There are times I pick up my morning Globe & Mail and wonder who selects their articles, especially in the Report on Business where investigative journalism does not exactly reign. A few days ago, right on the top of page B2, they had a piece of drivel by Brian Lee Crowley entitled “Sick of congestion? Build roads, not transit“.
Is the Globe playing for the Ford Nation readership? Is their soon-to-be-neighbour on King East, the dwindling Toronto Sun, rubbing off on the Globe’s brand? Will being at the mercy of the King car give them second thoughts about downtown? After all, they’re also unable to plump for mayoral candidates who might be seen as part of the downtown elite even thought they might actually be competent for the position.
Crowley argues that building more roads is the secret of success far more productive than building new transit lines. This is the orthodoxy one expects from someone who views Wendell Cox as an informed, unbiased source of information. On the issue of concentrating resources on transit construction, Crowley writes:
As urban geographer Wendell Cox likes to say, this idea that road construction only worsens congestion is like believing that building more maternity wards will cause more babies to be born.
This argument is a total non-sequitur because the issue is not cause and effect, but capacity and latent demand. The existence of a new, comparatively uncongested road will induce more driving simply by making this a more attractive option. More maternity wards do not, of themselves, make having a family more attractive. To continue the analogy, it would be like a construction program fixated with on ramps.
Cox is no “urban geographer”, but an apologist for anti-government, anti-transit arguments going back decades. There are enough transit boondoggles in the USA for anyone to show how vast resources have been spent to build new lines of dubious value. The USA, like Canada, has a long history of spending on capital projects as a job creation scheme regardless of the intrinsic value of what is actually built. Pork barrel politics bring billions to cities and to the construction industry that feeds off of them.
That does not make all transit a waste of money any more than recent subway debates would invalidate any transit spending plans for the GTHA. What those debates do achieve is to undermine the credibility of those who ask for more money when voters are suspicious that nothing of real value will be created.
Only when one is well into Crowley’s piece, does one find the real heart of his argument — lower density cities with spread out jobs and populations, and lots of road capacity, are actually less congested and have shorter commute times than the more traditional configuration of downtown-plus-suburb we know so well. His poster children are Phoenix and Houston.
Certainly, if one has a city with ample room to grow, a history of leaving wide swaths of land around main roadways, and a development model that favours decentralization, one can easily have uncongested roads. We saw exactly this in much of the 905 until growth caught up with road capacity and, suddenly, those quick trips through suburbia became a commuting nightmare. The problem is not just “downtown” but throughout much of the GTA.
Crowley pulls a “bait and switch” on his readers giving the implication that he has a solution to congestion when, in fact, his answer is to not build denser cities in the first place. One can easily argue that there are many other benefits of density and that the effect on commute times is a trade-off we make for a more “urban” environment. Our problem in the GTA is that we only half-heartedly embrace a truly “sprawling” city. We already have a dense core, and the idea of keeping housing and jobs spread out all the way from Steeles Avenue to Lake Simcoe is not a model the development industry cares to follow.
Crowley ends by exhorting planners to think of sprawl as part of their toolkit to make better, less congested cities. This is complete nonsense. He starts with the premise that where sprawling cities do exist, there is little or no congestion, but then reverses cause and effect to imply that sprawl can be used as an antidote. No, it doesn’t work that way. Our congestion already exists, and more sprawl won’t make it vanish. Neither will road building, at least on a scale we can afford and tolerate within our already-developed city.
If anything, our problems are compounded by the demands of the industrial sector who want to see less congestion for their trucks and, by implication, a shift of road priority away from individual motorists by spending on alternatives like transit.
Simplistic analyses like this may keep Ford Nation warm at night dreaming of more expressways (provided the roads and traffic don’t go through their neighbourhood). For the debate about Toronto’s transit future, Crowley’s empty and misleading thesis is a useless distraction.
Links to Other Articles in Response:
Jarrett Walker on Human Transit
I take it that he is also advocating against distracted driving laws. I say that because the current trend with “personal freedom” is centred around what portable electronic devices can offer rather than the old idea centred around personal transportation.
True for North South roads which you list but look at the East West roads which are over 2 km apart. Brampton is trying to introduce extra East West arteries with Williams Parkway and Sandalwood Parkway but there is still a shortage of roads in this direction.
I spent 6 months a couple of years ago travelling in the Southern US in a boat. I got to see first hand just how “easy” it is to get around when you do not have a car. Most areas that had transit usually ran it on an hourly headway from 6:a.m. to 7:00 p.m. except on Sundays and Holidays. If you did not have a car you did not count.
Peterborough ON with a population under 80,000 has a much better bus service than Mobile AL, population 400,000+. When you have to cross a 6 lane expressway plus the service roads at either side to get a bus going in the opposite direction and the overpasses are a mile apart it is not conducive to public transit. Give me density anytime.
I am not sure what to believe. There is another argument to be made that driving less helps local economies more. This article is based on US stats but a similar argument could be made for GTA as well.
Steve: In common with many other analyses, the “cheapest” saving comes from doing something less, provided that this is practical and the cost of reduced consumption does not offset the claimed savings. This has always been the argument for electric power conservation — avoid the need for new generating and transmission capacity by using less power. Conversely, making something artificially cheap through hidden subsidies can distort consumption patterns. We often hear about how motorists get “a free ride”, but they can legitimately point to taxes on vehicles and fuel, to the extent that these offset infrastructure construction and maintenance costs.
However, the real problem lies at the “knee in the curve” effect when the road capacity fills up, and the marginal cost of relief becomes very high both locally (i.e. immediately around a corridor) and regionally (a greater amount of induced traffic elsewhere because a control — congestion — has been removed). That’s the treadmill we are on — attempting to provide more transportation capacity without recognizing that the city we have built cannot be served by simplistic fixes. Some of the “new capacity” will come from diverting or eliminating demand although this is generally easier if there is an attractive alternative.
I agree with you that many people do not want to live downtown. The problem is that these people do want money being invested downtown even though it’s the GTA’s major bottleneck. They’d rather spend billions of dollars on a subway to nowhere than improve transit downtown.
The thing I find really strange is that it’s conservative people who support aimless subway construction the most. You would think that being an economical conservative means “don’t waste money on things we don’t need” and they would support LRTs because in many cases they offer “the biggest bang for the buck.”
Steve: The political problem for “conservatives” (and others for that matter) is that subways are something “We” will use, while LRT has a reputation in Toronto of being second-class, inappropriate for the aspirations of the city. That quickly turns LRT proposals into a system for “Them”, and people in Scarborough have been convinced that this is a slur on their fine city, a perpetuation of second-class status. “Conservatives” just want votes, and they will offer whatever scheme they think will sell whether it makes sense or not. However, there is a kicker in the fine print — they won’t actually build anything until we can “afford” it. Subways tomorrow, snake oil today.
Although your analysis on this matter is correct, you need to mention the role of Toronto’s amalgamation on transit planning. As the city moved away from the metropolitan form of municipal government it lost a very important mechanism to maintain geographic representation at the municipal level. Within the mega city, the inner suburbs MUST grow their regional population just to maintain democratic representation within the municipal government. Sprawl is not an option within a megacity, it is a necessity. If a region wants to maintain its democratic voice it must grow its population or accept becoming politically irrelevant.
Sprawl is not good for anyone. What is good is a Downtown Relief Line however since the demand on low density Pape is much lower than the demand in high density Downtown, I suggest that the Pape portion of it be built as a mixed traffic LRT and only the downtown portion of it should be built as subway or underground LRT. By burying only the downtown portion, it will bring the cost from 10 billion to 2 billion and will become from fantasy to reality. If some compromise like this is not made, then the DRL will never get built.
Steve: The projected demand on the so-called low density Pape portion is considerably above the capacity of a surface LRT/streetcar. The whole point of a DRL is to intercept traffic further north to relieve the Yonge line not just south of Bloor, but north of it too. As for the $10b cost, that would be for a line running from Dundas West Station down to Union and back north to Don Mills & Eglinton.
A “compromise” such as you suggest would doom the project to irrelevance because it would be quite literally a “downtown relief”, not something that could aid travellers in the wider network.
I see your point but each of those roadways offers different numbers of lanes and serves different users. Demand on Dixie is going to be out of proportion because it is a regional road and has a mix of commercial and industrial properties along it. The 410 is a 400-series highway and subject to significant congestion … making Dixie the only other wide, straight multi-lane option.
Compare the contrast between Dixie and Tomken, the 410 and Kennedy in Brampton with, say, Avenue, Bathurst, the Allen and Dufferin in Toronto … the roads in Toronto are going to be approximately the same size and width.
Now consider that at the level of Bloor St between Dufferin and Avenue Road there are 7 subway stations … and you would be hard pressed to find much difference between the cross streets where those stations are placed.
Hence, I suppose, the need to continuously highlight a ‘downtown vs suburbs’ dichotomy and so many in ‘the suburbs’ apparently speaking up for Scarborough. If the suburbs are divided their ‘collective’ voice is weak against ‘downtown’ (those who are served by the Toronto – East York Community Council).
Perhaps the solution there is better local democracy rather than fighting. I’d personally like to see 4 Community Councils become 10-12 (dividing Etobicoke-York into Etobicoke-Lakeshore, Etobicoke North, and York, Scarborough into 4 councils etc … especially if plans to cut council in half go through.
Steve: There is also the small matter that Rob Ford systematically excluded “Toronto & East York” representation on important committees like Executive thereby guaranteeing a biased focus. Compound that with the fact that some of the suburban Councillors can hardly be called “progressive” or “well informed”, and you have a recipe for some very bad policy-making.
Assume we cut immigration to the GTA/population growth in half – that means a variety of different things.
The transit we need in place in 20 years could instead be built out over 40 years. This mean half the money per year is needed … there is far less need for the “revenue tools”.
OR if we build transit at the expected rate, and people switch, this means less congestion, and/or far better travel times on public transit. Remember that the “what would you do with 32” was based on things getting 32 minutes worse on average – if we build the transit but reduce ridership, then not only will travel times not deteriorate, but times for both drivers and transit riders might actually decline and we will improve times rather than having about the worst travel times in North America.
Steve: You assume that 100% of the increase in GTA population is caused by immigration from outside of Canada whereas some is cause by migration within the country and some by natural growth.
The problem of congestion is that the Yonge/Bloor station is at a capacity, as are some of the stations at the bottom end of the Yonge/University line. The relief line means that some riders on the Danforth line could bypass Yonge/Bloor – just as currently people coming from the west can go down University, or even take the Spadina LRT.
Should there be a connection from Don Mills and Eglinton to Downtown, then a few people would go from Don mills and Eglinton and not use the Yonge Subway – how many? And at what cost? Maybe the key is to do a GO station under the bridge over the Don River east of the DVP.
Pape is too narrow to do an LRT at grade in a separate right of way, and Pape is not slated for intensification, unlike the Downtown.
I still think that if we are talking about a cheaper solution, or LRTs, then the idea of an LRT in a tunnel from Castle Frank down Parliament to Queen and Yonge, or even to Front Street, is far cheaper and would do just as much to reduce the demands on Yonge/Eglinton as the first phase of the DRL … and as well, with the intensification of Downtown, the Downtown itself needs additional transit lines and capacity for the people who will live downtown – something that is not advanced much by a DRL running under Front and then going under the Don River at Eastern Avenue.
Steve: You really have not been paying attention to the level of development planned and underway in the waterfront area if you think that Eastern Avenue won’t serve people living downtown. As for Don Mills and Eglinton, the whole point is to act as a collection point to intercept traffic that would otherwise go west to Yonge, with provision for future capacity expansion to the north. As for Pape, it is shown as an “Avenue”, a location of intensification, between Danforth and Cosburn in the City’s Official Plan.
The whole issue of a GO/subway connection at Bloor has been debated to death here by people who have not considered how complicated that would be. The role of GO is to intercept more of the long-haul trips that now pour into the outer ends of the subway, not to provide a transfer point very close to downtown.
Indeed. The swan boat link between the GO line at the bottom of the Don Valley and the subway up at bridge level would be very steep, possibly necessitating the use of a cog system. I don’t think most people understand how hard it is to run swan boats on a grade.
Steve: In the original Swan Boat proposal, trebuchets would be used to launch the swans from the valley up to a landing pad at Castle Frank. However, in the Mark II version, Ontario technology will triumph again with the provision of flying Swan Boats.
People forget that north of Queen Street, originally Lot Street, were 100-acre “park lots”. They were the “suburban” homes or farms of the “elite” of the time. See this history of the Simcoe family for better information.
Even Yorkville was a suburb. However, the “elite” were able to settle far from town because they were generally rich enough to own and care for horses. Owning a horse was expensive, especially for the feed and veterinary care. Think owning a car is expensive, it would be more so for a horse or horses. It took the streetcar to allow the horseless population to settle further from town and work.
Well, the OMB turned down the proposal for a Wal-Mart a few years back, and that site will be redeveloped but not at a high density. The sites along the east side of the Don River, south of Eastern, are not yet finalised. And remember that the idea is that the east Harbourfront LRT will eventually be extended south of Lakeshore to the Ashridges Bay TTC Barns – but there will be little development planned for the areas south of Lakeshore East of the re-routed Don River.
Steve: There is a major development planned for the Lever Bros. site on the east side of the Don, and buildings are already going up in the Canary District. More is planned further east along Lakeshore in what is known as the Keating Precinct. Further north, I would be the least bit surprised if a new line would trigger redevelopment of Gerrard Square. The DRL previously was seen simply as a Bloor-Yonge bypass as you present it, but the evolving character of the eastern waterfront and Riverdale will add demand along the route. The LRT line along Commissioners to Leslie Barns is decades away, and in any event, the area it will serve will be more likely commercial than residential (which is concentrated on the west side of the Port Lands, the most attractive location with views across the bay). This is considerably south of where any “DRL” crossing the Don at Eastern and then swinging north would run.
Don Mills and Eglinton as a collection point? It is not a centre or major node in the Official Plan, and it is unclear if any TTC south to the Danforth will be a LRT or subway – this is what was indicated at the P&GM meeting. So if it does become a node and substantial numbers of people go south, we are talking 30-40 years out.
Steve: Oh dear, oh dear. You really do seem determined to equate development at a node with demand. Please explain to me how, for example, Kennedy and Finch stations are much busier than the development around them would suggest. This is called “feeder routes” that bring thousands of people into the subway terminals. A line to Don Mills and Eglinton would serve the residential populations of Flemingdon and Thorncliffe Parks, albeit not at the Eglinton station. That said, I would not be the least surprised that the lands now occupied by Celestica and IBM would be prime space for a major development. The OP doesn’t recognize them this way because it is Toronto’s policy to preserve “employment lands”.
The TTC and sadly, I must say, Transit City, clung to an LRT proposal north of Danforth with a Don Mills line running all the way north. There is one small problem – there is no workable surface route from Danforth to Eglinton and the line will have to be underground to north of O’Connor and then cross the valley on a new bridge. If we are going to build that sort of infrastructure, and if we are going to have a subway south from the Danforth to downtown, then it makes more sense to take the subway to Eglinton. You have to remember that the TTC has only very recently come around to the need for a DRL at all, and for decades claimed that they could just keep stuffing more passengers on the Yonge line. In that context, they saw the Don Mills LRT starting at Danforth as a completely separate entity.
Maybe it would make sense if the City just discouraged job growth in the Downtown Core and came up with a better way of encouraging office jobs in the older suburbs, closer to where people live … like building office towers at Yonge and Eglinton (or North Yonge, at Sheppard) instead of 50 storey condos. We have to get away from the Hub and Spoke idea of planning (with transit at capacity in one direction while being at low levels of usage going the other way) and the idea of “centres” has been a failure except in terms of condo development.
Steve: There are two problems with this argument. First off, the market for office space in Toronto has been comparatively weak for years, and it is only recently that we are seeing new (or resumed) construction downtown. Large scale construction away from downtown simply will not happen because there is a limited demand for this type of space. Developers will not build what the market cannot absorb.
The second problem is that we already have a dispersed population in the GTHA, and it will take decades, if ever, to reverse this pattern.
Concentrations of jobs comparable to what we see downtown, and the associated transit demand, simply will not occur elsewhere. A good example is Scarborough Town Centre which is now developing more as a residential node than an employment node. Even with more office buildings, it would be a tiny fraction of the workday population in the core. Moreover, growth would likely be scattered around the GTHA rather than limited to one or two major nodes, if only because politicians would be too busy meddling with demands that their communities “deserved” some of the development.
Downtown exists. Get used to it. We are not starting with a blank slate where in some planning nirvana we can optimally distribute homes and jobs. Indeed it is not even clear that this would produce an ideal city region when factors other than transportation capacity are taken into account. Cities have developed for millenia around hubs because they concentrated economic and social activity.
We cannot wish away the need for more capacity not just into downtown, but among many other parts of the region, by disagreeing with how the city has developed for the past two centuries.
Any scheme to attempt to discourage job growth in the Downtown Core and encourage office jobs to locate in the older suburbs is doomed to failure for the simple reason that the older suburbs are stuck between the Downtown Core and the 905 with none of the advantages that either one has.
Steve: As the failed attempts to create “centres” in Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough and even, laughably, York proved over the past decades. They are fictional centres born of political grandstanding, not of, dare I say it, natural market forces.
Discourage job growth in downtown and try to force it elsewhere? Where have we heard that before? Tried and failed, tried and failed. Much like the subways to nowhere!
Ironically the former York Centre might have been a laughable proposal but the new mobility hub at Mount Dennis has some potential … perhaps because the plans for the area are much more realistic.
There was a time when it was believed that high density and transit was a guarantee of success.
Steve: There is a fundamental difference between York “centre” and locations such as North York and Scarborough. Mount Dennis and Weston are old industrial neighbourhoods that grew up around the railway and the many factories that relied on that line for access to their markets. Much of this is now brownfields that were not redeveloped because it was simpler and cheaper to build new out in the 905 (or even then-empty parts of the 416). North York and Scarborough, by contrast, were sleepy residential communities and farmland. Their “centres” were created out of thin air in their present form without a precursor industrial base.
I don’t know the history of York well enough to understand why all of this land was left basically to decay beyond observing that old industrial areas generally need some external stimulus to kick start the process. The Weston rail corridor generally has been slow to redevelop, and even portions further south in Toronto are only now beginning to fill in.
Compare the huge industrial lands around the railways and waterfront downtown, some still sitting idle, but much under redevelopment, and the brownfields of southern Etobicoke.
Despite the, to some, alarming rate of construction in Toronto, there is a vast amount of underused land, but it is not in “the right place” to attract interest.
In fact, most of the job growth in the last 30 years has been outside the core – it has been in the 905 and leapfrogged over the inner suburbs since the late-70s or early 80s.
This was because of lower tax rates, cheap greenfield development (low development charges in the 905) and car and truck friendly urban planning. So there has been a lot of development along the 404 north of Steeles, while south of Steeles vacant or underdeveloped employment lands still exist.
And it will be near impossible to service many of the 905 office parks with decent transit, yet meanwhile we are building transit lines close to the employment areas in the inner suburbs – like Consumers Road or Don Mills and Eglinton.
The transit panel had it right that transit lines need to be based on where people work, not mainly on where they live.
And wasn’t technology supposed to make it easier for companies to locate jobs nearly anywhere and do things remotely or in a decentralised way?
Steve: As a long time IT professional, I have a very jaundiced view of what technology will make possible. If anything, it has reduced the number of workers required to do anything in the name of “productivity” and “competitiveness”. Manufacturing is necessarily centralized, and only certain service industries are so decoupled from the location of their “clients” that they can operate basically anywhere (e.g. call centres overseas). Even organizations like banks that have moved to hotelling spaces for some staff recognize the need for a physically concentrated location if only as a “point of presence” for customer interactions.
I agree with the Transit Panel up to a point in that there has been too much focus on residential locations rather than job locations. However, this reflects a basic fact – the primary transit demand in the GTHA is the home to core area commute, and serving this has driven transit planning for decades. Suburban employment centres are much more difficult targets because they are widely scattered and draw their employees from an even wider catchment area.
The Transit Panel mused about a “big U” of the rail corridors including the Uxbridge Subdivision parallel to Kennedy Road up into Markham. This looks superficially like a good idea except that the job locations are not immediately adjacent to the rail corridor, but some distance away. Without good feeder/distributor services, an improved rail service is useless. This is the fundamental flaw of The Big Move generally because it presumes riders will magically appear at the major lines just as GO train riders “magically” appear at parking lots. That option is not available to someone who is “out-commuting”.
The Investment Strategy only minimally addresses this by earmarking some new revenues for local operations and capital, but this will almost certainly be insufficient to drive significant improvement on that front.
But think about it – we are going to spend $7 Billion – BILLION – to build a transit line – I often wonder how much sense this all makes in terms of the benefits and maybe if we should be putting jobs close to transit rather than building expensive transit lines on speculation that the growth will show up. The $2.5 Billion spent on the proposed Scarborough Subway Extension is a case in point – this is probably close the the value of Scarborough Town Centre’s office buildings and Mall! How much more development is likely to occur at Scarborough Town Centre – you would think that in order to justify a $2.5 Billion transit line the amount of real estate development to be built would have to be several multiples of this.
In terms of Downtown, it is not even clear how much more office space can be built Downtown – the economics favour condos – this is why the Gehry/Mirvish development is 3 80-storey condo towers with no major office component. There is no natural place for the Financial Core to expand, except perhaps by demolishing the brick and beam buildings.
There are advantages to “clustering” office development – NYC has Wall street but also has the midtown area which is media and other industries, while Wall Street/WTC/Battery Park is finance. In London, rather than building 80 storey buildings in The City, Reichmann built Canary Wharf.
Steve: And, by the way, once Canary Wharf was about 2/3 developed, they ran out of transportation capacity for the workers. That’s what the branch off of Crossrail to serve this area is all about.
Maybe the Yonge Bloor area should have been zoned only for office development, or a new area of commercial concentration should have been defined by the City.
Lastman’s North York plans were flawed because it is one street as opposed to a grid – all of the highway traffic is through one poorly laid out interchange that was never improved. Had Scarborough Town Centre been in Etobicoke, maybe it would have worked out, but the job and population growth has been to the west – essentially Mississauga City Centre is the same model and it has been far more successful because of a variety of factors.
Don Mills and Eglinton was very successful when IBM was there, but the amount of jobs and office space there has been shrinking and the DVP is too congested as it is.
The province has been a problem in that Education Taxes in Toronto are higher than in the 905 – the province has not equalised the rates as promised – provincial policy feeds sprawl with one hand while trying to stop it with the other!
I am worried that the current plans are doomed to failure and will harm the GTA in the long run – congestion will get worse plus we will be saddled with higher taxes and a transit network that won’t be the right solution but a bunch of white elephants, much as the Sheppard Subway has been for 20 years.
Maybe our politicians have not been bold enough – take Downsview Park, for example. It has an underused airport in the middle of it, – maybe it would have been better for the feds to have paid Bombardier to move to the old Avro/MacDonnell Douglas/Boeing plant (before it was torn down – a great shame as it had heritage value) to create something there as opposed to the muddled park plans that lack money and are just following the Harbourfront pattern of selling off land for housing to pay for modest programming or park infrastructure.
And just to put things into perspective, $7 Billion, divided by 2.8 million people in the 416, is $2,500 per person to build – without considering any ongoing costs to operate it (at a loss, no doubt)
The cost of building an 20 storey office building is about $183 psf.
Include other costs like development changes etc and let’s say $300 without the land. That would build 23 million square feet of office space. If you assume a $500/psf cost, it is still 14 million square feet (and to put 14 million square feet in perspective, that is the equivalent of 5 First Canadian Place Towers at 72 storeys, or at 250 square feet per employee, that would be office space for 56,000 workers).
When it comes to electricity and energy, we have wised up to the fact that the peak demand is a huge problem and so it makes sense to conserve energy particularly at peak times so as to reduce the need to build more power plants that only run a small portion of the time.
Public transit is the same thing – it would be far better to “conserve” trips during peak hours by locating jobs in places that will not require the costly expansion of public transit than it is for the governments to pay billions to build and operate new subway lines that will largely benefit a few large real estate companies like Cadillac Fairview, Oxford, GWL, etc.
The Spadina subway expansion to Vaughan will mostly benefit companies who own land along Highway 7, and yet how much of that is being captured to pay for the subway?
We need a different model for planning and growth – the Transit Advisory Panel failed to recommend anything other than higher taxes while not doing anything to have the real beneficiaries pay.
Steve: The Transit Panel did not ignore development charges, but they had to face three basic facts.
First, charges on new buildings can only go so high before developers lose interest. Also, DCs are a one-time charge while taxes are ongoing and can be used to service debt over many decades.
Second, there is no guarantee that all of the land along a route will actually be developed. Some quite outlandish estimates have been used for a few transit proposals in Toronto that assume massive building — in effect concentrating all of the marketable space for the region in one corridor — that would “pay for” the new transit line.
Third, development generally happens after a line is built, and the revenue from DCs does not flow when financing for the new line is needed.
This does not even touch the equity issue where higher taxes on existing uses can actually be a political deterrent because those uses cease to be economic. The beneficiaries of new transit are not just the properties along the line, but those well beyond it that benefit from improved access (either as the source of home to work trips, or as commercial space that is no longer as “far away” as it once was to many would-be workers).
Finally, there is the basic fact that the demand for transportation is rising and our need to build capacity has fallen behind the times because we have built in the “wrong” places when we built at all.
You may think that constraining growth in downtown is something we should have done. You may want to talk to all the landowners, not to mention the Ontario Municipal Board, for whom growth is the only mantra. The ancillary costs of the transportation network be damned. All that is needed is a pro-development Council every ten years or so to pass permissive zoning which then creates a bunch of “as of right” applications that are impossible to undo.
So how exactly would you have improved the interchange without closing the interchange and avoiding significant lane closures on the 401 in addition to dealing with the West Don River valley? Also, the grid idea would have never worked in North York due to the intense local opposition to 10+ storey buildings in North York at the time Lastman’s plan was created.
Moaz: York ‘Centre’ was an interesting proposal … the City of York needed more space for its municipal offices, the Kodak plant had recently closed (hitting the city with a loss of jobs and tax revenue) and there was a hope that an Eglinton West subway-GO train interchange at Mount Dennis would change things. Too bad the recession, Harris and amalgamation all came around the same time.
Moaz: Exactly … and with a recession hitting in the 1990s it makes sense that greenfield development near highways would be preferred over brownfield development … lower costs and fewer development issues. Unfortunately without the industrial base there us also a lack of commercial development in these ‘centres’ … which is one reason why we are told that subways (plural) are necessary to make ‘centres’ successful … usually because one subway isn’t enough for some reason 🙂
Like I said, the idea was good in theory because it made sense for the City to kick start development with the municipal offices, and the subway-GO Transit interchange (provincial money) would have encouraged commercial and light industrial development.
Unfortunately the idea of the little ‘City of York’ needing its own centre and subway line was laughable … the timing of the recession, Harris stopping construction on the Eglinton West line, and the amalgamation of the 5 cities and the Borough of East York into the City of Toronto did not help either.
Combine that with 20 years of sprawl-friendly taxation and land use policies in Peel, York and Durham (which, ironically, put pressure on their own planned ‘centres’) and it’s not surprising that infill has only started happening recently.
Christopher Hume once wrote that the Eglinton West line should have been a crosstown line from Dufferin to Bayview instead of the Allen Black Creek proposal. Perhaps if the Cities of Toronto and York were ‘sharing’ a subway on Eglinton (from Bayview to Black Creek) then that line would have been built instead of Sheppard … and there would be a lot more infill development in Toronto today.
In any case … I do hope that the Mount Dennis Mobility Hub will promote the kind of mixed-use infill development Toronto needs.
Steve: Sadly, if we want an idea of what York politicians consider to be “good” development, just look at the former Packing House District at Keele and St. Clair. Although technically it is part of the old city of Toronto, it is presided over by Etobicoke-York Council and members with a distinctly unambitious sense of placemaking.
There were plans going back 20 years or more to completely rebuild the intersection and have new ramps flying over the 401 etc. and extend the ring road to the east of Yonge south all the way to the 401.
The OMB did say at one point that development had to stop until transportation was improved, which was why Mel pushed so hard to build the Sheppard Subway as the Sheppard Subway let development on Yonge north of Sheppard proceed.
The ring roads should have had development on both sides – maybe midrise redevelopment fronting on the ring road rather than the way it was done which was designed in a very suburban/traffic engineering way which blocked of streets to prevent infiltration etc.
Redevelopment of Sheppard and Finch for several blocks on either side of Yonge in a way that was more walkable should also have been part of this, as apart from the plans which really was purely linear.
It is absurd to have the long line up of cars lined up on southbound Yonge waiting for a green light to get onto the eastbound ramp … this is one example where Crowley might have been right – we spent a billion on the Sheppard subway instead.
Steve: And two more things. First, the Sheppard line was not needed to allow for extra density in North York, but by arranging to have the two items linked, Mel was able to campaign for his precious subway as more than a vanity project. Second, there were plans for development charges to recoup some of the subway’s cost, but Mel was sure to arrange that projects in the pipeline were exempted.
Ah yes … the so-called ‘temporary development’ coming from small-pad retail and big box store combinations. That same community council approved similar developments all along The Queensway west of the Humber River (despite the plan for ‘Avenue intensification’) including the disturbing Sobeys development just west of the Humber loop.
The earliest parts (the movie theatre, sports store, book store and 3 restaurants) of the ‘temporary development’ north of Square One shopping centre are now in their 18th year.
What you say makes sense. We could ‘save’ money and be more efficient by perhaps paying companies to relocate to major transit lines. Just as a quick example, perhaps paying a few companies in Vaughan to move to the new Subway location would help. As would moving more companies along the Highway 7 corridor.
But there hasn’t really been much in this direction. I can only recall a few coordination attempts. I think (I could be wrong) about the only major move I heard about was Motorala moving its location to ‘Downtown Markham’.
I’ll also agree the amount of money we’re spending is huge. The Eglinton CrossTown itself is costing something like 6 billion dollars… and the darn thing won’t even get to the airport in or connect to the Mississauga BRT (and that employment zone) in the first phase.
As an aside, relative to the amount we spend on healthcare and education every single year, even this major project is a pittance. It’s like fighting over scraps.
I definitely think Steve has a point that we do have the region we have. We can’t suddenly reshape the entire city.
But I do think that past planning mistakes will need some corrective money. We can and should be spending some money to fix mistakes of the past and in my view this means some spending connecting transit systems even if it is not optimal. It means some money slowly move some buildings away from the distant office park to better locations. It doesn’t need to all happens and be for everyone, but moving some people will make transit and traffic better and more useful.
I happen to disagree that it is all about ‘market forces’. The government has always taken a big role in deciding where major institutions (like hospitals, universities …) are located, what industries to prop up, as well as deciding where to target infrastructure.
Steve – you are wrong – see Transit Toronto’s copy of an article by Royson James, Toronto Star, November 2002.
Steve: I stand by my claim. Many of the people who have bought into the new condos do not work downtown and certainly did not contribute to traffic along Sheppard that would have swamped North York. Their primary attractions are the 401 and the DVP for commute trips which the subway is singularly unable to support. Of course the official story at the time will be that the subway was “needed” to support the development, but it is precisely that story that I challenge.
One unexpected source of support for the Sheppard line was Jack Layton who did a deal with Mel to support his suburban subway in return for killing more rapid transit capacity into the core. We are still paying for that short-sighted political tradeoff.
As for all of the folks in Willowdale who “would be protected from traffic intrusion and rampant intensification”, well, much of “old” Willowdale has been redeveloped, and that without even benefit of a station at Willowdale (provided for but not built) and with appallingly infrequent bus service.
As for development charges, Mel also pushed the idea that the private sector would kick in to pay for it. When this didn’t materialise, the City did impose higher development charges along Sheppard, but no development occurred and so the idea was dropped. At a meeting at Metro Hall last year on increasing development charges, I brought up the idea that instead of having the same rates of development charges all across the city, the city should be using the provision allowing for development charges to cover small areas as a means of raising money for specific projects instead of using Section 37 (which only large projects pay, as opposed to all development contributing). The failure of the Sheppard Subway development charges was cited as the reason for not trying this.
Steve: The “failure” on Sheppard was that Mel arranged for the DC charges to take effect after all his buddies in the development industry had their applications approved so that they were not caught by that net. It was salesmanship by Mel to make pols think the developers would contribute, when in fact they were freeloading. Developers love to see the public sector pay for infrastructure to benefit their projects, and they scream bitterly when asked to cough up a share. That said, the amount of money available from DCs (either city wide, or area-specific) is only a small fraction of the cost of subways and other infrastructure needed to serve new development.
The biggest shaper of cities was the US Interstate program – which made the flight to the suburbs far easier and cities from Miami to Detroit were mutilated and the owners of nearby farmland were the big winners.
Spending billions on a DRL is no different. A simple solution would be this – increase all development charges in the city for both residential and commercial properties (most commercial properties are exempt) – then exempt the inner suburbs commercial development from development charges and apply tax breaks. The city might even go into the development business itself, like relocating workers to Eglinton and Don Mills.
In a way, we would be better off leaving the Portlands as they are to be developed in 50 years – talk about an area of the city that is difficult to serve by both transit and by road. I still like the idea of making Downsview into a major employment centre by getting Bombardier to move – and then running the Sheppard Subway west to Allen Road would make some sense. Talk about a waste of land – keeping Downsview airport for the handful of flights, and only really for the benefit of one manufacturer, is absurd. That is where we need to be intensifying.
Steve: Please document your claim that “most commercial properties are exempt” from Development Charges. The city is planning to get a pot load of money from them over the coming decade. Note that by law (provincial) they can only be applied to new, not existing, buildings. You cannot say “look, I gave you a new subway station, now pay more taxes” except to the extent that the station pushes up the market value, and through that, the property tax. If you want a local improvement charge, look for a big fight from people who will say “but we don’t want a subway station here”.
This will be particularly true of residential property owners who could portray a locally based tax as an attempt to have them pay for a line whose primary beneficiaries are commuters from afar. Remember that commercial property values can rise fairly quickly thanks to higher rents at a desirable location. Residential property values may go up on paper, but owners cannot actually realize their gain unless they sell and move elsewhere. This is a problem, in general, with Market Value Assessment that taxes people for the imputed value of their land.
Anyone buying condos and working Downtown would use the Yonge subway – any other transit improvements were because of other traffic being generated. Mel was given a choice – improve the roads OR improve public transit, which meant a Sheppard Subway. There would have been little support for spending money on a highway interchange, which was really a provincial road matter, whereas the City could build the subway as long as the province kicked in. Road building has become politically unacceptable, particularly to Downtown Councillors.
Circa 1990, Downtown North York was not supposed to be so heavily weighted towards condos, the cars would have been to bring in more workers, and/or for condo owners driving to places other than Downtown. The Subway did remove the high number of buses using Sheppard.
As for DCs, very little development on Sheppard was exempted from DCs – projects like the condos south of Bayview Village, the Concord Adex redevelopment of the former Canadian Tire site etc. didn’t happen until long after the subway was built and the extra DCs removed – not before.
Another issue was, of course, that no station was built at Willowdale and heights/density were kept low along parts of Sheppard.
DCs can pay a big share of the cost of any infrastructure, but Toronto has deliberately kept them low until changes passed this year which have yet to take effect – but one of the issues going forward is that the provincial rules for DCs are too restrictive in terms of how they are calculated or applicable.
Steve: Finally you have come to the issue of provincial limitations on the scale of DCs. You may recall from the debates on the proposed new Bylaw that the development industry screamed that they could not absorb the full jump (almost 100%) in the level of DCs immediately and wanted a phase in. (For readers unfamiliar with the process, the DCs are only adjusted once every 10 years, and we face a big jump because we no longer have spare capacity in existing infrastructure with which to absorb new development.) I would be amused to see the reaction if even higher DCs were proposed, or if the net were cast more widely.
The lion’s share of the development until after the Sheppard subway opened was clustered at Yonge Street and, to some extent, Willowdale. This development certainly did not require a subway for residential use, and a good argument can be made that even if there had been a larger proportion of commercial space, it would be well served by the Yonge line and would draw workers from many directions, not just Sheppard East. Such commercial development as there is in “Downtown North York” has not fared well, and that’s why the development shifted to residential.
Re the timing of developments, you mention that the developments at Bayview, Canadian Tire, etc., came well after the subway-related DC had expired. If anything, this suggests that the level of development expected to trigger traffic problems and hence the need for the subway was either exaggerated, or expected on a much shorter timeframe. As I have said before, much of the newer development is attracted at least as much by the presence of the 401 and DVP as by the subway. One way or another, the taxpayers at large, not the developers and through them new condo buyers, paid for the Sheppard line, and continue to pay through the operating and capital maintenance costs it incurs.
I’d say that the subway is an afterthought at best and the proximity to the 401 & DVP is the main desirability factor. After all, the city couldn’t give away Metropasses to the residents moving into the new buildings along Sheppard.
Steve: Actually, developers were required to bulk-buy passes for the residents of their new buildings as a condition of approval to force-feed the subway with transit riders. Most of these passes went unused showing how you can’t give a service away if it’s not what people want.
This was the problem – the city had intentionally kept DCs below the maximum they were allowed to charge/recover, in order to encourage condo development. Toronto DCs were far lower per condo (or house) than in the 905, and would not be much different after the full amount was put in place.
Toronto is only supposed to get 17%-19% of population growth, under the growth plan, yet for several years has been getting 40%-47% or all housing starts – so apart from the fiscal realities, there is no need for Toronto to encourage more condos given the record number of cranes and the fact that the housing starts are really being stolen from the 905, which as Neptis reported, has been treating the intensification policies/growth plan as maximums.
On Sheppard, we are likely to see a further decline in jobs – the 1100-1300 Shepard East office buildings, just north of the overpass west of Leslie, are slated to be demolished and that whole area to become a major condo development. Keeping condo DCs low is having the perverse effect of encouraging demolition of office buildings and employment uses.
The idea of giving away Metropasses is stupid, except that in general, giving somebody a “free sample” can encourage them to convert or use a product. Most Metropass users are either people who have no access to a car, or who use the TTC to get to and from a job during rush hour. So the overall idea that giving Metropasses away was bound to be a failure given how poor transit is to places where many people work – people working the core and living in North York likely already use Metropasses if transit is the most convenient and viable option.
I wonder how different things would have been if the proposed subway on Eglinton was to run from Keele to Bayview … More or less the tunneled portion of today’s Eglinton Crosstown (or even Dufferin to Bayview as Christopher Hume has written).
Would Layton have supported a crosstown Eglinton subway instead the Sheppard subway … as it would have helped parts of Toronto without affecting his ward … or would he still have bowed to Mel Lastman’s push for Sheppard?
Steve: Layton was doing a tradeoff against more subway/transportation capacity into downtown. What he voted for in the suburbs to buy “anti” votes for a downtown line is immaterial.
And one wonders … if Sheppard had not built as a subway but instead as an LRT (even with a tunneled portion from Senlac to Bayview) they would have saved significant money by not having to build the wye connection to the Yonge line. They would also have needed an LRT Yard and it probably would have occupied a part of the Downsview lands.
Perhaps Bombardier would have seen the opportunity and converted their aircraft facility into a streetcar construction and maintenance facility to ensure they would win the LRV contract … and much of the airport lands (at least the northern portion where the Sheppard Jog exists) would have been redeveloped by now.
Steve: Bombardier already had rail car plants elsewhere and the cost of setting up a new one in Downsview would have been prohibitive. Moreover, it would go politically against support for Northern Ontario.
If I may add, you need to include the fact that Metrolinx values passenger time at $13.52 per hour. Does anyone actually believe that residents in any of the condo towers at Bayview and Sheppard value their time at or below Metrolinx’s $13.52 per hour threshold? By valuing passenger time at slightly over minimum wage Metrolinx distorts the appeal of transit options to different subsets of residents.
Steve: In fairness to Metrolinx, the free pass idea had nothing to do with them, and the agency didn’t even exist at the time. It was a brainwave by then TTC Chair Howard Moscoe, also a long-time North York Councillor.
Your point, however, about the value of time (real or perceived depending on which market one considers) is important.
The Subway/LRT was driven by the number of bus passengers coming to Yonge from the East … one of the reasons why the plan has always been to extend it to Scarborough and connecting the subway west to Sheppard and Allen has been a low priority.
But also, we have gone full circle – in the 1980s, the TTC had little desire to build Streetcar or LRT lines and all of the engineering staff and planning was geared only to subways (much as Ontario Hydro had tunnel vision and only really wanted to build nuclear to meet future demand, until the Liberal’s green policies to precedence) – and now we are back to the idea again of “subways uber alles”
Unless lines are connected to other LRT lines, then each one needs to be self sufficient and have its own storage and maintenance facilities – the Sheppard LRT currently in the Big Move would have a facility east of Markham – I assume that the Finch LRT would need to also be entirely self-contained.
Ideally, all of the LRT lines planned for North York and Scarborough should have been connected and then expanded by extending or connecting with existing lines. I would have proposed a series of LRTs that included a line running from York U to Seneca College, which could then have been extended east, rather than typically adding in LRTs down the middle of already crowded roads like Sheppard or Finch.
Steve: The original Transit City plan was a network that would have shared three carhouses – Eglinton West, Scarborough and Finch West, with Eglinton also being the main shops. Chopping the plan apart created the present, disjointed situation.
But the latter are shown as listed as centres of growth in the provincial plan (and the province overrides the city as the province is a constitutional creation and the city is not and Dalton McGuinty can just wake up tomorrow and say that there is no such thing as Toronto or rather his puppet can say it for him should Dalton decide that there is to be no more Toronto).
Steve: Have you been asleep? Dalton McGuinty is not Premier any more, and Kathleen Wynne is hardly his puppet. Queen’s Park shows no signs of interfering in development patterns within Toronto. Moreover, as discussed at length here, development will only appear on Pape or at the suburban “centres” if there is a market for it, not because some tin-pot planning dictator draws a map.
Don’t justify a subway in a low density area simply because it is listed in a city document to be created as an avenue at some unspecified point in the future but built where there already is high density such as Scarborough Town Centre and Agincourt area. If Pape wants a subway, then they have to agree to high density and demolishing of small houses and small shops to make way for the same. I have no problem with a Pape subway as long as the residents agree to high density.
Steve: Your thesis is bogus. Neighbourhoods to not “want a subway” and agree to high density, especially when the purpose of a route is to bring people from other parts of the city through them to a major node like downtown. Large parts of the BD and YUS corridors should, according to you, have embraced intensification and been demolished decades ago. You really need to get off your hobby horse of expecting Pape to do the same thing.
And what is wrong with a downtown relief line? Downtown is where relief is needed the most and not in some low density area like Pape. Existing transit on Pape runs very well unlike downtown where all of our buses and streetcars and roads are jampacked. Scarborough RT is also jampacked. If you are going to build subways, then build them in Downtown and to replace the Scarborough RT i.e. where there is most overcrowding.
Steve: Stop calling it a Pape line. The route would serve Thorncliffe Park, Flemingdon Park, and then go north to act as a collector for services in the Don Mills corridor and the western part of Scarborough. If it stops at Danforth, the only effect will be to siphon some peak period traffic off of the Danforth-Downtown travel pattern, but do nothing for the severe crowding on Yonge north of Bloor. Moreover, it would add nothing by way of alternative routes through the network for people travelling from the near north-eastern suburbs.
It is unclear where the route would go, except that it would end at Don Mills and Eglinton if fully built out with both phases … but as we know, plans keep changing. The line could go stright down Don Mills and completely bypass Thorncliffe – as the line could be as far east as Coxwell (in which case it might be east of the Don Mils interchange).
Steve: You really have not been paying attention to what I have been proposing. On one hand you attack specifics of my proposal (Pape) and then claim that you don’t know how the line would get to Eglinton which is another part of my “Don Mills Subway”. This argument is getting tedious because you simply find something new to complain about in each round. Further installments will be deleted if you have nothing new to say.
It is unlikely the line would use the Leaside Bridge, particularly if it a subway instead of an LRT. It is not even clear from the materials presented at P&GM which type of line it will be and there are 2 parallel lines that show this.
Steve: The Leaside Bridge does not have the structural support for LRT because the extra strength was used up when the roadway was widened to six lanes. Also, there are problems with curve radii for LRT at both ends of the bridge. There is no possibility of a subway under the bridge. This is not the Prince Edward Viaduct and was never intended to be one.
I still think that what makes the most sense is an LRT from Don Mills and Eglinton, turning west to go through Thorncliffe, with a GO train station near Millwood (where the original Leaside train station was until the 70s) and then run the LRT line above ground to Castle Frank, then underground under Parliament. This would mean extra linkages between a Midtown GO line (that might go across to Yonge & Summerhill OR to Union) and the TTC.
My theory is that the TTC needs to think more about moving people long distances more quickly – which is not what the LRTs running down the middle of avenues model is designed to do. The priority should be to tie TTC lines into GO train stations (current and planned) wherever possible – to that end, the Scarborough Subway extension is a mistake as the Subway line should go east to the Eglinton station before turning north up Markham Road.
There should be a 100 year “Master Plan” for subway and GO lines, rather than each decision being more short-sighted.
Steve: Thank you for your opinion. I don’t agree, and please consider the discussion at an end.
Precisely – this map shows a Jane LRT going up to Finch, connecting Finch in to the rest of the LRT network.
Otherwise what happens on an LRT line if a lot of vehicles are in need of repairs? There is no ability to easily get vehicles from one line to another to meet the needs of each line for more vehicles, or to get repairs done in another shop if one shop can’t handle the workload.
Steve: Part of this is dealt with on the basis of modularity and transportability with parts, not an entire car, going to a “main” shops for repair. But, yes, having one network is what was, and should still be, planned.
I almost hesitate to engage such people but if they insist on harping on density the entire Pape/Don Mills corridor from Eastern to Eglinton is more dense than the entire Sheppard or McCowan corridor from top to bottom.
This is true when we talk only about residential density and remains true when employment is factored into the mix. Once more office buildings come online along King and Eastern the draw of the line will increase.
Speaking of which you may have noticed that a line that traverses Pape and Don Mills will in fact go through downtown.
Toronto has this thing called “FREE TRANSFERS” which many cities do not. The purpose of a station on the new line at Pape or Greenwood or Donlands is not to serve those neighbourhoods but to provide another way for people from the east to get downtown without using the Yonge Subway.
Would you want to rip out the Yonge subway at Summerhill and Rosedale because they are in low density neighbourhoods not to mention half the stations on Bloor Danforth? Toronto has arguably the best network of surface feeders for its subway. This, not local density, provides most of the riders for the subway system.
What alignment would you use to get to Castle Frank Station from Thorncliffe? You would have passengers transfer from LRT to GO to Yonge subway to get downtown. The point of the new line is to provide for a faster ride and to divert passengers from the Yonge line. Your plan would do neither.
If your theory is the need for more speed why did you propose the LRT line to Castle Frank and then underground down Parliament. What is the purpose of running running the subway to Eglinton GO? Do you live near it and want a cheaper faster ride? Where is the demand for such a line?
I agree that there should be more integration between GO and the TTC but we do not need to run a subway to every GO station. What we need is to look at the needs from a total network viewpoint and not from a local one. We cannot afford to build subways everywhere.
There are a lot more people who would benefit from the faster service that would be provided by the suburban LRT lines than would benefit from a high speed subway service with relatively few stops on those routes. Go out and ride some of the suburban lines from time to time and notice how much of their ridership is relatively local. It is these riders that give the TTC its high off peak use. It is the lack of these riders that results in GO being a mainly rush hour service.
Just as a line running up Pape or Coxwell would need to cross the Don Valley (above ground) to get to Don Mills and Overlea, an LRT from Thorncliffe (west of Overlea and Millwood) would be above ground and follow the railway tracks and then the Bayview extension to just north of Bloor – it would likely have a stop at the Brickworks and at the top Bayview near Nesbitt.
Steve: You seem to have no sense of the grades involved in this proposal. I can see them by looking out my window. This is not a viable route.
Neptis’s report suggest a free shuttle bus from the GO station to Eglinton and Kennedy. I would keep the above ground RT/LRT and in the long term (50 years) run the subway west to Eglinton and Markham to the GO station, then up Markham Road to Ellesmere (it could then either go west to Scarborough Town Centre or continue north to Sheppard).
I think Steve and Neptis and others agree that the GO railway corridors can be used better to move more people over long distances for less of an investment than a bunch of Subway lines – so where possible linking in GO station (Eglinton and Markham, Sheppard at Kennedy, etc.) to subways or LRTs makes a lot of sense to make trips and transfers far easier.
Steve: I agree that GO should do more, but not in the context the DRL is intended to address.
I think you need to get out and actually look at and perhaps walk the routes that you propose. They are illogical, convoluted and serve no real purpose other than looking pretty on a map, which unfortunately is 2 dimensional. Get a topographical map of your Castle Frank route and look at the grades.
An LRT would likely be at the level of the railway tracks north of Millwood, slope gently towards Bayview – there would need to be a low point in the line near the Evergreen Brickworks, then it would need to go uphill and then would be below grade into the slope of the valley west of the Bayview/Bloor interchange – it would likely be below the grade of the subway at Castle Frank so as to cross under it (then slope up to use the existing bridge across Rosedale valley). But just as large parts of the Scarborough RT are elevated, portions of the line I propose would need to be elevated as well – possibly around the Brickworks – the key would be to minimise tunneling … several routes are possible because it is mostly open space.
email at email@example.com and I will email you a map.
Steve: I do not agree with your fundamental premise about moving people long distances to downtown. This should not excuse the creation of routes that go well out of the way from the point of having workable catchment areas.
The rail corridors have their purpose, but for the most part this is not for fine-grained “in town” travel.
There have been several comments about how Pape Avenue is a low density neighbourhood. Just about any route out of downtown to the east is going to pass through such a neighbourhood to get to any place further north regardless of which node we might pick as the target. Any DRL alignment will be a balancing act between locations with development potential, improved connectivity and contribution to network capacity.
I think we have done this debate to death here and in previous iterations. No further comments on this alignment will be posted.
Why should GO not do anything to address what the Downtown Relief Line (DRL) is supposed to address if it can do so for a mere tens of millions of dollars instead of the 10 billion dollars needed for a DRL subway? Is it because you feel that you deserve a subway? Coucillor Mike Layton, TTC Chair and Councillor Karen Stintz as well as many others have already said that a DRL already exists in the form of GO Trains and we need only integrate GO stations with TTC stations and also integrate schedules and fares, so why waste another 10 billion dollars on a new DRL when one (almost) already exists?
Steve: You miss my point. There are two distinct types of demand. One comes from the outer parts of the 416 and the 905 — this is definitely GO territory and we should be intercepting peak riders before they even get to the Yonge subway. There is no reason to build a “DRL” all the way to Steeles Avenue when we already have rail corridors doing the same thing. The other demand is “in town”, roughly from the 401 south, and this is not well-served by the rail corridors (nor could it be given their locations). That’s what the DRL is for.
This is not a case where one “solution” provides a complete answer to the problem. Moreover, the DRL does more than just provide parallel capacity for the YUS, it adds new options for travel in the network generally improving journeys for a variety of customers, not just downtown commuters.