A Subway for Scarborough — Still Not a Done Deal (Updated)

Updated July 18, 2013 at 1:10 pm:

Ontario Minister of Transportation Glen Murray announced that Queen’s Park would fund 2/3 of the Scarborough Subway, an amount of $1.4-billion (2010$).  This was described a cabinet decision taken in light of Toronto Council’s request for a subway to replace the Scarborough RT.

Murray put the political ball firmly back with Mayor Rob Ford and called on him to fight together with Queen’s Park so that Toronto could get the remaining 1/3 share of funding from Ottawa in line with federal contributions to projects in other cities.

With the press conference still in progress, TTC Chair Karen Stintz was demanding that the province pay $1.8-billion even though the lower amount has clearly been settled on by the government and isn’t likely to change.  Yesterday, Rob Ford was widely quoted that if the full funding demanded by Toronto was not forthcoming, then the subway deal is dead.

We will see just how dead the subway is, whether Ottawa can be brought to the table with bags of cash, and just how serious Toronto Council was that their subway approval was “contingent” on better funding than they will receive from Ontario.  This will all be back for debate, without question, at the October 8 Council meeting.

The original July 17 article follows the break.

Today, July 17, 2013, Toronto Council voted in favour of a subway line between Kennedy Station and Sheppard & McCowan to open in 2023 if all the stars align.  There lies the problem — the motion included conditions that are unlikely to be accepted by various parties, and the decision is conditional on events that are unlikely to occur.

What really happened here?  Many Toronto Councillors got to do their bit for Scarborough, to wave the flag, to show that Scarborough is really part of our city because it will finally have its own subway.  At least that’s what the Councillors want people to think especially those voting in a coming by-election, or in the general municipal (and likely provincial) ballots in fall 2014.

A long series of motions was proposed, and those interested in the gory details can read them in the record of how the item was handled at Council.  Here is a brief overview.

Mayor Ford moved the second of two options proposed in the City Manager’s report (Option B, subways), but proposed adding a recommendation related to the tax levies that would fund the subway.  These are described in section B.(2)(d) of the report:

(d) Committing to a property tax increase over three years, dedicated to funding a Scarborough Subway, in an amount between 1.1% and 2.4% (depending upon the amount of funding received through Recommendations B(2)(a) and (c)), on the residential property class, and 1/3 of such a rate increase on the non-residential property classes (in accordance with current City policy), starting with a minimum tax rate increase in 2014 of 0.5% on the residential property class, together with the corresponding 1/3 rate increase on the non-residential property classes, with the balance of the residential and non-residential three year rate increase to be phased-in in the years 2015 and 2016.

Ford’s change added a new clause (3) which reads:

3. Notwithstanding Recommendation 2.d., City Council request the Deputy City Manager and Chief Financial Officer to investigate alternative sources of funding for consideration and report to the Budget Committee, such report to include options to reduce or eliminate the recommended tax increase in 2014 and further reduce the tax increase to .25% for the remaining phase in years.

Much later, during the voting, this amendment was defeated by a vote of 21-23 with the result that the original text, which does not include alternative funding and no/lower tax increases, remains.

In any event, the amount of new tax required will vary depending on how much money the provincial and/or federal governments bring to the table.  From Queen’s Park, the City seeks the full $1.8-billion budget amount for the SRT/LRT conversion project including inflation, and moreover the City wants an amount equal to the estimated operating costs of the LRT line that would have been borne by Metrolinx.

Queen’s Park has already hinted that only about $1.4b is on the table net of costs that don’t disappear with the LRT project, and net of sunk costs on design, program management and property acquisition to date..  There is no talk of indexing this amount, nor of any payment for operating costs.  Transportation Minister Glen Murray has done much sabre rattling, but has not sent the City a definitive statement of how much Queen’s Park will pay.

As for Ottawa, the debate saw an amount of $333-million move on and off of the table a few times yesterday, and I almost thought I was watching a game of Three-card Monte.  One moment, this amount was a federal commitment specifically allocated to the Sheppard LRT project.  The next, it was money the City could assign to any transit project it desired.  It took a bit for reality — the fact that Sheppard is a Metrolinx project, and the money is tied up there by contract — to sink in.  Finally, Council insisted that any federal contribution for the subway be “new money” (see Mihevc motion below).

Right now, the likelihood that either government will ante up is extremely low, especially with a drop-dead date of September 30, 2013.

Attempts to Amend Mayor Ford’s Motion

Councillor Joe Mihevc proposed changing Ford’s motion so that the approval is contingent on:

a. new federal funding equal to 50% of the net capital costs

b. provincial contribution of $1.8 billion (2010 $);

c. no other funding outlined in the Metrolinx and City of Toronto Master Agreement being re-allocated to the extension of the Bloor Danforth line from:

i. Sheppard LRT;
ii. Finch LRT;
iii. Eglinton LRT; and

d. no reallocation of existing City revenues from other services to pay for the subway.

This amendment passed 40-4.  Its effect is that the approval of the subway option fails if the senior governments do not come through with the requested shares of funding.  The amendment also prevents raiding of other transit projects or budget lines to make up shortfalls.

Councillor Mary Fragedakis moved to restrict the City Manager’s ability to renegotiate the Master Agreement with Metrolinx so that only terms pertaining to the proposed subway conversion are on the table.  This prevents terms related to other LRT projects from being adjusted as part of the process.    This amendement passed 42-2.

Councillor Adam Vaughan moved that the City Manager be required to bring back to Council any changes in the Master Agreement for ratification.  This was ruled to be redundant by the Speaker as the previous motion conferred direct responsibility on the City Manager.  A dispute over this ensued, but Council voted to uphold the Speaker’s ruling.  I believe that this was a procedural error, and if there had been a possibility of Vaughan’s motion being overridden by Fragedakis’ motion, then Vaughan’s motion should have been voted on first.  At this point the issue is moot.

Councillor David Shiner moved that the Land Transfer Tax be investigated as a potential source of general transit expansion funding at $25m/year, and that the provincial and federal governments be asked to contribute an equal share to this fund.  The motion lost on a 21-23 vote.

Councillor Paula Fletcher moved that the City request the provincial and federal governments to confirm their share of the funding by September 30, 2013.  This motion passed on a 28-16 vote.  Its effect, coupled with Mihevc’s motion, is to set a date by which both governments must respond favourably to the City’s request.  If this does not occur, then the conditional nature of the approval fails, and we are back to an LRT line.

However, there are two related events.  First come the provincial by-elections on August 1.  If the Liberals do well in these, especially in Scarborough, then the need to meet Toronto’s demand drops off.  Next comes the October 8 Council meeting, the next chance when this issue could surface yet again.

The next vote was on the new part 3 of Ford’s motion as discussed above.  This failed leaving the originally proposed range of tax increases in the proposal.  The remainder of Mayor Ford’s amendment was adopted 28-16, the same margin as the entire item (as amended).

In an amusing sideshow, Council also voted 27-17 on Councillor Michelle Berardinetti’s motion that:

City Council request the Chief Executive Officer, Toronto Transit Commission to arrange a third party audit of the sunk costs declared by Metrolinx, to ensure that such costs are accurate and valid.

The idea of a municipal agency marching into Metrolinx to perform an audit is laughable, and this probably won’t get far.  The purpose is to validate (and with luck to reduce) the Metrolinx clawback of monies related to “sunk costs” on the LRT proposal.

TTC Chair Councillor Karen Stintz tried to jump start the subway process by moving:

1. City Council request the Chief Executive Officer, Toronto Transit Commission to:

a. immediately commence the work to obtain the Scarborough Subway Transit Project Environmental Assessment approvals;

b. establish a dedicated team similar to the Spadina Subway Extension to deliver the Scarborough Subway; and

c. consider the financial merit of transferring the Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) at the completion of the tunneling for the Spadina Subway Extension to the Scarborough Subway project (at fair market value credited to the Spadina Subway).

2. City Council increase the Toronto Transit Commission Capital Budget by $10 million for 2013-2014 to commence work on the Scarborough Subway immediately.

This motion was ruled out of order by the Speaker as the Capital Budget was not before Council, and an amendment to it could not be introduced in this manner.  I would not be surprised to see Stintz bring something forward at the TTC Board meeting on July 24 to get at least a scope of work discussion going even without funding approval.

The salient point here is that Council’s approval is contingent on funding they do not yet have, and committing money to a detailed assessment is premature.

Conclusion

We now must wait to hear from Queen’s Park and Ottawa, preferably to the sound of sleigh bells, a merry ho-ho-ho and large sacks of cash dropped off at Nathan Phillips Square.  Without this largesse, Council’s conditional approval fails.

How Metrolinx will respond given their August 2 deadline is unclear, but this uncertainty is a direct result of Minister Murray and Premier Wynne’s lack of a definitive position and dollar value for the provincial contribution.  This should have been settled, in writing, well before the vote so that there was no ambiguity.

Subway advocates have little to cheer about here as their option depends on funding commitments in a very short time period.

91 thoughts on “A Subway for Scarborough — Still Not a Done Deal (Updated)

  1. Just out of (rather morbid) curiosity, how much of an extension (from an original Sheppard East terminus) would $600M of the city’s money buy?

    Since the monkeys on council are willing to spend that much of (partly my) money on the subway boondoggle, I’d like to know how much worthwhile transit $600M would purchase instead. (Aside from being able to fund the entire Waterfront East line, including the connection to Cherry and any extra cars, twice.)

    Steve: I presume you refer to the terminus of the Sheppard East LRT. $600m would get you the “Morningside hook” down to UTSC as well as the Malvern extension of the SLRT, or an equivalent branch off of the Sheppard line. You would probably get some change back.

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  2. Can’t tell if it is the best of times or worst of times to be authoring a transit blog. At least you are not wanting for material these days. Do you happen to know which councilors votes are most flexible in case I want to send a few emails now that the province has shot down the full funding request?

    Steve: You might try Cllrs Ainslie, Bailao, Fletcher, McMahon, Mihevc. This only gives 5 more votes to the LRT side and more are needed. However, I think those are the best place to start.

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  3. Did the City of Ottawa set a precedent in cancelling an LRT project only to resurrect it with an added cost of $1 billion for a tunnel under downtown Ottawa? (This seems similar to Toronto replacing the LRT with a subway for a $1 billion extra.) Did the City of Ottawa pay the entire extra amount for the tunnel, or did the provincial and federal governments chip in to pay for the enhancement?

    When cancelling the original project, I believe the City of Ottawa had to pay all the sunk costs including a contract cancellation penalty for Siemens. For Toronto, Metrolinx and the province are deducting $80 million for sunk costs on the Scarborough LRT? Why should Toronto expect an exception?

    For the Scarborough project: If $320 million the province is holding back is needed to redesign Kennedy Station for the Eglinton Crosstown, then why should Toronto expect it to be available for a subway? Is the Kennedy redesign largely a fixed cost regardless of whether it serves 2 or just 1 LRT line?

    Steve: I will leave it to our Ottawa readers to fill in the details on the financial situation there.

    Kennedy Station actually has to make provision for three LRT lines including Scarborough Malvern, even though that one is some distance off. Even without the SLRT, the scope of work at Kennedy will be similar because the Eglinton line is down at the same level as the subway. It cannot be shifted “upstairs” where the SLRT would have been because it is a centre, not side platform station. Some money might be saved on the elimination of the SLRT loop.

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  4. “Ontario Minister of Transportation Glen Murray announced that Queen’s Park would fund 2/3 of the Scarborough Subway, an amount of $1.4-billion (2010$).”

    Does he believe that the cost of subway extension is $2.1-billion (in 2010 dollars)? This is much less than the numbers we heard yesterday.

    Either the Minister is right, and then the required contributions from the City and the Feds are less than what was debated yesterday.

    Or, the TTC staff is right. Then, the provincial government offers much less than 2/3 of the cost, but for some reason prefers to call it “2/3”.

    Steve: The TTC’s estimate for the subway cited in the City Manager’s report is $2.3-billion (2010$). The province is close to 2/3, and I am baffled at why some of the subway proponents at the City seem to be throwing in the towel without going to the feds. Possibly they already know that well is dry, but if so, we should have known this during the debate just as we should have had a clear statement from Queen’s Park so that claims re a $1.8b subsidy would have no credibility.

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  5. Steve wrote:

    $600m would get you the “Morningside hook” down to UTSC as well as the Malvern extension of the SLRT, or an equivalent branch off of the Sheppard line. You would probably get some change back.

    As I mentioned previously, but is worth repeating, that Malvern extension could probably be ready to open for operation by the same 2023 date as the proposed subway to McCowan and Sheppard.

    People of Malvern: what do you think is better in 2023: taking a bus to McCowan and Sheppard followed by a one-seat ride to Yonge and Bloor, or taking no bus but an LRT ride that involves only a St. George-type change along the way to Yonge and Bloor?

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  6. Glen Murray’s comments about putting the Scarborough subway in the SRT right of way were insightful. Although it would require closure of the SRT for 3 years, track adjustment to subway guage, a newly aligned Kennedy station, a tunnel from Kennedy stn up to the surface right of way, a new tunnel between Ellesmere and midland, widening of the platforms, stations, and elevated sections, surely this would be far cheaper than a new tunnel from Kennedy to Sheppard/McCowan? The cost of a new Kennedy station can be covered by the Eglinton lrt funding envelope, and the BD extension can terminate at STC to save more money. Could this above ground BD extension to STC be done for under $2BB? Could it be done in 3 years, the same time needed for SRT to lrt conversion?

    The Sheppard LRT can be turned south at brimley and brought into STC via Triton Rd, then extended east to the SRT yard (which can be turned into an lrt yard) then extending over to centennial college. All of this could be covered by the Sheppard LRT funding envelope.

    Perhaps this is what Glen Murray had in mind.

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  7. Will the Scarborough subway extension end at Kennedy or go all the way to Etobicoke? I think I’ve read some reports that imply the extension will be a separate route, just like the TTC’s plan to keep the Scarborough LRT separate from the Eglinton Crosstown LRT.

    Steve: No, the extension would take the existing BD subway route through to Sheppard and McCowan.

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  8. Out of all councillors who voted for the subway, I’m the most disappointed in Glenn De Baeremaeker. I never expected him to stray so far into the land of magical funding and ridership demand.

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  9. “Although it would require closure of the SRT for 3 years, track adjustment to subway gauge, a newly aligned Kennedy station, a tunnel from Kennedy stn up to the surface right of way, a new tunnel between Ellesmere and Midland, widening of the platforms, stations, and elevated sections, surely this would be far cheaper than a new tunnel from Kennedy to Sheppard/McCowan?”

    I highly doubt the several highly-complex projects that would have to be completed more or less in unison would be completed anywhere near to the original budget. The money you saved on tunnelling would be eaten up (and then some) by the attempt to graft subway technology onto infrastructure that was specifically designed for another (failed) technology 30-plus years ago.

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  10. First, the Environmental Assessment for any Scarborough Subway replacement for the SRT has to be done. They’ll have to decide on the exact route the tracks would take, along with where the three new stations will be built, Lawrence Avenue East, Scarborough Centre, and Sheppard East. That is what it is budgeted for.

    I can see there will be demands for another station, somewhere near Eglinton Avenue East and McCowan Road. Maybe rough-in, like the still unneeded(?) Willowdale Station on the Sheppard Subway. To put in another station would increase the cost (gravy?), so it has been left out of the current plans.

    Will there be demands for another station? I don’t know. It would increase the cost of the project, which I think the provincial (and federal?) governments may not to kick in. Maybe the city will have to pay for any other additional stations, but would the current administration go for it? If they do, they might as well build the Willowdale Station on the Sheppard line as well.

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  11. Wouldn’t it be more worthwhile to wait until we have the debate over the proposed $2 billion/year transit tax that Metrolinx is proposing to implement? This could easily fund the Scarborough subway, the downtown relief line, and whatever other subways the pro-subway members of city council want to build in Toronto. Yet Metrolinx has given a deadline of September 30, but the provincial government doesn’t want to pass the legislation implementing the transit tax until next year. Why is the province waiting so long to implement the tax increase?

    Steve: That $2b/year is already earmarked for other projects throughout the GTHA, and a subway in Scarborough does not come close to making that list. The Sept. 30 deadline is a City date, while Metrolinx had asked for “clarity” by August 2.

    The province always intended to incorporate whatever new revenue tools they would actually implement in the 2014 budget, and we will likely have an election with that as a major issue unless the Libs and NDP can come to terms on an acceptable package. There’s also a chance that it will be less than $2b/year, at least initially, to soften the blow (and to get through the election/negotiations) with a smaller hill to climb. In the short term, they don’t need that much anyhow because the projects won’t get into big spending — construction — for several years.

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  12. Does Metrolinx plan to tender the network as one big contract, meaning one consortium for multiple lines? Or one consortium per line? If it’s the former, wouldn’t this Scarborough LRT versus subway debate thingie impact the timelines for Sheppard and Finch LRT’s? Council may have been clear that they support the Sheppard and Finch lines being built, but little about their timing.

    Steve: Metrolinx has unwisely bundled too much together and this certainly affects tendering, but it’s not one big consortium. On Eglinton, the tunneling work is done via a standard contract, but the contractor has no part in financing. The stations were originally going to be tendered in bunches, but I understand that this has now been changed to lump them all together. I’m not sure that’s a good idea because it may preclude staging so that certain parts of the line are completed and opened early. Queen’s Park needs to wake up to the mess Metrolinx has created by having nothing finished and operating for 8 years — three provincial elections away at least — and issue orders to change the structure of the project. A small delay now could prove beneficial in the longer run.

    As for the other lines (Finch/Sheppard), they will be separate contracts and we don’t know the structure of them yet. Conlins Road carhouse is being built as a stand-alone contract, and future building/site maintenance will be handled by the contractor (although I would not be surprised to see this assigned to another company).

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  13. Richard L. asked:

    Did the City of Ottawa set a precedent in cancelling an LRT project only to resurrect it with an added cost of $1 billion for a tunnel under downtown Ottawa?

    Perhaps they did … but the original north-south LRT plan for Ottawa was pretty flawed as it did not serve the areas with the greatest demand and tackle the problems of bus congestion on Albert and Slater Streets.

    The new LRT is a sensible east-west plan, with a tunnel under the urban core and surface running outside of the core … serving areas of high demand and reducing on-street congestion.

    But it won’t provide a 1-seat ride which, for a very long time, was one of the hallmarks of Ottawa’s transit system (which led to underused transitway stations).

    Cheers, Moaz

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  14. Does all this mean that the last stop of the new subway would be Gravy Station?

    Steve: More likely, it will be De Baeremaeker’s Folly.

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  15. Kevin –

    “..crazy that the subway plan does not include a station at the Danforth Rd, Eglinton & Brimley intersection.”

    If we don’t return to the LRT plan I would imagine calls for a station there, but should upper levels not be in a generous mood we could also end up with less.

    Unlike Stinz, Rob & Doug are giddy to finally have $1.4 billion to build ‘subways’. The last time they had a funding shortfall (nothing) they pushed to start digging one stop at a time as money materialized. Rather than make the unpopular decision to hike debt and taxes, TO Councillors might be tempted to cut out Sheppard station. Ford has always talked about going to STC, neglecting to mention Sheppard E (except as a subway route). For them building any ‘subways’ is a victory and so just as the Wilson to Downsview extension was built as a step towards getting to York U, I could foresee some arguing for a one-stop subway, either ending at Lawrence/McCowan or an express to STC with a station roughed in and route change.

    It would be nice if strings were attached before Provincial dollars are handed over.

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  16. “1. To build the B-D extension to Sheppard & McCowan will take at least 10 years..”

    It took less than 5 to build the original Yonge line. This was with the Korean War going on which made resources scarce. Our forebears must be shaking their heads in dismay.

    Steve: The EA and design work will take four years, the construction six, and it will be deep bore tunnel, not cut-and-cover. Five years versus six doesn’t seem like a bad comparison.

    And all this talk of Scarborough residents not knowing what’s good for them has a rather condescending tone.

    Steve: My attitude is not that they “don’t know what’s good for them” but that they are being fed a load of misleading bilge, if not outright lies, about the relative merits of the options. When even the Mayor doesn’t understand what the LRT proposal involves, one can hardly expect clear, unbiased, truthful information to go out to the community from the subway advocates.

    There are arguments to be made for the subway, not that I agree with them, nor that the supposed benefits are worth an extra billion and change, but that’s not how the question is presented.

    (By the way, I constantly have to fix the html tags you include in your comments.)

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  17. Maybe you could kindly provide better instructions. We’re not all programmers.

    Steve: You’re the one who insists on including html in your comments. You could just type text. If you include html, you should have enough sense to do it properly.

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  18. Hi Steve..

    Sorry you misunderstood my previous email. My questions is wouldn’t it be cheaper to convert the current Sheppard subway and current BD to an LRT line? So we can remove the transfer & leave the new Scarborough portion above ground. For sure it makes alot of sense for the Sheppard line and North York stub way.

    That way there is no idiotic transfer. I love Transit City for the areas it affect but who in there right mind would try to mesh to different types of vehicles. It’s as thoughtless as our Mayor.

    Steve: Converting the BD line to LRT is not an option for reasons of capacity, not to mention the huge cost to retrofit a working subway for a different type of vehicle. Converting the Sheppard line to LRT has been discussed, but there are problems with the areas near stations which were built cut-and-cover with subway-height clearances. There is also the small matter of platforms at stations, and the stairs/escalator/elevators that serve them.

    And the transfer is not “idiotic”. People transfer from route to route all over the city every day.

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  19. All of the options were never presented or costed fairly. Why can’t Bombardier just build ICTS-1 vehicles? Somehow they can customize their light rail vehicles for Toronto, but not their ICTS cars. Restarting an ICTS-1 production line can’t be more expensive than an LRT conversion, subway extension, whatever. We’ve already got a line that for all intents and purposes is a mini-subway, yet we insist on closing it for years. Why didn’t they cost an expanded McCowan yard and more ICTS-1 cars?

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  20. “Why didn’t they cost an expanded McCowan yard and more ICTS-1 cars?”

    There are entire airlines built around the concept of only having one kind of airplane. Having one line with oddball vehicles and track is not an efficient way of running a transit service. The plan now is for the TTC to have three rail systems: subway, LRT, and streetcar, with the latter two using vehicles that are two variations on the same basic design from the same company (sort of like an airline with 737-600, and -700).

    Furthermore, the SRT was to be the link between the Eglinton and Sheppard lines for maintenance moves. Originally it was to be interlined with Eglinton; and although that was not the current plan recently, the design still allowed it as a possibility. And finally, there is a real possibility that a northward extension of the line will take place, and having the option of doing it at-grade is likely to be valuable.

    The question I would have about the conversion is why more of it can’t be done in parallel: work on all stations simultaneously and get the job done in a year. There is something wrong (systemically, not necessarily with any particular person, office, or institution) if we can’t overhaul one station in one year — entire buildings can be built from scratch in less than a year.

    Steve: The controlling factors are Kennedy Station and the tunnel at Ellesmere. However, it has suited subway advocates, including those within the TTC, to paint the shutdown as lasting as long as possible.

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  21. One advantage of above ground lrt over subway is that passengers will be able to use their smartphones to text their loved ones to pick them up at STC. Or surf the Web.

    Still amazed that the TTC can’t put cell service in their tunnels. Last month I rode the famous Budapest metro yellow line (built in 1896) and they had it!

    If passengers complain about smartphone use on the subway, then designate a quiet car.

    Steve: Cell service is coming to the subway, although initially only at stations. The TTC signed a contract for installation of a system that will be shared by the carriers last fall.

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  22. A recent Star article said that with a Scarborough subway extension:

    “Thousands more riders on the Bloor-Danforth line will further press the need for a downtown relief line to relieve overcrowding. The Bloor-Danforth subway will require the upgraded signaling currently being installed on the Yonge line.”

    I thought there wouldn’t be a significant difference in ridership for either the Scarborough LRT or the subway extension given that the LRT runs as efficiently as a surface subway. Would eliminating the transfer at Kennedy make that much difference to worry about crowding on the B-D line? Or is it the same problem for both the subway and LRT options?

    Steve: A new demand estimate was run only for the subway option and the model assigned a lot of 905 commuters to the new Scarborough Subway for trips to downtown. Of course they should be on the Stouffville GO service, but demand models have been used before to inflate demand for new subways either with unreasonably rosy land use forecasts or by selective omission of competing services.

    The TTC seems perfectly happy to have the subway capacity crisis inflated even more in order to accelerate funding for resignalling.

    If the new line is going to create a crisis on BD, then I suspect it will be the same for either technology.

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  23. Isaac Morland said:

    The question I would have about the conversion is why more of it can’t be done in parallel: work on all stations simultaneously and get the job done in a year. There is something wrong (systemically, not necessarily with any particular person, office, or institution) if we can’t overhaul one station in one year — entire buildings can be built from scratch in less than a year.

    Steve:

    The controlling factors are Kennedy Station and the tunnel at Ellesmere. However, it has suited subway advocates, including those within the TTC, to paint the shutdown as lasting as long as possible.

    TTC has an unfortunate reputation for taking far too long to complete projects and that is definitely something that needs to be tackled.

    If streetcars were not so hated by the current leadership, and the question I would have about the conversion is why more of it can’t be done in parallel: work on all stations simultaneously and get the job done in a year. There is something wrong (systemically, not necessarily with any particular person, office, or institution) if we can’t overhaul one station in one year — entire buildings can be built from scratch in less than a year.

    If different government agencies could actually work together then a temporary LRT could be built along the SRT alignment (from just north of Kennedy) and the Gatineau Hydro Corridor (running along and across Lawrence) then running up McCowan to STC.

    Steve: That’s not a “temporary LRT”, that’s an entirely new line.

    BC once had a great example of synergy between a hydro provider, transport services and property developers … residents provided demand for streetcars and both residents and streetcars demanded electricity.

    Cheers, Moaz

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  24. Just a quick note regarding the tunnel clearances on the Shepard Stubway.

    There are plenty of examples of traction equipment having BOTH pantograph and third rail pick up. So LRT equipment could be fitted with third rail pick up shoes for in tunnel running and raise the pantograph for overhead wire operation when above ground. That can be utilized for converting the Stubway to LRT. Then it is only the issue of lowering the station platforms.

    Steve: Not quite. The box tunnel structures on either side of stations (before the transition to bored tunnel) may present problems even for a lowered pantograph. I don’t think we will ever get a straight answer on this because the destruction of ego inherent in “downgrading” a subway to an LRT is unthinkable. It would require too many people to admit that the subway was a mistake.

    On that note, conversion from SRT to LRT would also be simplified. Remove the Induction plates and just leave the rest of the track and third rail for the LRT. Because it is completely grade separated, there is no need to convert to overhead wire. The third rail can be left in place. Again, it is only the lowering of the station platforms that is required.

    It’s not that difficult to have equipment that can switch from pantograph to third rail operations depending on areas being grade separated or not.

    Steve: Again not quite so simple. The ICTS cars are narrower than the LRVs and so the position of the rails relative to other structures doesn’t work in all locations. The SRT uses side running power rails, and it is difficult to maintain contact, particularly in bad weather, and get good current draw. The power supply is a completely different design and voltage, and it would have to be replaced for an LRT installation. Lowering platforms is not practical at all stations depending on the structure. At these locations, the track must be raised. Also, changing platform height affects escalators and ideally would be done when the escalators face complete overhaul. Finally, of course, there is the tunnel at Ellesmere.

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  25. They should be able do to almost all of the construction for Kennedy while the SRT is in operation because the new platform will be next to the station. Only building the last bit of connecting track would require closure.

    As for the tunnel, could a temporary level crossing across the the railway track be built.

    Steve: No. The SRT has power and reaction rails that cannot co-exist with mainline railway trackage. As for an LRT crossing, there is the matter of overhead clearance, and the operating rules that would prevent GO trains and the S(L)RT from running concurrent.

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  26. Steve:

    That’s not a “temporary LRT”, that’s an entirely new line.

    Well, 1/3 old and 2/3 new. I know it’s not going to happen, but Toronto needs to get beyond the resistance to infrastructure investments and invest everywhere. Sometimes I think all the debates are a function of Toronto just being afraid of doing things.

    Steve:

    A new demand estimate was run only for the subway option and the model assigned a lot of 905 commuters to the new Scarborough Subway for trips to downtown. Of course they should be on the Stouffville GO service, but demand models have been used before to inflate demand for new subways either with unreasonably rosy land use forecasts or by selective omission of competing services.

    Lots of inflation of data is based on misunderstandings and misinformation. There are a lot of people who still believe that the car trip to the subway/GO station doesn’t cost them anything unless they have to pay for parking.

    Cheers, Moaz

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  27. Steve said: “As for an LRT crossing, there is the matter of overhead clearance, and the operating rules that would prevent GO trains and the S(L)RT from running concurrently.”

    Ok, I’ll concede that vertical clearance may be a problem, but what’s the difference between a heavy rail/LRT crossing and a heavy rail/road crossing that would conflict with operating rules?

    Steve: The frequency of service on the SRT is such that the “window” between trains (and that has to be seen for both directions) is extremely short. When a mainline train approaches a crossing, it “occupies” it for far longer than it takes to actually drive through the physical space because of the clearance (in time and distance) that must be obtained well before a mainline train reaches the crossing. This would certainly disrupt SRT service especially if GO plans any service improvements there.

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  28. Scarborrowing Subway a grave-y train for GTHA east … Scarborough’s shot at a legacy project in time for Canada’s 150 in 2017 is looking like a horse’s ass … the broken Scarborough LRT agreement. August 2 will lead to broken home-equity for the car-driving retirees, the same ones who voted in 2010 to claw back the Vehicle Registration Tax … Council’s June 17/13 decision means neither LRT nor subway will be in service for municipal election 2017.

    In 2017, Scarborough demographics set this landscape … A Scarborough transportation bayou combined with a firesale glut of zoomer/boomer residential real-estate, rising crime, closing public schools and a war on the bicycle. Middle-class nest-eggs will vapourize as, without access to amenities, young professionals available to replace aged-out families will purchase elsewhere … ‘Talent’ is already migrating to the west, where PanAm infrastructure for 2015 is tying to rail spine and connected to post-secondary institutions, in walkable neighbourhoods. Mississauga, Hamilton, K-C-W don’t need subways to ignite liveable prosperity.

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  29. Catherine Soplet wrote:

    There are revealing comments made about Victoria Park / Eglinton redevelopment in “The Next Generation Suburbs” segment.

    For those not following the roundtables, it would have been nice to summarize the “revealing comments” that were made here.

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  30. Calvin Henry-Cotnam said:

    “For those not following the roundtables, it would have been nice to summarize the “revealing comments” that were made here.”

    Well, for one thing the graphic on “The Next Generation Suburbs” page reveals that future homes will be mounted on some sort of pinwheel in the air, perhaps to generate windmill-based power. Not mentioned, but implied, is the inevitable development of flying cars (the future techno-babble catch-all excuse for not expanding public transit).

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  31. Kristian wrote:

    Well, for one thing the graphic on “The Next Generation Suburbs” page reveals that future homes will be mounted on some sort of pinwheel in the air, perhaps to generate windmill-based power.

    I saw that and refrained from commenting on it as I could not see any redeeming purpose for it, serious or humourous.

    I am still shaking my head that Catherine Soplet thought mentioning “revealing comments” would be useful to others without giving us a bullet point summary of them or, at the very least, mentioning where in the 201-minute video we could see these wonderful “revealing comments”.

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  32. Hi Steve,

    So much of the discussion has been Subway versus LRT but to diverge slightly let’s assume a subway is actually what happens in Scarborough. It’s not my preferred choice but so be it. I’ve been thinking about alignments given that the Mayor’s proposed subway alignment makes little sense when considering a slew of economic, transit and planning factors. I came up with what I suppose would be the best reasonable subway alignment given the current nature and future potential of the area. This alignment also addresses the 3 priority neighbourhoods in some fashion and incorporates Centennial College.

    Here is a map I created with 4 components: The RED Ford Subway (as I’m now calling it), My Preferred ORANGE Subway, the Current BLUE SRT, and the various proposed stations along each route. I was hoping you could provide some feedback on what might be good or bad about it.

    Steve: You should provide a screen grab of your map rather than sending folks to a site where they have to logon or create an account just to view your proposal.

    The politicians are often foolish but they hold a great deal of control over the process and I suppose the transit community might as well get ahead of the curve on subway routes and work out some options. 😛

    Thanks,
    Brandon

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  33. So our anti-transit mayor has seemingly succeeded in bribing people with their own money: he keeps using the promise of a subway line as a smokescreen for his vitriolic hatred of anything that can slow his SUV while driving around town. Clearly, all progress on the transit file is stalled at least until December 2014.

    I am willing to bet ten to one that no funding will be forthcoming from the other levels of government for the BD extension, so the ‘taxpayers’ of Scarborough will keep riding the Silly Ridiculous Train (better known to passengers as the SRT) for who knows how long. At least the mechanics at Greenwood shop will continue to be busy patching up those rickety cars for quite a while, once the H6 lemons are gone.

    Assuming for the sake of argument that we will get a less obtuse administration at City Hall next year and somehow the Liberals manage to limp along after 2014 (say with a minority government- after all, no one likes new taxes and I am assuming next year they will be running on such a platform, should there be a provincial election), what do you think will get built of the currently funded Toronto-Metrolinx projects, if anything? I know you have been following politics and transit in this city for many years, and certainly far longer than I have. Just curious as to what your educated guess would be.

    Steve: Presuming we get a pro-transit administration at City Hall and that the Liberals survive a fall 2014 vote, the real question in the short term will be the status and timing of the projects that are in the “first wave” of Metrolinx work — Sheppard and Finch. If the subway project goes ahead, this pushes the spending formerly planned for the SRT off by several years and, from a cash flow perspective, opens up room to accelerate one of the other lines. Whether this actually happens will be a test of commitment to transit and to building as soon as possible, not simply announcing and delaying projects.

    The Next Wave doesn’t include any Transit City projects, and this begs the question most importantly of the Airport extension of Eglinton, but also of the UTSC extension of the Sheppard line. The Jane and Don Mills lines both have challenges toward their south ends and, of course, Don Mills overlaps with the potential DRL. The Scarborough-Malvern line is also in limbo.

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  34. I don’t see the Eglinton Crosstown being extended to the airport in our lifetime. Not when you’ll be able to connect to the UP Trains to get you there.

    Steve: Much will depend on the fare structure for UPX. I would argue that if the Eglinton line goes to the airport, many more riders would use it because of greater geographic coverage. We hear a lot these days about artificially enforced transfers, but strangely not about this one.

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  35. My whole life as a Torontonian and an advocate of public transit, I’ve hoped to see some real progress in this city.

    Never had I felt outright disgust with people in our city the way I do now over this Scarborough Subway/LRT none sense.

    As a west ender I would not only be delighted with an LRT network, I wouldn’t feel slighted by it. Why do people in Scarborough think this is such a bad option for them?

    On a routine basis, Steve makes a logical, reasoned, and informed case for an LRT network. Populist politicians so afraid of losing their seats that they ignore these arguments.

    Steve: What is more disheartening is that those populist politicians trade on the idea of a “second class” Scarborough, make people “out there” the victims of the downtown elites, all to justify “saving” them from LRT as a vote-getter.

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  36. “The Scarborough-Malvern line is also in limbo.”

    If any smart politicians are reading, this would be a perfect project to which to instead devote the extra $1000000000 currently proposed to be wasted on a subway (and don’t cancel the SRT replacement—build it too).

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  37. Steve said:

    The Next Wave doesn’t include any Transit City projects, and this begs the question most importantly of the Airport extension of Eglinton, but also of the UTSC extension of the Sheppard line. The Jane and Don Mills lines both have challenges toward their south ends and, of course, Don Mills overlaps with the potential DRL. The Scarborough-Malvern line is also in limbo.

    The extension of the Eglinton line is less of a priority for Toronto and more of a priority for Metrolinx because of the interregional (to Mississauga) and intermodal (LRT-Airport, LRT-Mississauga BRT & LRT-427 BRT) connections. TTC could probably meet the demand with a fleet of articulated buses (and as I’ve said before, MiWay will have a fleet of 12-year old buses available by 2015).

    Similarly, the Sheppard East line extension to UTSC is an interregional (to Durham) and intermodal project that should get attention from Metrolinx.

    Steve: The last time I looked, UTSC is in Toronto, and the Sheppard line would serve students and faculty arriving from the west, not from Durham. It’s regional role might be to get Durhamites to the Sheppard subway, but that’s not the primary intent.

    Hopefully the Don Mills question should be resolved by the most recent “RL” study by Metrolinx which will probably confirm the need to run the subway up to Don Mills and Eglinton.

    As for the Jane LRT, based on Stintz’s motion at the TTC meeting today (to consider high frequency service on the Georgetown and Lakeshore East lines) the best solution is to run it to the Mount Dennis Station where it connect to the Crosstown and any future high frequency GO service.

    Steve: Stintz’ motion was rather odd as it presumed that there is no work now being done on various possible configurations of north-south services. Moreover, she seems to be operating on the basis of avoiding the cost of the DRL, a huge mistake, but one we are likely to make when pet projects take precedence over those we need. At some point, Stintz needs to be reminded that it is provincial money she’s happily shuffling between projects.

    As for Scarborough-Malvern I’m a bit amused that the Liberal candidate in the Scarborough-Guildwood is talking up her transit credentials and calling for a Bloor-Danforth extension to STC which will not only have no direct benefits for Scarborough-Guildwood (which is East of Bellamy) but will also ensure the Scarborough-Malvern LRT (which would directly benefit Scarborough-Guildwood) will not be built any time soon.

    Steve: Both the NDP and Liberal candidates in that byelection are talking a lot of hot air about transit and the Scarborough subway. (The Tories are too, but at least the other two should know better.) When Mitzie Hunter was at Civic Action, there was not one word about the subway, and it is not on any of the plans Metrolinx has proposed. Her newfound love for it has more to do with vote grabbing than with good planning.

    Cheers, Moaz

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  38. Well, this is what happens when you have to deal with largely an uneducated public whose main experience with surface rail is the downtown streetcar system, with essentially no priority over other traffic and stops every few hundred metres. No wonder its reliability is atrocious. On the other hand, we operate a subway system that never runs any worse than 5-6 minutes (on paper, at least) on any line. No wonder people prefer subways and city councilors with mayoral ambitions and MPPs up for re-election are telling them what they want to hear.

    Under the circumstances, I am starting to like Karen & Glenn more and more every day. Based on their actions last year, it’s clear that they have an open mind as far as public transportation is concerned and there is no telling what we will actually build if they manage to be in real control of the transit file after 2014.

    If they (and the Liberals) can use the promise of a subway effectively enough to rid this city of the current administration and keep the Tories on the sidelines, then maybe it is worth squandering a billion+ dollars for a BD extension. After all, the SRT replacement will have the greatest demand of all Transit City lines and certainly greater than the Spadina extension.

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  39. @Transfers are “idiotic”.

    A transfer is fine when you need to change routes. But when you draw a straight line that doesn’t connect is pathetic planning.

    To hop on a bus then to the Sheppard LRT at Vic park, then get off to on don mills then get off at Yonge (an actual proper transfer) is poor planning. It is worth every penny to either convert to full LRT or keep building the subway when money is available.

    It’s a shame that people have such good intentions but if they actually thought like the end user would be appalled and understand the poor decision. But hey it’s Scarborough you only have to throw it a bone here and there.

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