The TTC Board met on March 23. In earlier articles, I have already reviewed the agenda, and discussed ridership statistics.
Arising from the debate on ridership, the Board passed a motion to revisit the whole issue of actively pursuing ridership growth. The motion by Commissioner Shelley Carroll reads:
That TTC staff report back to the Commission by the third quarter of 2016 with a development plan for a comprehensive multi-year strategy to address current ridership stagnation and to achieve a steady rate of ridership growth annually thereafter.
This is particularly important going into the 2017 budget year when there will be pressure to accommodate both the start of new expenses for the Spadina subway extension (TYSSE) and strong growth in the Wheel-Trans budget. Debates and decisions about which options might be pursued to improve transit and attract riders need to have more background than the annual need for politicians to have something to announce. At the very least, changes should be thought out with specific benefits beyond the photo ops.
Emerging Transit Plans and the Scarborough Subway
The Board passed several motions arising from discussion of Toronto’s proposed new transit plan:
Moved by: Chair Colle
That staff report back to the Board in Q2 on:
a) The roles and responsibilities of TTC and the City as it relates to transit expansion projects including the three phases of Planning, the Environmental Assessment/Transit Project Assessment Process and; Design & Construction;
b) mechanisms in place to ensure proper administrative governance of decision making; and
c) recommendations for improving the process.
Moved by: Chair Colle
Request the TTC CEO, Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planner review the feasibility of connecting the Eglinton Crosstown West LRT to Finch LRT through the Toronto Pearson Airport campus, and report to the June 28, 2016 meeting of the Executive Committee and the June 29th meeting of the TTC Board.
Moved by: Commissioner Carroll
Request the TTC CEO, Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planner review the feasibility of connecting the Eglinton Crosstown West LRT to Finch LRT through the Toronto Pearson Airport campus, on the understanding that further study would require an upfront contribution from other levels of government and the Airport Authority.
Moved by: Commissioner Mihevc
The TTC report separately ASAP on the issue of the connection between Queen’s Quay/Union Station, specifically addressing the state of the issue and possible strategies for effective connectivity.
Moved by: Commissioner Mihevc
That the TTC Commission support in principle the following motion:
a. the TTC assert its desire to undertake the role of overall project manager for the Eglinton Crosstown East and West;
b. the TTC immediately undertake the work to amend the Environmental Assessments for the Eglinton Crosstown East and West;
c. the TTC develop a schedule for the delivery of the two projects for 2021, consistent with the opening of the Eglinton Crosstown;
and further request TTC staff to report back on this motion at the TTC Commission following Council’s decision on Eglinton Crosstown East and West.
Moved by: Commissioner Mihevc
Endorse the direction recommended by the Chief Planner Subject to the following:
that SOGR and base capital funding occur as a first priority including:
– Additional buses and garages
– ATC on the Bloor/Danforth line
– Platform edge doors (to be evaluated first)
– Additional LRVs as required
– Elevators in all subways as per AODA requirements
Several of these overlap each other, but a clear thread through three of them was that work on the Eglinton Crosstown extensions should begin as soon as possible, preferably under the TTC’s direction. CEO Andy Byford was a tad reticent to take on the projects without investigating what his staff can add to their workload, and the Deputy City Manager, John Livey, echoed this with a concern that the City has no capacity for additional work on studies.
This raises two obvious questions. First, is it Byford’s intent that the TTC get out of a primary role for project advocacy and management; and second, if more money is about to shower down on Toronto from Ottawa, how can we start projects if we claim that we have no staff time available?
The connection through Pearson Airport has become more of an issue recently because the Airport Authority and other groups such as businesses and labour unions in the airport district are now actively pressing for better transit service to that centre as an economic hub, not just as a destination for air travel.
Mihevc’s query about the Union Station connection arises from proposals in some quarters that the Bay Street LRT tunnel be repurposed as a moving walkway from Union to Queens Quay. Imagine having everyone who transfers from the BD subway to the YUS do so through a moving walkway to Wellesley Station. That is roughly the distance involved and this could hardly be called an encouragement to take transit to the waterfront. The motives behind this are a combination of a desire to avoid the cost of expanding Union Station (although the cost of the enlarged loop is trivial compared to many other rapid transit projects), and to placate some who feel a through east-west route on Queens Quay would be preferable.
My hope is that this scheme is put to rest as soon as possible because it would represent a serious degradation of service to the waterfront.
With respect to “State of Good Repair”, the items in Mihevc’s list are major capital improvements, not strictly “SOGR”. Mihevc, along with Mayor Tory, seems to be unaware that the subway elevators project was moved “above the line” in the capital budget during the 2016 round, and as such is already funded within the City’s spending priorities. I will turn to the question of a “shopping list” for potential use of new federal transit monies in a future article.
Discussion of the Scarborough Subway took an intriguing turn when it was revealed that staff are still reviewing multiple possible routes from Kennedy to STC even though the plan appears to favour the McCowan alignment with a single station. This triggered a debate about the “surface” option using the SRT right-of-way and various tidbits fell out of that thread:
- Realignment of Kennedy Station to directly feed into an SRT corridor alignment is too expensive and is not considered a practical alternative.
- If the subway line were going up the RT corridor, it would have to make a wide turn from eastbound on Eglinton back to the northwest to reach the corridor and then surface somewhere between Kennedy and Lawrence East Stations. The line would descend again south of Ellesmere Station to make the turn under the GO Stouffville corridor and continue in a tunnel through to STC. Less than 2km of the alignment would actually be on “the surface”.
Other considerations that were not discussed included the length of time for an SRT shutdown during subway construction, and the limitations on co-existence of both the subway line and GO/RER in the same corridor allowing for the extra track GO requires and the space needed for any new GO stations.
The whole idea that this alignment still receives serious consideration is rather strange, and if the “SSE” is going to use the RT alignment, we may as well revisit the Scarborough LRT proposal while we are at it. It appears that this work is primarily to reinforce previous reviews concluding that an RT alignment for the subway is not practical or cost-effective.
Andy Byford reported that Bombardier intends to ramp up to four new streetcars per month beginning in April 2016, and he seemed a bit more hopeful than usual that this delivery schedule would actually be met.
The Board approved proceeding with reconstruction of more of the old cars to tide the system over until Flexitys arrive with the presumed funding for this work coming from damage claims against Bombardier.
Happy Easter and the like Steve,
Loving the summary however I have a question. What happened to the 121 Front – Esplanade?
I know the 514 was approved and that the 121 was up for debate but there is absolutely no information anywhere on what the outcome was for the 121.
What the hell Steve?
Steve: They approved both routes. I didn’t think it needed any comment.
Ah ok. Understandable.. all the attention was focused on the 514 however the 121 was never mentioned which is why I asked. If you Google 514 Cherry you get dozens of articles. If you Google 121 Front-Esplanade nothing pops up.
Turning the Bay Street tunnel into a moving walkway? What planet do the people who came up with such an obviously warped and insipid idea live on? If you want to find someone who wants to see this piece of ludicrousness to fade away every bit as much as you do, you just now found him. The next thing you know, some moron’s going to suggest that it be turned into an underground pedway. Oops! I shouldn’t have suggested that! Now some moron’s going to push the idea. 🙂
Well, since the tunnel under the south end of Bay is probably under the water table, how about an underground swan boat canal? At the south end it can just run into the harbour, giving a one-seat ride to the Island.
Putting a moving walkway in the Bay Street tunnel will end up like the Spadina Station walkway. Gone after a couple of decades or less.
For heaven’s sake! We are in 2016 and we want something like this:
Transpod’s dream: Hyperloop high-speed travel between cities
Toronto startup aims to have commercial concept by 2020 for Hyperloop travel proposed by Elon Musk.
Pedways are SO 2015 and there is a Toronto connection so we can re-create the success of the Scarborough RT.
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I cannot believe the lack of outrage over dropping the Lawrence/McCowan station from the Scarborough Subway Plan. It stops right in front of the Scarborough General Hospital, a major employment hub. The stretch between Kennedy and STC is too long and is insulting to people who live on the line but not near a stop.
Steve: This has come up at the public meetings and also in comments by some pols. This is part of keeping alike the mystique of SmartTrack which can’t be allowed to have competition even though all of the “new” service is only GO/RER. Moreover, only one of the two proposed plans includes a Lawrence East Station on “SmartTrack”. I agree that if the subway is going up McCowan, then it should have a stop at Lawrence both for the hospital and because this is a major bus route.
There is a real failure to brainstorm for transit ideas, City/TTC and Metrolinx. I know of several citizens with their own ideas, all have failings but are original and try to address demand flows and reasonable costs. City/TTC, Metrolinx refuse to first define the problem “demand bottlenecks”, then prioritize the severity of the bottlenecks and then brainstorm for solutions.
They have determined that the solution is a Subway and LRT and spend no consideration to make the route answer to a problem.
These guys talk about the number of angels that fit on a pin.
Out of curiosity, did salvaging Lawrence East come up during the SSE discussion? In the hypothetical where Smarttrack Option 4 wins the day and the subway follows the SRT alignment, this seems like a natural option.
Steve: No it did not, but I will be interested to see if this becomes an issue when the whole package is before Council next week. The problem, of course, is that a station there will add to the subway’s cost, although they will save a bundle on SmartTrack. However, those are two separate budget lines, and until we all admit that ST as Tory proposed it is dead as a doornail, this sort of crap continues to gerrymander the transit map.
Richard, one reason why the Google articles might not be coming up is because the new 121 is getting a name change. It’s “121 FORT YORK-ESPLANADE”. That pulls up a couple of articles, though, yes, it’s getting overlooked compared to 514 CHERRY.
As long as the city is looking at connecting the Finch and Eglington LRT lines I hope that they will knock on Metrolinx’s door and further the case for a station and a connection to the Georgetown South GO line. The Woodbine/Rexdale area has so much potential for development: lots of vacant and underused land, an excellent network of highways surrounding it, a workforce looking for neighbourhood employment. What is not to like about seeing development in this corner of the city?
Steve: There are already plans for a GO station at Mount Dennis to connect with the Crosstown. As for Woodbine, it’s on the list of potential new stations. The real challenge there is to get a developer interested in actually building something. A few past projects have fizzled with nothing to show for the effort.
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I am a bit surprised that McCowan alignment remains “favourable” even with no station at Lawrence East. The route to STC under McCowan is longer than the route under Brimley, by about 400 m.
I hope they consider a route that goes mostly under Brimley. That can either save on the cost of tunneling, or maybe permit a Lawrence East station that would not have to be as deep as at McCowan, and therefore cheaper to build.
If the TTC is going to refurbish some old streetcars, they will need to hire another blacksmith.
Steve: At least they are not refurbishing horse cars!
It’s worth noting that one problem with cars of the CLRV/ALRV generation is that the electronic controls are an old technology and new parts are hard to source. The mechanical controls of previous generations might require some smithing, but they’re simple and work.
What document shows Brimley would be 400 m shorter? Looking at the map suggests otherwise.
If Metrolinx is looking at extending the Finch LRT to Pearson Airport and connecting it with the Eglinton LRT, maybe it could look at building a Finch East LRT which replaces bus route 199. Tomorrow is the first day of expanded 199 bus service to York University and Morningside Heights and the 39/199 buses and the eastern portion of route 36 are some of the busiest bus routes in the city. This avoids the whole problem of Sheppard for a while.
Steve: The problem with Finch is the relatively narrow section in North York which was protected by former Mayor Lastman from widening to the same standard as other arterials. That’s why there is a disconnect in road styles east and west of Yonge.
Rick Mercer, I think, did a session with the TTC’s blacksmith a few years ago re switch irons. You never know when a blacksmith will come in handy.
The existing STC station and the bus terminal are approximately half-way between Brimley and McCowan. If the subway station will be built close to that spot, then the McCowan route has to go east further than it, and then swing back north-west.
My estimate for the Brimley route: from the existing terminus to Brimley: 1.2 km; Brimley & Eglinton to Lawrence: 2 km, Lawrence to Ellesmere: 2 km, Ellesmere to STC: 0.5 km. Total: 5.7 km.
For the McCowan route: from the existing terminus to Danforth Rd: 1.3 km; Danforth & Eglinton to McCowan & Lawrence: 2.3 km, Lawrence to Ellesmere: 2 km, Ellesmere to STC: 0.5 km. Total: 6.1 km.
Steve: It is far from clear that “STC Station” will be at the current location given the need to thread through existing corridors and make provision for a northerly extension.
Do they actually want to make provisions for a northerly extension? If they do, then indeed it is easier to go up McCowan, and place the “STC” subway station at McCowan & Progress.
But if STC is going to be the permanent subway terminus, then a station closer to the existing bus terminal will be more convenient for the riders.
Steve: There is still a faction that wants to connect the SSE into the east end of the Sheppard Subway. Any alignment that prevents continuing to the north (or to the west) would not sit well with them.
Even with the shortening, planning left open the future option of extending the subway north to McCowan/Sheppard. Presumably then, the 3 proposed station boxes for the McCowan alignment still stand which would result in a tunnel of about 5.7 km, same as Brimley.
Presumably, the Brimley station box would be similar as for the Midland alignment.
Apologies in advance for ignorantly “drawing lines on maps.”
I’m curious whether an elevated alignment was considered through the Lawrence/McCowan area. If a deep box under the creek is a concern, an elevated seems like a reasonable option for trimming costs. I’m not usually one to bang the gong for elevated structures, but there’s GOT to be a less expensive solution that than what they were initially considering and the location seems potentially conducive.
I imagine the line surfacing east of McCowan just beyond the curve in the road, turning north through the current strip mall property, curving northwest across Lawrence and McCowan, curving north, crossing the creek, and then entering a portal just south of the hydro corridor.
Steve: Leaving aside the question that your scheme would demolish many buildings in the mall, there are a few problems with grades. First off, we would want a station at Lawrence, and ideally that would be on the SE corner where the mall is today. (The Royal Bank might not be too happy, but who knows they might love to redevelop the land.) You would then swing northwest, but could not start to descend until clear of McCowan itself, and there is already a downgrade into the creek valley. Whether a really low bridge close to the surface at Highland Creek is possible given the constraint on the south approach would have to be worked out. Even then, there is not much room for the descent to get under the Hydro corridor after crossing the creek, and the grade needed would be very steep. I think this is a non-starter.
And, no, it has not been considered.
I think the station should be on the SW corner. The westbound Lawrence buses would make a left turn onto Valparaiso, a far safer turn than at McCowan (a level turn, not on an incline). I never thought a gas station was appropriate next to a hospital.
Steve: I was simply responding to the scheme’s proponent, and in his version the line is on the east side of McCowan until north of the hospital. Also if the station (elevated) were on the SW corner, continuing the elevated further north would run into the hospital grounds.
Hi Steve, you write
How do they intend to do the westward extension of the Crosstown? I used to live near Eglinton in between Martin Grove and Kipling, and remember when the original Crosstown airport-bound LRT was announced as part of Transit City, and seeing how in that part of the city the LRT will be above ground, at grade. Back then my understanding was that they would be able to do this without reducing existing road space for vehicles i.e. with no lane reductions, since at the time there was plenty of space on both sides of the street to squeeze in LRT tracks in each direction (the residential or commercial buildings on either side of Eglinton were, with a few movable exceptions such as gas stations, quite a bit of distance from the curb, on the entire stretch from Hwy 427 to Scarlett Rd., and as I remember even as far as Black Creek). In the past few years however (a legacy of the Rob Ford planning years I guess when the original Crosstown was axed) townhomes have sprung up on Eglinton, right up to the street almost (only the sidewalk separating them from the curb) on the stretch between Islington and Martin Grove, and more are in construction. Squeezing in an LRT track on that side of the street is no longer an option. So either they have to gut the wide bike path on the other side, or reduce lanes (which will be a tough sell). Any word on this at all?
Steve: Enough space was supposed to have been left to allow for the LRT lanes across the width of Eglinton. The bike path has to be integrated with the resulting road rather than in a separate green space. By the way, the town houses east of Martin Grove may come right to the sidewalk, but the sidewalk is (or at least was) not at the edge of the roadway.
Obviously, it’s time for me to make a site visit.
Yes, you are right, there is something akin to an “emergency lane” in between the right-most lane and the sidewalk. The sidewalk however is quite narrow. I think that physically an LRT track might be squeezable in between the right-most lane and the town houses (probably at the expense of the sidewalk), but it would appear to me that the in that case the trains would more or less be straight in people’s windows, so to speak. Even assuming this would pass some safety regulations (which I doubt, but I’m no expert) I suppose the residents would complain loudly.
Steve: The plan for this section is to be in the middle of the road, and so there would be a lane added on either side.
Yes of course, that occurred to me about 2 seconds after I submitted my comment 🙂
Although I’m still not sure whether the extra lane would be cutting too close to the new houses. Or whether it might mean no sidewalk on that stretch of road.
Woo! More parking!