Everyone knows that the Scarborough Subway will run east from Kennedy Station, veer north at Danforth Road, and then go straight up McCowan to Sheppard. Right?
At Toronto’s Executive Committee today (Jan. 22), a major item of discussion was the study plan for SmartTrack. As previously reported, this will include a review of the effect of SmartTrack and the companion Metrolinx RER plans on other projects including the Yonge Relief Study and the Scarborough Subway.
As things turn out, there is now a worry that SmartTrack will draw so much riding from the nearby subway line that it will no longer be viable. Whatever can we do?
The answer, believe it or not, is to extend the study area further east looking for a new home for the subway far enough from SmartTrack that the subway has a chance of surviving on its own. Markham Road, 1.7km further east, could raise the attractiveness of the subway to some parts of Scarborough, but it would also move the line well away from Scarborough Town Centre and development plans for the lands around STC.
With an extra roughly 2km of line to reach Markham Road, the project may never reach across the 401 to Sheppard Avenue unless a very generous angel adds to the City’s share of the project cost.
Does this make sense? Yet another route would be included in the subway study in the hope that it will eke out enough ridership if it lies further east. What does this say about any claims the McCowan route is best because of the areas it serves?
This is what passes for planning in Scarborough, and it shows that the subway advocates are far from certain that their project has lasting, solid support.
Is there a chance, with these cancellation fees and additional cost to keep SRT alive as well as the feasibility studies providing negative results that in the end nothing will be built and it will buses that replace the SRT?
Steve: That’s an outside chance.
I am surprised that nobody is advocating for the B-D subway to go up McCowan to STC and then curve West to reach Agincourt. It is much easier to veer off McCowan (to serve STC) and continue west, rather than veer off McCowan and back again with a a double “S” curve. They could also argue that the distance from STC to Agincourt (Kennedy/Sheppard) is similar to McCowan/Sheppard so the costs increase would be negligible. It would also keep the dream alive that the B-D subway would be connected to the Sheppard subway. I’m not advocating this, just surprised that it hasn’t been brought up.
I am starting to think that a branch of SmartTrack to STC (as mentioned by Andrew in the first post), and maybe beyond, is the best solution. There is $3.5B on the table for transit. Spend $1.0 to $1.5B to extend the subway the 4 km to Markham Rd./Kinsgton Rd. and Eglinton. A branch off from SmartTrack north of Ellesmere, could be extended the full 7km to Malvern (via STC) at a cost of maybe $1.5B ($200M/km). This still leave $0.5 to $1.0B for contingencies or to put into the SmartTrack pot.
I am not sure if there has been any indication of what type of trains will be used for SmartTrack. I would expect that any type of electrified train would be acceptable to follow the elevated portion of the SRT corridor.
Steve: The TTC has already indicated that no matter what runs along the SRT corridor (if anything), the elevated structure must be rebuilt. At a minimum, the stations will require major changes because of platform heights and vehicle widths. It is likely that two SmartTrack trains would not physically fit beside each other in the existing stations. There is also the question of curves and the grade up to the elevated from the rail corridor at Ellesmere to Midland Station. This is probably too demanding for the equipment that SmartTrack will use. Such a junction would also require grade separation given the likely headways.
I should have been more clear. I was carrying $200M to completely rebuild the SRT corridor. Not $50M or so for “minor” modifications.
It was just reported in Metro on Friday that the cost of Scarborough LRT cancellation is much smaller than previously thought and also that Bombardier won’t charge any penalties for reducing the number of LRTs ordered and so all the more reasons to build the subway. If the choice is between subway and SmartTrack, the subway is the real winner and the subway beats the LRT as well. So if anything, SmartTrack won’t render the subway with not enough people but the other way around i.e. the subway might render SmartTrack with not enough people although I think that both would end up with enough riders (due to high concentration of poor people in Scarborough who don’t have cars as a result of abject poverty) and complement rather than compete with each other. If anything, the SmartTrack would render a DRL obsolete which is exactly why it is smart and this has been reported in the Toronto Star as well. At the end of the day, it is not about numbers or demand but about fairness and equality and human rights and correcting a historical wrong. With LRT, the people of Scarborough would have no dignity the way with the SRT and that is a clear violation of our rights as guaranteed in the charter.
Steve: No, actually, the penalty amount for the LRT line is small change (albeit well over $50m) relative to the total cost of the subway. It is not a deciding factor either way.
SmartTrack will drain subway demand because it starts much further north in precisely the territory where all of the supposed extra riders claimed for the subway will originate. With the demand from Sheppard north, especially from north of Steeles, rerouted onto SmartTrack, the subway will be rather empty.
Here is a less absurd idea of our rights as guaranteed in the Charter: everybody has the right to an above-ground rail transit service to the nearest major street, so as to avoid the indignity of being packed into a windowless tunnel for minutes on end.
Remind me never to visit the Hell on Earth that is now the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia:
Seriously, though, Steve, you have to do a better job of filtering out dangerous comments: you don’t want your readership dying of laughter.
When I heard that they were thinking about pulling the subway further east to avoid duplication, my first thought was, “are they going to leave the Scarborough Town Centre” high and dry?”
Then my second thought was, “I know, we can serve it with something less intensive!”
Like, maybe, an LRT, connected with the subway and the Eglinton LRT at Kennedy!
All I want to say is the majority of the riders that a bus from Scarborough Centre Station. If they need to move the line east, they need the same bus routes to move east to feed the line. If they ever build a subway, a terminal station at Sheppard/McCowan is probably the best location as many buses can be saved by not heading down to STC and being stuck in traffic.
For SmartTrack, I bet you Tory and the planning team (if that even exists) haven’t thought of how the surface network will connect to the stations and is there space beside every station to build a bus terminal.
Steve: Part of the study that will be done this year includes a review of potential stations and the bus network. But yes, I don’t think that Tory’s advisors thought about that at all.
I’d say that all the routes with trolley coaches got a significant downgrade to diesel and CNG buses in the early 1990s. Bay, Ossington, and Weston particularly come to mind.
Steve, since any article about Scarborough transit generates heated debate and so for the sake of our troller folks, please define the words ‘Downtown’ and ‘Downtowner’. I imagine there to be some ‘latte sipping’ involved in the definition.
Steve: From the point of view of a “downtowner”, this is an area bounded, barely, by Bloor on the north, the Don on the East, and maybe as far west as Bathurst. People who live outside of this boundary, such as me (albeit not by much), tend to think of ourselves as “downtown”. As for certain subway advocates in Scarborough, “downtown” is anywhere west of Victoria Park, and those just east of it are suspect.
Much latte sipping occurs “downtown”.
There is probably a density map of Starbucks outlets, but I patronize local, non-chain coffee shops of which there are two within easy walking distance. That alone must qualify my neighbourhood as “downtown”, but just to make certain there is a Starbucks under construction.
Some of the comments here (and on other posts) have me thinking how fortunes have reversed in recent years. At one time in Toronto’s history, poor immigrants settled in the downtown neighbourhoods. As they became more prosperous they moved out to the suburbs, e.g. the Jewish community from Spadina to Forest Hill, Italians to Vaughan, Chinese to Markham, etc. The vacancies they left as they moved were filled by the next wave of immigrants. The early waves of movement to the suburbs were what motivated the extension of transit to the City boundaries and beyond.
Now we hear no end of derision heaped on the “latte-sipping elites” downtown, and apparently Scarborough is dealing with rampant poverty. Funny, it wasn’t all that long ago that the message from Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough was that downtown was not a desirable place to live and raise a family. We also heard (not that long ago) a former mayor of Etobicoke, and ex-MPP, deriding projects that would get people out of their cars as attempts at “social engineering”.
If the whiners in Scarborough get their way and have their subway running up the “Yonge St.” of Scarborough, what’s to stop the folks who live in Guildwood, or West Hill, or any other neighbourhood a decent bus ride away from rapid transit from shifting their annoyance to the latte-sipping elites of “downtown” Scarborough who are denying them their rightful access to better, transfer-free transit.
I mentioned before, I don’t live in Toronto. However, if there is some expectation that the Province and the Feds are going to pony up a good portion of the costs of these projects, then I and others have some right to expect that they are done well, in a way that generates the best results with limited resources. It would be a shame to see a three-stop subway extension eat up the entire budget that could otherwise be used to reach farther points of Scarborough in a more timely way.
I think for most people outside of Old Toronto, particularly those in Scarborough, North Etobicoke, and parts of North York, downtown is synonymous with Old Toronto. Their downtown includes Yonge and Eglinton, the Junction, and the Beach. If it has walkable neighbourhoods, subway stations without parking lots, or if a streetcar passes anywhere near it, then it’s probably downtown.
And of course, to many of these people, they only come into Old Toronto to visit major attractions/venues like the Rogers Centre, ACC, or the Eaton Centre, so in their minds, the subway goes everywhere in Old Toronto, and that’s what they’re missing.
Steve: There is a great deal of “downtown” that does not have a subway. In any event, I was being ironic given that “downtowners” tend to get nosebleeds much north of Bloor. People to the west of Bathurst and east of the Don do not think of themselves as living “downtown”.
I’m sorry if the folks further out, dare I say “suburbanites”, want to abuse the concept of “downtown”, that’s a big political problem because people on both sides of the debate are using different definitions.
For my part, the “inner suburbs” used to mean places like East York, not Malvern, Downsview or Rexdale which were the “outer” suburbs. Now the latter term means anywhere between Steeles Avenue and Lake Simcoe.
I am waiting for factions within Scarborough to start attacking each other as “not speaking for MY Scarborough” when they advocate or oppose transit plans. It’s very disheartening.
Somewhat related, Hamilton may be getting full funding for their LRT line.
The Premier is also meeting the Mayor of Brampton this afternoon.
The definition of a “downtowner” is much like the definition of a Yankee.
To foreigners, a Yankee is an American.
To Americans, a Yankee is a Northerner.
To Easterners, a Yankee is a New Englander.
To New Englanders, a Yankee is a Vermonter.
And in Vermont, a Yankee is somebody who eats pie for breakfast.
Substitute pie for lattes as required.
Well, that’s going to be a long wait Steve as Scarborontonians are united and there is no infighting about where the Scarborough subway should go unlike the big infighting between DRL East and DRL West that will be expected if and when the DRL is seriously under consideration. DRL West I think should be constructed first as it passes through areas many times more dense than the low density area DRL East passes through and furthermore, DRL East will be rendered obsolete once SmartTrack is up and running. Simply put, SmartTrack is smart and that is why John Tory is in office speaking of which, I have seen several interviews of Councillor Rob Ford outside of Mayor Tory’s office, what is he doing always hanging outside the mayor’s office? This is very disturbing – does he still think that he is mayor? I think that he is just a wannabe.
Steve: I won’t comment on Ford’s ambitions beyond his desire to stand in front of a camera as often as possible. As for the DRL East, the issue is not the density around the route today, but what will come there in the future plus the demand that will come from feeder routes. If someone looked at the Spadina Subway they would wonder why it exists sitting in the middle of a lot of low density, but the answer is the feeder services.
DRL East would serve directly the following locations: Don Mills & Eglinton (major new development proposed on the old IBM site), Thorncliffe Park (existing residential plus a large amount of low density light industrial land ripe for redevelopment), East York (high rise concentration mainly on Cosburn, plus potential redevelopment on Pape or Donlands), Gerrard Square, and the Great Gulf/Unilever site. It is ironic that you mention SmartTrack because one underlying rationale for it is to make areas on the fringe of Toronto able to handle higher commercial density. The DRL East would serve areas inside of Toronto and would provide considerably more capacity into downtown than we are likely to see on SmartTrack despite its advocates’ claims.
I think that you misread the article — Kathleen Wynne agreed to funding Rapid Transit and NOT LRT in Hamilton. Hamiltonians overwhelmingly want LRT and demand is there but so far the Liberals have only agreed to funding Rapid Transit and will not commit to LRT and so in all likelihood, Hamilton will end up with a overcrowded polluting (i.e. diesel based) BRT. BRT cannot handle the demand in that area and a clean electric LRT is needed.
Moaz: Kathleen Wynne recommitted to 100% funding of the Rapid Transit that Hamilton wants. The current mayor wants LRT and the public clearly want LRT. The choice of BRT or LRT (or nothing) will of course be determined by council but I think that public pressure will move them in the direction of LRT.
Though as one councilor has pointed out, it may be a few premiers before a cheque is actually issued.
Moaz: Evidence from the city shows that Smart Track or upgraded GO service on the Stouffville and Lakeshore East corridors will not deflect or put off the need for the relief of Yonge-Bloor or the access to downtown from the Danforth that the DRL will provide. The Chief Planner stated again today that the DRL is being studied and the route and station location options will be made public later this year.
Do NOT mislead your readers. The development on the old IBM site has long been rejected. Plus why build because of (quoting you) “potential redevelopment”? Because there is potential redevelopment in Rexdale, Malvern, Jane and Finch, and other poor areas too and yet no one is talking about building subways there. You speak of DRL serving Don Mills and Eglinton, then I will support a DRL provided that construction of DRL East begins at Don Mills and Eglinton and instead what Downtowners want is to build south from Bloor-Danforth Line in Phase 1 and promise an extension to Don Mills and Eglinton in Phase 2 that will NEVER happen and Don Mills and Eglinton is only even mentioned to justify Downtown Phase 1 (using your extended definition of Downtown as stated by you in an earlier post on this thread) which without Don Mills and Eglinton falls far short of having enough demand to justify a subway. Steve, since you claim to have always supported that DRL East go to Don Mills and Eglinton, would you support the idea that any construction on DRL East BEGIN at Don Mills and Eglinton? If not, then do NOT use Don Mills and Eglinton to justify a Downtown Relief Line that Downtowners have no intention to ever take north of the Danforth.
As a blacksmith by occupation, I have learnt one thing: Do NOT trust empty promises (in this case the false promise of extending DRL East to Don Mills and Eglinton).
Steve: The development proposals for Don Mills & Eglinton are opposed in their current form, but the site is going to redevelop. As for your slurs against downtowners going north, when will you stop undermining your own position by claiming that the DRL is for “downtowners”? It is to provide added capacity into the core for people from, among other places, western Scarborough.
As for potential development, this is the same argument we are given both for Smart Track and for the Scarborough Subway. You cannot pick and choose which argument you will use depending on how it suits your view of each case.
Here are the last 45 years of subway expansions, in reverse order, per Transit Toronto:
Scarborough Subway (????)
Spadina Extension (2016)
Sheppard Subway (2002)
Downsview Station (1996)
North York Centre Station (1987)
Kipling & Kennedy (1980)
Spadina (St. George to Wilson) (1978)
Lawrence/York Mills (1973)
Notice how not one of these is downtown? In fact, you have to go back to 1966, with the opening of the first section of the Bloor-Danforth to find a subway expansion that ran through the downtown core (and given that it’s on the north side of Bloor, “through” is used loosely here). Depending on how you count, that’s 10 or 12 expansions since, with two more to come, that have been for “not downtowners.”
But let’s say you want to define “downtowners” as Old Toronto. Well, since the last subway expansion within Old Toronto (St. George to Wilson in 1978), there have been expansions in Etobicoke (1), Scarborough (1, with 1 more in planning), and North York (3, with 1 more almost finished).
So even if you want to believe that a Don Mills subway would only serve downtowners, and even if you want to believe that those tricksy
hobbitsesdowntowners are never going to build the line to Don Mills anyway, since “fairness” seems like such a concern, how can you possibly argue that it’s not reasonable to say that it’s time to build another subway downtown?
Moaz: How about if the line runs from city-owned land at Overlea and Millwood, across the Don Valley, under Pape and the Railway Corridor, Front Street and Wellington? That way it connects Leaside to the Danforth and Downtown, while a connection up to Don Mills & Eglinton is built. Buses can run in the meantime connecting the terminal at Overlea to the Eglinton Crosstown line and neighbourhoods to the north and east.
Steve: The route is not the issue for Joe. As far as he is concerned, the line would exist only to serve “downtowners”.
I believe in most of his posts Steve has indicated he would prefer the entire thing be built at a single pass, and that he is extremely concerned with the impact of significant ridership on the Crosstown being directed to Yonge. I personally would prefer also to see this line start at the outer end, simply to ensure that it all gets built. Ideally I would like to see it start by going from there to just cross core. This subway is critical to enabling future LRT projects north of here, and improving the Lawrence East bus service, but providing a closer point of access than the Yonge subway line. Steve has been very vocal about the need to serve the Flemingdon and Thorncliffe Park areas, as existing high density poorly served areas. Further I think that think that you will find that the problem for this line has been a lack of organized political support beyond the transit planners and transit junkies. I suspect that even those in the downtown do not place a high priority on the Downtown relief line politically, just are painfully aware of the fact that the entire system is getting dangerously close to being overloaded, and then they will have to start dealing with people from the outer areas competing for space on their precious streetcars. However, they have comfort in knowing that only downtown residents find streetcars and their ilk acceptable.
Isn’t it premature for the TTC to start tunnel design for the Scarborough Subway if the study area and alignment are still up in the air?
Steve: The contract at this point is for preliminary engineering which is required to assess the options.
DRL should start from downtown, and either go to Danforth in Phase I, or all the way to Eglinton from the beginning.
Your concern is understandable, but it cannot justify the existence of a basically useless stub running north of Danforth only; even if it exists temporarily.
Furthermore, should the DRL construction be split into 2 phases, I expect that it will be easier to fund Phase II from Danforth to Eglinton, once the first downtown section is funded. The perception that “DRL is for downtowners”, although wrong, is quite common and it influences the public policy decisions. Once the downtown section is a done deal, funding for the second section that is “not in downtown” will be easier to obtain.
Hence the recommendation the line start in Leaside. I only hope it would be enough to get the support of the angry suburbanites.
Steve: The problem with starting in Leaside is that you would need a temporary terminal until the line went further north, and that terminal would become an obsolete, overbuilt structure. Also, you assume your proposed alignment going further west of Thorncliffe Park, not necessarily an ideal route. There is a potential conflict with a series of hydro towers in the valley west of the Leaside Bridge, and siting a station at Overlea and Millwood would be a challenge.
Given the history of the Sheppard subway, I can understand Joe’s lack of trust. If it were not for the ravine, I would be tempted to support him here. However, crossing the river means that there need to be separate drives for the full line, one from the north side of the ravine to Don Mills and a separate one from the south side to downtown. (Actually, depending on whether or not they plan to go over or under the Don to enter downtown, there may be three drives.)
Given the amount of space required for a launch site, I think the availability of such space will be what controls the direction of the tunneling. I think the way to go is to get the whole line approved and let the contract for the tunnel as far as the ravine as part of the original bore. If you have that tunnel created, it will be much harder for the politicos to drop the section to Eglinton, given the sunk cost. This would have the benefit of allowing the ‘Phase I’ section to start operations while the ‘Phase III’ is being bored (and the bridge being built).
Steve: If the line goes through (under) Thorncliffe Park, there are three drives. However, I suspect that the section on Don Mills Road north of Overlea to Eglinton would be cut-and-cover for the simple reason that it is too short for a bored tunnel (remember that the box structure for the “Eglinton” station including its approach crossover would extend well south of Eglinton). That gets us back to two drives.
Good points, Steve. I’d love a terminal at Eglinton and Don Mills in Phase 1 but that doesn’t seem likely.
My thought is that the benefits of crossing the Don Valley to Leaside (reducing the number of buses traveling to Pape Station, providing a relief alternative to the Yonge line for those living in Leaside, providing drivers with an alternative to driving into downtown Toronto) would be worth the additional cost of making the crossing now rather than waiting for phase 2.
The Pape Crossing is probably the shortest of the options which ought to lower costs. The land at the west side of Overlea & Millwood, from what I can tell, is city-owned which has the potential to reduce land acquisition costs. Overlea has that wide grass median so cut and cover could be a realistic cost-saving option.
Steve: Er … the west side of Overlea at Millwood does not have room for a terminal because of (a) the quick dropoff into the valley and (b) hydro infrastructure.
You’re quite right about the temporary terminal and it becoming obsolete in the future. An alternative would be to site the station at East York Town Centre. The temporary terminal could be built under a parking garage and designed to be re purposed into parking or commercial space in the future.
Steve: That would, in effect, be Thorncliffe Park Station. The question still remains of whether the valley crossing would be west of the Leaside Bridge, or further east. You seem to have your heart set on a western location, but I don’t think it will fit physically because of conflicting infrastructure.
If the TTC and City want to show the DRL as being something for more than downtowners bringing it across the valley into Leaside (rather than stopping at Danforth or Cosburn) will make a clear statement.
Sadly the TTC and City Planning are keeping it the study area south of the Don Valley and that doesn’t appear to be changing any time soon.
Anyways, thanks for the feedback.
Hahaha it certainly seems that I do. I really was thinking that crossing to the west of the Leaside bridge to city owned land would make the project a bit easier to implement and cost a little bit less money, allowing the crossing into Leaside to perhaps slip in to phase 1. If it could be done on the east side I wouldn’t mind at all.
Of course this is all up in the air for now….but it makes me wonder, if the Pape corridor is chosen (and to me it is the best choice) where would the tunnel boring machines be launched and extracted from?
I suppose that the other question is whether the TBMs used for TYSSE can be reused for both Scarborough and the DRL? I expect the answer is no.
I think it was a Scarborough Subway report that suggested that because TBM technology is improving year by year, and the fact that Caterpillar no long sells them, it’d be difficult to refurbish the TYSSE ones. Anyhow, it was clear that it made sense to just get new ones.
Steve has not the city and the TTC indicated that there is a reasonable likelihood of issues with ridership on Yonge pretty much anywhere south of Sheppard by 2030-2035? I understand that SmartTrack is in the offing, but if there are solid bus improvements due to better running for Lawrence due to being able to transfer at Don Mills or Leslie and Eglinton, and generally increased ridership due to growth and service improvements on Eglinton, will not the Yonge subway have load issues at least as far north as Eglinton by 2025 with or without SmartTrack? Why not study the entire possible route, and select the best total route now. Make recommendations based on the results even if that turns out to be building it in 2 phases?
Does not limiting the study, also mean it will be harder to hold required space and deal with the OMB with regards to appeals and planning in the route. I would have thought having established the alignment would also be better in terms of providing context for additional plans that may be required north of there.
Steve: Oddly enough, City Planning’s map of future rapid transit corridors includes a DRL north to Eglinton, but the TTC has done a good job of convincing people it is not needed. I don’t know how soon this can be fixed especially considering that part of the idea of SmartTrack was to pretend to be the one solution to every problem.
Why would the TTC want to convince people of this? Is there a record for the busiest subway line in the world they are trying to achieve? Is there one for the highest number of passengers per square meter of subway? Or do they believe that it is easier to get money for subway that is near empty at the outer edges of the city?
Steve: I don’t really understand the TTC’s mentality of trying to stuff more and more people onto the existing line. This is changing, but the message was so deeply ingrained for years that it’s solidly planted in many minds that the DRL isn’t necessary. Fortunately, both Andy Byford and Jenn Keesmaat think differently, but we won’t get a real sense of timing and priority until the studies now underway of RER, ST, and various subway proposals sort through their options and demand models later this year.
That’s why it is very important that City Planning has created their own (albeit small) focused transit planning team, which will start working soon. Hopefully they will look at Regional Relief and the Regional Relief study from an honest transit planning perspective rather than answering to the institutional or political influences that (mis)direct the TTC and Council.
The other aspect of course, is that these need to interact properly. You should not be planning density/zoning changes without having a handle on how the people will access the area. You should not be changing transit without having a firm handle on what the zoning targets are. The closer these groups work, the better it is in terms of getting a desired outcome, providing politics do not override.
I have to admit that I have been impressed with the fact the planning department has gone on record where they see issues despite the politics. If only the politicians and media would spend more time highlighting their comments when they are made. When the chief planner is on record supporting a project, or when she indicates concerns with down stream effects of another, all should listen up, especially when the politics of the day are all going the other way.
Regardless if Yonge can increase it capacity by 50% (27k to 40k) a clear understanding of what density and transit service levels will be required. Where, when, and what type of additional lines of additional lines will likely be required, and tied to which development needs to be clear so that we do not stumble into disaster.
If we grow the city by 2% per annum and only have a 25% transit mode usage, the plan needs to allow for transit use to grow at 2-3 times the rate of city growth, as the modal split must change to permit 2% growth. If we restore service levels, and make capacity available,(or don’t) we better have a good idea what will happen.
I suspect part of the current issue is that the TTC is too busy looking at actual ridership growth. If growth really is only 2% and they can decrease headway on Yonge to say 105 seconds, then gee all is good right. However, if we were to actually achieve this headway, and added the buses to restore RGS crowding levels (say add 400-500 buses by 2019) I suspect that much of the capacity that the TTC thinks they have on Yonge at peak would be used up. I would suspect that if there was room on the subway, and you added 200 buses today you would also add 8-10k riders at peak very quickly.