Metrolinx Benefits Case Analysis for the Richmond Hill Subway

Metrolinx has published a study of the proposed subway extension to Richmond Hill updating a Benefits Case Analysis done in 2009.  The new report is dated May 2013, but it has only recently been publicly released.

Background information in the study gives an indication of the demand challenges facing the transit network in coming decades.  The study itself shows many of the shortcomings of Metrolinx analyses in the selective use of information and limited scope of alternatives comparison.

The study looks at four options for the Richmond Hill line:

  • A Base Case assuming substantial additions to existing subway capacity, leaving things as they are with buses serving the existing terminal at Finch Station.
  • Option 1: Full subway extension to Richmond Hill Centre close to the existing GO station.
  • Option 2: A two-stop subway extension to Steeles with buses serving the area beyond.
  • Option 2A: A Steeles subway extension accompanied by improved GO service on the Richmond Hill corridor.

Notable by its absence is an option of both a full subway line to Richmond Hill and improved GO service or any analysis of how demand would divide between the two routes.

The study notes that the Metrolinx Board, in response to earlier analyses, requested additional information:

  • Possible adjustments in project scope, timing or phasing;
  • Consideration of the extent to which improved service levels on the parallel GO Richmond Hill rail corridor off-loads some of the demand on the Yonge Street subway; and
  • The cost impacts of the various options on the subway yards strategy, Yonge-Bloor subway station improvements, and a future Downtown Relief Line to bypass the Yonge-Bloor congestion pinch point.  [Par. 1.12, page 3]

The 2013 report does not address these requests because it does not include any option where both the subway and improved GO service operate to Richmond Hill.  Although parallel studies (such as the TTC’s own subway yards needs analysis) do look at some aspects of the third point above, this information is not integrated into the analysis, nor is there any review of configurations that could avoid some of the cost of increased subway capacity.  This should follow in the Metrolinx study now underway of the Relief Line and associated alternatives, but that sort of network-based review is years overdue.

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TTC Service Changes Effective October 13, 2013 (Updated)

Updated September 24, 2013 at 11:20pm

Information has been added regarding the replacement of streetcars by buses on Lake Shore Blvd. in Etobicoke starting mid October.

Original article:

Several service changes will take effect on October 13, 2013.

Service improvements are almost exclusively in the off-peak period.


Night Service Improvements

  • 310 Bathurst service will be improve on Saturday nights / Sunday mornings between 1:00 and 3:00 am, and between 6:00 and 9:00 am.
  • 320 Yonge service will be improved by the elimination of the York Mills short turn.  All trips will operate to Steeles Avenue.  Service on Sunday morning between 1:30 and 3:30 am will be improved.

Construction Diversions

Many construction diversions now in place will continue, and two more will be added.

Continuing to mid-November 2013

  • Construction at Lawrence West Station causing extension of 58 Malton and 59 Maple Leaf routes to Lawrence Station.
  • 510 Spadina streetcars replaced by buses between Queens Quay and King.  Schedules on 504 King will be adjusted to provide additional running time to compensate for congestion at King & Spadina.
  • Track work on Ossington affecting the 63 Ossington route.
  • Water main and platform work on Bathurst requiring buses on 511 Bathurst and changes to mid-day service level on 512 St. Clair.
  • Road construction on Dufferin requiring a northbound diversion of 29 Dufferin from Queen to Dundas.
  • (New) Reconstruction on the Dundas bridge at Sterling Road requiring cutback of streetcar service to Lansdowne on Dundas and Carlton routes with shuttle buses beyond.

Continuing to mid-December 2013

  • Road and track construction on Kingston Road affecting 502/503 streetcar routes, 22A Coxwell, 64 Main and 92 Woodbine South.
  • Road construction on Kingston Road affecting 12 Kingston Road and 69 Warden South routes.
  • York Region bridge and road construction affecting the 68 Warden route.
  • (New) Reconstruction of streetcar platforms on Lake Shore requiring replacement of 501 Queen and 508 Lake Shore services west of Humber Loop with buses.

Updated September 24, 2013:

I asked the TTC why such a long shutdown was required for work on the safety islands on Lake Shore.  Here is their response:

There are 16 platforms needing either lengthening, widening or both, plus shelter installation. In short, a large scope of work. Contractors indicated to us when this was tendered that they’d need more time if they were to bid, so we amended the tender based on that feedback.

Brad Ross

Continuing to end of 2013

  • Yonge subway early shutdown for tunnel liner replacement north of Eglinton.

Continuing to at least the end of 2013

  • Additional buses and running time on many routes for Spadina subway extension project.

Continuing into 2014

  • 509/510 Harbourfront/Spadina services replaced by buses pending completion of track work on Queens Quay and construction at Union Station Loop.
  • 72 Pape diversion for Union Station Second Platform project.
  • Additional buses and running time on many routes for Metrolinx Weston Road bridge project.
  • 83 Jones diversion for utility reconstruction and track work on Leslie Street.

Continuing into 2015

  • Metrolinx LRT construction on Eglinton affecting 32 Eglinton West route.
  • 29/329 Dufferin and 316 Ossington buses turned back due to structural problems with the Dufferin bridge over the rail corridor.

TIFF Reviews 2013: Part I

The Toronto International Film Festival was underway once again in early September, and transit matters on this site went into eclipse for a week or so.  Here is a capsule view of the films I saw during the first half of the fest:

  • Only Lovers Left Alive
  • Southcliffe
  • Watermark
  • Triptych
  • Le Week-End
  • Philomena
  • Fading Gigolo
  • The Unknown Known
  • The Selfish Giant
  • The Lunchbox
  • The Double
  • The Invisible Woman

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Cherry Street Track Construction (Update 3)

Updated September 17, 2013 at 4:25pm:

According to earlier plans I had heard through Waterfront Toronto, Cherry Street Loop was not to be completed until after the Pan Am Games because the site is part of a parking lot for buses.  Contrary to this story, the loop is under construction, albeit surrounded by a parking lot.


The now-inactive Cherry Street tower that once controlled the eastern approach to Union Station sits at the south end of the loop.  In the left background, behind the trees, is the GO Don Yard.

The terrible irony about this, our possibly newest streetcar line, is that it won’t actually see service until Spring 2016, and the proposed extension under the railway to connect with a Queens Quay East line isn’t even in the current list of projects awaiting funding.

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Cycling as a Transit Alternative

A conversation has broken out in the thread originally dedicated to the Scarborough Subway regarding the ability of cycling to reduce demand on the subway if a bike lane were implemented on Bloor-Danforth.

I have moved all of the comments related to this topic here to separate them from discussions of the subway extension.

Transit Technology Choices: A Quote Worth Repeating

Updated September 6, 2013 at 11:10 am:  There is an excellent article by Stephen Wickens on his blog recounting the sorry history of Queen’s Park’s imposition of the ICTS technology on the Scarborough route.

It is worth noting that the ICTS cars cost over $2-million each 30 years ago, an outrageous sum.  The price to Vancouver was much lower, well below $1m each, and the TTC order was used to funnel money from Queen’s Park to offset the development costs of the new technology.  This is what passed for a “transit strategy” in the Davis government.

Updated September 5, 2013 at 11:00 am: My comments about Transportation Minister Glen Murray’s Scarborough subway announcement yesterday are now online at the Torontoist.

The original post follows below.

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King Street Update — Fall 2013

Over the opening weekend of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), King Street is closed in the block from Duncan (aka Ed Mirvish Way) to John to provide additional pedestrian space around the major TIFF events in the area.  This will last until Monday, September 9.


Of particular note, control of access by the streetcars to the centre lanes is handled not by Toronto Police paid duty officers, but by TIFF security guards and festival volunteers.

Further east, at the Don Bridge, structural problems that have imposed a slow order on the King Street leg will finally be addressed (now that Waterfront Toronto and the City have sorted out a cost sharing agreement).  Starting September 9, all 504 King and 503 Kingston Road cars will divert both ways via Queen and Parliament.  There will be no replacement bus service on King.


The diversion is expected to last until sometime in November.

There is no word on the status of the eastern approach to the bridge which also has a slow order on it.