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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