Finch West LRT Soon, Sheppard East Not So (Updated)

Updated April 28, 2015 at 8:20 am:

The decision to push construction of the Sheppard LRT out to the 2020s was taken quite recently as shown by two separate reports.

In today’s Globe & Mail, Oliver Moore reports:

According to Mr. Del Duca, the delay on Sheppard was because of the difficulty of trying to do too many big projects at once. “The plan right now is to have the procurement begin for the Sheppard East LRT after we complete the Finch West LRT,” he said.

There was no firm timeline available for the Sheppard line. If it starts on its new schedule and takes about as long as Finch to build, it should be ready some time after 2025.

This timeline is sharply at odds with the information given to a reporter in the provincial budget lock-up on Thursday. The government’s position then – given on background and not for attribution, under the rules of the lock-up – was that the Sheppard line would open about a year after Finch. Mr. Del Duca’s spokesman did not return a message Monday seeking clarification of what had changed.

On April 27, over an hour after the LRT announcement, one of my readers, seeking clarification from Metrolinx received the following email:

From: Metrolinx Customer Relations <customerrelations@metrolinx.com>
Date: April 27, 2015 at 10:43:26 AM EDT

Dear [x]

Thank you for contacting us about the status of the Sheppard East LRT.

The Sheppard East LRT is fully funded and approved. The Sheppard East LRT underpass construction at Agincourt GO Station has been completed.

Preliminary design and engineering work will be happening over the next few years. Construction is expected to begin in 2017 and be completed by 2021.

I appreciate you taking the time to contact us.

Sincerely,

[x] Customer Service Representative
GO Transit, A Division of Metrolinx

One wonders just what triggered a change so last-minute that it was not communicated to Metrolinx’ own “communications” team. The Minister claims that the delay is because there is only so much construction work that can be undertaken concurrently, but this seems to have more to do with avoiding a politically difficult decision.

A much more honest position would be to say simply that “we’re waiting for the results of various studies now underway on transit for Scarborough”, but leadership, or even a bit of common sense on anything transit-related in that part of town seems to escape the Liberals at Queen’s Park.

Original article from April 27 at 12:11 pm:

The Minister of Transportation, Steven Del Duca, gathered with other politicians including Mayor Tory to announce that construction of the Finch West LRT would proceed starting in 2016 with an in-service date of 2021. The line, for which an approved EA has been in place since 2010, will run from Finch West Station at Keele to Humber College, a distance of 11km. An EA for the proposed carhouse will begin soon. The connection at Finch West will be in a short tunnel section, but otherwise the line will run at grade.

The project will be paid for 100% by the Province of Ontario.

The Sheppard East LRT’s status is less clear. According to Del Duca, that project won’t get underway until after Finch West opens, and this puts an actual go/nogo decision out beyond the next municipal and provincial elections. Actual service on Sheppard is at least a decade away.

The Sheppard line’s status is intimately linked to the proposed Scarborough Subway Extension (SSE), the GO/RER and SmartTrack plans, and any possible resurrection of the Scarborough LRT. That political morass cannot begin to be sorted out until there is better supporting information on project costs, alignments and potential ridership for various network configurations.

Toronto Council is, today, in favour of the SSE, but this support could falter if there is a significant change in the scope of the subway proposal including options to shift the line further east away from SmartTrack, or to link up an SSE with the Sheppard Subway. The City’s financial position and ability to undertake very large capital projects is quite different now than when the SSE and its 1.6% property tax hike were approved. There are very large costs associated with both the Gardiner Expressway project and with the maintenance backlog at Toronto Community Housing (TCHC).

For the rest of 2015, we are likely to see much huffing and puffing by LRT opponents, and a big debate once the studies now underway are published. The SmartTrack plan itself requires major revision, notably for the Eglinton West branch, but this could provide an opportunity to “save” money by ditching the impractical underground ST route from Mount Dennis to the Airport. The cost of SmartTrack would be a lot lower if it stayed in the existing rail corridors, and this could give political headroom for the Eglinton Crosstown’s westward extension.

Meanwhile there are smaller but no less deserving projects such as waterfront transit and acceleration of the bus fleet’s expansion to provide more service on that vital part of the transit network.

119 thoughts on “Finch West LRT Soon, Sheppard East Not So (Updated)

  1. This is very disappointing Steve. It seems politicians are caving in again to popular sentiment. This is what I feared after the city voted for a Bloor Danforth extension. Once you give them one candy, they want the whole bucket. I wonder where Brad Duguid is going to find the money to fund this, and if the DRL will be pushed back or suffer because of this. Or maybe the next funding announcements will be Richmond Hill and Sheppard East. Very unfortunate today.

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  2. We can “thank” politicians like the Ford brothers, and their lapdogs, for the delay. We could have had several LRT projects happening at the same time, instead of being strung out over the decades (it seems).

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  3. This does not surprise me. LRT lines that are logical extensions of existing subway lines are really unpopular and for obvious reasons, people want the Sheppard subway extended so that they do not have to transfer at Don Mills, even if it costs more. This is not an issue for Finch, Eglinton, or Hurontario. (In the case of Finch, I am assuming that it will get extended east to Yonge eventually). This is why council voted to build a subway to replace the SRT despite high cost.

    Also Sheppard has a great deal of high density condo development now and has severe traffic problems. Finch West goes through the poorest part of Toronto and has very little condo development.

    My guess is that the reason that Finch and Hurontario are being built is to use up the LRVs ordered from Bombardier. I doubt it if the province wants to build any more light rail than that. Hurontario will replace Sheppard and the SRT light rail. The province seems far more interested in GO trains than anything else these days.

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  4. It’s an endless frustration to me that it took an entire mayoral term’s worth of political capital and sheer willpower to see Transit City funded, and construction begun, and just one day under Mayor Ford to end everything. The Sheppard line would have been done and in service by now, showing Toronto (and Scarborough, including Morningside) what LRT can and should be. Now we’ve got to wait until 2020 and 2021, respectively, by which point who knows what the political appetite for transit expansion will look like. And still, neither route will serve the airport!

    At least riders on Finch West will get some relief. That route is packed to the gills and absolutely deserves higher-order transit, even if it doesn’t go all the way to Finch Station.

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  5. This announcement is great news. Higher order transit will finally be built on Finch, and Toronto politicians will not be able to meddle with the details. You have documented in the past that Finch is in desperate need of higher quality service given the frequent service operated (at least on paper) and the high level of crowding on this route. With the suburban nature along the majority of the route, I believe the province hit it dead-on by announcing the LRT line. Finch is no place for a subway, unless local residents really want to see intensification along the entire corridor.

    What I am curious about is the recent 100% funding announcements the province made for LRT lines. Does the recent trend by the province of fully funding the Hurontario LRT in Mississauga and Finch LRT in Toronto indicate a change in policy where the province will pay 100% of capital costs for new lines with local agencies only responsible for operating costs?

    Steve: It’s not clear just what drives the 100% funding beyond a desire to have something to show for their announcements rather than endless waits for other “partners” to come to the table.

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  6. Is the section at Finch West being designed to allow for a future extension East to Yonge? I’m not too familiar with the travel patterns up there, but I feel like both the Finch and Sheppard LRTs suffer the same problem of too many transfers to keep travelling in a straight line.

    Steve: The EA for the Finch West line includes the section all the way east to Yonge. Detailed drawings are available on the page linked from the article.

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  7. It’s such a frustration that it took an entire mayoral term’s worth of political capital and sheer will to make Transit City happen, and even get shovels in the ground, and just one day for Mayor Ford to end everything. Even worse is the fact that left untouched, the Sheppard line would have been operational (probably with the Morningside hook) last year, showing everyone in Toronto and Scarborough just what LRT is all about.

    At least riders on Finch West will finally get their due. I live nowhere near it, but that bus route is packed to the gills and certainly deserves higher-order transit (even if it doesn’t extend to Yonge St).

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  8. Well, I suppose 1 out of 2 isn’t terrible, given that a few days ago it looked like neither might get built. Beginning construction in 2016 gives them two full years to progress far enough that a provincial or municipal election can’t easily halt the line. And there are reasons why Finch makes more sense anyway; more capacity on the Spadina side and more justification for the TYSSE, as well as the lack of alternative plans muddying the waters.

    Still, I’m disappointed that the Sheppard line is effectively halted. No Sheppard LRT means no carhouse, which means no future Scarborough LRT network. Outside of the ECLRT, Scarborough is looking at 10 years before they see any meaningful transit infrastructure upgrades. Hopefully the planning department comes through with a good, reasonable study on Scarborough and something can finally get going.

    It’s going to be real weird when Toronto has no line 3 or 6 (Sheppard East) but does have a line 5 (Eglinton) and 7 (Finch West).

    Steve: I am a tad more hopeful. It really would not be reasonable for Queen’s Park to prejudge the outcome of the studies now underway on SmartTrack, RER, the Scarborough Subway Extension and the DRL. If, at the end of the day, the SSE proves to be impractical, then the LRT lines could come back on the table. Fighting that fight before the studies have even been done, not to mentioning the political can of worms it will entail, simply isn’t worth the effort. Toronto Council’s support for the SSE could disintegrate if its cost rises and the expense would be all on Toronto’s tax base.

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  9. I can bet a thousand bucks that Subway will be built on Sheppard East and rightfully so. Let us connect the Bloor Danforth and Sheppard subways to form a single line. SmartTrack will take care of Downtown Relief needs and is a good alternative to the proposed DRL. Am very excited about the Scarborough Subway Extension. Thank you Mayor Tory!

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  10. What are the prospects of future grade separation of the Eglinton LRT at Leslie? During the construction of the Finch West station, was an LRT station included?

    Steve: Eglinton at Leslie, not likely. As for Finch West, yes, this was designed with provision for adding an LRT station although that has not yet been built thanks to the uncertain future of the LRT project.

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  11. Correct me if I’m mistaken, but I saw neither Ford, Crisanti, or Mammoliti at that conference at Humber College. You would think they would be cheering, that they finally stopped the “bleeding” of money going from hard working families to those downtown snobs and their bike lanes…guess they don’t know the meaning of a good deal. Oh well, more seats for me! It’s a shame Sheppard is contingent on Finch being finished first, but then again, the current state of Scarborough transit is still a mess, and will probably boil over again during the federal election.

    Steve: I fully expect much fulmination from Ford & company about the Finch West line, and I hope that Queen’s Park and Mayor Tory (who was there) tell them to get stuffed. They will probably expend more effort trying to block the project than to work on tweaks to the design to improve traffic flow at a few key locations. Metrolinx could steal a march on them by taking on that work without having to be asked. I am reminded of how some Councillors spent more time fighting the St. Clair project than on working to improve it.

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  12. Oddly enough this seems quite appropriate. The province and city should proceed at great speed with the projects where the political will, and planning logic actually align. Where it is clear that a project is purely a political whim, perhaps if we wait a little, the mood will pass.

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  13. So, with full subway to Vaughan, Eglinton Crosstown LRT, whatever mode is replacing Scarborough RT, Sheppard LRT next up and Smart thing, does this push the much needed (more so than Finch in my mind) DRL or whatever name is in flavour now off to 20 or 30 years from now, or longer??

    Steve: I think that the future of the DRL hinges on the outcome of the ST/RER/DRL/SSE studies now in progress. I believe that the capacity of ST/RER has been oversold, and this will probably show up in models of DRL demand. The other important thing will be to ensure that the modelled version of the DRL actually is long enough to provide real relief, not the truncated version ending at Danforth.

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  14. So essentially they called a press conference, to announce that although Finch West LRT construction would still start in 2016, as previously announced a few times, it will now not open until 2021 instead of 2020.

    And also to announce that Sheppard East construction will now not start in 2017, but sometime in 2021 or later.

    And still no date for releasing the Finch West RFQ and RFP, which as recently as April 2014, Infrastructure Ontario were targeting for Spring 2014 and Fall 2014.

    A huge disappointment from the Wynne government on these already massively delayed projects.

    With the Sheppard East being delayed by so many years, essentially the money that was going going to be spent now on Sheppard East, is being spent in 905.

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  15. Sheppard’s delay is an example of how changing the mode of just one part of what was once an entire network for Scarborough, may manage to kill it all.

    2025 will dawn with nothing completed, and a mothballed SRT.

    The next time someone says that Scarborough deserves a subway, we know they only mean harm.

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  16. Its good to see the Finch west line will be going ahead and as Steve mentioned there is a possibility that the Eglinton crosstown could be extended west if the engineering and/or financial obstacles for SmartTrack along Eglinton prove to be insurmountable. It would be ironic if Etobicoke ends up with the best most comprehensive LRT surface network in Toronto.

    As for the Sheppard line being deferred, can anyone be surprised? Probably the best outcome for Scarborough over the next decade will be implementation of frequent RER service on the Stouffville line and improved bus service. There’s nothing wrong with that but it’s a far cry from what could have been if they had stuck with the Transit City plan. Oh well, they can just blame someone else for their mistakes like they always have.

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  17. When I heard this today, I was initially somewhat exasperated. But the more I think about it, I believe that all of the ad hoc transit plans in Scarborough need a complete reset. This may provide an opportunity to establish a comprehensive plan to wisely spend the billions that are earmarked for Scarborough.

    Steve, is there a grand bargain out there which might call for a reconsideration of the reworked lrt in the srt corridor in return for some compromise on the Sheppard and Smarttrack? Byford’s comments last week, suggesting that even now these plans could conceivably change, seem to leave the open for such a renegotiation.

    And I actually wouldn’t need much convincing to swap so called Scarborough Subway for some incremental extension of the subway on Sheppard. Wasting a perfectly good grade separated corridor, the srt, and undercutting a half-finished poorly performing subway with an lrt both seem like poor choices.

    Steve: I have already covered these issues in previous replies to comments. I am waiting for the outcome of several studies in progress for the real debate about what Scarborough’s transit should look like to begin. It’s a huge challenge to walk back the SSE commitments by Tory and Queen’s Park, but if this is in the context of massive tax savings and a more rational network, it’s doable.

    If Sheppard is extended at all, taking advantage of the common need for either subway or LRT to tunnel under the DVP, I suspect it would only be to Victoria Park. Mind you, there is some doubt as to whether this would be a one or two-station extension with a “Consumers Road” station in or out of the design. A subway all the way to STC simply is not in the cards because it would cost far too much.

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  18. How long before Georgio Mammoliti starts crying that the poor residents of Finch west deserve better; they deserve a subway. Hopefully the province will ignore his rantings and those coming out of Scarborough and build what the initially planned. They must also stop any talk of a Yonge extension to Richmond hill.

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  19. Steve:

    “For the rest of 2015, we are likely to see much huffing and puffing by LRT opponents, and a big debate once the studies now underway are published”

    Joe M:

    You fail to mentions the huffing & puffing from Subway opponents. I’m sure we here much more “elite” propaganda from the Toronto Star than you’ll ever hear from a Scarborough Subway supporter.

    You know my overall thoughts on this nonsense LRT vs Subway political game being played. Bottom line is people are refusing to pay taxes to build a fair network for Toronto & that’s sad when the biggest opponents live near Subway lines.

    Steve: Refusing to pay taxes? Nobody asked me if I wanted 1.6% added to the property tax (which is in fact over 2% when the rebalancing of residential and commercial taxes is taken into account). Toronto taxpayers were never given the opportunity to oppose this tax. It was railroaded through Council by the pro-subway faction.

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  20. One of the positives out of this development is that once again a single level of government is committing 100% of the financing. This makes it much easier to proceed, and (critically) makes one government accountable for a project. Sadly, that still doesn’t make it bulletproof. Since the most local government isn’t the one making the commitment, the possibility of rejection remains, as it did with SLRT.

    Despite the good news, a bad pattern is emerging: the GTHA gets ‘free’ LRTs, while other Ontario cities have to pay for theirs. The GTHA will get the Crosstown, Finch West, and Missisauga-Brampton LRTs (plus a BRT or LRT in Hamilton) entirely funded by the province. Toronto would have also had SLRT delivered by the province had it not looked that gift horse in the mouth.

    Meanwhile, KW’s LRT got 35% from the province. Ottawa received just 26% for its new LRT and virtually 0% for its recently completed LRT expansion. Even after taking out the feds’ portion, the province is paying less than 50% in these other cities. Both cities are planning a phase 2 for their new LRT lines, and it will be hard to justify denying 100% provincial funding for them. Yet the cupboard is already looking pretty bare.

    Even if most Ontarians are not paying attention yet, their local politicians are. This unequal treatment is not going to be popular.

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  21. @Ross Trusler – Yes, I agree, it is especially difficult when the Toronto areas, reject solid plans, that included LRT, and this keep the entire issue in the spotlight. It is quite visible even for those beyond Toronto, who choose to pay attention, and threatens to become a massive issue, in the next round of elections. It really does raise the risk of the entire funding structure suddenly being pulled.

    While it is quite apparent that Toronto, receives less support on a per capita basis for some things like roads, those are “provincial” infrastructure, and with the massive transfer of roads under Harris to the counties etc, it will be harder to use this argument, without showing substantial support for those roads in county hands. Makes for a very complex argument, not something easily had during an election.

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  22. This is a great news for Sheppard E. Residents. Hope the subway gets extended as per the original plan with the new funds coming from Queen’s Park.

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  23. If the reason Sheppard cannot start is because there isn’t the capacity to do it and the other transit project concurrently, does this mean that SmartTrack will be delayed for the same reasons? If money is found to build SmartTrack, how will the Province explain that Sheppard, a plan that has been on the books for years, could not be build because the construction industry doesn’t have the capacity to build it but SmartTrack, a project estimated to cost about eight times as much can be build?

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  24. Rob said:

    “This is a great news for Sheppard E. Residents. Hope the subway gets extended as per the original plan with the new funds coming from Queen’s Park.”

    While I do not have a huge issue with an extension as far as Victoria Park, I think that maintaining an LRT plan from Don Mills would be better, just build the Don Mills LRT as well. Honestly we do not want to direct core bound Sheppard origin riders to the Yonge subway, and better to have a choice of transfers at Don Mills.

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  25. Steve:

    “If Sheppard is extended at all, taking advantage of the common need for either subway or LRT to tunnel under the DVP, I suspect it would only be to Victoria Park. Mind you, there is some doubt as to whether this would be a one or two-station extension with a “Consumers Road” station in or out of the design. A subway all the way to STC simply is not in the cards because it would cost far too much.”

    I’m not sure if I agree with this. A Sheppard subway should cost $4 billion at most. I am sure Queens Park will do some magic like they did the previous election and Tory will flip flop.

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  26. Malcolm N:

    “While I do not have a huge issue with an extension as far as Victoria Park, I think that maintaining an LRT plan from Don Mills would be better, just build the Don Mills LRT as well. Honestly we do not want to direct core bound Sheppard origin riders to the Yonge subway, and better to have a choice of transfers at Don Mills.”

    Should we not be planning the to build the DRL to Don Mills and Sheppard to avoid this? Ultimately this is the solution to end overcrowding on Yonge.

    Steve: In due course, maybe, but if we never think of it as going north of Danforth, it will certainly never get to Sheppard. As long as the TTC presents a truncated DRL, and people from Scarborough talk of it as serving only “downtowners”, we’re talking about the wrong line.

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  27. Malcolm N said:

    “Honestly we do not want to direct core bound Sheppard origin riders to the Yonge subway”

    I hope that Richmond Hill RER and its new station at Leslie subway station will act as a Yonge relief in the future. I am not sure if double tracking of this line is feasible though.

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  28. I hope that Metrolinx revises the design to widen the road to 3 car lanes each way near Highway 400. Like everywhere else in Toronto traffic volumes tend to be higher near highway interchanges which mean that they tend to be the most congested parts of a road.

    Appendix D of the Finch West LRT report admits that the design will make traffic congestion worse near Highway 400. They claim that they can’t widen the road because of the CP bridge just east of Weston Road, but surely they should spend a little more money to rebuild this bridge? There otherwise seems to be plenty of room to widen the road to 3 lanes each way between Jane/Finch and Weston/Finch.

    We do not want a repeat of the Keele/St. Clair railway bridge traffic problems on the St. Clair streetcar.

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  29. Someone referred to “ad hoc planning”: but it’s been far more odd hack, with an occasional clearcut to about a third of the City eg. Scarborough – and it takes some time for things to grow back, if facts matter, and so far they don’t seem to eg. ongoing support for Scarborough subway extension including Mayor Tory.

    I’ve heard that only about 13% of the Scarborough transit heads to the core; so I’m still thinking of how to bring forward a busway idea combining Gatineau Hydro corridor with the Don Valley Excessway to provide some quite rapid transit in a new route, though yes, some major expenditure in some parts of it for bridges/tunnelling in Don Valley area.

    While buses are pooh-poohed by some (yes, sometimes with cause), the Curitiba example shows us that it is possible to have high-capacity busway service; even Ottawa might do.

    Steve: The oft-cited Curitiba example requires a huge amount of road space. I am really tired of people talking about this as if somehow the need to take lanes away from cars can be avoided with “BRT”. This is a fight about drivers vs transit, and it doesn’t really matter which vehicle we are talking about.

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  30. Kevin Richardson said:

    “If the reason Sheppard cannot start is because there isn’t the capacity to do it and the other transit project concurrently, does this mean that SmartTrack will be delayed for the same reasons?”

    It all boils down to whether the Eglinton portion ends up being built or not. The rest of SmartTrack is merely an add-on to RER project which would involve building new stations. In addition to that, some new sidings would be needed to allow GO trains to leapfrog SmartTrack trains when they are stopped at stations, and signal upgrades. The RER part will deal with the heavy lifting parts which are the electrification and double tracking where needed.

    Rob said:

    “This is a great news for Sheppard E. Residents. Hope the subway gets extended as per the original plan with the new funds coming from Queen’s Park.”

    Actually, if I was a fan of the Sheppard subway, I would be getting nervous over this because this might be the first sign that SmartTrack and the BD extension are going to alter the ridership patterns along Sheppard to the point that a Sheppard subway will never be viable. Simply put, Sheppard only works if there are no other reasonable heavy rail routes downtown east of the DVP.

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  31. It’d be interesting to foi any emails regarding this decision given that it seems to be a purely technical reason there should be no reason they can’t release them.

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  32. There is a simple solution to the traffic concerns at Finch/400.

    Truck traffic converges on Finch since there are no exits on the 400 between Finch and the 401 and the Steeles/400 interchange is only partial. Building additional exit/entrance ramps on that highway may mean that commercial traffic won’t have to use Finch at all. In the long term the entire Finch corridor from Jane to Islington can be rezoned as mixed use. Finch LRT would be crucial to make this transformation viable.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. A Quiet Guy from Oakville said:

    “Should we not be planning the to build the DRL to Don Mills and Sheppard to avoid this? Ultimately this is the solution to end overcrowding on Yonge.”

    Steve said:

    “In due course, maybe, but if we never think of it as going north of Danforth, it will certainly never get to Sheppard. As long as the TTC presents a truncated DRL, and people from Scarborough talk of it as serving only “downtowners”, we’re talking about the wrong line.”

    I think that eventually this extension might make sense, however you are talking about adding 6 km of subway, and this would be hard to justify, unless the ridership was well above what I reasonably expect it to be. I expect this ridership to remain in the sub 10k peak point peak hour for a very long time in the area between Sheppard and Eglinton. The Don Mills LRT meanwhile would be able to provide a good connection, good service to the Don Mills Road area as well as a better option for connection for the Lawrence bus, and an option for the York Mills bus. Also this LRT should continue through the Sheppard subway connection north as far as Steeles, to provide an alternate route for the Finch and Steeles buses.

    This LRT would also represent a better route to the business development that exists at Don Mills and Eglinton, that I fully expect to flourish (read explode) once this area is linked to the core with a DRL and to the North and East with LRT. Development here has been strangled due to lack of viable routes of access.

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  34. “So, with full subway to Vaughan, Eglinton Crosstown LRT, whatever mode is replacing Scarborough RT, Sheppard LRT next up and Smart thing, does this push the much needed (more so than Finch in my mind) DRL or whatever name is in flavour now off to 20 or 30 years from now, or longer??”

    Only Vaughan (by diverting people to the University line) and the Smart thing will reduce pressure on the south end of the Yonge line. The other projects will increase it.

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  35. As a resident of Scarborough near Morningside and Sheppard, this looks worrying for the future of transit on my side of the city. The LRT was the only transit improvement that had seriously been talked about.

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  36. A silver lining to this is that assuming a level of government doesn’t cancel it again, we have an opportunity to design the line as an extension of the subway. We can design it at the TTC gauge and have ramp up platforms so trains could provide service straight from Yonge to Morningside. As for power, we can get dual mode trains which can switch from third rail to overhead wires, likely between Don Mills and Consumers stations.

    This provides us with the best of both worlds: the lowered cost of surface light rail, while also creating a substantial through line without the moniker of a “stubway.”

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  37. Nick L said:

    “In addition to that, some new sidings would be needed to allow GO trains to leapfrog SmartTrack trains when they are stopped at stations, and signal upgrades. The RER part will deal with the heavy lifting parts which are the electrification and double tracking where needed.”

    The sidings however, are likely to be a non trivial issue. There are some ST stations that are being suggested in areas that are already quite tight just to add the station, let alone adding the siding. I agree that sidings will be required to make the extra stops make any sense, however, I would worry that (1) there is not enough space to actually have the frequency, and (2) there is no way for the RER trains to leap frog the ST trains.

    Of course there is the very basic question of what about capacity in the USRC and in Union station itself. You can only have so many trains going through there.

    Steve: Another issue about the room needed for stations is that if the SSE is to be built and RER/ST will take over the lion’s share of available space in the rail corridor, then the SRT must shut down before the replacement service starts to operate. This is what the pro-subway forces use as an argument against the LRT option, but I suppose that for the greater good of SmartTrack, they will make an exception.

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  38. Steve:

    In due course, maybe, but if we never think of it as going north of Danforth, it will certainly never get to Sheppard. As long as the TTC presents a truncated DRL, and people from Scarborough talk of it as serving only “downtowners”, we’re talking about the wrong line.

    Of course this is more bad optics from Metrolinx — the Dundas West to Eglinton East option should be phase one. Of course Scarberians would be mad when the DRL is more a band aid then a solution.

    Nick L:

    Actually, if I was a fan of the Sheppard subway, I would be getting nervous over this because this might be the first sign that SmartTrack and the BD extension are going to alter the ridership patterns along Sheppard to the point that a Sheppard subway will never be viable. Simply put, Sheppard only works if there are no other reasonable heavy rail routes downtown east of the DVP.

    Point blank either both subways will get built or none at all. It’s sad but reality. The Liberals will cave on Sheppard in 2018, to stay in power. Especially if Christine and the Tories come out supporting Sheppard.

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