Updated October 2, 2013 at 12:30 pm:
Metrolinx has released a transcript of a press conference held earlier today regarding their letter to the City Manager about the Scarborough subway.
In related news, Metrolinx advises (through a separate email) that they are “approximately 3 months away from making [a] formal recommendation on Sheppard and Finch” LRT lines, and the possible acceleration of these projects.
Also, regarding Eglinton-Yonge Station, they “hope to have a final concept that Metrolinx, City and TTC agree on in the coming weeks and will present in the public session of the Metrolinx December Board meeting”.
Updated October 2, 2013 at 10:30 am:
Metrolinx has sent a letter to Toronto’s City Manager regarding the proposed Scarborough subway. Unlike some pronouncements from Queen’s Park, this takes a more conciliatory tone for discussions between Ontario and the City of Toronto. Notable points include:
- Metrolinx continues to believe that LRT “would provide an effective rapid transit solution to the transportation challenges in this area” within the available funding, but bows to the desire by all three levels of government to build a subway.
- Metrolinx is not dictating that a specific route be chosen, but wants a proper alternatives analysis as part of the Environmental Assessment. This contradicts earlier statements by the government implying that only one route was to be funded. It also implies that the shorter “Transit Project Assessment” process (which does not include the potentially embarrassing need to review alternatives) will not be used.
- The Province is sticking with a figure of $1.48-billion in available funding, from which must be deducted the $85m in sunk costs for the Scarborough LRT project and unspecified costs of scaling down the LRT car order from Bombardier.
- Although the $320m reserved for the Kennedy Station reconstruction with both the Eglinton and Scarborough LRT lines may not all be required, additional costs are expected at the Yonge-Eglinton interchange beyond the current project budget. Savings from Kennedy may be redirected to Yonge-Eglinton. If there is anything left of the $320m between the two projects, then it could be directed to the Scarborough subway.
- The Scarborough subway will be entirely a City/TTC project contrary to previous schemes for the LRT that would have seen provincial ownership and a PPP arrangement similar to that proposed for the Eglinton line. This begs a question regarding the accounting for the provincial funding contribution: if you don’t own the line, you can’t book the asset as an offset to the money spent on it. Does this mark a shift away from the creative accounting used to justify taking Toronto’s transit projects away from the TTC in the first place?
- Provincial funding will begin to flow in the 2018/19 fiscal year implying that no serious construction will be underway until then. The City and/or Federal government will have to front end the project with funding for the EA and preliminary engineering. All risk for project cost overruns will be to the City’s account.
- Infrastructure Ontario remains available to participate in this project, but this is no longer a requirement of the Province for funding. The decision on whether to use IO or to proceed with a conventional procurement (as on the Spadina extension) is up to the City of Toronto.
Not included in the letter, but reported through Twitter by John Michael McGrath, is a comment from Metrolinx that they are reviewing the timing of the Sheppard and Finch LRT projects.
This letter provides a more balanced response to Scarborough subway issue than some recent statements by Ontario Transportation Minister Glen Murray, and it is good to see Metrolinx acting as a reasonable broker rather than simply as a rubber stamp for ministerial musings. The next major step will be Council’s discussion of the matter at the October 8-9 meeting.
Updated September 25, 2013 at 10:30 pm:
Today’s TTC Board meeting was a procedural shambles when the time came to discuss the Scarborough Subway. The contentious name-calling and parochialism of some past debates lives on for at least one Commissioner, Glenn De Baeremaeker, who is so busy puffing up the importance of his own subway that he overstates his case. At one point, Councillor Josh Matlow spoke of the subway proposal as vote buying. De Baeremaeker did not take umbrage but Chair Karen Stintz did and asked Matlow to withdraw the remark. He refused and left the meeting as did another visitor, Councillor Carroll. Smug and over-confident do not begin to describe De Baeremaeker’s attitude which focuses on getting “what Scarborough deserves” above all other considerations.
Three sets of motions were proposed:
- The original recommendations of the staff report which asks that the Commission endorse the McCowan alignment for a subway extension from Kennedy Station to Sheppard.
- A set of motions by Chair Stintz:
- that the Commission continues to support LRT implementation on Eglinton, Sheppard East and Finch as per the master agreement with Metrolinx,
- asking that Metrolinx confirm their support for these projects, and
- asking that Metrolinx confirm that the Downtown Relief Line is the next priority for a subway project after the Scarborough extension.
- A motion by Commission Alan Heisey seeking a meeting between the TTC and Metrolinx boards to arrive at a mutually agreeable plan for future transit in Toronto.
- Commissioner Parker proposed an amendment that would have supported the original LRT proposal.
Some members of the Commission were uneasy with the large exposure for the City in future debt and the tax increases needed to finance the City share for the project. The “citizen” (non-Council) members of the Commission appear uneasy about the fact that they have never been asked to vote on the subway alternative until now, and as articulated by Commissioner Heisey, it would appear that their counterparts at Metrolinx have similarly been excluded from the debate.
When it came time for the vote the Stintz and Heisey motions passed easily, but Parker’s motion failed on a 2-9 vote. However, things came unglued on the main motion. Five Commissioners voted in favour, five against, and one, Nick Di Donato, wanted to abstain because he did not feel he had enough information to make a commitment to the subway line at this time. In this situation, the motion would have lost on a tie vote. Di Donato had not left the table, and so technically abstaining was not an option.
At this point, realizing what might happen, Chair Stintz called the vote again and Commissioner John Parker, who had voted in the negative, left the room to ensure that the motion supporting the McCowan alignment would pass unless Di Donato voted “no”. In the end, the vote was 6-4 in favour with Parker abstaining. This shows how divided the Commission is and how poorly support for the McCowan option was organized by the Chair before the meeting started.
In related news, some members of Council are swallowing hard to accept the level of taxation that may be required to finance the City’s share of the project. Some money will come from Development Charges, but the lion’s share, about 80%, will have to come from general tax revenue.
Meanwhile a Forum Research Poll shows general support for the subway, but splits along regional lines and relative to past mayoral support. There is some support for the LRT option, but the poll question specified a level of tax support for the subway considerably lower than what is actually required to finance it. Support for the subway is higher among non-transit users than transit riders.
The whole matter will be debated at Council’s October 8 meeting.
Updated September 23, 2013 at 8:20 pm:
Today federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced that Ottawa would provide $660-million in funding for McCowan alignment of the subway as proposed by City Council, and reaffirmed funding of $333-million for the Sheppard LRT. This simply quantified the amounts available from yesterday’s announcement by the Prime Minister.
Also today, the TTC released a report comparing the Murray subway alignment via the existing RT corridor with the Stintz alignment via Eglinton and McCowan. Unsurprisingly, the TTC report endorses the McCowan alignment, although it does not go into much detail in critiquing the RT alignment.
A fundamental issue is that the provincial funding of $1.4b is inadequate for either proposal:
Neither the Provincial (RT corridor alignment) nor TTC (McCowan corridor alignment) subway option to Sheppard Avenue estimated at $2.9 billion and $2.5 billion ($2010) respectively, are achievable within the current Provincial funding envelope. Even when the options are truncated at Scarborough City Centre both Provincial and TTC options estimated at $1.7 – $1.9 billion and $1.9 billion ($2010) respectively require additional funding. [Page 1]
Much of the history of these proposals and related correspondence has already been reported here. The TTC notes that there is an outstanding request for information from Metrolinx regarding:
- Ridership projections for both Provincial options;
- Average operating speed and trip time for both subway options;
- Location of the bus terminal;
- Walking distance from the TTC bus terminal and GO station to the subway platform; and
- Any other advantage of this proposal over the TTC proposal. [Page 4]
Minister Murray has claimed ridership for his proposal equal to the number cited by the City and TTC for their scheme, but the latter depended on the route going all the way to Sheppard. As with other claims for his proposal, Murray selectively quoted full-line benefits for his truncated subway scheme ending at STC.
The TTC notes that curves on the Murray line would impose speed restrictions that would add to travel times (not to mention fleet and operator costs) and potentially be a source of wheel squeal that could annoy neighbouring residents. The tight curves would also lead to faster rail and wheel wear. However, the TTC’s estimate of fleet requirements for the two proposals appears to be based only on the length of each option, not on any speed restrictions.
What the TTC does not address is the fact that the Metrolinx consultants claim to have used TTC specifications in their design. Either this was done erroneously, or less than ideal specs were used in good faith for the proposed design. The TTC needs to set out specifications that anyone (Metrolinx, say) should use in designing any future subway lines. This is not a trivial issue given the likely wandering nature of a new Downtown Relief Line (or whatever it is called).
The TTC is concerned about the design of the new Kennedy terminal and how transfer moves between buses and GO passengers and the subway would be affected. This is a valid question especially if the importance of Kennedy as a hub increases. Although RT trips will be diverted onto the subway, much of the bus traffic will continue to arrive on existing routes and the convenience of their transfer connection is important. Equally, if GO improves service on the Stouffville corridor, this connection also should be a convenient one.
Other effects of the project both during construction and under operation include:
- A three-year shutdown of the SRT for the construction project, plus an unknown shutdown of the east end of the subway during the cutover from old Kennedy Station to the new one.
- A more intrusive elevated structure for subway trains which are wider and which require longer platforms at stations.
- The combination of open-air track and steep grades could lead to problems during bad weather, notably icing, and also have issues with wheel slip due to leaves. This is true to a point, but the system already has a comparable area north of Rosedale Station. This can be a problem for TTC operations, but only under the worst of circumstances, and far less often than the annual SRT shutdowns thanks to power and reaction rail icing. It is worth noting that the same problems would have affected an LRT line in the same corridor, but the TTC was silent on these issues.
Cost comparisons are provided for both the RT and McCowan alignments for Kennedy-to-STC and Kennedy-to-Sheppard options. As previously reported here, the Metrolinx study omits several key items such as vehicles to operate the line, and the total value of these is estimated at roughly half a billion dollars. All costs here are only order-of-magnitude given the lack of detailed study, and a variation of $100-million (roughly 5% on the total project) is considered a wash.
If the line runs only to STC, then the RT alignment is slightly cheaper than the McCowan alignment, subject to detailed review. However, for the line continued through to Sheppard, the RT alignment is more expensive because it is longer and has more stations.
Kennedy to Kennedy to STC Sheppard Via RT $1.8b $2.9b Via McCowan $1.9b $2.5b Source: Table on page 24 of pdf, page 12 of slide deck.
It should be noted that the RT alignment pays the considerable penalty of replacing Kennedy Station, and the costs would be quite different without this factor.
For either alignment, construction will not start until 2019, no matter what Minister Flaherty said at today’s press briefing.
The main report is followed by a slide deck that will be used at the TTC Board meeting on September 25. This deck includes information and raises issues not included in the main report. It acknowledges that the RT alignment has well-sited stations, is beneficial to Centennial College and improves opportunities for a mobility hub at Kennedy, but warns that these factors are offset by the design issues and service shutdown requirements detailed above.
The table cited above also includes an estimate of the number of trains that would be required. For the TTC’s option, the count is 7, and this is in line with previous estimates I have given here that only half of the service would run through to Sheppard. (A 15.2km round trip at 30km/h is about half an hour’s worth of trains. On a 2’20” headway, this would require about 13 trains. Therefore, the TTC may be planning to run only half the service beyond Kennedy Station.)
However, if only 7 more trains would be used compared to existing service, these can be accommodated within existing storage facilities and the allowance of about $200m on that account is not required. It is unclear whether the number of trains is relative to the existing service level or to the existing T1 fleet of which the TTC has a surplus. This is an important distinction that will affect the project cost and scope.
Finally, a question for the McCowan alignment is the location of the new STC station. As shown on the maps, it is actually at McCowan, not in the STC itself. The TTC should examine alternate alignments veering west so that the station could be better connected with existing and future development at STC. Although the details would be something for an EA/TPA study, the issue should be openly acknowledged as part of TTC and Council debates.
We now await word from Queen’s Park on whether they are firmly resolved to build on the RT alignment, a posture that would guarantee a head-on collision with Ottawa and City Council, or if the province will return to making its funding available to a generic “Scarborough subway” project. A related issue is the amount of the holdback for the Kennedy Station adaptation for the LRT project(s). Now that the LRT-via-RT line is not part of the design, the projected $320m cost for the combined Eglinton/Scarborough LRT station at Kennedy should be reduced, and this should release additional provincial funding. This is a question that must be answered as part of whatever provincial response will come to today’s announcement.
Updated September 22, 2013 at 9:45 pm:
Today Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that the federal government would provide funding in an unspecified amount to the proposed Scarborough Subway. At the announcement, a map clearly showed the McCowan alignment with stations at Lawrence, STC and Sheppard. Needless to say, Mayor Ford is ecstatic.
Further details will come in a press conference to be held tomorrow by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, and there will also be comments from Premier Kathleen Wynne.
A few observations at this point:
- Toronto Council’s motion clearly set September 30, 2013, as a deadline for a response from other governments on funding the proposed McCowan alignment. Ottawa has met that date with a week to spare.
- Ontario Transportation Minister Glen Murray’s ham-fisted “I’ll do it my way” announcement of a subway via the existing SRT corridor was guaranteed to provoke a response from other potential funding partners. Rather than showing how Ontario might built a transit network in Scarborough, Murray chose to focus on one line, and a truncated version of it at that. Even if Ottawa had been delaying in offering funds for the McCowan alignment, Murray’s action and political rhetoric guaranteed a tit-for-tat response.
- Queen’s Park is now in a position of backing and funding only one version of a subway line, and rejecting out of hand any idea that the $1.4b previous available for a Scarborough project might go to the McCowan scheme. Now, they are left not only with a subway proposal that cannot be built for the price claimed, but are potential deal-breakers for the McCowan alignment.
- Prominent at today’s announcement was a map showing the Sheppard East LRT line, a route that Mayor Ford would love to convert to a subway. That this happened at a federally organized press conference and with Rob Ford standing right beside the sign (see CTV news coverage) suggests that the LRT scheme isn’t dead yet. Ford no doubt awaits the election of a Tory government at Queen’s Park to deliver the coup de grâce. It will be interesting to see whether Metrolinx puts this project on ice, and what position Toronto council takes on LRT for Sheppard at its October 2013 meeting.
Toronto Council needs to contemplate several important factors if it opts for the McCowan alignment:
- Are any stations to be added, or at least protected for, notably one near the turn north onto McCowan?
- How close to the centre of STC should the subway pass? Should the station be under McCowan on the eastern edge of the site, or should the line swing west to a more central location?
- What will the demand be for the new line, and to what extent is this a function of regional commuters choosing to travel by subway to downtown? If GO transit service is improved in the Stouffville corridor, how would this affect projected subway demand?
- What service plan will be operated on the subway? Will all trains run through to Sheppard or will some turn back at Kennedy? This affects the fleet and yard requirements for the extension.
- How does additional demand on the Danforth subway fit into transfer problems at Bloor-Yonge?
- What is the likely cost of the project, net, to Toronto and how will this affect proposed property taxes to finance it?
If Council simply yells “hurrah we got a subway” and then buries its collective head in the sand, they will be in for a big surprise. More likely, Council will put money in the 2014 budget for detailed studies and punt a real decision beyond the next municipal and provincial elections.
As for the Scarborough LRT, it is a dead issue, a victim of crass politics and misrepresentation, not to mention a rogue Minister.
Updated September 13, 2013: A review of the letter from Metrolinx Chair Rob Prichard to TTC Chair Karen Stintz has been added after the break.
Updated September 12, 2013: A review of the Metrolinx feasibility study has been added.
The Metrolinx feasibility study of a Scarborough Subway via the SRT right-of-way is now available on the Metrolinx website.
I will comment on it at a later time, but am putting up the link so readers can peruse the document.
Updated September 11, 2013:
Further details of the provincial position and Toronto’s responsibility for costs are in a letter from Rob Prichard, Metrolinx Chair, to Karen Stintz, TTC Chair.
My analysis of the political background and of the misapplication of the feasibility study to a truncated Scarborough subway is on the Torontoist website.
On September 10, 2013, following the Metrolinx board meeting, Chair Rob Prichard wrote to TTC Chair Karen Stintz setting out the provincial position on the various subway and LRT plans.
Among other things, this letter states:
We undertook a preliminary feasibility study. It suggests the route using the SRT alignment announced by Minister Murray has a number of advantages: it has greater opportunities for economic growth and employment along its length, relative to the route earlier proposed by the city and the TTC; it takes advantage of an existing transportation corridor instead of incurring the cost of building a new one; our preliminary analysis suggests that it could potentially delivered at a lower capital cost as it requires much less tunnelling; and assuming rapid transit is subsequently extended to Sheppard Avenue East, it serves more priority neighbourhoods and double the population within walking distance. In addition, preliminary work suggests that the subway from Kennedy to Scarborough Town Centre could be delivered close to the existing provincial funding commitment of $1.48 billion. [Page 1]
Let us take these statements in turn.
- Economic growth and employment. Little in the feasibility study supports claims for growth and employment especially along the truncated version of the subway announced by the Minister.
- Avoiding building a new corridor. This is rather like renovating a house by retaining the bird feeder in the garden. The line will require a new Kennedy Station, completely rebuilt trackage, new stations at Lawrence East and at STC, a new power distribution and signal system, and new elevated structures east of what is now Ellesmere Station.
- Lower capital cost. The feasibility study’s estimate comes in at roughly the same price for an SRT to Sheppard alignment as the City’s McCowan alignment, but the Metrolinx estimate omits several key items, notably a fleet to actually provide service.
- Better coverage. Prichard’s letter is explicit in stating that this claim depends on the line continuing to Sheppard, but that is not what the Minister announced when he claimed better coverage for his scheme. The feasibility study is silent on this issue in part because it was not intended as a comparative study of the proposals.
- The line to STC can be delivered within available provincial funding. Again, because significant items are not included in the cost estimate, this is not true.
Prichard goes on to clarify the funding available.
- $1.48-billion 2010$ are available from Queen’s Park, and this money will flow no sooner than 2018/19.
- Toronto is responsible for the sunk costs ($85m) related to the already-agreed LRT plan, as well as for any penalties involved in reducing the size of the LRV order to Bombardier.
- Toronto will be responsible for the project including any cost overruns plus any future operating and maintenance.
- Queen’s Park would like to see a role for Infrastructure Ontario in delivering this project.
The letter is silent on the money earmarked for reconstruction of Kennedy Station as part of the Eglinton-Crosstown plan. If we are to get a totally new station, then it is not credible that the ECLRT’s share will be on the order of the $300m reserved for this purpose.
Prichard goes on to talk about Durham’s Pulse system and the extension of BRT to the Scarborough Town Centre. Oddly, although the feasibility study and some of its conclusions depend on a subway to Sheppard, this portion of the route is dismissed as unnecessary by the Minister. Prichard’s press scrum differed from Murray’s position in that Prichard was still open to an LRT spur south from Sheppard to link with STC while Murray dismisses the need for anything beyond the Pulse service at Centennial College.
Our interest is in moving forward with the Scarborough rapid transit project as quickly as possible based on a strong partnership with the TTC and the City of Toronto. [Page 3]
Minister Murray made a unilateral announcement over a month before the known deadline (September 30) when various conditions affecting Toronto’s position would kick in. There was no “partnership” and, indeed, there was considerable acrimony caused by political grandstanding.
For his part, Rob Prichard repeats the message he is told to deliver, and in the process makes statements that are at best inaccurate and at worst untrue. How can anyone trust Metrolinx for unbiased, professional advice?
This study was conducted for Metrolinx by 4Transit, a joint venture of major engineering consultants (Delcan, MMM, Hatch Mott MacDonald) who regularly work in the Toronto area. The purpose was to determine whether a subway extension could be built from Kennedy Station north and east to Sheppard via the proposed LRT replacement route for the Scarborough RT.
Such schemes have been discussed in the comment threads on this site many times. Whether readers will agree with conclusions of the study, there is now a public document that includes details of design constraints rather than the abstract supposition that has dominated the debate.
The proposed subway infrastructure would include:
- A relocated Kennedy Station aligned to make the turn north onto the RT corridor possible.
- Stations would be located at Lawrence East, Scarborough Town Centre, Centennial College and Sheppard East.
- Shifting the GO Transit rail corridor west to the current position of the RT tracks.
- At grade operation of the new subway from north of Kennedy Station to Ellesmere.
- Elevated operation on a new guideway from northeast of Ellesmere Station through Scarborough Town Centre to roughly the location of McCowan RT Yard.
- A short at grade section east from McCowan Yard leading to an elevated structure that would run from west of Bellamy east and north across Highway 401.
- Underground operation at Sheppard East station including the south approach and tail tracks to the north.
Turnback facilities would be provided only at Kennedy (a new crossover west of the relocated station) and Sheppard East, although a crossover at STC is also possible (but not included). There are no pocket tracks planned that would be used for partial turnback of service and the operational plan is that all trains would run through to Sheppard East. The study contains no estimate of additional rolling stock requirements, nor of the yard space required to service the added trains.
Although there has been talk of making provision for additional stations (notably from Minister Glen Murray when challenged on the subject), the vertical alignment of the subway includes many grades (shown in detail on the alignment drawings) that would make insertion of the level sections needed to provide for future stations difficult.
By analogy, the North York Centre Station was allowed for in the original subway design, but this was not a hilly section of the route. Adding a level section to a long grade requires that grades on either side of the station are steeper than they would be otherwise. The implications of such provisions are not included in the study.
Two designs for Kennedy Station were considered.
- The first option continues the subway on the same path it follows northeast from Warden Station diagonally under the Hydro corridor.
- The second option places the new station further south to avoid conflict with the Hydro towers.
Kennedy Station to Ellesmere
Two separate alignments for the new north-south section were considered.
- If the subway stays on the west side of the corridor where the RT tracks are today, then the new Kennedy Station must be positioned to minimize the curve turning north into the corridor. This alignment also requires replacement of the tunnel and curve at Ellesmere from the RT corridor onto the elevated structure west of Midland.
- If the subway is moved to the east side of the corridor where the GO tracks are today, the requirements for new Kennedy Station are relaxed because there is more room for the curve turning north. Moreover, an eastern alignment eliminates the need for a tunnel at Ellesmere and therefore reduces the height the subway must climb to reach the elevated structure.
The study did not address the implications of cutting off rail service to the existing freight spurs to industries on the east side of the corridor.
Ellesmere to McCowan
The existing elevated structure is not useable for subway trains because the distance between the tracks is closer than would permit subway car operation. Moreover, the structure is old and its alignment is not ideal for subway operating speeds. A totally new structure will be required.
At Scarborough Town Centre, a new station would be built with a centre platform that would share vertical access by stairs, escalators and elevators. A restructured bus terminal would be underneath the subway station. Because the study only considered a through route to Sheppard East, it did not examine alternative designs at this location based on different levels and numbers of feeder bus services required if STC remains a terminal.
McCowan to Sheppard East
The line would descend to grade east of McCowan (as the RT does today to enter McCowan Yard), but would rise again onto an elevated structure west of Brimley. This is required because the route follows the Highland Creek ravine until it crosses Progress Avenue east of Markham Road.
The Centennial College Station is located on the west side of Progress immediately south of Highway 401 which the station would partly overhang. North of the 401, the line drops into a tunnel for the approach to Sheppard East Station.
Several of the curves along this alignment would have a speed restriction of 55km/h and would require wheel lubricators to prevent squeal. On an elevated structure, this is a significant issue, one which has arisen at other locations on the subway system, notably west of Islington Station.
The study is silent on the issue of noise control and effects on existing or potential future development. Considering that noise along corridors is a major issue elsewhere in the Metrolinx universe (Weston corridor, for example), this is an amazing omission for a route that would largely operate in the open air.
Land Use and Potential Ridership
Much has been made of the claim that the RT alignment for a subway serves more priority neighbourhoods and walking-distance population. This was, in fact, a benefit of the proposed LRT service, and the only difference for the subway scheme is the absence of stations at Midland and Ellesmere which eliminates these as locations for future development. However, the lands there are industrial and unlikely to change in the near future.
The study is silent on the development potential of the RT alignment and makes no comparison with what might happen on the McCowan alignment.
Similarly, there is no reference to ridership in the study and the number claimed in the Minister’s announcement appears to simply have been copied from the McCowan alignment’s projection. This number is suspect because it may contain demand that properly belongs on an improved GO service in the same corridor, but was assigned to the subway by the demand model.
Moreover, if the subway ends at STC, then the demand forecast to Sheppard cannot be used because it presumes a fast, transfer-free trip eliminating changes in vehicles at both STC and at Kennedy.
Construction of the subway on this alignment would obviously have significant effects on current operations:
- Construction of the proposed new Kennedy Station would conflict with existing operations for a period during which subway service would terminate at Warden.
- Replacement of existing RT structures would require this line to shut down. The time required has been claimed to be roughly equal to that needed for the proposed LRT upgrade (3 years), and this is not credible considering the substantially larger scope of work for the subway scheme. (Alternately, the shutdown period cited for the LRT proposal has been overstated.)
- Temporary bus terminals would be required to accommodate construction and shutdowns.
Moreover, the project would likely delay the opening of the Eglinton-Crosstown line because Kennedy Station would not be available for the 2020 target date.
The proposed staging of the project is optimized around concurrent activities where possible, and a minimum shutdown period. By contrast, plans for the LRT scheme were saddled with the need to fit into provincial cash flow constraints, and construction of the LRT was artificially extended in the plans as a result.
The total cost of the project is $2.4-billion in 2011$. This includes provisions for property, professional services and contingency to a total of 60% over the basic estimate of $1.4b. The study claims that some of this may be saved through alternative procurement strategies, but there is little on which to base such a claim given our lack of experience with such schemes for large-scale transit construction by Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario.
Approximately 40% is due to the section east of STC making the announced Kennedy-to-STC section roughly a $1.4b project. This conveniently fits within the $1.48b the province has on the table.
An unanswered question is the status of the $320m carved out of the $1.8b LRT project for the original scheme to rebuild Kennedy Station for the LRT projects. Some or all of that money should be available for the new Kennedy Station, but it has not been included in the proposed funding for the subway project.
The cost estimate does not include replacement bus service, new trains, yard and maintenance facilities, new substations or HST. Any comparison with other proposals must include these items.
Although the TTC does have surplus T1 subway cars, by the time the line opens (2023) these will be close to retirement age. Moreover, if all service runs through to Sheppard, the extra cars are not sufficient to operate the line. Presuming a route length of 11km (same as the LRT proposal), or 22km for the round trip from Kennedy to Sheppard, at 30km/h average speed, this would represent 44 minutes of running time. On the current headway of 2’20”, this would require 19 trains plus spares, or about 22 in total.
At $15m per trainset, that is $330m worth of trains. If half of the service turns back at Kennedy, this would be roughly halved, but there is no provision in the study’s design for a scheduled Kennedy short turn.
Where a yard might be added is unclear. Greenwood is full and the once-proposed LRT yard site between McCowan and Bellamy may not be suitable for full-length subway trains. (The Murray/RT alignment shares this problem with the McCowan subway proposal.) The TTC prices a new yard and maintenance facility at $500m. If only storage is needed, and the number of trains is lower than would be found at a typical yard, this cost will be reduced, but it won’t be trivial.
The Metrolinx feasibility study achieves its purpose as far as it goes. There is a potentially viable route for a subway from Kennedy to Sheppard via the RT corridor, although this requires many details to be worked out that could add to costs and/or reduce the line’s attractiveness. The omission of major components in the total cost must be rectified to allow valid comparison to other proposals.