Has John Tory Discovered Life After SmartTrack?

With all the flurry of transit funding and construction announcements lately, Mayor John Tory added his own contribution with a media statement at that busiest of stations, Bloor-Yonge. What prompted such a high-profile event? Rumour has it that Queen’s Park plans to fund the Richmond Hill subway extension in its coming budget, and Tory wants to be sure he defends the existing downtown system against overloading from the north.

(See coverage in The Star and The Globe & Mail)

Specifically, Tory wants to ensure that funding will be available for:

Building new transit lines including the Eglinton East LRT, waterfront transit and the downtown relief line

This is brave stuff, our Mayor rallying his city to the barricades [cue inspirational and very-hummable anthem here] were it not that Tory himself is responsible for much of the confusion and misdirection in transit plans today. His election campaign promoted “SmartTrack”, a single city-wide project that would solve every problem and magically be funded through taxes on new development the line would bring. A “surface subway” would speed riders from Markham to Mississauga via downtown with frequent service at TTC fares. Nothing else (except for a politically unavoidable subway in Scarborough) was needed, certainly not better bus and streetcar service to fill all those spaces in between major routes.

Things didn’t quite work out as planned. SmartTrack has dwindled to a handful of new GO stations to be built on the City’s dime, some of which Metrolinx might have built anyhow, and a few in locations of dubious merit beyond their soothing effect on local politicians. With the demise of a scheme to run GO trains along Eglinton from Mount Dennis to the Airport district, the Eglinton West LRT extension is also on the table, but it stops short of its necessary end, the airport, because Toronto lopped off the outside-416 segment to reduce the cost. Whether Mississauga and/or the airport authority itself will contribute to the LRT remains to be seen.

Tory discovered that surface routes suffered under his predecessor, and vowed more money for buses. Toronto bought the buses, but money to actually operate many of them is harder to come by. The only thing that saved the TTC from widespread service cuts in 2017 was a last minute City budget fiddle to bump the expected revenue from Land Transfer Tax.

Meanwhile in Scarborough, SmartTrack and the Scarborough Subway Extension vie for the same pool of riders, and it is only the comparatively infrequent GO service that preserves any credibility for the subway extension. Planners who once argued that an east-west line through the Town Centre precinct would better serve future development now compliantly endorse the supposed benefit of a single new north-south station between McCowan and the shopping mall.

Mayor Tory might now think of both ST and the SSE as “done deals”, although there’s a lot of ground to cover before the final cost projections and approvals by Council. Those extra GO stations and the express subway might still cost more than the preliminary estimates shown to Council, but there’s no more money coming from Queen’s Park. Indeed, the two governments cannot agree on how to calculate inflation in the provincial “commitment”, and Toronto thinks more money is on the table than is likely to be available. After all, Tory is in no position to tell a funding government how much they will pay out. Even those numbers are subject to change if the Liberals lose control of Queen’s Park to the Tories, as seems very likely in 2018.

Then there’s Ottawa and Trudeau’s huge infrastructure program, just the thing a politician who is desperate to make everything seem affordable could wish for. Except, of course, that the infrastructure pot isn’t bottomless. Once it is divvied up across the country, Toronto’s share is well below the level John Tory hoped to spend with his shiny new Liberal red credit card. Holding press conferences about the need for projects won’t change the amount of money available, and the federal program requires that municipalities, even big irresponsible ones, must set priorities. Tory’s plans also require Queen’s Park to come in with funding equal to the Fed’s contribution at a time when provincial budgets are tapped out, and Toronto’s ongoing game of holding down taxes rather than pay for its own services and infrastructure plays poorly beyond the 416.

What does the Mayor do? John Tory, the man who had a one-line plan to solve everything, now looks to a world beyond SmartTrack.

Eglinton East LRT

The Eglinton East line, an extension of the Crosstown LRT from Kennedy Station east and north to the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus (UTSC), was supposed to be part of a fully-funded bundle of Scarborough projects as approved by Council. Staff sold a vision of the express subway from Kennedy to STC and the LRT out to eastern Scarborough, a grand compromise that brought (some) LRT advocates on board with the subway plan. That didn’t last long once a realistic look at the subway’s cost hit the table, and one cannot help wondering whether the numbers in that bundle were simply plucked from the air to gain approval. Remember that this comes from the same gang who sold the subway alternative to LRT as being only a few hundred million more and well worth it at the price.

After blowing all of the Scarborough funding (a mix of contributions from all three levels of government) on the SSE, Tory wants Queen’s Park to pony up more. Although the Liberals are no saints when it comes to using transit subsidies to buy votes (and a line to Richmond Hill could be a desperate attempt to shore up support north of Steeles), they might be forgiven for wondering how Eglinton East went from fully funded to nothing in about a year. Was the Minister, Steven Del Duca, conned by Toronto into thinking that the Scarborough problems were all solved with the subway/LRT compromise? Did Tory actually think that Queen’s Park would shift on its position that only the original LRT project’s subsidy was available?

The Waterfront

Waterfront transit should be a big issue with the amount of development underway and planned for coming years, but service to this part of Toronto suffers from one big problem: it is “downtown” and therefore less worthy than other projects. Planning for the eastern waterfront and the port lands assumes that the primary mode of transport will not be the automobile either for new residents or to the new employment and academic centres.

At least that was the idea. But as with so many of our older transit plans, the four years of backsliding under Rob Ford plus John Tory’s insistence that SmartTrack would solve every problem combined to keep waterfront transit on the back burner until recently. A “Waterfront Reset” planning process now underway might change this, but the project is in its early days. What started with a need to revisit the eastern waterfront proposals in light of developments planned near the mouth of the Don River has expanded into a city-wide review from Long Branch to The Beach. The project is at the stage of reviewing a long list of proposed implementations over the area, and the political challenge will be to winnow down the list to those options that actually can improve transit. In an age when “planning” consists of politicians and boxes of crayons, saying “no” to everyone’s pet project is not always easy.

The tough nut, as always, will be Union Station where the subway-streetcar interface is woefully undersized. This link should have been expanded while the line was closed for the Queens Quay project, but there were few advocates at Council. The TTC must share blame in this for continuously downplaying the potential role of the Waterfront East line and the infrastructure needed to support it. Current plans talk of a “BRT” using the proposed streetcar rights-of-way even though nobody has determined how such a service would provide a decent link with the subway system.

A related planning problem is the debate over how density affects transit demand. The waterfront combines three different demand patterns over its length, and this forces any “solution” to address multiple types of travel. These include:

  • Home to work/school trips originating along the corridor primarily from new high density clusters, but not necessarily destined to the corridor itself
  • Work/school trips to the corridor from other parts of the city including longer-haul travel via GO Transit
  • Recreational and special event trips concentrated on multiple possible sites such as the Exhibition grounds

Trips to a destination such as a major employment or academic centre concentrate flow, and this is seen most strongly in the core business district. Trips from a residential area tend to have a more dispersed pattern and do not necessarily translate into strong transit demand, especially if transit does not serve many of the destinations well. This is the classic suburban transit problem where work and school destinations are dispersed and no single line can possibly link all of the origin and destination clusters.

This “Reset” study plans to have its next round of public consultation in June 2017 with final recommendations by late summer. The larger challenge will be to find political support to actually pursue transit improvements when so many other expensive projects vie for attention. In the medium term, the focus will most likely be on the area between the Humber Bay and the Don where most of the population and jobs are located, but even this will require money that the City and other governments have not yet budgeted.

The Richmond Hill Subway Extension

Any discussion of a Yonge (Line 1) extension north to Richmond Hill must recognize the historical background at the political and planning levels. The scheme has been around for a very long time, and dates from an era when various factors combined to make the project appear viable:

  • The mid 1990s recession and associated ridership losses on the TTC network changed a jam-packed subway of the late 1980s into a route where, superficially, there was excess capacity.
  • TTC management overstated the potential for adding capacity through the combination of new signalling and trains, plus the diversion of demand to the Vaughan (TYSSE) subway extension.
  • GO Transit service from Richmond Hill to Union Station was infrequent and showed little sign of improving for a variety of technical and organizational reasons (winding track, lack of GO control over the entire corridor).
  • GO fares to downtown were (and remain) substantially higher than a TTC fare which is presumed to be (as on the TYSSE) what riders would pay to make the trip by subway.

For its part, TTC planning consistently downplayed the worth of a “relief” line asking why one would spend billions to divert riding rather than simply providing more capacity on the existing tracks. Moreover, the TTC looked only at the short version from Pape/Danforth to downtown, a line that would have had little off-peak demand in the planning context predating the rise of near-downtown redevelopment. TTC management’s consistent advice was that the Relief Line was not needed. This deeply flawed position allowed planning for a Richmond Hill extension to continue unchallenged.

Times have changed. Ridership rebounded over the decades and the Yonge line is now stuffed full well north of the core area. The TTC reduced its projections of the number of trains per hour it will be able to operate with the new signalling system, and they now acknowledge that other factors including terminal track geometry and passenger capacity at major stations pose constraints. The extra capacity of the Toronto Rocket cars on Yonge has already been used up, and the ridership diversion likely when the TYSSE opens in late 2017 will quickly be offset by the backlog of demand on Yonge. Now it is the City Council’s position that no extension should be built until there is a Relief Line to divert traffic away from the Yonge corridor.

Yonge will see some medium term benefits, mainly from new signalling and automatic train control in 2019-20, but any new capacity will easily be exhausted by the 2031 timeline of current planning studies. That is “tomorrow” in the context of a decade-plus lead time to design, finance and build a new line.

The Relief Line

The fundamental question behind a “Relief Line” is this: what is it supposed to achieve? That may seem simple, but the answer depends on how one sees today’s network and the priorities for future growth and change.

For many years, debate hung on the Bloor-Yonge interchange and just how many people might be diverted from it. That was the crunch point, and planning, such as it was, focused on fixing that problem. Solutions included heroic schemes to increase platform space and separate passenger flows to decrease dwell times. However, a billion dollars worth of station changes would do almost nothing to address demand elsewhere on the route.

It is no secret that riders north of Bloor, and often well north of Eglinton, cannot always board a southbound train in the AM peak. Multi-train waits are needed at downtown stations for northbound service in the PM peak. The slightest disruption brings havoc. Meanwhile on Bloor-Danforth, it is common for east end riders to wait for multiple trains westbound in the AM peak.

(Although schedules call for a train every 140 seconds, or 25.7 trains/hour, the TTC never achieves this on average. For all of 2016, the average values ranged between 22 and 24 trains on Line 1 YUS. Meanwhile on Line 2 BD, the situation was somewhat better with values around 24 for several months except during the summer (the compound effect of reduced schedules and train failures thanks to no air conditioning), and a big dip in December. [See CEO’s report for March 2017 at pp 30 and 32.] The TTC’s inability to hit this target comes from many factors including the usual collection of delays from passengers or equipment, but also from their own operating practices. Even with a new signal system, it is far from guaranteed that the TTC will actually operate the level of service to which they aspire.)

“Relief” is not a question of providing more capacity at one strategic point (Bloor-Yonge) but of diverting a substantial number of current and future passengers to an entirely new route.

Probably the biggest obstacle a “Downtown Relief Line” faced lies in its name, from which “Downtown” was removed comparatively recently. This viewpoint led many to see the line primarily for its downtown segment rather than for areas further out that it could serve. By contrast, the Richmond Hill, Vaughan and Scarborough extensions are all seen from their outer ends looking in.

Thanks to the TTC presenting the “DRL” as a short Danforth to Downtown bypass rather than as a route with a wider reach, its political constituency has been limited, even within the City of Toronto. Only when Metrolinx looked at the line in a much larger context, all the way north to Sheppard (Don Mills Station), did the outlook shift both for what the line could achieve and who it would serve.

The question of a name for this line has been discussed on this site before, but I will make the point again: if we were talking about the “Don Mills Subway”, the line would have been built years ago. A route south from Sheppard and Don Mills, through the about-to-redevelop node at Eglinton (and a connection to the Crosstown LRT), serving Flemingdon and Thorncliffe Parks, and then (finally) connecting with the Danforth subway and onward into downtown is a very different animal from a Danforth/Downtown link. It would provide a completely new path east of Yonge and divert considerable traffic away from the existing congested lines. This would not be an “only” solution in the manner that SmartTrack was sold, but a major contribution to overall improvement of the network.

Yes, it would be expensive, but one can see the skew in past comparisons where credit for the avoided cost and complexity of expanding capacity on existing lines and stations was not considered an offsetting saving against the “DRL” cost.

The Need for Leadership

The Relief Line’s next date at Council will see a recommended alignment between Gerrard Station and Eastern Avenue go to Executive Committee on May 16, and then on to the full Council on May 24. The formal Transit Project Assessment and Environmental Project Report processes will work their way through public meetings and eventually to Queen’s Park through the summer and fall of 2017. Provincial money is already in hand for detailed design work.

How to pay for this project and how quickly it should advance to serve a wider area than the Danforth/Downtown link are two key, interlocked problems. Simply waiting for money to appear is not enough because the Richmond Hill extension will force the issue.

If political dynamics, the short term need to win provincial seats in York Region, advance one project over the other, there is a real danger than only one will be built. Within Toronto, the divisive tone of “Scarborough deserves a subway” must be replaced with a view of the whole transit network, and of its role in sustaining the city’s life and economy. There may be money from Ottawa and Queen’s Park, but both have their limits and Toronto must be prepared to invest in its own future.

Can Mayor Tory rise to this challenge, or will he remain a prisoner of his own flawed SmartTrack plan and of his tax-fighting political philosophy?

79 thoughts on “Has John Tory Discovered Life After SmartTrack?

  1. Bill R. says

    “I have tried. I do not understand these kinds of reports. We rely on Steve to translate them to plain talk. For the report “Union Station 2031: Demands and Opportunities Study”, there is no executive summary and you tell me what was concluded (p116).

    Steves’, Maplesons’, Robert Wightmans’ and some others’ comments are serious. I speak from incompetency but try my best to be reasoned. I am but a frustrated citizen who feels that there is something wrong with transit in Toronto compared to any city in the world.”

    I think that part of the problem is that City Councillors who make decisions about transit matters may not actually read the reports either and maybe not even the Executive Summaries, preferring instead to listen only to the voices of their (often) car-driving constituents, or fellow like-minded councillors. How else to explain the “logic” behind suburban councillors not voting for a Transit City-like set-up where there would be (at present, now) a network of LRT lines serving the northeast (Scarborough and Sheppard Ave. East), northwest (Finch Avenue) and centre (Don Mills – though that should have been discussed to become the DRL, with associated funding earmarked for it). Jane Street would have been a nightmare in my opinion, due to the narrow width of the street, particularly in the southern portion, but, hey, that would have been part of the *discussion* (which certainly never happened once King Rob Ford declared Transit City “dead”).

    And before Joe M. comments on the efficacy or reasonableness of Transit City – understand that I look at it as having been a jumping-off point for discussion and not a fait accompli so that folks like those in the Malvern area and at U of T Scarborough could actually have been served by transit, with it making their trips shorter and perhaps more comfortable using LRT (*not* streetcars).

    One reason I posit for what Bill R. calls the “something wrong with transit” problem in Toronto (even though I have no proof) is, as I have said before, the fact that many councillors DO NOT USE TRANSIT. Yes, the Mayor does, but he is focussed on his SmartTrack(TM) project and now using the Scarborough Stubway to act as a buffer in case Doug Ford decides to throw his hat in the ring next election. Doug would have just said (and maybe will say) that, had *he* been Mayor, Scarborough would have subways along Victoria Park Ave., McCowan Rd., Kennedy Rd. Sheppard Ave. East, Finch East, Kingston Rd. – and if it didn’t happen, well, he’d just blame those “lefty, pinko, bike-riding Old-City councillors” who don’t understand what life is like for the poor suburban, commuting, home-owning taxpayer…. The urban-suburban divide has been one of the biggest issues with non-action in the transit realm, because car drivers are – for some incomprehensible reason – more vocal than the thousands and thousands of transit riders who are stuffed like sardines onto fewer transit vehicles, once those vehicles actually get to the stops. Or maybe they aren’t but their councillors don’t listen to their complaints

    Giorgio Mammoliti doesn’t care about “good transit” (to him, it’s a subway or bus expressway or nothing). For North York councillors, “good transit” is a subway along Sheppard Avenue, connecting Downsview with Yonge Street. For Scarborough councillors – other than Paul Ainslie – it’s a subway ONLY, ONLY, ONLY because Rob Ford (that Great Knowledgeable Transit Expert) SAID it could be done. Never mind the DRL and the hordes on the Yonge line, or connecting Pearson Airport to the system via the Eglinton LRT: those aren’t quite sexy enough for the voting public and it just means higher taxes and intrusion into the lanes of the car-driving voters.

    I share your frustration, Bill and don’t know what it will take for those who are supposed to serve the best interests of the citizens (not the voters) of this city to realize that partisanship and parochialism do not work when it comes to planning, building and realizing transit.

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  2. Bill R said:

    The problem is there are a lot of people up north who want to come south. All bus route times will degrade as vehicle traffic increases. The subway does not have capacity. Of all choices the “people” have, GO train has the best potential for increased capacity and currently offers the best performance, which it can improve on (track station dwell time).

    The Richmond Hill line (Bala subdivision) is constrained in geometry, meaning you can’t run faster trains easily. It’s part of the reason that it’s been excluded from electrification. Bus route times can be maintained as a time savings compared to driving through congestion bypass lanes. Subway capacity issues aren’t pressing for the people at the end of the line, as they always have seats available.

    Bill R said: I do not understand these kinds of reports.

    Ok, try the Board Presentation. This is pretty good at boiling down the report into digestible bits. The conclusion of Union 2031 was that options 4B and 6B be sent forward for further study. Option 4B is the Relief Line with a connection to “Union West” at Spadina (Bathurst North Yard). Option 6B is a Big Dig tunnel with a “Union East” at Unilever (Don Yard). Since this report, further investigations have shown the Big Dig to be outrageously expensive/long to the point that you should be considering a whole new subway line (the main issue being the depth of piles under the Union Station Train Shed).

    Bill R said: I am but a frustrated citizen who feels that there is something wrong with transit in Toronto compared to any city in the world.

    If you’re looking to feel better by not being the worst, try Washington, D.C. They have 3-4 track fires per week and emergency shutdowns for repairs. New York’s MTA averages 25% to 30% trains late daily. Or how about Miami, which has two surface rail routes and one airport people-mover? Surat, India just has a bus transit system. We have our problems, but I would say we are very much upper middle in quality and quantity.

    Bill R said: There was still time to modify designs to enlarge Eglinton to 6 lanes. Why did Metrolinx wait until after the vote for subway? Metrolinx held planning sessions for other portions of the Crosstown line, why not with Scarborough?

    Expanding the road is within the purview of the City. If they had been willing to pay for the works along with the concurrent LRT works, it would have been included in the design. However, Mayor Ford wanted it buried and didn’t want to pay for more roads, so Scarborough got the short end of the stick both ways.

    Bill R said: So we “close off some tracks to make larger platforms” and put SmartTrack on this platform, this implies “considerably higher volumes of passengers per platform and faster turnover of trains.” “it only provides limited relief ” This is what I would want SmartTrack to do.

    The main issue is that the “limited relief” is already ignoring the biggest problems. As you include each one, that possible small improvement evaporates. Just taking the constructability issue: you either close down Union completely for 4-5 years or you half shut it for 15-20 years. On top of that, you get a multi-billion dollar price tag for at best a 10% increase in capacity. It doesn’t do enough to solve the underlying issues/backlog of demand.
    The lightbulb solution isn’t to rebuild Union Station, it is to build new Union Stations on the “wings” of downtown with a solid cross connection.

    Bill R said: Transit requires the proper use of our limited pool of tax money in the right direction. I think politicians should make sure that the Planning Department and Metrolinx are doing a good job, not tell them what to do. I think Tory is wrong to believe the SSE is a good idea and believe the planners are failing in not telling him so.

    Planners don’t make policy decisions. It’s their job to present the situation in an understandable fashion and develop the best course of action that is possible (politically and financially).

    Bill R said: Metolinx could tell politicians to what it would take to make SmartTrack work.

    Give me $100B and 15 years and we might be able to have John Tory’s SmartTrack. Not even Tory would be willing to pay that bill, so we get RER+.

    Steve: One must also remember that “planners” and “consultants” and “experts” were responsible for SmartTrack in the first place. The title and the piece of paper on the wall do not guarantee impartiality or even competence.

    Bill R said: Can Metrolinx understand that their tight lipped attitude and inability to handle public frustration contributes to public disappointment with them?

    Metrolinx is very much focused on keeping a positive story going. I think the overwhelming disaster of public consultation with the Weston neighbourhood for the Georgetown South works have made the very skeptical that they can open their mouths and improve the conversation. I personally don’t agree, which is why I try to drill down into the why of their actions on forums such as this (I used to be active on Urban Toronto forums).

    Steve said: “Mapleson” has never formally identified himself, but reading between the lines, he is connected to one of the railways, not Metrolinx.

    I’m a civil engineer and in the consulting world. My experience is a mix between mining and transportation, but my work in Canada has always been in the rail transit sector.

    Dean Girard said: I share your frustration, Bill and don’t know what it will take for those who are supposed to serve the best interests of the citizens (not the voters) of this city to realize that partisanship and parochialism do not work when it comes to planning, building and realizing transit.

    A well written post. I can’t say that I don’t get frustrated by what I think are bad decisions, but I do try to realise that it’s a hard job and rarely are good decisions actually made for good reasons. Politicians aren’t required to be technically capable people, just popular. Low taxes and subways are popular, so we get led down the garden path for as long as we allow it. I would say staffers are as responsible for bad advice as Councillors are for listening. John Tory didn’t come up with SmartTrack on his own, but it has his name on it and his mandate is attached to it.

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  3. Mapleson said: the biggest problems … solve the underlying issues/backlog of demand.

    Now we’re talking. Why is there an unwillingness to define the problem?

    Bill R said: Metrolinx is not accountable to the residents it’s suppose to serve. Residents of Scarborough were not involved with the design of the Crosstown in Scarborough.

    Steve said: Eglinton should have been widened as part of this plan, and even Metrolinx staff will acknowledge privately that this should have been done. .

    Mapleson said: Mayor Ford wanted it (Crosstown LRT) buried and didn’t want to pay for more roads, so Scarborough got the short end of the stick both ways.

    Out of ignorance, I would assume that Metrolinx is the project manger of the Crosstown LRT. They are accountable for the project they deliver. They “found” a $2 Billion surplus in the Crosstown budget in August 2015. To tunnel the LRT or expand Eglinton would require a City Council amendment to the Master Agreement. Councillors did not pass the amendment. Metrolinx did offer the City a fix, but it was basically faulty project management.

    Metrolinx is not accountable to the residents it’s suppose to serve. Why is there an unwillingness to define the problem?

    Steve: I think you have beaten this horse to death. No further exchanges in this vein will be published.

    Do you honestly expect that anything sensible would come out of the Ford era?

    Yes, Metrolinx is the project manager for Crosstown, but any changes to the streets have to be agreed to by the City. At the point a widening might have been discussed, the City didn’t want to know about it, andMetrolinx was desperately trying to keep costs down.

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  4. To respond to Mapleson, riders at the far ends of the subway system don’t have it all that easy. Most obviously, when it’s time to get back to the end of the line from downtown, they wind up standing the longest, presuming that they squeeze onto the train. My experience has been that, in the PM peak, you might be standing until Eglinton. The people who got off at St. Clair and Davisville had to stand, too, but for a shorter time because their ride was shorter.

    Even heading downtown, it’s possible that most of the seats are gone at Finch station. For a while in 2009-2010 I was riding north to Finch in around the 7:15-7:30 am time. People would get on at Sheppard and NYCC and ride north to Finch to get a seat for their southbound trip.

    The Richmond Hill extension is, I presume, going to be sold on some business case analysis that shows net new riders. (Otherwise, why not improve surface routes with ROW to avoid congestion and save the billions in capital and operating costs?) I can’t imagine what kind of circus the Yonge line will become in rush hour as ever more riders squeeze aboard.

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  5. Bill R said: Now we’re talking. Why is there an unwillingness to define the problem?

    Core Problem: Too many people wish to enter “downtown” Toronto in the AM peak period (and vice versa in the afternoon). Not enough tracks and roads for all of them at the same time.

    Heavy Rail Transit Problem: Too many people want to travel to Union Station in the AM peak period. Not enough trains with enough capacity.

    Union Station Problem: 207K AADT (Annual Average [Weekday] Daily Traffic) and a 3-hour peak period.

    One bilevel coach can hold 418 people (142 seated, 276 standing), so a 12-coach train can hold 5,016 people, so you need 14 trains per hour to meet peak demand.

    If you assume EMU would have capacity like the Flexity (70 seats, 181 standing for a 28m car/30.2m train), you can replace a 12-coach bilevel train with 10 EMUs. That gives you 2510 people per space. Thus, the EMU must move in, unload, and move out at least twice as quickly to not lose capacity.

    Ed said: riders at the far ends of the subway system don’t have it all that easy.

    It’d be interesting to run an analysis of travel times and percentage with seats. Those who currently live in Richmond Hill still have to stand until Eglinton, but the difference would be their time savings and comfort north of Finch.

    The Richmond Hill Extension has the EA and just needs funding. You can find the justification on the Viva Next site.

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  6. So it again seems that we need new corridors, with some degree of capacity. And given the complexities and huge costs of diggings, the surface fixes – a silver buckshot approach (and some imagination in developing them, with presumption of a good budget to ensure quality and some bridging/tunnelling) – should be the way forward.

    Improving the Richmond Hill GO line seems to be one of the obvious fixes, and the drainage issue could be improved considerably with a storm drain services fee/modifications in the Don River watershed, though many residents are well-connected. If the route is circuitous, what about removing that bike trail on a bit of former trackage that seems straight/shortcut?

    Steve: I never thought I would hear the great cycling advocate talk about removing a bike trail. That said, there are big problems with using this link. First off, it was only a single track line, and for the level of service the corridor needs, it would have to be widened. It runs through a residential neighbourhood that would be none to happy about the addition of frequent train service. At Lawrence Avenue, the right-of-way crosses just east of Leslie Street, and this would have to be grade separated to make it workable. Finally, all of those trains arriving at the south end of the old CN/CP connection would have to get across the CP main line to reach the link to downtown via the Don Branch line at Leaside Station. That link too is only single track.

    And then we have about three north-south corridors in the Don Valley itself from the core to the Brickworks area: Bayview, the unused rail RoW owned apparently by metrolinx and the Don Valley Parkway itself, which could be adjusted to have a central lane transitway of some type. And thus how to connect up to Thorncliffe? And perhaps beyond, including crossing over the Don to – wait for it – Leslie, though I might think of something else.

    Steve: The unused rail right-of-way is the Don Branch I mentioned above, and yes it is owned by Metrolinx.

    And to be ‘roadical’ – are we at the point where we should repaint some or much of Yonge St. for a central lane busway, again, reversible as modelled after Jarvis St.? A wider curb lane in some parts of it would improve biking, which can be some transit relief, though no, it doesn’t work for everyone, and not in the quantities of more robust transit. (Again, if it’s a crisis, a shedding of some small percentage of the load is what might avoid breakdown right?)

    We need new corridors and the Don and other geography is/has inhibited providing enough of a grid to provide multiple choices of routes. Connecting up the St. Clair Ave E.s might help as might ensuring Lawrence runs continuously, yes?

    A good cartoon can help some of us at any rate; this one I think is superb :)!

    Steve: Please note that this is the last of your Don Valley fantasies that I will publish.

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  7. Giancarlo wrote:

    “Is it possible to have some (e.g. off peak) trains to Richmond Hill routed on the Newmarket Sub up to the junction Halton, then across Thornhill back to Bala? A lot less curves, so I imagine the trains might make decent time, even with the detour. I can see freight congestion in Vaughan being a problem. If it’s too busy, we might weigh the cost of building a spur alongside or in the median of the 407 (can we squeeze a single track in there?) to get trains across Thornhill versus upgrading all of Bala.”

    There are a few problems with this:

    1. There is no north to east curve from the Newmarket to the York Sub and no room to put one in without ripping out many houses. The train would have to go north of the York Sub then back down to west on the York Sub before heading east. I doubt that this would save any time.

    2. I really doubt that CN would let any passenger train on its York Sub or the Halton east of Bramalea.

    3. The though or running a spur in or beside the 407 is a non starter because the highway is built to road standards for curves and grades, not railway ones.

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  8. @ Mapleson;

    I don’t know if you have ever been on a GO bi-level with 418 people (142 seated, 276 standing), but I have been on ones with less than half that standing and it is not pretty. What is the standing passenger density per m^2?

    The data in the Viva site is a crock:

    “Today, the Yonge Subway line is operating at +11% over capacity.

    “Significant relief to the Yonge Subway line will be achieved through already committed transit improvements, including the TTC’s automatic train controls [adds 36% capacity], new signals [adds 10% capacity], six-car trains [adds 10% capacity], the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension [adds 8% capacity] and Regional Express Rail/SmartTrack.”

    The 10% extra capacity from open gangway trains has already disappeared. You can’t count new capacity from ATC and from new signalling. The new signalling was replaced by ATC and a 36% capacity increase from ATC is not possible. The TCRP estimates it at about 3 – 4% if all other improvements are put in. Counting the benefit of the TYSSE is sleight of hand trick; now you see it now you don’t.

    Steve: I would add that the numbers used in the study came from the TTC’s own very optimistic early vision of what could be achieved, and the TTC itself has scaled down what they expect to gain. They hope to get down to a 105 second headway, at best, with the new signal system and that is a 33% improvement over the current scheduled value of 140 seconds. However, they routinely do not achieve 140, and it remains to be seen whether they can come anywhere near 105. A related issue is that more frequent service requires more trains, but there is no budgetary provision for either the trains nor the carhouse to store them.

    @ Ed:

    “To respond to Mapleson, riders at the far ends of the subway system don’t have it all that easy. Most obviously, when it’s time to get back to the end of the line from downtown, they wind up standing the longest, presuming that they squeeze onto the train.”

    To which I say if you want to ride a subway that far be prepared to stand. You have a better chance of getting a seat in the a.m. so too bad if you have to stand all the way to Steeles. If you want a seat take the GO train.

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  9. Mapleson said: One bilevel coach can hold 418 people (142 seated, 276 standing), so a 12-coach train can hold 5,016 people, so you need 14 trains per hour to meet peak demand.

    If you assume EMU would have capacity like the Flexity (70 seats, 181 standing for a 28m car/30.2m train), you can replace a 12-coach bilevel train with 10 EMUs. That gives you 2510 people per space. Thus, the EMU must move in, unload, and move out at least twice as quickly to not lose capacity.

    Wow, facts provide an inconvenient truth.
    Thanks
    I guess I’d better drop the alternative facts.

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  10. I am a neophyte on transit, but $4B is a big chunk of money for a single stop subway.
    Would an extension of the Sheppard to STC and the DRL to Don Mills be a better use?
    I know the bottom line would cost more than $4B, but this would be a start.
    Is there still a valid or updateable set of approvals for the Subway extension?

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  11. Help.

    I’d like to ask those following this thread. their views on “intra 416 transit service” for Scarborough. I believe Scarborough has too many long bus routes, my adjective for it raised disdain. There are no 6 lane roads to provide north/south service for the height of Scarborough. I oppose the the SSE. I eyed the Stouffville line as the perfect backbone for rapid transit for Scarborough. There are many 6 lane arteries to the east that can feed buses to it. It is beneficial enough for those west of it, to backtrack east to take it. Little did I know that the TTC could not put a subway on it. Then I learned about EMU’s, I thought a great alternative. In view of the inter regional issues, this doesn’t look so likely.

    Suggestions?

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  12. J Graham said: “Would an extension of the Sheppard to STC and the DRL to Don Mills be a better use?”

    Possibly. However, considering that building anything on Sheppard is already in doubt due to Toronto’s political shenanigans, switching from the SSE to extending the Sheppard line might result in nothing getting built beyond the current Crosstown project.

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  13. I happened by the CP Agincourt Yard back in December. Zeke and Cletis were running a very old yard switcher back and forth, moving a few boxcars around. And that was it! So, I would say that CP will be putting it up for sale quite soon. A little imagination could go a long way.

    While I’m on the subject of Scarborough Subway underground to that mall avoidance: I think that some of Hamish’s pet ideas, with a few modifications, should be revisited by the city fathers.

    The Bloor-Danforth originally entered Scarborough via a hydro right of way, and was extended to Kennedy with track being laid on the surface. That right of way continues to the far northeast corner of Scarborough. Diagonal is great, surface is much cheaper than all those crazy tunnels; what’s not to like?

    Steve: That diagonal was also the original alignment for the Scarborough LRT/RT, but there were very strong objections from homeowners along the corridor (especially those nearer to Eglinton where the right-of-way is closer to houses). The dog-leg alignment was used to avoid upsetting them or requiring expropriation of chunks of their property. I remember this issue well as it was Robert Wightman and I who proposed the alternative alignment to Richard Soberman when he was in charge of the Metropolitan Toronto Transportation Plan Review.

    It should be noted that there are now houses at many points along the corridor. Surface construction here is not an option.

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  14. Harrison said: “Diagonal is great, surface is much cheaper than all those crazy tunnels; what’s not to like?”

    The right of way cuts through Thomson Memorial Park. Now, have you ever seen the reaction of a community when you inform them that you are permanently taking away parkland from them?

    Steve: Harrison fell into the “SmartTrack Planners Club” trap of failing to check what was actually in the way of his proposal.

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  15. Bill R says: “Help.

    “I’d like to ask those following this thread. their views on “intra 416 transit service” for Scarborough. I believe Scarborough has too many long bus routes, my adjective for it raised disdain. There are no 6 lane roads to provide north/south service for the height of Scarborough. I oppose the the SSE. I eyed the Stouffville line as the perfect backbone for rapid transit for Scarborough. There are many 6 lane arteries to the east that can feed buses to it. It is beneficial enough for those west of it, to backtrack east to take it. Little did I know that the TTC could not put a subway on it. Then I learned about EMU’s, I thought a great alternative. In view of the inter regional issues, this doesn’t look so likely.”

    The east west roads in Scarborough are true “concession roads, 1 1/4 miles apart while the north south roads are 5/8 of a mile apart with concession and half concession roads with the exception of Pharmacy which is too far to the west. A concession was an area of land of 1,000 acres. Since a square mile contains 640 acres, a concession which is 5/4 by 5/4 of a mile, contains 5/4 squared times 640 acres or 25/16 times 640 or 1,000 acres.

    Since farms were 100 acres each concession had 10 farms of 100 acres. There were 5 farms on each side of the concession roads. The roads that were at right angles were usually called lines and these in numbering were often called base line then number 5, number 10, number 15 etc. This was done so that if they started putting in roads between the farms the numbers would exist. Scarborough has a different base line at the south end than Toronto or North York and its lines, the east west roads are about 3/8 to 1/2 mile south of those in Toronto, that is why there is a jog in each of the east west roads and Finch is more that 1 1/4 miles south of Steeles which follows along the Toronto grid.

    The spacing of the north south main roads is half that of the east west main roads so there are actually more north south lanes than east west lanes.

    If the city had wanted to run a north south transit line along the Stouffville sub in the late 60s early 70s it might have happened but it is way to late now.

    Harrison says:

    “I happened by the CP Agincourt Yard back in December. Zeke and Cletis were running a very old yard switcher back and forth, moving a few boxcars around. And that was it! So, I would say that CP will be putting it up for sale quite soon. A little imagination could go a long way.”

    E Hunter Harrison ripped out the hump yard a number of years ago. There are only a few left in North America as the railways have taken to switching blocks of cars together rather than individual cars. CP would like to move the yard further east and sell the land off as it is in prime territory but would probably need an environmental clean up. But until they have a new yard they are not going to be in a hurry to get rid of this and where is no way that a subway to it, whether via Sheppard or an extension of line 2, is warranted.

    “The Bloor-Danforth originally entered Scarborough via a hydro right of way, and was extended to Kennedy with track being laid on the surface. That right of way continues to the far northeast corner of Scarborough. Diagonal is great, surface is much cheaper than all those crazy tunnels; what’s not to like?”

    As Steve says that right of way is narrow 66 feet or less and backs up against single family homes. Would you want a subway or other rapid transit line right next to your back yard? The line from Victoria Park to Warden is on the old right of way but is on the edge of a ravine and not really adjacent to any houses. That right of way is much wider than that east of Kennedy and it ran into opposition as a surface right of way. Do you think you can get it approved on a narrower right of way now? The other option is the Hydro right of way which it crosses at Lawrence and Brimley and it will run into problems.

    I have walked that right of way from Eglinton to Ellesmere before making the proposal for the alternative LRT alignment and it is very narrow. Steve and I and several others worked on the proposal for the new alignment, the current RT, but it continued to Malvern. As the only one who lived in Scarborough at the time I made the presentation to Scarborough Council on Monday April first. I remember the date because I was supposed to start a job that day but had to delay it until Tuesday.

    All went well, the LRT line was approved, but then the idiot politicians at Queens Park had to force the ICTS system instead of LRT and cut it back to McCowan because it was too expensive. Scarborough should have had LRT in the late 70s and there would also have been an LRT line from Kipling Station to the airport. You can still see the location for the track at Kipling station next to the CP right of way on the bus platform. Thank you Bill Davis for nothing.

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  16. How can you check it without a depressing, diagonal, electromagnetic walk through everyone’s favourite city?

    Steve: When the satellite view clearly shows houses where there used to be a right of way, this is not a situation of judging whether the tracks would be too close to nearby houses. The houses in the corridor proper have been added since the decision to take the RT on the dogleg route was made. Back in the 70s, there were no houses directly in the way, just close by.

    The right of way is narrow and the back yards are shallow with much less distance between a potential rail line and the houses than exists between the SRT and houses on the west side of the Hydro corridor.

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  17. Harrison | April 14, 2017 at 9:42 pm

    “How can you check it without a depressing, diagonal, electromagnetic walk through everyone’s favourite city?”

    I think, hope, he was being sarcastic.

    I walked out the old Canadian Northern Right of Way from the Don Valley to North Of Ellesmere and the Gatineau, I think it is called, Hydro Right of Way from the Don Valley to Markham Road and the CP right of way from Agincourt to the waterfront to actually check the out with my eyeball. The CP bridges over the Don Valley, especially the long single track one, are interesting in a wind. I would probably be arrested for doing it now but I was a dumb university student then.

    Actually I was arrested in Lyon France in November of 2013 for taking pictures of trams and buses parce qu’à Lyon il est interdit de prendre des photos de bâtiments publics, tramway, bus ou métros sans la permission écrite du conseil de Lyon. Until I said that in French to the cop I was going nowhere. Don’t take pictures in Lyon.

    The hydro right of way is nice and wide but if people complain that Pape Station is too low density then most of the stations on the hydro line would be zero density. Just because a right of way exists doesn’t mean it needs a transit line on it. If you put a heavy rapid transit line on it you would cut off all foot traffic from crossing it and that could have a negative impact on the neighbourhood. They would probably want it placed in a cut to block it from view then covered over to completely hide its noise and visual impact.

    New York traffic commissioner Robert Barnes and Metro Toronto’s Sam Cass reportedly said if God didn’t want expressways he wouldn’t have made river valleys but we don’t have to follow their logic(?) when it comes to building transit. Besides people in cars are willing to go out of their way for a single seat ride but people in GO trains really are not happy to go down the Don Valley to get to Union. They would prefer that Toronto build them a subway so that they could go from Richmond Hill to Union for one TTC fare rather than pay the GO fare and take the scenic tour thought the winding tracks of the Bala Sub in the valley.

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  18. Robert Wightman: I have 2 words for you – Skokie Swift. As I’m sure you know, it arose from the ashes of the North Shore in the mid sixties as a north by northwest adjunct of the main north-south line of the Chicago El. It has been well used ever since, running in a hydro right of way, with minimal parking [by our standards].

    On the subject of what commuters want; I don’t believe that you would prefer an endless tunnel to the lush scenery of the Don Valley for your morning commute. There is a big problem with the mind numbing nothingness of our subways, experienced day after day.

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  19. Harrison says

    “Robert Wightman: I have 2 words for you – Skokie Swift. As I’m sure you know, it arose from the ashes of the North Shore in the mid sixties as a north by northwest adjunct of the main north-south line of the Chicago El. It has been well used ever since, running in a hydro right of way, with minimal parking [by our standards].”

    If you call 3200 passenger per day “well used”, that is your choice. The TTC has 108 surface routes that carry more passengers each day. It is 8.4 km long and has two terminal stations and one intermediate station with a one way trip time of 8 minutes. Equipment is two L cars connected in a train. The cars are about the size of a Toronto PCC. (They are a bit bigger at 48′ long by 9’4″ wide.)

    The line exists because the track overhead and power supply were in place left over from the abandoned North Shore line. It opened as a CTA line in early 1963 mainly because the riders who got on in Skokie Village had no other alternative. I have ridden it a number of times and it is more like an old time interurban than a rapid transit line but then that is what the old North Shore was.

    An LRT was planned to go out the route of the RT and continue to Malvern but the province destroyed that.

    Can a rail line be built in the Gatineau Hydro corridor, certainly, but is it worth the expense?

    “On the subject of what commuters want; I don’t believe that you would prefer an endless tunnel to the lush scenery of the Don Valley for your morning commute. There is a big problem with the mind numbing nothingness of our subways, experienced day after day.”

    It is not really a question of what you or I want but what the paying public is willing to pay and ride. The Richmond Hill line carries about 10,200 passenger per day, three times what Skokie does but a lot less than the Yonge Subway.

    Building transit lines on diagonals weakens their ability to fit into a grid system and still requires the existence of all the feeder routes in the grid.

    I was wrong about the spacing of the north south roads in Scarborough. For some reason they are less than 1/2 mile apart. Other townships in Ontario would often put the north south roads on 1/2 mile spacing because four 100 acre farms would fit in the area bound by the east west roads and 1 1/4 mile spacing and the north south roads spaced at 1/2 mile. The thought probably was that more people then wanted to go north south than east west.

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  20. Mapleson said: One bilevel coach can hold 418 people (142 seated, 276 standing)

    LOLOLOLOLOL.

    So it’s clear now you have never been on a GO Train in your life. 276 standing? Two hundred and seventy-six? That is a complete fiction of capacity. You are lucky to get 76 standing before passengers start to physically barricade the doors and physically refuse to let more on because it’s disgustingly crowded. I’ve taken thousands of rides. I’ve done it myself. That is the reality. Even having 176 stand is a bizarre idea, but that 276 could stand on a GO Train coach? That is beyond farcical, and in the land of total ignorance. These are my real world observations, not the laughable statements from marketing materials.

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  21. @ Jonathon

    The 276 is a theoretical maximum given the amount of surface area without seats. Like you I cannot imagine that number of passengers. I have seen about 50 standing in the upper deck of a packed GO train, so assuming the same in the lower deck and some in the mid level I could see about 120 standing MAX.

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  22. Steve: Adding off peak trains via a roundabout route will not make service on the Bala Sub more attractive as a peak period subway alternative. Note that the rail corridor is only just north of Steeles, and falls quite a bit short of serving Richmond Hill.

    Yes I see your point about the peak. All aboard the Relief Line.

    Robert Wightman writes:

    I really doubt that CN would let any passenger train on its York Sub or the Halton east of Bramalea.

    I imagine you are right and they wouldn’t go along with a commuter train. However, the Canadian does travel on the York Sub, because there’s nowhere to turn it at Union. Toronto-bound Canadians will travel south on Bala to Union. The train is then pointing West so the departure for Vancouver travels along the Newmarket to York to Bala route. Yes, the Canadian has to reverse onto York using the South to West curve. Obviously, a North to East curve from Newmarket onto York would be ideal for any local service. As for the houses in the way, my map must be out of date. All I see is Central Fairbank Lumber and a parking lot.

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  23. You are right; I don’t know what I was looking at but you would need to start the turn just north of Steeles and take out the 3 buildings to the east and this would give a curve with max speed of about 20 to 30 km/h. It is not worth the trouble.

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  24. Robert Wightman said: “The 276 is a theoretical maximum given the amount of surface area without seats. Like you I cannot imagine that number of passengers. I have seen about 50 standing in the upper deck of a packed GO train, so assuming the same in the lower deck and some in the mid level I could see about 120 standing MAX.”

    Yes, and we should really be regarding the max per train to be much less than this calculation yields — like perhaps 2200-2400 (200 per car – including standing) however, he also uses equally inflated numbers from the theoretical for the Flexity cars, so it does not change the basic calculation. There is a basic set of values that must be considered, as to how things can and should be addressed. How many trains from each line can you reasonably accommodate at Union. Where is the logical limit of trains to Union, and does that make sense with the balance of reality in terms of other capacities?

    Do we not want to seriously look at how these are apportioned — especially if we are building a Scarborough Subway extension, whose forecasts relied on diverting traffic from Stouffville? How long could say 6 trains per hour peak from Richmond Hill carry the load? Does this not make more sense than subway extension? Does not the Scarborough subway extension, reduce the logic of focusing on the Stouffville line? Would not subway to Sheppard and Don Mills, with BRT or LRT to Richmond Hill make more sense? Is not the requirement for the relief line is already clear, to maintain access for the east end of Toronto, and support further development on the east side?

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  25. Yes, that is crush capacity, which is really outdated as the average adult size has vastly increased since it was last changed. However, it gives you a basis for comparison. The calculation is: 0.2m² open space per standee. However, the basic premise only gets worse as you drop the standing load.

    1.2*(142+276)/(70+181) = 1.998
    1.2*(142+138)/(70+ 91) = 2.087
    1.2*(142+ 76)/(70+ 61) = 2.144

    That said, I don’t really find “full” GO trains to be that bad. I don’t use them on a daily basis, but I’ve never missed a train due to space. I’ve been on buses in Cuba where you need to wait for the person in front of you to move their foot into the space yours just vacated in order to move forward.

    J Graham said: Would an extension of the Sheppard to STC and the DRL to Don Mills be a better use?

    If you listen to the subway advocates east of Victoria Park, they want a “single seat ride” from the STC to Yonge-Bloor. Opening this can of worms isn’t worth it at this point.

    Bill R said: There are no 6 lane roads to provide north/south service for the height of Scarborough. Suggestions?

    Scarborough is reasonably well planned for road expansion to 6-lanes. The home-owners just need to be willing to give up the boulevard. They might if they get more road space for cars, but probably not for trains/trams/buses.

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  26. Mapleson said: Scarborough is reasonably well planned for road expansion to 6-lanes.

    Here is a biased point of view. The west end has the 400 and 427 for north/south and the 401/QEW/Gardiner for east/west vehicular flow. Scarborough only has the 401.

    The City of Markham’s population grows exponentially and its drivers now flood all the north/south roads in Scarborough. The subway and Crosstown serve southern Scarborough so public transit for the rest of Scarborough is bus. The roads around the Scarborough Town Centre will be packed with buses for the SSE.

    Since Scarborough has no rapid transit network, the TTC must use buses.

    Since Scarborough has no arteries, road throughput stalls and bus service is hampered.

    I am as weak at city planning as transit planning. I see economic development tied to good road networks as well as transit networks. For me there is no plan for either. The congested roads will favour rapid transit but there is no thought for a rapid transit grid.

    It is from this perspective that I felt that the Stouffville line could service Scarborough well as well as the Sheppard LRT. The Lakeshore GO corridor offers the quickest way downtown and EMU service would provide rapid transit for all of Scarborough.

    The experts have explained that the big picture issue is the large number of passengers GO is required to serve the 905 requires heavy rail equipment. I understand the big picture problem. I was wondering if we get to specifics if the just Stouffville line couldn’t be EMU?

    The York/Spadina subway will serve Vaughan, wouldn’t EMU service be good enough for Markham/Stouffville?

    Steve: Vaughan is also served by the Barrie GO train. As for using the Stouffville corridor, you forget that once the service levels go up and there is all day service, most of the east and west side services will be hooked up just as the Lake Shore routes are today. Whatever service runs to Stouffville will also run on its mirror corridor, either Barrie or Brampton.

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  27. Bill R said: Here is a biased point of view. The west end has the 400 and 427 for north/south and the 401/QEW/Gardiner for east/west vehicular flow. Scarborough only has the 401.

    When did they get rid of the 404/DVP? What “West End” are you talking about having the QEW (it ends at the 427)?

    However, we were talking about arterial roads.

    Steve: The 404/DVP is not in Scarborough and therefore does not exist.

    Bill R said: The City of Markham’s population grows exponentially and its drivers now flood all the north/south roads in Scarborough.

    Markham’s population is growing slower than Toronto’s absolutely. It’s a higher percentage, but is continuing to fall (5.4% since 1871; 4.6% since 2001; 2.9% since 2006). It’s solid and continuous, but not exponential.

    Beyond that, they are a small minority of drivers in Scarborough (TTS 2011 Origin-Destination Matrix has it as 6.2% of trips to Scarborough). In fact, there is a greater percentage of people heading north and driving on Markham roads (11.2% of trips to Markham are from Scarborough). If you look at just the AM peak, there are 6.8% of trips from Markham to Scarborough (63.4% are within Scarborough) and 10.1% of the traffic in Markham are reverse commuters.

    Bill R said: The subway and Crosstown serve southern Scarborough so public transit for the rest of Scarborough is bus.

    STC is considered southern? As I recall there still is the SRT.

    Bill R said: Since Scarborough has no rapid transit network, the TTC must use buses.

    A better way to put this is Scarborough is insisting on the SSE and buses rather than a rapid transit network.

    Bill R said: Since Scarborough has no arteries, road throughput stalls and bus service is hampered.

    The space is there, but not the desire to build it. It’s like complaining about walking to work because you don’t want to pay for gas.

    Bill R said: The congested roads will favour rapid transit but there is no thought for a rapid transit grid. It is from this perspective that I felt that the Stouffville line could service Scarborough well as well as the Sheppard LRT. The Lakeshore GO corridor offers the quickest way downtown and EMU service would provide rapid transit for all of Scarborough.

    You’ve basically arrived at SmartTrack through the same thought processes. The difference is that John Tory should have known better.

    Steve: More to the point, Tory’s advisors like Iain Dobson and Michael Schabas should have known better. Dobson’s SRRA study is the underpinning for SmartTrack, and Schabas did some of the technical review including the impossible Weston to Malton leg for which his “survey” consisted of Google Street View. The people behind the scenes deserve to be called to account too.

    Bill R said: I was wondering if we get to specifics if the just Stouffville line couldn’t be EMU? The York/Spadina subway will serve Vaughan, wouldn’t EMU service be good enough for Markham/Stouffville?

    All of Steve’s points are valid, but let’s run a bit of a thought experiment. Let’s assume Scarborough has a sudden change of heart doesn’t want to build the SSE and wants to revisit the SRT LRT conversion in combination with EMU service between Kennedy and Lincolnville. As the new Scarborough-Stouffville Smart-Track LRT (SS-ST-LRT) won’t be mainline track, you can run LRV.

    The Uxbridge subdivision is between 14-16m wide. The Flexity Outlook (TTC version) is 2.54m wide or the Flexity Freedom (Metolinx version) is 2.65m. This is enough for 3 tracks, but 4 is a squeeze (150mm dynamic clearance and 1.1m each side for drainage, OCS, and sound wall).

    With a max speed of 110 mph, and 2’11” dwell-time (including deceleration/acceleration allowances), you get a nice round 20 minute trip from Unionville to Kennedy, so 1.5 roundtrips per hour per train. 8 trainsets would give you the 5 minute headways and two tracks of the corridor are full with 18 trainsets (a train pulls in just as the previous train was leaving).

    With TTC schedule capacity of 130/car, you get 3.5K pax per hour capacity or 6.7K crush capacity. You can then use the third track for some sort of express service to STC/Stouffville.

    Steve: Just for clarity, you appear to be using two-car trains to arrive at that capacity. 130 passengers times 12 trains/hour is only 1,560 passengers. This affects some of your discussion below. Also re crush capacity, that is impractical on any line that will have significant on-and-off traffic requiring circulation space within the vehicles. Even then I do not believe the much higher crush capacities claimed by Bombardier for their cars. It is important to distinguish between average load over the peak period, and hence actual line ridership, and peak within the peak crush loading that is difficult to sustain for an extended period because of station delays.

    Now let’s look at the better than best case impact on traffic (as taken from the perspective of York Region crowding out the roads): 6777 fewer trips from Markham to Scarborough means 2.8% fewer trips on the roads (a 41% reduction in trips from Markham). That’s about 30 years’ worth of Markham-Scarborough traffic growth or 3 years’ worth of overall Scarborough traffic growth.

    Now if you want to make a bigger dent, you could begin to run multiple-car trainsets. If you run 2-car sets, you get to the better than best case with a schedule capacity. If you run a 10-car trainset (length of a GO train), you get 70K pax per hour scheduled capacity (that’s all the trips from York Region, North York and 20.8% of trips from Scarborough). This is equivalent to 29% of Scarborough destination trips in the AM peak period. That means 40.8% more lane space. In comparison, expanding from 4-lanes to 6-lanes would give you 50% more lane space.

    Now if you want to build it as transit, with 8 north-south roads that span Scarborough, you can have a BRT network (dedicated non-segregated ROW) on 3-minute headways you get 14.4K pax per hour (90 pax/articulated bus). That’s a bit over our idealistic 4-car LRT (120m).

    Steve: You can have that BRT network provided that you are willing to provide stations and terminals capable of handling this level of transfer traffic to other parts of the network. It’s the toll plaza problem for transit.

    The basic issue is that the majority of traffic in Scarborough is from Scarborough (same in Etobicoke, York Region and Peel Region whereas North York and downtown have a plurality of local traffic). No single line is going to serve that need well. It’s also the basis of my objection to the SSE because there are more people travelling from Scarborough to Scarborough (153,100 AM peak trips) than Scarborough to Downtown (53,800 AM peak trips).

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  28. Steve said: The people behind the scenes deserve to be called to account too.

    Very true, I just don’t recall them by name.

    Steve said: Just for clarity, you appear to be using two-car trains to arrive at that capacity.

    Sorry, it was an exercise in the absurd. 27 cars per hour * 130 pax on 2’13” headway, which is the peak capacity for the given dwell time. It’s definitely not realistic especially with the crush loads.

    Steve said: You can have that BRT network provided that you are willing to provide stations and terminals capable of handling this level of transfer traffic to other parts of the network. It’s the toll plaza problem for transit.

    An excellent point, but my overall premise was to explain why a Scarborough silver bullet is almost never the best idea, when a less flashy grid system can be built cheaper and have a more positive impact on riders. I think we need a mix of everything, with subways for the highest demand corridors through buses for diffuse areas. The funnel and backbone method just tends to use up money on backbones when then are overwhelmed by the funnel load.

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  29. @Mapleson

    I am pleased that you have taken the time to lay out transit vernacular to this issue. Could you provide the dates for your traffic volumes, for clarification. For me, too much of this debate is a rush to judgement of the choice of technology. I’m looking for a cost effective rapid transit grid to shorten the long bus routes in Scarborough.

    The BRT suggestion piques my interest. Is it possible that bus lanes on selected on streets that will be widened, say Warden, Kennedy and Markham Road are enough to address intra Scarborough service needs? The terminal points would be the subway and Sheppard LRT.

    How big is the disruption challenge?

    Lawrence Avenue presents a challenge with no terminals.

    Also what is a good replacement of the SRT?

    How beneficial is it to extend Line 2 to the Scarborough Town Centre (STC) considering Yonge/Bloor and the number of buses that would have to access the STC?

    How about a backbone LRT that runs up and down Midland Avenue to the Scarborough Station. A hookup at the Scarborough station to the Lakeshore line and extra trains Scarborough Station to Union Station.
    Would this work, is it a better way to spend $3.4 billion?

    Steve: This is taking on the shape of a transit fantasy map for Scarborough, and the issues have been discussed at great length for your benefit. Please note that no further items on this topic will be published unless you have something truly new to add to the discussion.

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  30. Robert Wightman: Your Skokie figure is bogus, except for one very cold day in 1965. When that line is functioning properly, it handles more than twice the passengers that you claimed. But that is beside the point. The point is that surface lines are cheaper to build and cheaper to operate [than subways]; especially if a right of way is already in place. Also, in the case of Skokie, cheaper to expand. Maybe the CTA will get its passenger loads up to your standards, some day.

    BTW: Remember how much it used to gall you when the old pols used to attempt to blow some of you youngsters away with bogus facts, in the early days of Streetcars For Toronto?

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  31. “Benny Cheung has sent in a screen shot from the GO Transit fare calculator to support the prices he used for Aldershot-Toronto trips.”

    I take this trip occasionally to see family and confirm I am charged $10.35. It is also $10.35 if you continue on to Hamilton via a GO bus transfer at Aldershot, despite the calculator saying it should be $10.75. I emailed them about that years ago. Never fixed.

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  32. Harrison | April 21, 2017 at 12:46 am

    “Robert Wightman: Your Skokie figure is bogus, except for one very cold day in 1965. When that line is functioning properly, it handles more than twice the passengers that you claimed. But that is beside the point.”

    Before you call me a liar check the CTA stats for last year. Page 17 says that the average weekday ridership last November was 3,134, 3152 in Oct. and 3254 in September. What is the source for your alternate facts? How is the fact that your figure is a fabrication beside the point?

    You can get all the CTA ridership stats here.

    “BTW: Remember how much it used to gall you when the old pols used to attempt to blow some of you youngsters away with bogus facts, in the early days of Streetcars For Toronto?”

    Except that, unlike yours, my facts are not bogus unless the CTA lies in its reports. Surface Rights of Way are cheaper but what good are they if they don’t go where the demand is.

    Check the average ridership for any year. It was 2,277 in 2013, 2,224 in 2014 and 1,066 in 2015 but it was closed from May 17 to Oct. 30 of that year for upgrades to a collapsed embankment so it doesn’t count. It has grown from 2020 in 2008, probably because of the introduction of a new station closer to the centre of Skokie.

    If you want your opinion to be taken seriously, it behooves you to use accurate facts. You earlier said:

    “The Bloor-Danforth originally entered Scarborough via a hydro right of way, and was extended to Kennedy with track being laid on the surface. That right of way continues to the far northeast corner of Scarborough. Diagonal is great, surface is much cheaper than all those crazy tunnels; what’s not to like?”

    The surface track only went to slightly north of St. Clair, just past Warden Station after which it is in a tunnel and not on the surface as you say. And you say my facts are bogus. Have you ever been out there to check the Right of Way you claim to know.

    Steve: And as I have already pointed out, some of that right-of-way is now occupied by houses.

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  33. @Harrison:

    Skokie Swift, aka the Yellow Line, runs 90 round trips every weekday according to their latest schedule. Since it runs with 2 car L trains which have a crush capacity of about 70 each. This would give a maximum theoretical loading of 12,600 each way per day. I have ridden the line on two different occasions in the past few years and it was nowhere near crush loading let alone a fully seated load which is 38 per car or 76 per train which would give 6840 passengers per day per direction,

    The published value of 3200 riders per day makes sense given the nature of the line. It used to run with single cars using pantograph off overhead but was converted to third rail in 2004. In order to keep contact with the third rail on at least one car when they go through one of the eight level crossings on the line, they run married pairs. An added benefit is that it is now possible to use all equipment, which was in 2 car married pairs, on Skokie or on any line..

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  34. Robert Wightman: I didn’t call you a liar, I suggested that you cherry picked. As you know, I’ve asked you for your opinion several times, and you have been kind enough to give it. Obviously, I place considerable value on your experience and knowledge.

    I understand that Scarborough is probably never going to get a proper transit system, in any form. The villains are many, but one of the problems that lurks beneath the surface is a kind of latter day closemindedness of the kind that you and Steve encountered in the late sixties. Luckily, there were a few open minded adults around in those days.

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  35. Harrison said “Robert Wightman: I didn’t call you a liar, I suggested that you cherry picked.”

    I do not “Cherry Pick.” I look up data in a reliable source, in this case the CTA’s own data, which has to be correct for reporting to US government. You still have not given the source for your statement that my “Skokie figure is bogus, except for one very cold day in 1965. When that line is functioning properly, it handles more than twice the passengers that you claimed.

    I ask again, where did you get the data to suggest that the actual Skokie ridership was twice what I reported from the CTA’s data base. Are you referring to ridership back in the 60s and 70s or some other “alternative facts.” In a back handed way you state that my figures are false but you fail to provides sources for your statements while I provided sources for mine. You basically called me a liar then apologized in a back handed way that said I was only picking part of the data while ignoring the rest. I hope you will understand that I do not accept this lame excuse as an apology. You are twisting the facts to support your argument while ignoring the fact that I used actual verifiable sources. Again I ask you to provide sources for your statements or to issue an unconditional apology for questioning the veracity of mine.

    “I understand that Scarborough is probably never going to get a proper transit system, in any form. The villains are many, but one of the problems that lurks beneath the surface is a kind of latter day close mindedness of the kind that you and Steve encountered in the late sixties. Luckily, there were a few open minded adults around in those days.”

    Steve and I dealt in facts, not in innuendo, when pushing the argument for retaining streetcars in “Street Cars For Toronto”. There were a lot of others involved as well. We did not encounter a lot of “close mindedness” because we dealt in facts, not fantasy.

    I am still awaiting your apology. Yes I am being an obnoxious ass on this but so are you.

    Steve: Can we bring this thread to an end please before I just start deleting posts?

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  36. Steve: Can we bring this thread to an end please before I just start deleting posts?

    Gladly, I violated rule 1, always wait at least 24 hours before posting a message when you are pissed off.

    Steve: Thank you.

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  37. This is complete fantasy, but if Toronto is going to build the SSE anyway, I wonder if it would make more sense to extend the subway to UofT Scarborough instead of building the Eglinton East LRT. That area near the 401 seems to have a lot of industrial areas and parklands, so it should be possible to build a subway extension using affordable aerial structures and at-grade running that might just make it competitive with the costs of the Eglinton East LRT. I’m sure a lot of residents won’t be happy that their view of a ravine is replaced by a subway line, but, hey, you get a subway line. It brings up an interesting choice between a fast subway that goes through nowhere vs. a community-building slow LRT through town though. It also means Malvern will never get a subway line. And the SSE will have be redesigned to use the Brimley alignment for it to work, but they really should make a longer term plan 50 year plan on where they would like the subway should go after STC anyway so that they can get the ending orientation right.

    Steve: “Complete fantasy” does not begin to describe this scheme!

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  38. Ming said: “but they really should make a longer term plan 50 year plan on where they would like the subway should go after STC anyway so that they can get the ending orientation right.”

    I would make the argument that if it goes to the STC, the line would need to go north from there to Sheppard. There is a powerful argument to be made that the subway should hold where it is, and the focus should be on rapid transit that serves a far larger area. However even having accepted the STC, the logical need is to get past the clear transit barrier represented by the 401.

    The reality is that Toronto by focusing on making the lines longer, is not serving the outer areas well at all. There is simply too large a gap between rapid transit lines, and should we assume that Toronto is to continue to intensify, the issue with road running transit will continue to get worse. The first priority needs to be to get rapid transit close, and help the city to grow in a more flexible manner, by having more destination neutrality. Getting north of the 401 at least would allow the subway to act as an anchor for more rapid transit running east west at the north end of the city.

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