Updated May 30, 2015: The staff presentation is now available online. Some illustrations from it have been included in the article below.
At its May 27, 2015, meeting, the TTC Board received a presentation from Rick Thompson, the Chief Project Manager for the Scarborough Subway Extension (SSE). This presentation is not yet online.
During the presentation, Thompson noted that the process of winnowing down nine alternative routes for the SSE was nearly complete, and that a report on the three short-listed options would be issued fairly soon.
The original nine proposals included two major groups. The first would see the north end of the line continue east from STC on alignments similar to the proposed Scarborough LRT crossing Sheppard at either Markham Road or Progress. Three routes were proposed to reach the existing SRT corridor:
- Via the SRT as currently constructed.
- Via Eglinton and Midland, then swinging back into the SRT right-of-way north of Eglinton (this would avoid reconstruction of Kennedy Station on a north-south alignment).
- Via Eglinton and Midland, joining into the SRT alignment near the existing Midland Station.
The second group takes a north-south alignment through or past STC and all arrive at Sheppard and McCowan as their terminus:
- A Midland/McCowan option would swing into the Gatineau hydro corridor south of Lawrence to link northeast to McCowan and then follow the McCowan route north.
- A Brimley option would travel east on Eglinton, north on Brimley and then swing northeast through STC to McCowan.
- A McCowan option would follow Eglinton to Brimley, then swing north via Danforth Road to McCowan. This was the original proposal approved by Council.
- A Bellamy option would follow Eglinton to Bellamy, turn north, and then swing back to the northwest to reach the McCowan/STC station.
- A Markham Road option would follow Eglinton to Markham Road (although the exact alignment east of Bellamy is unclear), then turn north and eventually back west to McCowan. This is the most roundabout of the possible routes.
Events overtook the plans, and a report on the shortlisted options that had gone privately to Councillors made its way into the media. The Star’s Jennifer Pagliaro reported that the three remaing options were the original McCowan alignment, the Bellamy alignment and the Midland route running straight north to meet the SRT corridor.
[Toronto Star, from City of Toronto]
Although the study area for the SSE extends east to Markham Road, that option did not make the cut. An obvious reason is that this takes the line too far out of the way adding substantially to the cost and to the travel time from Sheppard and STC down to Kennedy Station. Cost premiums of $600m and $1b have been suggested for the Bellamy and Markham Road alignments respectively.
Why go further east? The problem lies in Mayor Tory’s Smart Track plan in the GO corridor now shared with the SRT. If Smart Track provides frequent convenient service and, like the SRT, is part of the TTC fare system, then it will draw many riders from the SSE, riders who were used to justify the switch from LRT to subway technology in the first place. If the line is further east, advocates hope that it will draw its own demand by intercepting riders first. However, another part of the demand model concerns riders arriving from the north who contributed to the bump in demand estimates for the subway. These riders would come from the very north edge of Toronto and from Markham where any service in the GO corridor will be much more attractive than taking a bus south to a Sheppard/McCowan Station, let alone to STC if the subway is shortened as a cost-saving measure.
The Bellamy route is an odd choice because it runs through a low density area which shows no sign of imminent development. Midland is equally odd because it is closer to SmartTrack even than the McCowan route. Both are compromises that are attractive only if one accepts premises that are as much about politics as planning.
- Bellamy moves the line further east at a comparatively modest cost (“only” another $600m), and may improve the SSE/ST ridership split a bit. This route also has a connection to GO’s Lake Shore East service at Eglinton Station, although the geometry of the location could make this tricky. How many GO customers would opt to ride to midtown via the subway rather than staying on their train to Union is worth investigation lest this connection be played up for more than it might actually deliver.
- Midland is a variant on the scheme advanced by former Transportation Minister Glen Murray for the subway to follow the SRT corridor. That idea would have required a complete replacement of Kennedy Station and a multi-year shutdown. This is a face-saving alternative to retain the spirit of Murray’s proposal.
The existence of this report and its availability to the media raises serious questions about the context of the TTC presentation. At the very moment the TTC Board was told that the shortlist had not been finalized, not only had this been done but the information was in Councillors’ hands.
Estimates for subway projects run agound on the variety of factors that can affect costs including inflation, topography, geology, utilities and operational plans. The Council approval was based on an estimated cost to complete the project of $3.56-billion including inflation. Costs would be shared between Ottawa (19%), Queen’s Park (56%) and Toronto (26%). Any further cost is to Toronto’s account, and this makes the selection of options and features that could drive up the cost an important issue for Council.
The scheme as approved would be 7.6km long with three stations at Lawrence East, STC and Sheppard East using a fleet of seven trains (enough to operate every second train beyond Kennedy Station to Sheppard). Construction would begin in 2018 with completion in late 2023. Already there have been suggestions that a fourth station should be added at Brimley and Eglinton.
The estimated unit costs for construction are $180m/km plus about $200m/station. These are 2015 dollars and are subject to inflation.
To put these numbers in context, the Spadina extension to Vaughan is 8.6km long, and has 6 stations. That is $1.548b worth of running structure plus $1.2b worth of stations, plus ten trains at a cost of about $160m, for a total of roughly $3b. The actual budget for the extension is $2.6b reflecting the fact that some work was done in years past. In any event, the uninflated unit costs are in the ballpark. Things could easily get out of control if, for example, Councillors demand architectural monuments for their stations, or if the route is substantially extended.
Station cost estimates for the original scheme vary considerably:
- Lawrence at $160m. This is a line station that would have no provision for parking. No turnback crossover structure would be provided.
- STC at $200m. This station would include parking and a crossover.
- Sheppard at $500m. This station would not be just a terminal, but would have tail tracks and storage tracks to provide an overnight home for the expanded fleet. Note that this cost will apply to whatever station becomes the terminal because the storage facility has to go somewhere.
The TTC had planned to undertake public consultation through the summer despite the fact that (as described in the presentation), the shortlisted corridors were still not known. Conversely, a final recommended alignment is supposed to come before Council in Fall 2015 as part of the larger package of studies on Smart Track, GO and the Downtown Relief Line.
All of this is moving with some haste in a “get it done” mode, although the entire process could run aground depending on the financial and ridership projections that will face Council. The TTC is already contracting for basic services such as tunnel design and project management with little defined as to scope of work because the alignment is unknown. The idea is to have everything in place to start work the moment there is an approved project. The scheme would then unfold in three major stages:
- Up to 2016: Project startup, staffing, etc. Preliminary engineering and Transit Project Assessment.
- 2016 to 2018: Property acquisition and design.
- 2018 to 2023: Construction.
This schedule was described as very optimistic and it could be affected by factors such as unexpected conditions or substantial increase in scope (length, stations). Another factor that could complicate the process could be the extra time needed to design, tender and negotiate some form of P3 arrangement for project delivery. However, that mechanism is a prerequisite for federal funding, and is much beloved of Queen’s Park through its Infrastructure Ontario arm. The City and TTC would have to come up with a significant justification to avoid going the P3 route especially with the history of the Spadina project and the sense that somehow this could have been avoided with private sector expertise and some degree of “risk transfer” to a private partner.
When challenged on the speed at which the project appears to be building up steam, CEO Andy Byford replied that Council has directed the TTC to build a subway, and barring any change in that direction, he is proceeding to do this as quickly as possible. The consulting contracts that have been let so far (or are pending) are to be paid based on work actually done within an upset limit, and they have escape clauses should the TTC need to change plans based on political shifts.
Council will face the combined effects of any cost increases in the SSE, the potential bill for other transit projects, and major non-transit work such as the need to rebuild Toronto Community Housing stock, not to mention budgetary pressures in the 2016 cycle. This will all hit Council in Fall 2015.
Steve, Scarborough subway is a done deal and so you are only wasting your time by continuing to resist even though the armistice has been signed and the war is long over. I am from Scarborough and I do support the DRL in principle but it should not be built as it will leave no money for anything else for the next 25 years minimum. Instead, we need to look into providing additional capacity into Downtown through RER and SmartTrack and more buses and also look at using longer trains (stations can be lengthened if need be).
Convenience, Better for special needs, Closer to priority neighborhoods. Closer to UTSC, attractiveness for commuter, business & development regeneration. This still wouldn’t be the most optimal route in my opinion as it should extend to Kingston Rd before looping back. Bottom line is if you are going to spend the billions on a subway you better do it right.
Personally I think the right thing to do is to:
1, Pay for whatever solution can be done to connect the Sheppard LRT seamlessly to Yonge St and not play favorites because of Legacy mistakes.
2. Improve the SLRT route similar to the current subway proposal as the existing route is lackluster & GO RER may cover the industrial stop down the road if we truly need them
3. Build the complete Scarborough-Malvern LRT
All can be accomplished close or within the current available budget & is a fair solution. Patchwork LRT transfer routes are completely disrespectful, second rate & creates another layer of inequity to the areas left behind. We are better building nothing than discriminating on this scale
Well there is certainly a lot of doom and gloom surrounding the Bellamy alignment. I just read an article in the Star complaining that bellamy as a corridor is a leafy, tree lined suburban paradise without suitable density for a subway. And I agree. But there is more to choosing an alignment than just density. None of the corridor options — Mccowan, Midland, Bellamy — have sufficient density on their own, but they exist as potential means to get to STC and to connect to Sheppard. Taken in isolation, the SRT alignment doesn’t have sufficient density for any form of rapid transit either.
The advantage of Bellamy is its connection to GO, its proximity to Markham, and, significantly, its proximity to the commercial strip on Lawrence between Bellamy and Markham which has serious developmental potential. But I suspect, and I wouldn’t mind Steve’s opinion on this, that the Bellamy corridor provides the best potential to serve reconfigured Markham and Kingston Road bus routes to act as feeders to the new subway, and this might be the cause of Bellamy’s improved ridership figures over its alternatives. Could this be a distinct positive consequence of the Bellamy option?
Steve: I concur that, up to a point, there has been too much emphasis placed on development immediately adjacent to stations as opposed to demand that can be brought to stations by feeder bus routes. Conversely, density’s value has its limits the further one gets from a station because access ceases to be reasonably possible without a feeder service. Downtown “works” by having many stations serving a large area, and I have my doubts that a single station either where the current STC station is or a new STC/McCowan station will adequately serve all of the developents that are part of future hopes for the area.
“Proximity to Markham” is a bit of a stretch. The walking distance is 850m at Lawrence Avenue. Down at Eglinton, the link is complicated by the layout of the rail corridor. In any event, I cannot see the majority of Markham Road demand choosing to walk as opposed to using a bus connector.
It will be quite interesting to see the next iteration of City Planning’s review of the alignments and how much territory out from stations, wherever they may be located, they consider to be part of that station’s catchment area.
All of that said, the effective density around a subway line with widely-spaced stops really should be expressed on a weighted basis relative to access time. This has always been one of the arguments in favour of surface LRT and its ability to have more, lower cost stations and thereby more points of access. Imagine what Mississauga’s Hurontario line would look like with 2km stop spacing like the SSE.
Also, as soon as the Eglinton Crosstown is completed, a large number of its passengers will want to go downtown. But good luck transferring to the Yonge line to get there. Right now, the Yonge line at Eglinton looks like this.
I predict that a very large number of passengers will transfer from the Crosstown to the DRL.
The province is perfectly happy to let their money stay in Scarborough while nothing happens because it means that they don’t have to start spending 1.4 billion while keeping their promise to build transit in Scarborough.
Subway is very expensive. A logical stopping place for the DRL is at the Eglinton Crosstown.
For passengers from north of Eglinton, Metrolinx is planning all-day two-way service on the Richmond Hill line.
Passengers from north of Eglinton will be able to take the GO train to get downtown.
It would really help if the Oriole GO station was relocated 300 metres up the line to be co-located with the Leslie subway station. Which should have been done in the first place. But hey, that requires provincial and municipal governments to cooperate with each other … Kevin rolls eyes …
So what is the maximum capacity of these lines, when run with minimum headway and full-length trainsets? I was under the impression that the Flexity Freedom could run with a 90 second headway — did I get that wrong? I was under the impression that, under ideal conditions, a Flexity Freedom route could carry well more than half as many passengers per peak hour direction as one of the TTC’s heavy rail lines.
I stand corrected on the Vancouver comparison and the Calgary comparison. Is that because sharing intersections with surface traffic, and giving the surface traffic a fair share of the use of those intersections, would mean the Flexity Freedom trainsets would always need longer headways than 90 seconds?
So, have the TTC, Bombardier or MetroLinx predicted the maximum passenger capacity of a Flexity Freedom line, with four vehicle train-sets, and a minimum realistic headway that allowed other vehicles a fair share of the use of shared intersections?
As I wrote above, I know that City Planner Jennifer Keesmaat strongly recommended that the above ground portion of the Crosstown LRT not be built on stilts. I remain curious as to how much more expensive this would have been. I remain curious as to whether, in the long run, the savings in not requiring drivers would balance out the extra costs of construction and maintenance.
Steve: Stations on Eglinton (and on the other planned Transit City lines) presume three-car trains. When discussing capacity, it is important to distinguish between maximum, crush loads and reasonable average loads over a peak hour. At crush load, it is very difficult for people to get on and off of a vehicle, and this adds substantially to station dwell time. We see this routinely on the subway where packing the trains full can interfere with the ability to run service as frequently as possible. From a service planning point of view, the design capacity of a car will be somewhere in the 130-150 range even though crush capacities well above 200 are cited by Bombardier. For a three-car train, that’s 450 people on average.
Surface operations that cross major streets must deal with the basics of traffic signal timing, and it is not practical to attempt headways as short as 90 seconds. This is too close to the typical cycle time, in some cases shorter, and the service will always wind up marshalled into multiples of the signal frequency. Even priority signalling will not completely overcome this because if priority must be given very frequently (don’t forget those 90 second headways are arriving in both directions), then it is not practical to keep interrupting cross traffic. I believe that 180 seconds is the lower bound being used in planning the Transit City lines, and so this means 20 trains (of whatever length) per hour.
20 trains at 450 per train is a design capacity of 9,000 passengers per hour. This is well above the projected demand on the surface portion of the Eglinton route, and on any of the mostly-surface Transit City lines like Finch West or Sheppard East. On an LRT version of the SRT, a higher capacity could be provided if needed either with four-car trains, or by shortening the headway. However, this would depend on the design of any future extension beyond McCowan and the degree to which it was completely separated from traffic conflicts. Note that the 9k/hour leaves headroom for surges above that level, and does not represent jam packed trains.
Another important issue for a route in the middle of a street is that passengers have to get to and from the platforms. If the demand at a station is very high, this pedestrian traffic will complicate intersection operations and eat into the time available for sharing between auto traffic and transit vehicles. On Eglinton, the line will be on the surface east and west of Don Mills, but the station will be underground because it is a major bus route interconnection point (the loop will be on the northeast corner with an underground link to the station), and there is a possibility of a future connection to a north-south DRL on Don Mills.
An elevated structure on Eglinton would cost about $150m/km although this number depends on how many stations were included. This was a matter of great debate when the Metrolinx “regional” view of the Eglinton line was battling against the City’s “local” view. Fewer stations and an elevated means faster journeys and higher demand, although the degree to which this would just shuffle around capacity problems on the network is hard to say without more context such as the presence or absence of a Don Mills line (or DRL). A big problem with some of the demand modelling was that it was not capacity constrained, or did not look beyond the immediate route (Eglinton) to see the effects on other connecting pieces such as the Yonge subway. Talking about an Eglinton El is not just a matter of aesthetics for the street itself, but of access questions (station spacing) and the knock-on effects as the shifted demand moves through the network.
Finally, as to automated operation, I believe that this has been oversold. The moment one goes down that route, then any future extensions must also be completely grade separated. One of the strengths of the “LRT” concept is that it can run in a variety of contexts, an important consideration on the outer ends of networks where demand levels do not warrant major infrastructure investments. Shifting to this technology brings its own collection of maintenance requirements and added complexity on the vehicles. Because of the long tunnel section, Eglinton’s cars will have ATC on them but this is primarily for basic signalling, not to eliminate the operator.
The arguments for ATC and elevated structure are intertwined by their advocates in that the elevated makes end-to-end automation possible.
The Star on the Bellamy route option.
Could the SSE be completed as part of ST? Say, in the same general alignment as the RT but integrated as a spur off of the Newmarket sub and using ST equipment to run a shuttle. It wouldn’t please those unhappy about the transfer at Kennedy but it might solve some of the line’s existential problems.
Steve: I think you mean the Uxbridge Sub. The Newmarket Sub runs parallel to Caledonia Road and hosts the GO Barrie service.
This idea comes up regularly (it was part of the Transport Action proposal), but it runs aground on capacity issues. The demand on the “SRT” branch combined with the “GO” branch would outstrip the corridor’s capacity.
I believe to serve the local need for the York Mills, and Lawrence bus routes, and those headed to the center at Don Mills & Eglinton need to be considered, and the Don Mills LRT is still required. The Don Mills LRT remains a fairly important connector to the future of Toronto transit – but more appropriate than subway from Eglinton going north. It is also important in that it will provide an alternate path for more ridership that would otherwise be headed to Yonge.
The Richmond Hill service will likely not be frequent enough to divert riders on the Sheppard subway from Yonge, but hopefully the Don Mills LRT to a DRL will be for those coming from the Sheppard LRT. Richmond Hill service will hopefully keep core bound riders from even further north (Richmond Hill and beyond) off the Yonge subway, thus leaving it open for more local use.
This is a classic example of how Toronto now needs a web of services, and not a ultra heavy single subway line approach to bring transit to the wider region. There needs to be a web of high frequency services, with painless transfers, that people will not ride out of their way to avoid, and that will support roll on and off access for the disabled.
The problem with this approach is 3 fold:
1. Where is the load the extra capacity of RER going to come from – and will it relieve the load that is generated in the inner 416.
2. Changes required to allow Yonge to take on the extra load are very expensive (a large fraction of the cost of a DRL), and this does not resolve issues with regards to the buses approaching Yonge spending increasing time in traffic, nor provide anywhere near the same increment in capacity.
3. Subway extension anywhere that is not required for capacity as you note consumes massive funds, and leave much less for a broader network expansion.
I have no problem with the Scarborough subway, except that it will result in the balance of what would otherwise have been in Scarborough being either greatly delayed or not done at all. The DRL is needed to carry the expected load that will be core bound (including from the SSE). A broader network is required in Scarborough to make access to transit easier and move the modal mix strongly towards transit in order to begin to address congestion. The answer in Scarborough has to greatly enhance rides within Scarborough and access from areas like Morningside and Finch or Sheppard, as well as the STC area, and even from/to areas like Guildwood, and western Scarborough – and this should not be an either or.
I do not know about Steve, I am not saying the battle is not lost, merely that we are making a mistake, that will not serve broader Scarborough in the longer term. Here Joe M’s position, of give me the complete LRT network or subway is more reasonable, in that I understand his basic mistrust of “next wave” commitments.
Steve: First off, I dislike “battle” metaphors as they imply an all-out, take no prisoners, attitude. Second, the “war” if we must go down that path has many battles, and “winning” one of them may give some sort of warm fuzzy sense of security and power (especially when it’s the equivalent of a bar room, beer-induced “oh but we will be so great” boasting).
I too distrust “commitments” and multi-phase programs because there are too many budget hawk, anti transit trolls “out there” who come to power often enough to derail everything, even if there isn’t a handy recession for “liberals” to blame for their cutbacks.
The much larger issue is how to build a transit network for Toronto and the GTA, and the recognition that this is a long and expensive process. Everyone will not get a pony in their living room, but that’s hardly a model for a workable transportation plan, is it.
Well, it is no secret that the best parts of the city are in Scarborough. All that is missing is a subway and Lord willing, we will have one soon.
Steve: There’s a rather nice valley right outside my window with a lovely vintage viaduct over the Don River. It’s in Toronto. We can share the beauty spots.
One more thing – Downtown Relief Line already exists in the form of Uber and no need to waste more money on any DRL studies. Uber is the way to go as far as any DRL is concerned and Uber will also provide relief to our overworked taxi drivers who will get more family time. Prior to Uber, our taxi drivers worked 7 days a week but thanks to Uber, they can spend more time with their wives/husbands and kids.
Steve: Without getting into the whole Uber controversy, it is utter BS to think that the riders the DRL is intended to serve would pay a taxi fare, even at Uber rates, to drive downtown in the middle of the rush hour.
Steve said:”The much larger issue is how to build a transit network for Toronto and the GTA, and the recognition that this is a long and expensive process. Everyone will not get a pony in their living room, but that’s hardly a model for a workable transportation plan, is it.”
Amen Steve, thanks.
I would argue that there is a way to bring good reliable, transit close to most, however, this does not involve a lot of subway.
Steve said: “There’s a rather nice valley right outside my window with a lovely vintage viaduct over the Don River. It’s in Toronto. We can share the beauty spots.”
And under extremely rare circumstances, the TTC even provides a free fireworks display.
Bryan said: “and also look at using longer trains (stations can be lengthened if need be).”
Naturally because the city can lengthen subway platforms for free.
Steve: Alas, I was out rather late at a party when the fireworks were in progress. I would have had a ringside seat!
I don’t know. After reading the article in the Toronto Star, it would seem to me that if the greatest transit demand in Scarborough is generally east-west, then maybe we should keep the RT technology and buy new rolling stock for it. This would be by far the cheapest option for rapid transit to STC, and would leave quite a bit of money left to extend BD east towards Markham Rd. It’s true that buses along Eglinton East are always packed, so extending the subway eastward with stops at Brimley-Danforth and Markham-Kingston would probably be a good thing as far as transit needs go, and would certainly make a lot more sense to me than building a subway along one of the three north-south corridors currently on the table that quite clearly do not warrant subway-level service.
Yes, we’d still be stuck with an orphaned technology in the RT, but let’s be honest here. LRT isn’t coming to Scarborough for a long time. The only possible line is Sheppard, which I think we can all agree is far from being a done deal. So without LRT in the mix for Scarborough, maintaining the RT technology (with new vehicles) doesn’t seem all that bad to me.
It also lets someone like Tory say that Scarborough still gets their subway and no LRT (which clearly has a bad rep in the east end), along with SmartTrack/RER plus a local SRT service to STC. Kill the Lawrence and Ellesmere SmartTrack stations to avoid any potential conflict with the SRT, and it’s done. It’s the only way Tory could save face without really breaking any promises/commitments he made during his campaign (not that I care about Tory, but as Mayor he does have some influence).
Steve: The newer “RT” vehicles manufactured by Bombardier won’t fit on the current SRT, although that could be fixed. The larger problem is whether we would only replace the RT like-for-like, or how much of an extension would be built east and north as originally planned for either the RT or SLRT lines. I’m not sure replacing one orphan line with another would go down well with people in Scarborough, especially if they had to endure a shutdown of the RT so that the line could be modified to handle the new cars.
Anyone who thinks that the Scarborough Subway is a done deal should look up what happened to the Eglinton Subway that actually was under construction when Harris ordered it stopped and the hole filled in.
Rochester NY had a subway and abandoned it, see here or here. Cincinatti OH started a subway and abandoned it while under construction, see here or here . Actually it was causing a lot subsidence and many building collapsed so there was a rather large law suit. Nothing is a done deal until it is running and even then it can be abandoned.
First of all, I would like to thank Steve for all of his voluntary work. I really appreciate all of this as do all of your readers minus the trolls although some of the trolls seem to be having a good time too otherwise they would not be here. I was wondering if we could have more coverage of the construction of the Eglinton LRT. Your readers who live along where construction sites can provide the pictures (if you make an appeal for it). I too was hoping to have readers from Waterloo Region, Ottawa, Durham Region, York Region, etc provide pictures and comments, etc of their new or under construction transit projects. Why waste time on Scarborough when most Scarboroughers don’t even appreciate it and that debate is settled anyway?
Steve: I have been focussing mainly on political and planning issues (although I do admit to a fondness for streetcar track construction, if only do show how it’s being done to a higher standard these days). Scarborough is a big issue because of the way it skews how we look at transit in Toronto, and soaks up a lot of money that could provide better coverage, if only Scarborough residents were not so busy being offended. That’s a legacy of the Ford era — tell people David Miller’s LRT plan is second rate — and it carried over to Tory because he wouldn’t challenge that BS for fear of losing votes. We have the same problem at Queen’s Park.
I read a comment along the following lines on a news article: UPX will financially fail as it will be cheaper to rent a private luxurious limousine (especially if you are travelling in groups of 2 or more which is almost always the case and also remember visitors don’t have PRESTO cards) and with a limousine, you don’t have to haul your luggage to and from train stations and most UPX riders won’t have Union Station as their origin or final destination and so there is also the need to haul the luggage between UPX and the subway or whatever and so why go with something (i.e. UPX) that will cost more money, more time, and more inconvenience? The commenter had also suggested that once the UPX goes bankrupt, SmartTrack use it to get to the airport instead of the expensive tunnelling that Mayor Tory’s plan will require.
I personally am reasonably wealthy but I will continue to taxi my way to and from the airport.
Steve: A week ago, I went on a media tour on UPX out to the airport and back. I was struck by how far I had to walk to get from the subway station to the UPX platform. Part of this seems long because with Union Station still under construction, the pathway isn’t a straight line, but I was dodging hordes of commuters to make the trip.
As for UPX and SmartTrack, there’s a teensy problem of capacity. The UPX trains are short, and expansion to larger trainsets is limited by the size of the station at the airport. The capacity of the line comes nowhere near to the sort of relief for transit riders that is actually needed. This only works if larger trains can operate and that means no airport station. Also, the scheme for ST was to provide additional capacity to the Airport commercial centre well south of the airport itself. Dropping people off up on top of the airport by the airport circulator train is hardly a handy access point.
A much, much superior link would be provided by the western extension of the Crosstown line as originally planned, and I hope that Metrolinx and Queen’s Park come down in support of this option.
I remember a while ago reading an article on Torontoist, discussing the Eglinton Connects planning, how once the Eglinton Crosstown LRT comes through in 2020, it will lead to knocking down a Walmart in the Golden Mile area and replaced with a park, with trees and mid to high rise developments all along the line. Then it dawned on me, these same arguments are be made in one form or another for the Scarborough subway route and that, I believe, is where the problem occurs. That both the pro-Subway/LRT have these wild dreams that somehow their technological choice will create this golden development along its route; how building subways will draw people out of their cars, or how if you don’t like waiting in a bus-like shelter for an LRT, don’t worry, a coffee shop will always be near every stop where you can wait comfortably.
So if we really want to build an transit network for Toronto and the GTA, we need to show how it would serve the people of today, rather than tomorrow, both sides need to stop including these golden development dreams attached with the transit options, otherwise we’ll be stuck in this Ground Hog Day pro/anti subway/LRT argument forever.
I walked this path about six months ago, and I think I brought those concerns here then.
I believe the same problem exists in walking from the UPX terminal to the departure level. A whole trainload of UPX passengers, with their luggage, and maybe children, are bottlenecked through a couple of escalators and elevators, and have to go down several floors to get to the floor of the departure level, and then they have to walk a considerable distance.
The only airport I used that had a link to the subway was in London. The subway had a stop beneath each terminal. No long walks, just a single escalator ride.
The UPX could have stopped at both Terminal 1 and Terminal 3. The inter-terminal cable-car system was designed solely for motorists, and it sucks. It is slow and it is basically unexpandable.
Yes, the stilts the UPX rides on provide an impressive approach to Terminal Three, but if an underground approach had been possible, would it have allowed a much shorter path to the Arrivals and Departure levels?
P.S. Steve, thanks for your long and detailed answers to my questions about the maximum capacity and minimum headway of LRT lines, and the added cost of elevation. Elevation would cost almost as much as tunneling then.
This is true for the subway connection, but not so for the Heathrow Express (their UPX). Even though I was on business and could expense the fare, I chose to go with the subway with a six-zone day pass so I could check out places around the city. We really need to have both a premium express and a rapid transit combination to Pearson.
When returning to Heathrow, I again went with using the Underground, but the line to Heathrow was closed for maintenance. No problem, as one could make their way to Paddington where they could board the Heathrow Express with their valid transit fare.
Arriving at Heathrow on the express, the walk to the terminal seemed to me to have been longer than the walk that exists from the Malton GO station to at least Terminal 3 at Pearson.
I am personally not convinced that the premium express service, in city Toronto’s size, physical form and extent of rapid transit network, can really be justified, especially given the relative scarcity of space for ROWs. If we are going to make a choice between the 2, a rapid transit connection would be preferred. This is especially so given that there are so many directions that one might want to approach the airport area and surrounding employment district from.
It would have made more sense in my mind to expend the money required to make the UPX an airport to core exclusive, in extending the ROW and track space to the Brampton GO, and created a couple of future transfer points with services that would expand coverage across more of the region. That is a good junction with Eglinton LRT/The Mississauga Transit Way, the Hurontario-Main LRT, and hopefully an extension of the Finch West LRT. The linkages would provide rapid transit access to/from the core for the entire north west of the city, and would also allow access to/from points along Finch and Eglinton from/to much of Brampton and Mississauga.
Unlike London, Toronto does not have a broad enough rapid transit system as of yet to want to create both, without first focusing on the broad network. The UPX feels like a show piece for a living room, in a house that we have yet to buy.
If we could extend Eglinton crosstown LRT to Mc Cowan and Sheppard which requires about 5km under ground tunnelling and only one underground station at Lawrence East, we could have saved more than 1.5 billion dollars.
The real questions that need to be addressed include how both will operate, and the specifics of each line, including spacing/frequency of stop, nature of signal priority, and frequency of service. City planning, should be driving the debate, as the choice of mode, needs to reflect the overall plan and target outcome. One of the long term issues in Toronto, is that Kennedy was down zoned not up zoned when the subway was brought there. Areas where we are planning rapid transit should also get different allowances for parking etc. We need to have an integrated vision. Some subway stops in Toronto are very nearly wide open, if LRT stops were as well? The important thing in my mind is that in accessing the network, many more will walk onto LRT, hence it will replace the walk to bus, in a way that the subway extension does not.
LRT won’t work in Scarborough. LRT just does not fit with our unique street life and culture. LRT undermines Scarboroughers’ right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Right to life is violated because drivers sometimes don’t stop when the LRT doors are open. Right to liberty is violated since drivers will no longer have the liberty to keep moving even when the light is green if the LRT doors are open. Right to happiness is violated since the people of Scarborough unanimously prefer subway.
Steve: I will assume that this is in jest. You do know, don’t you, that all of the LRT platforms would be fenced off from the road lanes (as on Spadina) and motorists can speed by the stops with gay abandon. If you are not joking, then you can join the queue of horribly misinformed subway supporters who are their own worst enemies.
For those who think that the Scarborough Subway is a “done deal” perhaps they should look to Budapest. From the new issue of International Railway Journal:
It seems that there is still some sense left in some cities of the world. A brief history of the line can be found here.
Yes, however, shame there is so little in Toronto.
Fortunately I believe the Scarborough in question is not part of the US. I do believe however, that LRT will lead to and is consistent with “Peace order and good government” and with our fundamental right “to life, liberty and personal security”.
Cmon … While I agree this current subway plan is not the answer the Scarborough’s LRT plan the way it was rolled out was beyond second rate & id take the subway loop in a heartbeat over the SLRT.
Steve: Except nobody, except a very early version of Rob Ford, is offering a subway loop. You will get, maybe, a subway to STC via somewhere, not a loop. If you’re going to start with a loop as your base, I think I’m entitled to talk about far more LRT than just the RT replacement. For starters: Sheppard East, Eglinton, Morningside would make a nice loop of their own. If we’re going to make comparisons, apples to apples please.
The Scarborough Malvern LRT:
Is not even in the “Next Wave” Contrary to many of you posters beliefs. So to put a timeframe on that I would esimate 200 years. Politcal smoke & clearly 2nd Rate.
Steve: “Second rate” because you don’t expect it to be built. I could say the same thing about some of the subway plans.
The Scarborough LRT portion:
– continues with the current inefficient, unattractive route through industrial lands. This should & could be enhanced
– forces a transfer which could be palatable if part of a more functional local route network. But it’s not.
Borderline 2nd Rate
Steve: Enhanced? Which of the many alternate routes do you favour? The current route was an alternative required to avoid running behind residential property where the locals were very, very upset. Even on the rail corridor, there are complaints about noise from the RT. Contrary to claims by its inventors, the rails and wheels do corrogate and the rail has to be ground regularly between Eglinton and Lawrence to keep the noise down.
As for the transfer being palatable under other circumstances, see above.
The Sheppard LRT:
– Forces Scarborough citizens to transfer to different technologies going in the same direction for short distances. Also stops well short of the Zoo/Rouge Park as that also constitutes for first rate planning.
Absolute second rate.
Steve: All those Scarborough Citizens seem bent on never transferring. I suspect we are going to have to invent a whole new series of route numbers for all of the point-to-point services this implies. There will never, ever, be a subway to the Zoo or Rouge Park or many other places in Scarborough, and so this is something of a bogus argument. Indeed, there’s a good chance that the SSE won’t make it north of STC due to budgetary constraints.
All this patch work is second rate & the people left out I would argue are third rate.
And both sides of the debate get easily offended debating over the crappy LRT plan vs crappy subway plan is so far politcal and inefficeint on so many levels it brings out the worst.
Steve: But you and I, on the other hand, are paragons of virtue and measured calm.
Do you really think that matters? Does it seem to you like the province is carefully following their well-crafted plan? Because if so, I think you might be looking at the wrong province.
Scarborough transit has serious city money behind it now. If they reverted to the SRT plan, they could easily build the Scarborough-Malvern LRT with the extra, and build the Sheppard LRT all the way to the zoo. Why aren’t you agitating for that?
As for the transfer, well, that’s a part of taking transit. Right now, anyone who takes the a Sheppard bus to Don Mills has to transfer to get on the subway. How would this be any different?
Personally, I transfer at Spadina between the two subway lines every day. Even though I only need to go three stops on the YUS, and there’s no technical reason why my train couldn’t just turn and hop onto the other line. It’s not that bad. I actually quite like the walk through the tunnel. In fact, of all the things I dislike about my commute, that’s at the bottom of my list.
Bob Wightman: For those who think that the Scarborough Subway is a “done deal” perhaps they should look to Budapest.
Don’t compare our world class Scarborough with an unknown city from the third world as doing so is an insult to our pride and honour and our head held high. Bob Wightman should be banned from this site for this insult.
Steve: Either you are pulling our collective leg, or you are a complete know nothing who is completely unaware that Budapest is the capital of Hungary and has a history far longer and richer than Scarborough could ever dream of. If you are serious, it’s comments like this that give Scarberians a bad name.
But at least now we have Scarborough trolls who want Bob Wightman to replace me, and someone else (maybe) who wants him banned from the site. Maybe I should just ban the trolls.
Agreed. Do you read my posts? I could only wish our great Political transit designers propose table that option. Wont hold my breath but If i have to choose between a hacked up LRT network & a subway extension. It’s not even close.
It’s called bad planning. Period. It’s unfair, unattractive, & inconvenient.
Scarborough citizens would take a bus to an LRT to the subway all in one direction. The commute is bad enough. This needs to be addressed.
Yeah it’s tough to determine who in this thread is on top of it and who’s on top of ??it!!!
Oh well, if the SSE wasn’t such a serious waste of finite resources, belly laughs would be appropriate sometimes, vs. cautious chuckles.
Here’s to you Steve sorting ’em out.
And thank you for your long sufering.
Sheppard would be looped in the “next wave” just like the Scarborough Malvern LRT
It’s second rate planning & makes the network proposed less than 2nd rate in terms of integration, design , attractiveness, etc…
Let’s move on far far away from the RT debacle
That’s a bit over the top. The Sheppard transfer is utterly absurd but could possibly be accepted if we had a useful local network which served all the main areas for commuters including attraction. But we don’t.
Are you really shocked the majority of Scarborough citizens are not fond of the LRT plan on the table?
Steve: Do they even know what LRT plan is on the table, or only what they read/heard in election literature?
I would love to have the Sheppard LRT extend to the Zoo. What a great trip for the kids! I wouldn’t want to take the bus there — I’d be worried it wouldn’t come afterward and we’d be stuck and have to become one of the exhibits (“stranded TTC passenger”). Maybe they could even re-implement the Zoo monorail as an LRT loop.
Probably you meant `know nothing,’ but it occurs to me that `no nothing’ is actually a good term for some of the most-strident, most-extreme subway supporters.
Steve: Yup, I was on a roll with those alliterative “n”s. The comment is fixed now.
No matter what is proposed, they always find something wrong with it. The line ought to run along a different street, it’s no good because it ought to go further, there’s not enough parking at this station, there ought to be five more stations there, this line is no good because it’s not in the right provincial plan, that one is no good because the province hasn’t absolutely promised it will be built.
They aren’t really subway supporters. They aren’t really transit supporters. What they want is no, nothing.
And if they get what they want, it will prove Scarborough is disadvantaged and downtrodden and so on.
He may have a point – has not planning had a greater impact on final outcome there than in Scarborough? Has not higher level government acted to serve as a brake on excess, instead of a driver of it? Keeping our head held high should be about building a system that will support and drive the level of use that the one in Budapest has. Can you imagine Toronto with system that attracted and could comfortably support a modal split above 50% or Scarborough with one above 40%? We should be proud when we do the smart thing, not the mega project. The city can either support many centers/destinations with lighter rapid transit modes or a single one, with longer bus rides and fewer heavy ones (this increases the need for DRL to come first). If Toronto allows politics to determine transit – instead of planning – we will do neither well, and merely choke the city to death with traffic.
Steve: And Scarborough might have better architecture too.
I have to concede, that it is not really that clear exactly what is truly on the table (as opposed to political illusion). What is likely to get pushed onto or off of said, at any given moment. I can read the Metrolinx official position, and wonder what portion of the “Next Wave” stuff is really on the table, I can even wonder what portion of the current “Big Move” stuff is really on the table, especially when I consider the delay on the Sheppard LRT, and how easily the plan for LRT on SRT was changed. When I consider that we do not have a route for the subway, and that the “Next Wave” project list relates so loosely with other discussion from the government, it really does beg the question – what is plan A) vs B) vs C)? If we do finally pick a route for subway – what will be the cap for spending, and what would be the LRT alternative that would really be on offer.
I personally favor – simply taking the pot of money on offer for Scarborough Transit at this juncture (based on the last council vote), and have city planning try to create the best plan for Scarborough, with the money specified. The direction to city planning would be something to the effect of: You have 3.8 billion, to spend in Scarborough on transit infrastructure, devise a plan that will require a similar increase in subsidy to operate as the subway extension would have, that offers the best mix of substantial service improvement to the most riders, attracting new riders, and supporting new development where we want it. I suspect this would result in a very complete, mixed mode plan that would greatly improve the rides across the vast majority of Scarborough. I would also ask city planning to specify the high priority projects that would follow these, and what the impact of these would be. I suspect the result would be much better transit, a much more attractive place to live, and enhanced development, and a tax base that grew more quickly.
However, this would require actually listening to somebody who knows how to plan, not how to sway voters. It would make for good governance, but boring elections.
Steve: Metrolinx is supposed to be working on an updated “Big Move”. At some point, Queen’s Park will have to take a position on what’s in, what’s out, because that document won’t be published without political input/edits.
Steve: Were you planning to say something, or just leave this drivel as is? I think the citizens of Budapest should be offended.
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