TTC capital spending plans suffer from a basic problem: political support for funding of routine maintenance that doesn’t have ribbon-cutting, photo-ops and election prospects has been falling for years. During the same period, demand for transit service, not just for shiny new lines, but for seats on buses, streetcars and subways, has been climbing fast. Two to three percent a year might not seem like much, but when many services see no improvement, or even deliberate cutbacks, things get tight.
This is not news. The shortfall in funding the TTC’s ten-year capital plan was foreseen some years ago, and it appears regularly as part of the City of Toronto’s budgetary handwringing about the growing backlog of work. There is always hope that a new formula, a more enlightened attitude at Queen’s Park or Ottawa, will bring new money to transit and solve this problem once and for all. Meanwhile, the shortfall is, to the degree possible, pushed off into later years of the plan so that the TTC can do the maintenance and rebuilding it needs.
That, at least, was the idea a few years ago, but those “tomorrows” are now “todays” and things have not changed much.
The first problem is that the only consistent revenue stream Toronto now receives from other governments is a share of gas tax, and this is a fixed amount, one that could decline due to population shifts and reduced use of fuel. Over the ten years 2015-2024, no increase in this tax stream is included in the TTC’s budget with the obvious result that gas tax as a portion of transit spending will continue to fall in purchasing power.
The second problem is an ideological standoff over revenue tools. “Give us more money” says Toronto, while Queen’s Park replies “We gave you revenue tools, use them”. This is the same Queen’s Park that is scared to death of using its own taxing powers to fund better regional transportation systems. All governments tell fairy tales about the magic of Public-Private-Partnerships and Tax Increment Financing, schemes designed to hide the fact that costs we should pay today would be financed by borrowing against the future, but in a way that doesn’t use that dirty word “debt”.
This is not a happy situation, but the debate becomes more complex when we actually look at those unmet financing needs of the next decade and beyond. Are all of the projects now on the books reasonable? What is missing? Would additional funding, if it were available, be spent wisely?
The “Below The Line” Projects
About $2.3-billion worth of capital spending has been excluded from the current capital plan because there is no funding identified that would pay for these projects. The “line” is the cutoff point where the City’s capital planning has nothing left to pay for the TTC’s capital plan.
[Source: City Budget Analyst Notes for the TTC Capital Budget and Plan 2015-2024, p. 26]
The majority of items deferred in this manner are vehicle purchases:
- 372 subway cars to replace the fleets now used on the Bloor-Danforth and Sheppard subways. These are the T1 cars that were delivered between 1995 and 2001, a fleet that is actually larger than needed today for those two routes because, originally, some of the T1s were to remain on the Yonge line. The plan to replace them prematurely relates to conversion of the BD subway to automated operation, a feature that would be prohibitively expense to retrofit on the T1 fleet late in its life. A related question is the fleet plan for the Scarborough Subway and the number of cars it will actually require, net above the current fleet.
- 201 Wheel-Trans Buses were scheduled for replacement in the next few years, but instead they will have a major overhaul and be kept in service with replacement coming later in the plan. The short term funding “above the line” that was to fund the new buses has been transferred to the accessibility program for station reconstruction projects.
- 99 buses for “Customer Service Initiatives” were scheduled for delivery beginning in 2019. Until the 50 vehicles announced for purchase in 2015 came along, these were the only net net buses the TTC planned to acquire with all other purchases going to replace vehicles due for retirement. Yes, you read that correctly, the TTC had no plans to expand its bus fleet for another four years in the face of ongoing growth in demand. A related problem is the construction of a new garage (or two) to hold the buses Toronto actually needs. All of this has been put in limbo because the Ford administration did not want to spend money on transit expansion, at least for surface routes.
- 60 new LRVs for growth would be an add-on the the current 204-car order which is itself badly overdue from Bombardier. Between the rising demand and population density on streetcar routes, and the possibility of new streetcar services in the waterfront, the fleet must grow. Leslie Barns is already designed with enough storage so that it plus the two existing carhouses can handle a fleet of 264 vehicles. A decision on actually ordering the 60 cars is needed fairly soon, and the $52.7-million shown in 2015 for this project would be the down payment if it were approved this year to lock in production capacity at Bombardier.
- The Bus Heavy Rebuild Program overhauls buses part way through their 18-year lives so that they will actually stay on the road that long. Timing and spending are affected by the fleet demographics and the condition of each generation of buses as it comes due for rebuilding. Without this work, buses now in the fleet will not last their planned lives.
- The Easier Access Program installs elevators in subway stations. As noted above, it has been funded in the short term by transferring money from the Wheel-Trans bus purchase, but the latter part of the project is still unfunded.
- The Train Door Monitoring System will provide subway drivers with a better view of the train exterior at platforms. This is part of the ongoing plan to move to one person crews.
- The Fire Ventilation Upgrade rebuilds and installs equipment at stations that will allow better control of smoke in the event of a fire. The project has been on the books for years after the existing systems were found to be inadequate, but the work tends to be deferred because it is complex and expensive. In some cases, stations undergoing major retrofits for other reasons such as second exits and elevators receive their fire upgrade at the same time to consolidate the work.
- Capacity to Spend Opportunities is a catch-all that is as much about accounting sleight-of-hand as it is a real saving in the budget. The TTC tends to underspend its capital program either because projects take longer than expected, or because some parts are deferred. One example is that some streetcar track replacement projects usually are rescheduled because of conflicts with other activities. The City arbitrarily lops off money in several years of the plan, but this tactic only works if, in fact, the projects would never actually be undertaken. What results is an accumulating backlog in the State of Good Repair (SOGR) reported elsewhere in the budget. The work and the funding is needed eventually, but through this trickery, the funding needed for it vanishes from the books.
As if the “official” shortfall and SOGR backlog were not bad enough, there is another class of projects that don’t even get into the below-the-line list. This has the convenient effect of keeping them off the books so that the shortfall looks smaller than it really is, but it also hides some projects from view that deserve full discussion.
[Source: City Budget Analyst Notes for the TTC Capital Budget and Plan 2015-2024, p. 31]
This list raises serious questions about priorities for future capital spending and whether, in fact, these projects are appropriate as the next calls on available funding should it become available.
- Fire Ventillation Upgrades were described above. This line covers work that is beyond the current budget window.
- Yonge-Bloor Capacity Improvements is a project dating from an era when the TTC planned to handle all growth in travel to downtown through its major interchange with extremely frequent subway service, and no relief capacity via another subway route or GO Transit.
- Platform Edge Doors are related to the scheme for much increased line capacity on BD and YUS. This is a further $1.163-billion related substantially to a capacity provision that these lines may never require.
- Plans for handling regional demand growth have been changing, and yet these projects stay on the books. This shows the kind of expense Toronto will face (not to mention the upheaval of adding to a complex station while it remains in operation) if relief capacity is not provided. Equally, these are potentially avoidable costs — the business as usual option — that could be offset in a financial comparison of relief options.
- Notable by their absence from plans for much-increased subway service is any provision for the extra trains this would require or the storage yard(s) needed to hold them.
- The Bremner Streetcar is a portion of the proposed Western Waterfront LRT which would branch off from an expanded Union Station Loop through the basement of the Air Canada Centre and emerge onto Bremner itself west of York Street. The whole scheme is rather dubious considering other uses now being made of Bremner Blvd. and questions about how the line would thread its way past the Exhibition Grounds, through South Parkdale and eventually to The Queensway. The money could not possibly pay for this route. It is worth noting that the Waterfront East route is not even listed here even though the need for it is more pressing.
- The Station Modernization Program for University Station Renaissance is related to the beautification of the remaining stations on the University Line (Museum was the only one actually done, and even its design was not fully implemented). Other target stations include St. Patrick (Art Gallery) and Osgoode (Opera). It is unclear just how this would be funded, or why, among many competing demands for station renewal, these should still be tagged as an individual project.
- Redundant Elevators is a recent addition to this list, but it is unclear what, exactly, is intended given the limited spaces available to add elevators to stations like Bloor-Yonge, St. George and Union.
There are no doubt additional projects (a second new bus garage comes to mind) that should be in a list somewhere, but are nowhere to be found. Coupled with the lack of planning for an increased bus fleet, this can leave Toronto unprepared for future growth in transit demand.
While the politicians and the planners have busied themselves with drawing fantasy transit maps and holding photo-ops at every opportunity, the capital plans just to keep the TTC running have languished. In the short term, the new Mayor Tory at least understands that transit systems don’t work if they have inadequate service, but this philosophy is yet to be manifest in the capital plans.
For 2015, that won’t matter much because short term funding is covered. However, a failure to address medium term problems and gaps in the capital plan will further strangle the growth of transit service. A thorough review of TTC capital planning with realistic goals and a full accounting of financial needs is essential before Toronto faces its 2016 budget and beyond.
As City Council have actually added the Waterfront East LRT to City priorities it is a bit ‘odd’ that the TTC do not list it at all.
It is also interesting that the City have persuaded the developers of the 45 Bay tower – which seems to be moving ahead quickly – to build an LRT platform in their basement. The City seem to be ‘putting their money where their mouth is” – pity the TTC have not yet woken up to the fact that Council’s clear priority is QQ East – certainly well ahead of Bremner.
Steve I find the above comment especially telling, as any tax applied to Toronto only, will perforce have more negative impact on its growth and well being, and to my mind the very idea of giving Toronto special taxing ability was a bit of a dodge to begin with. This is especially true when the degree to which taxes collected in Toronto pay for programs across the province.
I would argue that the size of the bus fleet was close to right at the beginning of the Ford administration, and two major factors would argue for its growth since then, the obvious which is increased ridership, the other of course is congestion, which increases the run times and time between buses if the number of buses in service does not increase. I am not sure what the run time impact is, but it is likely to be on the order of 10% over the last 4-5 years, and the ridership growth over the last 4 years would also be about 10%, which would argue for something on the order of 170 for increased ridership plus about the same for run time issues. The issue of course, is that we need to also have a serious discussion about run times and how to address this across more of the city.
Steve: There is also the tail end of the effect of migrating from high floor to low floor buses which have lower capacity.
I would be tempted to make the argument that this is not going to be enough, however, as you have commented before there is nowhere to put the cars beyond this order. This is a serious medium term planning issue that needs to be addressed. As to Bremner Blvd, the failure to secure a right of way here is likely to be something that we strongly regret in the future. Acting to secure this space would have made it possible to deliver service that will be needed in the future.
Steve: Actually, if you look at early plans, Bremner was not intended to be an LRT line, but only a bus route. At some point, the TTC realized that running the WWLRT via Queens Quay would be difficult, and seized on Bremner as an alternate route from Union to the CNE. However, the road layout really does not suit an LRT right-of-way, not to mention the traffic issues around the Dome.
While I would argue that the BD line may be some time from requiring this type upgrade, unless we move shortly on the Don Mills subway, we will need whatever can be done to upgrade the Yonge subway, and it will still prove inadequate. The platform doors of course are pointless without other expensive capital projects relating to increasing the ability of the line to turn trains. The city council and mayor have an opportunity as a new administration to lay bare the situation, and what will need to be done to begin to address it. I have a hard time believing that anything far short of near rapid transit headway parallel to Yonge will be able to do enough to relieve the load on Yonge.
Steve: Even if we install doors at major stations downtown, doing so on the entire line is overkill. If the TTC intends to pursue this project, it should be scaled to where the doors are really needed for capacity concerns. If their real intention is to deter suicides and provide a barrier for garbage getting on the track, then sell the project on that basis, if they can. The project has been around long enough it has the feeling of a gigantic make-work program for the engineering and construction folks, a characteristic it shares with the fire ventilation upgrades without which we appear to be surviving.
Yes, I can see a benefit at say Bloor and St. George, post LRT at Eglinton, and given the nature of how riders arrive Sheppard, as an interesting start. However, train turn capacity is what is really needed. The fact that doors may be a requirement for capacity speaks to how bad the real issues are.
The sum value in the 2015-2019 and 2015-2024 columns for Train Door Monitoring appear to be incorrect. They don’t reflect the constituent annual spending estimates.
Steve: Not sure what you’re looking at. The project has spending in 2015-2017 in the amounts $3,696, $33,029 and $14,750. These sum to $51,475, the value shown in the 2015-2019 column. There is no additional spending in years 2020-2024 and so the grand total is the same as the subtotal for the first five years.
Granted, however, the TTC will need to find somewhere to get through. The sad thing is of course is that it is not hard to remember Bremner with next to nothing on it. Now it is hard to imagine there being space to do anything. Of course it does not seem that long ago, that south of the Dome was a big empty space to the Gardiner, and this was true to the other side of Bay Street. Now of course you can walk through 1 story above ground to Queens Quay, and it will not be long before there is likely another spot this will be true (by the way I like the plus 15 concept as they call it in Calgary, but it speaks to the degree of infill). Steve, has somebody secure a right of way for the East Bayfront project in such a way that development will not soon preclude its use?
Steve: Actually, I am not so sure that the TTC needs to “get through” there. The WWLRT’s primary function of linking southern Etobicoke to the core could much better be served with GO/RER, but when the TTC cooked up WWLRT (and other projects of the same era) they completely ignored GO as a possible alternative. The project has been screwed around by various political interests for years, but I doubt it will ever be built.
The larger challenge in the same corridor is the redevelopment of the CNE lands and the fact that the rail corridor is far to the north of the most desirable parcels along Lake Shore. Once upon a time, the WWLRT was going to run down there, but this scheme was blocked by Ontario Place who preferred to keep their parking lot which would have become a new “Exhibition Loop” scale of transit station.
In my opinion, the elephant in the room is that construction costs are out of control thanks to continual increases in red tape and escalating wages set by union-friendly politicians. For example, a company that wanted to bid on a re-tiling job for a subway station likely has to complete a long and poorly designed RFP, must abide by the city’s so-called Fair Wage policy (to avoid earning the wrath of the Fair Wage Office, a bureaucracy created solely to police government-decreed wages), hire tradesmen licensed with the provincial College of Trades, and so on. Overzealous Health and Safety regulations mean that contractors must go far above what a reasonable person would consider a safe work environment, further driving up costs, and so on. FYI, a licensed Tile Helper (not even a “master” tile installer, whatever that entails) MUST be paid at least $46.39 per hour including fringe benefits. Taken all together, this is why major public works cost so much.
That being said, if we really wanted to funded the TTC properly, a 50 cent fare increase would raise in excess of $250MM a year and cover everything in the 10-year capital plan. Perhaps it’s time that Torontonians got real and accepted that it costs money to properly run, maintain and expand our transit system.
Steve: Actually, a 50 cent increase would raise under $200m particularly when the effects of lost riding are taken into account. One might also ask why, if the TTC needs $250m more annually, it should come from the farebox rather than general tax revenue. Why should riders pay to improve a system that greatly benefits the businesses served by new and improved infrastructure?
With the change to a (presumably) more LRT friendly mayor, do you expect to see the waterfront LRT become a more prominent issue? And is it to be an LRT, or a streetcar, or is that still TBD?
Steve: I am hoping to see the Waterfront East project get back “on the rails” so to speak, and yes it will be “LRT” in the sense that Queens Quay West is “LRT”. The big challenge will be to preserve some semblance of transit signal priority. There is a small amount of money in the City’s 2015 capital budget to fund continuing design work on this line.
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I am equally concerned with the East Bayfront, has anything been done there in order to properly secure a right of way, or is this strictly a line on a map and a service concept.
Steve: The right-of-way is part of the Queens Quay street allowance, and the design is already approved. For portions of the route east of Parliament, the right-of-way is included in the new street layouts for roads that do not yet exist.
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Would less costly half height platform screen doors be worthwhile on Yonge-University-Spadina? I could see possibly installing them at only the busiest stations for crowd control/safety purposes. I can’t see any reason to install them on the less busy Bloor-Danforth line.
Steve: A lot depends on what the doors are supposed to achieve. If it is mainly crowd control, then half-height are all that’s needed, and this has the added advantage that station ventilation would not be affected seriously. To the degree that such doors would also deter suicide attempts and keep litter from blowing onto the tracks, that would also be a benefit. I suspect that the cost delta for shorter doors is far less than 50% as the big expense is to put in the door structures and control systems.
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Moaz: the role of the Waterfront West LRT in Toronto’s transit mix will have to be decided by future plans for GO RER and station additions. The long desired Humber Bay GO station could be joined by other stations (Sunnyside etc) if there was a desire to build more stations as part of an RER.
Alternatively, (but far less likely) there is a small amount of space at the south end of the Lakeshore and Union Station railway corridors that could allow a single extra track for one direction of a WWLRT service. Unfortunately there isn’t enough room for a second track to offer service in a second direction and the space peters out east of Spadina. To make this work there would need to be a track on Bremner to provide service in the other direction.
I don’t think a big one way loop from Strachan to Union is an effective transit solution or very cost-effective though.
On the topic of bases, it is a surprise to see no planned fleet expansion for 4 years. Once again I think TTC should seriously consider leasing retired buses from the 905 agencies that keep their buses on a more frequent renewal cycle. Maintenance and driver issues would likely have to be resolved but where else can TTC find a fleet of buses that could expand the fleet slightly over the next 4 years while more bases are purchased?
In the case of the East Bayfront/QQE Line the TTC and City have dropped the ball. Here was an ideal opportunity to put a “Transit First” plan in place with the cooperation of developers and it was messed up. This was an opportunity for Toronto transit but also a way to promote Toronto’s waterfront revitalization that would have transit planners and urban planners knocking on Toronto doors again asking “how did you do it” and coming back to learn. There could have been long term economic development opportunities and learning opportunities. So I do think the TTC and City and Waterfront TO should have worked with the provincial government and Metrolinx to secure the funding.
This raises the bigger issues associated with priorities. Service and courtesy priorities like fully accessible subway stations, and safety priorities like second exits at subway stations, seem to be getting short shrift despite the commitments of the Provincial Government to accessibility and the laws involved. The TTC needs to insist on Metrolinx and the Provincial Government providing the necessary funding to upgrade the system to meet those social and safety priorities rather than approach the upgrades as something to be handled internally when (if) the money comes.
And to be brutally honest if that money has to come out of the RER service or Smart Track or the Crosstown Extension to the Airport that is fine with me. There are interim solutions for those expansions but allowing safety issues and inaccessibility to continue is just very, very wrong.
I wonder if they put some track on Fort York between Spadina and Bathurst they could use it as the other end of a loop for service between city place and the new Cherry St loop…as most of the riders from both locations are headed for bay/king anyways…it’s a short enough route that it could be one way through city place, with right turns the whole way…
The problem now is that the city is far behind generally in transit, a basic decision needs to be made. Do we build to resolve the issues that are longest standing, or where we can get ahead of the curve now. I would agree with you, as here, we would likely unlock a substantial amount of development, add significantly to the tax base without straining the network elsewhere.
My concern is that we should have been moving while we could to support the development in Liberty Village in much the same way. While I agree that the prime initial purpose of the WWLRT was to provide service to southern Etobicoke, it would also have provided service to prime areas a lot closer. I have a harder time seeing RER serving the areas from the Humber to core, especially CNE to core effectively (service will be too sparse, and likely full before it gets there).
While what you say is true, it is funny why you don’t make claims like that when your supporters (i.e. David Miller) are in power. When transit policy is favourable to you, you don’t complain about other areas (such as Scarborough) which are being neglected.
Steve: I beg your pardon. While David Miller was in power (and I was a supporter of his, not the other way around), both the Ridership Growth Strategy and Transit City were launched with a view to improving service across the city and especially in the suburbs. At the time, Transit City was criticized because it did nothing “for downtown”, but that was never its intent.
You have a very selective memory.
Regarding need for 60 more LRV’s in addition to the 204 already ordered. (200 to go!) Perhaps TTC/Metrolinx should look into other makers to supply these. You know, some outfit that might actually deliver on time!
Bus Heavy Rebuild Program This seems to be a very worthwhile setup whereby in-house facilities can assure proper work. I seem to recall they can rebuild 50 per year. Can this be expanded? Say, a second shift? Or, even a third one or weekend crew?
Bremner Streetcar. I recall this was to be a streetcar originally with 2 extra lanes in middle of the road. It was changed and built as a local road rather than a through street and has actually turned into a parking lot of tour buses going to CN Tower!
Platform Edge Doors. Nonsense. Complete waste of money. End of discussion.
New Bus Garage. Is there any way to involve private sector? Build high rise above parking lot? Look at Eglinton terminal on Yonge Street. Long supposed to be redeveloped. Prime land and still nothing happens. Old Danforth Car Barns, more good land laying fallow for the most part. Maybe the answer is for the TTC to lease a garage BEFORE it is designed and then get out the way! Let a builder built it and then the TTC outfits the interior with “furniture”.
As for retirement of existing old buses, DON’T YOU DARE! Hold onto everything and rotate them in service say once a week to ensure they will run when needed. A reserve fleet to supply expanded Heavy Rebuild Program and other growth requirements.
Steve: There was a development plan in the works for Eglinton Terminal, but it was put on hold for the Eglinton LRT subway construction. The terminal will be used as a construction staging area. Development later.
Danforth Carhouse lands were involved in a questionable development related to a former member of the Commission. The balance of the site is still active and would have to be replaced somewhere, but with more generic space than a former carhouse.
Lansdowne Garage site sits empty due to contamination of land, in part from a leak from a neighbouring site.
Up at the proposed McNicoll Garage, the local issues include the noise and fumes from bus traffic at a 250-vehicle site, plus the extra traffic from staff cars. Building on top of such a site would be challenging, especially in an area zoned as industrial.
It really upsets me when Labour Rates and Unions are blamed for our transit paralysis. It is not because we pay a living wage that we have a problem with transit. It is because we have chronically underfunded transit for years and allowed ideology to get in the way of what is needed. The cost of a “Tile Installer” or “Master Tile Installer” is peanuts in the total cost challenges we face. Nobody rants about how Bombardier should build subway cars or LRTs with zero profit. Labour is also entitled to profit from its contribution.
Our society is seriously out of balance and the wealth is rising more and more to the elite. As CITIZENS who also pay taxes, we are better off if we pay a living wage to those who directly or indirectly are civil servants. Guess What! People with a living wage can spend money at our businesses as well. This keeps the economy rolling and as an added bonus allows those with a living wage to enjoy a proper life. It astounds me – in a capitalist world – that businesses think they can prosper when their customers are impoverished. Consumer spending is (as the bankers would say) a “key driver” for our economy.
We live in an awful world. UBER claims to offer “job opportunities” by offering uninsured cars to the public at 40% off the taxi rate. Presumably UBER takes a portion of the 60% that is left – leaving drivers paying for their own cars with poverty wages. Do we really want the City to move to a “poorest person gets to work” model by abandoning the fair wage policy. This is not a policy that was “invented” in modern times by a Pinko Politician. It goes back decades to a time when City Politicians truly committed themselves to doing “good” and were not obsessed with limiting tax increases for spoilt middle class selfish people.
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Steve, the last time I checked at no point during a 24 hour period should all 264 streetcars be out of service. So, if the TTC purchased the extra 60 streetcars, then presumably, even overnight, some of the streetcars would be in service. So, hopefully, this means that the TTC could own more than 264 streetcars if necessary (264 streetcars in storage, plus the minimum number of streetcars to handle service at any given time, which would most likely be overnight.) Or am I missing something?
Steve: Yes, that’s a factor, but the night service today consumes 8 vehicles (5 on Queen and 3 on Carlton). Four or five will be added if proposed night services on Spadina and King are approved. A bit of elbow room, but not much.
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It raises an interesting question here … someone just mentioned that the Bremner Streetcar could simply be built with a loop at Maple Leaf Square instead of trying to build an underground connection under the Air Canada Centre and to the Queen’s Quay LRT.
I’m not sure if that is a viable solution but it gets the line built and connected to Union Station … and with PRESTO and POP and the extension of the GO concourses down to the Air Canada Centre a direct connection to the Union Loop may not be needed.
Is that essentially what Toronto needs to do? Just build the service even if it isn’t as convenient, so the presence is there and “Transit First” is a real thing?
Steve: This ignores a few issues notably the lack of room for the route on Bremner and Fort York Blvd., the long walking transfer this would impose, and a basic question of how such a service would co-exist with pedestrian activity at the ACC. This is a complete non-starter, an example of someone having a “bright idea” that “solves” only one part of a much more complex situation.
It is very disappointing to see WheelTrans and accessibility services ‘below the line’ and I second the call to have the Province fund both the WheelTrans program, the station accessibility program, and the second exit program.
Steve, do we know which stations are up for Elevator installations?
I just saw Lawrence West is finally open. I believe Dupont & St. Clair West (my ‘hood) are being looked at. Any others you’re aware of?
Steve: Woodbine, Coxwell, Ossington and Royal York as per the TTC’s Easier Access page.
I’m not going to get into this too deep, but over the weekend I drove through the planned route of the “Scarborough Subway” — what a joke. There’s absolutely nothing around at any of the stops, except for the mall. Any “potential” at any of these other stops is decades away, and that’s probably being kind. The eastern part of the city isn’t being neglected, and it’s too bad you can’t see past your nose to see that LRT to replace the RT (and, I’d throw in the Sheppard LRT) is a viable transit option in an area with very low density.
In addition, according to an article written by Edward Keenan in today’s Star it states:
So who is neglecting whom? I think the good people of the eastern part of the city are doing themselves a great disservice by focusing on slighted feelings to justify higher order transit that has no reason to be built in that area.
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Yes, I am of the mind that the wording I had already used “the failure to secure” which I am quite comfortable is a past tense type thing here. Unless something can be done in Queens Quay, in terms of running very short headway to support additional service to the Ex and beyond, it feels like an opportunity for surface transit has slipped here. Hopefully something else can be had to provide a solid surface option, or at worst something that involves a very short length of tunnel. I think here we need to look to getting transit first for East Bayfront, because it is doable. Hopefully another corridor for assisting the surface transit can be found for Liberty Village (UPX?).
I know I probably sound like a broken record here, but much more frequent service until at least 3:00 am would be good, in terms of supporting the nightlife in the core. I would love to see this service be something on the order of 20+cars. The ideal situation would be to have more frequent night service along core routes elsewhere as well, to provide real after hours service (cannot use subways now due to need to do maintenance and upgrades in those hours). Night out right to close should be a transit experience.
Steve: But at some point, those “baby night cars” run into the carhouse. Unless you plan to operate much more frequent night service (a good idea by the way), only truly “all night” runs count toward “on street storage”.
Sorry Steve above I am using a very liberal version of the core. I mean downtown, and a slightly expanded version at that, High Park east to at least Broadview.
Steve: I look out my window over the Don River at Bloor Street, and although I live in the east end, I’m very much a downtowner. Boundaries don’t just turn on where you live, but where you conduct your daily activities.
Well granted, however, once you are starting a run at 3:00 am, you may as well keep operating the count, as it is only a couple more hours until you start service in the am. I would suggest these cars run into the car house, after the morning cars have already started and rejoin after shift change as part of peak service.
I suspect that along with the lack of appreciation of just how much LRT could be had for subway money is an equally important thing driving the people who want subway. The perception that any other project(s) will be only partially built. They will in essence be started, and stopped at a point that appears to make sense, but only provides half of the initial project. The subway project has the political benefit of being perceived as a single indivisible project. I personally am of the opinion that we need to work through the political issues surrounding funding and finding a way of actually taking the money and truly committing it. If people really believed the entire thing would be built, then LRT would stand a much better chance.
Toronto needs to get back to executing completely on best planning advice. The original RT was a very painful step in the wrong direction, and a path that we appear to have a hard time getting off. We should be asking the planners what would be the most effective way to spend 3.2-3.8 billion in Scarborough to get maximum impact now and in the future for both capital and operating dollars. The city could then do the unthinkable, and follow professional advice, without first giving any more political direction than the money has been secured for Scarborough transit improvements. The planners would hopefully use modelling, development information, current load and trips, and come up with a solution that served the riders and residents, not political ambitions and ego.
Steve: The pols would also have to figure out how to walk back their highly divisive and misleading comments about how LRT isn’t good enough for Scarborough and this is all a plot to deny its residents of their place in the transit sun. Saying “I’m sorry” to all the downtowners they flagrantly insulted along the way wouldn’t hurt either.
LRT for very low density? Do you have any idea what LRT is used for or what it even stands for? Buses (or nothing) is used for areas with very low density. It is NOT surprising that Steve has allowed Rob’s comment slip with no response and if what Scarborough subway would go through is “very low density”, then I should point out that what DRL east would go through is very very very [INSERT FEW MORE veries] low density but when I point this out, Steve would mention that it is not density which determines the success or failure of a subway line but feeder routes and all; that is fine but why does Steve not mention this when a relatively high density Scarborough is dismissed as too low density for subway?
Steve: The distinction is the relative probability of an increase in densities along the two corridors, the degree to which feeder services will add to demand, and the benefit a DRL provides in reduced demand for the Yonge subway, something for which there is no equivalent on the Scarborough Subway.
Since boundaries don’t just turn on where one lives but where one conducts her/his daily activities, I conclude that people from the 905 should have a vote in Toronto politics and having said that, let us put the DRL question to a referendum. 905ers are being tired of being treated like third class. Toronto has had several projects 100% funded by the province (Eglinton LRT, Scarborough LRT which Toronto chose to cancel) and yet Mississauga, Brampton, and Hamilton are told to consider BRT instead of the much needed LRTs and even then the province is offering only one third of the funding. Toronto gets the lion share of provincial taxes even though Toronto’s population is only about 17% of that of the province.
Steve: You just love to distort things to suit your world view. I was talking about the mindset of being “a downtowner”, not of where I should vote. I could take your argument and turn it around to ask why Toronto taxpayers are going to subsidize 905 riders through the Spadina Subway extension (we’re on the hook for net operating costs and all future capital repairs), and through SmartTrack whose primary purpose (at least if you believe the original authors of what became the ST plan) was to improve access to jobs in the 905.
Queen’s Park is offering 2/3 in Mississauga, not 1/3.
Now we have the 905 being treated as third class, and so I presume that in your cosmic model, “class” is subdivided as former Toronto, suburban 416 (especially Scarborough), and the 905. The last time I looked, parts of the 905 were doing rather well. Queen’s Park took over 100% of the Toronto LRT lines to wrest control of the projects from the city and TTC. Thank you Dalton McGuinty.
Finally, Toronto does not get the lion’s share of provincial taxes. You may recall that the last of the provincial announcements for transit funding placed about half of the $29-billion pot inside and outside of the 416. If anything, favoured provincial projects will limit the money available within Toronto itself.
If you look at major construction projects, labour cost is the majority of the expense – consulting engineers, architects, EA meeting facilitators, site foreman, and so on, all the way down to those tile installers. Materials also have labour costs embedded in them too – the labour required to make those materials. All along the way, construction unions are using their political influence to get themselves a bigger piece of the pie at the expense of the rest of us who end up paying their salaries. Obviously it’s only fair that all jobs pay a living wage, but as it is now the average Toronto resident (and TTC rider) makes less than the people who are doing this work. How is that fair? If costs were lower we could build more transit for the same amount of money, making all of us better off. Instead, those with clout enrich themselves at the expense of everyone else, and we can barely afford to build anything due to the exorbitant costs.
Bombardier is not the best example, since they are currently cash flow negative – not generating enough cash inflows to cover their operating and capital requirements themselves. The stock just dropped 33% in January, so it’s fair to say that workers in Thunder Bay are doing much better than the shareholders are!
PS – Steve, I’m afraid I have no idea how to correctly quote previous posts. For my benefit (perhaps others too) how the heck do I do it?
Steve: I fixed the html formatting for you. There is no way to correct a post once you have saved it. Just make a follow-up comment either as a replacement, or note the changes you want. I will sort it out when I review the comments.
I think it would be worthwhile to actually point out a couple of basics, one the area immediately North of Danforth all the way to Eglinton, has some very good density, beyond that of the vast majority of Scarborough. The other detail that should not be missed, that is there are feeders, and then there are feeders. The main feeders for this line will be the Crosstown and the Danforth subway. I would put to you that this is a notably different order of feeder. There will also be small feeders like the Lawrence bus, the Don Mills bus as well as others. Steve has noted that the a major benefit is reduced demand on Yonge. The other of course is the notion of actually being able to use the Danforth subway to get to the core. Bloor station on the Yonge line is already in trouble in terms of being able to put riders on a south bound train. Add notably to load on either line, and this becomes a very serious problem.
I would also put to you that LRT is not meant to support very low density, but the density that is present in the vast majority of Toronto. If it were not for the narrowness of its roads, shortness of its blocks and shortage of other rights of way LRT would be appropriate for the vast majority of the shoulder areas, including Liberty Village (and even downtown). I would note to you the lines that are being proposed for downtown other than the one to keep Scarborough connected (real reason for DRL) are LRTs. East Bayfront, Queens Quay improvements, are both LRT (and not even the high end variety planned for Scarborough), the much desired never built Waterfront West (also only proposed as a poor man’s LRT). If you have space, and a local demand below 15k LRT is the way to go. It supports substantial density for considerable distances.
The issue in the downtown, is that people did not even make allowances for cars and buses when they surveyed the roads when horses were still the primary form of power. It did not occur to them that more than 66 feet of road allowance would ever be required. The early streetcars did not have to compete with all that much automotive traffic. However, they also would never have imagined that the population of Toronto would be similar to that of Canada when they were doing the surveying. I suspect that if you had told them that York would have a tower the size of 1st Canadian place, and be the core of a city of 6 million, they would have laughed their asses off, and when you insisted suggested you needed help. Unfortunately the plans of those days did not make allowances for 132 foot wide road allowances that permit medians and things that can run in them.
Steve, I’m sorry, I don’t want to hijack the conversation, so I apologize. I feel I need to respond.
Let’s be clear, this discussion is only happening because of slighted feelings and politicos taking advantage of it. LRT is still the best option for the area for a number of reasons:
1) There’s no justification for a subway because there aren’t enough people to take it, and it’s cheaper to build!
2) LRT has the capability to match increasing ridership quite easily, and for a very long time – it could easily handle some of the bus routes that are maxed out and take on more people.
3) Buses are the least attractive transit option for people but LRTs have the ability to attract so many more people tired of travelling in mixed traffic with its dedicated lanes and signal priorities.
Excuse me? What density is there, I’m curious to know. Outside of the mall which (like Sheppard) is artificially inflated due to other factors – like the 401 – and the odd apartment tower here and there. Look, it’s not my fault years ago when Scarborough was it’s own city that City Hall build a sprawling city of just homes and very few civic amenities like rec centres/libraries (that the CIty is just starting to catch up with now in 2015). Homes that have backyards that back onto major streets is not high density … that’s Brampton! Strip malls is not high density. A mall, much to chagrin of Mississauga and STC, is not high density. Since we can’t go back in time, let’s work with what we have, which isn’t much and which is why LRT makes sense. LRT may bring some investment and low-to-mid rise buildings to increase density, but what you’re talking about it decades away, if it ever comes.
This idea keeps getting posted here but repeating it again and again doesn’t make it any more true. The areas of old Toronto east of the Don are fairly high density relative to the rest of the city and certainly leaps and bounds above 99% of Scarborough.
Regarding the expanded streetcar order, how difficult would it be to expand Leslie Barns to handle an order greater than 60 cars? I figure that a second access to Queen would have to be built. However, I was wondering if there might be other surprises.
Steve: There is already a second access to Leslie Barns via Commissioners Street contemplated as part of the network to serve the Port Lands, but this is at least a decade away.
My suspicion is that if the TTC really needs another carhouse, they might look at the space now occupied by Harvey Shops which will stop being the streetcar shops once the last of the high-floor cars have retired. It could make more sense to build a new bus maintenance facility and a centrally located carhouse. In any event, such plans are easily in the next decade.
Subway is coming to Scarborough and rightfully so. Those who don’t like it don’t have to take it and are welcome to boycott it.
Any thoughts on Josh Colle’s refusal to consider the additional 60 cars?
Steve: See following comment.
Yes; but there is another way of looking at it. Poorer people simply may not be able to afford the services of registered cabbies. UBER gives such people a chance to hire a ride.
A case for labour protection is strong when we are talking about individual employees vs big private corporations who hold a lot of pricing power.
When we are looking about services to individuals, such as cab rides or home repairs, there are two sides to look at. Many “masters” are actually less well off than the “employees” they have to hire. Legal tools that protect the wages of such employees, may make their services unaffordable for a large number of citizens.
Did you at least notice the hospital at McCowan and Lawrence? It is not that small ..
Sure, the area is rather low density, and the subway will get most of its riders from the connecting bus and LRT routes. But the hospital does not qualify as “absolutely nothing”.
Another point, while your statement about the number of LRT lines that can be built in Scarborough instead of the subway extension is technically correct, it obviously would not happen. If the subway was cancelled, the city council would happily roll back the property tax surcharge, rather than fund another transit project.
Steve: Despite the hospital at Lawrence, the scheme to shift the subway east to Markham Road removes two of the major arguments for the subway — access to that hospital and to Scarborough Town Centre (unless the subway doubles back along, say, Ellesmere and does not cross the 401. The problem with alternative proposals is that all of the carefully worked out arguments for option “A” are suddenly considered of less importance when someone wants to sell option “B”. This begs the question of how strong their support for “A” actually was. I understand the desire for a subway, but just wish that advocates would stick to one story.
But it should be taken into account that Toronto delivers the lion’s share of provincial revenues; and, in order to continue generating those revenues, it needs higher per-capita infrastructure investments than smaller cities or rural areas.
That doesn’t mean Torontonians are special in any way. It is a law of nature that big cities need higher per-capita infrastructure investments, and those investments pay off in the form of much higher per-capita tax revenues.
Well, such scheme is totally insane and will never be approved. It is unlikely to even get seriously considered. Perhaps the project team needs an option that can be safely rejected, allowing them to claim that they examined multiple routes and selected the best. If so, then the “Markham Road subway” proposal fits that role.
I generally support Scarborough subway, but it is obvious for me that it will have to run along McCowan or along Brimley, and connect to STC. Otherwise, it will not get enough riders from the feeder routes to even remotely justify itself.
My original comment was in response to Rob, who found “absolutely nothing” along the Scarborough Subway route. I believe he was talking about the “official” route along McCowan, although I may be wrong.
I wish we could!
I don’t think anyone here would have the least problem with a Scarborough subway, even if it is not the best option, if Scarborough were paying the extra cost. We are quite willing to pay for higher level transit for Scarborough, but feel we should not be stuck with the excessive, unnecessary price tag.
My guess is that Toronto taxpayers will be forced to pay an extra $2 billion (or more) over the next 30 years. This of course begins with the $900 million currently estimated — and already on my tax bill. The contract with the province includes the clause that they will not pay any more than their stated dollar amount, so any overruns will be the city’s responsibility. Even a 10% overrun will be more than a quarter billion dollars. Do you truly believe that the TTC will bring the project in under budget? Or even as low as 10% over?
Then there is the cost of operations. The cost of maintaining and staffing the stations will be a city expense. This would have been provincial for the LRT, and of course those would mostly have been much less costly. How much will we have to pay over the next 30+ years for escalators and elevators, plus the collector’s booth and the security electronics. Paying the staff (drivers and station personnel) which would otherwise have been a Metrolinx responsibility will also now be the city’s. Finally, purchase of any needed vehicles (and their maintenance) will be strictly a TTC problem instead of Metrolinx.
Why is it so ‘rightful’ to burden the rest of Toronto with these costs, just so Scarborough can have its status symbol?
Yes, I would really love to boycott these costs; please tell me how I can.
P.S. I would not be against paying the money if it were for a ‘right-sized’ project, whether that was a Don Mills Relief Line or a full LRT network for Scarborough.
The funny thing is, the subway extension was the unrealistic option that was not to be taken seriously in the original SRT replacement report.