Toronto City Planning has released a draft list of upcoming public consultations on various transit plans including:
- The Relief Line
- The Scarborough Transit Plan (Subway, SmartTrack, Crosstown East LRT)
- The Western SmartTrack Plan (SmartTrack, Crosstown West LRT)
Additional meetings and information about Metrolinx plans (GO Regional Express Rail) will be organized by that agency.
Even more information will be available in March 2016 when the City releases a compendium report on all transit initiatives currently under study. These will include items listed above as well as the “Waterfront Reset” study, TTC Fare Integration proposals and a review of how (or if) Tax Increment Financing can contribute to the many transit projects under review. The intent is that this report will form the basis for public consultation and debate leading to recommendations at Council in June 2016. This is a very aggressive schedule, and there is no indication how consensus will actually be achieved in so short a time, especially with the usually-secretive Metrolinx as an essential player. At least the discussion will be at a network level, not ward-by-ward with a “relief” line for every member of Council, and there will be some filtering of various schemes based on engineering and operational realities.
What is sadly missing from all of this is a discussion of day-to-day transit operations and the backlog in the state-of-good-repair budget. We can blithely discuss billions worth of subway building to Scarborough and a Relief line, but Council won’t fund the basics of running a transit system.
I fully agree with your last point about the co-existence of 1) fascination with new construction and 2) ongoing ignorance towards the current system.
In the past few weeks I have been very impressed by City Planning in its ability to push the needle a bit closer to sanity (even if there is still some ground to be covered). That realization gives me some optimism about that department’s capacity to read the political situation, combined with their field expertise about what is needed to make Toronto functional. Overlaying this with your lamentation, it gives me that incentive to attend the consultation with more than just comments on new construction, but also carrying a message of current needs. Even if City Planning is not in a position to forcefully advocate for better transit now, it strikes me that there could be some use for we transit users to broadcast those urgent and growing needs on some of the sticky notes made available to be slapped onto poster boards.
Is it possible to extend the finch west LRT to pearson airport and then to Kipling station?
Steve: There is already a proposed extension to the airport, although the exact routing through the airport lands is uncertain thanks, in part, to the airport authority dragging its feet generally on rapid transit alignments. From there south to Kipling? I don’t think that the full right-of-way is still available and the original scheme included use of Hydro lands which are almost certainly not available any more.
According to this link there was discussions at the Executive Committee about a SmartSpur going off the northeastern SmartTrack at or near Ellesmere (probably in a tunnel) to get to the Scarborough Town Centre. What are your thoughts about it.
I would like to find out the capacity and headways of each SmartSpur train when compared with a subway train. As a branch, that would also mean the headways continuing north of Ellesmere on the current SmartTrack line would be cut in half. Would that present problems, if any?
Steve: You can read more about this proposal on Stephen Wickens’ website.
The discussion at Exec did not explicitly tell staff to look at this proposal, but they will look at it anyhow if only to ensure they are not accused of missing a good idea.
In brief, I disagree with the scheme because it presumes a very frequent train service in the rail corridor that is not supported by current signalling and train control technology on GO. This would have to be extended into other corridors where the ST service runs, and the cost of that change is not included in projections for the spur proposal. Moreover, this would consolidate all of the traffic from a future SRT replacement and the GO Markham service onto one line. Finally, it requires the equivalent of a subway (underground commuter trains) east from the rail corridor through STC and possibly beyond. If we wanted that, why not just extent the BD subway north via the SRT corridor?
I could say a lot more, but am going to leave this to City Planning and Metrolinx for more detailed comments lest I be accused of being a naysayer who isn’t an “expert”.
LikeLiked by 1 person
With the DRL proposed to Queen Street, I assume this will be the possible revival of the Queen Subway since the last B-D extensions opened in 1980.
I’m getting the feeling that the SmartTrack or Crosstown West/East as well the Line 2 Extension (approved during Ford’s era) could be potentially be axed if the new provincial or municipal government is elected in 2018.
Steve: The RoFo fans have great hopes which I fully expect will be dashed. Tory is finally talking of a second term and setting himself up with a platform to run on (whether you agree with it or not). As for the Crosstown extensions, I expect that these will be far enough along given Ottawa’s desire to spend money RIGHT NOW that cancelling them won’t be possible. As for SmartTrack, the far greater barriers are engineering and capacity limitations, not political ones.
Given the extraordinarily high significance of Toronto to the entire nation of Canada… I wonder if there is any real possibility of a steady stream of *federal* state-of-good-repair funding. Obviously it would have to be paired with some funding for major cities in other provinces (Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, Quebec), perhaps proportionally to their metro area populations.
The US now has a regular yearly stream of funding called the “Core Capacity” program which goes to remediation of deferred maintenance on major urban metro systems. Could Trudeau consider something like that? Is it worth advocating?
I’m kinda worried that we’re getting consults on all the three ideas that have been here for 40 years that involve a subway only, which is a simplification. But the silos aren’t really great at fully putting forward options that I think should be there. For starters, with such a load at Finch on to Yonge subway, where are these folks going and what can be done with a regional transit provider like GO to provide either rail or bus service instead? Why isn’t that part of an option?
With the Relief Line, I fear it could be a stubway, and while it might have been forward in the 1949 map, East York was hardly built up at that time, and now we’ve got a massive built area to the north east called Scarborough, so isn’t Pape far too central? Why not go further east, and maybe even align to hit the Greenwood area and the East York hospital and yes, I like the diagonal nature of the Gatineau hydro corridor, and its current public ownership.
I do NOT trust the quality of the planning, let along the scheming that we’ve had a batch of, and feel we have a number of intermediate options, including busways to link up the fractured grid from the Don Valley, that resemble the silver buckshot that we need for improving transit, not the silver bullet of a subway or ST, or SSE. We are also avoiding having sub-regional transit, and I’d suggest that busways on some new corridors could help that.
Heck, even bikeway relief on Bloor/Danforth is untried, and I’ve had newer ideas about having rush-hour reversible busways on both Bloor St. W., and now the Danforth, Sure, a bit nuts, but don’t we need to squeeze the billions and do some things soon?
Allegedly, the new train shed roof over a Union Station is too low for electrification. I thought that was in the works. Is this really the glaring example of Metrolynx incompetence it appears to be?
GO Rail service has a major choke point at Union Station. There are plans to optimize what can be done over the next 15 years (2031 is seen as the operational peak capacity) without a fundamental change to the network (such as trains not going all the way to Union Station) in the order of $2B to $10B.
GO Bus service is a rich man’s poor solution to transit. It can fill in some of the missing links on the map (and supplement hours where there is no rail service), but it’s both more expensive and lower capacity. YRT and TTC do a reasonably good job of bridging the gap between Highway 7 and Sheppard.
With both ends connecting to the existing subway system, it’d be an alternative route at least. If the Southeast corner of the Relief Line gets built first, I’d have to see the detailed comparison of a northeast connect to Don Mills/Sheppard (crossing the Don a second time) vs Vic Park/Sheppard + a short Sheppard subway extension. However, moving east from Pape (say as far as Coxwell) the issue becomes double/triple provision service compared to SmartTrack/RER and/or SSE/SLRT.
Planning quality tends to be in inverse proportion to political interest. What is the point of good planning, if it doesn’t get built or worse – gets built in a mutated form? Toronto City Planning seems to be onboard with the idea that political realities means the ideal network plan is one that politicians will actually support and build rather than the one that either works best operationally or is the most cost-effective.
The main issues with dedicated busways are that: they occupy the same at-grade space as LRT, which drivers oppose; and, they are seen as the poor second-cousin to other higher order transit (light rail and subway/heavy rail). Thus we get the current mix of ‘local’ and ‘express’ buses in mixed traffic plus streetcars/LRT in mixed traffic or dedicated ROWs, or the ‘gold standard’ below-grade subways.
Bikeways are relatively cheap and small footprint, but they also have a relatively low upper bound of usage mix. Unless you go full out on infrastructure investment like Holland or Denmark, at most you’ll get is 5-10%.
A reversible busway seems like it’d need foot access from both sides. All the little things add up to a much larger impact. At what point are you taking up two lanes anyways?
The issue to “do some things soon” and “new ideas” are mutually exclusive.
Allegedly? By whom? I would suggest not listening to that person in the future.
The preferred minimum clearance for electrification is 7.432m, but the absolute minimum clearance for electrification is 7.265m in locations where double-stacked freight (DSF) allowed. The vertical clearance for [???] is 7.010m preferred minimum and 6.706m absolute minimum. However, within the Union Station Train Shed (USTS), DSF is prohibited. Thus the maximum train elevation is reduced to a standard GO bi-level at 4.852m. Add to this the standard electrification equipment and maintenance clearances and the USTS Electrification Clearance is 5.578m.
Steve jumps in: There appears to be something missing where I inserted the “???” above.
The other half of the question is the elevation of the USTS. There are three main sections: the new atrium roof, the old roof on the east-end, and the platform canopy on the new south platform 26/27.
The first case is better than the second case, where Top of Rail (TOR) is 82.97 and Bottom of Roof is 90.07 for a clearance of 7.10m.
In the third case: TOR is 82.93 and the overhang is 86.82, however, it doesn’t impede the track overhead clearance.
Clearance in the USTS isn’t an issue for electrification, but historical status and aesthetics are.
As an aside, Metrolinx doesn’t own Union Station, so the alleged incompetency would fall at least partially to the City of Toronto.
Steve: Before the project started, members of the public advisory group on which I sat were told repeatedly that electrification clearance was tight but not a problem. However, it recently emerged through the media. Either it is, or it isn’t. Your long comment, for which much thanks, does not deal with “the second case” where electrification would be under the old shed.
I cannot believe that Metrolinx (which does own the slice of the station through which they operate) would let the project proceed without having verified what could be done, unless it was a case of GO Transit arrogance that electrification would never happen.
Mind you, this is the same Metrolinx that did a lot of hand wringing about electric trains working in snow, and so I have to wonder just how much “expertise” was focused on the subject.
The second case should be non-electrified DSF.
The understanding of electrification clearances has evolved significantly since the Roof Replacement started construction in January 11, 2010 (The Electrification Study Update RFP closed on January 4, 2010). Specifically, how the required clearances change in different situations is now understood (rather than one static number). The “minimum clearance” I used was for “free running”, meaning no direct fixation to an overhead structure. There are many alternative designs for sub-optimal conditions, such as direct fixation (just a flash plate is required), pocket catenary (Hwy 401 is under 7.265m clearance, but the location of the girders means catenatary can run between them), and swing arms (western West Toronto Underpass has 6.909m clearance, but can do electrified trains and DSF).
At that point in time it was a chicken-and-the-egg scenario: The Electrication Study Update on page 69 (issued December 2010) states:
I’d need to dig out my 3D model of the USTS to say definitively if electrified bi-levels would ever have an issue. However, as far as Metrolinx is concerned, the best of their knowledge (my knowledge provided to them) is that Union Station does not provide any vertical constraints that require special treatment. Even if it were the case, the ideal solution is to specify a shorter (height) train.
Now that I’ve dug out the media reports, these have come from the 75% Preliminary Design by Gannett Fleming (US company with no GTA experience). They underbid and Metrolinx gave them a next to impossible timeline, so I’d say this more about claiming extras than any real design issues.
The main issues with dedicated busways are that: they occupy the same at-grade space as LRT, …
Actually, busways occupy MORE space as LRT. A busway can be as much as 25% wider than space for an LRT line with vehicles of the same width. Buses have to be steered by a human, while an LRT is guided by tracks, so extra room must be provided.
Didn’t some (eastern?) European cities use trams, that were only 50-60 percent the width of a traditional streetcar?
Steve: A tram half the width of a traditional car would be rather small! A few systems had/have narrower cars but for a specific situation where they operate on very narrow streets. But that doesn’t apply to any road we would be looking at for future BRT/LRT operation.
I know BRT tend to be wider than LRT, but I was being generous. As for a super-narrow LRV, if you assume the Flexity as your standard LRV, 50%-60% wide would be 1.27m to 1.52m. This would probably be one seat plus walkway. Assuming a 200mm wall thickness, you have 1.12m for passengers or 0.42m for seats and 0.7m for walkway (a bit wider than currently between the sets of seats).
Assuming you could get all the technical bits to fit and work, might be able to squeeze in 32 seats and 134 standing (7 passengers per m²). Of course, it’d have to run on standard or narrow gauge tracks…
Here is a narrow tram in Chemnitz, when it was part of East Germany. It ran on narrow gauge track, 925mm, which I think means this vehicle is only about 1.5 meters wide.
Steve: A bit more research would tell you that the Chemnitz system was converted to standard gauge starting in the 1950s and finishing in 1988. I would hardly use this tram as an example of a design target for the TTC, any more than I would advocate horse power to replace electricity.
Please Attend – But don’t let them manipulate you – Insist that the three-stop subway extension to Scarborough remains as promised; and that it eventually gets connected to the Sheppard Avenue subway at Don Mills and Sheppard.