A Father of LRT Speaks in Waterloo

On June 11, Dr. Vukan Vuchic spoke in the Council Chamber of the Waterloo Region Council on the subject of medium capacity transit modes. Dr. Vuchic has been around transportation issues for decades. He organized the first Transportation Research Board Light Rail Conference in 1975 in Philadelphia, an event that became a series of 12 such meetings, the last in 2012.

Dr. Vuckic’s presentation (just over an hour long) covers a lot of historical ground going back to the early days when “LRT” as a mode distinct from “streetcars” – the missing link between bus systems and full-scale subways or rapid transit – started to gain popularity. Vuchic’s speaking style isn’t breezy. He could cover his material faster (and probably with less text on the Powerpoints running behind him), but he gives us the history of transit evolution over four decades.

This is not an all LRT, all the time, presentation, and it gives fair credit to the importance of buses at the core of transit systems. The point, as always, is to use the right mode for each implementation.

91 thoughts on “A Father of LRT Speaks in Waterloo

  1. Malcolm N said:

    I believe that when Islington was built Mississauga was still not amalgamated, and Toronto was much much smaller (GTA was about 1/2 its current). A quick look at those buildings speaks volumes as to the fact that development came to the line, because Etobicoke allowed it to. Scarborough made another choice.

    The Town of Mississauga was created in 1968, and the City of Mississauga in 1974. Islington opened in 1968 and Kipling in 1980. Since 2000 the MiWay network has been fully accessible but buses are still forced to drop passengers of at inaccessible Islington.

    Frankly … there may soon be a need to revisit the west end of the Bloor-Danforth line. I’ve recently learned that a compromise has been found to finally allow the Interregional hub to be built at Kipling … but with all the land up for development west along Dundas St (basically everything on the south side from Subway Crescent to East Mall) and future land available for redevelopment on the north side … there may be a need to extend the subway 3 stops west to Cloverdale Mall.

    Cheers, Moaz

    Steve: Don’t blame TTC for the situation at Islington. They were working on a redevelopment and accessibility scheme, but that fell apart when SNC Lavalin pulled out of the proposed office development project. Meanwhile at Kipling, as you know, the fault lies with a combination of Hydro plus a lack of urgency by Metrolinx that the new regional terminal be built quickly.

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  2. Moaz said:

    “Frankly … there may soon be a need to revisit the west end of the Bloor-Danforth line. I’ve recently learned that a compromise has been found to finally allow the Interregional hub to be built at Kipling … but with all the land up for development west along Dundas St (basically everything on the south side from Subway Crescent to East Mall) and future land available for redevelopment on the north side … there may be a need to extend the subway 3 stops west to Cloverdale Mall.”

    Moaz – is this a case of Scarborough envy?? Surely if the west end is going to complain and express the need for more transit Rexdale is a better spot to focus, even if you are kidding. By the way how would you locate these 3 stops?

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  3. I have often thought that a one-stop subway extension to Cloverdale (Honeydale) would make sense to move the MiWay connection close to 427. Not sure how you can fit 3 stations in that short distance.

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  4. Just looking at some numbers. The population of Scarborough is 625,000 people, the GTA about 6 million. So, Scarborough represents 10%.

    The Liberal provincial budget allocates of the total $29 billion over the next 10 years for transit & infrastructure, of which $15 billion goes to GTHA (that’s including Hamilton)

    That means Scarborough’s per capita share comes to $1.5 billion. Or less, depending on Hamilton.

    You can’t build the Bloor-Danforth extension to STC for that amount, it is at least twice as much. Ok, build it, and Scarborough gets NO MORE TRANSIT for the next 20 years.

    It is not like Scarborough does not already have subway, last time I looked at the map, Kennedy and Warden were in Scarborough, Victoria Park is on the border.

    Plus, the SRT (“Scarborough Rapid Transit”) is “light subway”.

    Even a 10% share is generous. Yes, not just a source of transit riders, Scarborough can also be a destination for others. (I had a root canal in Scarborough a couple of weeks ago!) However, downtown is a major, major destination for all GTHA and beyond, even worldwide. But, what is the downtown area? Complaining about the DRL as catering to downtown elites, yet potentially serving East York and Thorncliffe Park, are those downtown? I guess looking from Agincourt they are.

    The transit debate continues to rage about the B-D extension. It will not be completed within 10 years, that is for sure. In the meantime, the SRT will one day stop operations unless it receives a major upgrade.

    Might I suggest that a really inexpensive option be put on the table? Keep the existing track and keep the existing platforms. Replace the old cars with HFLRV models using safe overhead power. They will be handicapped accessible as much as SRT is accessible today. As well, the route can easily be extended further, even along streets, the platforms eventually lengthened for longer trains.

    Yes, it was argued, that the TTC will have another mode of vehicle to maintain. Yes, but that is the status quo today.

    So, if Scarborough wants to “de-amalgamate”, then they will have to look at allocating their own transit money as prudently as possible. Good Luck.

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  5. Steve:

    Don’t blame TTC for the situation at Islington. They were working on a redevelopment and accessibility scheme, but that fell apart when SNC Lavalin pulled out of the proposed office development project. Meanwhile at Kipling, as you know, the fault lies with a combination of Hydro plus a lack of urgency by Metrolinx that the new regional terminal be built quickly.

    Moaz: I’m definitely not blaming the TTC for Islington but rather the provincial government that hasn’t come forward with the money and priorities list to help implement its own law. Although I suppose TTC and MiWay and Metrolinx could at least act angry about inaccessibility.

    As for the new hub at Kipling, the latest is that it will be to the west of the hydro wires and towers, with a tunnel connection to the Kiss ‘n’ Ride and the station. MiWay will have its own entrance off Dundas and I believe buses will return to Dundas via Subway Crescent.

    Malcolm N said:

    Is this a case of Scarborough envy?? Surely if the west end is going to complain and express the need for more transit Rexdale is a better spot to focus, even if you are kidding. By the way how would you locate these 3 stops?

    I’m not kidding actually. The Six Points and Dundas West-427 areas are ripe for redevelopment and it will bring significant density to Dundas that will leave it looking like Yonge St does between Sheppard and Finch. It also makes sense to have the subway reach the 427 because MiWay buses will have easier access, and TTC buses can be spaced out, reducing crowding at Kipling Station.

    The first 2 stations would likely be:

    Shorncliffe (123 Shorncliffe, 46 Martin Grove)

    East Mall – between The East Mall and an extended East Mall Crescent (111 East Mall)

    The last station could be placed on the southwest parking lot at Cloverdale Mall, allowing Cloverdale Mall Rd to become a bus-mostly roadway … and it could take all the buses from Mississauga plus the 191 and 192 Rockets.

    Of course all this is fanciful speculation at the moment. It’s less “Scarborough-envy” and more “imagine-how-sensible-a-3-stop-subway-extension-would-be-in-this-area-with-lots-of-commercial-land-up-for-redevelopment-plus-it-would-reduce-congestion-and-speed-up-trip-times.”

    Oh and Rexdale will have the Finch West LRT … direct connection between Humber College and Finch West Station, with future extensions to Finch Station (and hopefully Pearson Airport).

    Cheers, Moaz

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  6. Seriously I personally would prefer to see this area served by an LRT, ideally one that looped down through the Waterfront area, and swept accross the bottom. For the $1.5 -$2 billion, could you not make the Waterfront West LRT happen, and even link it to Kipling?

    By the way, is not going that route creating a fairly sharp hook? Better to go to Sherway!

    Steve: This is yet another situation where we really need to understand what role a substantially improved service on GO’s Lake Shore and Milton lines will have to the demand coming in to the west end of the subway. If we persist in only thinking about how the subway might be extended (lest Scarborough overtake Etobicoke for subway primacy), this misses the larger context of how regional travel actually might work.

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  7. Steve:

    Don’t blame TTC for the situation at Islington. They were working on a redevelopment and accessibility scheme, but that fell apart when SNC Lavalin pulled out of the proposed office development project. Meanwhile at Kipling, as you know, the fault lies with a combination of Hydro plus a lack of urgency by Metrolinx that the new regional terminal be built quickly.

    Moaz: I’m definitely not blaming the TTC for Islington but rather the provincial government that hasn’t come forward with the money and priorities list to help implement its own law. Although I suppose TTC and MiWay and Metrolinx could at least act angry about inaccessibility.

    As for the new hub at Kipling, the latest is that it will be to the west of the hydro wires and towers, with a tunnel connection to the Kiss ‘n’ Ride and the station. MiWay will have its own entrance off Dundas and I believe buses will return to Dundas via Subway Crescent.

    Malcolm N said:

    Is this a case of Scarborough envy?? Surely if the west end is going to complain and express the need for more transit Rexdale is a better spot to focus, even if you are kidding. By the way how would you locate these 3 stops?

    I’m not kidding actually. The Six Points and Dundas West-427 areas are ripe for redevelopment and it will bring significant density to Dundas that will leave it looking like Yonge St does between Sheppard and Finch. It also makes sense to have the subway reach the 427 because MiWay buses will have easier access, and TTC buses can be spaced out, reducing crowding at Kipling Station.

    The first 2 stations would likely be:

    Shorncliffe (123 Shorncliffe, 46 Martin Grove)
    East Mall – between The East Mall and an extended East Mall Crescent (111 East Mall)

    The last station could be placed on the southwest parking lot at Cloverdale Mall, allowing Cloverdale Mall Rd to become a bus-mostly roadway…and it could take all the buses from Mississauga plus the 191 and 192 Rockets.

    Of course all this is fanciful speculation at the moment. It’s less “Scarborough-envy” and more “imagine-how-sensible-a-3-stop-subway-extension-would-be-in-this-area-with-lots-of-commercial-land-up-for-redevelopment-plus-it-would-reduce-congestion-and-speed-up-trip-times.”

    Oh and Rexdale will have the Finch West LRT … direct connection between Humber College and Finch West Station, with future extensions to Finch Station (and hopefully Pearson Airport).

    Cheers, Moaz

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  8. Steve while I was being semi serious about the LRT, including hopefully a link to GO as well, I sincerely hope Moaz is pulling my leg and trying to get me to bite on that hook.

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  9. Subways! Subways! Subways! Mayor Rob Ford is back in town June 30th. Ya better getcher LRT’s and BRT’s and LRV’s and CLRV’s and ALRV’s and SRT’s outta yer system now, cuz when the mayor’s back in town, there will be no more of that back talk.

    Besides, he can’t pronounce them anyhooz.

    Hizzoner wants to throw all the streetcars into the lake. I was thinking, we could have a streetcar route on the Toronto Islands coming across the Eastern Gap and going up to Hanlan’s Point in the west. But, that would take only two, three, four CLRV’s at tops during summer busy season.

    What to do permanently all year round? We’ve got hundreds of streetcars.

    Suddenly, I got a great idea! Lay track on the bottom of Lake Ontario, with various routes to Burlington, St. Kits, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ra-cha-cha, even Bowmanville. All ya gotta do is waterproof those trams with lots of caulking, and hope for not too many electrical shorts.

    Do you see how good this could be? No more swan boats! (Well, the swan boats never got implemented due to gov’t cutbacks). All year service – in the winter, no snow & no ice storms on the bottom of the lake!

    In the meantime, we have subways to concern ourselves with.

    I would like to propose a contest!

    The contest is – “The best new subway route that nobody ever thought of before”.

    Tell us briefly why this new route ought to be built, in $10 billion or less.

    The winner will be decided by Steve and the contributors of this blog.

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  10. Here are a couple of ideas for Subways That No One Ever Thought of Before, the contest.

    Shuter Street subway. Total cost $6.7 billion. Why? Because Massey Hall needs a subway stop. Also, it could double as a home for the homeless during the nightly shutdown, just don’t take the trains back to the yard. Turn off the blaring overhead lights, keep subdued (subwayed?) lighting. All stations equipped with public washrooms and showers. Eastern terminus River Street, Jarvis station, western terminus inside the Eaton Centre, total four stops. Only, there is a small problem that the Eaton Centre station and the Massey Hall station would be so close together, that there might not even be a gap between them. Solution: shorter trains & shorter platforms. The fact that this subway does not handily connect to any other should be ok. Neither does the Sheppard subway.

    Kipling subway. North from Bloor-Danforth’s Kipling station, all the way to Eglinton. Total cost $9.8 billion. I was driving on Kipling tonight, the pavement is awful, holes everywhere. So, perfect time to rip it all up with construction for the next decade. There is a lot going for this route – redevelopment at Honeydale Mall, redevelopment at Six Points, new condos going up at Eglinton. This route might even have enough users to justify an LRT. And here is the kicker – like a tv serial, it leaves you hanging with a “To Be Continued”! Like, someday it could go north to Rexdale, it could go east and hook up with the Eglinton LRT, OR, it could go west right into Pearson Airport! (hahahahahahaha!!!)

    Steve: There is going to be a demand problem here. As the east side of downtown gentrifies, it is possible that the supply of homeless people will decline, and there will not be enough to justify construction of a shelter/subway line. LRT may suffice, but there may be objections from the Shuter Street Subway advocates that they deserve better.

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  11. Three-station extension of Bloor-Danforth to the 427? I don’t think so.

    While a one-station extension towards the 427, with a designed-in interchange to Mississauga and express buses via 427 is possible, there is no way anyone will put a station at Shorncliffe and East Mall as well. Shorncliffe is only about as far from Kipling as the distances some people are advocating between stops for local services. The Martin Grove bus will come down Shaver over the dead bodies of area residents — there are already copious speed bumps and a 30 km/h limit south of Burnhamthorpe.

    I think the redevelopment potential of that stretch is relatively minor, anyway. It won’t be to the south of the railway tracks, and if you try to go with the cheap above-ground option for the subway, that has to be on the north side of the railway, which means that a lot of the available strip on the south side is taken up by the subway. (And a buried line is fantasy map as far as I’m concerned.)

    And I don’t quite understand this notion of “if we build a subway, development will come”. If you go downtown from Kipling today, you know it’s a long ride (around 25 minutes). You get a seat inbound, but going home there’s a good chance you will be standing to Dufferin or Dundas West. “It’s right on the subway!” is exciting, until you realize that you are at the far end of the line, which has its hiccups every once in a while too.

    Also notable, your new condo will be in an area of abysmal air quality. See here for the grim findings.

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  12. Ed said:

    “And I don’t quite understand this notion of “if we build a subway, development will come”. If you go downtown from Kipling today, you know it’s a long ride (around 25 minutes). You get a seat inbound, but going home there’s a good chance you will be standing to Dufferin or Dundas West. “It’s right on the subway!” is exciting, until you realize that you are at the far end of the line, which has its hiccups every once in a while too.”

    I agree, the area on Shorncliffe is industrial, and it is hard to imagine how this would redevelop. Again, there is GO near by, and the opportunity to link to a couple of GO stations using basic LRT is very tempting.

    Going through past this area LRT wise would be tempting just as it would provide the other end destinations for the Waterfront, looping LRT around say Sherway and Kipling subway, before going through Mimico etc. Future extension of an LRT to meet Eglinton might even make sense (someone would need to have a hard look at demand). However, it is hard to imagine this being done as subway. Ed as you noted it is possible to imagine 1 stop, but 3?? Even the one stop though, is there no reasonable access possible at Kipling for bus transfer and really an issue of developing the facilities.

    I believe there is a BRT proposal for this area, that makes sense, there is an old LRT proposal that comes near (Long Branch GO), I can imagine extending this north to tie up. Extending subway here in my mind would be needlessly expensive, and offer little in the way real value. The proposals that are already on the table make considerably more sense in my mind, and could extended to offer service to the area in a more appropriate scale.

    Extending service through the Longbranch GO (LRT or BRT) that would allow better connection to the MiWay and TTC buses in the area would also offer a better ride to the core. I think if real development happens on the mistake we are already committed to (Vaughan subway) it will mean there is not enough capacity on the westside to make this proposal work anyway.

    Question becomes why have we expended so much effort to build subway extensions in order to overload the core? Do the subway geeks inside the TTC actually want to have a system that requires every possible capacity enhancement to be able to brag about having the lines that carry the most people? The proponents of these proposals (and voters) seem happy to move as much traffic onto the subway as possible, without regards to its ultimate limits.

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  13. Well the Liberals are slowly backing away from the subway , so it will be interesting to see what happens after October 27. I bet we will switch back to the SRT extension, anyone disagree?

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  14. A Quiet Guy from Oakville said:

    Well the Liberals are slowly backing away from the subway , so it will be interesting to see what happens after October 27. I bet we will switch back to the SRT extension, anyone disagree?

    You know, I read that Toronto Sun article and I’m forced to wonder why people suddenly want the province to ignore the mandate of those elected on the municipal level? All Wynne said is that she will work with whoever wins regardless of their plans for replacing the RT.

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  15. So wait … are people here saying that a 3 stop subway extension through a low density residential area to an industrial and/or condo area, ultimately terminating at a shopping mall … might not be a good idea.

    Perish the thought … and never mind that the TTC has done this once (Sheppard line), is constructing another (TYSSE) and is studying a third (Bloor-Danforth-McCowan) and fourth (Yonge North). Why does the fifth extension (Etobicoke) make any less sense than the other four?

    The redevelopment of the Dundas St stretch is already happening … subway or not.

    Cheers, Moaz

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  16. @Moaz, hey just because there are already stupid extension on the table or in the works is no reason to add to it. Richmond Hill extension should be LRT,SRT should be LRT, Sheppard and TYSSE should have been LRT. Sheppard could have been built out to Kennedy plus to start, way better, and we could now be talking extending it in both directions.

    I was hoping you were kidding, especially given that the western portion of the crosstown and the Finch LRT need to be built

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  17. Several posts about the B-D subway extension West and then we realize that Moaz is comparing a 3-stop, 1.9 km long subway extension to the 3-stop 8 km long subway extension in the East. He should have used a West extension with stations at Cloverdale, Sherway and Hurontario and maybe it would have been a more reasonable comparison.

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  18. Malcolm N said:

    … just because there are already stupid extension on the table or in the works is no reason to add to it.

    Moaz: Remind me again what city we live in … and how many of the Councillors and Mayor and residents would love to extend the Sheppard line … to complete it and/or to “close the loop.”

    My point is that it has been done before and it will be done again. A dumb extension in Etobicoke is no less dumb than any of the others … it only lacks a champion who is in government… although with Milczyn now MPP this may change.

    Walter said:

    Several posts about the B-D subway extension West and then we realize that Moaz is comparing a 3-stop, 1.9 km long subway extension to the 3-stop 8 km long subway extension in the East. He should have used a West extension with stations at Cloverdale, Sherway and Hurontario and maybe it would have been a more reasonable comparison.

    Moaz: We are not amused. On the other hand, reminding us of the length of the Scarborough Subway extension just reinforces how dumb that extension is.

    In any case … my point has been made. LRT is a great and flexible technology but is “unproven” in the “we don’t do that here” mentality of Torontonia. GO Transit can do a lot to move people but no one has yet dared to take that financial leap to GO from “commuter service” to “frequent all-day service” … and that leaves us (unfortunately) with subway extensions as the “only” option … dumb as it may be.

    Cheers, Moaz

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  19. I would like to know how you guys can defend not building the subway, and instead building LRT or a different kind of extension which will not attract as many riders to transit?

    How can you defend actually building a project (the LRT) when it actually means less people taking transit?

    Are we not working to make transit a viable and attractive travel model? If so, in this case, building a fully grade separated subway extension off the existing line, is found to have the most benefits. Why can’t you understand that?

    It would be the same as Vancouver opting for LRT over the Skytrain, even though studies for extensions have shown the Skytrain will attract vastly more riders.

    Why are you guys so heavy handed in wanting people to travel at a snail’s pace down the middle of streets, instead of on true rapid transit that people actually want to ride?

    Steve: Apples and oranges. The SLRT would not run down the middle of any streets and would operate at the same speed as the SRT does today. As for comparative ridership figures, I didn’t make up the claim that the extra riding on the subway came from including trips from Markham that would actually be on GO if only the service existed. That was the city’s Chief Planner speaking at the LRT/Subway debate in Council. It wouldn’t be the first subway line in Toronto that has been justified with a gerrymandered demand model.

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  20. Michael said:

    “There is nothing wrong with operating a local bus service above a subway route, and the Yonge North extension does just fine.”

    As someone who once advocated against the proposed bus service cuts in 2011, you are probably the biggest hypocrite I’ve ever came across. You constantly bring up bogus arguments that have been shot down repeatedly by Steve and various commentators on this blog, yet you refuse to learn from them.

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  21. “As someone who once advocated against the proposed bus service cuts in 2011, you are probably the biggest hypocrite I’ve ever came across. You constantly bring up bogus arguments that have been shot down repeatedly by Steve and various commentators on this blog, yet you refuse to learn from them.”

    I am entitled to my own view on the transit front. Just because Steve or someone else writes something on this blog, does not make it right.

    If people can’t handle critical arguments or questions, then maybe the plan you’re supporting is weaker than you want to admit.

    Steve: That argument cuts both ways.

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  22. Michael said:

    It would be the same as Vancouver opting for LRT over the Skytrain, even though studies for extensions have shown the Skytrain will attract vastly more riders.

    Surrey, a suburb of Vancouver, is planning 3 LRT lines radiating from a Skytrain line. It seems similar in concept to the Transit City lines. This link has a video description.

    Because the SLRT would have been effectively a surface subway having an average speed of 38 kph versus 40 kph for the Scarborough subway extension. I suspect LRT is 2 kph slower because the LRT has twice as many stops. Wikipedia has a comparison of the LRT and subway options for SRT replacement.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scarborough_RT#Future

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  23. @Nick L

    I read the Star version and it sounded like she was sidestepping all questions about it. Besides, we’ll see on October 27th. For all we know the sheppard subway may comeback.

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  24. @Moaz, just because the TTC has done this before does not make it a good idea. Extending Bloor – Danforth to cloverdale mall is a good idea in theory but you need to get rid of at least two stops to make it cost effective, for starters.

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  25. To chime in on a Cloverdale extension, I was for that project at one point, but on reflection I’d actually rather leave Kipling alone. Yes, the connection to the 427 via Dundas is less than ideal, but it does provide a connection to GO. Ultimately a regional hub at Kipling, with surface lines of whatever source on Dundas provides a much more complete set of connection than an extension ever could. In my view you really do gain more from a potential 427 LRT also meeting GO than you do by moving the transfer slightly further west.

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  26. @Quiet Guy: My point was that it doesn’t matter. What matters is that the project has a champion who is either well-placed within the provincial government (Glen Murray, Greg Sorbara, Bob Rae) or has lots of support in the municipal government (Mel Lastman, Jack Layton).

    Scarborough has multiple champions which make it more likely to be built. The DRL or Don Mills & City Line has few champions and their support is lukewarm at best … kind of sad since the premier’s riding would be served by an extended Don Mills & City Line.

    Cheers, Moaz

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  27. Speaking of LRT, the closest LRT to Toronto … the strangely titled Niagara Frontier Transit Authority METRO Light Rail Rapid Transit line in Buffalo is about to see a major change … sharing a section of Main Street with cars in mixed traffic (along with other sections in protected right-of-way).

    I wonder what Dr. Vuchic would think.

    Cheers, Moaz

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  28. Michael said:

    “I am entitled to my own view on the transit front. Just because Steve or someone else writes something on this blog, does not make it right.

    If people can’t handle critical arguments or questions, then maybe the plan you’re supporting is weaker than you want to admit.”

    The thing is when someone points out the flaws in your arguments you frequently use, you repeat those same weak arguments anyways (and you ignore the criticisms of your arguments). Either that, or we hear crickets from you.

    It’s scary to think that there are transit professionals that hold the same attitude as you.

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  29. I’ve always been for an “all of the above” transit system. I think Michael has correct points here. What appears to be the problem, as I see it, is that people in Toronto often don’t understand local transit vs city-wide or regional transit needs. The TTC subway is a city-wide transit solution. Creating a redundant, unnecessary transfer at Kennedy again is absolutely re-creating a problem for a line that is supposed to be a city-wide transit solution. LRT in Scarborough should be an additional line on top of the needed, best option of expanding the Danforth subway out to Scarborough Centre. For example, why doesn’t Steve Munro and other transit advocates get behind this subway 100%, then start advocating for a LRT line connecting one of the Sheppard subway stops connecting to SCC then throughout the rest of Scarborough? Toronto seems to be filled with so many people who love transit, but don’t seem to get this local vs city-wide transit issue. Toronto is the only city that has residents clamouring for a lesser form of transit and shunning better transit solutions. Rob Ford is a joke, he’s given the better option for transit a bad name. Its time people get beyond Rob Ford and understand why subway for Scarborough is best… And LRT – if built – would be better as a second, local transit solution.

    Steve: I don’t get behind this “solution” because I disagree strongly with the entire premise and the contorted arguments that have been used to “justify” building the Scarborough subway. Far too much of this is all about ego and the sense that poor Scarborough isn’t getting its share, a sense whipped up for purely political gain by the likes of Rob Ford, but also exploited by those of other party stripes.

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  30. It is important to take Rob Ford out of the equation entirely. His bad leadership and ignorance is unmatched, the only reason he supports subways is because he wants street cars out of his way so he can drive drunk through the streets of Toronto. The man is a joke in every sense of the word, and he’s on his way out.

    The truth of the matter is that both sides of the fence drum up political support in ways that have nothing to do with better transit. The vehemently anti-subway and pro-LRT people will tell Scarborough they’re not getting enough stops, that they aren’t getting the service they deserve just like people like me who support a subway will remind people of that awful, terrible transfer at Kennedy isn’t going away. Most people in Scarborough use buses already to transfer at a subway or RT station to get around the city. This isn’t a contorted argument, its a reality.

    It is far, far better to correct the mistake that was the Scarborough RT and build the Danforth subway on out to Scarborough Town Centre. What I’m saying is that I love LRT, and I want people who support LRT to get behind the subway – then ASK FOR A NEW LRT LINE to transverse Scarborough, not just be a redundant, unnecessary extension of the subway with a terrible transfer issue at Kennedy that will forever go unresolved. If you want good transit, look at Berlin. Stop looking at North America altogether.

    All these LRT systems in America from Portland to Denver to Pittsburgh to Buffalo are systems that serve as a backbone in cities that will never truly use transit at levels you see in European cities – or Toronto for that matter. LRT has appropriate uses. Berlin is the model Toronto should look at, a city that uses Light Rail and Trams alike quite in high amount to connect to other, rapid forms of transit and regional rail. The problem I have with the vigorous LRT-only crowd is that it’s LRT-only and is against other forms of transport. Again, Toronto needs an all of the above attitude. Build the subway, build LRT, and build regional rail all three at the same time. Otherwise it’ll never be a Transit City as suggested. You can’t do it right and do it on the cheap.

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  31. @South of north

    There is a point at which a subway should not be extended. Toronto does need additional subways, however more than one LRT makes more sense in Scarborough than a single subway. Frankly I think to work as a transit city Toronto needs to do 2 things: build more parallel capacity and improve access. To me that means LRT for local loads and to larger trunks. GO for long distance, and subway to act as link in highest traffic portions of the network. If you build subway to STC and use it as a hub for LRT network sure, except subway to the west cannot carry the load and most supporters of Scarborough extension do not seem to want the required enabling of a DRL. Also longer distance core bound trips would likely be better served with more rapid GO. Integrated multi mode yes. The question is where the modes switch, and Toronto has few but very long subway lines. It now needs to build another line and the other services which as you note Berlin has.

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  32. I don’t think overloading the subway is the main issue for the Danforth line — building a DRL alleviates a lot of issues as a number of people who use the line transfer at Bloor and end up downtown and could use DRL as an alternative going forward. Whether a DRL is built or not is another issue entirely, but it needs to be built.

    Basically, my opinion is that changing ideas – again – and switching from the already being planned and funded Scarborough subway extension and converting it back to a LRT project will be just re-creating the existing RT system with a few extra stops. The extra stops an LRT provides doesn’t really matter a great deal since Scarborough transit riders mostly come to stations via bus. This is just another reason why subway is the best option: people who come to Scarborough subway stations will be delighted with a much quicker, much more efficient ride without the Kennedy transfer. I’m not sure why this point falls on deaf ears so often. Kennedy is the choke point of eastern Toronto: a planned, unnecessary choke point. There is no need to undo the plans for Scarborough subway extension when its already been approved and the funding is there. This is an old argument.

    What LRT people need is to focus on advocating for a surface LRT line that connects different parts of Scarborough and eastern/northeastern Toronto. Why not get behind the Scarborough Subway – its already a done deal for all intents and purposes – and just start advocating a very pro-urban provincial government that just got a majority for funds to build a surface LRT in Scarborough that connects up with Sheppard? This is obviously a better idea that re-fighting old battles. I’m surprised that so many people are still wanting to change plans in mid stream when the subway has already been approved. True pro-transit people should focus energy elsewhere, because senseless arguing stalls, delays, and hurts transit development.

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  33. South of North said:

    “I’m surprised that so many people are still wanting to change plans in mid stream when the subway has already been approved. True pro-transit people should focus energy elsewhere, because senseless arguing stalls, delays, and hurts transit development.”

    Couple of reasons to argue still

    1. EA is not yet complete on subway, is on LRT, and planning on LRT is frankly further along.

    2. More importantly, if this actually does pull Markham GO traffic, per forecast, will create a huge issue further west, and based on current positions, and the advocacy from Scarborough etc, the required relief will likely not even start planning until the load is already being taken up. This would mean that you would see riders bleed back away from transit due to overload at Yonge and Bloor, and the entire network will be hurt.

    Also it will create even more political pressure for another dangerous extension, ie Richmond Hill, which the system also cannot absorb.

    Extending subway to STC is not perforce bad, but if there is a load that justifies it with much improved GO in place, then there is an order of operations issue here in terms of making the system work. The system needs increased capacity to manage the load at and south of Bloor into the core prior to the extension being built. This capacity would have to greatly exceed the amount of organic growth we are likely to see anyway.

    Berlin, the model you advocated, has I believe something on the order of 10 lines with about 3 times the total length of subway that Toronto has. This means they have much more capacity at and close to the core, and generally relatively shorter extensions. Toronto’s subway has very long arms, but little parallel capacity. I agree that Berlin is a good model, and the reason it was done that way was to prevent overload near the core. Toronto needs to start building parallel capacity, in order to allow extension without overloading the system. Also I would prefer to see more coverage for Scarborough to shorten those bus rides that are exposed to increased volumes of car traffic, as the area continues to intensify. Absolutely fix the transfer at Kipling and make sure that there is not a service with long headways in Scarborough (what is likely to happen on the subway).

    The reason the argument continues is because frankly the LRT solution was the one initially approved because it is both more cost effective and likely to better serve the region in the longer term. The conversion to subway was the pandering required in a minority government situation, not good planning.

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  34. SouthofNorth says:

    “The extra stops an LRT provides doesn’t really matter a great deal since Scarborough transit riders mostly come to stations via bus. This is just another reason why subway is the best option: people who come to Scarborough subway stations will be delighted with a much quicker, much more efficient ride without the Kennedy transfer. I’m not sure why this point falls on deaf ears so often. Kennedy is the choke point of eastern Toronto: a planned, unnecessary choke point.”

    Steve,

    I have been reading your blog faithfully for the past number of years but I cannot for the life of me remember exactly what the issue is for transit riders having to use Kennedy Station and its gawd-awful transfer. (Full disclosure: Although my past daily commutes where I have used the subway system have taken me along the Bloor, University, Yonge and Sheppard lines, I have never regularly used the subway east of Bloor/Yonge and so am unfamiliar with this detested transfer.)

    My question to you, to simplify my understanding, is: WHAT exactly is involved at Kennedy Station for subway riders, RT users, bus passengers and walk-in customers when they are circulating around the station trying to access the various modes of transit available there? (A secondary and perhaps-better-left-unasked(?) question from me might also be “What the heck would the designers of said station have been thinking when designed it the way they did, other than the fact that they themselves would never have to use it?)

    Thanks,
    Dean Girard

    Steve: Kennedy Station has four levels: subway, ticket mezzanine, bus and RT. The buses are at ground level, but anyone entering from the street has to go down to the ticket level and back up again one level to reach the buses, two levels to reach the RT, or they have to go down one more level to get to the subway.

    Subway riders arriving at Kennedy must ascend three levels and this is most easily done if one is on the east end of the train. One long escalator up to the bus level, a short walk and then another escalator up to the RT. It is not uncommon for one of these escalators to be broken, and this makes the ascent must more roundabout, not to mention annoying for anyone who does not climb easily. Ascent by elevator is done in a different part of the station and requires changing elevators at the bus level from the centre platform location (dictated by the subway) and the side platform location (dictated by the RT). It is not uncommon for one elevator to be out of service, and the whole process can take a while.

    On the return trip, there is an escalator down from the RT to the buses, and then a long escalator down two levels to the trains. They might work. It is not unusual for one of them to be out of service.

    People who arrive by bus come to an island platform at grade. Bus-to-bus transfers are handled across the platform. Bus-to-RT requires going up a level, and bus-to-subway requires going down two. See comments above about the possibility this will be impeded by out of service machines.

    In general, the station is very badly designed for passenger flow, and the vertical elements fail often enough to be very annoying. (I used the station for eight years.) That said, one cannot blame a new LRT/subway interface for the sins of the existing station.

    Another point mentioned in comments is train queueing on the approach to Kennedy. This can be quite severe, and I remember a time when the queue would stretch back to Victoria Park. This is a matter of bad scheduling because eastbound trains have too much running time at the end of the AM peak. The mechanics of transitioning to the off-peak headway can also cause trains to back up at Kennedy. While I was travelling this route daily, the TTC did change the schedule to shorten the running time, and the queue got much shorter. It is entirely possible that they have screwed this up again. There is a general problem that the subway schedule is a piece of creative fiction and that operators have to regularly swap trains to stay on time.

    It would be interesting to do an analysis of subway train movements like the ones I have for surface routes, but there is no data source to drive such a process.

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  35. SouthofNorth says:
    June 29, 2014 at 10:42 pm

    “I’ve always been for an “all of the above” transit system. I think Michael has correct points here. What appears to be the problem, as I see it, is that people in Toronto often don’t understand local transit vs city-wide or regional transit needs. The TTC subway is a city-wide transit solution. Creating a redundant, unnecessary transfer at Kennedy again is absolutely re-creating a problem for a line that is supposed to be a city-wide transit solution.”

    There has to be a transfer somewhere. If you are going from a north south line to an east west line you usually need to transfer. The argument can be made to extend the subway out to Guildwood to eliminate the unneeded, redundant transfer at Kennedy. So to eliminate those unnecessary redundant transfers we should also run a branch of the subway out to Guildwood as well as up to SCC and we should run the Eglinton Crosstown to Guildwood and SCC to eliminate transfers. When you eliminate all transfers you have a service that runs so infrequently that no one will ride it. Read Jarret Walker about the benefit of the GRID.

    SouthofNorth says:

    “LRT in Scarborough should be an additional line on top of the needed, best option of expanding the Danforth subway out to Scarborough Centre. For example, why doesn’t Steve Munro and other transit advocates get behind this subway 100%.”

    There are two reasons:

    1) There is no demonstrated need for the subway. The Ridership is not there without using a faulty demand model.
    2) It would not go to the Scarborough City Centre; it would go up McCowan, a short walk away.

    SouthofNorth says:

    “…then start advocating for a LRT line connecting one of the Sheppard subway stops connecting to SCC then throughout the rest of Scarborough? Toronto seems to be filled with so many people who love transit, but don’t seem to get this local vs city-wide transit issue. Toronto is the only city that has residents clamouring for a lesser form of transit and shunning better transit solutions.”

    Are you saying to extend Sheppard to SCC or build an LRT line from Shepard to the SCC and if so from what station, one on the existing stubway or from a station on an extended utterly unneeded Sheppard extension?

    SouthofNorth says:

    “It is far, far better to correct the mistake that was the Scarborough RT and build the Danforth subway on out to Scarborough Town Centre. What I’m saying is that I love LRT, and I want people who support LRT to get behind the subway – then ASK FOR A NEW LRT LINE to transverse Scarborough, not just be a redundant, unnecessary extension of the subway with a terrible transfer issue at Kennedy that will forever go unresolved. If you want good transit, look at Berlin. Stop looking at North America altogether.”

    Is it better if the subway would also be an even more expensive mistake? There is only a finite amount of money to build transit extensions and there are other areas that deserve improvement also, north Etobicoke comes to mind. Political interference gave us the SRT, the Sheppard Stubway and the TYSSE. We do not need to waste more money to satisfy one area’s or politician’s ego when there are better, cheaper solutions. If you look at Berlin they have Subway, LRT and Regional Rail. Just what Toronto needs.

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  36. There are some people who say there isn’t enough ridership to demand subway (I strongly disagree, the Scarborough RT certainly has enough ridership as it is). There are other people who say the added demand would be too much for the Danforth-Scarborough subway (I strongly disagree, the existing RT feeds the line). Rather than get caught up in these moot debates, I’d rather focus on the fact that subway is higher quality transportation that gets rid of an unnecessary transfer. Of course transfers are bound to happen in any system unless its a local trip, but smart transit systems don’t go out of their way to create unnecessary transfers.

    Here are a few facts: most Scarborough residents use buses a sizable distance from rapid transit lines. Additional LRT stations on this one route – the replacement of the RT – won’t matter a great deal for users in the Scarborough region. What matters most to customers looking to ride transit in Scarborough is speed. This part of Toronto is on the edge of town, people are looking to commute to other parts of Toronto including downtown or western Toronto or the airport, etc. GO service really only provides an express route downtown. The Bloor-Danforth subway line is a crosstown line which provides a transfer to downtown, but also to many other points. The line serves a greatly different purpose than GO transit.

    This is why it doesn’t make sense for transit advocates to advocate a slower, more transfer oriented network. You can be for subways and LRT simultaneously, as well as improved and electrified regional rail. To argue against a Scarborough subway is to argue in favor of a resident of Scarborough to board a bus, transfer at SCC to the RT/future LRT line, then transfer at Kennedy, then transfer at Bloor or another station to go to a typical larger daily trip that is common. The added headache is real for thousands and thousands of people on a daily basis.

    Instead of arguing for lesser quality of a public transport network, why not advocate for getting the Scarborough Subway built as quickly as possible as its planned today – without delay – and then advocate for a local transit LRT line in Scarborough? This is the most logical option. There are many ways to have an additional LRT local transit system in Scarborough rather than the needed rapid transit city-wide subway expansion. You could alter the Sheppard LRT project and have it go south toward SCC and continue southward to connect all the way to a Lakeshore GO line stop along Kingston. Although this is a bit long for a local transit line, it wouldn’t be impossible, and its a great idea to have a more localized transit solution in Scarborough.

    This is just a sample, but LRT needs to be done right. It doesn’t need to create additional transfers where they aren’t needed. Creating transfers just because you think another form of transit is too expensive is doing transit poorly. The RT was a good system in and of itself, but it was a mistake. They should have expanded the subway in the 80’s. Toronto – if it doesn’t build the Scarborough Subway – will be talking about yet another mistake needing replacement in 30 years if its done as LRT with the Kennedy transfer.

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  37. I should amend that GO train service only operates an express service downtown. Buses of course are not what I was referring to.

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  38. South of North said:

    “This is just a sample, but LRT needs to be done right. It doesn’t need to create additional transfers where they aren’t needed. Creating transfers just because you think another form of transit is too expensive is doing transit poorly. The RT was a good system in and of itself, but it was a mistake. They should have expanded the subway in the 80′s. Toronto – if it doesn’t build the Scarborough Subway – will be talking about yet another mistake needing replacement in 30 years if its done as LRT with the Kennedy transfer.”

    The RT was a mistake for 2 reasons:

    1. It was far too expensive for the application, and a design was forced on the TTC that could not be readily converted to other style of cars, or system.
    2. The transfer station design was not robust enough to allow the transfer to be relatively seamless.

    Think of Kennedy instead of the way it is having a platform directly across from a Kennedy existing platform so that you would walk across the platform for a transfer, with the 2 trains essentially parked 30 feet apart. If the cars for the current RT could be readily replaced, and more could readily be purchased, the line could be extended for less than ½ the cost and it tolerated snow I suspect that:

    1. The RT would be less of an issue, and Toronto would be doing the maintenance and buying a bunch of additional cars.
    2. There would be many more km of RT line in Scarborough today, running out to Malvern, and likely east to Morningside.
    3. Rexdale and North York would be going “Scarborough has it, we should to”.

    We should conflate bad design and forced misguided industrial policy (UTDC demonstration project) with mistakes. What should concern you is that LRT in the SRT corridor was the first plan (then and now) and the one that the planners came up with as the best fastest most effective solution, ie the people that really understand wanted LRT, the grandstanding politicians forced the RT, and now a subway extension, for a public that wants high quality transit and does not understand the basics of the other options. Oddly to me subway looks like a mistake that will closely follow the course of the previous RT mistake.

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  39. SouthofNorth says:
    July 3, 2014 at 12:53 am

    “There are some people who say there isn’t enough ridership to demand subway (I strongly disagree, the Scarborough RT certainly has enough ridership as it is). There are other people who say the added demand would be too much for the Danforth-Scarborough subway (I strongly disagree, the existing RT feeds the line). Rather than get caught up in these moot debates, I’d rather focus on the fact that subway is higher quality transportation that gets rid of an unnecessary transfer. Of course transfers are bound to happen in any system unless its a local trip, but smart transit systems don’t go out of their way to create unnecessary transfers.”

    Since the capacity or an RT train is under 200 a 3 car LRT train on the same headway would have double the capacity yet be nowhere near the capacity of the subway. When you make statements that the ridership on the RT is high enough to warrant subway please back that statement up with number. Either the ridership on the RT or the ridership that warrants subway. Something doesn’t make sense in your statements.

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