Updated Sept. 9, 2014 at 12:50 pm: NOW Magazine has published an article by Rob Salerno detailing the problems with the right-of-way on Eglinton West that John Tory’s SmartTrack plan assumes is available, as well as questions about the need for both a frequent service on the Stouffville GO corridor and the Scarborough Subway.
Toronto is beset by a love of drawing lines on maps. We have stacks of rapid transit studies going back to the horsecar era. We have competing views of regional and local transit. We have the pandering “I have a solution for YOU” approach tailored to whichever ballot box needs stuffing. Almost none of this gets built.
Fantasy maps abound. The difference between the scribblings of amateur transit geeks and professional/political proposals can be hard to find.
Common to both is the sense that “my plan” is not just better, it is the only plan any right-thinking person would embrace. Egos, both personal and governmental, are literally on the line. Once pen meets paper ideas acquire a permanence and commitment that are almost indelible.
If transit networks were cheap to build and operate relative to the resources we choose to spend on them, transit would be everywhere and blogs like this would be reduced to debating the colour scheme for this week’s newly-opened station. Transit is not cheap, and the debates turn on far more complex issues than which shade of red or green is appropriate for our two major networks.
Another election with competing views of what is best for Toronto brings a crop of proposals. I hesitate to say “a fresh crop” as some schemes are long past their sell-by dates. Candidates may strive to bring something new to the discussion, but these attempts can discard good ideas simply to appear innovative. Perish the thought that we might embrace something already on the table when we can wave a magic wand and – Presto! – the solution to every problem appears in a puff of smoke, a well-timed entrance and an overblown YouTube video.
Moving people with transit is not simply one problem with one solution. Nobody pretends that a single expressway could cure all the ails of Toronto and the region beyond. A single highway – say, a “401” in a Toronto that had only recently paved Sheppard Avenue – would be recognized for its limitations. But once a plan is committed to paper – even the dreaded coffee-stained napkin, let alone election literature – resistance is futile. At least until the next election.
This article reviews several dreams for new and upgraded transit, and tries to make sense out of what all these lines might achieve.
As I was reading through all of this, I felt that some of my critique will sound rather harsh, and inevitably I would be challenged with “so what would you do”. If you want to see my answer, jump to the end of the article, remembering that my scheme is not a definitive one.
Although some of my comments touch on proposals of various Mayoral candidates, I will leave a detailed review of those for a separate article. A good regional plan is more important than any one campaign, and the debate on what we should build should not be dictated by this week’s pet project, whatever it might be.
Regional Express Rail (RER)
Metrolinx and GO Transit (one organization with two very different public faces) now embraces the concept that a truly “regional” network means more than funneling peak hour commuters to and from Union Station. “Embraced” may be a stretch here, given that it took a pre-election promise by their Queen’s Park masters to shift attention to this long-overdue change in GO’s mandate. A new train or two, here and there, now and then, simply could not address the magnitude of demand for travel and the pressure on all transportation services as the GTHA population grows.
But Metrolinx has definitely shifted gears, as their status report on RER shows.
RER includes several facets.
Frequent, electrified service, possibly as good as 4 trains/hour, would be provided on all GO corridors, all day long, 7 days/week. Well, maybe not. Premier Wynne’s statement at the Board of Trade includes important qualifications:
“… our target will be two-way, all-day GO express rail on all lines. … Over ten years, we aim to phase in electric train service every fifteen minutes on all GO lines that we own.” [April 14, 2014]
The RER report does not give specifics of service designs, but a clear pattern emerges for major corridors with an express service to the outer ends, and a local service between nodes closer to downtown. On Lake Shore, these are at Oakville and Pickering (ironically the original termini of GO’s service); on the Kitchener line, at Mt. Pleasant. It does not require a big leap to foresee electrification to the bounds of local service with diesel trains continuing beyond, at least as an initial implementation.
GO does not own all of its routes, nor is it likely to acquire all of them for the simple reason that they are mainline freight trackage. What could happen is a co-existence of GO with parallel operations such as on Lake Shore East. Each corridor has its own challenges and potential solutions.
The shift in philosophy about GO as a regional surface subway, not merely a commuter railway, will fundamentally change GO’s role and the role of public transit in the GTHA. Strong integration with local operators will make the RER accessible via transit at both ends of an RER journey, and can be the impetus for better local transit service and demand.
The speed with which these changes will be implemented depends on a combination of long-term government commitment, overcoming hurdles to acceptance by private railways that GO will make greater use of their lines, acceleration of changes needed for electrification, and a truly integrated fare and service structure with local agencies.
Ongoing capital and operating budget support is essential. Too often, governments get cold feet when they don’t have a ribbon to cut every few months, or when economic crises make spending a project for “next year”. The problems don’t go away, and as we have seen in past decades, they just get worse.
RER is probably the best idea Queen’s Park has had in its long history of bungled transit files. For once, we have a proposal whose primary goal is to improve service, not to underwrite some hare-brained economic development strategy or pump money into a specific manufacturer’s product.
Alas, this could all be undone if an over-eager, influential cabinet minister starts gerrymandering plans and priorities to suit an election campaign. That could be a greater disaster than recent provincial meddling in Toronto’s rapid transit plans.
The regional context is particularly important because this is not just a few nodes – Union Station, Hamilton, Brampton, Barrie, Oshawa – but the many in between stops on the network itself, and in the many blank spaces between the green lines on the map.
That region includes Toronto, all of it, not just Union Station. GO’s long-standing antipathy for inside-416 ridership must end. This does not mean that trains would stop at every crossing, but fares and service patterns discriminating against local riding simply waste the capacity of the network. One can hardly blame folks from the outer 416 for wanting subways to downtown if GO’s presence is little more than trains that don’t stop, or high fares for limited capacity if they do.
A major challenge for RER will be to design not just for a 15-minute headway out at, say, Oakville, but to have enough capacity so that Port Credit, Long Branch and Mimico don’t become the equivalent of Eglinton on the overloaded Yonge subway.
The status report talks about two types of service on various corridors with an express serving the outer portion (say, Oakville to Hamilton on Lake Shore West) and a separate local service for the inner portion. This is important not just to divorce the long-haul demand from the locals, but also to allow improvements for very frequent service to stay within the portions of each corridor that GO controls.
Positive Train Control is included as a necessary part of the network’s upgrade because this will allow operation of more frequent service than conventional railway signalling and practices now in use. There is a limit to how many tracks will fit in each corridor, and moving more trains per hour will be vital to the RER network. PTC will also improve safety with a direct link between train operations and the signal system.
Electrification and very frequent service all the way to Kitchener is a real stretch and poses challenges for interoperation with the freight railways, not to mention being a dubious use of resources. Metrolinx talks of the local service going out to Mt. Pleasant Station, a much more attainable goal with funding concentrated on the busiest part of the corridor.
Will we get seven completed corridors in ten years? Not likely, but it is good to see that Metrolinx does not (for now) attempt to spin their project with the unreasonable promises made by politicians on the hustings.
Union Station is an area of special concern both for its complexity in an electrification changeover and its capacity. Constraints must be address through rationalization of platform use, better operating procedures that will permit shorter headways and, possibly, satellite stations. Shared approaches to Union are a special challenge because multiple frequent services will converge well before they reach the station.
At long last Toronto sees a network-based approach to its commuter rail system that goes all the way from the big-picture infrastructure all the way down to the essential improvement of fare and service integration with local transit operations.
This project must not be derailed by short-sighted political interference.
Union Pearson (Express)
An air-rail link to Pearson Airport has been in the works for a very long time with initial studies in the 1990s and the first request for proposals by Ottawa in 2001. Although the government hoped that this scheme could be a for-profit private sector operation, that was never really viable. Queen’s Park inherited the program in 2008, but with the continued need for public subsidy, the 3P deal fell apart. By 2010, it was a fully public sector Metrolinx project, albeit one with its own Division and President, a situation almost as laughable as if the TTC had a separate President for the Spadina streetcar.
The line’s development is littered with poorly executed public participation and a sense that the new service would bully its way from Union to Pearson over any objections. People can be coaxed into supporting a public work for the greater good, especially if this includes stops in their neighbourhoods and fares they can afford for daily travel.
Far too much government ego is invested in this line at both the political and bureaucratic level. Recent over-the-top publicity was pulled from YouTube, but not before it became the object of ridicule and exposed the self-congratulatory Metrolinx mindset for all to see. The sense that Toronto cannot be a world-class city without this service, that we would be ridiculed by visitors to the Pan-Am Games in 2015, have pushed what should be a basic local transit improvement into realms of hyperbole better suited to carnival hucksters.
We hear about all the trips by limo from downtown that will be replaced by brisk UP journeys saving on pollution and congestion. No reference to when these trips might occur, nor to the fact that a trip to the airport by transit – whether it be a harried member of the business elite or a worker on the daily commute – is a trip removed from the road.
The Provincial Auditor did not think highly of this scheme, and a credible “business case” for the UP Express has never been published.
After all of the criticism, Metrolinx is backing away from initial plans. They talk of protecting for additional stops and of a fare regime that might attract weekday workers, not just the business elite. A proposed tariff may appear on the December 2014 Board meeting agenda.
The sad part in all of this is that the UPX could have been so much more right from the outset if only GO’s view of its purpose had advanced to an “RER” context years earlier. The Weston corridor is an obvious and oft-proposed way to link northwest Toronto and the Malton/Bramalea/Brampton area to downtown. Instead, all of the effort went to serving a small potential market, the only one where a profit from transit might be possible. That is no way to plan a network.
Service to the airport must be more than something for a handful of business-class riders, and it must serve far more than downtown Toronto. As a major destination it should be served from multiple directions (in effect, a mini “downtown”) including busways from the west and LRT from the east both on Eglinton and from Finch. The study of transit needs for the airport district must look to the widest possible catchment area for trips, and should not be cooked to artificially inflate the role of the UP Express line.
The UP Express will open to much fanfare, but it will be a “success” only to the degree that cut-rate fares will attract riders. How much subsidy it will require to operate remains to be seen, and this may simply be buried within the Metrolinx accounts. That embarrassment need not happen, and Metrolinx needs to rescue the line by rethinking its purpose, its role as part of both RER and the local network.
(Downtown) Relief Line
A “relief” line for overcrowding on the subway is a project many discuss, but nobody wants to pay for. The idea is hardly new, and as Ed Levy so beautifully documented, a rapid transit line from east of the Don River to downtown has been on maps for over a century.
Its last incarnation as a true subway plan was a line running east on Queen and then north to Don Mills and Eglinton. Later, as part of the stillborn scheme to extend use of the Scarborough RT technology throughout Toronto, the east-west leg would have run via Eastern Avenue, the rail corridor and Front Street to a terminal at Union Station.
Notwithstanding Gordon Chong’s recent ill-informed comments in the National Post, a Queen subway or any variant was not the victim of the “hippies” who convinced Toronto to keep its streetcars in 1972, but of a Metro Council more in love with suburban growth than downtown intensification. Presented with a choice between the Sheppard and Queen subway projects, the Council picked Sheppard, and did so over a decade after the pro-streetcar decision.
Meanwhile, the TTC continued to claim that the existing Yonge line could handle any foreseeable growth in ridership through conversion to fully automatic operation and expansion of major stations, notably Bloor-Yonge, to handle the resulting passenger flows. This claim was also in aid of a Richmond Hill extension, a project with strong support in TTC ranks, but one that could only be advanced if capacity would be available for new riders.
Like so much of TTC planning in the late 20th century, the idea that GO Transit could play a role in sharing peak demand from the 905 or outer 416 suburbs into Toronto was completely absent from the discussion.
The downtown capacity crisis hit its peak in the late 1980s, but with the recession of the 1990s, ridership dropped steeply. Twenty percent of the system’s daily riders just vanished along with any pressure to improve subway capacity.
Now the crunch is on again, but political attention is still fixed well beyond the core area.
One big problem the “DRL” has is that word “Downtown”, an area reviled by many politicians who argue that the coddled folk south of Bloor get far too big a share of the transit pie already. That would be fine if the subway were only used by people living, say, south of Eglinton, but as regular commuters know, the subway is packed with riders from both Toronto’s outer suburbs and from the 905 thanks to an extensive network of feeder buses.
In effect, Toronto needs a new “downtown” subway to handle demand in the central part of the city, to provide a relief valve for congestion on the Yonge-University line, and to diversify possible routes for travel. If we think of a new line simply as a way to siphon riders off of the Danforth subway to downtown, the proposal is guaranteed to fail.
It could be so much more.
As with so many plans, there are competing objectives, and lines fall onto maps as if strands of spaghetti landed randomly on the breeze. These objectives and possible service goals include:
- Serving downtown with an east-west line through the core at a location that lies roughly in the centre of potential demand. That centre has shifted south since Queen Street was thought to be the future east-west main street, a shift that was already underway with developments on Bloor decades ago.
- Serving new developments around the Don River and the eastern waterfront. That waterfront is a huge place stretching from Queen Street down to the lake. The distance is slightly over 1km at Sherbourne Street, but double this east of the Don when future growth in the Port Lands is considered.
- Serving new developments west of downtown. This includes the established Liberty Village district, but also its growing northern extension to Queen, many developments between the rail corridor and Queen west of downtown, and development between the rail corridor and Lake Ontario.
- Development at or near the Exhibition grounds and Ontario Place.
- West Queen West (the lands beyond the Weston rail corridor) and a link to Dundas West Station.
No one line can possibly serve all of these areas. Terabytes of space on various blogs is consumed with sundry maps and discussions of a “Relief Line” alignment, and I am not going to rehash all of that here.
A joint study between Toronto City Planning, the TTC and Metrolinx is reviewing options for “relief” on the subway network, and is now at the stage of winnowing many proposed schemes (the long list includes just about every fantasy map ever published) down to a manageable set of credible alternatives. What is still missing, however, is a sense of just what a “relief” line is supposed to achieve beyond diverting riders from the existing subway.
What neighbourhoods will it serve? What major existing or potential development sites lie along the various corridors? What will happen to the places left out of the DRL’s service territory? Which potential demands can be better served by other routes ranging all the way from the RER system down to the local street transit network?
That context is essential for moving debate on a “DRL” beyond mere “relief” to something that will contribute to the growth of the city. As relief, the investment would be quite dear, but to unlock the value of land now poorly served by transit, the payback would be quite different.
Unless the debate is refocused on that broader scope, the DRL, regardless of its name, will have weak support, be treated as a project for “someone else”, and will remain an unbuilt line on a map.
Waterfront (West/East) LRT
Transit to the waterfront – broadly speaking the lands south of the rail corridor – has always suffered because, like the DRL, it is something “downtown”, not part of the supposedly burgeoning suburbs, and because for so much of the waterfront, nothing is really “there”. Even as plans started to firm up, especially for the land east from Yonge to the Don, and the TTC claimed it should take a “transit first” approach, major investments in transit simply did not appear in the priority lists.
The Waterfront West LRT was announced as part of the 1990 transit plan that was supposed to re-elect David Peterson’s Liberals, but instead brought Bob Rae’s majority NDP government. Rae inherited the plans just as the economy dove into recession, and he tried to keep the overall scheme alive as much for job creation as for transit in its own right. (The other routes proposed included the Eglinton West, Bloor West, Sheppard East and Spadina/Steeles/Yonge loop subways.)
By 1993, there was an Environmental Assessment proposing a line from Union Station following what is now the 509 Harbourfront car’s alignment to the east side of the CNE, then south along Lake Shore to serve Ontario Place, north up Dufferin either to King or to a route along the rail corridor, and finally west via The Queensway and Lake Shore to Legion Road. A future enhancement might have been a more direct line via Bremner and the rail corridor covering the segment from Union to Dufferin.
Over the years, various alternatives emerged, but one important change was that the streetcars found themselves buried against the north edge of Exhibition Place far from anything that might happen on Lake Shore. Further west, a scheme to take the line beyond Sunnyside on a reworked Lake Shore Boulevard to a Queensway connection at Colbourne Lodge Road emerged during the Miller years as part of Transit City.
The WWLRT shares with the DRL the problem that it cannot serve all of the existing and potential developments along its path. For example, a line on the Lake Shore makes sense if it has something to serve, but this would leave Exhibition Loop (and a walking connection over the rail corridor to Liberty Village) high and dry. There is also a problem with the route’s length out into southern Etobicoke and whether it could really compete with frequent, attractively priced service on the GO corridor.
To the east, lands of comparable scale to the existing downtown lie almost empty. These are former industrial lands where development has been constrained by a lack of access and utilities, not to mention difficult of building near the lake on fill, and by flood protection requirement that conversion to residential/commercial property entail. There is also the small matter of the future of the Gardiner and particularly the geometry of its connection to the Don Valley Parkway.
The Waterfront East LRT in its fully developed form would include a line splitting off from the existing Bay Street tunnel at Queens Quay running east to Cherry Street which would be shifted west from its present location. Here there would be a connection north via Cherry to King (the track is now in place to a loop just north of the rail corridor) and south via New Cherry to the Ship Channel (not to be confused with Keating Channel which is just south of Lake Shore). The line could be extended east via Lake Shore to hook up with an extended Broadview Avenue, or via Commissioners Street to Leslie at the new Leslie Barns.
The political problem is that much of this land is now vacant, and even the recent developments are well known only to those who visit the area, not to the wider city. We might have seen pressure under the Miller regime to build sooner, but with Rob Ford in charge, any new streetcar lines were out of the question and the waterfront development risked being restyled as an amusement park.
The Challenge of the Core
Work now underway at Union to improve capacity and modernize its appearance is long overdue. However, the RER plan accelerates the consumption of that capacity, and Toronto cannot sit back thinking “well, that job’s finished”.
Part of the problem is operational – the way GO and VIA share space and manage their trains could be improved to reduce conflicting movements and reduce or eliminate turnaround times.
Another issue is simply the movement of passengers to and from platforms, not to mention congestion. This is a common problem with some subway stations where running more trains will overwhelm existing capacity.
Metrolinx has included these as part of their review in the RER study. One option is the creation of one or two satellite termini to the east at the Don River, or to the west between Bathurst and Spadina. That can reduce the number of trains arriving at Union, but the “last mile” problem remains for the passengers. (It would be like ending southbound Yonge subway service at Summerhill.)
The DRL has been proposed, but this forces its alignment to match the location of any new GO terminal, and definitely requires fare integration with the TTC as a distribution mechanism.
The core area is much larger than in decades past with expansion both east-west (mainly residential growth) and north-south especially across the rail corridor (residential and commercial growth). Where “King & Bay” was once the target of a large proportion of trips, demand is much more spread out, and it is impractical to serve the whole area with subway lines.
Residential growth occurs mainly in shoulder core (roughly a 4km radius from Union) , but is spilling beyond anywhere there is better transit with infill and redevelopment of previously low rise neighbourhoods. The streetcar system is already under stress from this growth, but will only slowly gain capacity as the fleet of new low-floor cars arrives.
Academic institutions also contribute to the growth, and they have a different demand pattern from office towers. The growing campuses of Ryerson University (near Dundas Station) and George Brown College (both in the St. Lawrence neighbourhood and on Queens Quay East) bring large, transit dependent populations into the core area.
Transit’s share of trips to the core is good, but certainly not 100%, and “active transportation” (walking, cycling) can only address part of the capacity shortfall.
Express buses appear on wish lists as “solutions”, but these are expensive to operate and can only serve riders with an origin-destination pattern that lies along what little spare road capacity might be found. Even where a route into the core exists, road space for a shared downtown loop and stops is limited and this will constrain the capacity of express services.
Finally, the core and a goodly portion of the “old” city suffer from congestion that has become an all-day problem. This is partly a “good news” story with the rejuvenation of the central city, new residents and commercial activity. However, the failure to improve surface transit routes and to manage road space leaves would-be transit riders steaming about capacity and service quality.
So, Smarty, What Would Your Plan Look Like?
None of this will be new to regular readers. I hate to draw my own map because this will launch an immense comment thread about the minutia of each reader’s preferences. The issue here is to view transit as a network, not as something that can be cherry-picked or a problem that can be solved with a single, magically “free” project.
- GO’s RER plan should be implemented as quickly as possible, and the benefits it will bring to demand for long-haul trips must be factored into plans for the subway network.
- RER cannot be a “local” service on the granularity of the TTC and it should not try. However, more stations are needed along with a service and fare structure that will make GO useful and attractive not just in the 905 but in the outer 416.
- A “Relief Line” is required separate from service on the GO corridors because it would serve a different type of demand. To the east, it should run from downtown via Wellington and Front with an alignment at the Don suitable for developments planned in the area. Further east and north the line should not end at Danforth, but should continue through East York to serve Thorncliffe Park, Flemingdon Park and the Don Mills/Eglinton intersection (with potential for further northward extension).
- West of downtown, a DRL alignment (if any) depends on whether there will be a satellite GO station at Bathurst North and on whatever plans might evolve for Exhibition Place.
- The Weston rail corridor should be the route of whatever western “relief” line might be built, and this should incorporate the airport service from downtown. A convenient link at Dundas West with direct access between the Bloor subway and the rail corridor is essential.
- The Queen Subway, especially the West Queen West and Roncesvalles components, is an inappropriate response to existing and probable development patterns, and it should not be pursued.
- A detailed study and understanding of evolving demand in the shoulder areas around downtown is urgently required together with a review of improvements to streetcar service both by fleet expansion and by better traffic priority.
- Service to the waterfront, broadly speaking to the areas south of the rail corridor, must be seen as a requirement in its own right, not as something that can be handled by a passing GO or subway line. The nature and timing of developments both to the east and west of the core need to be much better understood so that the needs and priorities of these areas can be debated intelligently as part of the regional plan. This includes a clear plan for the use of lands at Exhibition Place and transit’s role there either with improved streetcar service on the Bathurst and Harbourfront routes, and/or as a western terminus of the DRL.
- The SmartTrack scheme to access the airport via Eglinton West is impractical both because of the difficulty of getting from the rail corridor to Eglinton at Jane, and because the land proposed for SmartTrack is no longer available as a continuous corridor. We already have built a line to the airport – use it – and leave Eglinton free for extension of the Crosstown LRT.
- The Finch LRT line should be built including protection for eventual extension to the airport.
- In Scarborough, the function of an RER service on the Stouffville GO corridor, together with a subway or LRT route, should be clarified. They should not both be trying to provide local service as well as funneling riders south from Markham into Toronto. My preference for the LRT scheme is well-known, but if the subway plan survives, its potential loss of riders to the RER should be well-understood.
- The Sheppard East LRT line including its proposed UTSC extension should be built.
Last, but certainly not least, service quality and frequency must improve across the surface route network. Buses and streetcars are too often ignored while grandiose schemes for future rapid transit get all the attention. Recently, I wrote about The Crisis in TTC Service Capacity. The abdication of responsibility for transit by the current administration is among the blackest of many appalling acts for which Rob Ford and his cronies will be remembered.
The standard line these days is to say “we can’t fix anything until 2019” because of lead times on various projects. This, flatly, is not acceptable. The problem is not time, it is money, or rather the continued unwillingness to spend it on anything that won’t buy votes in the election of the day.
We hear lots about “respect for taxpayers”, but rarely about “respect for the city”. I cannot help thinking of shareholders in now-dead corporations whose only concern was to maximize dividends while stripping assets as quickly as possible. That is what we risk doing to Toronto – disinvesting to the point where the city stops working – and our transit system is one big example of that folly.
All of the bright hopes for regional transit, all those multicoloured maps, are worthless if they will be hamstrung by the “no new taxes” brigades, by the short-sighted politicians who can’t bear fighting for spending unless it is in their ward, their riding, their campaign literature.
Toronto and Queen’s Park lost any claim to fiscal responsibility or “business case analysis” with the Scarborough Subway project and the decision to fund its cost through a new transit tax. If we have money for Scarborough, there is a long line of projects and services that have equal if not better claim for new money. Investment in Toronto’s future means more than building a few subway lines.
The connection could be made to work. For me, the real issue is hauling an empty GO seat over 95% of the line so that someone could sit in it for the last 5% from Main to Union.
Steve: In his paper for the Neptis Foundation, Michael Schabas proposed a turnback facility at Danforth so that trains could originate there. This is really not practical for various reasons, one of which is the flip side of your concern — the need to provision track capacity into Union for a short-haul service when this is at a premium to handle the combined demands of the eastern routes. For a Main Station service to have an attractive headway, it would need dedicated tracks, and any such facility would be better used to support more frequent Lake Shore and Stouffville services.
Everyone says they want to build transit based on expert advice, but there are differences of opinion between experts.
I look at the SRT. Within 8 years, TTC has recommended using SkyTrain, then using an LRT connected to the at-grade Eglinton, then an LRT separate from Eglinton, then a B-
D subway extension. Meanwhile, at Metrolinx, they have recommended an LRT separate from Eglinton, then an LRT connected to an underground Eglinton, then a B-D subway extension.
So how can any politician be criticized for coming up with a plan when the experts keep changing their minds on what is best?
Steve: Much depends on the circumstances. “Experts” know who pays the bills and advise accordingly. Even what is “best” can be a moving target depending on assumptions, available funding and political tradeoffs.
For precisely this reason, I laugh wildly whenever anyone suggests that our transit system would be so much better if only the “experts” ran it.
Steve it would appear that the understanding of the issues in terms of the crisis of capacity on subway has captured the public imagination on a citywide basis.
I have to say that it in the case of Scarborough, if there was a clearer understanding of what was really going to be built LRT wise (and confidence in TSP for the Sheppard line, and the quality of the Kennedy transfer), and RER in Stouffville at sub 15 minutes was imminent, on which which access at Steeles, Finch and Sheppard was assured, the pressure for a Danforth subway extension would be greatly reduced.
I am sure that feeling that Scarborough needs a subway would be gone if added to that Toronto was going to update its signal control systems, and allow for a coordination with transit AVL system that was sophisticated enough to permit predictive TSP for LRT and predictive headway conditional TSP for bus, and actually fully activated on major bus routes.
Steve: Pandering to the folks in Scarborough (or anywhere else for that matter) about how they are being screwed over by downtown elitist politicians, or “clearer understanding” — these are mutually exclusive concepts.
Not quite true. There were bits and pieces that were preserved, and the rest would have to involve expropriation. Besides preserving the eastern end by building “Highway 2A”, a significant amount of land on the south side of the CN rail corridor was preserved until the late 90s when it was sold off. For instance, all the housing to the east of the Scarborough GO station was part of this sell-off.
The really funny thing about that is everyone who is pushing for the Main connection doesn’t understand that Danforth GO was only designed to handle 3 tracks. You would be lucky to fit a fourth track without a platform in without major expropriation.
Frankly, the only connection between Main Station and Danforth GO that people might use would be if you would put back in the bus/streetcar stops on the bridge and restore access to platform level from there while increasing service on the surface routes that would stop there.
I don’t get why people keep saying that Main is a good connector? Main station is north of the Danforth (at Coleman) and any connection that has to be tunneled would be made complex by having to support the apartments between the stations. Most cross platform interchanges are less than 50m while the distance between the stations is 270m (by air). Furthermore, without a good co-fare policy, no one is going to transfer between the transit agencies.
While do we keep thinking of using infrastructure to fix operational problems? A fare agreement between Metrolinx and TTC would make the Main-Danforth a moot point as people would use GO stations further out instead of transferring at Danforth GO. I doubt that people in Scarborough would be voting for a subway (myself included) if I could pay a slightly higher Metropass and be able to use GO and TTC interchangeably, such as getting to Kingston-Galloway via Eglinton GO and bus vs Kennedy Station and bus.
What makes Smarttrack a bad deal for Torontonians is that Toronto now has to cover 100% of cost overruns (same reason why the subway is also a bad deal for Toronto). Metrolinx is all too happy for Toronto to pick up all cost overruns and not have any accountability. Given the complexity of the project, it is likely that there will be cost overruns, and it will be future mayors of Toronto that has to make the unpopular decision to raise taxes to cover the cost (See David Miller considering mothballing the Sheppard Subway that Lastman and Metro council built).
Agreed. Any fantasy plan can be easily validated by an “expert”
Majority of Government hired Consultant companies & Agencies are creating business cases and design proposals by exaggerating the positives more than negatives to suit the Government’s preferences. There is little risk and accountability since there is minimal Health and Safety risks & the capital funding projections are properly in line with the plan.
And no citizen should ever challenge an “expert” opinion.
Steve: I cannot count how many times I have been told that “experts” know more than I, an untutored fool, could ever hope to. The most recent epithet was “hippie”, but seeing that it came from a former dentist and failed Tory candidate, I’m not very upset. People should always challenge “experts”, even the ones they agree with. If nothing else, it makes them do better work.
Much like expert witnesses, the person in charge has the chance to seek the opinion they want. I suspect if the experts really ran the world, they would not be so quick to bend to the payer’s tune. Having said that, this is why having the likes of a Steve around should be seen as so important to a city like Toronto. Oddly his position on Scarborough has not changed, nor I suspect on RER, or TSP. His position on how these things should be implemented may change over time, however, this is to be expected, as the world does evolve.
Steve: In a court setting, expert witnesses can be cross-examined and challenged. At City Hall, if you’re lucky, a well-informed Councillor can do this, but not at the depth that is needed. Adam Vaughan’s grilling of KPMG on the Core Services report particularly comes to mind. Meanwhile at Queen’s Park, the government can commission a consulting report that is entirely private on some trumped up excuse such as that it contains “commercially sensitive” information or is “advice to cabinet”, paid for with our money.
Steve, have you ever considered adding a random “basic Toronto transit & urban geography knowledge skill-testing question” as a required field to complete when posting to your site? Or adding an “FAQ” section explaining the basics?
Excuse my trolling but there seem to be a lot of similar frequent questions coming from the same misconceptions/misunderstandings?
Steve: I barely have time to write and moderate what appears here, let alone start to build a FAQ section. As for geographically challenged comments and the like, everyone gets one free kick at the can, occasionally two. However, if their grasp of reality suggests that their only knowledge of an area they are talking about is via out of date Google images (and sometimes not even that), my patience wears thing. The really bad ones simply have their comments deleted, although I am pleased to say that this is rare.
many other posts
I believe that VIA through routes some South West Ontario Trains with those in the Montreal Ottawa corridor and for others offers a cross platform connection, at least they used to.
The problem with stub terminals is that it is impossible to change the locomotive from one end to the other without removing the train from the station or by using an extra track between each pair of tracks to allow the locomotive to escape. It then has to be turned somewhere which is not easy in the USRC. The other problems is that it also eliminates the possibility of cross track connection at Union, not that VIA runs that many trains during the morning rush hour out of Union, one to London at 7:35 is the only one I can find between 6:40 and 9:30.
So it’s the Gatineau corridor; I used the label of Richview inspired from a comment. It is a very broad corridor relatively speaking, to the point of supporting a variety of other uses like ball fields and gardens, and some bike paths. Diagonal cut-throughs are inherently faster than the grid. As it is already a corridor in public hands, I still think of busway potential, if the buses are cleaner etc. and there is a good terminus, or being able to get through to destinations whatever they might be.
To be fair, you could fit a tunnel between the western most building in the apartment complex and the east side of Main and not have to worry about going through/under any of the building foundations in the complex.
The problem is getting past the buildings along the north side of Danforth and doing it in a way that doesn’t interfere with the 506. In addition, the apartment building complex does have underground parking which you would have to work around.
Steve: Although the tower lies east of Main, I suspect that its underground garage reaches further west.
They call this “silly season” for a reason … like when a supposedly fiscal conservative red tory decides that, instead of sticking with an existing plan created (and to be paid for) by the province why not make it a city project, add new technology, build costly connections and tunnels/trenches under neighbourhoods (guaranteeing overruns and even worse construction headaches), and pay for it all by a variety of untried, untested financial schemes?
But hey, he’s got an app.
Moaz: Most of all, it supports Hydro One’s electricity transmission/delivery network.
Moaz: Yes, why not have an electric busway that runs along the Gatineau Hydro Corridor connecting the DVP/Gardiner (which will also have bus lanes) to Scarborough Town Centre.
They can even use the new electric buses that are charged by induction … and now worries about power supply in a hydro corridor.
On the other hand … the Mississauga Transitway is being built next to a hydro corridor … it only took 30 years to get approved (before it was going to be the north branch of the GO ALRT network) … so who knows what might happen in 30 years.
Hamish and Moaz:
The Gatineau Hydro Corridor runs essentially parallel to the Danforth subway and Eglinton LRT west of Kennedy. East of Kennedy the corridor again has no density or development, it only services low density Bendale and Woburn which can already be serviced well enough by the existing grid. Beyond that lies Morningside which already has Sheppard LRT planned.
Diagonal routes through the grid are only useful if for rapid transit, which there is no demand for along that corridor. There are no major or even minor destinations along the way of that corridor that aren’t already served by the subway or planned LRT or GO lines and so the service along there would best be local rather than rapid, something the grid already provides well. Also with so much parallel service there couldn’t be high enough frequency to be much of an improvement along the diagonal.
Steve interesting piece in the Globe today.
I was under the impression that the idea of adding cars to the subway had been studied and was dubious, for a variety of reasons you have previously discussed here. Point that the rider is being forgotten is notable however.
Steve: There has been a proposal to run 7-car trains on the YUS, and this is still on the table, but for sometime in the 2020s. Such a scheme would insert a 7th, 50-foot long car into the TR trains extending them to the full 500-foot length of subway platforms. Doing this requires that the ATC system be in place so that trains will always stop more precisely than they do today, but it also affects a separate plan for platform doors because these must align with the door layout on the trains. This would be particularly difficult during a transition period when the odd spacing caused by a short car in the middle of the train would throw everything off.
If 7-car trains are pursued, the scheme most recently proposed is related to the eventual retirement of the T1 trains on the BD line. Rather than buying new 7th cars to add to TR trains that, by then, would be half way through their service lives, the existing 6-car TRs would shift to BD and be replaced on YUS with new 7-car sets.
All of this is well in the future, although obviously such options have to be considered now in planning for capacity growth.
I would argue that this corridor starts to make sense if there already exists a Don Mills through core subway (DMS), where a busway would end. However, if there is already an LRT in Scarborough, and very frequent train in Stouffville, that has a reasonable fare, it begs the question whether there would be a need for this. This same corridor, however does extend across the 401, and would provide an opportunity to provide an express bus from that area to a DMS. Not clear whether this makes sense, and would be worth the considerable arm wrestling with Hydro, especially if the other services are already being built, and likely to be in place before a DMS is available. However, nice to have the notion, and it should be preserved as a corridor, that could be pressed into service, for future need.
I always hope there will a reasonable enough set of voters, that when they have a quick trip to where they are going, the pol who is trying to use the “screwed over by downtown elite” will not get traction. However, it is always easy to get upset, especially if you want to feel hard done by.
Why would anyone consider making this transfer connection? Its distance when you include steps and platform is at least 300 m. At the designed walking speed of 1 m/s this would take 300 s or 5 minutes to get to a train that at best would run once every 6 minutes but more likely every 10. With an average wait time of 5 minutes you would add 10 minutes to your trip time. This might be an advantage if you are going to the area around Union Station but a pain in the neck (I have a some what lower opinion) otherwise.
The problem with most people is that when they look at a map they nice corridors that look somewhat reasonable in two dimensions. When you add in the vertical differences as in the Don Valley under the Danforth they lose some of their appeal. When you add in the fourth dimension, time, they become suspect as to the usefulness. Hydro corridors add another problem or two, low density and an owner that does not want you using them.
In order to design a truly useful system you have to start with O-D studies and then do an analysis of the available corridors with respect to cost and usefulness, a true cost benefit analysis and not one of these gerrymandered BCAs.
I always hope there will a reasonable enough set of voters, that when they have a quick trip to where they are going, the pol who is trying to use the “screwed over by downtown elite” will not get traction. However, it is always easy to get upset, especially if you want to feel hard done by.
When it comes to proper Government planning for growth/development quite a number of areas within Scarborough have been screwed over far worse than areas in Etobicoke, North York, & Metro over the years by from . And that’s not to say areas in other parts of Toronto have not been as hard done by either. Transit is just one of these items where Gov’t has failed.
Although I never voted for Ford & never would. Ford has tapped into this inequality in the City & his politics are here for that simple reason. Unfortunately voters from specific areas of the City don’t understand these issues have difficult time accepting this especially when there current needs are also not being fulfilled.
Whether the transit plans tabled are 100% reasonable or not we need to start accepting them and moving forward nothing will be built anywhere. Opposition is just going to increase the wasted time, waste further funding, & created crazier fantasy plans going forward.
In short Tory’s plan is heavily flawed & even excludes a large portion of Scarborough which I reside but its much better to support than creating further animosity with Chow reopening old wounds in the LRT/Subway debate in Scarborough or Ford’s “Subway or nothing” dream plan.
Steve: I don’t agree. Tory’s plan really consists of recycling something GO was planning to do anyhow and adding an unbuildable link on the west end replacing the Eglinton LRT extension to the airport. If anyone looks carefully, they will discover that the ridership used to “justify” the Scarborough subway will evaporate when SmartTrack (or the GO RER equivalent) opens, and we will have spent billions to make Scarborough feel wanted.
I wouldn’t. I was merely pointing out the infrastructure issues involved with digging a pedestrian tunnel between Main Station and Danforth GO. As I pointed out, and considering that train frequency won’t be greater than once every 15 minutes at Danforth GO, it would be far more cost effective and useful to improve the frequency of the surface routes that pass Danforth GO and build a better transfer on the bridge than to build a tunnel.
Steve, I was wondering why elevated light rail (or mass transit) solutions are not being seriously considered in Toronto. One example of this is the Kochi Metro in South India which will two-way standard gauge tracks supported by single pylons located in the middle of the road of 1.2 x 1.85 metres size (that uses a road clearance of 5.5 metres.) That, I think, would be approximately one lane of road – saving space but dramatically increasing capacity (the line will operate along the largest and most crowded street in Cochin.) The road has been used during the construction, albeit with difficulty (a bit like driving down Eglinton nowadays) but it appears this design for a mass transit line would be much cheaper than for both construction and maintenance than an underground tunnel.
Steve: There are a few issues here. The central part of Eglinton is only 5 lanes wide with buildings to the lot line. An elevated structure in the middle of this would be quite imposing, and would have a significant reduction in the street width. Stations are the a issue because the structure would roughly double in width and would have to span the roadway to provide access to stairs, elevators and escalators. There isn’t a lot of room in some places for the vertical elements to “land” on the sidewalks. The presence of a central row of columns on a street means that one cannot have a shared left turn lane at intersections (with opposing directions facing each other). Conversely, if centre platforms were used, then a pedestrian island would be required in the middle of the road as the landing space, and pedestrian traffic to/from the station would have to cross the roadway.
This is not a design that would be particularly welcome (or workable) in many of the neighbourhoods along the central part of Eglinton where the line will run underground. Where there is more room, the line will be on the surface except at a few major junctions.
We need to get politicians OUT of the decision making process and let the people who have knowledge in the field and the foresight to see what is required, to provide a plan that is financially feasible and will provide a complete regional transit system devoid of political interference. If politicians are involved NOTHING will get done!
Indeed, why would anyone consider creating a subway-GO transfer at Main Station in the first place? Thinking about it for less time than the transfer would take should result in a realization that doing something like that at Kennedy would make much more sense—essentially the same link, just between further-out points on the respective networks, and in particular, at the end of the subway.
Conceivably, one could transfer between any of Eglinton LRT, Scarborough LRT, Malvern LRT, Danforth subway, and GO at one station, with no long walks at all. I’d much rather give many people a two-seat ride than a very few a one-seat ride. How many people will get a one-seat ride from the Scarborough subway? Only those living near the tiny number of stops and also not needing to transfer to the Yonge line.
I know, everybody already knows this. But sometimes the truth needs extra help to be repeated as often as nonsense.
But then you do not end up being able to propose cool subways, or draw really much more attractive maps. In Toronto, you are far too likely building silly things like LRTs and BRTs or even proposing that worst thing of all, better bus service. That just makes for terrible discussions and boring management. I mean next you will suggest that we look at having better enforcement of existing bylaws, functional transit priority and buying more buses. You make the basic management of transit, and things that can be done now, way too central.
How can we ever get subways along Finch, Kipling, Sheppard West and McCowan if you take that approach.
The positive side of John Tory’s SmartTrack proposal is that, for the first time ever, a prominent politician commits to greatly expand the commuter trains’ role within 416. Transit advocates have been asking for that for years, perhaps decades; but nothing happened till now due to the lack of political support.
I don’t think the provincial Liberal’s GO RER plan goes as far as SmartTrack; the province did not promise TTC fare on their lines, or to design their lines for the relief of the core subway system. Smartrack has the former for sure, and the latter at least in theory. Therefore, John Tory is my favorite mayoral candidate.
Steve: GO RER involves ALL of its corridors, not just the 1.5 Tory uses for his scheme. As for fare integration, that is already under study because Metrolinx has recognized the role RER can play in a regional approach to subway relief. This is not “news”, and has been mentioned in the various working papers on the Regional Relief study.
When Tory announced this, I too applauded the fact that we had a mayoral candidate with a regional proposal (that’s the part of the quote the campaign selectively used in their list of endorsements). However, I went on to say that there are major problems with the proposal, not least that it does not address a wide variety of problems including the continued need for a DRL. The Tory folks chose to ignore that part of my message, and I am not the only commentator they have quoted out of context as supporting SmartTrack.
While the concept is laudable, it appears that many details of the SmartTrack plan have not been properly researched by Tory or his team.
First of all, it is not evident that the proposed surface alignment through Union station can support capacity needed for a lasting relief of the Yonge subway. If a train tunnel through downtown is required to support such capacity, then the cost will obviously go up.
The eastern leg of SmartTrack goes too far east before turning north. In order to intercept enough riders traveling to Yonge subway from the east, another high-order line is needed in the Pape / Donlands – Thorncliffe – Science Centre corridor. That could be either a tunneled branch of SmartTrack, or a separate DRL – Don Mills subway.
The proposal to run the western section of SmartTrack along / over / under Eglinton Avenue is strange. It would be both cheaper and more effective to remain in the Weston sub corridor, serve Northern Etobicoke better, and perhaps continue into Brampton.
I hope that, should Tory win the elections, he will quickly order a thorough study and address those problems of his plan.
Steve: Your critiques mirror many of the remarks I and others have made on this site and in other venues. Tory seems unable to change gears on his plan, possibly because he does not want to seem weak or vacillating at a time when he needs to appear decisive and committed going into the election. However, he talks about a more conciliatory administration than the Fords, and part of this should be a major rethink of his plan. I hope that Queen’s Park does not pressure Metrolinx behind the scenes to redraw their maps to suit Tory’s scheme.
Hopefully he will work the situation, using the need to negotiate, to win RER in UPX to Brampton, after “he has to give up on Eglinton because of local opposition”, and look at the recently released O-D information and note that Danforth extension is not required with the eastern side of “SmartTrack” after he has “convinced” the provincial government to provide service to the outer 416.
If he can discover the need to bring things to availability sooner elsewhere as well, we may rediscover Transit City, and then when we have a DRL or rather a DMS (Don Mill Subway) we will actually have a rapid transit plan for the city as whole that comes close to being complete, at least based on previous information. I am of the mind that RER, DRL (DMS), and Transit City (including some waterfront, depending on RER implementation in Lakeshore) all required, if the city and region are to address congestion.
Still leaves the basic management of the surface network, and better TSP and AVL and route management systems, and a larger fleet. However, just getting past the mantra of “subway, subway, subway” will be an important step forward.
I like the first idea: “give up to local opposition”, and run the trains in the Weston corridor all the way to Brampton.
On the second point: it is not evident that RER / SmartTrack will have enough capacity to make the Scarborough subway extension redundant. If the trains run every 15 min (4 per hour) and each carries up to 2,000 riders, the total capacity will be 8,000 per hour.
Out of those 8,000 spaces, some will be taken by Markham residents; some by riders backtracking on a local bus from the [B]west[/B] of Kennedy; and some by residents of the southern Scarborough arriving to the Kennedy and Scarborough stations. It will be nice to leave some room for people who want to board at East Toronto stations (Main, Gerrard, Queen). All those 4 groups of riders are not in the catchment area of the Scarborough Subway extension.
There may be only 1,500 – 2,000 spaces per hour left on SmartTrack for riders diverted from Scarborough Subway (coming from east of Kennedy and north of Eglinton). Meanwhile, the total demand forecast for Scarborough Subway is close to 10,000. It may drop to 8,000 due to diversion of the riders to SmartTrack, but 8,000 is not too bad (1.5 times more than Sheppard subway).
Moaz: Despite what Tory may think of his abilities to negotiate with all levels of government and politicians of all stripes (by virtue of his “red tory Tory” credentials and his seat at the right hand of Bill Davis), he will have to do an amazing job to convince the people of Scarborough (and more importantly, the high level Liberal Cabinet Minister who has staked his position to the Subway extension) that anything less than an underground Scarborough Subway extension is not an insult to the very identity of Scarborough and a complete betrayal of all things right and honourable.
Maybe if they call the “SmartTrack/Big U/Stouffville” corridor the Scarborough Subway? No…no one will be fooled.
My honest opinion is that Tory may find himself elected and then (mostly) stonewalled by a provincial government that already has its own working plan, and a Federal government that sees little to no value in spreading out pre-election goodies in the 416. Mississauga & Brampton might find themselves with some unexpected funding though.
Hi Steve, My question about the non-use of elevated designs was not really focussed on Eglinton but on the consideration of such designs in Toronto in general, especially in respect of cost. For example, why not on St. Clair especially where the pillars would only use one lane width rather than the present slightly more than 2 for the grade separated line there, or on Spadina. Another example — the elevated mass transit line in Bangalore uses central pillars losing one (1) lane of traffic. At intersections, the pillars stand on either side and I think the stations are near but not at major intersections. It’s not unprecedented — there are bigger, and more crowded and congested cities than Toronto all over the world, that have elevated lines. Even for the TTC Vaughan extension, why is it being dug underground? Wouldn’t it faster and cheaper to do the extension as an elevated line?
Steve: Neither St. Clair nor Spadina has ridership anywhere near justifying full grade separation. As for the Vaughan extension (and subway plans in Toronto generally), there is strong political pressure to go underground both to preserve surface lands for development and to avoid construction disruption (at least between stations). Rapid transit plans would run into very severe objections if they were proposed as elevated structures, and in effect those who want “subways” are paying a premium to avoid that political fight.
Steve, are you going to blog and/or tweet about the opening of another section of the rapidways for VIVA?
I agree the plan is not efficient. But from a Scarborough voter’s perspective, it,s not even close which plan helps.
* LRT with a transfer to Kennedy on the existing route inefficient RT route
* a LRT stub way on Sheppard to transfer to another subway stub way
– Mind boggling & not starting this stub until 2017
– If they’re not building an LRT loop around Sheppard & Eglinton from the jump don’t expect many voters to by in.
* A subway connection with 2 stops landing from the Heart of the City & one to the north.
– Although not perfect it will benefit all Scarborough transit riders from Central, East & North compared to what we deal with today.
* A push for the RER through Western Scarborough.
– May speed up electrification of GO line at a minimum
*Subways for free!!!
– Looks amazing on paper & will get votes from the way it looks on paper & the dreamers of free Subways but that’s it.
Option 1 – will create further chaos and divide & further extend this drama
Option 2 – can can keep moving forward & will provide very good benefits
Option 3 – could create further chaos again.
The middle ground may keep things peaceful enough for the Ontario government to move forward their plans with less drama. As long as Metrolinx is moving forward with their RER plans I believe Tory will back down to pushing the Smart track as he’s just using it as a tool to get in the door.
Steve: Your bias against the LRT scheme shows in comments such as the claim that it is an “inefficient” route. Between STC and Kennedy, it follows the SRT on a dogleg west and south. The subway goes south then west, but has fewer stops which is a good or a bad thing depending on where you want to travel. BTW I fully expect to see pressure to add a station somewhere around the turn north from Eglinton. Also, it is uncertain just how the subway will “serve” STC as opposed to being under McCowan at the east side of the mall.
Without question there would be a transfer at Kennedy with the LRT, but a much improved one compared to what exists now with the RT.
As for Sheppard, I would hardly call a line from Don Mills to Meadowvale a “stub”, especially with the optional extension south to UTSC providing a major node at the outer end of the line.
I personally do not expect this to actually be an exercise in negotiation, but rather, a way for all parties to back away from nonsensical promises they made during an election, and using cover of the other to get there. It would be better, if Tory had not come out in favour of a Danforth subway extension, however, perhaps someone else on council can “force his hand” in a manner that appears to leave him little choice.
I suspect given the way politics are played these days, it will require some others to help all parties to back away from silly promises, and save face. I have not seen detailed enough data to “know” this but I would be stunned, if a network analysis, did not show that a near subway (both a notably sub 10 minute headway and TTC fare) service in Stouffville, would be much better from a network and service perspective than a Danforth extension. Also for the Stouffville service to really work well, it will need something that looks dangerously like TransitCity LRT lines connecting with it (both CrossTown and Sheppard/Morningside), as well as much improved bus service on Finch and Steeles east and a couple of beyond Toronto BRTs.
If the Danforth Extension really works well, there would have to be a large surprise in the information as to how few people were core bound, or a even larger surprise in how quickly they can put together a Don Mills Subway, or how far they can put off a Danforth extension (ie post Don Mills). RER is something that can be done in Stouffville without requiring capacity on the subway system, except perhaps at Union, and in the counter peak direction on the balance of YUS.
Bias. Of course since I need to use the system everyday. There is a clear advantage for the STC/Sheppard Subway over the LRT replacement IMO for the majority of Scarborough commuters.
That being said, I’m fine with LRT if it’s integrated effectively. It’s false the the Sheppard line is going to Meadowvale. That was part of the original plan but was scaled back. Meadowvale or not. If they don’t build the full line from Sheppard down Morningside, Kingston Rd to connect with the Eglinton LRT they are just building an inefficient stub on Sheppard which is not going to serve enough purpose or be attractive enough to get people off the road.
Again build it right the first time or don’t build it all.
Steve: Sorry, not Meadowvale initially, only to the carhouse at Conlins, a bit over 1 km to the west. As for going down Morningside all the way to connect with an Eglinton LRT, you are not going to see that piece for quite a while. It does not make sense to hold Sheppard hostage to that chunk of the network.
I have always questioned this. Eglinton in the West was petitioned to have a short elevated portion instead of in-median. On the SRT, the biggest development is adjacent to the elevated portion.
The problem seems to be that we ask is underground of elevated is preferred. When the obvious answer is underground, then we say it is too expensive and revert to in-median. How about asking which is preferable; in-median or elevated? We may be surprised at the answer we may get. It seems that the political fight to get an expensive subway or an in-median LRT (which have been proven by the past 8 years of history) is just as much, if not more, than what the fight may be for an elevated line (which has not yet been tested).
Steve: There are locations where an elevated can work, but not everywhere, and there remains the question of whether the extra cost, especially at stations, can be justified.
Out at STC, the originally proposed LRT line would have been at grade, but the TTC came out with a cock-and-bull story that an at-grade line would have “isolated” development south of Borough Drive (e.g. where the Bell building is now). In fact, of course, the one road that crosses under the elevated structure could have been a grade crossing or shallow underpass, but it suited advocates of the ICTS/RT system to have the LRT proposal “eat” the upheaval and cost of shifting to an elevated structure. When it came to look at ICTS, they were not having an at grade vs elevated debate because that had already been settled through a sham requirement loaded onto the LRT. The TTC claims its hands are clean on the technology change, but they set the necessary stage for acceptance of an elevated structure. At the time, Scarborough Council wasn’t too happy about the el, but swallowed it to get a rapid transit line.
On Eglinton West, the proposed surface alignment included bizarre and difficult “hook turn” proposals for major intersections that would have been quite difficult for large trucks. It is almost as if the consultants and TTC working on that project wanted to sabotage it.
Finally, the question of “in median LRT” needs to be honestly stated with respect to the amount of road space that would, or would not, be lost in various locations.
I am seriously hoping that the headway will be well under 10 minutes, as it will need to be to make this work. I think that headways should be able to be driven to the 6 minute range. That would ultimately mean a much higher capacity. This is really why it could be an issue at Union. If these run say 8 or 10 an hour at the same capacity, the traffic to Union is huge. At 10 per hour you are looking at 20,000 riders, which is very substantial. I have been told the EMU should be able to run more like LRTs which themselves can run at a sub 2 minute interval.
I would think that a 5 minute headway, on a line that did not share space with any freight, and that had Automatic train operations should be achievable from a purely track time perspective. However I am would also be concerned about being able to clear the platforms at that sort of headway. This service should be able to at least match the capacity of a large LRT service in a closed ROW, which would be on the order of 18-24K.
Steve: People are routinely using 2k/train for lines in GO corridors, but that is typical of a 10-car bilevel, not the sort of EMU equipment we are likely to see on something like SmartTrack. Also, there is a major problem once any line in the Stouffville corridor meets the Lake Shore East line where the combined headway could be very, very frequent (and never mind throwing in a short turn service for a Danforth/Main connection).
Since that’s the case the whole idea of this Sheppard LRT is utterly ridiculous. For the exact reason you specify that the “Malvern LRT” portion will not be built anytime soon is the same reason I find the Sheppard LRT stubway connecting to North York Subway stubway so absurd. It adds no more appeal than the bus & would really highlight everything wrong with our transit planning in this City. Especially when it doesn’t even get commuters close to the zoo.
What a joke.
Steve: The last time I looked, people do not “commute” to the Zoo. It is an artificial destination from the point of view of planning a rapid transit network.
If you are going to run anything at 10 trains per hour it will not be on any line that follows Transport Canada rules because block length is too long and not through Union Station the way it is currently laid out. The platforms cannot clear in six minutes with the narrow stairs. Even if you run shorter trains most of the passengers are not going to walk to the far end of the platform to get out.
Metrolynx blew it when they rebuilt the Union Station with the same narrow platforms and the double sets of slip switches on either side of the platform. It makes a great station for running transcontinental and long distance inter-city trains out of but it is totally unsuited for its current use. They should have removed 3 tracks and platforms so they could have put in wider platforms and stairs and removed the beautiful, but totally useless, sets of double slip switches so they could have concentrated on running dedicated service to dedicated platforms.
They also need to remove at least one set of trains from Union and run it as a separate service on its own tracks. My suggestion is the DRL with the UP express Bramalea service. The Barrie service could also be through routed with Stouffville with non Transport Canada compliant equipment and tracks to remove a lot of passenger from Union. Lake Shore, Richmond Hill, Milton and Kitchener will probably need to remain compliant because they run on main line freight trackage.
Running 15,000 pph on the 7 lines that run into Union would result in over 100,000 passengers per hour which would make for serious safety issues on the platforms. A couple of the early studies on electrification of the GO trains pointed out the problem with the narrow platforms at Union and the current throat arrangements but Metrolynx rebuilt exactly the same platform and throat configuration so the problem persists.
Since CN retains the right to run freights on any of the lines that it sold to Metrolynx it will be difficult to run those close headways on Lake Shore, Richmond Hill or the Weston Subs. They don’t run much on them on a regular basis but they do use them if there is a major blockage on the York or Halton subs. Metrolynx needs to find a way out of the restrictions that they have perpetuated. They need to get the Barrie and Stouffville lines de-activated as main line railways, perhaps they need to be abandoned, so they can be re-purposed as true rapid transit lines with a rapid transit, not railway, equipment and rules. This would require two tracks on the North side of the Kingston Sub as rapid transit, not railway tracks as far as Scarborough Junction. I don’t know if this is possible without major help from the federal government. I hate to say this but I may have to vote for a party lead by someone named Trudeau. I certainly will not vote for the reformatories.
Robert, as far as I am concerned the entire project that Tory is proposing, needs to be excluded from the TC rules in order to make sense (Weston/UPX & Stouffville subs). It requires in essence for it to become a rapid transit project. It needs to be fully isolated (almost as though transformed to LRT, however, as has been said before EMU is faster) so that trains can run at transit headways.
Union Station however, is a major problem no matter how it is approached and can likely only support a couple of lines at that high a frequency, and even that would require a revisit of the platform(s) in question (subway widths) and their passenger handling (would need to have more than a working escalator per car likely 1.5 – believe they can each handle about 60 passengers per minute (to 100 crush)) which would permit clearing the platform in something under 2 minutes. 2000 passengers every 6 minutes from each of 2 lines would be a challenge. I do not think that this could be replicated across all lines, as I expect that yes you would be in jeopardy of overwhelming Union Station, and even these 2 lines would need to have very special attention. The UPX side would also need total isolation for it to make sense, block size will need to be much smaller than present, (TC rules cannot apply to these routes) and run at transit like operation levels. However, all this still makes more sense to me than building a Danforth extension, in order to serve the same passengers.
Basically Robert I agree with your basic approach, just not sure I would be using DRL and UPX, partly because I am afraid DRL is not going to happen soon enough. I suspect I would start with Stouffville as UPX partner at least initially, although as you say this requires a dedicated said of tracks.
That’s not what I meant. I was just adding further detail to the fact its a useless line that would only be used by those who would take the bus already. It would only make too much sense to go an extra km or so to the zoo when you are spending that kind of money already.
Buses are fine on Sheppard until they can find a a way to fund a proper loop through Scarborough that would be attractive and useful enough to get people out of their cars. Otherwise we’re just building stubs so the next generation can debate the next technology to integrate to our archaic transit network.
It’s mind boggling as a Scarborough resident. But again I’d just be the end user, what do I know?