Updated July 7, 2014 at 9:10am: The table of project costs has been corrected to place some BRT project costs in the first wave, and to include their “next wave” spending that was omitted in error in the original version. Thanks to Divyesh Mistry for catching these errors.
Ontario’s budget will be re-introduced on July 14, and it is expected to include $15-billion for transit projects in the GTHA over the next ten years. What, exactly can we expect to see from this spending? Is there room for additional projects? Will projects once proposed by Queen’s Park or Metrolinx fall off of the table?
From the budget website’s description of the infrastructure plans:
Proceeds from the dedicated fund for the GTHA would be invested exclusively in public transit priorities that address congestion and improve mobility throughout the region. Proceeds would be used to build priority projects included in Metrolinx’s regional transportation plan, The Big Move, and for other potential projects that support economic development and improve mobility, such as the East Bayfront Light Rail Transit (LRT) project on Toronto’s waterfront. This would build on the first wave of projects, such as the Eglinton Crosstown LRT line and Union Pearson Express, and the Bloor-Danforth subway extension in Scarborough.
The government recognizes continued expansion towards two-way, all-day GO Transit rail service as a priority. GO Transit improvements on all corridors would include additional track, grade separations, improved signalling, station improvements and additional fleet, which are all building blocks towards two-way, all-day service. In addition, analysis is underway on a proposal to electrify the GO rail system to deliver service at intervals as frequent as 15 minutes.
The Big Move identifies additional GO service as critical to developing the regional rapid transit network, and all-day, two-way express rail service as part of the solution.
The Province has asked Metrolinx to begin work immediately to examine opportunities to move GO service towards a regional express rail, providing fast and frequent electrified service on all corridors at intervals as frequent as 15 minutes. This would represent a game-changer in how people move about the region, and enhance ridership and efficiency on GO Transit and other projects that connect to the network as well.
The Province will work with Metrolinx and municipalities on how best to prioritize transit investments through the use of rigorous business-case analyses. These analyses will help prioritize Next Wave projects that could be accommodated within the Province’s dedicated fund for the GTHA and provide the best value for Ontarians.
Beyond the existing GO network, priority projects within the GTHA would be drawn from the Next Wave of Metrolinx projects included in The Big Move.
Cost estimates for every project are not publicly available, but we can get a good sense of the financial situation by looking at the snapshots for major projects listed on the Metrolinx site.
We have heard many times how Ontario has committed $16b to transit for the GTHA, and the “First Wave” contains the projects that money will fund. Published project cost estimates total $15.172b of which $12.766b comes from Queen’s Park.
The most important point about this list is that over half of the money has not yet been spent, and some projects have not even gone beyond the stages of preliminary design and Transit Project Assessment.
That unspent amount represents future spending that must be funded from somewhere, but there has been no discussion of exactly where or how this will be done beyond an assumption that it will come from general revenues.
Notable by its absence from the list is Presto for which a cost estimate has not been published. This project came in for criticism by the Provincial Auditor in 2012.
When we come to the Next Wave, the total estimated cost is $22.6-billion, although two major projects – the Relief Line and the Richmond Hill extension – will at best be started, but certainly not completed during the 10-year window for the next $15b commitment.
The Next Wave includes some electrification projects, but certainly not the complete GO network, nor a system-wide rollout of 15-minute service, a scheme well beyond Metrolinx ambitions when the Next Wave was announced. Note how the budget language refers “expansion towards” and “building blocks” that will lead to service “as frequent as 15 minutes”. This is not the same as quarter-hourly service on all lines, all day.
Regardless of what we actually get, the current “commitment”, one that was discussed quite clearly at the recent Metrolinx Board meeting, was to provide just that: a full buildout of an electrified frequent service network within ten years. This will require substantial additions to spending plans, and will inevitably elbow aside other projects.
Queen’s Park and Metrolinx owe us, the voters and the would-be riders on their network, a clear statement of just what they hope to build with the funds earmarked for the GTHA.
I wrote to Metrolinx seeking clarification on some issues. Here are my questions and their replies:
1. Of the First Wave projects, is the $16b all money that is separate from whatever might come from the IS (or whatever equivalent might be in the budget)?
Yes, the $16 billion worth of current transit projects referenced in our communications is separate and apart from recent provincial announcements.
2. Can you reconcile the $14.7b number with the $16b overall claim for the first wave, notably the missing amount for Presto?
The $16 billion figure refers to an estimated investment in capital projects completed or underway since 2008. Projects included in the $16 billion figure are primarily construction projects with shovels in the ground and as such, PRESTO, Smart Commute and other non-construction programs were not included. While many of the 200 construction projects completed or underway are part of the $16 billion figure, our website only features fact sheets for major projects. The figure also includes many supporting GO Transit projects, such as platform extensions and station upgrades, which play a transformative role in forming a solid foundation upon which to expand GO service across the GTHA.
3. For the Next Wave projects, how much of the total spend is expected to be within the 10-year window of the budget’s $29b?
A significant portion of the anticipated provincial spending will be spent within the next 10 years. Environmental assessments, planning work and an examination of operational needs will more precisely determine the timing of cashflow. We will be reporting our anticipated timelines for new projects at our September board meeting.
4. For financial planning, is there any intent that Metrolinx would produce a project-level projection that will show capital requirements and the degree to which funding has been committed (and from what pool)?
This is part of our 10-year financial planning process, which represents confidential advice to the government and is not available to the public.
This statement confirms that the two pools of funding (first and next waves) are actually separate, and important distinction especially if future budgets attempt to pay for “first wave” work out of revenues nominally earmarked for the “next wave”. That next wave will include some money from the “outside of GTHA” pool of $13.9b (portions of the GO network beyond the Metrolinx planning area), but the lion’s share of that funding should go to other parts of Ontario.
In general, the budget page slips back and forth between projects that are in the first and next wave pools, and projects that have been independently funded such as the Waterloo and Ottawa LRTs and the provincial share of the Toronto streetcar project. Figuring out just how much is to be spent on transit, when and from which funding pool, can be quite a challenge.
The absence of a consolidated list even for Metrolinx – something they consider as confidential information for the government – is troubling. By contrast, the 10-year capital project list including annual cash flows and funding sources is part of the public record for the TTC and informs much debate about the budget shortfall and the growing backlog of work.
Missing from the proposed budget is any mention of the 25% municipal share in the “Investment Strategy” proposed by Metrolinx. Queen’s Park seems content to repeat over and over the support via gas tax revenue:
Ontario provides significant ongoing funding for municipal transit systems across the province by sharing two cents per litre of provincial gas tax revenues. Since 2004, the Province has committed more than $2.7 billion in gas tax funding. This program is now a guaranteed source of funding for eligible municipalities to improve and expand their transit services.
It is now 2014, and that $2.7b doesn’t amount to much on an annual basis spread over the entire province for a decade. Moreover, the revenue stream is not indexed, and that two cents is worth less and less each year with growth, if any, coming from increased consumption that is no longer a sure thing.
Transit infrastructure will be a centrepiece in the coming budget, one that will almost certainly pass the now-majority Liberal legislature. The level of support is worth celebrating, but the party should be restrained, not wild jubilation that Santa Claus has arrived with an overflowing bag of goodies.
$15-billion sounds like a big number, but it is only $1.5b per year over 10 years, still less than the $2b/year spend proposed in the original 2008 Big Move. Metrolinx always quotes projects for a base year with inflation to come, but it is not clear whether the budget will do the same. That $15b could be a hard number that will buy considerably less than the uninflated prices in the Metrolinx catalog.
Queen’s Park owes us many answers on transit funding and financing, not least of which is transparency in their plans rather than assertions of confidentiality.
@This comment will probably be deleted.
Some of the ONDP die-hards who refuse to abandon the sinking ship forget that it was budget cuts from Dwight Duncan that forced then transport minister Wynne to scramble to her party’s defense. If you want to blame Wynne for the first round of cuts to Transit City simply by her association to the Liberal caucus, then you would be blaming her for the Ford-McGuinty MoU of 2011. She was STILL transport minister then, for god’s sake!
This guilty-by-association argument isn’t convincing enough for me. It’s not fair to look back on when Wynne was not the leader, nor was in charged of the budget then to see what she would do as leader. That’s a big difference, and NDPers ought to know that.
Yes it is very much like the province is fixated on the home runs (although so is the voter), busy looking for a cure all. As is frequently discussed here, the answer must lie with an integrated network, that serves more of the levels of demand. I suspect the issue with GO is that it is believed that this service will not gather profile, and therefore perceived value. I do believe, however, that the solution will require a network. This needs to include regional bus and BRT, as well as LRT, commuter train, and subway.
I believe from my own behaviour long waits for service will discourage riders as much as travel time. If we could convert one of the north south services to LRT, and have east west BRT at the 407, so that you are running with low wait times and service immune from traffic disruptions, you should attract many riders.
There will clearly be limits to the service you can provide given the very dispersed destinations now existent in much of the city, however, one advantage of bus is that it does not require the concentration of same destination riders to make it work that heavy rail does. Hopefully this type of service will attract more concentration to the existing points of relative concentration, and the network effect will reinforce growth where service exists.
One of the considerations for employers, is ease of attracting the required workforce, and that perforce includes looking at travel times and attractiveness of transit service.
I think that focusing first on moderate service improvements, as opposed to going for the home run, is a better way to go. It is easier to string together base hits, then it is to hit home runs. It would allow us to start on a real network and substantial service improvement sooner, we just need to keep in mind capacity limits to each type of service. Given the nature of the outer 416 and 905 housing and employment patterns, it will be hard to truly relieve congestion, continued transit improvements, however may just encourage growth where it can be served.
Although I accept that the cost rate applied to time can vary and is dependent on the nature of your perceived optimal society, there is a fundamental incongruence within your argument. You cannot have a dispersed employment environment with equality of opportunity for all people and a cost effective transit system, the model you are proposing is not possible, something will have to be sacrificed, from the looks of it will likely be equality of opportunity.
I do however agree with many of your points but believe a more accurate accounting for cost will help identify structural problems and provide better guidance for planning.
To the reader, please consider the effect of the business property tax differential between Toronto and the surrounding region. Consider the centrifugal effect that this tax differential has had over the past quarter century on business development in the region. Consider then the roll of transit and the type of transit development needed to satisfy the growth patterns. You must then ask yourself, “Is this model optimal, and efficient?” If the answer is no, it is not optimal, then is it acceptable that the existing model is simply reinforcing the existing suboptimal system.
Steve: Oh dear, oh dear, that old shibboleth!
For many years, Toronto has been rebalancing its commercial and residential property tax rates so that the ratio between them will be comparable to the rates in the 905. Commercial taxes only go up at 1/3 the rate of residential taxes in Toronto. One side effect of this is that most of the Scarborough Subway tax will be paid by residential taxpayers as they will absorb 3/4 of the increase while commercial taxpayers absorb 1/4. The rebalancing, started under David Miller, is supposed to complete in about five years and is a bit over half way done. (Doing it in one fell swoop would have produced such a jump in residential taxes that every member of Council would be voted out of office.)
Here in T.O. commercial taxes are going up by less than 1% annually. Out in the 905, where the new tax base isn’t what it was during the boom years of expansion, and the cost of maintaining aging infrastructure is starting to show up in budgets, taxes are going up (for everyone) at a far higher rate.
Finally, property taxes are not the only determinant of where development occurs — there has to be a market for what is built. I can look out my windows at both downtown and midtown Toronto, and there are a lot more buildings there today than there were a decade ago. There is even a return to commercial development downtown because there is a market for this type of building. Somehow the tax “burden” has not turned the central city into a ghost town.
Yes, fortunately too much has not been moved onto the property tax base. The notion of having social assistance based on the property tax based would have been a disaster. As long as Toronto can provide reasonable levels of transit and other services, it can offer a superior proposition to living while being somewhat more expensive.
The concern I would have is that the TTC cannot be expected to provide all the transit service on just the business portion of taxes, (ie it has the business but not the residents). If the destinations are highly concentrated, and the suburbs provide the linkage, fine, otherwise it may turn into a issue, with the city providing a de facto subsidy.
The province must be at the centre of regional transit, at least in establishing the deals, and ensuring that all the tax bases are reasonably required to carry the load that their population generates.
Steve: It’s a bit more complex than this. The city’s operating budget comes only 40% (roughly) from property taxes with the other 60% coming from various subsidies or shared cost programs, and from sundry revenue. The roughly $1b worth of TTC fares counts toward the city’s total of $9.6b. To put things in perspective, fare revenue is equal to more than 25% of the property tax revenue.
When the city puts together its budget, it knows (or expects) certain levels of increase in non-tax revenue, and the difference is made up from the tax base with the 3:1 residential:commercial sharing of the increase I discussed earlier. That’s the operating budget.
The capital budget is separate, and it is funded by (a) transfers from other governments, (b) borrowing, (c) development charges and (d) “capital from current”, a contribution to the capital account from the operating budget. This last item is used to avoid building up too much debt. A rough analogy would be that your house needs a new roof and you borrow part of the cost but pay some out of current income to reduce future interest costs. The city sets a target on total capital debt so that debt service does not consume more than 15% of the property tax income. This conservative fiscal plan has been in place for many years, certainly well before Ford’s time.
Oh yes, I forgot to mention that the waste and water budgets are funded entirely from their own revenue streams, and the reason water rates have been climbing for the past several years is to build up a revenue stream that will fund the massive overhaul of outdated water systems, many in the suburbs.
There is a chart on page 3 of a budget overview on the city’s website that shows the source and distribution of money. “User fees” include TTC fares. The chart on page 9 shows “your tax dollars at work”, and the value there for TTC is the net cost (the subsidy) because the rest of the operating budget comes from fares and provincial subsidies.
Steve to what degree are these transfer a per capita transfer, and to what degree do they reflect the nature of the transportation requirements. Does the province support the nature of the costs imposed by 416 transit being used to support 905 residents? Is that built into the formulae, or is this a very political transfer?
Steve: The gas tax is allocated by a formula that blends both population and ridership so that proportionately more prosperous systems (ie higher rides per capita) get more subsidy. Other funding programs (housing, etc) have their own formulae for provincial allocations, and in some cases the number is ad hoc based on the historical evolution of shared costs.
Jon, I would say to you, it is not incongruence in my position, so much as it is the sub-optimal reality of the existing built form. Whether considered it from an optimum of total utility, or from that of social equity, or simply pure efficiency, Steve’s point with regards to it not having been built around transit, means we have a built form that forces compromise. The trick now is to move forward without compounding the mistakes of the past, and dealing with the what is. The taxes required to build and operate a transit system that would actually level the playing field now would be outrageous. However, we do need to build a system that does serve as much of the existing destinations for employment and education as possible, ie getting to as many moderate concentrations of employment as possible, both to relieve congestion, and provide reasonable opportunity. The hope (hopefully not fruitless) is that providing this transit will also encourage future intensification around transit to improving access to employment and reducing the growth in congestion. This would, however, argue, given the spending limitations, for services aimed at more dispersed travel, bus, LRT and BRT.
I would say that the sub optimal built form is itself the product of poor cost accounting and suboptimal, regressive methodology. In planning there is no substitute for good data.
Steve: A sub optimal built form is much more commonly the result of developers maximizing their profits and municipalities unwilling or unable to do anything about it. This is a classic case where the “cost benefit” has different values to different parties, and “optimal” produces different results depending on the goals. The methodology works in theory, but not in practice, because the real world is not run by disinterested, idealistic economists.
Steve, I would go so far as to say, not only are the municipalities not resisting, but are actively interested in pursuing the growth that this attracts, as it allows many short term gains, and more importantly it can be a political boon to be able to say that you are pro growth.
Basically, I think the fundamental problem is not that there is not a good model to understand the medium and longer term costs of this type of growth, but that as Steve says the parties are not disinterested. The decisions makers within the municipalities gain from being seen to be pro growth. Also without viable transit those municipalities do not have residents who have a high demand for services but a low tax contribution.
The issues of providing transportation across the region are shared, and the advantages return to the single municipality. Residents of Markham for instance can impose transport load on the Ontario Government — highways and GO — and the city of Toronto. You have a tragedy of the commons issue to some degree at a municipal level, along with the issue short term politically driven decision making. Perfect cost accounting will not address these issues, only highlight the absurdity. Perhaps if the public would pay more attention, and be more interested in the common good, the impact would be more substantial.
Steve: The imperfection of reality also affects the credibility of “benefits case analyses” done to establish the worth (or not) of various transit projects. Depending on the worth one assigns to the variables (even presuming that the actual values can be reliably calculated), the “analysis” can be set up to produce a desired, and not necessarily unbiased or disinterested result.
Nor does government have the will to implement sound, rational policies.
What a mess.
Steve: “Rational” has different meanings to different people. When the calculus involves counting votes, what is rational may not be the same for a government as for you and me.
I’m sorry I tried to accept this but I just can’t. There is absolutely no reason that a strong methodology with great data can’t reasonably chart a path that can accommodate the reasonable demands put on it. This province has access to many excellent research institutes that can help them make the right choices. To the reader, I would suggest having a quick look at this report, the good people at ICP do excellent work and I think their comments are a great starting point to begin getting more value out of our public policy.
Steve: I don’t dispute what you are saying, but long experience with politicians tells me that all of the strong methodology in the world does not beat a simplistic campaign strategy.
All the perspectives on rational also are based on the value you place on each particular variable. It seems rational for an individual to want a substantial backyard, and for politicians to want to get re-elected.
The real issue however, with what you are saying is “accommodate the reasonable demands”. The dominance of the car, and people’s choice to divorce the location of work and home to the degree they have, without regard to existing transit, has led to many an unreasonable demand. Politicians, rationally wanting to keep their jobs, are not interested in letting them know they are being unreasonable.
While I think it is a good idea to try and use existing rail corridors for LRT, for heavy rail, I can’t help wondering whether John Tory, or the Board of Metrolinx have ridden on the GO trains that use these corridors.
As GO trains approach, or leave, Union Station they slow down. The trains don’t seem to be going much faster than one could ride a bike. I’ve wondered why. Are there too many switches as the lines branch out for all the Union Station platforms? Were the lines close the station just not built so trains could travel faster than at bicycle speed? Do they go slowly so yard workers can hear them, and so not get run over? When I took a GO train to Kitchener I imagined I was on the Pearson Express. It was promised to take by 22 minutes (Blue22), but ten minutes after departing Union, and we still hadn’t passed Queen.
There is talk that electrification is necessary to make the Pearson route truly an express route. But, I wonder whether that would be sufficient, if the track still requires proceeding at bicycle speed for the first 5 kilometers.
Steve: Part of the problem is the slow orders through the endless construction areas, but yes, the switch arrangement at Union does not help. That said, the UPX will use the northernmost track and will have a fairly clear run over to the Weston Sub at Bathurst Street.
I wonder whether those who planned the Pearson express thought about how much walking it requires. The Union Station TTC platforms, and GO platforms are near Bay, but the platform for the Pearson express is several hundred yards east, near York. If you are traveling with more than one of those small wheeled bags, if you have heavy bags, that walk might add close to ten minutes to your trip.
Steve: I think you mean “west”, but yes it’s a bit of a hike from the subway to the UPX. That said, I don’t think their market is people burdened by trolleys full of luggage.
And, upon arrival at Pearson, there is, again, a considerable walk from the rail platform to Terminal 3. You have to use several escalators. I tried to imagine how long it would take for all the newly arriving travelers to make their way from the platform down those escalators. I think travelers face another extra ten minutes making their way from the train to Terminal 3’s departure level. Add another five, six, seven, eight minutes if you need to get ot the Terminal 1 departure level. Most of that extra, undocumented fifteen to twenty-five minutes would be avoided if someone took a cab.
Steve: I remember the hike I once took through the bowels of O’Hare Airport in Chicago because my flight came in just about as far from the CTA station as physically possible.
So in essence we are expending the clearest ROW to the northwest, on a service that will serve very few destinations, and will carry little in the way of load. I am sure that this is explained somewhere, but why would someone not want to ride a normal transit rail vehicle to the airport. Would it not make sense to ride an LRT that had stops that connected to more of the system? Also why not take advantage of the corridor to serve more of the city? Do people not need to get to the airport from somewhat further west as well? If this is a provincial project, does it not make sense to connect with the LRT that will be built in Brampton and Mississauga?
An LRT that connected with a Kitchener GO and Brampton LRT in Brampton, a Finch West LRT, the Crosstown, Bloor-Danforth subway, streetcars in Liberty Village, and Yonge/Spadina at Union, seems to me would provide a much broader access for more of the city to and from the airport, and also serve more demands than just the airport to and from downtown.
I would imagine that you could fill a hefty line with this sort of demand, notably improve access across the west of the city to both the airport and the core. Would this not also allow more capacity on the Spadina line, unburden St Georges and to a lesser degree Yonge/Bloor. Would this not also allow some additional load being brought to the north end of the Spadina line, perhaps in the form of a Vaughan BRT or LRT or from a connection with the 407 BRT?
Somehow, the space being dedicated for the UPX, would make more sense as an LRT that could be expanded to run 4 cars on a 2 minute headway or if we cannot get enough separation for FRA-TC rules, its equivalent in EMU car rail trains.
If you could match this in the east, you would have a notable effect there as well. However still need to make real progress on surface fleets.
If you go to Google Maps and look at the Union Station Rail corridor north of the CN Tower or south of Church street you can see the two sets of track going from south to north and from north to south at each location. They spent $87 million to upgrade over 100 switches, mostly double slip switches, in the 2 throats. They allow a train coming on any track to be switched to any other track but they can force the train to do a very sharp S curve which limits speed to about 10 mph or less to maintain passenger comfort.
Using these switches also blocks all the tracks that they cross for the length of time it takes an 1100 foot long train to go through them plus the time at either end to line up the switches and interlock them. This will be a major bottle neck to increasing train frequency along with the time to clear the platforms.
These sets of double slip switches are helpful if you are running mainline passenger service that use the same track and have a coach yard near the station. GO transit was started with engineering help from CN who were mainline rail operators and this is still a problem with their thinking.
Metrolinx needs to start thinking like a transit authority and not like the largest passenger train system in Canada. Although I hate the term they need a paradigm shift. In my humble (cough cough) opinion they need to:
1) get the UPXpress out of Union Station and make a branch that goes to Bramalea, possibly by through routing it with the DRL under under Wellington.
2) remove tracks 3, 6 and 9 so that the platforms for tracks 2, 4, 5, 7 and 8 can be widened and better stairs and escalators installed.
3) through route the Barrie and Stouffville trains on platforms (tracks) 1 and 2.
4) through route the East and West Lakeshore service between Burlington and Oshawa, the part that runs on tracks that Metrolinx owns on tracks 4 and 5.
5) through route the East and West Lakeshore service between Burlington and Oshawa, the part that runs on tracks that Metrolinx owns on tracks 7 and 8. [Steve jumps in: Er you just duplicated a point.]
6) run everything that requires main line compatible trains on the remaining tracks. Have VIA service their train outside of the station by giving them tracks in the two GO coach yards.
7) eliminate the use of the double slip switches to get rid of their speed restriction on tracks 1 to 8.
8) leave tracks 3, 6 and 9 in place and put in switches so they could be used as pocket tracks to turn trains that are not needed for through routing.
I know that this may overload the south end tracks but it will get the majority of the trains that run entirely on tracks that Metrolinx owns isolated to the north part of Union Station in through routed pairs that would never need to cross over each other or use the slip switches. Metrolinx has to apply for permission to use non compliant trains and crews on these lines.
It would be better if one of these pairs, preferably Barrie – Stouffville could also be taken out of Union Station to reduce the number of pedestrian movements in the station.
The major problem is that Metrolinx and the city have spent a small fortune upgrading the station without addressing the problem platform capacity and safety. This is an accident waiting to happen. Someone is going to slip or get pushed under a train and lose a limb or their life.
If you want to see the slip switches check this Metrolinx web site, or this site or this one.
I should have noted in the above, will be the ability to support the vast pedestrian traffic at Union this would create. The UPX/West side has terminal space allocated. So even if there is room on the corridor for Stouffville to support an LRT all the way to Union, there may be issues at the terminal.
If I may, I think part of what Robert is pointing at here (and I failed to deal with the second note) is that even if you managed to permit Union to internally deal with the massive amount of pedestrian traffic that all this service could potentially create (same issue with LRT type service although in smaller surges), is that if you have 7 lines each carrying 10+ trains per hour, all running full (or LRT equivalent 4 LRV at 2 minute intervals), that means you have potential just short of 140K passengers per hour arriving at Union (excluding subway and streetcar), or about 2300 per minute.
While you may have the ability to add escalators and larger platforms and walking space inside the station, these people still need to be able to flow away from Union, which means that the wall of people leaving the station in pulses now, would become a continuous torrent during peak. Some of this load needs to be spread somewhat away from the existing links to Union if all this traffic were in fact to materialize (a very real possibility).
This has been one of the arguments for the DRL coming through the core reasonably north of the station. It is also why Metrolinx has proposed a Union West Station.
I wonder what the impact would be if you took over the government building next door, and built a large station behind it over a GO Bus Station. Could you sufficiently increase the PATH connectivity to a broad enough based area to reasonably manage this pedestrian traffic.
Personally I would like to see the UPX be an LRT, simply in the fact that some changes at Union are in place in order to increase capacity at the West end of the station. If we are to do something similar on Stouffville I think it would also require some changes at the east. This type of high frequency service, however, in my mind within the city offers a real chance to increase ridership and unburden the Yonge line and the Bloor station. It might buy enough space to permit enough time to get a Don Mills subway built.
Such services really do need to connect to the other major transit services that they cross notably the BDL and the Crosstown. Building out the balance of Transit City proposals would then make Toronto’s system start to look really high end again. It would also likely create space to connect major 905 projects for real regional transit.
Oh – note of caution, in order to make Toronto transit actually high end not just look that way, the TTC will require many more buses, and Streetcars than current, and actually do something in terms of route management, for all those routes that will connect to Transit City, LRTs in question and subway.