Subway Upload I: The Getting Ontario Moving Act

Transportation Minister Jeff Yurek introduced Bill 107, the Getting Ontario Moving Act, in the Ontario legislature on May 2, 2019.

This is an omnibus bill amending several other Acts to implement various policies, one of which is the first stage of the “upload” of responsibility for subway extensions and new builds from the City of Toronto. Schedule 3 of the Bill amends the Metrolinx Act. In brief, the amendments provide for:

  • The Cabinet (legislatively known as “The Lieutenant Governor in Council”) may “prescribe a rapid transit design, development or construction project as a rapid transit project that is the sole responsibility of Metrolinx”. For such projects, the City of Toronto and its agencies are barred from taking “further action” on the project, and all of the project’s “assets, liabilities, rights and obligations” can be transferred to Metrolinx. Such projects are known as “sole responsibility projects”.
  • The Cabinet may prescribe that a project is “subject to the Minister’s direction”, and for such projects “the Minister may issue directives to the City of Toronto and its agencies”, and the Cabinet may require that “a specified decision about the project be subject to the Minister’s approval”. Such projects are known as “direction and approval projects”.

These provisions address two separate types of project organization. In the first case, control of and responsibility for a project is transferred completely to Metrolinx. In the second, a project could remain in the City’s hands but be subject to Ministerial direction and approval.

Sole Responsibility Projects

Where a project is declared to be a sole responsibility project, the City of Toronto is barred from undertaking a project “that is substantially similar and in close proximity to” such a project. Why Toronto would attempt to duplicate a provincial project such as the extension of Line 2 in Scarborough is a mystery, but Queen’s Park clearly wants to ensure this does not happen. An exception provides that the Minister “may authorize” the City to undertake work on a sole responsibility project.

The Cabinet may order the transfer of City assets related to a sole responsibility project “with or without compensation”. The list of “assets” is quite extensive and includes real estate. This begs the question of how such property becomes “related” to a project as opposed to simply being property previously owned by the City.

The City is required to participate in this process and “take all such actions as are necessary and practicable to give the Corporation possession of property transferred”.

Direction and Approval Projects

A project could be left nominally under the City’s control, but subject to Ministerial direction, in particular that “a specified decision with respect to the project” could be subject to Ministerial approval. The City is barred from taking action that would arise from a decision without such approval. In other words, the City cannot launch work that could be in conflict with a Ministerial approval that has not yet been granted.

Legal Protection

Many of the amendments address the transition of projects from the City to the Province and preclude legal action against the parties for the implementation of the new regime.

What the Legislation Does Not Address

The legislation is completely silent on matters of capital or operating costs of projects undertaken by or under the direction of the province. Specifically, there is nothing to explain:

  • Any aspect of capital cost sharing that might be sought or imposed by the Province on the City of Toronto or other municipalities for sole responsibility projects.
  • The future operation of projects created under the “sole responsibility” or “direction and approval” regimes.
  • The subdivision of “maintenance” costs between the Province and the City of Toronto or any other municipality.

The “other shoe” still to drop is the question of uploading the existing subway network. This is a much more complex transfer that will be the subject of future legislation.

This is the bare bones of legislation needed to give Metrolinx control over rapid transit construction so that Ontario can “get on with the job” of building transit, but much more is involved in actually doing the work.

Minister Yurek is good at repeating his talking points including the bogus claim that there has been no rapid transit expansion for decades. Taking pot shots at the City for alleged chaos in transit planning is easy, although both Premier Ford and the Conservative Party have rampant amnesia about their own contributions. Now Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario will have to deliver rather than just posturing.

42 thoughts on “Subway Upload I: The Getting Ontario Moving Act

  1. I keep going over what Steve has posted to find succinct examples of what’s resonating about all of this, but almost every line indicates it:

    This is a form of ‘non-compete clause’ on a massive scale.

    I’m not in a position to project that a private proposal is already on the table (no-one is in that position, the cards are being held so tightly) but the more I read and re-read this, and comments made by Yurek, Verster and others, and look at what Verster presented at the Empire Club yesterday…I’m struck by how this is a ‘sales job’…and since QP claims there’s no money (all the while proclaiming a massive spend on transit) the only logical scenario, at least for the Ontario Line at this time, is an existing proposal sitting on the table, and now Ford, Yurek and Verster are dancing to a tune to make it as saleable as possible, or the private offer stands to be withdrawn.

    What I find astounding about Verster of late is that for someone who was (gist) ‘Instructed back in September to come up with this plan’ he knows so little about the detail. The claim of (gist) “my idea to bring the tunnel up to go over the Don instead of under it in tunnel allows a station to sit side by side with the East Harbour GO one” begs more questions than it answers, not least that there’s no logic in engineering to do that, and every reason not to for a deep tunnel…and that the East Harbour station is a SmartTrack stop. Interesting that Phil just confirmed that it’s to happen.

    I swear, the more I hear and look, I see puppet strings on the marionettes.

    I favour a P3 approach, done openly with oversight and a consortium that ‘cares’ enough to realize happy clients and efficiency means we all win. (There are many examples of this, there are also examples of it going very wrong).

    But this whole sales pitch is more like a Three Card Monte than a game of ‘Snap’.

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  2. God forbid that Metrolinx take over planning of new subways because they have been totally incompetent in their management of their own projects. Burlington GO station was years late and so was Brampton. The south track at Bramalea has been partially put in and then ripped out for changes a couple of times. They now seem to be in a rush to get it finished because they have installed a temporary handicap platform and new signage at the west end. I wouldn’t be surprised if they introduce more hourly service in the evenings and weekends as far as Bramalea soon.

    They have totally screwed up Union Station by not removing some of the platforms so they could widen the remainder and put in more stairs to them. They also should raise the level of the platforms to that of the handicap platform and widen them so there is no gap. Verster saw this problem as soon as he arrived and it will be interesting to see if thsse changes are made.

    Steve: Metrolinx and Verster have talked about removing some platforms as the next stage in the Union Station reno to increase capacity and reduce dangerous passenger congestion.

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  3. I suspect that the idea behind the Sole Responsibility Projects is to ensure that an LRT replacement for the SRT never happens in case the province realizes that the SSE project costs far more than they expect and they decide that promising to build it is cheaper than actually doing it.

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  4. fyi, think there may be an inadvertent omission from the following sentence:

    “Why Toronto would attempt to duplicate a provincial project such as the extension of Line 2 in Scarborough, but Queen’s Park clearly wants to ensure this does not happen.”

    Steve: Thanks. I have fixed this.

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  5. Metrolinx implemented the Crosstown LRT in Scarborough. They held one public session in Scarborough where the residents objected to reducing Eglinton from 7 lanes to 4 lanes with no left turns. Based on the strong opposition, Metrolinx did not hold any further public sessions. Someone in Metrolinx recognized that 4 lanes was not right, offered to make Eglinton 6 lanes, but Toronto City Council refused to amend the Master Agreement to permit the change.

    The Province is not accountable to locals that they impact. Watch out.

    Steve: Can you cite the point at which Council turned down this option, as opposed to a private decision that was never presented for an actual vote? It’s important that we understand just how and when this happened.

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  6. I don’t know why some people are making a big deal about the upload. As a customer, it makes no difference to me as to who owns or operates the subway and what I am interested in is improved service. Besides, we can always download it back if it does not work out too well. Also, this is not about Ford trying to be get back at Toronto. As a matter of fact, this policy was first proposed by Patrick Brown.

    Steve: Given the provincial love for saving money through “efficiency”, don’t count on improved service, and start worrying about the amount and quality of long-term maintenance the province will fund.

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  7. Steve said: Can you cite the point at which Council turned down this option, as opposed to a private decision that was never presented for an actual vote? It’s important that we understand just how and when this happened.

    For background, Metrolinx “found” the money to fund expanding the number of lanes.

    The dead line for council to pass an amendment was the Dec 2015 meeting. There were three council meetings where the motion could be presented. Charged with raising the motion was Councillor Holland with help from Councillor Thompson. Neither Councillor were/are popular and one was truly ineffective. Despite the upgrade being totally free, the two councillors were unable to get enough votes to bring it up to Council. The planning department had, at the time, a philosopher/planner who claimed it was the free will of the citizens to shun automobiles and that 4 lanes was just fine. He was quite influential and this didn’t help the situation.

    Steve: Any member of Council can put a motion on the order paper with the support of only one other member. They do not need a majority in advance. Council agendas routinely have many “Member Motions” on them, and there were over 100 such motions listed for the three fall 2015 meetings.

    If the widening could have been had that easily, and with the support of local councillors, I have little doubt that such a motion would have passed. This sounds much more like foot dragging by Holland who as you say was ineffective, or possibly some game-playing to serve another agenda such as total undergrounding.

    The important distinction is that if Council was never presented with this option for a vote, claims that “Council” would not agree to it don’t hold up.

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  8. Regarding Minister Yurek’s claim of lack of transit expansion, there have been four mayors in Toronto since amalgamation. Under Mayor Lastman’s tenure, the Sheppard subway was built. Under Ford’s tenure, the Spadina subway extension, Eglinton LRT, and UPX were built. Under Tory’s tenure, the same three projects were continued to be built. Unfortunately, nothing was built under David Miller’s two terms and it will take decades to undo the damage caused by the Miller years.

    Steve: Nothing was even “in the pipeline” when David Miller became Mayor in 2003 thanks to the funding cuts by the Harris government who turned off the tap with the Sheppard Subway project. Miller introduced Transit City in an attempt to restart transit construction without the usual problems of high cost for any individual subway project and rivalry between council factions for getting “my” project built first.

    Miller was Mayor until 2010. In 2005 the Spadina Subway project was approved by Council, and after delays thanks to other levels of government in providing funding, the project was officially underway in 2008. To say that Miller did nothing, and that Spadina was a Rob Ford project, is simply not true.

    As for Eglinton, that project was part of Transit City, and Mayor Ford only allowed it to continue because it was too far advanced to be cancelled. UPX was a provincial project for which Council and Ford had no responsibility.

    Your selective memory does not align with the facts.

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  9. Is it clear yet whether the city or the province are responsible for purchasing the trains needed for the Ontario/Relief Line, Scarborough extension or Yonge Line extension, and would the trains themselves be considered TTC assets or Provincial assets ?

    Speaking of the Ontario Line, the last time the province decided to give Toronto a line built with alternative, new technology, we got the Scarborough RT, which as we know, wasn’t the greatest.

    On another note, I think now having ATC on Line 2 seems like it isn’t even remotely on the horizon yet. The T1s probably shouldn’t get ATC equipment since they don’t even need it seeing as how far into the future it will be when Line 2 uses ATC.

    Steve: The Ontario Line will be separate from the rest of the system and have its own fleet, like the Eglinton Crosstown. It would be logical for those cars to be provincially owned. As for the extensions, the cars would be part of the TTC fleet, assuming that the City still owns the existing subway lines by the time these open, many years in the future.

    As for the T1s, no they will not get ATC. I know that the TTC looked at this and the retrofit cost would be very high especially with a comparatively limited future life.

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  10. Steve said: This sounds much more like foot dragging by Holland.

    It was Councillor Holland who told me they didn’t have enough votes, which strengthens your suspicion.

    Steve: Anyone who really supported making the LRT acceptable would have jumped at the chance to counter the argument about lost road capacity with a “look, we fixed it” response. Council was never given that option, just as with so much else about the Scarborough transit network.

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  11. Steve said: Anyone who really supported making the LRT acceptable would have jumped at the chance to counter the argument about lost road capacity with a “look, we fixed it” response.

    I’ve told you everything I know and there is plenty I don’t know. The quote I selected is a rational statement. At that time Holland was considered a Ford stooge, who voted as Ford instructed. My sense is that the anti-Ford Councillors would thwart anything a stooge like Holland would propose out of spite.

    The politicians have never shown me a genuine interest in public transit and power bullying is the only rational, the SSE (Line 1 extension) and SmartTrack come to mind

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  12. Steve in response to Josh above is still blaming Mike Harris who was Premier for only 6.75 years but why did the Liberals in their 15 years reign not reverse what Mike Harris did if what Mike Harris did was so bad? Remember that most of the cuts from Mike Harris came in his first term and most people approved which is why Mike Harris won another majority. Compare that to Kathleen Wynne who in seeking a second term led her party to it’s worst defeat in history and the Liberals led by Wynne even lost official party status. The moral of the story is that however bad Mike Harris may have been, Kathleen Wynne is much worse as the voters just showed.

    Steve: I am just recounting the history. The fact is that the Spadina project was started under Miller, not under Ford, and delays in subway planning came thanks to Harris who cut off funding for the Sheppard line. That’s why it stops at Don Mills, not at Victoria Park as originally envisaged for the first phase.

    Yes, McGuinty did not undo a lot of Harris’ damage and that was a major disappointment, but neither he nor Wynne waged all-out war against Toronto Council out of family spite.

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  13. To answer Mike, it’s a lot easier to smash stuff than it is to put it back together. And voters seem to like politicians who smash stuff. I guess they don’t expect their stuff to get smashed, only that undeserving other fellow’s stuff.

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  14. Prashkum said: “As a customer, it makes no difference to me as to who owns or operates the subway and what I am interested in is improved service”

    It should since the dispute mechanism for poor service falls apart under provincial ownership. Simply put, a provincial government can still get reelected with a majority even if all of Toronto votes against them whereas the members of Toronto City Council would never win if the same were to happen to them.

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  15. I wrote: What I find astounding about Verster of late is that for someone who was (gist) ‘Instructed back in September to come up with this plan’ he knows so little about the detail.

    It was in fact “October”.

    I’ve found Verster stating that on two occasions. I’m being scrupulous since I’m finding a litany of statements by Verster that…’demand further scrutiny’. I thank others for ‘liking’ my original comment in this string, as it was by necessity ‘nebulous’ in ways. It’s hard to joust with an opponent who dances in the shadows. Almost a month later, we know next to nothing on the ‘Ontario Line’, and what Verster is on record of saying beggars belief from an engineering, let alone practicable stance.

    I hope Steve will revisit this topic in more detail later, when and if the ‘theory’ ever materializes.

    Steve: The “brains” behind the Ontario line is supposed to be Michael Schabas now working at Metrolinx. This is the same person who “surveyed” a potential SmartTrack corridor on Eglinton West by looking at out of date Google Street View images, and of course the SmartTrack scheme appears to mostly be in ruins. He also had a hand in the High Speed Rail proposal floated by the previous government. I expect another smoke and mirrors job on the Ontario Line, but until there is something concrete to talk about, I am not going to get into the realm of railfan speculation about it.

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  16. I find this all very amusing. Why would you waste billions on subways in a city he’s trying his level best to destroy.

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  17. Since Line 1 is no longer completely within Toronto, why should it be owned by Toronto? Ask yourself if GO Transit should be owned by Toronto? If not, then why should the subway system be owned by Toronto?

    Steve: Because all but a few km of the subway is inside Toronto, the city paid for much of the system, and most of the operating and maintenance costs come from city taxpayers. Toronto subsidizes York Region roughly $12 million per year on the Vaughan subway extension to which the region contributes only the cost of maintaining the park-and-rides.

    And while we’re on the subject, until a few years ago, the City helped pay for GO Transit too, and about half of the municipal contributions to GO’s capital program came from Toronto even though vastly more than half of that system is outside the 416. The SmartTrack stations budget is being treated by the province as a payment in lieu of the usual charge against Toronto, but there is nothing to say that this tithe on Toronto tax dollars won’t return.

    Queen’s Park is very good at spending Toronto money either by a direct charge to the city, or by cuts and clawbacks in revenue.

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  18. Ray said: “Ask yourself if GO Transit should be owned by Toronto?”

    Why would Government of Ontario Transit be owned by Toronto?

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  19. “Why Toronto would want to duplicate a provincial project”.

    Try this; Subway line 1 is taken over by Metrolinx and they decide it should be separate fare.

    About 3,000 of the 30,000 (10%) peak riders decide they will take a bus instead. This will require about 40-60 buses per hour travelling down Yonge St., so Toronto decides to build dedicated bus lanes in direct competition with the subway. Does this conflict with the act?

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  20. It’s the Verster-Schabas Follies and it’s eventually going to blow up in the government’s face. It will leave them with nothing to show voters when the time comes to get re-elected, which is what the Conservatives are banking on for 2022.

    I normally would be amazed that two operators like these, who are so identified with failed Grit projects such as high-speed rail, Union Station non-progress and GO RER, would be in such positions of influence. But then you just have to look at who occupies the real nerve centre — namely the offices of the premier and his chief factotum, Dean French — to understand how this could happen.

    An eventual implosion or explosion (or both) will result from the boundless faith the current government has placed in a few whose records of achievement are scant. Not only will Ford Nation pay the price for their lack of actual transportation progress, but so will all Ontarians. This is going to be another endless string of empty photo-ops that will produce no new or truly improved service before the next election.

    The more things change, the more they stay the same in Ontario.

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  21. Greg Gormick writes: The more things change, the more they stay the same in Ontario.

    Ah! But they get there faster!

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  22. The stretch of along along Eglinton Avenue East, from Leslie & Eglinton down to Kennedy Road, is complete confusion, chaos and restricted movement.

    A six-lane major artillery road for Scarborough, cordoned off by 4 lanes in the middle, and only one lane for east, and one lane for the opposite direction, and this even gets blocked off by reversing machinery and trucks, as the workers are digging tunnels in the middle of the road.

    Pedestrians are also inconvenienced as sidewalks have been dumped with dirt, dangerous machinery move about, and oddly, the City was reckless to paint bike lanes right on what is left of the sidewalk, from Kennedy Road to Birchmount. City officials why would you already use a bike lane on a restricted sidewalk?

    If this is only for the LRT, how much traffic, confusion and inconvenience will locals experience for building more transit on already populated routes?

    They aren’t building any newer roads, except for parking lots and small driveways and entrances for the condos.

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  23. I also don’t think the locals are particularly enjoying deep station construction on the tunnelled section. Of course, the Eglinton line is being built by Metrolinx, who the province wants to build all subsequent rapid transit in Toronto. If you dislike how Metrolinx builds transit… I guess you can call the Premier?

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  24. Jarek writes: I also don’t think the locals are particularly enjoying deep station construction on the tunnelled section.

    Is Cut and Cover somehow preferable?

    Steve: This is a Catch 22. If the line were built cut and cover, the whole structure including the stations would be shallower, but the road would be ripped up over its entire length. With the surface sections, various utilities are taking advantage of the construction to do some selective relocation and rebuilding at the same time. Any route built along a street is going to have this sort of problem.

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  25. What the city has studied for the Relief Line and the BD extension is not exactly what the province wants to build. How far back do we have to go in the environmental approval process? Obviously some studies would still be relevant. However, it is not the same route in Scarborough and the “Ontario Line” is not the same type of line as the Relief Line. If the province is taking control then why would the TTC continue to spend anything on these lines (except maybe on the BD extension and that would only be to make sure the province doesn’t pull off some major blunder).

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  26. Does automatic train control represent big potential cost savings?

    Sam wrote: Speaking of the Ontario Line, the last time the province decided to give Toronto a line built with alternative, new technology, we got the Scarborough RT, which as we know, wasn’t the greatest.

    The choice of rolling stock for the SRT was forced on the TTC. It is not regarded as a success – in Toronto. Wasn’t that same rolling stock quite successful, and popular, when used in Vancouver?

    Why? Well, when Vancouver used those vehicles, they took advantage of their potential to be run driverless. In spite of Vancouver running the vehicles driverless, without problems, for over three decades, the TTC places a driver on each trainset.

    I remember the first time I rode the SRT, around 1985. Wow. They dwelled in each station for an eternity. I counted Mississippis, and, if I recall correctly, the doors were open, at every station for something like 45 Mississippis. I counted Mississippis the first time I rode Vancouver’s driverless Skytrain – about 15 Mississippis.

    So, in 2019, are robots smart enough to figure out how long vehicle doors need to be open?

    Discussions here about the terrible problems congestion at Yonge-Bloor pose for both lines have convinced me that the TTC, or Metrolinx, or whomever, should have designed all the Crosstown stations that were at an intersection with a TTC subway route, or GO Train route should load and unload to platforms on both sides. I think all new routes should be designed with this capacity, from day one.

    Steve: There is a lot more involved in comparing the SRT to Vancouver’s SkyTrain than just the question of crewing. The original line in Vancouver was much longer than the SRT, and had a complex operating design for the period when it doubled as a link between the two sites of Expo. The automation and fine-grained control possible with the Seltrac signal system allowed closely spaced trains to interleave on the two services. Moreover, as Vancouver’s primary transit line (unlike the SRT), there was a strong incentive to make it work as well as possible both in operations management and fine-tuning, as well as technology updates.

    With Toronto’s large trains, the operator:passenger ratio is much higher than it would be if Skytrain had drivers, and so the onboard crew costs are lower than they would be with smaller trains.

    An important distinction about crewing is that ATC is described as a cost saving on train operators, but this really looks at the issue from the wrong point of view. Vancouver deployed staff as roving customer service agents thereby decoupling the staffing from the trains. This allows trains to be dispatched based on when and where they are needed. Conversely, there is an argument for having at least one member of staff on all trains in order to deal with emergencies particularly between stations.

    The TTC plans to move to one person crews across the system and has already implemented this on Line 4 Sheppard. The next stage would be on Line 1 YUS after the ATC project is completed. (ATC will be extended south from Dupont to St. Patrick this coming weekend.)

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  27. The most urgent portions of any future underground transit should be built using Cut and Cover and everything else using tunnel boring machines which means that the Downtown Ontario Relief Line should be built using Cut and Cover but the Scarborough Subway Extension, Yonge Subway Extension, and Eglinton West LRT should be built using tunnel boring machines.

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  28. Stephen Saines, responding a comment on deep station construction, wrote: Is Cut and Cover somehow preferable?

    So, what portions of the DRL route would have had to be deep? What portions of the Ontario Line, if it is ever built, will have to be deep? I think Steve said that an accepted best practice for the distance separating bored tunnels from basements was more than one tunnel diameter. Maybe that ideal separation was 1.5 or 2 tunnel diameters. This would apply at, at least:

    1) the transition from Pape to Carlaw;
    2) the broad curve south of Queen and Carlaw;
    3) the emergence of the tunnel to surface between Broadview station and the Don River;
    4) the emergence of the tunnel to surface between Sumach station and the Don;
    5) the diagonal alignment from Queen and Spadina to Ontario Place.

    Bedrock will be shallow at most points south of Queen.

    In an earlier discussion here I think I learned that some tunnel boring machines are designed for tunneling through bedrock, while others are designed for the soil above bedrock. I think we discussed a long route, in, um, Spain, where some portions were bored through bedrock and others through soil, and they swapped out one set of tunnel boring machines with another, to match the subsurface conditions. This required big pits for extraction at each transition. I wonder if the Ontario Line, if built, will switch out tunnel boring machines mid-route?

    If the route emerges, when it crosses the Don River, that puts a limit on how deep Broadview station can be, since rail gradients have to be shallow. The bottom of the line’s bridge has to be above height of the 100 year flood – or, given climate change, maybe above the height of the 500 year flood. Is that gradient 2%?

    Steve: The tunnel spacing target is one tunnel diameter between tunnels and from tunnels to nearby buildings.

    If you look at the detailed plans for the DRL, you will see that the transition from tunnel in bedrock to in soil occurs between Gerrard and Danforth. There would not be a swap-out of TBMs at the transition because the machines would be designed to work in either environment, including the transition where part of the tunnel is above bedrock.

    Crossing the Don on a bridge will require a launch site west of the river and this poses a much greater disruption there than would occur if the line stayed below the river and TBMs simply travelled west from the planned launch site at East Harbour Station. I think that Metrolinx is in for a big fight over the neighbourhood effects of the revised plan, but they are notoriously bad at this sort of “consultation” especially when the plan has the Premier’s support as a key policy.

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  29. Steve writes:

    If you look at the detailed plans for the DRL, you will see that the transition from tunnel in bedrock to in soil occurs between Gerrard and Danforth. There would not be a swap-out of TBMs at the transition because the machines would be designed to work in either environment, including the transition where part of the tunnel is above bedrock.

    Crossing the Don on a bridge will require a launch site west of the river and this poses a much greater disruption there than would occur if the line stayed below the river and TBMs simply travelled west from the planned launch site at East Harbour Station. I think that Metrolinx is in for a big fight over the neighbourhood effects of the revised plan, but they are notoriously bad at this sort of “consultation” especially when the plan has the Premier’s support as a key policy.

    This is an interesting discussion in itself complicated by Verster’s ‘Eureka Moment’ of a “cross platform interchange at East Harbour, ironically a SmartTrack station that Metrolinx initially shunned, now to be “Union East” in Verster’s hype lingo.

    If the approach of daylighting deep tunnel for the purpose of crossing the Don at an East Harbour interchange station shared with LSE is such a valid one, then the place to daylight from the east would be at Gerrard, not East Harbour, and then share the extant LSE embankment to the west side of the Don. I’m not touting this, once in deep-tunnel, for many reasons, best to stay there, even if tunnelling through the deep silt under the Don River means changing cutter heads on the TBM(s) and the possible need for a pressurized shield through that section. The complexities of that are far outweighed by the hare-brained scheme of surfacing to interchange with a station Metrolinx never considered necessary when that task is performed at Gerrard, surfacing to do it or not. And it still leaves the challenge of getting back into tunnel again on the west side of the Don.

    In the absence of even an iota of engineering detail to build this, it appears Verster et al just make it up as they derail. I think it’s quite possible, even likely that even more than one proposal is on the table, but no-one at Metrolinx or QP has a clue of how to present it in meaningful terms.

    At least vacuum cleaner salesmen know the meaning of suction…

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  30. arcticredriver wrote: In spite of Vancouver running the vehicles driverless, without problems, for over three decades, the TTC places a driver on each trainset.

    When the province strong-armed the TTC into going with the ICTS technology for the SRT, the design in place was to have the trains driverless. The ATU convinced the public that no driver was a frightening concept, the cost of the project was increased due to the UTDC having to redesign the cars to have a driver’s cab in them. This also delayed things a bit.

    Sidenote: I don’t blame the ATU for casting fear in the public. After all, the province’s strong-arm tactics used this technique by casting fear to residents’ groups along the line about how their homes would be shaken off their foundations by the rumble of CLRVs on the route. They got a huge push from these groups to help move the TTC to the ICTS technology.

    While the Seltrac system is capable of driverless operation, many installations are implemented the way the SRT is with a person on board, either as a driver or some type of on-board attendant (as is the case with London’s DLR). The person on board only operates the door controls, but is told when to close them by the Seltrac system. That’s not to say that an operator could not hold the train longer, but the Seltrac system has minimum dwell time configured into it.

    Andy opined: The most urgent portions of any future underground transit should be built using Cut and Cover and everything else using tunnel boring machines…

    Why not simply expropriate and bulldoze homes to build it at grade? Depending on the route, that would be the case for cut and cover anyways. Ever wonder why there are so many municipal parking lots and parkettes just north of the Danforth east from Jackman Ave to Dewhurst Blvd (among other places)? Generally speaking, use of cut and cover versus tunnelling is down to geographical and geological issues.

    Steve wrote: Crossing the Don on a bridge will require a launch site west of the river and this poses a much greater disruption there than would occur if the line stayed below the river and TBMs simply travelled west from the planned launch site at East Harbour Station.

    From the first announcement of the Ontario Line, Ford et al promoted that going over the river would be less expensive than tunnelling under it, but I cannot see how this could be so.

    If you were building a line at grade, and had the choice of bridging or tunnelling to get past a river, I suspect that in most cases bridging would be the better choice economically. That is not what we are dealing with here, but I suspect that is the type of, pardon the pun, tunnel visionary activities of the Ford crew. To take a line that is already underground on either side of the river and bring it up and over the river is, in all likelihood, going to be more expensive than continuing with the tunnel. There’s the cost of the extraction, the cost of expropriating the land for the right of way from the portal to the bridge and again on the other side.

    Then there is the whole fight on the part of the neighbourhood as Steve mentioned, not to mention the sort of disruption that will occur that is the reason for the fight.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Dolce said: If this is only for the LRT, how much traffic, confusion and inconvenience will locals experience for building more transit on already populated routes?

    You don’t seem to understand that when the LRT is finished, Eglinton is permanently reduced to 4 lanes. With only two lanes for each direction, a car wishing to make a left turn would block the lane leaving only one lane for traffic to advance, so they banned left turns too.

    You can thank Metrolinx, because they don’t have to take into account local citizen concerns. They do what they want.

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  32. Hello Steve,

    I was down by the BMW dealership and observed the area where the Ontario line would cross the Don. There’s still the old Front Street bridge just sitting there, double trestle steel, just sitting there!! across the Don is the new park created for the Bayfront residences built for the Pan Am games. I’m no engineer but this scheme can work if you don’t build a Sumach Stn and instead build a Cherry St/Distillery Stn by the Mill St loop. Repurpose the existing bridge by rebuilding, reinforcing, and raising it to cross the DVP then go underground in a south west alignment towards Cherry, through the park, then underground. There’s is still open space between the rail corridor and Mill St. Launch the boring machines there for going north west to Queen/Sherbourne. Using narrower trains means the gradients can be steeper with these trains reducing the amount of park space needed to return underground. I also heard they will be repurposing the existing lower Queen corridor presently under Queen Stn to cut down the costs. It looks like smart track is officially history!! lol

    Steve: The sort of river crossing you describe is the kind of thing I would have expected if the DRL took a more southerly route into the core straight west along Front Street. It is a huge shame that this was not protected during planning of developments at the Don River, but for that you can thank the TTC who fought for so many years against the DRL claiming it wasn’t needed. When the planning should have happened, they were MIA.

    There are now more than a few problems with what you propose. First, the bridge aligns with Eastern Avenue, not with Front Street which is further south as is clear in the satellite view. I doubt this bridge would or should be used “as is”. I believe it remains in place because some utilities still cross the Don under that structure.

    Second, the “vacant” land north of the rail corridor (visible south of Mill, east of Cherry in the satellite view) is about to be developed, and the designs are working their way through Development Review. By the time this might be wanted as a site for a launch shaft, it won’t be available.

    Third, to swing back north to Queen/Sherbourne from Mill/Cherry requires going under a lot of things, and unless this is going to be a fairly deep tunnel, that’s another challenge.

    There are problems with the DRL route as designed, and it is only on Queen in order that it not “compete” with SmartTrack. The line, whatever we call it, should be further south, but of course that would require a complete rework of the design.

    I very much doubt they can use lower Queen Station because it is so close to the surface that cut and cover construction would be required along Queen Street. Also it has very limited circulation paths to the Yonge line above.

    Metrolinx could do everyone a huge favour by publishing details of their plan, although this could expose just how threadbare it might be.

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  33. Thanks: I’ve been a bit on break, tho not breaking like the shift and shaft Frod the People crew. In many ways I’m quite happy to have a reset of many of the initiatives, though this Ontario Line is only maybe up to half of what was proposed in 1957, and it went much further west. But now, if we can go further, faster, and perhaps have surface, it seems maybe better, though of course we won’t manage to think of repurposing the Don Valley Excessway for any transit will we? And as Don Valley flooding will be referred to as a Problem no matter the idea, we really should be trying to disconnect the driveways and parking lots that create up to 70% of the Don’s storm surge, according to Jennifer Bonnell’s Reclaiming the Don p. 193 – but that would require civic leadership for user pay/taxes in the Don watershed especially, and Mr. Tory and his caronies specifically shelved a small initiative last term of Clowncil, so even though it could be revenue and solve a problem, nope, not yet.

    And speaking of the not yet, in Unbuilt Toronto, wherever that went, there was a suggestion that the Province of Ontario was going to build rapid transit in the Don in the 1970s or so, and maybe that was GO, maybe not. But heck, GO might be cheaper to build/operate, yes, but I don’t think it can be carved up/busted and sold off like a new line of ‘unique’ technology could be, and the really worry is that if the federal level and the City don’t put in clauses to any $$$$ that they contribute to ‘Relief” – specifically that such contributions revert back to the level that was contributing them in case of sale to a private interest – the Ford Cons would make transit very profitable by flipping it – but the only profit would likely be to them and brokers, right?

    Frod the people.

    Like

  34. Response to William Zenetos about re-using the bridge.

    That Eastern Ave. Bridge is maybe 100 years – do you really want to build new infrastructure that is expected to last 100+ years on that old thing.

    Also, that bridge only spans the Don River – maybe 50m span. The Ontario Line Bridge has to span the DVP, the Don, and the RH GO. (Don River flooding is not a concern since it has to clear the RH GO line by ~7m, which I am sure would clear the 1000 year storm). The bridge would have to ramp down from there, so it likely would be close to 500m in overall length. Do you really want to design a brand new bridge to incorporate and existing bridge that is only 10% of the length of the new bridge. (Same arguments likely apply to the Millwood Bridge – which may theoretically be able to be strengthened to carry a “subway”).

    Regarding construction mess on Eglinton – this portion should have been elevated. Much better end product, with benefit of reduced construction disturbance.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Walter said: “That Eastern Ave. Bridge is maybe 100 years – do you really want to build new infrastructure that is expected to last 100+ years on that old thing.”

    More to the point, when was the last time it had any maintenance work? If it’s only being used as a utility crossing over the Don, it’s possible that nothing beyond work to keep it from falling down has been done to it since before construction of the DVP started.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Nick L asks (RE: ex-Eastern Av bridge over Don) : More to the point, when was the last time it had any maintenance work?

    I had a conversation with a Consumers Gas (or whoever they are nowadays) tech supervisor working there last Summer as to the state of the bridge. His answer (gist): “I’m amazed this structure is still here, it’s in such sad shape. We’re shoring up the buttresses to stop them getting washed completely out. This structure carries the gas trunk to feed a huge swathe of downtown Toronto”.

    As I understand it, that trunk goes back to the days of the Eastern Av gasification plant pre-western natural gas.

    Any thought of using that structure for any load bearing of size is in itself a pipe dream. As much as the Mouth of the Don remediation is on-going, that part of the Don and others will still remain a “Flood Plain”.

    We’re getting dragged way-off from the essential point: It’s been over a month since the “Ontario Line” announcement. And we still have absolutely no engineering details.

    Verster exudes paeans to the “Yurek Philosophy” (Seriously! In a number of speeches) and pronounces (gist) “What a good boy am I” for pulling the East Harbour bridge plum out of the…muck…and all manner of wonderment as to the dawning of the new day technological titillation…and not an iota on the the engineering.

    THIS is what Metrolinx has come to be. “Look at the wonderful things we’re doing” as opposed to “Here’s how we’re going to do this”.

    Like

  37. Clarification of my previous comment:

    See: Wikipedia entry for Eastern Avenue Bridge

    The gas main is housed in the concrete enclosed bridge immediately to the north of the old Eastern Av road bridge. All points made prior still pertain.

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  38. Robert Wightman wrote: “They have totally screwed up Union Station by not removing some of the platforms so they could widen the remainder and put in more stairs to them.”

    Actually I disagree. Having a platform on both sides during busy times (i.e. rush hour or after a sporting event) works better if GO Transit would use both sides of the train for loading. Taking out platforms will only give you one platform that everyone has to use.

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  39. Edward Brain said:

    Actually I disagree. Having a platform on both sides during busy times (i.e. rush hour or after a sporting event) works better if GO Transit would use both sides of the train for loading. Taking out platforms will only give you one platform that everyone has to use.

    This would be true if the platforms were a decent width, but alas, they are not. The small platforms that used to be for servicing the trains are too narrow to be useful and therefore are dangerous.

    The platforms cannot be emptied quickly because of the narrow stair cases. With fewer, and wider platforms and staircases, the platforms can be emptied faster and the trains can get through faster with more safety for passengers. Many people have disparaging comments about Verster, but as soon as he saw Union Station he realized that it was awful. He saw that it needed fewer through tracks with wider platforms, more stairs and higher platforms. Something that was obvious to all but Metrolinx years ago.

    The current situation is down right dangerous. Unfortunately that of all the money that was spent redoing Union Station, most of it was spent badly and it will need another upgrade. I don’t think that you can fit overhead under the Bush Train Shed which is an abomination and should have been scrapped.

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  40. Robert Wightman writes: Many people have disparaging comments about Verster, but as soon as he saw Union Station he realized that it was awful. He saw that it needed fewer through tracks with wider platforms, more stairs and higher platforms. Something that was obvious to all but Metrolinx years ago.

    You make excellent points, and many mainline stations in Europe do mainline, regional and commuter service with half the tracks that Union does, and with multiple the throughput on two minute headways, but a context is necessary to the comments on Verster.

    When he first burst onto the scene, I had incredible respect and hope. Your points are made in this interview, the first of two by the author and publication:

    Union Station and GO RER: Metrolinx’s Phil Verster on the Future

    That was then! Since the change in regime at Queen’s Park, at best, Verster seems to be a victim of ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ without Stockholm’s exemplary transit system.

    The man has been taken hostage, and he appears to be a willing participant. What’s now ensuing is nothing like he promised.

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