In the City Planning report at Executive Committee on March 9, 2016, two options for the configuration of a “combined” SmartTrack and GO Transit/Regional Express Rail (RER) service remain on the table. These are referred to as Option C and Option D.
The number of trains/hour cited here has bothered me for some time, and a recent conversation with Jonathan Goldsbie of NOW Magazine got me digging a bit deeper. Here is the service plan for the Stouffville and Kitchener corridors as shown on the Metrolinx RER website, in the “How Will I Benefit” page.
Peak service on the Stouffville corridor totals 7 trains/hour or one every 8.6 minutes as shown in Options C and D.
In the Kitchener corridor, there are 8 trains/hour, but two of these are service to Kitchener which would run express from Bramalea to Union leaving only 6 “local” trains in that segment.
The service levels and station plans have profound implications for the transit network now under study.
- There is no distinct SmartTrack service, only GO trains and (maybe) a few new stations. There will be no “SmartTrack” branded fleet.
- If TTC fares will be offered on SmartTrack, this will really consist of giving people cheaper rides on service GO is already operating.
- If “Regional Fare Integration” means that TTC rapid transit (subway) fares rise and GO fares for short trips come down, then SmartTrack will be a cash grab from subway riders to cross-subsidize SmartTrack riders on GO trains.
- Demand models for SmartTrack indicate that very frequent service at TTC fares is required to attract substantial ridership, with 12 trains/hour (one every 5′) performing best in the model runs. The proposed service is considerably less frequent. “TTC fares” implies full transfer rights at no premium to and from the TTC network.
- The existence of frequent SmartTrack service and stations in Scarborough is an integral part of the plan to build the subway extension as a one-stop express route to the Town Centre.
- Part of the justification for keeping the Relief Line alignment to the north along Queen Street rather than King is to avoid competition with SmartTrack. However, there won’t be any SmartTrack service for it to compete with, only GO trains.
- Tax Increment Financing requires that SmartTrack contribute something to the uplift in property values that would not occur absent the new service. However, the “new” service will entirely be GO Transit’s, and it will occur whether anything called SmartTrack exists or not.
The obvious question here is “where is SmartTrack”? In fact, it has completely vanished from the map, and at best would be represented by a handful of new stations, none of which is in Scarborough in Option D.
Is this the master plan, the culmination of John Tory’s election campaign and all of the vitriol poured over his critics?
The emperor has no clothes.
@Ross – thanks for pointing that out, that is reassuring. Sorry if I misread the diagram.
The major constrain at Union is not the track capacity but the ability of Union to unload passenger from the trains and clear the platform. Six coach EMU’s will not be a lot of improvement because the passenger will not spread themselves out over more of the Union Station platforms. There is also the problem created by having twice as many trains to clear through the interlocking. While the time to run two 6 car trains past a point is the same as one 6 car train there is also the time required to reset, align and clear the switches into Union. This is the same for a 6 or a 12 car train so running two 6 car trains instead of one 12 car train means that this time will appear twice as often.
Do you know what the plans are for storing trains at either Mt. Pleasant or Georgetown are? There was supposed to be a 4 or 6 car yard built at Mt. Pleasant but this seems to have disappeared while there is a lot of equipment and activity that would indicate that Georgetown is going to be rebuilt with 4 tracks to store 12 car trains. If this is the case then the timetable published by Metrolinx which show a 15 minute service from Mt. Pleasant to Union in the rush hour does not make sense. Do you have any insight as to what Metrolinx’ plans are?
Starting in the west, there are two storage timelines. Ultimately, they want to move storage to the end of the line in Baden (Nafziger Rd) while the Kitchener Station would shift to King St. In the meantime, they are looking to build a “temporary” layover parallel to Shirley Ave, near Bingemans. This design was done by Ausenco Engineering Canada and construction awarded to G.S. Wark.
The other design was for Heritage Road (by RV Anderson) but it was issued in Q4 of 2014 (compared to Q1 for Kitchener issued for Design and Q4 tendered). 2015 was mostly a write-off as far as design/construction progress due to the internal shifts at Metrolinx, and I haven’t heard anything specific that would kill the Mt. Pleasant location (good sightlines, undeveloped property to the south, only one neighbour to the north, etc).
The conversion of Georgetown to 12-car storage has been working through for years. They redid the facilities in 2013 as enabling works. The other locations are supplemental until they can consolidate.
The end-of-the-line layover/yard design has been a decade in the works and should be completed before electrification.
Right, there’s those constraints. But with their desire to increase individual train frequencies far faster than the passenger ramp-up, this does create pressure towards smaller trainsets.
Also, most electric EMU has less passengers per meter of train platform, than the current Bombardier BiLevels, though it is all dependant on which trainsets to use.
I do envision possibly shorter EMUs for one of the routes (run as a through route offpeak, but double-berth a couple of tracks at peak for accelerated departures), as a first step — it doesn’t seem likely we’ll go 100% EMUs, given the longevity of the bilevels, the Metrolinx interest in a mixed fleet, and the continued manufacturing of the bilevels (new cabs).
….Also the USRC is slated for a planned (but delayed) resignalling that should increase train throughput (up to the limitations of Union platform utilization which you pointed out). This may still be compatible with the current apparent desire to increase trainrate far faster than projected passenger count growth…
To this I say – FINALLY. Perhaps now the city and province can get down to actual transit planning. I note that this at a time when they are also finally reducing the UPX fares to something much more reasonable. Perhaps this will be part of a long term bring down to earth of the transit planning in the region.
I would note, here, that perhaps the UPX rails and better Union approach can also get used for something more useful. I would hope we could see a real anchor station in the west for Mi-Way, and ZUM bus services, with a high frequency connection – that would not need to clear the ladder switches, but can stay on the north track right in. Maybe just focus on stopping in only a handful of places – Bloor, Eglinton, Malton (or like) link for Mississauga and Brampton.
It still has to cross over the Kitchener tracks and the Barrie tracks which are north of it.
A mixed fleet is inevitable until the system is 100% electrified. You could shift to a DEMU (multi-fuel sourced) across the board, but that inefficient in terms of existing fleet usage, maintenance requirements, and capital costs.
Shorter EMUs are inefficient in terms of peak-load capacity, track occupancy, and platform occupancy. The current Union Station build-out plan assumes double berthing of 10-car or 12-car consists. Thus a shift to shorter EMUs would be double double berthing. While the peak-hour load should spread out some, the basic assumption is that capacity will still be constrained.
I believe we’ll eventually get to frequent short EMUs, but I don’t think we’ll get there in the current design-build cycle (until 2030).
This is like the Yonge Richmond Hill Subway Extension, they are counting on capacity increases that have already been accounted for in the growth plan.
The long-term buzz in Metrolinx has been for a Woodbine Mobility Hub. I think it’ll be in the short list of approved future stations when the final new station report comes out.
It will be interesting to see the exact location, and how much impact this can have on how riders approach GO. Also it will interesting to see what they can do with track configuration to get to the limits of platforms at Union.
Please give it a rest Steve. Don’t you think you’ve gone on about this long enough? At this point it’s quite clear your holding on a grudge. Really wish you’d go back to your old habits, when you were posting less but each entry had new and relevate insight instead of just rehashing the same old arguments mostly just to prove you were right about something. Yes you were right about smart track, but anyone with any tranportation knowledge could of seen it for what it was from the get go. Anyone gullible or naive enough to actually believe it was going to happen should give their heads a shake. Politicians promise all kinds of things to get themselves elected, thing is they’re ALL guilty of that and you know it. The important thing is to get the most reliable person of the avalible candidates for the postion. Is hard to agrue that is not what we got. Your personal misgivings for this person notwithstanding.
Steve: I’m not going to even bother editing your post, but a reply is required.
John Tory’s Smart Track continues to affect the planning of our transit network, and could result in a bad plan being incorporated in the city’s Official Plan simply because nobody will admit that ST was nothing more than election puffery. It is entirely possible that both the Scarborough network and the route of the DRL (even its timing) could be compromised because ST is still “on the map”.
I am not holding a grudge. I am warning against a major cock-up in city planning, and hope that John Tory has the sense to see past his “signature” project.