Three Eras of Planning

This article is adapted from a presentation I gave on February 26, 2014, to Paul Bedford’s planning class at Ryerson University.  Paul’s students have a term assignment to design a plan for the GTA in 2067 (as well as other papers along the way).  They will work in teams, just as real-world planners would, and have to consider many factors that would inform a 50-year plan.

The date was chosen to be far enough in the future that the students would have to live with the theoretical consequences, and also because it is Canada’s bicentennial year.  2067 is also well beyond the horizon of many plans already sitting in libraries requiring consideration of what lies beyond work already done.

With this as a starting point, I realized that there are two eras roughly the same length in my own history.  One is the post WWII period during which I was born, grew up and have lived my life as a transit advocate (among many other hats).  One is the era from the 1890s to the 1940s that was dominated by the growth of public transit, but eclipsed by the automotive industry especially after the war.  The tension between the first and second eras, between two views of private and public transport, underlies all of the planning debates we have today, and will be central to any plans for the third era, the next fifty years.

Apologies to those who have seen some of my previous talks on the evolution of transit in Toronto.  Some illustrations are good as examples of certain developments, and I am constrained by material available in the City Archives and other online collections, as well as material in my own library.  It is not unknown for academics to recycle material for lectures, and I am following a well-worn path.

Many thanks to Paul Bedford for the invitation to speak to his class, and to his students for their interest.

Technology Defines Travel

The ability to travel from one place to another is defined by the technology that is broadly available to a population.  Almost everyone can walk, and for millenia the distance one could walk in a day (either one way or as a round trip) defined the reasonable limit of someone’s daily life.  If you were a bit better off, you might have a horse, and that horse might even pull a carriage.  (Alternatives such as camels are obvious, but the principle is the same.)

Large-scale transport by road was difficult mainly because roads as we know them today are a recent phenomenon.  More common was travel by water, and it is no co-incidence that many old cities lie advantageously on rivers, lakes or seas where access to this method of transport was easy.  Barely two centuries ago, the railway as we know it made its appearance as a means of travel.  This technology developed both for urban and intercity travel with freight being an important part of rail traffic between cities and rural areas producing goods.

Within cities, street railway cars were hauled by horses, and some local rail operations (including early subway and elevated railways) used steam locomotives.  The real change came in the 1890s with the electrification of urban transport.  This allowed the horses to be replaced by streetcars, and steam-hauled trains to be replaced by early subway cars.  An explosion of urban public transportation quickly followed.

The automobile did not appear until early in the 20th century, and it was not widely available for decades during which public transit became well established.  A full embrace of motoring was further delayed by the Great Depression and by World War II, but soon thereafter, the motor car became the classic American dream and cities changed to support it.

Oddly enough, traffic congestion has always been a problem going back to Roman days and beyond with the perennial problem of too many horsecarts and not enough streets.  It is possible to have a city without congestion, but this tends to be only in places with vast amounts of space compared to population and travel demand.  Some of Toronto’s suburbs once enjoyed this condition, but now they are jammed with traffic as population and travel demand overwhelm available road space.

Three Eras

For the purpose of this talk, I have divided history into three planning eras.  In practice these overlap, and the onset of automotive travel goes back to the early days of Henry Ford.  But for a time, public transit had the market more or less to itself, and large cities could profitably build transit networks of streetcars and subways.

  • 1900 to 1950: Public transit’s rise and eclipse
  • 1950 to present: The automobile era
  • The future city

Yonge & Steeles 1890

J.C. Steele’s hotel greets travellers by horse and carriage in 1890.  This was the interurban travel of its day, but electric railways would soon follow and change the way people travelled around cities.

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Yonge Looking North to Richmond Hill 1906

Sixteen years later, the electric railway serves the still very rural Richmond Hill. This line ran from Yonge at the CPR crossing near Summerhill all the way to Sutton (“Metro Road” around the south shore of Lake Simcoe follows the old “Metropolitan Division” of the radial railway network).

This view is a bit north of Major Mackenzie.  The churches in the background are visible on Google Street View today.

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Boston: Pleasant Street Incline Junction Opened 1897

The arrival of electric railways and streetcars in the 1890s allowed large scale expansion of city transit systems on streets and below-ground (steam engines ran through some early “tube” lines in London and on elevated railways in New York, among other places, but they were not ideal for frequent urban service). Toronto electrified in 1892. Meanwhile, in Boston, the traffic congestion of streetcars downtown was so great that they were moved underground in 1897 to the Tremont Street Subway that grew to become today’s “Green Line”.

Pleasant_Street_Incline_junction

Subway Envy

Why don’t we have a subway network like New York, London, Paris?  I  hear this question frequently in comments on my website and in political debates around the city.  There is one very simple explanation: population.

Population of cities in 1900:

  • Old City of Toronto: 208,000
  • What is now the City of Toronto, the “416”: 238,000
  • Island of Manhattan:  1.8 million
  • New York City:  3.4 million
  • Paris:  Over 3 million
  • Greater London:  Over 6 million

It is no surprise that the larger cities had the travel demand and the economic support for the construction of public transit systems, many of them as private, for-profit companies.  New York had two competing subway companies to which a third municipal company was later added.  They are all now consolidated into the MTA system.

By way of comparison, the island of Manhattan would fit in a box roughly 21.6 x 3.7 km.  By contrast, the area in Toronto from Royal York to Victoria Park, St. Clair to Queen is 18.9 x 4.1km.  Manhattan had roughly nine times the population of the old City of Toronto and had many more beyond its borders at a time much of what we now call the GTA was farmland.

During the period when private transport was rare and expensive, major “transit cities” had much larger populations than Toronto and public transit had no competition.  It served dense cities and operated at a profit including the privately-owned Toronto Railway Company.

Queen & Yonge About 1890 Looking North

Although “downtown” Toronto’s main street is lined with stores, they are mostly an earlier generation than the ones we know today.  Indeed the generation of buildings that replaced these has itself disappeared under redevelopment.

The Eaton Centre stands on the west side of Yonge now.  On the east side, the shell of an old Bank of Montreal holds the Maritime Life Insurance building, now part of Manulife, and further north is the Elgin-Wintergarden Theatre.  None of these buildings existed in 1890.

The public transit is provided by a horse car operating on the Toronto Street Railway Company.  A few years later, under the Toronto Railway Company, this line would run with electric cars.

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St. Clair & Dufferin 1912

As the city grew by annexing what had been separate towns, the street railway kept pace, for a time, but the Toronto Railway Company eventually stopped expansion claiming that it had only agreed to build lines in the City of Toronto as it existed in 1891 when the franchise to operate transit service was granted.  As a result, the city built its own carlines beyond TRC territory, one of which was the St. Clair line seen here in the brand new neighbourhood around Dufferun Street.  In the far distance are the buildings of the meat packing industry already established at Keele Street.

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Map of Toronto Streetcar Lines 1912

This map shows the network of streetcar lines as it existed in 1912.  Note the absence of routes on St. Clair, Bloor West and Danforth which would become Toronto Civic lines.  At the edges of the map are the Weston line (which had gone to Woodbridge but was cut back  in 1906 because there wasn’t enough demand), the Dundas line to Lambton Park, and the Yonge (Metropolitan) line heading off into the wilds of North Toronto and beyond.

1912TorontoStreetcarMapSmall

Streetcar Subway Proposals 1910

Following on the success of subways elsewhere in North America, the firm of Jacons & Davies was hired to plan a streetcar subway for Toronto.  The situation was not at Boston’s scale, but Toronto had ambitions, and this was the proposal to address them.  This is the first appearance of a U-shaped line into downtown that would reappear over the years both as a streetcar tunnel and as a conventional subway for Queen Street.  The Yonge subway is also on this map running north to St. Clair with a sketched in east-west route there (including a crossing, still unbuilt today, of the Don Valley to connect at what is now Broadview & O’Connor).

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Queen & Yonge 1929

We’re back at Queen & Yonge again, roughly four decades after the previous photo.  It’s August 1929, a month before the stock market crash and the beginning of the Great Depression.  The street is jammed with streetcars, and there were well travelled lines on Church and Bay too.  A quarter-century before the subway would open, the “Yonge Street corridor”, as we would say today, had very frequent service and heavy transit demand.
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Streetcar Subway Plans 1942 & 1944

The depression and World War II slowed down the expansion of transit (several proposed extensions such as lines into Forest Hill and Leaside never got beyond provision of bridges that could carry future streetcar routes), but it didn’t stop planning.  By 1942, a proposed streetcar subway network would merge services from several lines together into downtown routes on Adelaide and on Bay.

Note the use of the old Belt Line railway (itself a failed attempt at suburban property development that lasted only from 1890 to 1892) line for a route from Dufferin & Eglinton east to join the Yonge line at Davisville (the bridge at Davisville Yards is a remnant of that railway), and the Nordheimer Ravine to connect the St. Clair route into the top of Bay Street (a route that would be followed years later by the Spadina subway).

FutureRapidTransit1942

A few years later, a 1944 plan shows the Yonge subway as we know its initial Union-to-Eglinton stage, and the Queen Street streetcar subway fed by surface routes.  This has some of the “U” flavour of the 1910 scheme, but its reach has adjusted to the now-larger developed part of the city.

TTCRapidTransit1944

Simcoe Portal Queen Street Subway

The Queen Streetcar Subway would have been underground only through the central area from east of Jarvis to west of University.  Here a streetcar emerges into an open cut at Simcoe Street that would not look out of place on the Yonge subway north of Rosedale in the mid-50s.  Note how shallow the tunnel is, probably an unreasonable depiction given that downtown streets already had a maze of utilities below them.

The report in which this appeared talked quite cavalierly about the demolition of buildings along the north side of Queen West which was considered to be a run-down neighbourhood that would benefit from the new transit construction.  Imagine making a statement like that today for any line drawn through any neighbourhood.

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Highway Master Plan 1943

Transit dominance was not to be, and even before WWII was over, planners proposed a network of superhighways (“super” is a relative term compared with today’s 16-lane wide 401).  Some parts of this map show the beginnings of familiar highways today such as the Gardiner and 401, but others take a very different form and there are far more highways on the map than were ever built.

Imagine an expressway running parallel to Bloor Street from Jane to Yonge, the jogging into Rosedale Valley and finally out along Gerrard Street through the east end to meet up with Kingston Road.

Toronto_Planning_Board_1943_master_plan

Bloor & St. George With Superhighway

Here is a sketch looking southeast to Bloor and St. George.  The Medical Arts Building is still on the northwest corner, but the Bloor Subway runs along the route once planned for the highway.  The old streetcar in the highway median is a nice touch, and in those days two lanes each way seemed to be the design target.  Think of wider roads.  Think of ramps.  This is a classic way to underplay the real effect of a highway project.

BloorSuperhighway1943

TTC 1954 Route Map

In March 1954, the TTC opened the Yonge Subway from Union to Eglinton.  In those days, the system didn’t go much further out into the suburbs, and gaps in the map are notable at major valleys.  The TTC took over operation of private bus companies serving what might then be called the “inner suburbs” and consolidated their routes into the TTC network.  Note that the northeast and northwest corners of what was now Metropolitan Toronto are completely empty.

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TTC 1966 Route Map

In Febuary 1966, the Bloor-Danforth subway opened from Keele to Woodbine.  By now, the suburban bus network was much more extensive (although service levels were nowhere near those on downtown routes).  Outer corners of the city, notably in northern Scarborough, were still without service because there was almost no population to serve.

guide196602a

 

The Modern Suburbs

In several lectures, I have trotted out this photo as an example of just how young Toronto’s suburbs are.  The challenge (don’t scroll down just yet) is to guess when and where this was taken.  There is a bit of a hint to the era from the age of the car in the sideroad in the distance.

1965FinchWoodbine2_web

That “sideroad” is Woodbine, and the main road we are on is Finch Avenue looking east in 1965.  This location is now the top end of the Don Valley Parkway where it morphs into Highway 404.  There are no farms here.

Toronto Zoo 1975

Ten years later, the new Zoo opened in Scarborough.  On opening day, it was still a work in progress, but visible beyond its border is a working farmhouse.  I have walked in this area before the Zoo opened along Finch Avenue with an apple orchard on one side and a field of sheep on the other.

1975Zoo_web

1964 Transportation Plan

In this 1964 plan, what is noteworth is the relatively small amount of rapid transit.  We can see the Yonge-University-Spadina line (extending only to Downsview in the west, and Sheppard in the east) plus the Bloor-Danforth line from Islington to Warden Stations.  There is reference to “Intermediate Rapid Transit” that would eventually become the “GO ALRT” proposal, and to Commuter Rail (GO Transit did not start operations until 1967).

(Note that the Spadina subway runs up Bathurst Street in this version.)

The biggest component of the plan is the highway network including the 400 South, Richview, Spadina, Crosstown and Scarborough expressways.  This is most definitely not a transit plan.  Plans for wholesale destruction of parts of the old city for this and similar plans met with fierce opposition at a time when lobbying against the incursion of automobiles was just taking hold in major cities, notably New York.

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Spadina Expressway at Bloor

This view looks south across Bloor Street showing the interchange between the Spadina Expressway and Bloor.  The subway is nowhere to be seen although it would have been under construction when this drawing was prepared.

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TTC 1969 Plan

Although the focus was on roads, the TTC prepared a rapid transit plan in 1966, later updated in 1969.  Originally this was to use streetcars on private rights-of-way in the suburbs, but that scheme was replaced with the “Intermediate Capacity Transit System”, initially to consist of small cars magnetically suspended above their tracks.  The TTC had hopes for the CPR line across Toronto as a commuter rail corridor, but this still remains unused east of West Toronto Junction.

1969TTCPlanMap_web

 

Queen’s Park Has a Better Idea

The original version of TTC’s plan was for what we now call LRT, and the TTC was even working on a new design for a modern car (this eventually, with many changes, became the current generation of “CLRV” streetcar).  Ontario, however, wanted its own “Maglev” system to showcase Ontario technology.

The Maglev trains were claimed to be the “missing link” between buses and subways even though robust LRT and streetcar systems existed throughout Europe and a few older survivors remained in North America.  Queen’s Park didn’t want to hear about LRT, at least until the Maglev project (which never progressed even to a demonstration track around the CNE grounds) failed and the German government pulled funding from its developer, Krauss-Maffei.

For a time, planning reverted to LRT on the proposed Scarborough line (including an extension to Malvern), but work on new technology had continued and brought forth the “ICTS” system we have today on the SRT.  Toronto was forced to adopt this technology or lose its provincial subsidy.  Queen’s park remains only grudgingly supportive of LRT, and they were quick to push many Transit City lines into the background after Rob Ford’s election.

Rapid Transit Expansion Plan 1990

Premier David Peterson thought he would get re-elected on the strength of, among other things, a “chicken in every pot” rapid transit plan.  The TTC learned about some of these projects when Peterson unveiled the map.

Bob Rae won the election, and retained this plan as a make-work program during the early 1990s recession.  The only part actually built was the Sheppard Subway to Don Mills, and some preliminary utility and tunnel work on Eglinton West, subsequently cancelled by Premier Harris.

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Transit Riding 1880 to 2012

Stepping back for a moment from various plans, the chart below shows transit riding for over a century going back into the days of the Toronto Street Railway and the Toronto Railway Company, and continuing with the TTC.  (GO Transit is not included here.)  Note that the scale of years is uneven because I have only included selected values.  The important point is that ridership by 1974 was not much higher than the peak at the end of WWII.  Suburban expansion brought growth up to 1988, but the recession of the 1990s wiped out much of that.  Finally, from 2006 onward, system riding started a consistent path upward reflecting service improvements and the increasing cost/inconvenience of commuting by auto.

TransitPassengersCarried

Transit City 2007

In 2007, the Miller administration proposed Transit City, a network of LRT lines covering suburban Toronto.  This network is built in part around the “priority neighbourhoods” with lower incomes and a greater need for transit, but with a view to making a real network, not one or two disjointed lines.  Only the central part of the Eglinton Crosstown line is under construction.

TransitCityMap

Ford/McGuinty Plan 2011

With the election of Mayor Ford, and the pliant co-operation from Premier McGuinty, Transit City was thrown in the garbage and replaced with a combination Ford-McGuinty creation.  Eglinton survives on a truncated basis as the most important of the Metrolinx projects, but all other routes are sacrificed on the altar of “subways, subways, subways”.  Finch West gets a BRT line, at least on paper, although it is unclear whether this is only “BRT lite” with reserved lanes striped on the roadway in the hope motorists will actually pay attention.  Note the absence of a Scarborough Subway.

RobFordPlan_web

Shifting the Focus to Transit

The Toronto area is built around roads, not transit, and changing this pattern will be a major challenge of the 21st century.  Land use and travel patterns are well established (just look at any old city), and rejuvenation of the older suburbs with their plazas and acres of parking depends on continued population growth to support infill developments.  However, development pressure remains for lower density outward growth.

A big myth about a new transit network is that congestion will  go away.  This is not true, a fact often obscured by the “what would you do with 32 minutes” campaign.  New transit might absorb growth in specific areas, but not all, and massive network expansion is needed just to keep up with the 100k/year growth in regional population and the travel demands this generates.

Available corridors for new transit do not necessarily match existing and future demand patterns.  Planners (professional and amateur) love to draw lines on what they think are available corridors such as highways and hydro lines.  Unfortunately, highways tend to be rather wide and inhospitable for local transit including feeder services and pedestrian access.  Hydro corridors have their own limitations, and in recent years, utilities have become less welcoming of guest uses (other than parking and parkland) under their towers.

Access to any rapid transit network requires very good local transit especially if the primary route sits in the middle of a “corridor” with no adjacent development.

The Big Move’s 25 Year Plan

This map shows the 25-year buildout of the Metrolinx Big Move.  It looks impressive, but the important part is not all the lines on the map, but the huge amount of gray spaces in between.  This is the territory for local service, until quite recently a demand that Metrolinx chose to ignore.

BigMove25YearC2

The Big Move Has Big Limitations

This so-called regional network is missing many important features:

  • There is no local component, and proposed provincial funding for municipal systems will not come close to paying the capital and operating costs of what is needed.
  • The claimed benefits (“what would you do with 32”) require entire network to be completed in order to, on average, reduce future commute times by 32 minutes relative to what happens in a “do nothing” scenario.  Metrolinx has never published measures of the contribution each project in its plan makes to this overall saving, nor a geographic distribution of where the savings occur.
  • Financing of the plan is uncertain and inadequate.  We are still debating whether and what new fees or taxes might be imposed, and the proposed requirement of $2-billion in new money annually has frightened most politicians away from the file.
  • Physical constraints of the corridors were not considered in modelling.  Can we fit all the trains onto the GO and subway networks, not to mention the passengers?
  • Goods movement is an afterthought, and depends mainly on road network for access. Locations of present and future jobs oriented to that network are not necessarily ideal for transit access by workers.
  • Many jobs are outside the City of Toronto and transit access is poor, especially for suburb to suburb travel.

Employment Concentration

Employment in Toronto is concentrated in certain areas.  Downtown is an obvious major node, but others are scattered around the city.  A few of the older areas developed around rail access, but the majority of the employment now clusters around highway corridors.  This pattern will not be easy to change, and a transit plan designed to woo commuters out of cars must fight against land use patterns and job distributions that are not easily served with high-capacity transit routes.

EmploymentConcentration_web

Employment Districts

The City’s official Employment Districts show this pattern even more clearly.

EmploymentDistricts_web

Development Activity / Avenues

Meanwhile, the City’s Official Plan includes “Avenues”, major streets along which development is expected to occur.  Note that actual development activity is very focused on downtown and the near-downtown areas in the old city while the outer corners of the amalagamated city are bare.  This is yet another challenge for transit as these areas contain many potential commuters, but not future growth that can be used as an anchor for new transit lines.  Plans must deal with the city as it is, not in some ideal manner that suits the “transit first” planning we failed to do decades ago.

DevelopmentIntensity_web

Three Cities

The “Three Cities” report was produced by David Hulchanski at the Centre for Urban and Community Studies at UofT.  By analysis of income tax data versus census tracts, the map shows the parts of Toronto where incomes rose greater, about the same, or less than the average for the city as a whole.  Not surprisingly, “City 1”, the affluent city, is along the Yonge Street corridor and is primarily in the “old” City of Toronto with outliers in southern Scarborough, Swansea and The Kingsway.  “City 3” is the poorer part of the city which also has large concentrations of recent immigrants and families where people must take multiple jobs and are particularly dependent on public transit to get around the region.  (In an updated version based on more recent data, “City 2” is being squeezed out by the growth of the more affluent and poorer sections.)

City 3 also is the location which is furthest from frequent transit service especially in the Ford plan.  Meanwhile, it contains rail lines that could better connect outlying areas to downtown if only GO Transit considered this part of its service territory and did not discriminate against short trips with high fares.  On the TTC front, the portions of Transit City that served the outer areas were largely cut and replaced by rapid transit lines that serve more central parts of the city.

ThreeCities_web

Downtown as a New Centre

Downtown Toronto has resumed its major role thanks to condo construction and the renewed interest by businesses in having offices in the core where they are attractive to workers.  How much growth can be sustained by a new compact model of jobs and employment?  When will downtown be completely built out, and where will development turn then?

There are economic limits on workers living close to jobs.  Workers must be able to afford the pricy downtown living, even with the offset of having no car (or at least fewer cars) to support, and the small-sized condos are not necessarily suitable for families workers will acquire as they stay longer in their jobs.

Population and job growth in downtown, impressive though it may be, does not make travel demand and congestion in suburbs vanish.  Much of the new GTA population will continue to settle in the 905 where transit service is poor.

Competition for infrastructure funding (“downtown has enough subways”) may limit the funding available for core area transit, and the need for smaller scale planning (buses, streetcars, cycling, pedestrians) may get pushed aside.

The Eastern Waterfront

The eastern waterfront is a major development area equivalent to a “new town”, a large residential and commercial area stretching from Yonge to east of the Don River, and from the rail corridor south to the lake.  It is as big as the existing downtown Toronto.

This should be a classic exercise in “transit first” planning and infrastructure, but piecemeal development and lack of funding could create a car-oriented community or stifle growth.  Developers are concerned about the lack of access on Queens Quay, and the situation is worse further east.  The Bay and Sherbourne buses do not inspire confidence in a commitment to good transit service.

How will this new town benefit residents of the wider city? Will it become a well-off downtown enclave, or will it have a mix of residents?

Hard Questions About Transportation

What are roads for?  We might reply: transit, autos, goods movement, pedestrians and cyclists.  Another major function, sadly, is storage.  Can we justify giving over a large portion of road space in the old city with its four-lane streets to parking?  Try taking parking spaces away, and the business lobby howls that it will go bankrupt even in areas with heavy pedestrian trade.

Not all roads are created equal.  Some will remain primarily for cars, some for transit, some for cyclists.  However, almost all of them will have to serve pedestrians, and they are, for traffic planners, the toughest audience of all.  They move too slowly and randomly.  They don’t like to wait too long for traffic signals, if they pay any attention at all.  If only they all drove, things would be so much simpler.  We might have planned for such a city 50 years ago, but we cannot today.  Road design must be more subtle and accept that the auto is not going to be predominant in most locations.

What is transit for?  Is it to serve only peak travel, or be easy to access all day long?  Should convenience (close-spaced and frequent routes) be the goal, or should “efficiency” in the use of transit vehicles take priority?  Are only full buses a mark of a well-run transit system?

What is a “fair” fare?  What do we mean by “equity” in transit access?  Should we encourage longer distance travel with good service and flat fares for longer trips, or should we reward those who make many short journeys with lower fares?  How does social equity and the distribution of jobs and housing factor into fare policy?  Should we be subsidizing a relatively small number of commuters from the 905 at a higher rate than their counterparts within Toronto?

Can we eliminate congestion?  Based on The Big Move, we can at best limit its growth and minimize its negative effects in the future, but congestion will not disappear.  How can future plans manage growth in travel demand and the political pressures this will bring?

Challenges For Transit Growth

Almost as popular as drawing transit maps are debates over funding strategy.  Which combination of taxes or fees will be the least objectionable across the entire region or province?

Too often, blaming other levels of government is an excuse for (or even a means to) inaction.  “The Feds should pay” is a common demand even though the current government in Ottawa, let alone those to come, don’t want to be part of a solution to our problems.  Federal money would be nice, but if its absence becomes an excuse for inaction, we must wonder how serious the local political commitment really is.

Toronto has little real commitment to transit as the primary mode of growth overall.  Politicians (and some planners) have a poor understanding of the long arc for solutions to structural problems in the network.  Transit is not considered “essential” because most decisions are made by people who drive.

The mode share for transit in the outer 416 and much of the 905 is very low: it is hard to argue for better transit spending where people don’t believe in it as an alternative simply because what little is there is not a credible alternative.

Transit must be for everyone, not just for affluent commuters nor just for captive groups who have no choice.  Transit must not be planned for only as a subsidy for the most needy, nor as a vote-buying scheme for motorists who would rather leave their cars at home.  Transit must be an investment in mobility for all types of riders and travel demands.

Planning for the Suburbs

How do young cities evolve to a stronger transit orientation if they were built for cars?

Can the development industry be constrained to build where we want it, or will there always be politicians willing to make exceptions, to skew plans to suit land holdings? (See Scarborough Town Centre, Yorkdale, Vaughan Centre.)  Will the market for housing shift to seek greater concentration, or continue demanding sprawl?

What is involved in changing land use and travel demand in the now very auto-oriented suburbs?  How many riders can be lured onto better transit, and how much better transit depends on a better concentration of riders and trips to justify better service?

Can we plan for the end of cheap oil and a decline in auto use? Will such planning be politically acceptable, or will the debate always turn on demands by people whose only future world is filled with cars and trucks?  (See the current Gardiner Expressway debate for an example of this dynamic.)

Can we assume a change in travel demand due to new technology (work from home, etc), or will “commuters” as we know them continue to demand mobility for decades to come?  What types of jobs and what proportion of the workforce lends itself to technological change in job delivery (presuming that the job even stays in the GTA)?

How much will the suburbs really change in the 50-year scope of your plan?

Planning for the Future

Beware of drawing lines on maps: they are very hard to erase.  We are still debating whether to build some roads and rapid transit lines from plans that are over half a century old.  Does your plan respond only to today’s politics, or does it consider alternate futures?  A single map risks commitment to a single vision of what the city might become, while alternatives can become complex and unwieldy trying to hit too many targets.

Don’t presume that current economic, social and political conditions will exist for the duration of your plan.  In 50 years there will be major political swings, economic crises, wars, and environmental threats.  Economic activity will continue to migrate within southern Ontario, Canada and the world.

Dealing with the ebb and flow of political fortunes and philosophies is an unavoidable part of planning.  Can your plan survive, or will it join the pile of reports on the (now virtual) shelves of planners, politicians and advocates to come?

Illustration Credits

51 thoughts on “Three Eras of Planning

  1. Nice Steve, it is important that we all put the transit system in perspective, and understand how others are approaching it.

    I especially appreciated your comment with regards to storage, as I see this as a political hot potato that we are going to have to address. Solving this issue, would open the potential for some type of transit priority or even transitway on road that could solve many of the downtown issues.

    I would be very interested in seeing the students answers, both in terms of what needs to be done in terms of infrastructure and in terms political structure. The eventual role of the various agencies, and use of highly limited road and rail space, between high frequency bus, rail, and higher capacity lower frequency heavy rail. How many will fudge the answers with massive budget subway solutions, or where there really is no alternative.

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  2. How do you expect all people who live in houses to live a car free life when there is snow shovelling to be done and lawn mowing? Do you think that apartments are better than houses? It snows in Paris and London but most people live in apartments (suburbs and urban).

    It seems like the big move ignores better local bus service and repaved roads to make a better city. Basically all Canadian cities have suffered from poor planning because of politics.

    Steve: I am not sure whether the “you” of your comment is directed at me personally, or at the world in general. In any case, a car is not a prerequisite to shovelling snow of mowing lawns.

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  3. Does the big move imply people won’t drive anymore? More bus services to Thunderbay or cycling from Toronto to North bay?

    Steve: The Big Move attempts to deal with is the fact that the expected growth of population in the GTHA greatly exceeds the capacity of the road system to handle all of the travel. However, I agree that TBM is very short on specifics for areas and demands that don’t lie easily on its transit corridors.

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  4. Why do I have a feeling that in 2067, a downtown line will be at best “proposed.”

    Steve: O ye of little faith!

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  5. Looking at the history of Toronto, you can easily see why I tend to not support light rail as much as you do. Back when there were proposals for streetcar subways under Yonge and Queen, Toronto’s population was a tiny fraction of what it is now, and it is now grown an enormous amount. Fortunately we decided to build a full subway on Yonge Street, which is now suffering from severe overcrowding, and I’m sure that had we built a streetcar subway under Queen Street we would run into the same issue. With Eglinton we are running in to the same issue; we decided to build a partially underground light rail line instead of a subway for political reasons (basically because Miller wanted it that way), it is enormously expensive (I can’t think of a light rail line elsewhere in the world that costs over $5 billion) and it has at most half the capacity of a subway, would be difficult to upgrade if it became overcrowded, and Eglinton leads to the huge employment areas near Pearson Airport. Similarly with Sheppard where there is the Sheppard LRT proposal, which forces everyone to transfer, even though Sheppard Avenue has a very large concentration of new condo developments, and a moderate amount of office space mostly built in the 1980s (which is about the same as that along the busy Bloor-Danforth line). Both of those proposals are very unusual and few other cities have done anything similar, unlike light rail lines that are entirely on the surface and not extensions of existing subway lines which are found all over the place (like the proposed Finch, Hurontario, Hamilton and Kitchener lines, none of which will ever be as busy as Eglinton). Also both Eglinton and Sheppard would run parallel to the extremely busy Highway 401; no one would have anticipated how busy this highway would become back when there were no express-collector lanes and much of the land along it was farmland. Furthermore I think that North York Centre is much more important than you believe; unlike other developments like Scarborough Centre, Mississauga Centre and Vaughan Centre that aren’t very successful, North York Centre is in a high income area and really ought to be lumped together with Yonge & Eglinton and Yonge & St Clair. These three areas form a northern extension of sorts of downtown, much like Wilshire Blvd west of downtown LA in Los Angeles, and could easily see more new office space built if commercial taxes were lowered and perhaps if Toronto runs out of developable land near Union Station. The west side of LA has an enormous concentration of office space, almost as large as downtown Toronto and larger than downtown LA, even though the proposed Wilshire Subway hasn’t been built yet, and 405/Wilshire looks a lot like 401/Yonge. I have no idea whether the North Yonge office market will ever come back, but it certainly could because of the scarcity of developable sites near Union Station, shown by the fact for instance that First Gulf wants to build a huge office development near DVP/Gardiner. I think that the resistance to building a proper subway system is largely caused by underfunding and municipal politics, and we need a major subway expansion consisting at least of subways on Eglinton, Sheppard, Don Mills/King, and Yonge north of Finch, GO expansion, and maybe a few light rail lines on less busy routes but not Eglinton/Sheppard/Don Mills. If Toronto continues to grow the way it has for the last 50 years and the Greenbelt remains in effect, there will be enormous amounts of high density development all over the city; we cannot add millions to the GTA’s population entirely through high density condo development without needing large-scale subway expansion.

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  6. I see the future of transportation slowly evolving into a new era where vehicles are managed actively by the planners.

    The beginning of this has begun with the us mandating car-car networks to warn of collisions etc. which will evolve into road-car networks to warn drivers or actively stop them from entering intersections on red lights or where to park. From that we will evolve to automated parking (managed from drop-off point to parking space) with sensors etc along the way to guide and protect pedestrians etc. and then eventually a fully automated door-door vehicle on demand system. A similar evolution with freight and delivery trucks will likely occur.

    We see these systems in very closed setups now (mining, google car) etc.

    How transit fits into this could be very interesting. Clearly car-car and road-car networks will improve on-time and speed of these vehicles as well as safety. But as things improve the ability to have demand based pooling of riders is very interesting.

    From a city building perspective the timeline given really demands looking at what happens when you always get dropped off at your door and the car is either reused or parked automatically. City design would change a lot if we didn’t need to access parking lots, or have them close to where we are. Cars could double or triple park on low usage roads and then when demand for the street gets high enough they could all start up and go park on a less used street or just drive around the block a few times or move to a designated parking lot. The Gardiner itself could be a parking lot during the day.

    There would be opportunities for people to pay for you to arrive later so they can arrive earlier.

    Electric grids will need to become part of this transportation planning as vehicles need to be charged through the day.

    Steve: There are a few fundamental questions about such a utopian (dystopian?) future. First off, the idea of some form of “personal rapid transit” has been floating around for half a century or more. Yes, technology is slowly catching up and the idea of implementing this on a shared road system rather than a closed network of PRT lines is somewhat more feasible today. However, this does not eliminate the basic inefficiency of carrying a small passenger load relative to the vehicle itself and the high cost this has in capital and space.

    There is also the basic question of how one migrates from a road system shared among all comers (including cyclists and pedestrians), and autos that are equipped for managed operation.

    As for parking, never mind the Gardiner, just look at GO Transit. They now have 66,000 parking spaces and these are fully used. Yes, automatic cars that are “stabled” there are available for extra trips, but it will not be practical to carry everyone from home to GO by this means when trains are running every 5 minutes. Using the Gardiner for parking is quite laughable considering its normal state, but you will also need to deal with the basic dispatching issue that “my” ride has to be summoned from a remote parking lot (or be circulating somewhere because the rush hour is upon us) just to get to my pickup point, as opposed to my just going to a garage/lot and picking it up myself. This is something of a hybrid between a taxi and a private car.

    I think that we need to be more realistic about the pace of technology evolution and the direction it will take.

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  7. I think that somewhere in the 70’s the province lost its way and became over enthralled in its own importance. In the 60’s the province saw that the growing development along the lake shore would overload the QEW in the west and the 401 in the east. Also at this time CN opened its Toronto by pass and MacMillan Yard. This freed up the Lakeshore rail corridor.

    CN and the province built a dirt cheap commuter system that managed to use state of the art proven technology with, for then, forward looking operating practices. Once the system was a success the province seemed to lose its way and thought itself infallible. “If we be so great with conventional technology think what we could be using the most cutting edge modern technology!” This thinking has led to MagLev and Kraus Maffei, heavy weight CLRV interurbans that run in mixed traffic on city streets, CNG buses instead of trolley buses, hybrid diesels that cost more to operate than conventional, Presto Card, Union Pearson Air Rail Link instead of a conventional GO train or subway to the airport.

    I am saddened when I think of where we could be today if they had only followed the thinking that started GO transit. Use the best of existing technology instead of wasting valuable time and money on re inventing something that is not needed.

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  8. Steve, regarding lawn mowing and snow shovelling. Some driveways are large and when there is heavy snow, snow shovelling can take up to 3-5 hrs. A snow blower is needed to make snow clearing more efficient. And snow blowers require oil and gas. I don’t think the TTC allows passengers to carry gasoline onto buses and subways. So a car is needed to transport oil and gas to fill up snow blowers and other machines that require those inputs.

    Now fortunately, there are battery operated lawn mowers that are ideally for lawns that are not too large.

    And sorry I was referring to the world in general not you specifically.

    Steve: The point here is that one does not need to own a car to get gas for the lawn mower or snow blower. One can have it delivered, or one could pick up a shared car either on a commercial basis, or have one that is used by family/friends as needed for occasional trips. The one thing it would not be used for is commuting.

    Justifying car ownership as a means to fuel a lawn mower is one of the more inventive defenses I have seen. The fully allocated cost of mowing each blade of grass would be substantial.

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  9. I’m not sure you have a point Andrew.

    First they didn’t have 90-120m long LRT trains back in the good old days.

    Second those single family homes on large sprawling lots across Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough, and the rest of the GTA aren’t going to be disappearing any time soon. Even condos are low density compared to commercial development. I don’t think LRT lines outside of the core are going to be running into capacity issues any time soon.

    If by some miracle they do reach capacity in 100 years, you can dig a tunnel then and save the billions you would have wasted on maintaining tunnels full of tumbleweeds during the preceding century.

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  10. Andrew said: “With Eglinton we are running in to the same issue; we decided to build a partially underground light rail line instead of a subway for political reasons (basically because Miller wanted it that way), it is enormously expensive (I can’t think of a light rail line elsewhere in the world that costs over $5 billion) and it has at most half the capacity of a subway, would be difficult to upgrade if it became overcrowded, and Eglinton leads to the huge employment areas near Pearson Airport. Similarly with Sheppard where there is the Sheppard LRT proposal, which forces everyone to transfer, even though Sheppard Avenue has a very large concentration of new condo developments, and a moderate amount of office space mostly built in the 1980s (which is about the same as that along the busy Bloor-Danforth line). Both of those proposals are very unusual and few other cities have done anything similar, unlike light rail lines that are entirely on the surface and not extensions of existing subway lines which are found all over the place (like the proposed Finch, Hurontario, Hamilton and Kitchener lines, none of which will ever be as busy as Eglinton). Also both Eglinton and Sheppard would run parallel to the extremely busy Highway 401”

    While I would agree that a subway can be built to a higher capacity there are 3 things worth noting here. 1-These can be run on a very short headway, 2- they can be arranged in 4 car trains (400 feet in length). This would mean a capacity that would be reasonably extendable to 24K passengers/hour /direction at moderate not crush loading (Bombardier would say this number is more like 30K). The third is that there is other pantograph equipment that could be run in these tunnels, which is more capable still. The 401 with 6 lanes per direction at an overcrowded 2000 vehicle per hour per lane means only 12k cars per hour. Sheppard should have all been LRT with perhaps 2 KM tunnelled near Yonge.

    If these 2 lines as LRT do not have the capacity we can use the savings to look at a Finch and York Mills LRT later. Better to build additional north south capacity where we can as LRT, which can actually be afforded. All areas of Toronto do not justify LRT, let alone subway. While Transit City is not perfect it makes more sense than many of the alternatives. I believe it needs to be tweaked (LRT locations may need to be adjusted etc), however, the idea that a 4 car LRT on a 2 minute headway, is 2/3s of the Yonge line current capacity. I would rather see smaller increments of capacity spread across more of the city, than leaving large areas with long trips in gridlock to a workable link.

    I think the issue really does come down to a clearer understanding as to what kind of LRT is required. I have a hard time believing that Sheppard will build past 18K per hour soon, or for that matter Eglinton will build much higher. I can certainly see a discussion on Eglinton about it becoming a 4 car train, and pushing headways.

    However the major concern I would have in the building of LRTs is more the concern of delivering the portion of traffic they do accumulate that is headed into the core (here subway sure, as it likely needs to be underground anyway). However, I would agree that these LRTs cannot reasonably be of the Spadina or St Clair West variety, but more able to become something of the C-Train (Calgary) variety.

    Steve: I find myself somewhere in a middle ground. Four-car LRT trains running in the median of Eglinton or Sheppard are unlikely unless there is a fundamental change in the way roads are used. These would require large stations and would generate a lot of pedestrian traffic that would conflict with other users of the road. It is not practical to have everyone enter and such a large platform at one point as is done today on the islands on St. Clair and Spadina, especially considering that this would greatly increase the time needed to offload or load a considerable number of passengers.

    I too have problems with Bombardier’s 30k number because it presumes a high packing density of riders on trains, and very close headways. This is more akin to a full-blown Skytrain system than at at-grade LRT. We should remember that even the subway today does not achieve 30k/hour. A 140 second headway of TR trains has a planning capacity of about 28k. More is possible on a short-term crush basis, but this quickly interferes with headway maintenance through the congestion and dwell times at stations.

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  11. Steve says:

    “Politicians (and some planners) have a poor understanding of the long arc for solutions to structural problems in the network. Transit is not considered “essential” because most decisions are made by people who drive.”

    This, in my mind, has been one of the fundamental issues behind why it takes so long for “nothing” to actually end up happening regarding transit in this city/region. The only time I remember seeing Mayor Ford on a transit vehicle – if memory serves – was back when he was glad-handing with Scarborough RT riders convincing them that he was the Guru of Transit and subway nirvana was just down the tunnel. He himself would not otherwise be seen on a transit vehicle (certainly not a *streetcar* !!) I guess, because growing up in 1950’s suburban Etobicoke, he must have been told that a real man has a car.

    As I have mentioned previously in another thread on this site, the fact that many Councillors use their private vehicles to get to and from their day-to-day commitments (City Hall and ward offices, public and private functions they are attending as City representatives, etc.) does not reinforce in their minds the state of want of some aspects of the transit system on a daily basis.

    The resulting unspoken refrain that ” *I* can’t take transit, *my* time is too important and I need to get to where I’m travelling quickly speaks volumes (with more than a touch of irony): why is a Councillor’s important business any more important than the housewife going to a dentist appointment or a student going to school or an employee going to work? There is no “us” and “them” with regards to Council and transit: I believe that if Councillors are not literally immersed in/involved with transit regularly, riding to and from *wherever* in the city, in my mind they should be very cautious about making pronouncements about what transit is important and how it should be funded and managed.

    Citizens need to start asking tough questions of their elected officials, like Josh Matlow did while highlighting the Mayor’s LRT ignorance during their Council meeting exchange last summer before being shut down by the Speaker (a mistake, in my opinion). I wish Maria Augimeri luck in her new role as TTC Chair and hope that active dialogue and questioning is a large part of the meetings with an eye to planning good transit in a changing environment.

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  12. “Fortunately we decided to build a full subway on Yonge Street, which is now suffering from severe overcrowding, and I’m sure that had we built a streetcar subway under Queen Street we would run into the same issue.”

    If we had a North-South LRT line on each of Kipling, Royal York/Weston, Jane, Keele, Dufferin, Bathurst, Yonge, Bayview, Leslie/Laird/Pape, Victoria Park, Kennedy, and Markham, in all cases from the lake to at least Steeles, how much overcrowding would there be?

    Well, OK, maybe lots, because almost everybody would be served and almost everybody would use the system, but the point is that for the price of a couple of subway lines essentially the entire city would be reasonably near excellent North-South transit instead of only those lucky enough to be convenient to the Spadina or Yonge lines.

    (I’m guessing around $1 billion per LRT line above and $6 billion per hypothetical subway line)

    The choice isn’t really between subway and LRT. It’s between little to no subway ever, and some LRT now followed by more later (and maybe subway eventually).

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  13. If there’s anything at all that I’ve tried to understand here it’s your feelings about having LRT, rather than a subway, in the Eglinton corridor. I’m still 100 per cent in agreement on making it LRT for now but I still have major concerns about whether or not LRT will always be adequate for Eglinton. I firmly believe that while LRT is adequte for at least a fair period of time, it’s only a matter of time before it’s at capacity and shows at least some signs of growing beyond that. It’s going to be interesting, to say the absolute least. I don’t care what mode of transportation there is out there or may be out there in the future, any body who advocates any one particular mode as a be all and end all is just not seeing the whole picture, whatever that might be.

    Steve: And I would echo your comment with respect to subways. I have not seen any demand projections for Eglinton that would show it loaded beyond LRT capabilities. It is important to recognize that this line is (or can be) intercepted at multiple locations to bleed off trips bound for the core notably at Eglinton West Station and, eventually at Don Mills to the eastern DRL.

    We seem to have a fetish for hand wringing about future capacity that translates into “it must be a subway” thereby driving up costs and pushing actual construction, if any, off into the indefinite future.

    I am more than happy to support subway construction where it is justified by demand projections, with the proviso that these not be cooked (as was done for the Scarborough subway) to artificially inflate the projected demand. It is ironic that the line with the biggest problems getting credibility for construction is the DRL East, and it has projected demand higher than any of Spadina/Vaughan, Sheppard, Eglinton or Scarborough. In some quarters, there seems to be an “anything but the DRL” campaign because folks see large dollars going to a “downtown” project and, thereby, not being available for their own pet “relief” lines.

    At the other end of the scale, some LRT opponents say that BRT is enough, but what they mean by “BRT” is highly suspect. The real issue here is the loss of road space to transit, regardless of the vehicle, and BRT-lite comes only at the cost of a few cans of paint and indifferent enforcement of transit priority.

    Finally, to add to my response to your question, the Eglinton line will never, ever reach the airport as a subway because the demand just does not exist in that corridor to justify the cost of tunneling. Don’t forget that when Transit City was proposed, that central Eglinton tunnel was part of a much longer line that ran on the surface from the Airport to Morningside with a branch on the SRT right-of-way. It was part of a wider LRT network, not a free-standing half-project where the high cost of the central section raises red flags for everyone. The whole point of an LRT network is that subway capacity is not required in most places, but opting for that technology locks you into that mode.

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  14. Steve said:

    “I find myself somewhere in a middle ground. Four-car LRT trains running in the median of Eglinton or Sheppard are unlikely unless there is a fundamental change in the way roads are used. These would require large stations and would generate a lot of pedestrian traffic that would conflict with other users of the road. It is not practical to have everyone enter and such a large platform at one point as is done today on the islands on St. Clair and Spadina, especially considering that this would greatly increase the time needed to offload or load a considerable number of passengers.”

    I believe that you are correct it would require some roadway redesign in the areas certainly that had busy stations on a 4 car line. However, I think that these could be reasonably identified before you got to that point (needing 4 cars) and significant station redesign could then be implemented. It might require overhead walkways at station exits otherwise they could only cross with lights. However, these stations complex as they may be for an LRT would still be simple compared to subway stations. Their requirement would identified as traffic grew and certain stations on each line became evidently very busy. Line crossing stations with other LRTs subways, and BRTs would need to assume this type of complexity to begin with. Also clearly in the initial design on Sheppard the need for space would need to be taken into account at the time of construction so it could be accommodated later. This should still be achievable on Sheppard beyond the subway area (although not as easily as it was in Calgary away from the core). Eglinton, I agree is likely to be hard, however, I think with some smarts in terms of stop locations it should still be manageable beyond the tunnelled sections. This would be a problem to be dealt with as demand emerges.

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  15. Steve said:

    I think that we need to be more realistic about the pace of technology evolution and the direction it will take.

    I agree – I’m just thinking it would be fun as an exercise to see what a plan for this type of future might look like – I would still see room for buses/trains, with the system automatically routing you to stops or car pooling areas when necessary, but potentially mini-busses or vans would be able to collect people going from downtown to the same neighbourhood in outlying areas etc. – as a planner, how do you plan for something like that? What is the optimum mix of vehicles? What would improve the system? Some of those answers might inform actual plans, or they may not, obviously depending on if/when the technology gets there.

    As for how we get there – heavy freight routes (I’m thinking 407 or outlying sections of the 401) could have lanes added or repurposed to run trucks initially – in protected or semi-protected fashion … with both on-vehicle and on-road sensors and networks it would be possible to automate these outlying areas and test and improve the technology.

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  16. Steve said:

    “We seem to have a fetish for hand wringing about future capacity that translates into “it must be a subway” thereby driving up costs and pushing actual construction, if any, off into the indefinite future”

    Further to this Steve, by not planning for the affordable solution, and getting the process of reserving space in the plan, and ensuring set-backs in new construction hence right of ways, as areas redevelop, we may also make implementation of those very difficult. Already a multi-car Jane LRT at the southend would be hard. Perhaps we should make an allowance now on say Islington or Kipling and say McCowan (tight now?) or Markham road now for an LRT, possibly by starting the process of arguing now about a BRT.

    This has always struck me as a natural evolution, if space is planned for it early, build a BRT, which if/when it starts to approach LRT traffic levels start looking at partial conversion. That would mean having the reserved space, having looked at possibly quite long multi bus platforms, having started to build shelters and pedestrian access appropriate for moderately high traffic levels, without being vested in a rail system, that may or may not be required in the future. Not sure, but it strikes me we need to start making an allowance now, if we are going to see intensification. Where we are already in real trouble, and where it will greatly increase future options yes build a subway.

    Again to me to really make a Don Mills LRT work, and to greatly increase the effectiveness of the CrossTown that would be the a high capacity link from both of these and the Danforth to Downtown. This is already at the high end of LRT, and future network additions could push it much higher.

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  17. First they didn’t have 90-120m long LRT trains back in the good old days.

    They had multi-car PCC trains in the old days, which isn’t really all that different. It may be true that modern LRT systems can carry more people than in the past, but you are still talking a large difference in capacity compared to subway, which can run more frequently than LRT (up to 90 seconds with ATO).

    Steve: One two-car PCC train such as ran on Bloor Street is the same as one new 30m streetcar. A 90m train is the equivalent of six PCCs, adn the longest such trains I know of (5 cars) ran in Cleveland. Even the MBTA in Boston never got beyond three car trains in part because of the length of stations.

    What I don’t understand is how can the Bloor-Danforth line carry 500K/day even though there isn’t all that much development along it. The employment areas near Yonge/Bloor aren’t much bigger than North York Centre and no new office space has been built there for years. Demand to UofT is spread out throughout the day and there is a noticeable lack of people going there in morning rush hour. There aren’t very many tall condos along BD except downtown and Kipling/Bloor. Most people are transferring at St. George and Bloor-Yonge to the YUS line or to the Spadina streetcar, because the vast majority of downtown employment is in the southern part of downtown. What makes you think that Eglinton and Sheppard will have drastically lower ridership than BD? Sheppard has a lot more new condos along it than BD. Eglinton could easily be extended to Pearson Airport, Airport Corporate Centre and Square One if we had the sense to build a subway above ground.

    Steve: Because the Bloor-Danforth line is fed by many bus routes at its outer stations just as the streetcar that preceeded it (and carried about 8,000 passengers per hour with 2-car PCC trains on a 60′ headway) did. Also, it is important to distinguish between all day and peak period riding. BD has strong all day demand and standees are common at 11pm. Sheppard has most of its demand for a few hours a day.

    I am not saying we shouldn’t build LRT, I just think that a lot of the Transit City proposals were really strange. Given that building a partially underground LRT on Eglinton is very expensive, building a subway makes more sense if we can build elevated outer sections so there is less risk of it being overcrowded. It is noticeable how few cities are building anything similar. The Sheppard LRT inconveniences too many people with transfers, and the large amount of condo development there is very noticeable. Entirely above ground LRT lines that are not logical extensions of subway lines make far more sense. I definitely don’t agree with Rob Ford on the St. Clair streetcar for example. Even something like building a LRT from a subway ending at Yonge/Highway 7 or Yonge/Major Mackenzie to Newmarket, recreating the old radial line, makes far more sense than Sheppard because obviously the transfer would inconvenience fewer people than Sheppard, and the Oak Ridges Moraine limits development along that part of Yonge Street. York Region has chosen BRT for that route and Highway 7, which is probably a mistake.

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  18. Bob Patrick wrote:

    I don’t think the TTC allows passengers to carry gasoline onto buses and subways.

    That is questionable. A few years ago, my sister had an issue regarding a passenger who boarded a bus with a full jerry can. She alerted the driver about it who proceeded to do nothing besides drive the bus. She reported it to TTC customer service who had their typical non-response as well. In consulting with a family member who is a TTC operator, policy seemed to be rather vague and more or less left up to the operator.

    Perhaps those who work for the TTC who comment on her from time to time could shed some light on this issue.

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  19. As you can see from one of the maps above, the intensity of development around Sheppard Ave East is highest in Toronto and as such fully justifies an eastward expansion of the Sheppard subway. The Eglinton LRT if completely buried can also spark tremendous amounts of development (creating jobs and increasing prosperity) in the near future and unburied, it will be little more than an Unrapid Transit Line with few jobs and lots of ghettos and other NO GO areas created.

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  20. Andrew said:

    “The Sheppard LRT inconveniences too many people with transfers, and the large amount of condo development there is very noticeable. Entirely above ground LRT lines that are not logical extensions of subway lines make far more sense.”

    Steve — given that I am of the opinion that the Sheppard line will likely not soon exceed LRT loads, even if extended considerably, and if it did would likely cause havoc on Yonge, how hard would it be to convert the existing s(t)ubway portion to LRT underground? I know it would involve a substantial reworking of platforms and running a pantograph system, but it would avoid a transfer, and permit a logical continuation. I am of the mind that it would be nice to have a line across the city at the North end as well as central (Eglinton) however, cannot imagine being able to justify subway, however if this could be linked to the Finch West LRT. This would serve the intended purpose of the orginal subway, and provide more extensive linkage east and west. However if it is a very expensive process to convert, would not be worthwhile simply to avoid a transfer.

    Steve, Andrew also discussed an at surface or elevated subway on Eglinton West. I was wondering how you felt about that, the impact on the neighborhood, and where it could actually be run. My understanding of financial costs of this option may be out of line, but my understanding of at surface subway costs is still much higher than at surface LRT.

    Steve: There are problems converting the Sheppard subway to LRT in the box tunnel sections near stations where there isn’t headroom for the overhead (this is not a problem in the round tunnels, I believe). I really don’t think such a conversion is a wise expenditure just to eliminate what would be an across the platform transfer at Don Mills Station. Bluntly, I am tired of people dragging up Kennedy’s horrible subway-to-SRT link as if it was the only way to build such a connection.

    On Eglinton West, a surface LRT alignment has been proposed in the middle of the road complete with some rather bad designs for intersections and the handling of left turns. If I had wanted to piss off the locals with a bad LRT design, this is an excellent example of how I would have done it. One cannot help thinking a fifth column was at work. There used to be land on the north side of Eglinton originally reserved for the Richview Expressway, but parts of this have been given to Build Toronto to sell off for development and we have lost the continuous path this could have provided.

    A surface subway is not possible because it must cross streets, and that’s a no-no for subway technology. The crossings are too close together to make any sense of coming briefly to the surface between each crossing, whether it has a station or not.

    If elevated, then we get into the whole discussion of station design and access. People love to point to slim guideways in the middle of the street, but not to stations with their platforms, stairs, escalators and elevators.

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  21. TTC customer says:
    March 6, 2014 at 10:49 am

    As you can see from one of the maps above, the intensity of development around Sheppard Ave East is highest in Toronto and as such fully justifies an eastward expansion of the Sheppard subway.

    While the intensification is noticeable, I would suggest many people in the area drive and very few (outside of rush-hour) take the subway. Even then it is possible to get a seat on the train. I live not too far from the Sheppard subway and take it occasionally – there’s not a lot happening. Above ground, especially with the 401 close by, it is a different story. The idea of the LRT extension is based on the number of riders expected and this number is lower than what is justifiable for a subway. Plus, the LRT reaches to the furthest corner of the city and provides a viable transit option for residents living in the eastern corner of the city.

    Steve: Another important point is that the residents of this area travel all over the place, including north to York Region, to locations that are not served by the subway line, and similarly those who come to Sheppard for jobs or other attractions originate from many places. Unlike downtown where development is concentrated and focuses travel (an effect aided by the lake), Sheppard Avenue (and other suburban corridors) has a much more diverse origin-destination pattern.

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  22. Steve:

    “Why don’t we have a subway network like New York, London, Paris? I hear this question frequently in comments on my website and in political debates around the city. There is one very simple explanation: population.” [snip of table from original article]

    Why are you looking at 1900 populations? Nobody said that there should have been any subways in Toronto in 1900. At that time, the population of Greater London was 30 times that of Toronto but today it is just 3 times. But wait a minute, why are you comparing Greater London with Toronto and not with Greater Toronto? Greater London is 3 times the size of Toronto and so it’s population. If you take the densest areas closest to and around Toronto, then the population of Greater London is LESS than 2 times that of Greater Toronto (only taking a fraction of the GTA area). I am sorry but your analysis is twisted to support your beliefs and wants.

    Steve: Sometimes I think that people arguing for subways are just too thick for words.

    The purpose of my comparison is that the networks that we all lust for in the other cities were built when their populations were vastly larger than Toronto’s and when there was little competition from private autos. (Regulatory and other issues affecting construction costs also were from a simpler era.) My whole point is that you could not build a London or Paris or New York system today if you were starting from scratch, and these cities had the advantage of large populations when this type of construction was still possible.

    My concern in the presentation was not even to argue for LRT networks, but to point out to the students that you cannot just pick up the context of one city in the past and presume that it can be applied to their view of a city of the future. Talking about “my beliefs and wants” shows that you don’t understand the context of the presentation.

    Comparing Toronto of today to New York or London of today also requires comparing the histories of the two cities and acknowledging that they are very different. You chose to ignore this, and by doing so completely invalidate your position.

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  23. Mike said

    “Why are you looking at 1900 populations? Nobody said that there should have been any subways in Toronto in 1900. At that time, the population of Greater London was 30 times that of Toronto but today it is just 3 times. But wait a minute, why are you comparing Greater London with Toronto and not with Greater Toronto? Greater London is 3 times the size of Toronto and so it’s population. If you take the densest areas closest to and around Toronto, then the population of Greater London is LESS than 2 times that of Greater Toronto (only taking a fraction of the GTA area). I am sorry but your analysis is twisted to support your beliefs and wants”

    Mike if you were looking to more than cause affront you would discuss details like density in an area of proposed subway. The area that includes Greater London’s 10 million has a higher density than does the current city (used to be metro) that has a population of under 3 million. To get out to the point where you are talking about twice the population (London’s 10, to Toronto’s 5) you are reduced to a density in Toronto below 1000 per square kilometer, where London would still have a density over 5000. Greater London’s density is higher than Metros alone, and the tube does not cover all of Greater London. Much of the new construction has been the Docklands service known as the DRL (interesting) which in their case is Docklands Light Rail. So even there with much higher density, they are not just continuing to build nothing but subway. If you are going to look at New York, you need to look at what the density of the subway served areas is and was in New York as well. Manhattan is a very dense area, and New York city has a density over twice that of Toronto (city). If you want good transit, need to look at what can actually be built, and argue for the protection of lands that are available for good corridors (Richview).

    I am deeply concerned with regards to Steve’s comments on bad LRT design on Eglinton, as this will be the example that drives Toronto politics for some time. LRT & BRT properly applied can and should be an amazing solutions for a city with moderately high density like Toronto. Toronto density is closer to Calgary’s than London’s or New York’s.

    One also needs to look at travel distances and what is a reasonably achievable modal split, I believe that less than 30% of all trips in Toronto are done by transit. The core as a destination being the glowing exception.

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  24. Malcolm N says:
    March 6, 2014 at 8:31 am

    “Further to this Steve, by not planning for the affordable solution, and getting the process of reserving space in the plan, and ensuring set-backs in new construction hence right of ways, as areas redevelop, we may also make implementation of those very difficult. Already a multi-car Jane LRT at the southend would be hard. Perhaps we should make an allowance now on say Islington or Kipling and say McCowan (tight now?) or Markham road now for an LRT, possibly by starting the process of arguing now about a BRT. “

    Lyndon Henry has an article in the latest Railway Age about the problems of converting BRT into LRT.

    What do you do with the buses that are running on the BRT when you rip up the road to install tracks. Ottawa is having this problem now and is basically using a different right of way.

    David Aldinger says:
    March 5, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    “If there’s anything at all that I’ve tried to understand here it’s your feelings about having LRT, rather than a subway, in the Eglinton corridor. I’m still 100 per cent in agreement on making it LRT for now but I still have major concerns about whether or not LRT will always be adequate for Eglinton. I firmly believe that while LRT is adequte for at least a fair period of time, it’s only a matter of time before it’s at capacity and shows at least some signs of growing beyond that. It’s going to be interesting, to say the absolute least. I don’t care what mode of transportation there is out there or may be out there in the future, any body who advocates any one particular mode as a be all and end all is just not seeing the whole picture, whatever that might be.”

    Remember that all the underground stations are being excavated to a length of 400 feet, 300′ for platform plus an additional 100′ for mechanicals. This would allow for 400′ long trains, 4 LFLRVs with a capacity of 700 passengers. With ATO a headway of 90 seconds is far more likely to be achieved than on a subway. This would give a capacity of 28,000 pphpd which I doubt we would ever see in this century. If we did, then the grade separated portion could be extended while the existing surface component was still in service; try doing that with BRT.

    Andrew says:
    March 6, 2014 at 9:37 am

    First they didn’t have 90-120m long LRT trains back in the good old days.

    They had multi-car PCC trains in the old days, which isn’t really all that different. It may be true that modern LRT systems can carry more people than in the past, but you are still talking a large difference in capacity compared to subway, which can run more frequently than LRT (up to 90 seconds with ATO).

    The underground or grade separated portion of the LRT can also operate with ATO at 90 second headways. I have serious problems believing that the subway could get to 90 second headways. There are two main factors that affect minimum headways and they are:

    1) Terminal turn around time; there is no way you can get the turn around time under 190 110 seconds with the length of trains and crossovers that the TTC operates. Granted if you introduce a short turn operation then you could alleviate the terminal problem.

    2) Dwell time at the busiest stations; these are Bloor-Yonge and St. George. This is not an insignificant amount of time at these station and coupled with the minimum time separation required between trains, even with ATO, and you will not get down to 90 second headways on the subway, maybe 110 seconds.

    The CTA operates trains up to 10 cars long on their rapid transit system. These cars are the same size as Toronto’s old PCCs and they have level crossings with crossing gates. The Spadina line north of Eglinton is probably carrying at the outer limit for totally grade separated LRT. Sheppard East may have a lot of condos under construction but many of those people are travelling on the 401 and not the stubway. Walk in riders do not generate enough loading to justify a subway; for that you need surface connections.

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  25. I’ve seen many different perspectives on the history of transit development in Toronto. Some repeat the events as they happened. Others tell stories. Some focus on the choices made and pass along opinions. Others use specific events as snapshots, then proceed to paint a picture.

    30 years of interest in transit has showed me very clearly that big ideas and projects are great but incremental improvements that no one really ‘notices’ are the best way to build transit and build communities.

    On an interesting side note … Enbridge has received approval to reverse the flow on Line 9, a part of which runs under/along hydro corridors in Mississauga and Toronto

    Cheers, Moaz

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  26. Hi Steve

    Have you read the book “Revenge of the Methodist Bicycle Company”. Toronto Transit at the turn of the 19th century. Well worth seeking out.

    Steve: Actually, it’s the turn of the 20th century (end of the 19th) when it was considered sinful to operate streetcars on Sunday.

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  27. Is there a proper history on The Queensway and the streetcar right-of-way? There are archival photos of a single track streetcar on Lake Shore Blvd. W. around Sunnyside Beach, then filled in for a pleasure park. According to Wikipedia the Queensway right-of-way was built and opened before the Gardiner expressway was completed in 1958 and Lake Shore Blvd. W. was reconfigured.

    Seems to me, that since it opened in 1957, it could have been in preparation to be used for a possible extension for the Queen streetcar subway. As it turned out, it remained orphaned for a better use as a right-of-way.

    Steve: The streetcar subway was never going west of Trinity-Bellwoods, and the Queen car would have run in mixed traffic from there west. Remember also that this “subway” would have been an open cut from Simcoe westward that could have demolished much of what we now know as the north side of Queen Street.

    The first photo you linked is dated 1919 and shows the single track “radial” line beside the railway embankment with the lake nearby. The second photo is from 1935 and the lake has been pushed further south with landfill.

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  28. Steve:

    Is that “190″ a typo? It is important to distinguish between turnaround time for one train, and the headway that can be operated by alternating trains from two tracks.

    Yes it is supposed to be 110 seconds or 10 seconds short of 2 minutes. I was using metric time which unfortunately has not caught on outside my sometimes addled brain.

    Steve: I have fixed your comment.

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  29. Robert Wightman said:

    “What do you do with the buses that are running on the BRT when you rip up the road to install tracks. Ottawa is having this problem now and is basically using a different right of way”

    I believe that part of the issue in Ottawa was the part of the BRT that was supposed to be tunnelled when it was first opened. Assuming they are both low floor, I would think you could rip up one side of the BRT at at time, and divert the say southbound buses into the northbound lanes for a couple of hundred meters with signalers at either end, much like regular road construction. Once the section had rails in place the diversion would move down the line to the next portion. As to capacity enhancements with LRT, I have no arguments, once you are seeing enough in ROW trips to fill say a bus a minute you need to look at partial conversion. With really good signalling and space for the buses to pull to opposite side of stations or end of platform unloads (so train goes by) you could even look at the possibility of running as a mixed traffic transitway (no cars but bus and train). where your feeders can run to major stations. I do not think LRT is appropriate where there are projected loads below say 2 or 3K passengers per hour.

    Robert Wightman said

    “4 LFLRVs with a capacity of 700 passengers. With ATO a headway of 90 seconds is far more likely to be achieved than on a subway. This would give a capacity of 28,000 pphpd which I doubt we would ever see in this century. If we did, then the grade separated portion could be extended while the existing surface component was still in service; try doing that with BRT.”

    However, I don’t think LRT is appropriate for reasonable projections like 28K per hour either. Where you have an open space, lots of opportunity to expand platforms no crossroad issues etc, I can see going LRT type technology (low floor??) where you could convert reasonably into longer pantograph based trains if required.

    I think Steve’s 150 per car number is a reasonable number to plan from, and that limits current LRT design with ATO at 90 seconds to 24K. Which is still a number that I think we are highly unlikely to achieve in most areas, without already seeing a huge change in the nature of very large areas. The real issue to me is that we need to 1-reserve the space for solid implementations and 2-execute solid design of the transit ways we bring in.

    If you select BRT it needs to work well, cannot have to stop for turning traffic that is constantly cutting it off (was an issue downtown Ottawa at rush) so it needs dedicated controlled space. Hence the need to start looking at it while there is still road space to work with.

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  30. Malcolm N says:
    March 7, 2014 at 8:35 am

    “I believe that part of the issue in Ottawa was the part of the BRT that was supposed to be tunnelled when it was first opened. Assuming they are both low floor, I would think you could rip up one side of the BRT at at time, and divert the say southbound buses into the northbound lanes for a couple of hundred meters with signalers at either end, much like regular road construction. Once the section had rails in place the diversion would move down the line to the next portion.”

    The problem still is that what do you do going through a station. Most buses do not have left hand loading capabilities though most LRVs do. Also you would have to pave the right of way back to the rail head to keep BRT running which the LRT would not need. Now I have seen some European operations which laid pre-formed concrete slabs between the rail. These could be lifted out once LRT commenced.”

    Also you would have to dig down to the sub base level to properly re do the line. This is not a quick operation. The line would close for a significant amount of time. BRT is NOT a pre cursor to LRT on the same right of way.

    “I think Steve’s 150 per car number is a reasonable number to plan from, and that limits current LRT design with ATO at 90 seconds to 24K. Which is still a number that I think we are highly unlikely to achieve in most areas, without already seeing a huge change in the nature of very large areas. The real issue to me is that we need to 1-reserve the space for solid implementations and 2-execute solid design of the transit ways we bring in.”

    Don’t forget that the Transit City cars are slightly longer and wider than the legacy cars. Bombardier give a crush capacity of 250 passengers per vehicle and 200 for normal rush hour capacity. I used a slightly smaller number, 175, to get 700 per train. Even at 150 a line that carries 24 k per hour is a lot more than most rapid transit lines carry.

    “I do not think LRT is appropriate where there are projected loads below say 2 or 3K passengers per hour.”

    You might want to talk to a lot of European lines that run one LFLRV every 5 to 7.5 minutes. At 200 passengers per car you are talking 1600 to 2000 passengers per hour in the peak. If the TTC used European standards most of the suburban bus lines would be LRT.

    Steve: The projected peak demands on the Transit City lines certainly put them above that 2-3k threshhold.

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  31. Robert Wightman said:

    “Also you would have to dig down to the sub base level to properly re do the line. This is not a quick operation. The line would close for a significant amount of time. BRT is NOT a pre cursor to LRT on the same right of way”

    What I would take issue with here is 3 things:

    1. How was the sub base prepared and what was built into the road (easy if planned in advance).
    2. That this is not a quick operation is a given, however, if you are still operating at a bus a minute closing 1 side should not constitute a major disruption, (provided you platforms are a reasonable height) this is something required in roadway reconstruction on a periodic basis as well.
    3. The major issue at this juncture in most of Toronto, has been the availability of space in order to run an LRT.

    Much of the infrastructure can be made to be common, and substructure to support LRT will support roadway, so if it is built that way, conversion should not be that hard. Selling the idea of a transit right of way is what is critical in my mind. You cannot sell an LRT in the outer areas at this time, however, you could sell the idea of a protected right of way and over construct the road bed and even cover the concrete rail base structure until required.

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  32. August 27, 1793. That is the date that the Town of York was established.

    March 6, 1834. That is the date that the City of Toronto was incorporated.

    July 1, 1867. That is the date of Confederation for Canada.

    2034, 2067, and 2093 should be “important” years for Toronto. Those years should be used as targets for planning in Toronto.

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  33. Malcolm N: perhaps you would like to read a TRB report from 2009. The significant part starts on page 137 of the report, page 147 of the pdf. The conclusion is that while it is do-able with proper planning, it does require a period of shutdown during the conversion and the people prefer LRT over BRT. My guess as to reason is that rail has one less degree of freedom than bus.

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  34. Robert Wightman said

    “Malcolm N: perhaps you would like to read a TRB report from 2009. The significant part starts on page 137 of the report, page 147 of the pdf. The conclusion is that while it is do-able with proper planning, it does require a period of shutdown during the conversion and the people prefer LRT over BRT. My guess as to reason is that rail has one less degree of freedom than bus.”

    Robert I would not argue with that; however, the issue is still appropriate to situation.

    Per the report:

    “The capital costs for LRT are generally greater than that for BRT. However,depending upon the extent and nature of the rapid transit rail service, operating costs for LRT can be lower when the vehicles are used to capacity, resulting in lower life-cycle costs and lower costs per passenger kilometer.”

    The key is “used to capacity”, and for me while providing a low enough headway to be very attractive. I want a vehicle every 2-3 minutes not every 6-9. A bus with a capacity of 50 will likely be more frequent. When we can fill even a single car light rail system, or a reasonably projection to fill it exists I want light rail every 3 minutes, if I can have it in an enclosed right of way, and traffic will be able to reasonably come to it. In the areas I was discussing (eastern and western edges of the city), that is NOT clear. On Sheppard, on Jane, on Finch for that matter, I believe it should be LRT even if it were only a single car. I also really want to see an LRT from the East of the Don to the West end. These should be LRTs in my mind. They are past the point of considering BRT. However, Kipling for instance, I have not seen serious proposals that are fleshed out, or for Markham Rd, however, these or their ilk should be seen as the future, start creating transit that will serve the entire city in a viable way. Hopefully we can get these eventually served by small closed right of way LRT. I would love to see these areas served and more, and for the city to grow a 100k per year we need to see a modal split for transit above 40%.

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  35. I came across a project called “SmartRideLRT” on an engineering company’s website.

    A consortium of civil engineering consulting companies is proposing a network of LRT lines that follow hydro and rail-corridors. The map shows the proposed LRT lines to be running in the same corridors as GO rail. I have never heard of this plan before today, and the plan calls for the network to be built over the next 10 years!

    Just to be clear, I do not support this plan at all. But I was wondering:

    -have you heard of this plan yourself before?
    -would you happen to know who, if any, asked for this proposal to be made?

    I understand the private sector can say whatever it wants, but I would think drafting these proposals costs money, paid for by some client. At least for the Sheppard Subway EA in the late 1980s or early 1990s, Delcan was able to hide behind the client and champions of the project (various politicians, including Mel Lastman). If the companies in this consortium are proposing the SmartRideLRT programme on their own, I wonder if they have considered the risk to their reputation and credibility with unsolicited proposals that hardly match the official transit plans. With no client to hide behind, why would they do this?

    Steve: If you look at other parts of the Lea Associates website, you will see that it is rather thin, and that the “announcements” section has not been updated since 2007. I believe that this proposal was put together pro bono, and it had little effect when it came out.

    Remember the context of the proposal: Metrolinx had just been created, and regional plans were all the rage. Any company that could get a foot in the door might reap substantial work, if only for drawing more maps. It’s amusing that a proposal for “LRT” comes from a company with an SRT train on its home page. Playing to the house, maybe?

    For reasons we have all discussed here at great length, LRT and the rail corridors are a poor fit especially on those corridors that have frequent traffic and are not under GO’s control. The most obvious on the map is the CN York Subdivision that runs across the top of the city parallel to highway 7. It is their main freight line and links to the yard at Maple. As a network, the focus is overwhelmingly on “regional” travel in the manner of Metrolinx’ early thinking — to hell with people who want to travel within the 416! It’s nice that they proposed using LRT, but the network itself looks more like a highway map than a transit map.

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  36. It seems to me that good planning for transit builds flexibility into the mode of choice. For example, a corridor planned for LRT in the long term can start with light rail vehicles in a shared right if way, then be converted to a class B right of way, then LRVS can be coupled to create trains.

    When changing from one mode to another, a ‘leap of faith’ (change mode and capacity) is required. Because it is not easy to go from BRT to LRT … unless the ‘BRT’ is a low capacity ‘Quality Bus’ … and it is not easy to go from LRT to subway … unless the LRT is a really packed streetcar.

    The challenge Toronto is facing is that the ‘leap of faith’ has become a leap of madness … from busy bus to subway (Sheppard) or from nothing to subway (Scarborough Subway). Those don’t work as well.

    Cheers, Moaz

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  37. The SmartRide LRT proposal dates back to at least 2003. I recall coming across it at around the same time that GO issued a major cross-GTA busway proposal (which included a section along Eglinton to connect the Mississauga busway to the subway).

    That Mississauga busway was part of GO’s proposal as well and is only now beginning to approach completion. I recall seeing planning documents for it back in the early 90’s!

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  38. Moaz said:

    “When changing from one mode to another, a ‘leap of faith’ (change mode and capacity) is required. Because it is not easy to go from BRT to LRT … unless the ‘BRT’ is a low capacity ‘Quality Bus’ … and it is not easy to go from LRT to subway … unless the LRT is a really packed streetcar.

    The challenge Toronto is facing is that the ‘leap of faith’ has become a leap of madness … from busy bus to subway (Sheppard) or from nothing to subway (Scarborough Subway). Those don’t work as well.”

    Well said, I think that describes the situation well. I do not take exception to this, and I would really love to see justifying projections for these outer ROWs to be streetcar, however, I wonder about the political ability to sell this. However the quality bus to build demand if it cannot be LRT is really important. I think quality transit dispersed to the city as a whole, will really help build ridership. However, given the current modal splits it is unlikely to get projections that would make LRT justifiable. However, I could easily be wrong, depending on what they use for future constructions locations etc.

    Steve: Just as a side note, remember that the outer parts of transit lines tend not to have loads like the peak point. If we were deciding what to build to Vaughan, the projected demand would only warrant LRT. Everyone would object, of course, about a forced transfer and they would talk a lot about future growth. This is precisely the argument for LRT over BRT on corridors where that transition is justified for part of the line now or in the reasonable future. This is another example of an anti-LRT double standard I hear in some comments here (not yours, but I’m using this situation as an example).

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  39. Thanks Steve your point is fairly clear in comments from some that seem to be written based on the notion that LRT is evil and that you are pushing it to solve all ailments. One of the reasons I was suggesting such outer locations as Kipling (although this is certainly central for the gtha) was that it seems beyond current consideration, although I believe we should be looking further out for planning. It is somewhat disturbing given you can get a loaded LRV equivalent on Finch every couple of minutes that it should be now being looked at as a BRT. I expect this to be an inferior service that is more expensive to operate and less attractive to riders, that may also be overwhelmed. I would also like this to be an LRT ultimately considered to run at least to Yonge.

    I also think where links to 905 are not GO they should be LRT (or brt where load will not justify LRT) would be better both because it would allow the served municipal area to operate it and is not crippling to capital budgets for the entire region. Again over about a bus a minute I would prefer LRT. This is still below BRT capacity, but above a point where LRT can be justified. Also while I think BRT can be great, painted lines instead of ROWs will not achieve the end of providing high quality transit when it is surrounded by frustrated motorists willing to break little rules.

    The only subway construction that seems reasonable right now would be where loading would already be at or beyond a 3 LRV 2 minute headway LRT and where building LRT would not be significantly less expensive. I am aware of only one such proposal.

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