Metrolinx Updates The Big Move, Announces Priorities for Phase 2 Projects (Updated)

Updated December 6, 2012 at 11:20 am:

A warmed over version of the Board of Trade presentation was given to the Metrolinx Board by President & CEO Bruce McCuaig at the Board meeting on December 5.  There were a few clarifications of note:

  • The list of “Next Wave” projects will not be nailed down until the February 2013 Board meeting following a round of public consultation.
  • That consultation will also include a review of the proposed amendments to The Big Move and yet another round of talks about potential revenue tools.  The meetings will probably take place in January at 12 public round tables, as well as a 36-member “Residents’ Reference Panel” doing “deep dives” into the issues at weekend sessions.  This process will report back to the Board in spring 2013.  (There is no info about how the 36 “residents” will be selected for the panel.)
  • It is likely that construction of the Downtown Relief and Yonge Extension subway projects would take place concurrently with Yonge to Steeles opening at roughly the same time as the DRL from Downtown to Danforth.  “Phase 2” of each project would follow.  At this time there is no commitment to going north of Danforth or to any specific route either through downtown or through the east end of Toronto.  This will be the subject of an Environmental Assessment for the project.
  • The goal of TBM was described by McCuaig as having 75% of GTAH residents within 2km of rapid transit at their origin or destination.  That “or” is an important distinction I don’t remember hearing before.  It’s child’s play to have lots of people close to rapid transit at one end of their trip — anyone who works in major centres within Toronto or lives along a subway, LRT, BRT or GO line will qualify.  The more difficult target is to have such access at both ends of the trip because “convenience” is meaningless if only one end is well-served.
  • In an apparent contradiction to the implied 1/3 local funding described in the Star’s article about Mississauga having second thoughts on the LRT project, McCuaig said that we cannot look at traditional federal/provincial/municipal financing models.  Presumably the Investment Strategy will address this problem.

The actual timing of the Next Wave projects varies depending on which document one reads or how one parses the announcements.

  • In the Next Wave handout (linked later in this article), this is described as a 15-year, $34-billion project.
  • The spend rate implied by another part of the same handout is only $1.2b/year, and this translates to a 28+ year timeframe.
  • Metrolinx, in an email responding to this article and my concerns about the status of projects such as the Eglinton LRT to the Airport, said that there would be a “Third Wave” in 2025.
  • At the press briefing following the Board meeting, McCuaig confirmed that for the “15 year plan”, year zero has been reset to 2012.  This implies that TBM’s original 15 year timeframe is now stretched to roughly 20.  Moreover, McCuaig hinted that projects started within the next 15 years may not finish by then.
  • Despite all of the delays, the year 2031 is still the target for completing all of The Big Move.

In previous discussions of the Investment Strategy, Metrolinx has included an allowance for operating the new facilities as they come into service.  This is missing from the $34b of the Next Wave, but will have to be incorporated into the IS discussions.  Moreover operating costs are ongoing while capital are one-time.

In all of this discussion it was amusing to listen to Metrolinx talk about revenue tools, code for the very things some politicians in Toronto find utterly unacceptable preferring to imagine that pools of private capital are available at little or no cost.

The presentation materials from the Board meeting are not yet online, but the hard copy version comes under the unhappy title of “The Big Move In Action”.  Deleting only one space would give a good description of the treatment of project schedules for Transit City by Queen’s Park.  The presentation ends with a page titled “Keep the wheels moving” and a picture of a stone wheel and hammer.  Ontario makes a lot of claims for its triumphs in transportation technology, and I can’t help wondering if this is an early product of the Ontario Transportation Development Corporation.

I mention this because Metrolinx appears to have embraced a new, quaint graphic style for their Big Move and Union Pearson Express websites.

Original post from December 3, 2012:

On Thursday, November 29, Metrolinx President & CEO Bruce McCuaig unveiled priorities for a second wave of “Big Move” projects at the Toronto Board of Trade.  Presentation materials from that meeting are not yet available on the Metrolinx site, but I was provided with a copy of the media package and have reproduced some of the material here.

A separate report on the Metrolinx Board’s Agenda for December 5 outlines changes to “The Big Move” itself to address changes of context since the original publication, and to bring TBM into line with the GO2020 plans.

The two presentations overlap, but are not identical.

The Board of Trade, November 29, 2012

The presentation lists several projects to be rolled out as Phase 2 of construction within the umbrella of The Big Move.  This announcement is fascinating for many reasons including:

  • Metrolinx has gone from Board approval of a process to prioritize projects to an actual project list without benefit of any public debate or any background paper explaining how the selected projects made the cut.
  • Changes in project scope are made without any public Board debate or approval.
  • Although specifics of funding are not discussed, Metrolinx now recognizes that a regional network cannot exist without local services to act as feeders and distributors.  25% of whatever funding comes from a future “Investment Strategy” will be dedicated to local transportation.  Metrolinx appears to be inspired by the Los Angeles example where a regional sale tax was “sold” to local municipalities by including a local funding component.
  • Not mentioned in the press materials is the likelihood that funding will not be 100% at the provincial level (whatever new or existing revenue streams might be used).  Municipalities will be expected to contribute, and Metrolinx hopes for a Federal presence via future infrastructure spending.  Indeed, if Metrolinx expects the cities to pony up 33% of the total, they might as well be left to fund the 25% worth of “local improvements” themselves.

This diagram is intended to show the scope of the next set of improvements arising from TBM.  It is intended only as a general overview, not as a definitive map, and where it conflicts with individual proposals, the latter take precedence according to Metrolinx.

Of particular note is the Downtown Relief Line shown as running from Dundas West to Pape via Queen Street.  The alignment for this far from settled, and in the project details, the map is quite different including only the eastern leg, and giving only a vague sense of the alignment.  DRL advocates should avoid reading an actual route selection and project scope into this announcement.

The “Next Wave” presentation is not yet available on Metrolinx website, but I have produced a compressed version of the pdf.

The projects described here are:

  • Brampton Queen Street BRT.
  • Dundas BRT.  This project will create bus lanes from Brant Street in Burlington to Kipling Station in Toronto.  There is no mention of the proposed Metrolinx “mobility hub” at Kipling, a project that is currently on hold.
  • Durham-Scarborough BRT.  This BRT will run from Downtown Oshawa to Scarborough Town Centre via Highway 2 and Ellesmere Road.  It is unclear from the project description how much of this will involve new, dedicated lanes and how much will simply be express bus service running in mixed traffic.  A related topic will be the disposition of this service while the SRT is under reconstruction, and whether the Durham BRT will be rerouted to Kennedy Station rather than dumping its load on TTC shuttles at STC.
  • GO Transit Service Improvements.
    • Two-way all day service will be operated on:
      • Milton Line to Meadowvale
      • Kitchener Line to Mount Pleasant
      • Barrie Line to East Gwillimbury
      • Richmond Hill Line to Richmond Hill
      • Stouffville Line to Mount Joy
    • The Lakeshore service will be extended west to Hamilton James Street Station and east to Bowmanville.
    • Peak service will be improved on all lines.
    • The $4.9-billion price tag associated with this project is likely all for capital.  The operating cost may come in part from the “Investment Strategy”, but it is worth noting that GO plans a 2013 fare increase in part to pay for service improvements in the absence of additional government funding.
  • GO Lakeshore service improvements and electrification.  The intent is to operate frequent service in this corridor at a level where it appears more like a rapid transit line than commuter rail, and passengers no longer need to plan their travel around train schedules.
  • GO Kitchener service improvements and electrification (including the ARL, now renamed as the “Union Pearson Express”).  Service in this corridor, at least to downtown Brampton, will see improvements although not necessarily on the scale of the Lakeshore line.
  • Hamilton LRT from Eastgate Mall to McMaster University.
  • Hurontario LRT from Port Credit to Downtown Brampton.
  • Downtown Relief Line.  This route is a prerequisite for the Richmond Hill subway extension.  The exact scope and route of this line are still under study.  It is worth noting that second exit changes at Donlands Station have been put on hold pending study work on the DRL because this station could be affected by an alternative route choice.
  • Yonge Subway extension from Finch to Richmond Hill Centre.

Notable by their absence is any mention of the rest of the Transit City network including:

  • Service to the airport via either Eglinton or Finch LRTs.  Metrolinx obviously doesn’t want any competition for its pet project, the Union Pearson Express.
  • The Morningside LRT extension of the Sheppard line south to University of Toronto Scarborough Campus.
  • Extension of the Scarborough LRT to Malvern.
  • LRT service on Eglinton east of Kennedy, Don Mills or Jane.
  • Support for Waterfront transit.
  • Funding for additional subway projects related to improved capacity.

The funding stream for the Next Wave includes 25% to be directed at a variety of projects.

  • 15% ($180m annually) would go to support municipal operations and improvements to the road network benefitting transit.
  • 5% ($60m annually) would be used primarily for the construction of more HOV lanes on major highways.
  • 5% would go to smaller projects such as walking and cycling networks, mobility hubs, wayfinding and passenger information, and support for fare integration on cross-border travel.

This spending level implies an annual rate of $1.2-billion and hence the target for whatever revenues the Investment Strategy might bring.  With a total pricetag of $34b, this implies 28 years for project completion.  This is not a viable schedule as it goes well beyond the 25-year “Big Move” plan window of 2033 (relative to a 2008 base in the original plan).  Additional funding will be required to compress this schedule, and that will bring us to the complexities of municipal and federal funding.

At the federal level, there is no entrenched infrastructure funding, and what funding streams do exist are already spoken for.  New funding anywhere near a $1b annual level for the GTA would require comparable funding for other parts of the country, and we are unlikely to see spending at this rate by a government focussed on deficit elimination.  Moreover, Ottawa prefers to announce project-specific funding targeted to its political aims, not a general entitlement to a large pool of money it does not control.

At the municipal level, the level of support for the Metrolinx plans may be soft if a 1/3 local share is expected.  Mississauga may back away from its LRT plans according to The Star, and the political environment to sell the plan will be much different from the Santa Claus approach to recent Toronto projects with 100% provincial funding.  Most of the Yonge extension lies in York Region who would be on the hook for about $1b.  The Downtown Relief Line is priced at $7.4b, and Toronto might well ask why it should contribute one third to a line whose purpose is to enhance capacity on Yonge for 905 travellers.  The local share would dwarf the $800m spent on the low floor LRV order which has been the subject of much hand-wringing over the pressure this creates on the city’s capital budget and borrowing capacity.

I cannot help seeing a pattern here comparable to many other transit schemes where dependency on three levels of funding guarantees construction of almost nothing.  In particular, priorities at the municipal level may differ from those at Queen’s Park and the network may not fill in as cleanly as the plans imply.

Another report from the Board of Trade session is an update on the current Big Move projects.  Like the Next Wave document, I have compressed it for this site, and will link to a Metrolinx copy when it is available.

Little in this document is new, and it simply consolidates current status information on works in progress.  One notable item still remains unanswered — the actual shutdown period for the SRT to LRT conversion.  We know that work will be begin in fall 2015 after the Pan Am Games, and Metrolinx has stated that they hope this will be completed in under three years.  However, the project is still described as “complete by 2020”.

Metrolinx Board Report, December 5, 2012

The following changes to The Big Move are proposed for adoption by the Board.

  • Two-way all day service on three route segments is pushed back from the 15-year to the 25-year plan:
    • Milton from Meadowvale to Milton
    • Kitchener from Mount Pleasant to Georgetown
    • Barrie from East Gwillimbury to Bradford
  • Add the word “electrified” to the Union Pearson Express description.
  • Move the GO Bolton and Havelock lines from the 15-year to  the 25-year plan.
  • Advance the eastern section of the DRL from the 25-year to the 15-year plan.
  • Shorten the Richmond Hill GO extension from Aurora Road to Bloomington Road as per the conclusions in the EA for this line.
  • Move the Oshawa GO Mobility hub north to the CPR Belleville Subdivision to correspond with the route of the Bowmanville service.
  • Incorporate explicit reference to the Board-approved strategic directions re goods movement.
  • Revise the Investment Strategy section to reflect its imminent publication in 2013.
  • Add a discussion of transit project prioritization.
  • Add the GO Kitchener service which is now in operation.
  • Remove GO 407 bus service in Durham because operations there will not be at the level of BRT.
  • Update the Lakeshore route to reflect the Bowmanville via CPR recommended alignment from the EA.

These changes, interesting though they may be, pale by comparison with the scope of the “Next Wave” announcement at the Board of Trade.  I cannot help wondering just what the Metrolinx Board actually does when the substantive materials are presented at a business conference while tidying up the map is left to formal Board approval.

The real challenge for Metrolinx will be the funding strategy.  Without a coherent explanation of why each of the Next Wave projects is on the list (and why others were missing), together with a proper explanation of the financial implications of an implementation plan, it will be hard to bring other funding partners on board.  Meanwhile, The Big Move’s Phase 2 threatens to become even more delayed than Phase 1, while Ontario’s credibility and dedication to solving transportation problems vanish.

36 thoughts on “Metrolinx Updates The Big Move, Announces Priorities for Phase 2 Projects (Updated)

  1. On the recent Metrolinx announcement about the next wave of priority projects, do you believe the Yonge Street subway extension should even be on the list, given that the Richmond GO line is steps away?

    This just seems like political pandering by Metrolinx, unless I’ve missed something that proves that the Yonge subway is the only feasible choice.

    Steve: Given the tenuous nature of funding for all of this, and the complete absence of background information about staging and cost sharing, the whole exercise is rather strange. The DRL is cited as a pre-requisite for the Yonge extension, and yet it is unclear who will actually pay for its construction, let alone for other changes needed on the subway network to accommodate the extra demand from the north.

    I can understand a need for two separate services — one dedicated to getting people into the core, and another handling “local” demand from points north to North York and midtown Toronto. We need to understand how improved GO service to Richmond Hill will affect the network as a whole as an integral part of planning the construction of various northern services. This is totally lacking in the materials published by Metrolinx.


  2. Regarding the recent Metrolinx announcement on the next set of priority projects, do you think that the Yonge Subway extension should even be on the list? I’ve missed the debate when it was first proposed, but with the nearly-parallel GO line steps away from the proposed subway extension, prioritising the Yonge Subway extension over other projects (GO electrification and expansion, LRT line completion, etc.) wreaks of political pandering rather than careful consideration of technical merits.

    Steve: Please see my response to the comment above. And, yes, I forgot to mention that the Richmond Hill subway is clearly a case of pandering. It is included, but is not likely as long as there are expensive pre-reqs in the way with expectations of local funding.


  3. Steve, re the Durham-Scarborough BRT: Durham Region Transit is currently implementing a BRT-lite service along Highway 2 and Ellesmere to U of T Scarborough (not STC). This will be in mixed traffic with some intersection improvements to provide capacity and ITS, and stop improvements. This project was funded under an early Metrolinx “quick win” to the tune of $80 million, although there’s no mention of it in the documents you provided. Service is expected to begin in a “soft launch” mode next September, with facility construction continuing over a few years.

    Given all of this, I’d assume that the Durham-Scarborough BRT would have to be an enhancement over this initial Pulse implementation, otherwise why list it?

    Steve: Yes, I am assuming that this is some further improvement. Metrolinx does a bad job of keeping track of the various waves of its projects and has omitted, as you note, some of the “Quick Wins” stuff from its status update. I am tempted to pull together a consolidated list, and it’s annoying that they don’t do a better job themselves.


  4. There is so much here. The issue of public input is key, but it is tempting to overlook this as long as one’s favourite projects remain on the list. Further to Old Wave projects like the Kipling hub, when was that put on hold? To the Yonge extension; it is a pander — but also a slap to TTC/YRT riders waiting for real bus lanes north of Finch (over a decade now).


  5. It is unclear from the [Durham-Scarborough] project description how much of this will involve new, dedicated lanes and how much will simply be express bus service running in mixed traffic.

    In some of the east-Scarborough–west Pickering area, new, dedicated lanes are physically impossible, since there aren’t meaningful setbacks from the buildings along highway 2. So maybe less “Rapid” than “Bus Express Transit”.


  6. Excluded: “Service to the airport via either Eglinton or Finch LRTs. Metrolinx obviously doesn’t want any competition for its pet project, the Union Pearson Express.”

    Firstly, I think we can all agree that most ridership along Eglinton or Finch to the airport will not be abstracted from UPEx. Hopefully Metrolinx will too. (Not least because there are thousands of people employed at the airport who would never use UPEx).

    Secondly, the GTAA is aware the limiting factor on the number of passengers at Pearson is how many people can get to the airport, not terminal or runway capacity. They are approaching capacity at the drop-off/pick-up ramps outside the terminals. They would dearly love to have more people (both employees and passengers) arrive by transit, so they can use their limited land for more profitable things than parking. UPEx will not make significant dent in auto mode share to the airport; LRT could. Consequently, they see LRT service to Pearson as a Good Thing. Hopefully they convince Metrolinx of that (or even help fund LRT to the airport!! BAA did/does similar things for Heathrow…).

    (NB: most people employed at Pearson don’t work for the GTAA, and most of the GTAA’s employees don’t work at the airport itself — they work at the offices on the south edge).


  7. What do you mean, “no public debate”? They’ve given it a Twitter hashtag! (Yes, that’s “#sarcasm”.)

    Sometimes I wonder if quick wins are better than big moves. Couldn’t smaller DMUs (just like the Union Pearson Express trains, minus luggage racks) provide some of the benefits of electrification at a fraction of the capital cost? London Overground’s Gospel Oak – Barking Line operates every 15 minutes with DMUs; that kind of service would be a huge step forward for GO.

    Steve: The problem is that peak period demand on Lakeshore and Georgetown will require long trains that are more effectively hauled by locomotives, or for very fast service, with EMUs. There is no point in swapping out long trains to run shorter DMUs offpeak.


  8. Again I marvel at the ability of Metrolinx to spend so much time (and presumably money) on reprinting maps. As you identified Steve the real crux of the Big Move, the Big Picture, or whatever, is funding. The investment strategy ought to come first or at least concurrent with grand schemes. Countless other organizations including the Board of Trade itself have published quite detailed reports on the menu of funding options (hard as some of they may be to swallow, politically.) We really need to see this vaunted Investment Strategy and then, more to the point, get politicians of all level and stripe to give a clear stance on it.


  9. It’s interesting that there will be so many BRT projects but there are clearly some details missing …

    First, as Steve pointed out, there was no mention of the Kipling mobility hub. And in response to Ed Drass’ question, I believe that the project ‘disappeared’ from view back in 2009. Their Facebook personality stated that the project is on hold and awaiting funding, so why miss out on this opportunity to revive the project? Especially with the Mississauga BRT’s first phase opening in 2013, and a bus lane included in the construction on Hwy 427 southbound between Eglinton & Dundas.

    As for the BRT lines themselves … the first obvious question is “How BRT will they be?” The Mississauga BRT (which was proposed as the fully-separated Mississauga Transitway) is now a collection of grade-separated lanes (Hurontario-Dixie), bus bypass shoulders along the 403 (from Mavis-Erin Mills Parkway), and painted bus lanes (Centre View Drive, Rathburn, Eglinton Ave). So it won’t really be an effective example of BRT.

    Queen has already been experiencing “BRT Lite” or Quality Bus service (depending on what you call it). It is certainly wide enough for separated BRT. Dundas has diamond lanes from Kipling to Dixie and is 6 lanes wide over to Cawthra, with room for a central turning lane too. But between Cawthra and Mason Heights it is only 4 lanes (with a +1 turning lane) so where is a BRT going to fit there? West of Mason Heights it gets wide again to The Credit Woodlands, then narrows to 4+1 lanes past Erin Mills Parkway until Woodchester Road (just east of Winston Churchill Blvd.). From there it widens to 6 lanes out through North Oakville, except for the section that passes over the 403. It will be interesting to see how they will fit a BRT through the narrow sections of Dundas, especially through Cooksville … and how they interchange the BRT and LRT at Hurontario & Dundas.

    By the way, this raises another question. With these 3 BRT lines, is it possible to consider building centre platforms and running the buses contra-flow? This would allow for a faster, simpler and safer construction period, with less money needed for stations (sharing 1 centre platform instead of building 2 separate side platforms).

    I ask this because, so far the construction of the VIVA Next BRT lanes on Highway 7 (with side platform stations ) seems to be a slow process. There is also significant congestion on Highway 7 as the left lane each way is taken over to have an appropriate safety zone. I noticed the same thing for the construction on Spadina, where the left lane was also taken over to provide a safety zone (as well as store materials & machinery in some areas).

    Finally to address another surprise: removing the word “electrification” from the description of the UPEx service … is not likely to win them many friends in the Weston Road & Mount Dennis areas. If that is combined with a shutdown of the Weston GO station … let’s say Metrolinx people will not be welcomed in this area.

    Cheers, Moaz

    Steve: The plan explicitly says that the airport service will be electrified as part of the Kitchener corridor project. It just won’t happen as soon as the folks in Weston want it to. It occurs to me that with this corridor electrified, the problem of having two stations close together (Weston and Eglinton) won’t be as much of an issue as it would with diesel trains as the penalty for the extra stop won’t be as great.

    Contra-flow BRT would work, I think, only if there were never a requirement for the service to merge into mixed traffic. Given the number of locations where “pinches” in the line may result in “BRT Lite” segments, the traffic control involved in flipping over to contra-flow could add a layer of complexity GO doesn’t want to deal with.

    As a more general note, I wish that Metrolinx would acknowledge the pinch points on various BRT routes and flag places where road widening is unlikely in their maps.


  10. I haven’t read the presentations, but news coverage doesn’t seem to mention anything about a Union Relief station in the west downtown.

    It’s my understanding that Metrolinx’s version of the Downtown Relief Line requires such a station, as would meeting long-term demand on the GO lines. Do you know if such a station is included as part of this wave of projects (or hidden inside the costs for any project that is)? I can’t see it being cheap today, but there’s not much land left along the rail corridor, so it may become impossible if it’s not in this wave of projects.

    Steve: This station is buried in the Metrolinx Union Station Capacity Study and is one of the issues regarding the alignment of the DRL through downtown that the EA must consider. Including this link tends to pull the alignment south through downtown and works against an all Queen Street version as proposed many decades ago.


  11. Regarding Scarborough-Durham BRT… having travelled along the Durham portion of that corridor many times, there are only two sections where adding extra lanes is right out. Those are Pickering Village (in western Ajax) and downtown Whitby. (Of course, the brave/cheap thing to do would be to convert existing lanes to bus-only…)


  12. Steve;

    Do you know what is included in the “capital costs” of the various projects that are “approved?” Do the BRT lines in Mississauga include the costs or maintenance facilities and vehicles. Are these included in the HRT and LRT costs? Trying to compare cost per km is very difficult without knowing what is included.

    Data that I have read from the US and Canada as seem to indicate that BRT lines tend to cost more than projected while carrying fewer passengers than predicted. It will be interesting to see final numbers for these lines. The Mississauga BRT in particular seems to be one that is in a convenient corridor rather than along a high demand route but then you never know how many people will want to go to the intersection of Eglinton and Renforth.

    Steve: I believe that vehicles and garages are included, to the degree appropriate, in the cost estimates. In some cases, existing vehicles may simply run on a new BRT alignment and so one cannot make assumptions. Some facilities are shared. For example, the Conlins Road carhouse cost is split between the Sheppard and Scarborough LRT projects. (This issue — of omitted or lowballed costs — was a big criticism of the original costs cited for Transit City.)


  13. This sounds like a pre-election joyous press release of existing needs in new packaging but without funding or dates. Whoever said it was right, I wish I owned the Kinkos next door to MX HQ! There is a very good chance that most of us will be dead by the time this stuff is done.


  14. Steve: As a more general note, I wish that Metrolinx would acknowledge the pinch points on various BRT routes and flag places where road widening is unlikely in their maps.

    But that would inject a dose of reality into Metrolinx’s world! Unacceptable 🙂 Actually, the Dundas BRT is really 2 segments … Toronto to Cooksville and Oakville to Erin Mills. I mean, if I were living in North Oakville would I take the Dundas BRT to Kipling? It’s just unrealistic.

    Well, I suppose they could add 1 more lane to Dundas in Cooksville if they got rid of the middle turning lane, widened 2 bridges (the one over Cooksville Creek and the one over the SLH Railway at Cawthra), and tore down a few buildings / tore up a few sidewalks. But Dundas at Hurontario would end up with a jog like College/Carlton at Yonge. But there is really no opportunity for widening past The Credit Woodlands until you get to Erin Mills Parkway.

    Robert Wightman said: The Mississauga BRT in particular seems to be one that is in a convenient corridor rather than along a high demand route but then you never know how many people will want to go to the intersection of Eglinton and Renforth.

    I suppose there are three reasons why the BRT is being built in that corridor:

    1) The old GO ALRT project was going to have a maglev line through that corridor;
    2) Then the proposal was to run a Transitway through that corridor shared by Mississauga & GO
    3) Finally, it became clear that this was the only way to get funding from Metrolinx … and to have some of the cost split with GO transit.

    It’s actually scary if you think about how the project has been downgraded over the past 40 years … although I suppose one might say that the GO ALRT was wishful thinking to begin with.

    Cheers, Moaz


  15. I’m not surprised about the omission of the currently planned LRT lines from the discussion. My guess is that they are dead if the Hudak PC’s are elected to government next year (with the possible exception of Eglinton).


  16. ‘Steve: The plan explicitly says that the airport service will be electrified as part of the Kitchener corridor project. It just won’t happen as soon as the folks in Weston want it to.”

    Are we to understand then that the UPex will be diesel at first and then, at some future date, it will be converted to electric? Is that supposed to make sense somehow?

    Steve: It makes sense to somebody who desperately wants to show off the UPex as soon as possible, and who planned it as diesel before Metrolinx realized that electrification was essential to their future service levels in that corridor.


  17. Both BRT’s in the East and West seem to end at the wrong spot.

    Ending at STC will force many riders to make another transfer after 3 or 4 SRT stations. This would make more sense if the D-B extension to Sheppard option was chosen, or if SRT was joined with ECLRT. Alternatively, the BRT could follow Kingston Road and Eglinton, but then it would miss U of T.

    In the West, would it not make more sense to Extend the B-D one stop to East Mall (Honeydale). This could be done at relatively inexpensively at-grade and it would be preferable to have the “mobility hub” closer to the 427. Why force these busses, and those coming down 427, to fight through extra traffic? It will be a mess like Yonge, Finch to Steeles, is now.


  18. I’m going to assume the orange colour of the Queen Street BRT is just a guesstimation for an infographic…because 10km from downtown Brampton will get you to at least Goreway, McVean if they start at Centre (I’m going to assume this because Queen Street narrows too much for them to have BRT in the core). The orange highlight makes it only go to roughly Bramalea Road.

    Steve: Metrolinx advises that those maps should be regarded only as a general indication of project scopes, not as definitive descriptions. I had already flagged other inconsistencies, and that, roughly, was their reply.


  19. @Walter

    I believe it would make more sense to extend the Bloor-Danforth subway 2 stops, to East Mall (Cloverdale/Honeydale), then Sherway Gardens.

    Fairview Mall got many new, unanticipated shoppers when the Sheppard Subway opened. Sherway Mall & the surrounding big box stores should be asked to contribute to this extension for this reason, as they’ll directly benefit.

    Sherway would make a far better Metrolink regional Hub, including for GO buses, than their plans for such a hub at Kipling Station. Sherway’s right beside the 427 & Gardiner, not 2km away like Kipling Station.

    Unfortunately Metrolink’s modeling doesn’t show enough new ridership for such an extension. My bet is they haven’t corrected factored the number of additional riders they’d get from direct subway access at Sherway.

    The other so-called drawback of Sherway would be the lack of additional parking. But Yorkdale Mall does well in allowing non-commuter subway user parking off peak, which would also have the spill-over effect of more shoppers buying at Sherway stores. This actually benefits the Sherway stores as subway users parking there will often buy from stores there.


  20. Steve said:

    “The presentation materials from the Board meeting are not yet online, but the hard copy version comes under the unhappy title of “The Big Move In Action”. Deleting only one space would give a good description of the treatment of project schedules for Transit City by Queen’s Park.”

    Chuckle, chuckle….


  21. I believe the Union Pearson Express Should have been called Union Pearson Unleashed and then the name on the station in Weston would be UP U WESTON which I am sure is how most of the residents of Weston, Mt. Dennis and the Junction view the attitude of Metrolinx towards them.

    It is good to see that they have moved up the DRL to match the TTC’s change of heart. I can’t wait to see their “Investment Strategy” report. I am sure will be FULL of useful details on how they propose to fund their plan. I am reminded of Rick Mercer`s line about how Canada had the best reports and proposal on High Speed Passenger Service. We are world leaders in HSR reports — alas we have no HSR but we do have lots of reports. He could have said the same thing about transit plans in the GTHA.


  22. “Deleting only one space would give a good description of the treatment of project schedules for Transit City by Queen’s Park.”

    “Inaction” doesn’t entirely describe Metrolinx and Queen’s Park. The phrase “All talk no action” is a more complete description — in fact, Metrolinx’s very frequent posts about how heroically ambitious they are is starting to annoy me. And no, I wouldn’t credit them for trying to advertise and sell their plan to the public, because the only advertising that’s meaningful is backed up by something tangible.

    (Disclosure: I haven’t read Metrolinx’s self-promotion TBM material; I’ll wait until I’m less vexed at them first).

    Also, as has been suggested before, there’s more to just “funding problems” behind the repeated LRT construction delays. Earlier this year, Liberal MPP’s wrote and signed a letter declaring their support for both the Sheppard and Eglinton subway plan over Transit City. There’s also Metrolinx’s over-accentuation of the benefits and positives of a 100% underground Eglinton line, whilst belittling the disadvantage as simply a matter of building less for now. It’s worth noting that Metrolinx “…confirmed Del Grande’s claim…” that going underground can save on operating costs. At one point, even Rob Ford wanted to cancel the entire Eglinton Crosstown, both the underground and surface portions, but somehow Metrolinx managed to continue work on the underground portion and willingly dropped the surface portions. The generic “screw-off, it’s our money” response to complaints about the second round of construction delays shows that they really don’t care about it if it’s not a subway.

    Call me cynical, but there is a repeated pattern of subway-nuttery from Metrolinx and Queen’s Park that just makes them look bad.


  23. Long Branch Mike

    RE: Sherway Gardens

    That’s not exactly a small subway extension that you are talking about. If the subway were to run to East Mall, then down to Sherway, you are talking about extending the subway from the tail tracks, past a condo which is in the way, along Dundas to East Mall, then turn south along Highway 427 to a station at (presumably) the north side of Sherway Gardens at North Queen and Queensway.

    The cost of the tunneling (because there will have to be tunneling under the condo just west of the tail tracks, and under the 427 and the GO rail line) will be significant.

    Steve: The last time the TTC priced this extension it was over $300m/km because of the amount of tuneling needed.

    The only way this can work is to build significant density next to those stations, with massive redevelopment (25-30 condo towers) of the lands at the south side of East Mall & Dundas, currently occupied by a failing mall (Honeydale), as well as a Food Basics store and the access to the Metro distribution centre on the west side of East Mall, PLUS the redevelopment of the parking around Cloverdale Mall (30-40 towers) plus the redevelopment of the parking lots around Sherway Gardens (15 more towers).

    The space is there. The will to develop isn’t there right now. Any money to extend the subway would be tied up with projects that are much higher on the priorities list as well … well, in theory of course. That still doesn’t explain the subway extension to the 407.

    Cheers, Moaz

    ps. a subway extension to East Mall & Dundas and then up to Bloor & West Mall would offer a better chance for further extension into Mississauga. Bloor has high density residential development all the way out to Dixie, and some large apartment / condo buildings west of Dixie. Bloor ends at Mississauga Valley which is a medium density (for Mississauga) area with condos & townhouses, and just 1km away from Square One and the Mississauga City Centre.


  24. @Moaz

    Thanks for the clarifying costs. It’s been a few years since I read the former study on extending the BD subway to Sherway & beyond to Dixie GO Train station (on Dixie just south of Dundas), which was published around 1993 IIRC.

    From what I recall, after the requisite tunneling most of the route would be on the surface, by using part of the wide CP right of way.

    I agree that Honeydale should be redeveloped for condos, as well as the auto repair shops on either side of it. The whole Dundas strip in that area could do with major densification, given it’s proximity to Kipling subway & GO stations.

    Admittedly the slowdown in the condo market does not bode well for such development in the next 3-5 years, but after that, the fact that just north of Kipling station a host of condo towers have gone up bodes well for such development.


  25. Long Branch Mike said:

    “Sherway would make a far better Metrolink regional Hub, including for GO buses, than their plans for such a hub at Kipling Station. Sherway’s right beside the 427 & Gardiner, not 2km away like Kipling Station.”

    But on the other hand, Kipling has a GO train station. A hub at Sherway will not have a train connection.


  26. Is it just me, or does the picture of a stone wheel and hammer conjure up words that suggest the exact opposite of “Keep the wheels moving”?

    Words like “ancient”, “monolithic”, “slow moving”, and “Neanderthal” come to my mind.

    Steve: It also might imply how long we have been waiting for that wheel to actually turn.


  27. Michael Forest said:

    But on the other hand, Kipling has a GO train station. A hub at Sherway will not have a train connection.

    Yeah, there is another good point. Sherway *could* have a GO station at North Queen, but then you would have to build a GO station. And while buses can get onto the 427 directly (using the collector lanes) I suppose there is an issue with having many buses traveling another 2km down a highway that can be very, very congested … especially if there is a rollover or collision on the ramps to the Gardiner & QEW (which happens frequently).

    I suppose that, if there were to be an East Mall station then the mobility hub (Subway+ GO + buses) could be placed there. In fact, if the Kipling GO station platforms were removed, I suppose that the subway could be extended past the condo without having to tunnel. And I believe there is room around East Mall to build another GO station.

    Long Branch Mike said:

    Admittedly the slowdown in the condo market does not bode well for such development in the next 3-5 years, but after that, the fact that just north of Kipling station a host of condo towers have gone up bodes well for such development.

    Yes, that certainly is a question for the next 5 years or so, but then, development around subway stations is probably not going to slow down since the cost of transport is going to increase and the convenience factor cannot be beat. Most of the high-density development “centres” in Toronto (Islington-Bloor-Dundas, Yonge-Sheppard, Don Mills-Sheppard-404, Yonge-Eglinton) are filling up, but there is room for at least 10 years of development at Dundas & East Mall, the neighbourhood of Eatonville.

    But of course, that isn’t going to be happening any time in the next 10-15 years or so. There is a better chance for the CP to give up the North Toronto Sub to Metrolinx so we can finally have that GO line from Mississauga to Scarborough that so many people dream about 🙂

    Cheers, Moaz


  28. I wonder if Metrolinx/GO Transit may give (or once might have given) a more deferential quality of consideration to building private track for GO’s rail service. I have the Richmond Hill service in mind. I admit to being unfamiliar with the transit-oriented landscape up there, but a recent news report suggests it’s not as well resolved as could be or might have been.

    Yesterday morning, December 7, one of the televised news reports included advice that a train from Richmond Hill had been somewhat delayed by freight traffic. The reason was not more explicitly described during my term of audience. There seems to me, though, that Metrolinx/GO has built grade separations where its northerly lines cross the CN York subdivision, so the most probable reason for delay would be concurrent occupancy of track along the Bala sub south of Richmond Hill, especially in the five miles between Richmond Hill and the junction with the York sub at Doncaster.

    Even were GO to acquire control of the Bala sub between Cherry Street and Doncaster, and even were that to be beneficial to GO for traffic control purposes, there seems little likelihood that CN would relinquish control of the sub north of Doncaster, reason of convenience of access to, egress from, their MacMillan Yard, and container terminals to the west, with respect to an abundance of long-distance traffic.

    That situation reflects circumstances on the Kingston sub between Pickering and Oshawa, where private right-of-way has indeed been built to GO’s advantage. I would think that a person journeying to work might highly value journey times that are consistent therefore predictable even if not as purely brief as one might fully desire.


  29. (NB: most people employed at Pearson don’t work for the GTAA, and most of the GTAA’s employees don’t work at the airport itself — they work at the offices on the south edge).

    There are a much larger number of people who work in the areas surrounding the airport in Mississauga, e.g. the Airport Corporate Centre area which is just south of the 401 (the much smaller GTAA Administration Building is north of the 401 and south of the airport), the Square One area and the many office parks and industrial areas west of the airport. Many of these areas to the west are closer to the Hurontario LRT, Mississauga BRT or Milton line.

    However, nearly all of these employment areas have Mississauga Transit bus service to the “Skymark Hub” (most of these bus routes continue to Islington), an Eglinton LRT extension to the airport would have a stop there, and this would be the main way of accessing these employment areas by transit from Toronto, so the Eglinton LRT would get pretty busy. This might also be a desirable terminus for bus routes serving employment and residential areas of Brampton.

    The ARL is useless for these people, because the airport terminal is north of Skymark Hub, so the airport itself is not a very useful location for a bus terminal serving employment areas surrounding the airport.

    Steve: The ARL/UP design so appallingly misses the major source of travel to the airport — its workers — not to mention those travellers who won’t conveniently originate somewhere in the GTA served by the line.


  30. Moaz,

    I love how you you said there is enough room to extend the subway without a tunnel – that was my hope all along. I found the Toronto Infrastructure Viewer to have pretty good detail and contour lines as well. When I zoom in to the condo on subway crescent, I appears that there is about 20m from the current property limit to the actual condo building, and about 16m to what appears to be a patio. It appears that there is ample room to leave the GO station along and expropriate maybe 8m to run the subway at-grade – though a retaining wall of some sorts would have to be built since the condo is on quite a hill.

    The million dollar question (actually more like $100M since that is how much is would save) is whether the underground parking for the condo extends beyond the visible footprint.


  31. Walter

    My cousin lived in that condo in the late 1990s. I believe that the parking does not extend beyond the visible footprint, and the hillside is simply fill to absorb sound and vibrations from the rail line.

    I don’t know what the actual distances are, but it seems to me that either way, a subway extension would go right to/along the property line of the condo, and some sort of tunnel or covering would be required, not just a retaining wall.

    Perhaps there will be something in the future. I recall reading how a condo was built above the Parkview Gardens end of the High Park station … so perhaps there will be demand to live above a subway tunnel in the future.

    Cheers, Moaz


  32. Bruce Ramsay wrote,

    “There seems to me, though, that Metrolinx/GO has built grade separations where its northerly lines cross the CN York subdivision,…”

    This has only been done on the Uxbridge and Newmarket subdivisions, not on the Bala subdivision. Freight traffic on the Bala coming down to head west at Doncaster does not interfere with GO traffic currently. I don’t know if GO’s extension to Gormley that is currently under construction will involve double tracking all the way down to Elgin. They are grading for a west track from the south end of the Quaker siding (just north of Stouffville Sideroad) to as far south (physically west) of the Leslie Street crossing (as far as can be seen since the line curves south here). With the construction of a new layover facility just south of Bethesda Sideroad on the east side of the tracks, it would make sense that freight traffic be separated from here all the way south to Elgin.

    The problem is with freight traffic on the Bala subdivision heading to or coming from east of Doncaster on the York subdivision. This must use a semi-manual switch to enter or leave the Bala sub and use the east track from Doncaster to Langstaff (just south of GO’s Langstaff station).


  33. I believe that the new LOGO is to either suggest that the problems can be solved by simple traditional methods and that they don’t require rocket science, OR they are trying to suggest that they have been around for a long time. I believe that their first employees were Fred and Barney of Bedrock Construction. No matter what, I like it as it is different.


  34. “I can understand a need for two separate services — one dedicated to getting people into the core, and another handling “local” demand from points north to North York and midtown Toronto.”

    I agree that there should be some improvement in the service on Yonge Street north of Finch to Richmond Hill, assuming the existing service is at, or will be, at capacity. But I wonder if it really has to be a subway, as opposed to BRT or LRT.

    I do wonder if this is another case of Metrolinx predetermining the technology to be subways before studying what technology is most appropriate. That subways provide the highest speed and capacity is no longer, and never should have been, the deciding factor.

    Steve: The Richmond Hill subway project predates Metrolinx and was pushed heavily both by TTC staff who were subway-subway-subway before Ford was Mayor with the encouragement of politicians in York Region.


  35. The subway wasn’t the only technology ever proposed for the Yonge Street extension. BRT was also proposed as part of the Transit City Bus Plan. Metrolinx must have either forgotten this alternative, or they rejected it for reasons I would love to know.

    Steve: At one point there was a BRT proposal north from Finch to Steeles simply given the amount of bus service there, but this was put on hold because of the imminent (ho ho ho) construction of the subway. This is included in the Transit City Bus Plan as one of the “Current BRT Proposals”, but it was not “new” in that plan. [See section 2.6.2, page 23]

    Although TCBP isn’t perfect, the fact that it has languished since its proposal in August 2009 says a lot about the commitment of the TTC at a political level to better service (along with the rollback of Ridership Growth Strategy service standards). When these at least show up on the table again for discussion as part of strategic planning, I will believe that the ghost of Rob Ford no longer dominates the Commission.


Comments are closed.