The TTC Board met a light agenda and little inclination to debate. As events at City Hall wind down toward the October election, there are no major decisions, and Commissioners in the Karen Stintz camp have succeeded in blocking any significant policy discussions until 2015. This leaves the Commission and Council going into the election and next year’s budget process without background information that could be useful in quick implementation of a policy shift in the post-Ford era at City Hall.
If it is any consolation, Stintz currently is polling at 3%, below the “don’t know” category.
Items of interest on the agenda include:
- The CEO’s report for June 2014
- How would the TTC use $100 million?
- Service adjustments for the Eglinton-Crosstown construction project
- Would early closing of the subway on summer weekends aid with scheduling of maintenance work?
- Free Wi-Fi on surface vehicles
- Scarborough Subway Extension update
Details on the debate and actions taken, if any, follow the break.
Although there has been talk of new measures of TTC system and route performance, the same tired and rather meaningless numbers continue to appear. These claim to give us the percentage of trips by each mode and each rapid transit line that operate within 3 minutes of the scheduled headway. As I have written before, on the subway it is close to mathematically impossible for these scores to fall below 90%, and even if half the peak service were missing, headways would still be within an acceptable range. Despite the generous treatment of “on time” performance, the surface modes continue to achieve about 2/3 of their trips in the target range, and this translates to a typical rider encountering off-target services many times each month.
Continuing to publish meaningless statistics about something as public and easy to challenge as service quality makes one ponder the quality of other performance measures. The TTC needs to look at the system at a level of detail where truly appalling conditions for one area, route or time are not masked by better than average numbers elsewhere. This information must be published both as an acknowledgement of just how bad some parts of the system can be, and to give political and senior managerial impetus to improvements.
The new streetcars are one of TTC’s current “megaprojects” and a handful of new cars are to enter service on 510 Spadina on August 31. The very long development time has been frustrating for the TTC not to mention for advocates like me, and the lack of detailed information on aspects of the delay — redesign for accessibility, teething problems with technology, whatever else might have happened — should be published so that the public, media and politicians can understand how much work went into the new cars. Looking at the ongoing problems with the TR subway trains — supposedly a state of the art product — leave one fearing for the success of the new streetcar’s launch.
Meanwhile, the TTC still does not publish reliability statistics for its various fleets, a practice that was dropped years ago as part of the slimmed down reports from senior management for a Commission that preferred not to bother itself with details. We know what the cleanliness index is for stations and what riders think of the TTC, but don’t publicly track vehicle reliability.
Ridership and The Budget
Ridership continues to run below projected levels due to the extremely cold winter, and the 2014 projection is now 537 million, down 3m from the budget level. Expenses are essentially on budget, but there is an $8.1m hole in the projected subsidy even without allowing for added costs of the recent labour negotiations. This puts a recent scheme to use a $47m “surplus” from 2013 for a 2015 fare freeze even more laughable, not to mention fiscally irresponsible.
Already thanks to budget constraints, service improvements planned for early fall have been pushed back a few months and without a fiscal rescue package from City Council, they may vanish completely. This situation is not mentioned in the CEO’s report even though it will become even more pressing right at election time.
Once again, TTC management blames those pesky Metropass users for diluting the revenue stream rather than acknowledging that as more travellers shift to transit, they are more likely to purchase the more cost-effective fare.
Capital spending has run at a lower rate than budgeted thanks to slippage of various projects from their original schedule. Notably, the Spadina extension is still allegedly opening in 2016, but this is going to be a challenge given problems with some station construction contracts. Privately, the more common date TTC talks about is 2017.
Subway Signal and Track Upgrades
The resignalling project for 1 Yonge-University-Spadina is another whose schedule has been stretched out. The TTC expects to cut over the lower part of the “U” (Bloor to St. George Station) at the end of July to a new system (there are two shutdowns for testing already scheduled in July), but this only replaces the existing, antique relay-based block signal system with a modern equivalent.
With this new system in place, the three crossovers added to the system (where they had previously existed on the original Yonge line) can be activated with signal control. The tentative plan for this work is:
- King crossover at some time after the July 26-27 cutover to the new system
- College crossover in spring 2015
- St. Clair / Rosehill crossover in fall 2015
Activating these crossovers is not simply a matter of adding signals, but also of restructuring the power feeds nearby so that, for example, a power cut at Dundas does not prevent use of the crossover at College.
Automatic Train Control (ATC) will come much later and will be phased in over the YUS:
- Phase 1 Wilson to Dupont – Oct 2018
- Phase 2 Dupont to Eglinton – Jan 2019
- Phase 3 Eglinton to York Mills Mar 2019
- Phase 4 York Mills to Finch May 2019
- Phase 5 Wilson Yard Mainline July 2019
- Phase 6 TYSSE including Downsview (Sheppard West) Dec 2019
Thanks to the TTC’s Brad Ross for this info.
Another major project that has been set back a few years is the track reconstruction between Muir and Berwick portals on the Yonge line (aka the Davisville Area Rehabilitation Project or DARP). The final design of what might be done here has not been settled, and the project has been pushed out to 2016 to avoid conflict with the Pan Am Games next year.
Presto Fare Card
The Presto fare card project will come into limited operation on the TTC this fall with the rollout of new streetcars. A schedule for the full implementation including the bus network is still being negotiated with Metrolinx.
The Metrolinx Board received its own report on the TTC Presto rollout on June 26. One new item this report shows is a plan to migrate to new fare gates in selected locations beginning with Spadina Station.
The “wave 1” rollout will include only the first four streetcar lines to receive new cars (Spadina, Bathurst, Harbourfront and Dundas) as well as a total of 26 subway stations (see map in the Metrolinx report).
The rollout will not begin until November 2014, and so Spadina’s new streetcars will operate with an interim form of fare collection yet to be announced by the TTC.
How Would the TTC Use $100 million?
At the March 2014 meeting, Commissioner Alan Heisey noted that the Toronto Port Authority had asked the federal government to provide $100m to fund access improvements to the Island Airport to support jet operation. By way of comparison, he asked (and moved a motion to this effect) what the TTC would do if it received $100m in new capital funding.
The staff report reviews the list of unfunded capital projects and flags the completion of McNicoll Garage as the top priority. This project was cut a few years ago when the TTC rolled back its Service Standards and, for a time, the total requirement for buses and the need for a new garage receded. Now, however, continued ridership growth and the absence of new rail lines to which load can be shifted brings Toronto to a position where expanding the bus fleet to support better service is difficult.
In a recent City TV news item featuring both Brad Ross and me, Ross is quite clear that the TTC service will get worse, that “we’re not delivering on what we have promised on service levels, and we have failed”.
This is only one example of the effect of the focus on the superficial, “good news” issues at the TTC and the absence of medium to long term strategic planning by the Commission and, through them, by City Council. While it is valid to challenge Queen’s Park to return to a level of funding commonly seen in the past and particularly to reinstate programs such as subsidies for bus purchases that were cancelled, the city needs to address two basic questions:
- What will we do with the transit system if there is little or no new money from Queen’s Park, and
- Is the ongoing dedication of funding both from the city and province to large-scale subway projects the best use of what monies are available?
Service Adjustments for the Eglinton Crosstown Project
This report lists a number of changes on various routes using the Eglinton corridor to compensate for construction delays with the Crosstown LRT work. This began with the tunnel boring machine (TBM) launch shaft construction east of Black Creek and the headwall construction work at various future stations, but now will expand to include the launch shaft east of Brentcliffe and the shafts needed for the TBMs to “hop over” the Spadina Subway at Eglinton West Station.
Although the cost of the extra service is absorbed as part of the capital budget for the LRT project, this still is a call on available buses for the TTC and is one more drain on the system’s ability to provide more service on other routes.
Early Subway Closing on Weekends For Maintenance?
In May, the TTC’s Audit Committee asked staff to report on the possibility of closing the subway early on summer weekends to provide an additional maintenance window. As the report back from staff points out, even though the rush hour tends to be early, especially on holiday weekends, there is very strong demand on the subway system on Friday evenings to the point that a bus shuttle replacing the subway would be impractical.
Mercifully, the identity of the originator of this request does not appear (yet) in Audit Committee minutes, but one must really ask who on the TTC Board is so out of touch with actual system use to be unaware of the very strong offpeak demand downtown.
Fortunately, feedback from businesses show that this scheme is impractical and it is unlikely to be implemented. The TTC will do riding counts to verify this.
Of course, this weekend is World Pride and the system may be rather busy — just one of the many demands for transit service that have nothing to do with conventional peak period commuting.
Free Wi-Fi on Surface Vehicles
In yet another example of misdirected focus, the Commission on a motion by Glenn De Baeremaeker, asked for a report on providing free Wi-Fi on all surface vehicles. Staff’s response is that this will not be practical until the rollout of a new automatic vehicle location system (AVL) to replace the existing “CIS” (the antique communication system now used).
The reason for this is that any new AVL will use wireless communication, and Wi-Fi service for riders would piggyback on this.
While this could make TTC service somewhat more attractive to riders with limited data plans for their devices, one wonders whether this is really a high priority for the TTC. It is one of those “the private sector will pay” schemes even though most instances of “free” Wi-Fi are usually considered as a cost of doing business where this is offered.
The Scarborough Subway: Status Update
The subway extension is a matter of debate in the mayoral election campaign and both the City and the TTC are hedging their bets on irrevocably committing to the subway, or the earlier LRT proposal in Scarborough. Preliminary work on staffing and some background engineering will occur in 2014, but public consultation will not get underway until 2015.
If the project does launch, this would not occur until 2016 for property acquisition and design, with actual construction running from 2018 through 2023. The TTC will review the condition of the Tunnel Boring Machines from the Spadina extension project to determine if they are suitable and can be refurbished for a Scarborough line.
The public consultation and overall project planning will be run through the City’s Planning Division so that it reflects not just the technical issues of subway design and construction, but also the planning requirements to ensure economic success of any new line.
One wild card here will be the Metrolinx review of “regional relief” strategies and Ontario’s commitment to a “Regional Express Rail” service on all GO corridors within 10 years. A related proposal is John Tory’s “Smart Track” scheme that would see frequent service on the Stouffville GO corridor which, if operated as part of the TTC network, would drain many of the potential riders of a new subway line who originate in northern Scarborough and Markham.
It is unclear whether these factors will be included in the public participation meetings in 2015, or if in the best TTC/Toronto tradition, we will conduct the whole exercise as if GO Transit does not exist. Much will depend on the political balance at Council after the fall elections, and on the continued support by Queen’s Park of both a Scarborough subway and their own “RER” system.
There is great irony in the competition between the RER plans and supporters of the Downtown Relief Line as to the need for both services and their high capital costs. Meanwhile, a comparable situation in Scarborough goes without mention.
Further information about the study of regional relief will appear in my next article covering the June 26 Metrolinx Board meeting.
I notice that the Scarborough subway report makes no mention of the Sheppard LRT. I presume this is because John Tory is against that project, i.e. the only likely outcomes are either LRT on both Sheppard and Scarborough if Chow wins or nothing on Sheppard + subway for Scarborough if Tory wins. (I assume that John Tory and Olivia Chow are the only candidates that can win the election, that Ford has no hope of winning, and that city council will be much more cooperative than it was under Ford).
Steve: The Sheppard and Finch lines are Metrolinx projects, not TTC/City. When Glen Murray announced support for the Scarborough Subway, but on his terms, Metrolinx shifted its staff over from the SLRT to the other LRT projects in anticipation that these would proceed. They are still included in Metrolinx’ current priorities, but the real test will be to see the political landscape after October’s election.
No updates by the TTC regarding the Finch and Sheppard LRT lines? This article now seems to suggest that construction on Finch has been delayed to 2017. What happened since Metrolinx said they were going to move quicker on these 2 lines after the Scarborough LRT cancellation?
Steve: What happened was that these lines are Metrolinx projects, and the Scarborough Liberal Caucus has its heart set on subways. In light of the plans for GO Transit, the whole question of a Scarborough subway needs to be rethought because the demand it would have served (northern Scarborough and Markham) will be siphoned off by GO. Even John Tory’s “Smart Track” proposal directly competes with the subway, but at lower capital cost and a less distant completion date.
I doubt they will ever use the Downtown Yonge crossovers. Think of it like Chester Station in that there is nowhere for buses to turn around.
At College Station you have small, one way streets (Wood and Alexander) and only one major thoroughfare (Church) with which to turn buses. This arrangement difficult to turn buses.. with enough buses you would probably have to shut down Yonge Street in order to pull it off without causing traffic chaos.
At King Station there is only 2 options.. King, Bay, Adelaide for Southbound buses but for Northbound… you are basically screwed. The only option would be King, Church, Wellington, Bay, Adelaide, Yonge to route as for the most part you cannot make a left turn at Yonge and King.
Long story short, I do not expect these crossovers to be used for anything more than a short turn here and there. If they even attempt it I can see it being done with Wellesley as the turnback point (for the Gerrard Crossover) much like Pape is the turnback point for the Chester crossover.
Steve: I don’t think that the intent is to attempt shuttle bus replacements, but to keep the length of a subway shutdown short enough that many people will simply walk.
Steve any word on whether the entire Spadina route will go POP on August 31st or just on the new LFLRV’s?
The original implementation Powerpoint said “POP will be implemented by route as new LRV’s are deployed (initially)” but that could be interpreted in a couple of ways.
As a last resort they could always go full POP on the street (since it will only be running between QQ and Bloor) and put in temporary fare gates in the unloading area at Spadina.
Steve: I believe that you are correct, that Spadina will fully go POP, but I will check this with the TTC.
If I may ruminate on the Scarborough subway for a moment.
If the province is serious about converting the GO system to electric, they could back out of the subway debacle without looking too bad.
I could imagine a circumstance where a theoretical mayor Chow could broker a face-saving compromise: Go back to the SRT conversion and use extra earmarked debt to extend it to Malvern and the rest towards the Morningside line.
The LRT network would then act as high capacity feeders to the electric Stouffville and LSE lines at Agincourt, Kennedy, Eglinton (GO) and Guildwood.
I’m not sure if the extra $1.6 billion being sunk into the B-D extension would be enough but the map would look a lot more complete and make getting around to some of the major spots in Scarborough a lot easier.
oopah.. just realized there is an easier way to do turnbacks Northbound at King… think 509… Bay/Adelaide/Yonge. oops.
Steve: The crossover south of St. Clair is at Rosehill Avenue, and was in the open air when the subway opened in 1954.
Assuming she gets re elected and one of Tory or Chow wins the mayoral election, is Maria Augimeri likely to keep her position as TTC chair in 2015?
Steve: I doubt that Augimeri will remain chair, and she has already said that her current role is as a caretaker pending the outcome of the election.
This is another rather strong argument, in my mind against those who want to simply extend subway, and use the argument that there are not really limits to the money. It is fairly clear that we need to fund maintenance and capacity expansion where it is already a bottleneck, prior to line extension that increases the overload.
In Toronto there is not enough money allocated to do the important basic maintenance and required reconstruction in transfer facilities, yet we are prepared to find vast pots to build vastly expensive line extensions that the current downstream operations cannot reasonably support (if you actually do add 15 k riders on BDL from the east, or 24 north of Steeles (let alone and) subway operations to the core will be overwhelmed unless virtually none of this traffic is core bound).
And we have not funded the operations required to maintain service and deliver those 416 riders anyway, as ultimately that will be buses to subway if subway is extended.
I would still say that the TTC should be publishing headway distribution graphs for the routes that are supposed to be headway governed, so riders could reasonably evaluate the distribution. It would be important for riders to be able to see how much of the service was actually clustered close to the target time, and how much was spread out to the tails. TTC should also should publish a percentage of vehicles short turned.
About the Wi-Fi on surface vehicles (and underground), how long before we hear from people who would have “health concerns” about it. It’s the same thing with Wi-Fi in schools, or the smart water meters.
What will happen to the RT right of way once the Scarborough subway opens in 2023? Will it be demolished? Why not repair as necessary and order newer LRT vehicles so that we can have both the LRT and the subway? Downtowners want us to have an LRT, we want a subway, and in order to satisfy both sides; why not build both? The justification of this is as follows: the sum total of these 2 projects will cost much less than the DRL subway which will no longer be necessary since all day 15 min service is coming to all GO lines within the next 10 years with full electrification also allowing for more stations and faster speeds, less stopping and starting times, less noise, and better environment.
Steve: Current plans are for it to be demolished, although Glenn De Baeremaeker talks of transforming it into a Scarborough knock-off of New York’s High Line. The difference in New York, of course, is that, well, it’s New York and there is much to see and visit along the High Line’s route.
You know, ever since Tory’s announcement, I’ve been wondering if it would be possible to turn the elevated portion of the RT into a branch of the Smart Track line and have the conversion and the Scarborough portion of the Smart Track project be done for less than the cost of building the subway.
Steve: The biggest problem would be to link in what is a comparatively local branch to a main line. At a minimum, the elevated structure would need major changes to handle larger, heavier trains.
Oh no question. You would lose Midland station for sure when building the new grade up to the elevated portion and all the support columns would have to be reinforced at minimum. Of course, this is assuming that the track deck could support the weight of the trains or can be reinforced to do so and it would only work if you have a train frequency that would allow for switching between the two lines as you pointed out.
However, it might be the only way to get Scarborough to give up the subway if it can work and the Smart Track plan gets approved rather than trying to explain to them that double the number of heavy rail lines is not twice as good for them or the city.
By all means … build the Scarborough Subway extension, then remove the Scarborough RT between Kennedy and Ellesmere, widen the Stouffville corridor, electrify it and add frequent (20 minutes or better) service. When combined with frequent service on the Lakeshore East line that would mean a train every 7.5-10 minutes at Scarborough and Danforth GO stations.
Instead of retaining the elevated portion of the Scarborough RT as a pseudo-High Line just convert it to LRT anyways and run it east-west through central Scarborough out to Centennial College.
Build it all … it’s only money, and the economic value of the investment will more than repay the costs of construction.
Why does the TTC report keep saying Pape Station is fully modernized and fully accessible way after it is already completed? I’m pretty sure many customers already know this. Rehashing the same progress is unnecessary by Byford. Byford losing credibility?
Steve: On big problem with the CEO’s report is that it is a cut-and-paste job from previous months, and some material simply does not change or is not dropped. One must actually read two or three of these to find the changes, if any, in the status reports. I do not really understand why Byford lets whoever is ghost writing these reports for him continue with this practice.
As a compromise, I will take an on surface middle of the street LRT on Eglinton East as well Scarborough LRT replacement of RT but in return give us the following:
1) South side alignment of LRT at Leslie
2) Moving of Oriole station to Sheppard
3) All day fully electric GO service on the Stouffville Line within 2 years
4) Extension of Sheppard subway to Agincourt GO Station
If you don’t want to give us number 4 (i.e. Sheppard East subway extension), then I will take an on-surface middle of the street Sheppard LRT but only if the rest of the line is converted to LRT as well thereby eliminating an unnecessary transfer especially difficult for the disabled, those with children, elderly, and those carrying heavy luggage.
Steve: Well, you are unlikely to get (1) given that the alignment in this section has already been settled, in part because of the location of the launch shaft for the tunnels. By the way, Leslie is not in Scarborough, and you really should stop meddling with North York’s transit. Oriole Station is also not in Scarborough, but I agree that moving it to better connect with the subway rather than with the 401 is long overdue. This should happen regardless of any other projects.
You are simply not going to see the Stouffville line electrified in two years for the simple reason that the first lines will have to be the Georgetown corridor (at least the inner part) and Lake Shore East. Why Lake Shore East? Because the new shops in Whitby are almost certainly going to be dedicated to the electric fleet (leaving Willowbrook Shops in Mimico to handle the diesels), LSE must be electrified so that trains can reach their shops. Moreover, it is highly unlikely that we will see any line electrified within two years, although EAs and preliminary engineering will be well along.
As for through operation of an LRT on the entire length of Sheppard, that also is unlikely. However, the planned transfer at Don Mills involves no change in level, and your heartstring-tugging appeal rings a bit hollow (much as complaints about the SLRT at Kennedy do). In fact the LRT/subway changeover at Don Mills will be simpler than the planned one at Kennedy that would involve one change of level from the SLRT (at level -1) to the subway (at level -2).
Through routing of the LRT has already been examined and although it may be possible, it is hard to justify the cost of conversion simply to eliminate the transfer at Don Mills.
Check out the section on the Scarborough subway. 10 minutes from Sheppard to Kennedy.
At 20 minutes from Kennedy to Bloor-Yonge, this extension will offer a very competitive trip to the auto. Currently going from Sheppard & McCowan to Bloor-Yonge can take about 20 minutes in good conditions, or much longer during the day with traffic.
That is the kind of rapid transit that will get people out of their cars.
Steve: As I have written before, people in Scarborough are not just going downtown, and much of the congestion they suffer does not come from downtown-bound trips. If GO builds a competing service in the Stouffville corridor that operates at a reasonable fare (something they claim they will be doing), many of the rides claimed to justify the Scarborough Subway will evaporate.
Meanwhile, an LRT trip from Sheppard to Kennedy would take 15 minutes plus a much shortened transfer move (only one-level change at Kennedy rather than three) and many more potential riders will be in walking distance of an LRT station rather than having to make a bus trip to access it.
Yes, the subway will be faster for the portion of the trip you are comparing, but you have to consider the total trip time for a variety of users, not just those who start at Sheppard & McCowan (or Progress, in the case of the LRT).
The Scarborough subway / LRT debate has also already been settled by all 3 levels of government yet you keep trying to unsettle it. Where is your criticism of the Vaughan subway? Where is your criticism of the DRL information sessions in Richmond Hill? Where is your criticism of the lack of DRL sessions in Flemingdon Park / Thorncliffe Park area?
Steve: You really are out of touch. Years ago, I was arguing that the Vaughan subway should be the start of an LRT network spreading out from a York U or Steeles West Station. I have a rather snotty letter from the TTC in which they claim that LRT had been examined and discarded in the EA, but that was back when the subway was going to be looped back on itself and obviously LRT was impractical. The TTC has a very long history of misrepresenting transit options to suit the prevailing political climate, but I don’t.
As for the DRL, it is no secret that I believe it should go to Don Mills & Eglinton. The people running the study don’t want to talk about that and persist in discussing only a line to Danforth. This causes its purpose to be understated and misunderstood, another example of the TTC downplaying a line they have never wanted to build, at least recently (back in the 60s they were planning the Queen subway to end up at DM & Eglinton).
Finally, there is a big difference with the Eglinton line: it is already under construction and the alignment at Leslie is a function of the design of the tunnel construction at Brentcliffe. Scarborough is a line on a map, and lines on a map can be changed.
By the way, Scarborough is not Downtown / East York, and you really should stop meddling with Scarborough’s transit by trying to derail the already approved Scarborough subway expansion. Yes, Leslie is not in Scarborough but people from Scarborough have to bypass it on their way to/from the Yonge subway / etc.
Steve: I am making fun of your Scarborough-centric arguments, but you obviously didn’t get or like being on the receiving end of the joke.
Well, Oriole station is not in Downtown / East York either and if you can have an opinion on it (and I doubt you use it regularly if you use it at all), then why can’t I? I actually use it 2 times every work day and I live in Scarborough near Sheppard Ave East and McCowan. Your argument that if something is not in Scarborough, then people of Scarborough should not meddle with it; why don’t you apply your own argument to yourself and stop meddling with Scarborough transit since Scarborough is not in Downtown / East York?
Steve: You are so full of it, your comment could almost stand as a parody of everything that is wrong with Scarborough subway boosters. The point I was making here is that Oriole Station, which I most assuredly do not use, has nothing to do with the pros and cons of the subway vs LRT debate in Scarborough, and your using it as part of your compromise shopping list is laughable.
Not too thrilled by the story on Page A6 of the Saturday Star: “Wynne warns next mayor against nixing transit”, which has the Premier suggesting that cancelling the Scarborough subway extension is a non-starter.
Steve: The statements by Wynne have been parsed different ways by various writers. I read them as saying “we don’t want people messing around and getting in the way”, but there is also a major review underway at Metrolinx of which network options will work best. The Scarborough Subway may fare poorly now that there is commitment for frequent GO service that will skim off the hypothetical riders used to “justify” this line in the first place — commuters from Markham and northern Scarborough. Also, Queen’s Park has always said that they will work with local municipal desires — that’s how the LRT became a subway in the first place. It’s too early to tell how this will work out, and until Toronto Council’s position is settled after the election, we won’t even know which version is on Wynne’s plate. One thing is sure: there isn’t enough money in the $15b earmarked for Toronto to build everything.
I will write about this further in my coverage of the Metrolinx board meeting of June 26.
Yes not everyone is going downtown. But the extension brings rapid transit to many people traveling to other areas not downtown. All of a sudden the Danforth is a reasonable transit trip for nights out. Rapid transit will bring people to connecting buses faster at places like Lawrence, Kennedy, etc. The subway will serve plenty of non downtown trips, and bring people to STC faster as well.
If the LRT is on a full grade separation, why is it taking 5 minutes longer to get to Kennedy?
Steve: Because it starts further east, and because it has four more stops, stops that will serve riders who would otherwise have to take a bus to reach a subway station. BTW it is worth noting that it is still uncertain whether “STC” station will be in the middle of “STC” or over at McCowan where it will be further away from many who now use the RT station (or would use the LRT line which would also stop at McCowan).
So under the LRT plan, it will take people 45 minutes to get to Bloor-Yonge from Sheppard. Not counting the slowdowns encountered on eastbound trips, due to Kennedy being a terminal station. Verses 30 minutes for the subway, with no needless transfer at Kennedy. The trip times could probably be made faster as well with the subway, if the TTC would speed things up a little.
How many times do we have to go over the history of the TTC. TTC’s subway success works on walk up customers and feeder buses. I do not see why feeder bus riders, which account for such a huge amount of the success for the TTC are demonized.
This extension is about getting rapid transit to people. How many people live within walking distance is really not high on the list, as long as feeder bus connections are good.
Steve: You are the one who is comparing travel times, and walk-up traffic only works if the walk is short. You can’t have it both ways. If you are going to compare times for subway/LRT only trips, then you are ignoring access times which will be longer for subway users. It’s also worth noting that the whole idea of intensification of development is based on walk-in access, not buses for the “last mile” access.
There’s a reason Mel Lastman wanted a station at North York Centre: it wasn’t a workable project if people had to walk from Sheppard or Finch Stations.
Unbelievable. The Scarborough LRT was fully settled by all 2 required levels of government (since its more affordable cost didn’t require the involvement of the third government), and actually more settled then the current subway proposal because the planning already completed was further along. Since you are (apparently) fine with re-opening a project at that level of commitment, you must, logically, be fine with re-opening the earlier-stage subway project.
Oh, right, this has nothing to do with logic.
Returning to reasonable discussion, Steve, what you said about GO electrification raised a question for me. You mentioned EAs being done for the electrification. I’m a bit confused on what the function of an EA for electrification would be. Normally I think of an EA as formally reviewing options — route and mode, at a minimum — and impacts on the surroundings — noise, traffic, and so on. And this is done out in the open with opportunity for public input (albeit with lots of opportunity for nonsense like what you mentioned about LRT North of Steeles).
For electrification, however, it’s not obvious to me what value can come from this. Would we have an EA for replacing the signalling system? Switching to a slightly different track profile? Changing brand of ballast? Buying new cars? Changing the schedule? What is there to discuss that is not purely an engineering decision to be made entirely by railway power engineers?
Steve: The electrification project will involve, at a minimum, adding tracks to existing corridors, grade separations, changes to traffic patterns at major stations, construction of substations, changes to noise profiles in residential neighbourhoods along the line, and possibly some yard expansions to accommodate storage of more trains. This is not just a case of stringing overhead on existing track. BTW there is already an EA underway to double track the Stouffville Corridor as far south as Scarborough Junction, but no plans yet on how the merge of two frequent services at that location will be handled.
Ok so obviously some people in Scarborough want a subway and some want an LRT. Just build both. It will satisfy everyone.
Steve: That’s an intriguing idea, if only to see whether Scarborough residents would recoil in horror if any LRT were “foisted” upon them.
Steve there are too many trees that could fall onto the subway tracks at open sections on Line 1. Why won’t the TTC cut those trees?
Steve: Actually, the TTC has been cutting trees in this section, and more are marked for removal. They are not all going because they help to stabilize the embankments.
Whatever happens in Scarborough, there will no doubt be a “last ride” on the SRT Mark 1. But when that happens, people won’t miss it at all. Pretty sure no tears shed.
It drives me nuts every time I hear that a LRT is inherently slower than a subway.
AFAIK for all intents and purposes LRVs are subway cars with more crash resistance. If we really wanted a faster LRT we could rip out some stops, but having more stops (within reason) is one of the benefits – we simply can’t afford that many stops if we go for the subway extension.
If we really wanted, we could just build the LRT with the same number of stops and a reduced length to match the subway option and then both options would essentially be the same speed.
Heck at that rate, we could make the LRT only go half as far and have less stops than the subway – then the LRT would be the faster option. You’re welcome Scarborough!
The south side alignment at Leslie is always brought up, and for good reason. The south side option would have most likely been less expensive that the in-median route that is currently being built. Moving the pocket and cross-over tracks from under the middle of Eglinton/Laird to at/near grade just west of Don Mills would have easily paid for the bridge widening over the West Don River. This poorer choice for alignment must have had some type of political or hidden purpose.
Looking at Transit City, the purpose is to bring passengers to the nearest Subway. The DRL was never considered in Transit City, so all routes were planned and designed with no consideration for a DRL. The plan was that Y-B could always be improved so there were not restrictions on how many people could be handled by the existing subways. If Eglinton was grade separated from Don Mills west, counter flow travel to relieve Y-E would leads to calls for a DRL. If Eglinton was grade separated east of Don Mills, it would also add to the demand for a DRL.
We are also seeing this in the Metrolinx studies of Downtown capacity. 3 of 4 options seem to be GO related, and only 1 DRL related. It looks like Metrolinx and TTC will do everything possible to avoid building a DRL. Eglinton is the first step in this process. We will wind up with portions of Transit City being built and GO improvements, but no DRL – because we did not see the hidden agenda of Metrolinx until it was too late.
No matter what, feeder bus service and connections will also be important on the TTC network. You can have all the development you want next to the station. But as the current system shows, the busiest stations are either stations with a lot of feeder buses. Or a combo of feeder buses and development around the station.
Acting as a rapid transit spine, it is a disservice to act as if feeder bus service is not important in Scarborough or for that matter, anywhere else in Toronto.
Steve: I have no problem with that argument as it is one I have often made myself. However, one cannot talk about a few minutes saved on the Scarborough rapid transit link of a journey out of the wider context of where riders will originate, particularly when the demand model was pulling in riders from far north of the subway terminus. Some anti-LRT arguments, notably those by Cllr De Baeremaeker, have been deeply disdainful of the value of walk-in traffic. “Walk in” also includes “walk out” to jobs and schools in an area that is notoriously pedestrian hostile.
You are right. LRT is as fast as a subway when it is on a fully grade separated right of way, and does not have to stop at traffic signals. At this point, an LRT really is just a subway train with overhead wires.
So this begs the question. If you have a subway already there (at Kennedy), and an LRT line is fully grade separated and acts as a subway. Then why would you not just extend the subway on an elevated track, and not force people to transfer?????
You remove the needless transfer which is severely limiting ridership growth, and you not only provide capacity for today’s needs, but also for the future.
You guys can go on and on about capacity. But the truth is, an LRT on a grade separated alignment has the same capacity as a subway, if you have enough train cars in a consist. So just extend the subway and get it over with.
This obsession with forcing a transfer on people, because they don’t deserve a subway is stupid, when you are building them a subway, and they have had a subway for 25 years. Because despite smaller train cars or overhead wires, that is what the SRT, and a elevated LRT are. They are subways, no different that the Chicago “L”.
You are fighting just for a name ,”LRT”, instead of building what transit planners know is the right option, a continued extension of the Bloor subway. No transfer, faster travel times, and a lot more riders.
Steve: If I read you correctly, you are arguing for subway technology on the SRT alignment, not the buried version going up McCowan. This is not a question of just building a surface subway. The existing Kennedy Station must be replaced because it is on the wrong alignment, the curve and tunnel at Ellesmere must be replaced, as must the existing elevated structure and stations on which subway trains will not fit. New stations must be larger and therefore are more expensive, and the line will almost certainly never get past STC.
As for “faster travel time” and “more riders”, there is an alternative for many people in the catchment area: GO Transit if only it ran with frequent service and attractive fares. That’s the surface subway “planners know is the right option” for trips headed into the central city. For everything else, build LRT and improve the bus service.
The subway, if at high rate (not currently) can only run a few kph faster than low floor LRT. In operating practice it is unlikely either will run any faster than 70 kph, and on a closed right of way both will do so. High floor LRTs can run over 100 kph, which of course could be an option on an SRT like configuration.
If you really want a quick trip, use that Scarborough political muscle to get a high floor LRT in the Gatineau Power corridor from Morningside and the 401 (need to overcome Hydro as well) run directly to a tunnel south of Don Mills and Eglinton, have a stop for your fellow underserved at Flemingdon and Thorncliffe Park, and argue for a reduced number of stops south of Danforth as well. This would provide the DRL, high speed express service from Scarborough to the Core. Have say 10-12 stops the whole way. Could likely make the trip (LRT only) in 20-25 minutes from Morningside/401 to the core.
This would be a faster route to the desirable points on the Danforth (transfer to lower speed subway to move east west), a very fast trip to the core and reduce load on the existing network. Would make an alternate trunk (15-24k capacity) for the balance of the network, drawing traffic off the subway, and provide space for resumed organic growth on the balance of the subway network. Balance of Transit City could proceed, providing a more fine grained collection across the rest of the city, with this long distance link out of the way. This would look and feel very much like a faster more express version of subway.
I am very surprised that those fomenting for a subway extension for rapid service to the core are not instead pushing this. This ties their interests to those of other underserved areas, and would allow rolling a couple of political interest groups into 1.
Of course this would also closely replicate the notion of an electrified GO service, except at a somewhat higher frequency (likely 2-4 versus 7-10 minute), adding the DRL portion. GO could be delivered much more cost effectively as it is in an existing ROW. How strong would the push be for subway extension if GO was an all day 10 minute service and a TTC fare?
Steve: One challenge for higher speed operation is the need for better track standards. This is one of the reasons cited by the TTC in its failure to move back to High Rate operation since it was abandoned decades ago. There has never been a study of whether fewer, faster trains would offset track costs with reduced fleet costs and shorter trips for riders. The benefit, of course, would be greater on lines that have long stretches where a higher top speed would be beneficial, a situation that is more common now than it was on the Warden-to-Islington BD line where High Rate trains operated. For example, the trip from Finch to Eglinton takes about two minutes less in High Rate than in Low Rate (I say this from personal observation on trains that were, unofficially, running in High Rate). That would save two trains from peak requirements just on one section of the line.
As for high speed LRT, once upon a time when interurban railways were in their prime, cars capable of 80 mph (130km/h) and more were built, although this speed was generally of little use for routes with station spacings we would think of for lines in Toronto. I rode some of these in the 1960s when they were already decades old. The speed of a line is dictated by station spacing, grades, curve radii and the amount of money one is prepared to spend on infrastructure, ongoing maintenance and power. “LRT” is rarely implemented for very high speed operation because, by its nature, it would run with less isolation from other traffic and more frequent, simpler stations.
I think this is the first conspiracy theory I’ve heard in which the goal of the conspiracy is to not build something.
Steve: When decades of government policy turn on announcements without actual delivery, this isn’t a conspiracy, it’s business as usual.
Because spending $1.5 billion and quite possibly more (due to cost escalations, excluding debt charges) to eliminate a transfer for a comparatively small number of people, for extra capacity that won’t be needed for a very long time, and the side benefit of a shorter line and smaller network, is a waste of money.
Just as spending $1 billion on adding a third platform to Bloor-Yonge instead of expanding the network is a waste of money.
As a fiscal conservative who believes in spending taxpayer money carefully and efficiently, I’m not surprised there are so many entitled tax and spenders (presumably living in Scarborough) calling for waste instead of partaking in the balancing act of maximal effect and lowest spending.
They’ve been living off the tax base of the old city since amalgamation. It’s easy to buy steak and lobster with all the trimmings when it’s the others that have to eat ramen noodles!
If you want inconvenient, try the transfers at downtown stations. Try transferring from surface to subway at College. It makes the current SRT transfer look like child’s play.
The number of long, convoluted (not to mention crowded and busy) paths riders have to take to make transfers downtown is worse than anything at the proposed new Kennedy, yet they’re not crying to the taxpayer piggy bank for multi billion dollar handouts to save their precious nails from possibly being damaged by a transfer.
L. Wall. The extension of the Bloor subway to STC is not a waste of money. It is correcting a wrong that was made over 25 years ago to not extend the subway at that time to STC. In fact I talked with a former Scarborough city councillor from that time who even mentioned that Scarborough council said we would be kicking ourselves in the future for not just extending the subway.
And that is what we are doing.
I also don’t call over 100,000 riders a day on just the extended portion of the subway, a small number of people.
I think the answer is pretty clear. Do you want to improve transit and make it a viable travel alternative, or do you not?
Currently, mode share targets from Scarborough for transit are good, but they are still lower than other areas of Toronto, including to downtown. Why? Because transit is too slow, requires too many transfers, and is not competitive with the auto.
I cannot stand behind a project that will just further make transit a last resort option.
Living in Scarborough, and talking with plenty of people in Scarborough, I can say without a doubt that Kennedy is a huge issue in transit ridership growth.
Whether you think a transfer is fine or not is not the question. The question is what people who are going to ride think.
And the answer is out. People don’t mind transfers where they make sense. But they do mind transfers halfway through what should be a one seat ride.
I have even talked with people who will take transit from North York will they lived. But who will not step foot on the TTC in Scarborough. Why do you ask? Because the TTC takes too long and requires them to transfer at Kennedy. A needless transfer that adds a significant amount of time to ones trip.
I can’t tell you how many people I know who have given up on transit because of the Kennedy transfer.
If I remember correctly, did TTC reports not state removing the transfer at Kennedy, would almost double ridership on the Scarborough line? I remember hearing that years ago when subways were not as dirty a word.
If we are going to build something, we might as well do it right. We are already building a halfway complete line along Eglinton, where the surface portion in Scarborough is going to be a mess.
Let’s not repeat that mess with the SRT, and continue needless transfers that will do nothing but suppress transit ridership.
Steve: The reason that a subway extension would double ridership is that there are not enough RT cars to provide the service that should be on that line. It has nothing to do with the subway per se, and everything to do with the fact that those RT cars cost so much in the first place. If this had been built as an LRT line as originally intended (and the plans for that go back into the 60s), it would have been easy to build up service to double the capacity the RT now provides, and with much greater reliability as well.
As for Scarborough Council, dare I mention how they were bamboozled by Queen’s Park into “accepting” the RT technology in the first place? Easy marks for a salesman with a new technology and a rich uncle who would pay for everything if only they went along.
The thing is that the length of that bus trip does matter as well. Please note that you can also redesign the way the bus route based on more local access. The fewer points of connection, the longer the bus rides required for the majority of riders.
One reason not to extend the subway would also be a simple question of costs as well. Subway has more capacity, but ridership accumulates along the line, and if you got to the 24K or so that LRT can reasonably carry, you would not have capacity to take on riders down the line. You fill 2/3 of the capacity to which the B-D-L can eventually be upgraded.
The obsession is not with LRT, but rather acting on the basis of there is a large transit requirement across all of the GTA and very limited resources to meet it. Subway has a larger ultimate capacity than LRT, and a higher cost required even on outdoor alignments. Typically costs are 2 to 3 times as much for subway, and hence the obsession with LRT. Why spend multiples for capacity that will not be required?
Ditto for streetcars. The CLRV can travel at 110 km/hr. See Wikipedia.
It is not about the vehicle, but the right-of-way protection, signalling, etc.
Steve: I have ridden a train of CLRVs at 80km/h on the Riverside line in Boston. They could have gone faster, but were set to that maximum speed to stay within what track conditions would allow.
Spending an extra $1.5 billion in capital (and most likely more) to save a few people on average less than 5 minutes is advocating for waste when the smaller investment works just as well. You must think the taxpayer has bottomless pockets!
That depends on what your definition of “viable” is. If “viable” means it has to be as fast or faster than the auto, such people will never switch to transit until the roads are gridlocked to a standstill. Designing and catering a transit system to people with such refined tastes is unaffordable and would bankrupt the city.
If it currently takes 75 minutes to go downtown via B-D now, it will still take 75 -5 minutes after wasting a cool $1.5 billion+. It won’t materially or meaningful improve the trip.
The overwhelming majority will still have to transfer to a bus that has to fight with cars for road space over the last mile.
A driver who won’t take transit unless it is as fast or _faster_ than driving won’t change their behaviour over that miniscule difference of 5 minutes saved when they still have to sit on a bus for the first/last 30+ minutes of their trip.
Whether those people think Kennedy is a huge issue or not is not the question. How much money do we have and what’s the best way to spend finite amounts to get maximal benefit is.
Those riders are probably more worried about whether their connecting bus trip will be cancelled by next year’s budget cuts and wondering what this surcharge on their property tax bill is really paying for.
That’s very interesting Steve. I thought the original plan was to electrify the Georgetown line up to the airport and the portion of Lakeshore West out to Willowbrook Yard in Mimico … all so that they could run the UP Express trains (once electrified). The UP Express train shed and shops are at Willowbrook too.
Has the EA for electrification of the Weston sub come up with a different plan? Because while it would make sense to build the new Whitby shops for electric trains (because presumably GO will have to start buying electric engines or EMUs at some point and store them somewhere) … Willowbrook is much easier to get to.
The best situation would be electrification of the Weston sub out to Bramalea, the Uxbridge sub and the Lakeshore West and East corridors…all at the same time.
Steve: With the decision to do the whole network, the plans will obviously change. The one you describe was a quick-and-dirty plan that is not even current. To get UPX up and running, there will be a small maintenance yard in Rexdale, and only the inner part of the Weston sub needs to be electrified. However, the intent has always been that the Whitby shops would take on electrification, and LSE will have to be electrified to make this possible.
One problem I have with the design of the Scarborough Subway extension is that, while getting the “rapid transit spine” in place is nice in theory, there is no plan for east-west lines interconnecting with that (vaguely) north-south “spine” to build a network. The Sheppard East line might rach Malvern but at this point we don’t know if the Scarborough Subway extension will be able to get across the 401 to reach Sheppard. The Eglinton Crosstown will end at Kennedy and the Scarborough Subway extension pretty much means the Scarborough-Malvern Line (which would have served Eglinton east of Kennedy) will not be built.
So Scarborough will have 2 north-south rail lines (the Scarborough Subway extension and an upgraded Stouffville line) but only one line going east-west.
Not a good example of network thinking … which is why I say that the portion of the Scarborough RT between Ellesmere and McCowan should be kept as an in service line to provide the east-west corridor Scarborough still needs.
I seriously question the “limited resources” statement. There are approximately 1 million privately owned cars in Toronto.
According to CAA, typical car costs to the private owners are around $10,000 per year.
There is $10 billion right there. Add in costs to the public such as the $2.2 billion per year in health-care costs in Toronto due to people being poisoned by car drivers.
And let’s not forget the capital and maintenance costs of roads for cars. Things like the $505 million Gardiner boondoggle. And police, fire and ambulance costs to service all those car drivers. And the opportunity cost of not using all that valuable public real estate for something better.
Let’s be conservative and peg car costs at “only” $20 billion in Toronto every year. That is money that people in Toronto are spending every year on cars. That will buy a lot of transit.
So no, resources are not limited. The only thing that is limited is political will to direct those resources for the public benefit.
So was the Sheppard subway foisted upon the ppl of North York?
Steve: No, it was Mike Harris’ gift to Mel Lastman so that he would stop opposing amalgamation of the megacity.