Toronto’s Omnibus Transit Report: Part II

On April 9, Toronto’s Executive Committee will consider a massive set of reports on the many transit projects at various stages of design and construction in Toronto.

In Part I of this series, I reviewed the financing scheme for four major projects as well as details of the Scarborough Subway Extension, aka the Line 2 East Extension. In this article, I will review the Relief Line, SmartTrack and the Bloor-Yonge Station Expansion project.

The reports applicable to this article are:

  • Main Report: Toronto’s Transit Expansion Program – Update and Next Steps
  • Attachment 1: A status update on all projects

There are related reports about signalling and capacity expansion of Line 1 Yonge-University-Spadina in the TTC Board’s agenda for their April 11 meeting. I will deal with these in a separate article.

After decades in which the focus of transit planning looked outward to the 905 beyond the bounds of Toronto, there is now a political realization that capacity into the core is a major issue for the region’s economy. Politicians and planners may show optimistic studies of suburban centres and growth, but the development industry, a bastion of free enterprise thinking, persists in building downtown because that’s where they can sell at the greatest profit.

The Relief Line, SmartTrack, Automatic Train Control, subway station expansions and even surface transit projects like the King Street Pilot all attempt to address the demand for travel to and through the core area. Looking beyond the city boundaries, there are subway and GO Transit extensions and service improvements. Some of these schemes are more successful than others, and some have very long lead times before any benefit will be seen. Political attention has shifted from the fights over which one project will be built each decade to the recognition that many projects must occur in parallel so that capacity can catch up with latent and growing demand.


SmartTrack was the brainchild of John Tory’s 2014 mayoral campaign, and it grew out of a scheme to run frequent service over GO Transit trackage from Milton to Unionville via Union Station. The impetus for this was as much to provide capacity for out-commuting to suburban job centres as it was to bring riders into the core area. Trains would operate frequently, possibly 10-12 per hour, and would provide a “surface subway” at a fraction of subway costs.

By the time the scheme was announced as part of Tory’s platform, the western leg changed from GO Transit’s Milton branch to a new rail line planned for Eglinton West in lands originally reserved for the Richview Expressway that would have linked the airport area to Highway 400 south (now known as Black Creek Drive). Planners for this scheme neglected to check that the land was actually available (it was not, and houses had already begun to appear on plots the city had sold for development) or that a physical link from the GO Weston corridor to Eglinton West was actually practical. That western leg was dropped and replaced by the Eglinton West LRT extension which was, of course, part of the old Transit City scheme.

Meanwhile, GO Transit has been working on its Regional Express Rail concept which would expand service frequency on most corridors. Recently, GO has rediscovered short-hop trips as a potential for ridership growth and have turned their attention to the same market that SmartTrack would have tapped, but on a network-wide basis. SmartTrack really only touches the Stouffville and Weston corridors, and to a limited degree, the Lake Shore.

What was originally described as a service in its own right, possibly even with dedicated trains, has dwindled to a program of station building to be funded by the City of Toronto. This includes six stations on the Stouffville/Weston corridor (large blue circles below) plus two non-SmartTrack GO stations on the Barrie corridor (green circles on the map).

At the point Toronto City Council bought into SmartTrack as it had evolved by 2016, the service levels advertised matched those GO Transit was planning for its RER network. These are still shown on the RER project website where several “what’s in it for me” pages show planned service designs. Here is the info for the Stouffville and Kitchener (Weston) corridors in snapshots taken on April 5, 2019.

The service shown here for the Unionville-to-Union segment includes three trains/hour inbound from Lincolnville and four trains/hour both ways between Unionville and Union making a total of 7 trains/hour.

On the Weston corridor, the peak service includes four trains/hour inbound from Mount Pleasant, and four trains/hour both ways between Bramalea and Union for a total of eight trains/hour.

The Status Update report includes the following description:

The SmartTrack Stations Program is a package of six new stations on the Stouffville, Lakeshore East and Kitchener GO corridors. The Program also entails a service concept of 6-10 minutes during peak periods and 15 minutes during off-peak periods … [p. 22]

In fact, the only stations that would have seen trains every 6 minutes (10 trains/hour) in the original proposal were those on the Lake Shore corridor at Gerrard and East Harbour.

In February 2018, Metrolinx announced a new service design that was intended to avoid penalizing long-haul trips with extra stops on the inner ends of journeys to the core. This would be accomplished with a mixture of express and local operation where trains originating on the outer part of routes would skip the closely-spaced stops on the inner part. The only problem with this scheme was that it would remove many trains from the potential service at “SmartTrack” stations.

The City and Metrolinx have been using conflicting views of the future service plan interchangeably for a few years, and there is no clarity about the service that will actually be provided. I have repeatedly attempted to get clarification of this from Metrolinx, as recently as Wednesday, April 3. Their Media Relations office replied that they would not be able to get back to me that day, but I am still waiting now on April 5. This should not be a hard question to answer: what is the effect of the Metrolinx express/local scheme on the service that will be provided to SmartTrack stations?

It is self-evident that there is a big difference between 4 trains/hour (the basic local service) and up to 10 trains/hour (combined local and express), and this will strongly affect the attractiveness of “SmartTrack”. Other changes required for SmartTrack include:

  • Reduce GO Transit’s base fare component and increase the distance component; and
  • Provide riders using transit in Toronto, with the same GO Transit co-fare option on the TTC as riders starting trips in other Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) municipalities have. [p. 22]

The government recently announced a change to the GO Transit tariff:

At the direction of the Minister of Transportation, Metrolinx is making changes to better align GO fares for short-distance trips and provide customers with significantly more affordable options for travelling between GO stations and bus stops within and around their communities. Effective April 20, 2019:

  • PRESTO fares for trips up to approximately 10 kilometres will be reduced to $3.70, a reduction by as much as 40% from fares for some trips. For example, the new $3.70 fare for customers travelling from Oakville to Appleby is reduced from $6.18.
  • GO single-fare (non-PRESTO) paper ticket prices for trips up to approximately 10 kilometres will be reduced to $4.40 a reduction of up to 22%. [Metrolinx Proposed Fare Changes p. 1]

A table of sample fare changes appears in the Metrolinx report:

For example, trips from Exhibition (Liberty Village) or Bloor (Dundas West Station) to Union that now charge $4.71 to Presto users will drop to $3.70. If the trip involved the TTC, an adult rider would get a $1.50 discount on their TTC fare as part of the GO/TTC fare discount policy already in effect. Note that the discount is only available to riders who pay individual fares for their TTC trip, not for monthly pass holders. This makes the combined fare $5.20, and that is considerably more than the “TTC fare” originally proposed in the SmartTrack package.

The combination of fare and service levels will not bring the hundreds of thousands of riders originally foreseen for SmartTrack, and its benefit as a “relief” to the subway system will be much less than was touted.

Toronto Council approved up to $1.463 billion for the stations, although this is not yet fully funded in the City’s financing plans.

However, the Metrolinx station strategy has changed substantially under the Ford government to focus on locations where nearby development can pay for some or all of station construction costs. The most recent update to this policy is in a report for the Metrolinx Board’s April 10, 2019 meeting.

It is unclear how this will affect the City’s funding requirements for SmartTrack stations or if some locations will not be built. An obvious issue in some cases is that development is already substantially complete (e.g. Liberty Village) while in others almost nothing has happened (East Harbour). Indeed, some locations may not lend themselves to intensification (Finch-Kennedy) and exist on the map primarily as an interception point for riders on local bus service. Without frequent service and little or no fare penalty, such stations have little reason to exist.

The planned in service date for the new stations is 2025 when it is possible that none of the politicians now in charge of decisions will remain in office.

Relief Line South

The Relief Line from Pape to Osgood Station already has an approved EA, and detailed design is underway. Recently, comments by Michael Lindsay, the Provincial Advisor on subway uploading, have produced a lot of speculation about the RL’s technology and the TTC’s intentions. As I previously reported, some provincial statements about the RL suggest that they have only a vague understanding of the project, or are willfully blind to what the TTC is proposing. For example, the proposed train technology is up to modern standards including Automatic Train Control, and there is no intent (nor even the physical capability in the design) to through route existing Line 2 trains from Danforth/Scarborough to downtown via the RL.

The Relief Line will operate as a separate subway line, but will be integrated into the TTC subway system. Service levels and the hours of operation will be similar to existing TTC subway lines. There will be convenient interchange connections for passengers at Pape, Queen, and Osgoode subway stations, and at the Gerrard-Carlaw and East Harbour SmartTrack stations. The trains, stations, and other infrastructure will be designed to the latest subway standards, and will permit a high-capacity service to be operated to meet the projected passenger demand over at least the next 30 years. Provision is being made for automatic train operation, platform edge doors, and longer trains, to allow the most flexibility for future increases in ridership demand. The line will be entirely tunnelled, and will be isolated from the weather-related delays that can affect service on Lines 1, 2, and 3. A separate, short tunnel will allow Relief Line trains to be driven to the TTC’s existing Greenwood Yard for necessary maintenance and repairs, thus allowing efficient use of existing subway system resources. The same tunnel will also allow the TTC’s existing fleet of maintenance trains to reach the Relief Line for overnight work. For maximum service resilience and redundancy, the connection to the wider subway system would allow for trains from Line 1 or Line 2 to be operated on the Relief Line, if necessary. [p. 15]

The reference above to “longer trains” refers to the planned initial service with four-car consists as on Line 4 Sheppard today where stations are built for six-car trains, but only finished to a four-car length.

During the press conference launching the Omnibus Report, Mayor Tory claimed that a contract for construction of the tunnel boring machine (TBM) launch site could be awarded late in 2019. This was an error, and the work to begin will be the design of the launch site with actual construction to begin in 2020. The TBMs have to be ordered and are long lead time items. They would not arrive in Toronto until 2022.

As currently planned, the RL South will be a twin-bore tunnel with cut-and-cover station construction as on the Eglinton Crosstown project. The designs are under review to determine whether some stations could be built by mining from adjacent shafts (as has been done at Laird Station on Eglinton) rather than by digging down from the roadway above the station sites.

Although the alignment and station sites for the RL south are already approved, the design is not set in stone:

As part of the current phase of the project, a detailed review of project components is underway to seek opportunities for positively impacting costs and implementation. This includes exploring options for construction methods, optimizing the number and location of stations as part of the overall transit network, and considering property requirements in light of opportunities for land value capture and transit-oriented development. A value engineering exercise is also underway to analyze the design and cost effectiveness of the project and identify potential methods of reducing costs while maintaining key project objectives. A procurement options analysis is underway to consider the best approach to delivering the design and construction of the project. [p. 17]

There are obvious opportunities for Transit Oriented Development (TOD) at some locations such as East Harbour and Gerrard Stations. Other locations are already developed (the downtown stations), or lie in areas where a significant change in city policy to higher density development would be required.

The estimated cost for the RL south is $6.8 billion, but this is a Class 5 number with a wide margin for error/adjustment either way. Current plans call for design work to advance to a Class 3 estimate that can be used as a realistic project budget with a report to Council in the first quarter of 2020. The funding for this work is uncertain:

To complete the current preliminary design and engineering phase, the City of Toronto committed $55.5 million and the Province of Ontario, through Metrolinx, committed $45 million. The City’s capital budget includes an additional $325 million for 2019 / 2020 to identify tactics to accelerate the schedule. The City is currently seeking partnership funding of $162.5 million to support the $325 million program identified by TTC for this work. [p. 18]

The project has been planned on the basis of a 2031 opening date, but some early work such as property acquisition and utility relocations will be advanced with the hope of shifting the opening back to 2029.

All of this could be compromised by the Provincial declaration that they wish to take over the project and make it independent of Line 2’s fleet and carhouse.

Relief Line North

Work on the northern portion of the Relief Line is no where near as advanced as on the southern segment. This work is led by Metrolinx, and public participation “went dark” for the provincial election. There has been some consultation on possible routes, but no evaluations have emerged. An Initial Business Case together with route and station locations are expected in fourth quarter 2019 with a report to Council early in 2020. This, of course, assumes the current arrangement where this is a joint provincial-municipal project. If the entire process is taken over by Ontario, especially if there is a major change in the design and proposed implementation of the entire RL, these dates might not hold.

A particular concern in evaluation of the RL and any business case analyses is the scope of what is included as a “cost” and a “benefit”. The whole point of this line is “relief” and that has a benefit in the avoided costs (both for infrastructure and for rider convenience and comfort) of a “do nothing” option where the existing subway must absorb demand that might otherwise be handled by the RL. Looking more broadly, there is the question of the Richmond Hill GO corridor, but that is more likely to benefit riders originating north of a likely terminus for RL north as opposed to “in town” demand such as that at Thorncliffe/Flemingdon Park and the impending redevelopment at Don Mills and Eglinton. Just as with transit demand, cost benefit analysis must consider the network, not simply one project.

Bloor-Yonge Expansion

A major project has bubbled away at the design level for the expansion of passenger capacity at Bloor-Yonge Station, and it is about to emerge for approval of a preferred concept (at 10% design) late in 2019. Construction would occur in the 2020s aiming to open before 2028 when the station is expected to be at capacity. A rough cost estimate for this work is $1 billion.

The status of this project is unknown in a provincial takeover scenario, but it is an excellent example of the scale of work needed on the existing system while most politicians are preoccupied with system expansion.

A preliminary design appears in the status update report [p. 5]. In order to understand this design, one must know how the existing structures lie below the ground and between buildings at this major intersection.

The Yonge line (Line 1) lies east of Yonge but is not parallel to the axis of that street. It threads between existing buildings on the north side that were built after the subway was in place. There is also a Bell switching building on Asquith Street very close to the subway structure. Although there was once a scheme to widen the tunnel north of Bloor Station as part of new Line 1 platforms, this would have been a difficult project and it has been abandoned.

The Bloor line (Line 2) crosses Yonge north of Bloor at an angle and does not “straighten out” under the street until the intersection at Park Road (the east end of the Hudson’s Bay building). Riders will know that trains coming east from Bay veer right (to the south) on the approach to Yonge, and to the left (north) leaving Yonge Station. The portion of the route on the diagonal relative to the street grid lies between the two curves. The station is physically within the buildings on the north side of Bloor. The proposed expansion lies under Bloor Street as noted in the diagram below. This would provide considerably more space and access to the Bloor Station platform further south to better distribute arriving passengers.

On the lower level, a new eastbound platform for Line 2 trains would be built south of the existing station and slightly offset from it. Escalators, stairs and elevators would link this platform up to the expanded east (northbound) and west (southbound) platforms. Note that the new platform is shorter than the existing one and has just enough room for a six-car train (click on the drawing to see a larger version).

The existing centre platform would be used only by westbound trains thereby reducing demand on it just as was done at Union station where there are now separate platforms for riders bound for the University and Yonge legs of Line 1.

This is a major change to the station and as part of the work it must be brought to current fire code. This requires new ventilation fans as shown in the drawings.

Yonge Subway Capacity Study

The TTC Board’s agenda for April 11 includes a report on Line 1 Capacity Requirements that goes into some detail on issues related to adding capacity to Toronto’s primary subway route. I will review this in detail in a separate article, but a few points are worth noting in the context of the plans discussed above.

For many years, the TTC talked about subway capacity as something that had one major “fix”, the conversion of the Yonge line to Automatic Train Control. With a new signalling system, trains could run closer together and provide more capacity. However, there are many other challenges facing the TTC in actually achieving this.

  • Running trains closer together requires more equipment, more crews, more maintenance staff and more storage for trains that are not in service.
  • An offsetting saving is possible with ATC because trains can safely run at higher speeds, notably in areas where stations are far apart.
  • Running more trains and at a higher performance level draws more power, and this affects the substations and distribution network for traction power in the subway.
  • With more frequent service, passengers will arrive at busy stations at a higher rate, and this will strain already-crowded exits especially in cases where one is blocked for work such as escalator repairs.
  • Increased demand on stations will require additional exits and ventilation changes to bring stations to current fire code.
  • Geometric and operational issues at terminals affect the throughput of trains arriving and leaving, and even under best case conditions it may not be possible for the TTC to achieve all of the reduction in headways (the time between trains) by which they hope to substantially improve capacity.

These are interlinked requirements and “cherry picking” for budgetary reasons risks the ability of the line to provide the level of service anticipated by many plans.

11 thoughts on “Toronto’s Omnibus Transit Report: Part II

  1. Steve: The following comments were left in another thread by “Geo Swan”. Knowing this article was in preparation, I saved them and have moved them to this thread.

    There is an article in Today’s Toronto Star, about adding a second east west platform.

    At first, when I read

    Easily the busiest of the TTC’s 75 subway stations with hundreds of thousands of passengers flowing through daily, Bloor-Yonge has shot up a priority list to the point where city staff recommend $500 million in precious federal transit funding be aimed at the major expansion.

    I thought there might be a plan to excavate an additional north-south level, under the current east-west level, so the current north-south level could be reserved for just one direction, allowing boarding from both sides, and the new level could be reserved for the other direction, allowing boarding from both sides.

    My recollection, from discussions a few years ago, is that since so many people north-south passengers have to exit at Bloor that this one station requires an extended dwell time, and that this one station slows down the whole route one. My recollection was that more vehicles could be run on the route, if loading and unloading passengers at Bloor didn’t take so long. Do I remember this correctly?

    The Toronto Star article said that adding just one additional east-west platform would cost $500 million. Hmmm. I wonder if adding a third north-south platform would cost another $500 billion.

    Steve: The new Bloor-Yonge project has a tentative price tag of $1 billion. Another platform under the Yonge line would have to be very deep as it would go under the Bloor line. This is a very difficult area because of groundwater, an old stream that flowed out of Yorkville crosses Yonge here and is the source of a lot of leaks at this station. The proposed new platform is at the same depth as the existing Yonge Station. It will be tricky to build, but not as bad as going down another level.

    Is the big lesson here, that, for all new lines, every station that crosses a planned or existing line should be designed to allow for platforms on both sides of the trainset, to allow loading and unloading from both sides of the train?

    If this is not the plan for the Crosstown stations now, is it too late to redesign those stations today?

    Steve: Yes, too late. The excavations and box structures are already in place. The real issue is to make the centre platform as well as vertical connections big enough to handle demand. Crosstown stations are more generous in that regard.


    I know there is pressure to extend subway service north, to other municipalities, like Vaughan and Richmond Hill.

    Doing so by extending the existing Yonge Line seems such a gamble, because demand is already increasing beyond that line’s capacity, without a northern extension.

    I’ve wondered whether we might not be able to serve everyone better if we didn’t just build phase one of the DRL to Danforth, but rather if we built it to beyond Sheppard, into Markham, and then had it turn west to Yonge.

    Yes, this would be a slightly longer route from Richmond Hill, to downtown, but if the portion of the route from Richmond Hill to Danforth had significantly fewer stops, it might not take longer. What if the DRL stations, north of Danforth, were only at Eglinton, Sheppard, 407, then Yonge, and whatever station desired north of 407 and Yonge?

    I know from Danforth to Eglinton is 4 kilometres. Eglinton to Sheppard is 6 kilometres, if I am not mistaken. That might seem like a long way between stations. But politicians were already prepared to accept 6 kilometres between Kennedy and Scarborough Town Centre.

    GTA riders from north of Yonge, who aren’t going directly downtown would transfer at Sheppard or Eglinton.

    If the new line were designed for faster vehicles, that could accelerate to a higher speed, during those 4-6 kilometre gaps between stations, would that increase capital costs too much? Does anyone build subway style cars designed to go more than 100 kph?

    Yes, I know that even convincing people to build phase one of the DRL has seemed to be a struggle, so budgeting for a DRL that ran to Richmond Hill might seem like even more of a struggle. But, if this line was built, we could forgo that 5.5 billion to increase the Yonge line’s capacity.

    Steve: If we have the kind of money needed to build a tunnel this long, we can easily pay to upgrade the Bala Sub (Richmond Hill GO) for more frequent bidirectional service. That won’t attract people destined for midtown, but it would siphon off the long hauls headed for the core. An important requirement, of course, will be comparable fares so that cheap rides don’t discourage riders from using GO’s capacity.


  2. I understand the following: The Kipling Yard won’t be open until 2031; the Greenwood Yard currently has no surplus capacity; the Relief Line South would use the Greenwood Yard for storing its trains. Thus, how can the Relief Line South open in 2031 (let alone 2029) if there is no place to store its trains?

    Steve: This is an example of the problem CEO Rick Leary created by changing the T1 replacement program, coupled with a new yard at Kipling in the mid 20s, to a rebuild program pushing out the replacement and the shift of BD operations from Greenwood to Kipling. The province has further muddied the waters by claiming it will build the Relief Line as a free-standing facility with a yard somewhere else, as yet unknown.


  3. Excellent piece, as always Steve.

    Minor typo in the RL North section.

    An Initial Business Vase together (presumably the Vase is a Case)

    Steve: Fixed. Thanks!


  4. @Geo Swan Having RL stations only at Eglinton and Sheppard won’t bring meaningful relief to Yonge. RL needs stations intercepting all the major east end bus routes.


  5. Some comments on these transit lines.

    SmartTrack – John Tory was basically trying to have a fancy transit plan to win an election, and get a few more stations in the City core. We can basically ignore this and treat it as a GO project and not a City one.

    DRL South – I think the City did not try to optimize cost and we are now eagerly awaiting what the new plan is. I was never a big fan of the Carlaw jog – and I suspect avoiding utilities on Carlaw by going extremely deep added hundreds of millions the costs, just to make a few locals happy. I would not be surprised if 1 or 2 stations are dropped, although I don’t think there are too many now.

    DRL North – I suspect the “secret” Ford plan involves sharing the GO Richmond Hill line somewhere along the way. Although I think Don Mills is an open enough street that the line could be elevated basically as it clears the Don Valley near the Millwood Bridge – and then run elevated all the way to Seneca College. I won’t speculate on the DRL’s too much, but I think the numbers show that the DRL south does not really do that much to relieve Yonge, and the focus should have been on making it cheaper and longer.

    Bloor Yonge Expansion – If I read things correctly, the focus in the late 1980’s was to improve the platform space on the Yonge line. Now it seems to focus more on the Bloor line, and passenger movements between the lines. I actually thought the 1980’s plan of adding a Southbound platform under Yonge, and converting the current station to Northbound only, had some merit. The only caveat was whether this new platform could be above Bloor line (not under). Even is some modifications are needed to some utilities or drainage, it is much preferable to going deep. I worry this massive project will not really address the projected growth, and perhaps we are better banking the money and thinking about a DRL 2.0.

    Steve: The 1980s plan had three versions of Bloor Station, and was not keen on the Bi-Level option because of the difficulty of construction. See my article about the Yonge Subway Headway Study.


  6. Smart track has always seemed a political ploy for votes, not an effective means to provide capacity relief. The major problem is fare pricing. Until GO adopts a flat rate fare for the “Toronto Zone” that equals the TTC fare and allows transfer between TTC and GO at par there will be ridership resistance.

    Presto, with the April 1st increase in TTC fares to $3.10 and the GO short ride price dropping to $3.70, is taking baby steps in the right direction.

    What surprises me is the lack of attention GO has on the Barrie, Richmond Hill and Stouffville Corridors. All three lines run north into York Region, the source of much of the overcrowding on Line 1. Work is proceeding on the Barrie and Stouffville corridors to provide 2 way service, Barrie the full line, Stouffville to Mount Joy infrequently (60 min), Unionville every 15 minutes.

    Both of these line have the potential to bleed demand off of Line 1. The Richmond Hill Line, due to flooding and ROW issues has been neglected. It has the largest potential for relief of long haul (Langstaff to Union), but without a Line 2 or 5 connection, limited potential for mid-range trip diversion.

    I fear the black hole Relief North has dropped into. Metrolinx’s sticky fingers have hold of the planning. Somehow I foresee them replacing the Richmond Hill GO corridor with the DRL North. The section from Pape to Eglinton remains fuzzy, but assuming they try to tap both Thorncliffe and Flemingdon Parks population, the Science Center station looks to be a safe jumping point for points north. Tunnel would run north under Don Mills to just past the northern junction of the Donway, where it would link to the existing Richmond Hill line. The “unique technology” would be a hybrid subway-rail-coach train set, allowing the cars to run on class 1 rail. This would explain the province’s push to grab and refine the DRL south.

    The expansion of Bloor/Yonge station is constrained buy the built up construction around the station. While the existing plan provides a new platform for line 2, I believe Steve mentioned that the new platform could only handle 6 cars – how do you unload/load 8 cars sets? This is a step in the right direction, but more is needed.ut

    Steve: Subway trains are only six cars long. I’m not sure what you’re talking about with eight cars.


  7. The Stouffville Line is gaining ridership. I was on the 14:15 Stouffville train to Unionville on a weekday. It was no ghost town, instead most of the seats were occupied. I think GO is reluctant to lower the fares too much as it will crowd out their trains. When the double tracking work is complete, GO will need to lower their fares to fill those trains. With double tracking done between Kennedy Rd and Kennedy GO, we should see reverse peak service trains and possibly 30 minutes both ways like the Lakeshore Lines.

    It is hard to make the GO corridors divert Line 1 passengers. Look at a Viva map, how many GO stations does Viva connect to? Viva Purple does not even stop at Unionville GO. The other GO stations like Rutherford, Mount Joy, Centennial and Gormley are not even close to Viva lines. All Viva does is funnel people to Finch and VMC Station. YRT needs to step up their services so that people will take the GO. The only place where frequent transit is available in York Region is along the Viva Blue corridor.

    Achieving parity with TTC fares should not be the holy grail. What people need are options. An extra $2 using the GO versus the TTC buys a faster and more comfortable service. The reason why the TTC is popular is that it operates a very frequent service. Missing a bus or a metro is no big deal as the next one will arrive shortly. Try missing an hourly GO bus or even a 30 minutes LSE train. People in Tokyo does not have the conversation about fare parity. Both JR and Tokyo Metro operates trains in the 120 seconds range headways. People just take what is convenient for them.


  8. Steve,

    I did look at your piece from 1988 just recently. It actually brings back memories, as I recall our professor talking about the series station option. As I recall, Y-B was by far the busiest station at the time, whereas now a few others are also quite busy – namely Union. That’s what gave rise to my idea of using 8 car trains and lengthening the Y-B platforms. All other platforms would remain the same, and some doors would not open at all stations – and passengers would just know which doors open for which stations. There may be a few pocket track or storage (and signalling, which ATC should soon solve) issues to iron out.

    Regarding the Yonge SB platform, I am eyeing the Yonge platform idea, not putting the new platforms under the existing (Bi level). What I suggest is to put it above Bloor, not below as in the 1988 plan. After all, the current Yonge goes above the Bloor line, so why can’t this new SB platform?

    Steve: There is limited space available around existing structures which either straddle the subway or butt up right against it, especially at the north end of the station. Where exactly would you put your new platform?

    As for eight car trains, the entire system is built around six car trains, especially carhouses and terminals. Pocket tracks are six cars long. This really is a non-starter.


  9. “For example, trips from Exhibition (Liberty Village) or Bloor (Dundas West Station) to Union that now charge $4.71 to Presto users will drop to $3.70. If the trip involved the TTC, an adult rider would get a $1.50 discount on their TTC fare as part of the GO/TTC fare discount policy already in effect. Note that the discount is only available to riders who pay individual fares for their TTC trip, not for monthly pass holders. This makes the combined fare $5.20…”

    If it is a $1.50 discount, then the combined fare is $5.30, given the recent increase to the TTC fare. However, it appears that the implementation of the TTC co-fare discount on April 1, 2019, was to keep the co-fare at $1.50, giving a $1.60 discount. Beyond influencing slightly your calculations above, this is in an interesting observation in and of itself. Verifying my Presto account, I can say that my inner-Toronto GO train fare + TTC co-fare total hasn’t changed after the TTC increase. This differs from what I recall was the original stated plan of this co-fare initiative (i.e. to give a $1.50 discount, which discount would become proportionally smaller as TTC fares increased over time).

    Steve: An interesting observation! The originally announced arrangement was from the Wynne government, but the implementation is under Ford. It is hard to say how much continuity there was in the planning. It is entirely possible that Presto just missed this as a change in their database. It would also be interesting to know whether they are paying the TTC $1.50 or $1.60 per rider.


  10. Steve: An interesting observation! The originally announced arrangement was from the Wynne government, but the implementation is under Ford. It is hard to say how much continuity there was in the planning. It is entirely possible that Presto just missed this as a change in their database. It would also be interesting to know whether they are paying the TTC $1.50 or $1.60 per rider.

    It would be interesting to know the difference between intention and implementation. The TTC website reflects that they intend to charge $1.60.

    On the other hand, a change in the Presto database must have occurred (whether different from intention), because their discount calculation went up by 10 cents, to constitute a $1.60 discount, when it was previously a $1.50 discount in the GO Transit fare. So someone consciously changed it. That someone might not have been instructed properly, of course, or could have just incorrectly assumed what the desired result is.


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