At the risk of re-igniting the Scarborough subway debate, I am moving some comments that are becoming a thread in their own right out of the “Stop Spacing” article over here to keep the two conversations separated.
In response to the most recent entry in the thread, I wrote:
Steve: Probably the most annoying feature of “pro Scarborough subway” (as opposed to “pro Scarborough”) pitches is the disconnect with the travel demands within Scarborough. These are known from the every five year detailed survey of travel in the GTHA, and a point that sticks out is that many people, a sizeable minority if not a majority, of those who live in Scarborough are not commuting to downtown. Instead they are travelling within Scarborough, to York Region or to locations along the 401. Many of these trips, even internal to Scarborough, are badly served by transit. One might argue that the lower proportion of downtown trips is a chicken-and-egg situation — it is the absence of a fast route to downtown combined with the impracticality of driving that discourages travel there. That’s a fair point, but one I have often argued would be better served with the express services possible on the rail corridors were it not for the GO fare structure that penalizes inside-416 travel.
We now have three subways — one to Vaughan, one to Richmond Hill and one to Scarborough — in various stages of planning and construction in part because GO (and by extension Queen’s Park) did not recognize the benefit of providing much better service to the core from the outer 416 and near 905 at a fare that riders would consider “reasonable” relative to what they pay today. I would love to see service on the CPR line that runs diagonally through Scarborough, out through Malvern into North Pickering. This route has been fouled up in debates for years about restitution of service to Peterborough, a much grander, more expensive and less likely proposition with added layers of rivalry between federal Tory and provincial Liberal interests. Fitting something like that into the CPR is tricky enough without politicians scoring points off of each other.
The most common rejoinder I hear to proposals that GO could be a form of “subway relief” is that the service is too infrequent and too expensive. What is the capital cost of subway construction into the 905 plus the ongoing operating cost once lines open versus the cost of better service and lower fares on a much improved GO network? Nobody has ever worked this out because GO and subway advocates within the planning community work in silos, and the two options are never presented as one package.
With the RER studies, this may finally change, and thanks to the issues with the Yonge corridor, we may finally see numbers comparing the effects of improved service in all available corridors and modes serving traffic from York Region to the core. I would love to see a comparable study for Scarborough.
Meanwhile, we need to know more about “inside Scarborough” demand including to major centres such as academic sites that are not touched by the subway plan.
I will promote comments here that contribute to the conversation in a civil manner. As for the trolls (and you know who you are), don’t bother. Your “contributions” only make the Scarborough position much less palatable, and I won’t subject my readers to your drivel.
Oddly enough I am still what I would consider a “Joe Clark” conservative (he never did join the “reformatories” as I believe Steve has dubbed them).
Steve: Not my name for them. It is far too complimentary.
I am all with the notion that we need somebody to tell us the truth, however, is it reasonable to think the politicians are nasty when they tell us sweet lies (although very damaging none the less) when we fire anybody who fails to.
Subway is not, nor should it be seen as the gold standard in service, only the highest capacity service. Transit should be about frequency, speed, availability, and appropriate capacity, and that would normally mean subway is the exception not the rule. If you live in a low density area, having subway would normally mean having limited service in limited directions. My experience with the Ottawa bus-way, in the area I lived, was that it got me downtown every bit as fast as a subway would, and with service that was as frequent.
I would hope that we can get past the confusion of subway and service quality. Unfortunately, Toronto has done no visible major projects in other modes, other than the inappropriate show piece that was the Scarborough RT.
I am not sure exactly what the western core is. There is a little development that goes way back near the subway in Etobicoke, but not that I would call a Western Core. North York, ok you can call the North York City Center a core. However, I would note that Kennedy & Eglinton was actively prevented from becoming a core. It was as has been noted previously down zoned, not up zoned. I would agree that Scarborough needs much improved transit, and a better link to the core, however, I would make the argument that to create a real core in any of these areas requires a bedroom area beyond, where the core can draw from. The end of a subway does not create that. North York City Center would likely gain greatly from a substantial Yonge extension, however, it would be a huge problem for the city as a whole. Scarborough city center really needs a substantial improvement in the access from beyond it to really prosper as a center. This would be much more important than the link the core of Toronto. The link to Toronto needs to be convenient easy and transparent, but the link to a workforce, is likely more important in terms of being an employment center.
I think Toronto needs to focus on good transit, meaning: frequency, comfort, speed (meaning journey time), cost and availability. These should not be confused with subway, although it appears they frequently are.
I’m very aware if you read through my posts & I have yet to see an LRT network funded.
All that has been proposed is:
1. A 7 stop RT replacement which take an inefficient route & a transfer. A 3-4 stop SUBWAY will do much more for the majority of citizens out here & the image of a 2nd class area that has grown through years of poor politics and neglect.
2. A Sheppard stubline that connects to a subway stubline & doesn’t even reach Meadowvale ave. I’m not sure this is even makes sense until some form of network is funded & if not a subway in the future to connect to the same infrastructure then a BRT could be just as effective & reach further.
3. The Malvern LRT is not even on Metrolinx “next wave”. God knows even the lines which are proposed will mainly be used as political ammunition & likely won’t be built in our lifetime
So please update me when there is an efficient LRT network proposed & I’ll be all ears. Until then let’s just move ahead with the subway so we can join the CORES of Etobicoke, North York, & Vaughan (yep even Vaughan gets more respect from the City) on the Toronto subway map.
Scarborough needs proper investment & if Politicians are just going to continue to hold specific areas of the City hostage & refuse to provide a full coverage LRT network than a Subway connecting to the City’s main infrastructure will be a much accepted improvement for commuter effectiveness & area’s image over the current RT or 7 stop LRT replacement.
Steve: There is no “core” in Etobicoke, and the “respect” to Vaughan is a direct result of the intervention of Queen’s Park, not from the generosity or wisdom of Toronto Council.
It’s one thing to talk about how a transit network for Scarborough might be improved, but to place the discussion in a context that there are other better treated “downtowns” actually undermines your argument.
Having had a child that played rep soccer, I can see some parallels between this and parents who demanded “fair” playing time. The all paid the same fees, but somehow some of them felt that “fair” playing time was “equal” playing time. There are reasons why some players get to start a game and get longer shift times, and this translates to transit as to why some areas warrant a mode such as subway and some warrant other modes. “Fair” means that all deserve service of some type just like it means that players on a team all deserve playing time. The mode and frequency of transit service, like the duration and frequency of playing time, must be dictated by other factors.
Can you imagine if the people in North Vancouver demanded nothing short of subway for transit service to Vancouver. Why on earth would they stand for a second-rate mode such as a catamaran that is used for SeaBus?
Then he proceeds to list three things, two of which were fully funded in their first phase (Sheppard to Morningside, and SRT replacement to Sheppard).
These both go to bolster my point that this “all or nothing” attitude leaves us spinning in circles with nothing. Get moving with what is fully funded and since the mode supports expansion for a price tag that is easier to get approved, those can be saved for another day. Not just another day way in the future that we may never reach it, but another day that can actually come while what has been approved today is under construction.
We know how well the former works, as this has been the practice for the past four decades.
There is no “core Etobicoke”. The subway pushes a bit of the way into Etobicoke, but only east-west. A cursory glance at a map will show that Etobicoke extends much further in the north-south direction than any other part of Toronto, even Scarborough. Residents living south of the subway (which include me) have a half-hour bus trip to the subway, if they live close to one of the bus routes. North Etobicoke does even worse.
You know, by the same standard, if the eastern end of the subway continued along Danforth and Kingston Road to around Midland, could we be saying that the subway goes to “the core of Scarborough”? Because that’s about what the subway does for Etobicoke.
By the way, as an Etobicoke resident, I’m not in favour of an extension to Sherway (although it would be of some benefit to me personally), and I certainly don’t base my self-respect on the presence or absence of a subway.
Hold on Joe, how long does a line have to be before it’s no longer a ‘stub’?
To me at least, a line like the Sheppard East LRT that’s equivalent lengthwise to the Yonge line between Union and Sheppard isn’t a stub.
Oddly, you suggest that if it were to be extended to Meadowvale (2.4km further,) a total distance just shy of the distance between Union and the yet unbuilt Cummer Station (north of Finch) … that’d be okay.
Maybe we ought to rename it the Yonge stubway until it’s extended to Steeles or Richmond Hill Centre.
Regarding the Sheppard subway your concept of fairness is critically flawed and not applicable. In the eyes of the people, the government’s historic commitment and the precedent of substantial investment constitutes a legally binding covenant. It is a covenant based on substantial trust, which is critical to a healthy society, and any long term public works project. By dishonoring its covenant to build the Sheppard Subway the government has significantly undermined public confidence, and caused significant long term damage to its reputation.
Steve: Oh please stop with such pretentious nonsense. There is no such thing as a “covenant” between governments and society. You forget that at one time we had commitments for a variety of projects, including a large LRT network, that were expeditiously ignored when it didn’t suit the government to honour them. You should be careful what you ask for — you can’t pick the commitments that suit you and ignore the rest.
Does that not also apply to the Harris Government that cancelled the Eglinton Subway? Was there not a commitment by at least the Metro Toronto Government to build it before the province pulled the plug? When is there a “legally binding covenant” and when is it ok to cancel. Metro had sunk a lot of money and commitment in to Eglinton. There was a lot of money and time sunk into the Metrolinx LRT project. Was it enough to constitute a “legally binding covenant” or not?
I did not mention Sheppard or any other subway line by name though since I mentioned Scarborough, but the comment applies to all regions, that it might be construed by some as a dig at Sheppard. Since I appear to be a bit daft when it comes to “legally binding covenants” please explain to me what it is, or was, with respect to Sheppard.
I would put to you said covenant might reasonably apply in a situation was made by a King to his people, but, in this case, you are saying the Government (us) has broken trust with the people (us) because we (us) voted to not proceed, or elected a government that was clear it would. There is no permanent government, we choose what will proceed every 4-5 years. This would be different with a King, but that is not how our system works.
Although strictly a personal opinion, I believe the government should have honored its commitment to the Eglinton Subway and built it when its fiscal situation permitted.
The difference between the two situations is the degree of investment committed to the project, and the degree of completion. Eglinton had minimal investment and minimal completion, where as Sheppard had significant investment and significant completion. The government’s breach of contract regarding the Sheppard subway has effectively led the communities to seek punitive damages. If the precedent of this breach of contract is allowed to stand then it is likely to undermine public trust and limit the government’s ability to implement long term projects in the future.
Steve: There is no “contract” and therefore there can be no “breach”. Stop imposing your personal view of how government process works on the real world.
Last time I checked Canada was a constitutional monarchy, with a sovereign capable of establishing and honoring long term agreements. What you are advocating for is a significantly diminished state that does not have the ability to respond to society’s long term needs.
At its heart the handling of the Sheppard Subway/LRT debate has brought shame and disrepute to Her Majesty’s government.
Steve: Shame yes. A binding requirement to build whichever promise someone made sometime? No.
It could also be argued that the money that built Sheppard was the money that should have gone to Eglinton and was switched to satisfy the ego of and to otherwise placate His Worship Major Mel Lastman. There was never any “contract” or “covenant” to finish Sheppard just as there was none for Eglinton. You are flogging the dried up bones of a long dead horse.
A contract truly set with the state is different than a electoral commitment. The idea that there existed a contract that was substantive with populace to build a subway is odd to say the least. We have a King in theory, but a covenant to build a specific piece of infrastructure?
If today’s government were to start building a a subway in say Sarnia or Kingston or Thunder Bay, and the ridings in question and the province as a whole turfed said government would that also be a covenant or just the voters saying enough stupidity. Did the NDP actually carry the ridings to whom this promise was extended? It seems to me that the PCs who indicated readiness to cancel it were elected. Where is the breach ? A constitution is a covenant, a promise to fair treatment under the law is, but an electoral goody that another party clearly opposes and is elected on even in that backyard? If it is, what about the Spadina Expressway, is that a broken covenant with The Annex and other neighborhoods?
As jurisprudence is not my specialty I will not discuss the interpretation of the meaning of certain words. However, what is important is the effect that a loss of trust has on the way people structure their lives. As an economist you know that as uncertainty and risk increase people begin to invest their human and financial capital in suboptimal ways to help hedge their position and mitigate loss. By systemically undermining trust in the commitments of the government you are creating significant damage to society.
You raise an interesting question regarding proper project valuation methods. I would fully agree that your implicit use of the Net Present Value to society is a very good measure of a project’s worth, and a good tool to guide a government’s commitment to a project. It is because you are right here that the rest of your argument is wrong. The provincial government commissioned the Neptis Foundation to provide an independent review of the LRT projects we are discussing, the results was that both the Finch and the Sheppard LRT projects had excessively negative net present value. When you add to this figure the significant cost the damage to public trust will incur the overall project becomes unacceptable.
Steve: I find it interesting that you say the government “commissioned” the Neptis study when Neptis itself claims, fiercely, its independence. As you know, I have big problems with that study and wrote extensively on its shortcomings.
My recommendation regarding Sheppard Ave. would be in part to purse what the IBI Group identified as the most acceptable project in one of their past studies that is a simple extension of the Sheppard subway to Victoria Park Ave. The proposed option provides the following:
Better Cash Flow Management than the LRT option
Provides superior support for the Consumers business park, helping support the region’s economic competitiveness and access to jobs
The government’s improved cash flows allow for increased investment in the bus network to address the diverse travel demands of the region
Economic growth within Consumers business park will provide a precedent on which all future growth within the area will be of a higher quality, and in turn lower future project risk associated with potential extensions of the subway
Heals the rift that has emerged between the government and the affected region, and helps rebuilt trust
My proposal is more cost effective, better supports society and the economy, and builds trust.
@ Jon Johnson
I think it is better to extend Sheppard line to Warden in the first step. Total three stations and three Kilometers tunneling can be covered with 1B$ LRT fund. If Minister Murray’s Scarborough subway plan gets approved, we can save another 1B$ and extend Sheppard line to Agincourt.
I have suggested the Victoria Park option because it was identified by the IBI Group as having the optimal balance between its risk profile and cost-benefit profile. I would add that a more modest approach would also show a greater degree of respect to the varying groups that have so passionately debated this issue.
@ Jon Johnson
I think we should consider the new developments at Warden including Harmony Village.
One mode of transit that is mostly forgotten in our debates is “elevated subway” . Each elevated subway station costs almost 24 million $ compare to 150 million $ underground station. The elevation only consumes one lane of the street compare to two lanes for LRT. According to Neptis:
My question: Is it feasible to continue Sheppard subway in elevated mode after DVP?
Steve: The likely place for the subway to emerge would be somewhere between Consumers Rd. and Victoria Park Station. From that point eastward, nothing prevents construction of an el beyond the issue of how it would affect the look of the street and the space required for support and access structures. These structures for a subway, as opposed to light rail, would be slightly more substantial mainly because subway trains are wider, and the stations longer than we would probably build for LRT. At a minimum, we would have the usual debate about whether provision should be made for eventual upgrade to 6-car train requiring a station structure about 140m long.
Yes, the running structure can rest on single columns, but not stations which are roughly twice the width and also require vertical access to their platform(s) including escalators and elevators for accessibility. My gut feeling is that $24m is low for a station at the scale of a subway train.
One challenging location would be the station at Agincourt GO which would have to be high enough to clear the rail line below, or alternately the line would have to drop underground.
There is also the question of noise affecting residents in high rise buildings such as those around a corridor through STC, and whatever might go up along Sheppard itself.
It would be intriguing to hear the debate an elevated proposal would trigger. Certainly some road space would be lost, particularly at intersections, and the structure’s presence would affect the evolution of development and the neighbourhood around it. This gets us into the whole “elevateds can be integrated” argument that hold up better for lines in greenfield areas, or where a line does not follow a road. The SRT structure is a good example, but so is Skytrain in Vancouver.
Thanks. I used Metrolinx’s Feasibility Study for Subway in Scarborough RT Corridor. They have a detailed price estimation. The cost of each 160m elevated station designed for 6-car train is estimated to be 24m$. We can assume that for 100m 4-car it would be 16m$. New elevated guideway is estimated 35.2m$/km. We need to add the cost of Sheppard street widening too (similar to LRT).
Just because the station is only 2/3 the length does not mean it would be 2/3 the price. There are a lot of items that must be present whether the station is 200 m, 150 m, 100 m, or 50 m long. There are stairs, escalators, elevators, water and sewage connections, electrical connection for station lighting etc. I would guess that these would make up 30% to 50% of the station’s cost so a more realistic figure would be around $20 million. Using linear scaling for cost versus length of line for construction is reasonable but not for length of stations.