With the emergence of two candidates for Mayor of Toronto who support the Scarborough LRT scheme, we are bound to hear much talk about how long construction would take, how long SRT riders would be forced to ride shuttle buses, and when the line might open. In this context, it’s worth looking back at Metrolinx plans before various politicians decided to buy votes in Scarborough with a subway line.
The TTC’s original plans were to rebuild the SRT before the Pan Am Games. That schedule went out the window when then-Premier McGuinty pushed out the delivery plans for the Transit City projects so that most of the spending would occur after the provincial deficit was under control if not eliminated.
Also lost in the shuffle was the idea that the Sheppard LRT would be in operation before the SRT shutdown as an alternate route for people from northern Scarborough to reach the subway system.
Metrolinx revised timelines were based on three overlapping stages of the project:
- Build the new maintenance shops at Conlins Road including pre-building a portion of the Sheppard LRT for use as a test track. (This portion would be part of the link to the future Scarborough line and would be needed even if the Sheppard line were not yet operating.)
- Build the north end of the Scarborough LRT line from Sheppard to a point just east of McCowan Yard.
- Rebuild the existing SRT as an LRT line. Only this part of the project would require a shutdown of SRT service.
As momentum grew for the subway proposal, it suited proponents to treat the entire project timeline as the shutdown period for the SRT, and thus we began to hear of a four-year long period when riders would be taking bus shuttles. The situation was not helped by the fact that Queen’s Park and Metrolinx talked of the Scarborough LRT opening “by 2020” even though it could be finished far earlier.
In July 2012, I wrote about the “One City” debate at Council, and in that article asked:
Metrolinx needs to explain why the shutdown period for the SRT has grown to four years. Is this a question of project complexity, or of Queen’s Park’s desire to stretch out cash flows?
This prompted a response from Metrolinx Vice President of Rapid Transit Implementation, Jack Collins:
Your recent blog posting implies that Metrolinx or the Province has increased the duration of the SRT shutdown period from 3 years to 3 to 4 years.
This is not the case. The first time we heard 3 to 4 years was during the City Council debate on Wednesday concerning the One City Plan.
This duration did not come from a Metrolinx representative and in all our discussions with the TTC staff the shutdown has been three years, and hopefully less if we put our minds to it.
I wanted to assure you and your readers that even with an AFP type contract, the current Metrolinx plan is:
- SRT will stay in service until after the 2015 Pan Am/ Para Pan games
- The AFP contract will have a condition that will limit the shutdown period to no more than 3 years
- As part of the AFP contractor selection process, contractors will be encouraged to come up with plans to reduce the shutdown period to less than 3 years
[Email July 13, 2012]
A year later, as a result of some subtle changes in wording of government announcements, I pursued the question again. Jack Collins replied:
In the “5 in 10 Plan” presentation to the Metrolinx Board in May 2010, we deferred the light rail delivery dates for all projects and Eglinton LRT and Scarborough LRT were shown as completing in November 2020.
Since May 2010 there have been additional changes to LRT schedules that were a result of an MOU and the Sheppard East subway debate and those changes have impacted Sheppard East and Finch LRT in-service dates, but we have held to the original November 2020 dates for Eglinton and Scarborough LRT. The wording “in-service date of 2020” is perhaps more precise, although it does not give a month in 2020 and I am not sure “by 2020” is any more or less definitive.
To be clearer, the project team is working towards a goal of being in-revenue service during the month of November 2020 for both the Eglinton Crosstown LRT and Scarborough LRT. That said, there is still a chance that Scarborough LRT can be opened earlier. As I have previously indicated to you, Metrolinx will limit the SRT shut-down period to no more than 3 years. Assuming a contract award for the combined Crosstown and Scarborough LRT Design, Build, Finance, Maintain contract in early 2015, the successful proponent will need to complete enough design during the balance of 2015 to allow construction to start in 2016. We anticipate that construction could start between McCowan Station and Sheppard and on the new loop for SLRT into the new Kennedy LRT station. We will be asking the proponents to identify a construction staging plan that minimizes the SRT “shut-down”. The plan is to open Scarborough LRT as soon as feasible, but until we have a contractor on-board with an approved contract schedule and staging plan, it is bit difficult to pin down the exact dates on when the SRT will be shut-down and the new line opened.
On the Scarborough/Sheppard Maintenance and Storage Facility Design, Build, Finance and Maintain contract we hope to award the contract in October 2013. Early construction works for drainage and site leveling was completed last year and design should start in 2014 with construction going about 2.5 years from late 2014 through early 2017. This date is tied to Light Rail Vehicle delivery and having LRV’s available for final building and systems acceptance testing.
[Email July 8, 2013]
This was further clarified:
Plan is to start work in late 2015 but in areas that do not require a shut-down of SRT. Metrolinx will also review proponents plans to limit the shut-down to 3 years or less. That may delay the shut-down until late 2016, but still makes an earlier opening than November 2020 possible for Scarborough LRT.
We do not want to start a shut-down until all the other elements like TTC final design approvals, supply of traction power substations and signaling systems etc. are advanced enough to limit the shut-down duration.
[Email July 8, 2013]
In private conversations with Collins, it was clear that Metrolinx was hoping for a 2.5 year shutdown, but could not commit to that until bids for the work were in hand complete with project staging proposals. Thanks to the subway campaign, we don’t actually know what might have been possible.
Even if a new Council embraces the LRT scheme again (and assuming that the Scarborough Liberal Caucus doesn’t throw a monkey-wrench into the works at Queen’s Park), we would be lucky to see any construction start before 2016, but that would be on the portion of the project that does not require a shutdown. The question then would be whether the whole project could be compressed by a desire to get it completed quickly.
We will hear a lot of hot air during the election campaign with claims and counter-claims about the LRT and subway options. Metrolinx, the TTC and City staff owe the public clear, unbiased information about these options and how they would fit into the larger planning exercise for regional transportation now underway.
Why did we take the obvious option of keeping the existing ICTS technology off the table? Surely this would drastically reduce the shutdown time (as well as avoiding any relationship with the Sheppard LRT proposal). Never mind the other obvious option (running all day GO train service on the Stouffville line).
I am quite disappointed with the mayoral candidates aside from John Tory, as the other candidates really seem to have a poor understanding of transit issues in Toronto. I don’t really like the Scarborough subway proposal as I think that it costs too much and there is too little density, and prefer the combination of rebuilding the existing SRT + the Stouffville line, but it is better than nothing. At least John Tory is strongly in favour of the downtown relief line, and he seems to have a much better understanding of transportation issues than the other candidates. Chow, Soknacki and Stintz don’t understand Toronto transportation issues very well, and I am disappointed to see Olivia Chow act as if the DRL is not needed and claim that it is too expensive. I am really tired of watching CP24 and seeing Toronto have worse traffic than practically every other city in the world aside from developing countries (especially when there is a snowstorm), and how most Toronto politicians seem to complete ignore improving the GO train system, and act as if Highway 401 does not exist despite being the busiest highway in the world in certain sections. Also with Wynne abandoning transit taxes due to opposition from the NDP, where is the money going to come from? With limited cash, the provincial government should have prioritized less expensive GO train expansion over everything else including Eglinton, and I am disappointed to not see this happen.
Steve: In the context of an LRT network, not just one line, it does not make sense to retain the ICTS/Skytrain technology. As for GO service, I fully agree that more should be done with the available corridors, and Metrolinx is belatedly undertaking a study that includes this, although I don’t think it’s an either-or situation because GO and the local transit networks serve different types of demand. Whether a pro-transit government or Metrolinx will even exist long enough to implement anything is another matter. Toronto and Ontario have an astonishing ability to waste time and political advantage, and in the end accomplish nothing.
Any chance the Finch West LRT can begin construction this year?
Steve: Not this year, but Metrolinx is doing the design work prior to calling tenders. I think they are waiting until elections are out of the way to see the lay of the land politically.
I agree, although I think she is saying needed eventually. I think she fails to understand the process requirements and construction lead times involved. I suspect even if it were a national emergency it would require 3 years, however, that would mean something akin to suspending the constitution.
I also worry about running a Sheppard LRT first, as it would mean pushing that traffic that was downtown bound onto Yonge, which is in worse shape than Bloor, and even the small part of traffic that would normally take the Spadina side would not. I do not like the practical notion of any of the current subway extensions, the only justifiable construction would be one in the core to relieve current traffic overload on existing lines, not those that will further increase traffic on lines that are already overloaded.
The money on the east side would be better spent on the continuation of the Eglinton LRT, and a DMRL, the money for the Yonge extension also being diverted to build the DMRL and possibly an LRT parallel to Yonge (Don Mills?) and a non subway extension from Finch (LRT or BRT, or combination), that does not have to be a TTC responsibility. The money proposed for subway extensions is excessive. The one concern I have with this approach on the funded projects, only because the electoral cycle is shorter than the construction one, and as a result we will end up with nothing.
The voter needs to have this be an issue, with a real debate, and a host that knows the issues cold. We might just discover the teenager in the race has as good an understanding of transit as anyone else running.
Theoretically, it would take forever since the subway will be constructed. The subway has already been approved by all three levels of government and that discussion is over. What we can still discuss is whether or not we need even more subway lines in Downtown Toronto or more bus service will suffice but there is no point in reopening already settled debates. The people who are so desperate to build LRT in Scarborough (i.e. people in and close to Downtown who will benefit strongly from a Downtown Relief Line / DRL will still be talking about a Scarbborough LRT even when the Scarborough subway is up and running). Now why are these people so desperate to build cheap third class LRT in Scarborough and will accept nothing other than a first class subway system in and around their own areas?
Steve: We have heard this argument before. There are also people in Scarborough who favour the LRT proposal, and don’t see it as third class.
As for an “already settled debate”, we had one of those when Ford’s subway plan was ditched in favour of LRT with Scarborough’s support. Then someone got the idea that somehow LRT wasn’t good enough, and the vote buying began.
The reason for a subway into downtown is simple: there will be sufficient demand that LRT can’t handle it and there is no place to build a surface LRT or subway even if we wanted to, unlike the situation in Scarborough where the LRT would have its own right-of-way.
I think that the Bombardier Talent train would provide a cheap way of increasing service on the rail lines to provide some transit relief, and they can run as Diesel Multiple Unit or EMU, perhaps only a few changes to the tracks would have to be made, but could provide some transit service relief perhaps.
Whether it was Harris cancelling the Eglinton subway when the plan and money was there or the Fords disrupting approved and funded plans, there begins to appear a pattern. Opinions and idelologies end up clashing and in the end the transit riders have to suffer for it.
Perhaps until more rail transit lines are built, there should be some glamour added to bus service improvements. Now we are getting some nice articulated buses, perhaps there should be some debate over restoring our trolley bus system, as Vancouver and Seattle are both showing that there is still a role for trolley bus technology in the world of modern mass transit.
A major problem appears to be that we have let right wing populists set the agenda. Too many promises are tailored to fit into “cast in stone” beliefs that are not really held by everybody. These beliefs include the following and variations thereof:
* All Taxes are bad. No tax increase is ever permissible – even for inflation.
* Transit is a reward. There is such a thing as a “class” of transit rather than an appropriate level of service.
* A politician’s role is to “do what the people want”.
* What the people want is defined by the loudest voices.
Ever since the debut of the Reform Party, the latter point is the one that puzzled me most. How does a politician actually know what is the “will of the people”. I hear politicians, who change their opinion, say that they are responding to the will of the people because they got 3 or 400 emails and phone calls. These politicians represent many thousands of constituents and yet they think they are reflecting the people’s will.
Many of us, including me, still believe in representative democracy. Under that concept politicans are elected (selected) because they are wise and caring. (Obviously wise and caring with an ideological slant that appeals to the largest plurality of voters.) “The people” don’t have the time to do all the research to make the best informed decisions, so politicians do that on their behalf. Once a politicians arrives at a policy, he/she leads the people, rather than following. If all we need is politicians that follow, we could fire them all and replace them with button or two on our cable remote to make decisions.
Many people, including me, think that transit solutions should be in the mode that is best suited to meet the needs of the travellers. This isn’t rocket science. Buses, LRTs, streetcars and subways meet various levels of demand. The mode offered is not a “reward” or “punishment”. What matters is the highest possible frequency and the ability to get where one wants to go.
Many people including me believe that there is value in taxes. Taxes provide the services we want and need. Taxes make our society viable and a place where we are all safe. A tax increase is not in itself a bad thing, if it leads to a better society. Infrastructure – beyond a doubt – is something that benefits us all. Even on St. Clair, (which I think is actually a great project) the most violently opposed might reconsider their position if they stopped to think what their car commute would be like if all the streetcar riders were in additional cars.
I’m not saying that my wisdom is greater that the “loudest voices” who disagree with me. Democracy is a good idea at its core. However, what we need is a visionary who can generate the appropriate support for their ideas and get elected in a democracy. What we have are politicians who are either stupid or liars (you can have it all for free) and “progressives” who are afraid to lead and have to try to kowtow to the former.
Yesterday’s announcement by a Premier that I thought was a leader, but who is turning into a follower, is very disappointing. I will probably vote for Olivia (October poll results could make a difference – RoFo must Go) but it is disappointing to hear the emphasis she is putting on not raising taxes.
Where is the politician that will set a new agenda?
Yes those people likely live withing walking distance to a “proposed stop”. Otherwise its a completely sub par plan & a cheap desperate move to build transit where we have failed for over 40 years. Even then we can trust what would even get built in that Master plan.
The Subway may be sub par in terms of stops. It at least brings Scarborough on the same transit line as Etobicoke and North York which makes sense when we all pay the same taxes.
The ship has sailed hopefully. But then again why would we expect those that already have had their subway payed for want to pay for others in the same City?
Steve: As long as you make this a Scarborough vs Downtown, us versus them, or even “good” Scarberians vs “bad” ones, debate rather than addressing the question of good transit, I simply won’t engage.
After hearing Olivia Chows platform to revert back to the LRT plan, I am reminded of what I have been saying for the past 5 years or so.
• In 2009, when TTC concluded that the SRT and the Eglinton LRT line could not be connected because of too much ridership on Eglinton, I thought a good compromise would be for Eglinton LRT to be elevated and connected to the SRT to eliminate the transfer.
• In 2010 when Ford was campaigning for the B-D subway to Scarborough (plus the Sheppard subway), I though a good compromise would be for Eglinton LRT to be elevated and connected to the SRT to eliminate the transfer.
• In 2011 when Ford and McGuinty came up with the SRT and underground Eglinton LRT, I though a good compromise would be for Eglinton LRT to be elevated and connected to the SRT to eliminate the transfer.
• In 2012 when Stintz cancelled the Ford-McGuinty plan and switched back to the original Transit City plan, I though a good compromise would be for Eglinton LRT to be elevated and connected to the SRT to eliminate the transfer.
• In 2013 when Ford, Stintz and Wynne came up with the B-D subway extension, I though a good compromise would be for Eglinton LRT to be elevated and connected to the SRT to eliminate the transfer.
• In 2014 when Mayoralty candidates came out in support of either the B-D subway extension or the SRT/LRT, I though a good compromise would be for Eglinton LRT to be elevated to eliminate the transfer.
At each time it seems that we are bouncing between a solution that does not meet the needs of the citizens, or a plan that costs about $2B to $2.5B more. At each of these moments in time I thought that a compromise that costs between $100M to $500M more would have gained widespread acceptance – after all, it has the benefits of both plans (the more things progressed, sunk costs started to accumulate and the extra cost needed have been going up). The tragedy is that the residents of Scarborough and Toronto were never shown how good this option can be.
How many more times will we switch back and forth and delay construction before we finally realize what we should have done in the first place. The reason we are switching back and forth is not because of Ford or Stintz or Chow, it is because we refuse to find the middle ground compromise solution that is staring us in the face.
Steve: Presuming that we want an elevated down the middle of Eglinton Avenue. Even with that, I doubt you would see the TTC willing to run through services, and I fully expect the proponents of the Scarborough Subway would still complain about having to transfer at Kennedy because they’re not going west on Eglinton.
Correct me if I am wrong but I understand that the major reason that we were going to rebuild the SRT as light rail rather continuing using ICTS was that the Mark I cars are no longer manufactured and the Mark II are incompatible with the existing line without rebuilding portions of it. And if there must be a shutdown to rebuild, one should simply switch to light-rail.
Steve: Those are contributing factors, but the big one is to have one technology, not two, and that it be one that can be extended on surface alignments without spending a fortune.
Engage as you feel. Just making my opinion as a Citizen of the far East.
For the record I never once mentioned Good Scarborough vs. Bad. Its simply a case of possible have’s and have not’s again. I.E: The Guildwood area is choosing LRT in hopes they one day get the Morningside-Kingston Loop. Makes sense for that area since its far off the radar of the Subway.
Scarborough is not a small “suburb” & has many unique areas to address. Yet collectively the citizens don’t get an opportunity to make its decision on its future transit. I don’t believe it’s fair to have the North, West and DT Toronto citizens who have existing Subways to their cores make this decision for Scarborough. If the consensus decision from Scarborough is to implement LRT to STC, I’m good with that. But I highly doubt that’s the case & it shouldn’t be decided for Scarborough by the others.
We’ve waited long enough. LRT’s/BRT’s can wait another 50-100 years for the smaller veins of Scarborough if the Province continues to play the same game of politics. But as long as Scarborough is connected on the same infrastructure as the rest of the City it’s on the right track to good transit politics can be swallowed much easier in the future.
I think it is a fair assumption. A short stretch near Black Creek and another near Centennial were converted from in-median to elevated during discussions with the public. Also, the most built up section of the current SRT is beside the elevated track. Based on this assumption, I think it would be worth the effort to make the proposal.
As I said, I am tired of bouncing back and forth between two plans that both have roughly 50% opposition. The definition of insanity is to do the same thing and expect a different result. The history of the past 5 or more years suggests that if we go with either the isolated SRT/LRT or the expensive subway extension, the plan will just get cancelled and nothing will be built.
Correct me if I’m wrong but the elevated section at Black Creek is really a bridge over the ‘valley’ between Mount Dennis (Weston Road) and Silverthorn (Keele St) that is occupied by the Black Creek and Black Creek Drive. Metrolinx is also using the old Kodak lands (elevated at the same level as the railway tracks) for the bus bay and carhouse.
Steve: That is correct. Calling that stretch an “elevated” is like using the same term for the structure at Keele Station, or as an extreme case, the Prince Edward Viaduct.
I’m not sure about the plan around Centennial but I know that it is off street. An elevated down the middle of Eglinton, or on one side between the DVP and Kennedy … would be interesting to see but would people approve? I wouldn’t be terribly hard to ask by providing cross-section images in a survey.
Steve: There are two points about this section. The easternmost part is residential, and I’m not sure folks would enjoy a structure down their street, especially as side of the road running. Second, nobody talks about stations which double the width of the structure (at least) and require space at ground level for access. Advocates of elevateds love to point to integrated stations and buildings noting some in Vancouver, but that would require major redevelopment of lands all along Eglinton. I am not saying this is impossible, just that the implications are not fully addressed by advocates for this type of structure.
As I recall the last time an ‘elevated’ was presented in brochures as an ‘option’ it was as misinformation in an argument against the Spadina streetcar right-of-way.
Steve: The situation on Spadina was compounded by the fact that the TTC in its infinite wisdom presented the Spadina car and right-of-way as an express service to proposed development on the Railway Lands, not as a local service. The right-of-way was portrayed as an uncrossable barrier by its opponents.
I am inclined to agree with Walter. Yes, on purely policy merits, that stretch of Eglinton does not need to be elevated. Through service with the SRT would be terrific, but again, is perhaps not “necessary.” What is necessary is winning over at least some of the “soft” subway supporters (both on Council and among the general public). The way I see it we are either willing to spend somewhat more than is strictly necessary or we end up spending everything we have on the BD extension because we lose the political battle.
And hey, there is the silver-lining that an elevated Eglinton/through service with the SRT might integrate better with future DRL service and ensure that Pape (or wherever) is not overwhelmed.
Unfortunately, Talents require temporal separation from other rail traffic governed by Transport Canada regulations. Ottawa was able to get temporal separation for the O-Train, but Toronto would certainly be more complicated. Another vehicle for Toronto rail corridors that can avoid temporal separation requirements would be much easier.
Its safe to say that (even though I am only 26) there will never be another subway built in Toronto within my lifetime. With all the politics of it nothing will ever get built.
We NEED more subways in Toronto.. while I like LRT and Streetcars the sheer number of people in Toronto along with all the offices has caused an insane amount of congestion akin to London and New York City. This congestion is unavoidable and ties up Streetcars and buses alike ruling out both LRT and BRT. You need only look at the news to see all the road closures for construction in the City of Toronto to get a sense of why it is not practical to have alot of LRT routes. Take Queen for example. When they had to do utility work last year they shut down a large part of the route diverting it through Downtown along King Street. If that had been a subway, the work could have progressed while the Subway ran below.
Even when there is an event at Yonge and Dundas the subway keeps going while Streetcars and Buses divert around it. THIS is why we need to end the debate and build subways.
If we could build it properly without such a boondoggle I would suggest building an LRT system but we cannot. Any LRT system or Streetcar route we have or build will get stuck in that congestion as well as the endless politicking.
For example, it takes me 30 minutes from Warden to College taking the subway. If I take the 506 from Main Station it takes 45 Minutes to get to College, sometimes more. You can guess which route I take.
That said, we need to stop all the debate and actually build something. Talk is cheap which is why all the politicians use it.. actually building something is alot more expensive and harder to swallow.
As a staunch NDP’er (Full disclosure the NDP MP for Scarborough Southwest is a close personal friend) I would normally vote for the NDP Candidate on any given ballot but come October 27th I may have to change that if Olivia decides to press for an LRT in Scarborough.
All in all as I stated above I am not advocating for subways because I have nothing better to do, I am advocating for them because of the need to avoid congestion and road closures. While they are not totally infallible, a notable example is the road work that penetrated the subway tunnel near St. Clair a few years ago they do manage to get around or through 99% of the road closures and congestion that occur here in Toronto. LRT and Buses cannot.
Steve: But you are not going to see subways under every major street. It just ain’t going to happen, especially on your obviously downtown centric trips (grin).
Well said. One thing we don’t need is a chopped up version of the original Transit City LRT system. This plan was never truly going to be built as it was sold. Us older Scarborough citizens have seen these games far to often.
That’s not his point he was making. If we are discussion a fully funded LRT network that was on the original Transit City Plan which went to the zoo and connected UTSC, and all the other areas I would possibly consider the proposal. But every time I looked Scarborough was losing tracks from the original Transit City plan instead of moving forward. We have grown tired of the BS. What area we really getting? End the games and just build something which is useful.
Let the politicians play their games for the next thousand years on how to fund BRT’s & LRT’s as secondary services to the main backbone of a Subway. The Subway is not perfect by any means but much more useful for Scarborough than a stub LRT from Don Mills to Morningside & a lackluster route from Kennedy to STC.
Steve: Please remember that it was Queen’s Park who were responsible for the gradually vanishing LRT network in Scarborough, not Toronto’s (then) politicians nor advocates like me. Even with provincial interference, the UTSC extension of Sheppard was poised to be added to the map, but then we (including Scarborough) elected Rob Ford. Don’t forget that Ford’s plan never took rapid transit east of STC, and that’s what he was elected on. As things are now, the Scarborough Subway is just one more bauble dangled in front of voters by almost all parties, and if either the price of the line or the economic circumstances change, it might never be built.
I think this is part of the issue in this debate. People each, pay taxes based on property values. On that logic downtown clearly would deserve more transit, as there are higher property taxes, and more people being served. Also remember that business also pay those taxes. It would be dollars of tax vs dollars of service in that case. I am fairly sure that between buses and subways Scarborough will be getting more services per tax dollar than much of the rest of the city when this is done. If you really want to use tax dollar logic you will appear inconsistent if you try to ignore density especially in this calculation. The best service that provides, speed, flexibility, and frequency should be the goal not subway for subway’s sake. LRT would bring more people that high level fast frequent service, and still more a short bus ride from it. If there is space, LRT [is] at least as good as subway (not in a dank hole).
Question to Richard White:
The SLRT would be like a subway running on the surface completely separated from road and pedestrian traffic. Because there are no grade crossings, an SLRT would be able to run at a subway-like speed. It would be completely immune from road traffic and construction.
Why should we spend $1.5 billion extra to put it underground?
The surface portions of other LRT lines would be vulnerable to auto traffic only at intersections if a car blocks an intersection at a traffic light. I would expect LRT lines to be little affected by road construction projects. The concept works in Calgary and Edmonton; why not in Toronto?
Per Jordan Kerim’s comment, Metrolinx has such a vehicle on order for UPX. The issue of platform heights could be a show stopper due to AODA if platform mods are unfeasible or unduly expensive for proposed services. I have wondered about Metrolinx operating a shuttle on the Don Branch if only to create some justification for their otherwise baffling decision to pay CP for it and then turn it over to the weeds.
On the contrary, this is exactly why LRT and BRT are needed; to remove the transit vehicles from the rest of the traffic, so they can bypass the congestion.
But there are no plans to route LRT through the downtown core on the surface. The central section of Eglinton is being tunneled because the street is not wide enough to allow an LRT in its own RoW and keep enough roadway for other traffic, and most down-town streets are no wider than it. Currently the only planned LRT or new streetcar south of Bloor that I know of is for Queens Quay East (including the Cherry St branch).
The plans are to build LRTs along wider avenues. In many, probably most, cases road work would be done on each roadway without impacting the RoW significantly.
Steve: And preliminary work already done for the Sheppard LRT moved utilities out from under the future right-of-way to protect against just that sort of issue.
True for downtown, but I don’t recall a great many ‘events’ occurring on Finch West or Shepherd East – or Eglinton East, for that matter.
You lost all credibility for me with this comment. You are saying that a streetcar running on a longer route in mixed traffic with fine-grained service (about 3 times as many stops) takes longer than a subway on its own RoW with coarse-grained service.
The 506 is basically a replacement for a bus route (it is not an LRT), with stops at bus distances and running in mixed traffic. Such a streetcar is not going to be significantly faster than a bus, so your statement is basically that you take the subway because it is faster than the bus route; hardly news to most people.
Certainly this is not a valid argument against LRTs (or BRTs).
I agree that we have some very poor politicians who talk too much and produce too little, but that is no reason to pay many times as much to build subways when LRT (or BRT) makes more sense. The only way we will get what we need is to hold their feet to the fire.
Here is a summary of the three options:
1) Pay for new production of Mark I cars, no shutdown needed.
2) Purchase Mark II cars, shutdown needed to make changes to accommdate them.
3) Convert line to LRT, shutdown needed for the conversion.
All three options are have costs that are in the same ballpark. The conversion to LRT is a bit more expensive on its own, but the other two require new storage/maintenance facilities. One of the benefits of the one technology is that new storage/maintenance facilities can be shared with other parts of the network, making their cost offset the extra cost for conversion of the line.
Choice 1 sounds the easiest with no shutdown, but what do you do in 30-35 years when the fleet needs replacing?
Steve: Also, Bombardier does not have the tooling for these cars and would incur substantial startup costs. Also, the electronics package would likely be adapted from the Mark II’s (ie build a Mark II in a Mark I body) in order to be current.
Choices 1 and 2 are fine if you NEVER want to extend the line. The cost per km of ICTS line is close to the cost per km of subway construction. Any extension beyond the STC area, now or in the future, will be significantly less costly with the LRT conversion. Why is the “we need to plan for the future” card brought out by subway advocates, but hidden away when LRT provides the better option for future expansion?
Steve: Probably because the subway advocates (or at least some of them) only want to stop the LRT option, not actually build a comprehensive network that, as subway, we could never afford or justify. I see similar blinkered arguments when BRT is proposed as an alternative for an LRT line “that will never reach the target capacity”. See Finch West for a perfect example.
All politicians are to blame for this mess. That’s not going to change in the future so how are you confident that our transit decision makers to believe the ZOO portion of Sheppard or the Malvern LRT would be built some day? It would be used as a political tool for the area the same way the subway is today for generations.
The difference is sooner or later something has to be built in Scarborough in the next 10 years and the subway would allow everyone to leave Scarborough alone and move on to another area to hold hostage. And Scarborough would be fully integrated with good transit.
Steve: Your argument sounds as if we should just give Scarborough several billion dollars and say “here, go build something, but don’t ever, ever ask again”. You and I know perfectly well that it won’t stop with one subway. If you think that “my” extensions such as a Malvern LRT or one to UTSC (I think the Zoo can do just fine with a bus, thank you), won’t ever be built, you may be right, but it does not justify spending over a billion more on a subway.
I have no issue funding to help build the growing core but the core of the City has a problem funding the rest. Actually only if it’s the cheapest option. Etobicoke and North York have seen property values skyrocket since the Subway was built. Another reason to just integrate Scarborough with the Subway so we can just move on and not have this same discussion as a City in 50 years.
Steve: Please stop saying “downtown” won’t pay for your subway. Lots of folks all over Toronto (never mind southern Ontario) don’t want to pay for your subway either. This is not an argument for or against the subway, and I am fed up with hosting this sort of drivel.
I just like to laugh at all those people living in south Scarborough who say that we need the subway extension to STC. This sounds like an argument for those that need a one seat ride from South Scarborough to STC instead of being more convenient for people in North Scarborough to get downtown. As someone in living in North Scarborough, it wouldn’t matter if the extension was a subway or an LRT. I still would need to take the bus to STC. And what about those living in Northwest Scarborough, are they going to use the extension to STC to get downtown or are they going on the 199 to Finch station?
In reality, the ridership numbers don’t support a full subway extension. Once subway riders get off at Kennedy, the ridership is split in half between those going on the RT and those riding the buses at Kennedy (you can check ridership numbers on the TTC website) . So those that are arguing that we need the subway to go to STC are saying that we should spend 3 billion dollars such that half the subway riders at Kennedy will save 5-10 minutes to get to STC. Is that really a good way to spend 3 billion dollars?
I would agree with your argument with regards to the lowest cost option providing equal service. I would also point out to you 2 things 1-Etobicoke has no service in the north west, only along Bloor and has no other transit (SRT). I agree with the DMRL in large part because it will improve the service of the Crosstown, and the Danforth Line which serve Scarborough and it would appear would be very hard to build as LRT.
I have seen few arguments here for a subway to serve Northwest Scarborough, the area in Northwest Etobicoke, and few to the Ex, Liberty city and Roncesvalles area. The only cogent one has been for the DMRL, which I would still say if it could be done for a lot less as an LRT that worked (ie tunnels were cheaper or roads supported it) I would prefer LRT there as well. The subway downtown serves the downtown core and those who want to get there. I always enjoy those who talk about a single seat ride, as most downtown riders will not associate the subway with sitting at all. I agree that generally rapid transit supports property values, and should be spread as much as possibly.
What do we say to those in northern Scarborough once we build the subway that does not improve their situation, or Northern Etobicoke or all those others still in gridlock while we expend the few dollars we have. You assume that I am a downtowner when you quote me, rather I was merely pointing out that you are using tax dollars as a reason for why a low density area deserves subway, and that argument would be more effectively used the other way.
I do not like paying for additional subway to Scarborough (Scarborough already does have some) for the same reason I do not support most other proposals. I have used LRT elsewhere and quite liked it. Calgary’s works very well even now. Rather than assume I am a downtowner you should ask whether perhaps I am merely an economist who appreciates the definition of the discipline “the allocation of scarce resources between competing ends” here too much of the city and region needs service, and one a couple of areas will consume all the resources, starving these other areas.
Clearly if you are using the Danforth subway line that you are so interested in being connected to it must be yours as well, and how about Yonge are you using that? Is it really a downtown subway only, or one that happens to be there serving all those wanting to get there. Also have you had the chance to ride the C-train or other LRT system? They feel much like a subway, except you can see something other than tunnel walls. The entire region needs a solution that will solve congestion and permit continued growth. Yes, Scarborough needs additional high quality service, not something half assed, and I understand the concern that the LRT will not be a high quality implementation, and yes Scarborough has been burned before, but please look at options beyond just subway, as this will not be able to solve even Scarborough’s issues, leaving most of the area with an essentially unchanged transit situation. Yes Kennedy had a terrible transfer, make sure that never happens anywhere else in the city, fight like hell for a cross platform transfer, good ROWs with proper controls, reasonable stop distances and short headways.
Well, it opens the door, but the door has to walked through. Don’t forget that when the technology change to LRT was decided, the ICTS-compatible alignment was kept for the extended portion of the SRT.
Except that politicians are already pounding the “People in Scarborough are still second class citizens until we get the Sheppard subway finished!” drum.
I will accept a cheap Scarborough LRT only if assurances can be given that no further subways will be built in the subway rich downtown. The people from in and around downtown are so desperate to build LRT in Scarborough (the LRT that most of them will NEVER use) so that they can use the money saved from it to build the Downtown Relief Line / DRL that will benefit them directly.
Steve: Enough with “the people downtown and LRT” argument. It is insulting crap. Scarborough does not have the density of jobs to produce the travel demands focussed on a single point that downtown does. Get used to it. Meanwhile, downtown and its businesses are choking thanks to the hordes of folks from the outer 416 and 905 who want to come here to work. That’s why we need more rapid transit capacity in the core.
If you want to argue the merits of various networks and how they would serve all of Scarborough’s travel demand, but “I want one and you can’t have more” is not a valid tactic.
I think you need to look the riders the DRL is to serve. I do not personally think of Scarborough and the Danforth East riders as “Downtowners”, nor do I think of East York residents as being “Downtowners”. Those who live near Yonge will only be affected in that that subway will be less crowded and frankly if it is the shorter version of the DRL not really noticeably at that. If you live in downtown west, you will not be affected, in Rosedale and north, barely at all (they will board before the train is overloaded), if you live in Scarborough, where you have to get on the Yonge line at Bloor, well you know, you really need this, because if somebody who lives slightly north of there (Rosedale) walks north not south they are getting on and you are not, given the current structure.
The beneficiaries of the “Downtown Relief Line” are really riders coming in from the east on Danforth. It would be more accurately described as the “Danforth East to Downtown Line” or the “Scarborough Residents to Downtown Line”, this does not really add service to those who live downtown, especially those north of Bloor, or west of the Don, only those who want to get Downtown from the east (read Scarborough). This becomes more important as the TTC delivers more service to Scarborough in any form, as it puts more pressure on the Subway at Bloor, where these riders board a southbound train. I will stop here, as Steve will be getting annoyed that I am spending so much time and space stating the self-evident.
Steve is chortling.
I doubt the people who want a Sheppard subway extension will ever be satisfied. Even if they got all the subways they wanted, they’d still have a chip on their shoulder and find a way to blame those nasty downtown elites on not enough businesses and people moving to Scarborough. The wellspring of a sense of injustice (justified or not) never truly runs dry.
A few scattered responses to various ideas here:
1. There should be no consideration at all given to the idea of trying to get new Mark I trains for the SRT. Even if it somehow was more cost effective to get Bombardier to re-start production of this model (which is likely not the case) they provide a vastly inferior riding experience. Anyone who has been on Vancouver’s SkyTrain can tell you it’s really not comparable to the SRT.
2. If I were running for mayor, and trying to buy votes in Scarborough, I would pitch the idea of re-building the SRT as the SLRT in accordance with previous plans AND using some of the savings to build at least part of Transit City’s Scarborough-Malvern line as far as Kingston Road. Anyone who commutes along the stretch of Eglinton east of Kennedy during the morning rush hour knows how much of a disaster it is. Some parts of that stretch have as many as 4 low-headway bus routes running along it, and most of the road is wide enough to build a protected ROW. (I know there are issues with getting over or under the Stouffville corridor and with the overpass at Eglinton GO station, but those are engineering challenges that seem feasible.)
Steve: The Stouffville corridor is not an issue because the planned station for the Eglinton east line is underground. The line would surface east of the existing overpass.
3. I want to band my head against a wall (or against the people spouting this nonsense) anytime I hear someone say “downtown already has subways, it shouldn’t get more” or “I won’t pay for downtown’s fancy system when all I get is an LRT” or some variation on that theme. Not to sound condescending, but there’s got to be either some innate logical deficiency or an unbelievable self-esteem complex involved to reach that conclusion. I’m a downtowner in only the loosest sense of the term (living in East York, commuting through Kennedy Station every day) but the numbers don’t lie when you see that (1) downtown is the most crowded part of the system and (2) more people want to get downtown than any other one place, regardless where you’re coming from.
4. The shutdown time numbers may be politically fudged, but I don’t think anyone would be shocked if construction does take as long as the “generous” estimates that some from City Hall have been floating. I know it’s different working in your own ROW and not dealing with utility crews and other on-street issues, but the TTC (and to a lesser extent Metrolinx) don’t exactly have the best record for prompt completion of projects.
Steve: But you must believe in the magic of the private sector which, as a P3, will have an incentive to do the work quickly. The extended timeline has always been a question of how much work would occur concurrently and, therefore, the “burn rate” of the project’s budget. Start later than originally planned, and finish even later.
Most of the people in the “true” downtown will not ride the subway very often either. It is more convenient to walk, bike or take a streetcar than to ride the subway. The subway is there to help people from farther out get to their jobs or school or evening out in the downtown. If the choice is between building 4 km of subway or 15 – 20 km of LRT then the LRT is far more valuable to the majority who will not live near the subway. Most people in Toronto have no idea what true LRT is because except for the short section of the Queensway we do not have any.
The politicians are doing a good or a bad, depending on your point of view, job of pitting one area against another so they can eliminate all tax increases. We are falling into the neo-conservative mantra that all taxes are bad and that any that help the less well off are just a precursor to an larger wellfare state.
The downtown is the centre of the economic engine that drives the GTHA, which is the economic engine that drives Ontario which itself is the engine that drives Canada. But it is so easy to blame all are problems on the core that we will damage it so that it does not get something that we can’t have. For the record I live in Brampton; before that I lived at Lawrence and Warden until 1975 and at Yonge and Davisville until 1966.
And to add to this, at some point people will not locate their offices, or other facilities in the area, as it will be prohibitively expensive to attract people here. They would have to too spend many hours everyday just getting to and from work, and will demand much higher pay and be much less productive (tired before they even got there). Cities (and countries) grow because they are attractive places to locate and easy to attract employees to (good places to live). There is no easy alternate location now in Canada that would be a viable international centre of the same scale for the finance sector amongst others.
I do not in general believe in raising taxes, the service provided must be very cost effective and be of a high quality to justify it. This would mean efficient scaled to size of the demand, and rapid without costing billions extra to build or maintain. Generally governments in Ontario in the last couple of decades in the area of transit of been politically expedient not effective or efficient, this needs to change. They need to show leadership by selecting the most effective, efficient and appropriate transit, while allowing a realistic value for people’s time. This should mean a mix of different sized, LRT, BRT, bus, streetcar and a very small amount subway. As opposed to the current apparent knee jerk of subway when in doubt.
Except where there are already subways or LRTs beyond capacity I will be very suspicious of any subway proposals as they are incredibly costly, and time consuming to implement.
So, the LRT would include a 2.5 year shutdown where people will have to take the bus to Kennedy station.
Would the current subway option require any shutdown period, meaning, would the SRT continue to operate until the subway opens?
We all know it was a case of vote-buying, and the “Scarborough deserves” arguments are terrible. Disregarding all that though, is the subway option justifiable in terms of ridership or other real factors?
In your opinion Steve, should we stay with the subway option or switch to the LRT option?
Thanks, I apologize if the above has already been answered.
Steve: The subway option does not require a shutdown, although it will entail considerable ongoing expense to keep the SRT working for another 10 years while the subway is built (estimated at $12m/year). The subway was “justified” on the basis of revised demand estimates that are suspect for a reason stated at Council by the Chief Planner — the newly discovered demand originates in Markham and could just as easily be on a frequent GO service on the Stouffville line as on the subway. Take away this gerrymandering and the so-called demand for a subway vanishes. This issue needs to be addressed honestly before we commit billions to serve ridership that may never materialize.
We should never have switched from the LRT option to the subway scheme, but there was a provincial by-election to be won, not to mention a mayoral seat and a councillor desperate to prove to his constituents that he was fighting for Scarborough. Politics wins out every time.
With regards to the comparison I posted about SRT/LRT options, Steve mentioned:
Thanks for the clarification of the point I was making about option 1 (new Mark-I cars). Purchasing new Mark-I cars has a pricetag that places this option, as I said, “in the same ballpark” as the other two options that both involve significant construction along the line. Since future replacements would be just as, if not more costly, this comment made by CommutingAgainstTraffic is the only logical conclusion about this option:
Along this topic, Karl Junkin wrote about my comment on the cost per km of extending an ICTS line:
I’m not clear on what the point of this comment was. I was not trying to compare the cost per km of ICTS that included obtaining a right of way with an LRT alignment that would use a median on roads. Considering that the alignment would be the same for either technology, I was referring to the greater cost per km of constructing the two technologies.
Even on a reserved alignment, ICTS requires full isolation and grade separation when crossing roads, while LRT does not. Even with grade separation when crossing roads, the overall cost per km for an LRT extension would remain significantly lower than ICTS.
The point was that the LRT version of the extended portion of SRT was still designed to be compatible with ICTS, i.e. 100% isolation and full grade separation. Therefore, because both “technologies” were being applied in a fully isolated design, there was no appreciable difference in capital cost between the two, with the exception of carhouse resources shared with another line in the LRT example. I put quotes around “technology” because full grade separation was not an essential feature for the LRT. My point was that LRT that is fully grade separated with subway-style stations, as is proposed for the extended portion of the SRT, it is not saving money. The LRT didn’t have to be grade-separated, not based on ridership, but it was still going to be. So my point was that LRT opens up options to reduce cost compared to other technologies, but those options have to actually be taken advantage of. That never happened with the extended portion of the SRT.
Yes, and the problem is in my mind the voters’ fault. We have become so focused on the notion of the politicians doing what we want, not doing what is right, reasonable, logical and affordable. The average voter needs to better inform themselves, and start to be suspicious when it sounds too good. I am by nature conservative, but when I hear a Tim Hudak talking about subways it makes my blood boil. We have eliminated the Joe Clark(s) who would tell us what we need to hear, and replaced them with the Tim Hudaks, Harpers, Rob Fords of the world who are busy trying to figure out what we want to hear. As voters we need either spend some time really looking into an area, so we know, or be extremely doubtful when we hear our knee jerk. I hate hearing hate hearing subway subway subway because I know it is what the voter wants to hear. It is what we know, however, we may as well be saying a Rolls Royce in every driveway.
Understand your city, and the area in which you live. Scarborough, northern Etobicoke, eastern or western North York do not have density to support subway. Current subways are filled with long bus routes, intercepting those will divert traffic, not perforce add to it massively in the short term. Adding LRTs to support different origin-destination pairs will divert load in some cases from areas of the subway, as well as generating new traffic, creating room to grow on existing routes. The logic of high frequency is in part that it makes transfers less of an issue (should only be waiting on average a minute or so with a 2 minute headway). Everyone needs to look at the whole picture, if you are in Scarborough, look at all of Scarborough as well as the entire city, can you afford the cost of what you want for yourself to be rolled out accross the entire city, and then Mississauga, Markham, Pickering, Brampton, because fair is fair and if the fed and province are paying well they deserve it too you know. If Scarborough needs subway on the Provincial and Federal dime, why not Ottawa, KW, London, Windsor…
When I see the tremendous growth that has taken place downtown since the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, it’s clear to me that business and residential growth has occurred downtown primarily because of the subway and good transit.
Subways underpin “world class” growth and prosperity.
When Scarborough’s transit solutions are evaluated, the assumption is that transit demand and patterns will not change significantly over the next 30 years. Therefore, LRT is the right solution for Scarborough under this assumption.
However, should all employment and residential growth be funneled downtown over the next 30 years?
How can we create major employment and urban development growth in Scarborough? The only way to do this is to build the Scarborough subway to Sheppard and McCowan. A subway will be the catalyst to build a new downtown core in the McCowan District lands east of STC.
Since transit is so expensive to build, shouldn’t we endeavor get the best return for our investment? Spending $1.4 billion only to replace the existing SRT, with its tepid potential for attracting new development is not as fiscally responsible as building a subway.
We, the public will get a bigger economic spinoff for our money with a subway extension since it will transform Scarborough from a Suburb, into a major urban node within the greater city.
We should invest in infrastructure that gives us the best returns over the long run by maximizing future growth and prosperity.
Steve: I think you are mistaking cause and effect. “Downtown North York” is a shadow of downtown Toronto despite the fact a subway has existed there for decades. Buildings go downtown because there are already more buildings downtown. Commercial clients want to be near other businesses, and residential development follows to serve those who want (and can afford) to live close to work. There has been little development along Sheppard since the subway opened, and STC itself has become more of a residential node than a commercial one. Look also at the west end of the Bloor line around Islington and Kipling where the development is overwhelmingly residential.
Building a subway to Scarborough is a false premise. I am reminded of the musical “The Music Man” and the brilliant satire “Monorail” from The Simpsons.
Steve in your opinion if in order to satisfy demand from the north and east, were we to forego the DRL, divert all new additional northern extensions of service to the Spadina Line, (Sheppard or Finch LRT linking the lines) and actually bring in automatic train control, and all other line improvements to actually reduce headway to 90 seconds
1-What would have to happen at Bloor/Yonge to permit the volumes of transfers
2-would the implied approximate 40K/hour capacity actually meet demand so that riders from the Danforth subway line could actually board at Bloor on Yonge (on a first or second train basis), this after the Sheppard East LRT (serving Scarborough) had been implemented.
What are the costs comparisons of this full implementation to a DRL? and could we reasonably service Thorncliffe and Flemingdon Park otherwise (high frequency Bus to Eglinton for Crosstown?)
How long before the added load on Yonge from these feeders, given the impossibility of implementing load diversions like the Don Mills LRT, will overload the line even with this increased capacity.
Steve: First off, it is not physically possible to operate a 90 second headway on the YUS for reasons I have discussed at length here. With some effort, the TTC might get down to about 110 seconds.
There have been various proposals to expand platform and transfer passage capacity at Bloor Yonge of which the most recent is a project not unlike what is now happening at Union. A new eastbound platform would be built south of the existing Yonge Station for the Bloor line. This would provide another connection to the Bloor Station platforms further south than the existing links.
What this does not address is the fact that for the PM peak, the YUS would deliver passengers northbound to the Bloor line at Yonge and St. George Stations at a rate faster than it could accept the transfer traffic unless BD itself ran more frequent service. Moreover, various stations further south on Yonge, notably College and Dundas, badly need additional points of access. Indeed, it could be argued that a substantial capacity on the YUS would constitute a demand to add second entrances that were physically distinct from those that now use shared mezzanines under modern fire code at all stations downtown where they don’t now exist.
The problem with added load on the YUS comes mainly from the projected Richmond Hill extension, not from the LRT lines. Unless this can be redirected to the Vaughan extension (some traffic will shift there, but not all of it, and this has already been factored into TTC capacity projections), the problem on Yonge remains.
I believe that the potential capacity of the YUS and its stations has been substantially overstated by the TTC in the past, and it is noteworthy that not even Andy Byford believes in the 90 second headway scheme any more. We were led down a garden path to believe that the DRL was not required, and now we are facing a major problem with capacity because we didn’t start building it years ago.
A Don Mills LRT is impractical at its southern end because there is no place on the surface to run it between Flemingdon Park and Danforth. The TTC wasted a lot of everyone’s time with mad schemes for surface alignments that were totally impractical. One reason I support taking the DRL to Eglinton is that an “LRT” south of there would, like the central part of the Eglinton line, be underground (except for a new bridge over the Don River), and may as well be built as a northern extension of the subway rather than a southern leg of the LRT. This would eliminate the need for transfer capacity at Danforth (Pape, Donlands, wherever) for through traffic from the north to the south.
There is no point in diverting even more people to the Crosstown line unless you plan to take them downtown via a route other than Yonge Street.
What is missing in this entire discussion, and what Metrolinx is finally starting to examine, is the potential of GO to offload long-distance trips that would otherwise feed into the subway system at various points and contribute to the pressure at Bloor-Yonge.
Thanks for answer my previous question Steve. I have a few follow up ones if you don’t mind:
Let’s say we elect a council & mayor that wants to switch back to the LRT. Do you believe it is feasible to do so, and that the province would agree to do so?
Steve: For the city and TTC, yes. For Queen’s Park, that depends mainly on the Scarborough Caucus of the Liberal Party and the assumption that it still wields power to block a change back to LRT.
If the above happens, would the money saved by switching to LRT be able to be redirected to another project like the DRL? If for political reasons it must be spent on projects in Scarborough, is it feasible that it be directed to the Scarborough-Malvern LRT, or maybe extending the Scarborough LRT further north, maybe to Finch or Steeles?
Steve: Don’t forget that the “savings” come from taxes and a federal contribution that would otherwise not exist. Also, remember that the Sheppard and Finch LRT projects were already supposed to be “funded” for construction later this decade. We need to look at reactivation of all of the projects, and decide whether we should spend additional money on extensions beyond what’s already in the queue including other transit projects elsewhere in Toronto or other deserving works.
Oh yeah, one more somewhat unrelated question. Do we know at this point what level of service the Finch, Sheppard, and Eglinton LRTs will have? For example is it your understanding that frequencies will be in the same ballpark as a subway?
Steve: No, I don’t know what the projected frequency is, especially for off peak services. Much of this will depend on whether the policy is set by Toronto (as quasi-subway lines with frequent service at all hours) or by Queen’s Park (with as little as they can get away with outside of the peak).
It won’t happen.
Employees wouldn’t want to work there because it is a difficult place to get to whether there is a subway line from the southwest or not.
Employers won’t want to locate there for the same reason in addition to having poor highway access (only the clogged 401).
The commercial real estate companies will take the above into consideration and will build elsewhere in desirable areas.
Residential developers will do the same thing.
There are better ways to spend $1.5 billion plus if you’re looking to do social engineering.
Steve: Another point worth mentioning is that an office park near STC will draw its employees primarily from directions that a Scarborough Subway would not serve. Anyone who lives in York or Durham Regions will drive to work, and even if they take some vastly improved transit service, it will be a bus, not the subway.