahn style operation is absolutely essential if we are making any attempt to provide reasonable levels of service on a regional basis, or make any attempt to meet the targets in Places to Grow. Whether the proposal as a whole is well thought out, what is suddenly wrong with local service on the heavy rail corridors?

    Steve: That is precisely my point. OneCity simply ignores what should be a network-wide review of GO and how it could provide much more frequent service throughout the GTA. The OneCity scheme is simply a mashup of Jim Jones’ I-METRO-E scheme for the Stouffville corridor and desires by folks in the Weston corridor to replace the ARL with a local rapid transit line. The scheme is responsible for over 25% of the total pricetag of OneCity according to the pricing quoted in the OneCity briefing package. It does not contribute 25% of the value of the plan, and that should tell anyone that there might be a tiny problem either with the costing itself, or with the cost-effectiveness of the idea.

    It’s also worth noting that in Jones’ own proposal, he was looking at Tax Increment Financing over a wide amount of “nearby” land including the entire Portlands. This is rather like Rob Ford’s trick of scooping the provincial Viva money as part of his original subway plan during the election campaign.


  14. Rail transport has one advantage over automobiles. That is being on time. One can drive from Yonge and Bloor to Terminal 1 100 times during the day and each time the result would be different. The ARL train will make the same 100 trip within a plus or minus 3 minutes window. There is no traffic lights or congestion in general to contend with. It must be noted that when sitting in traffic, one can pay the limo driver any amount in lieu of the standard fare, but the limo must still obey the Ontario Highway Traffic Act.

    By the way AC recommends that one arrives at least 2 hours early before a US bound flight. So, taking a 75 minutes limo ride is cutting it really close if there is a line up at US customs line. We are talking about a trip from Yonge and Bloor to YYZ at 5PM. There is really no fast way to get on either the Gardiner or the Allen from there. This is not a flaw in the analysis.

    Name calling aside, it makes business sense to be able to reach an airport faster. Time not spent in traffic or at an airport lounge is productive time. Time is becoming so valuable that NH has offered helicopter rides from NRT to central Tokyo for their F passengers. The ARL should cost about $20 per ride since this was part of the Blue 22 proposal. I am not an optimist, but a realist.

    I have always said that the ARL benefits the Star Alliance might more than Skyteam and Oneworld (located in Terminal 3). Please try on Expedia and look for evening flights to the following cities: HKG, ICN, NRT, CDG, LHR. Oneworld and Skyteam cannot really fill this need. There is a reason why most businesses in Canada belong to either Aeroplan or UA’s Red Carpet Club.

    There is one fact that we must highlight. Y passengers alone cannot sustain a year around flight. Let’s use a typical example. AC001 flys from YYZ to NRT. This is a 10380 km trip. The Boeing 777-300ER deployed on this route burns about 15.36 liters of fuel for every 1 km travelled. This will take 159769 liters of fuel for the trip (about $319539 USD spot price). A Y fare will cost about $799 (on Expedia before tax), so filling every one of the 307 Y seats will generate only about $245293 in revenues for AC. This is before landing fees, aircraft lease cost, wages and overhead. Without cargo, J and F fares, this route would be a bust. There is a reason why there is no YYZ-BOM route. Airlines do not generally create a route without premium passenger demands.

    Let me throw this question out. If the Express ARL is able to enlarge the catchment area of YYZ, would that not be a benefit to Toronto? Since the ARL can connect to the VIA Rail Canada and GO network, someone living in Guelph, Waterloo, London would have a train ride to YYZ via Union Station in a much more predictable manner than taking a shuttle or bus using Highway 401. They will also not be be tempted to use DTW which is also a ride on the 401.

    Here is one point for debate. Why must the goal of transit only be moving people? Suppose it benefits others in ways such as increased property values or enhances a local business? Would people be in anger if Union Station is expanded with the Royal York Hotel indirectly benefitting from it?


  15. Let me throw this question out. If the Express ARL is able to enlarge the catchment area of YYZ, would that not be a benefit to Toronto? Since the ARL can connect to the VIA Rail Canada and GO network, someone living in Guelph, Waterloo, London would have a train ride to YYZ via Union Station in a much more predictable manner than taking a shuttle or bus using Highway 401.

    Here is one point for debate. Why must the goal of transit only be moving people? Suppose it benefits others in ways such as increased property values or enhances a local business? Would people be in anger if Union Station is expanded with the Royal York Hotel indirectly benefitting from it?

    Let’s use London to Pearson. Via Rail has this trip taking 1 hour and 50 minutes. Add in the transfer and ARL Express, it’s at least 2.5 hours to Pearson. Driving from London to YYZ might be unpleasant and travel times will vary, but it’s only going to be a very small number of trips that are going to exceed 2.5 hours in length. It’s almost as if adding 50 km or so renders the trip less viable. If there’s any “catchment area increase” it might be to the east of Toronto, but even that’s suspect.

    Also it’s not only a question of the numbers of people being served. Even with the mythical downtown Toronto lawyer who needs to be on AC787 – not only are there very few of these people (if any at all), how often do they need this service? It’s not like they’re commuting Tokyo – Bloor&Yonge 250 days a year. So the incredibly tiny fraction of folks who might benefit – they’d use the service how often? Maybe a dozen times a year? Great! That’s way more important than serving people who actually live in Toronto.

    As to your final question – the reason why transit has to be about moving people is because that is the definition of transit. If you only goal is to increase property values you’d get better bang for your buck directly spending on property upgrades. Even your supposed benefit of reliability in transit times isn’t guaranteed (e.g. going from Yonge-Bloor to Union Station at 5pm will not alway takes the same amount of time and Lakeshore corridor/Union station congestion issues are going to cause delays even on the ARL line). I really doubt that people would pay that much more for a Yonge-Bloor condo or office space lease just because there’s an Express ARL.


  16. Steve:

    A major theme of your original post – if I may paraphrase it for my own ends – is the importance of day to day transit for the average commuter. May I provide an example. I had to go to Bayview and Major Mac. I have a car, but am more inclined than most car drivers to look for a transit solution. The new, highly subsidised VIVA corridor service on Yonge and the subway could easily get me to Yonge and Major Mac. Unfortunately, when I looked at the YRT timetable, I found that the Major Mac bus (non rush hour) ran once an hour. I drove my car. Metrolinx needs to address this lack of transit mobility in the GTA.

    Steve: We have far to many routes where there may be a line on a map, but it’s almost impossible to use because of infrequent service of limited hours.


  17. Rail transport has one advantage over automobiles. That is being on time.

    Really. Maybe in Austria, where a 10 minute delay results in a profuse apology. But I take it you’ve never been on a train in Italy or – better yet – Via Rail. In fact, a few years ago I could actually rely on the London-Toronto train’s clockwork 20 minute scheduled delay every time I took it from Kitchener.


  18. Michael Greason said: Metrolinx needs to address this lack of transit mobility in the GTA.

    This is very true, and it is really sad that the media & politicians & so many among the public can get caught up so easily in transit plans for “tomorrow” … I guess, after all, so many people think that tomorrow is “only a day away” (and we need to think about building transit to get ready). But if you look at 30 years of transit planning in Toronto, you’d believe that when it comes to transit “tomorrow never comes.”

    One of the points mentioned about OneCity was the BRT (possibly BRT lite) proposed for Wilson & Ellesmere but for some strange reason, not Dundas St. west of Kipling Ave. This project was mentioned in the Transit City Bus Plan but its absence from OneCity shows that it is not a priority for Toronto or at least, for Stintz & co.

    This corridor is, of course, a good example of why Metrolinx & all stakeholders should be working harder to improve bus services today. There are many TTC routes that use Dundas west of Kipling. There are many more MiWay routes that use Dundas West of Kipling, to access either Dundas St. or Highway 427.

    Mississauga & Metrolinx are constructing the “Mississauga BRT” along the 403 which is a down-scaled verson of the Mississauga Transitway proposal from 30-odd years ago. The eastern portion of the Mississauga BRT (from Hurontario to Renforth) is under construction & is supposed to open next year.

    The plan for the Mississauga BRT is to take MiExpress buses to Eglinton & Renforth. Most of those buses are now bound for Islington Station. MiWay has them going to Kipling because there was supposed to be a new regional terminal at Kipling, with a BRT extension along the north-south hydro corridor (the one that was supposed to be used for the Etobicoke RT proposal from 30-odd years ago). That regional terminal project appears to be stalled.

    No regional terminal. No BRT extension down to Kipling. No BRT on Dundas through to Mississauga. No queue-jump lanes & transit priority on Dundas between Kipling station & the 427. No plans for bus lanes or even bus bypass shoulders on the 427.

    Even with the truncated busway MiWay is talking about significant service improvements.

    Imagine how effective a real GTA bus service plan (including inter-regional, regional & local service) would be. Perhaps Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion (who recently talked to the Premier about the need for improved inter-regional transit) could introduce the plan and call it “OneGTA” …

    Cheers, Moaz


  19. @Benny Cheung: the trip on a “local” ARL will be only 10-12 min longer than on the express ARL. The “local” ARL will have stops every 2 -3 km. We can expect: one stop between Union and Bloor; Dundas West; St Clair; Eglinton; Weston (at Lawrence); Etobicoke North; and perhaps one stop between Etobicoke North and Pearson if something gets built near that location. That’s 6 or 7 intermediate stops for the “local” ARL, versus 2 for express (which would stop at Dundas West and Weston anyway).

    When we consider airport trips that take 1.5 h or more, those 10-12 min are unlikely to be a deal-breaker. At the same time, the “local” version of ARL with a reasonable fare can benefit a much larger number of commuters, not just those going to the airport.

    Regarding your Union station and Royal York Hotel example: it is great if the hotel indirectly benefits from the Union station renovation.

    But it would be odd (to put it mildly) to redesign the Union station primarily for the benefit of the hotel, rather than the transit riders.


  20. Michael Greason wrote,

    “Unfortunately, when I looked at the YRT timetable, I found that the Major Mac bus (non rush hour) ran once an hour.”

    That is not correct, though I don’t know when this took place as some service changes came into effect on July 1. However, there is a major flaw in YRT’s online timetable in that it does not show the interlacing of branches of a route. Major Mac between Yonge and Bayview is served by route 4 and route 4A, but it is necessary to look at both timetables separately to get the full picture.

    Currently, between about 9:15 am and 2:45 pm, route 4A runs hourly (from Yonge eastbound at 27 minutes past the hour) and route 4 runs every 30 minutes (from Yonge eastbound at 17 and 47 minutes past the hour).

    It is possible to pick a stop and use the “next bus” feature on the website to see the next few buses from a selected start time. This will show ALL routes that service that stop, but only the next few from the selected start time.

    Steve: This is a good example of how badly designed information discouraged a potential customer from using the system. People should not have to know about the failings of the website or how to get around them.


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