Ontario’s Transit Plans: Details Emerge in City Report

When Premier Doug Ford announced his new transit plan in April as part of his first budget, there was plenty of hype about provincial transit investment, but few details about what would be built or how far design had progressed beyond doodles on bar napkins. Four projects comprise the Ford plan:

  • The “Ontario Line” from the Science Centre at Don Mills & Eglinton to Ontario Place replacing Toronto plans for the Relief Line
  • The Richmond Hill extension of Line 1 Yonge
  • The Scarborough Line 2 Danforth extension to Sheppard & McCowan with at least three stops rather than the one in the current Toronto plan
  • A modified plan for the Eglinton West LRT extension with underground construction for part of the route east of Martin Grove
  • Extension of the Sheppard subway east to McCowan to meet the northern end of Line 2

Information about these proposals came more from rumours than from specifics, notably from Metrolinx, the agency charged with planning and delivery of the scheme.

Staff from the City of Toronto and the TTC have been meeting with their provincial counterparts, and details begin to emerge in a staff report to Toronto’s Executive Committee.

The Ontario Line concept proposed by the Province is at an early stage of design. [p 5]

This is not a “shovel ready” project, nor is the revised Scarborough subway, in spite of claims that the Ontario line can be open by 2027. That is very much a political date based on the need to have relief capacity in place before new demand is added to the Line 1 Yonge route from the Richmond Hill extension. The government, knowing the votes available in York Region, needs to show progress on that extension, but actually operating it would totally overload the subway system without substantial diversion of ridership to a relief line.

Previous studies by Metrolinx foresaw a drop in ridership at the Bloor/Yonge choke point provided that a new line went at least to Eglinton rather than stopping at Danforth. This is not news, but the political change lies in recognition that a line to Eglinton is not some future, “Phase 2” option, but an essential part of reducing demand on Line 1. Whether the construction timing and possible opening dates for the Ontario and Richmond Hill lines can be achieved is quite another matter. In a political context, the important date is 2022, the next Provincial election. By that time, visible “progress” will be needed to shore up support for the government, but the target dates will be far enough off that the inevitable slippage will not yet be evident.

Public Consultation

In parallel with the technical work on provincial plans, the City of Toronto has launched a public participation campaign about the shift in responsibilities for transit between the municipal and provincial governments. This is all a bit vague at present because the details of what Queen’s Park actually intends remain rather vague. The government has given itself the power to take over projects completely or in part, and to seize Toronto assets with or without compensation. However, the financial details are murky including the problem of expected contribution to capital projects by other governments and the as-yet unaddressed question of cost sharing for day-to-day transit operations which includes a substantial component of running maintenance, not just driving the trains.

The City will bring a wider range of issues than a few new lines before the public for comment. Four public meetings are planned over the coming month:

Thursday, June 13, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Father Serra Catholic School
111 Sun Row Drive, Etobicoke

Thursday, June 20, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
North York Memorial Community Hall
5110 Yonge Street, North York

Saturday, June 22, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Scarborough Civic Centre
150 Borough Drive, Scarborough

Thursday, June 27, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
City Hall, Council Chamber
100 Queen Street West, Toronto

Although one might despair that the Ford government cares about or will listen to concerns by Toronto citizens, this consultation will be important if only to gauge overall public feeling. The challenge will be to conduct real consultation without having sessions hijacked by Ford Nation supporters.

The “Expert Panel”

The City has struck a panel of experts to advise on the many issues involved in changing responsibilities for Toronto’s transit system. The panel includes many familiar faces, but to save readers from having to ask, no, I am not on it nor was I asked. My role here is as a journalist and advocate.

The panel is co-ordinated through the Munk Centre at the University of Toronto. To its credit, the panel has a diverse background in fields related to transit and cities, and is not solely a group of subway boosters ignoring the much more complex challenges facing transit overall in Toronto and the GTHA.

Exactly how this panel will operate and how public its deliberations will be are, at this point, unknown.

The Ontario Line

The Ministry of Transportation’s map of the Ontario Line suffers from a few geographical problems, but that is nothing compared to the want of details for this route when it was announced.

From the City’s report, we know somewhat more now:

The Central Section is, effectively, the Relief Line as it was known although the alignment will change between Gerrard and East Harbour Stations to make use of the rail corridor. How this will be fitted into an already-crowded right-of-way where GO expansion will take available space is unclear. The Don River crossing at East Harbour will be above grade, but this will be challenging given other existing and planned structures in the area.

The Northern Section follows what has always been the most logical route from Pape & Danforth to Eglinton (in spite of a cat’s cradle of alternatives that were proposed as part of the aborted northern section study). The Don Valley crossing north of O’Connor will be on a bridge, but the big change is a proposed elevated structure through Thorncliffe Park and thence to Eglinton. The specific alignment and how the structure would thread through existing neighbourhoods is unknown.

A maintenance facility for the line would be built somewhere in Thorncliffe Park, probably north of Overlea which is the industrial part of that neighbourhood.

The Western Section would continue from Osgoode Station to Spadina and then veer southwest to King and Bathurst. This is something of a challenge given developments already in place along the way. From King to Ontario Place, the route and number of stations is still quite vague. The existing Exhibition GO Station, an obvious connection point to the regional network and to a future Waterfront West LRT, not to mention the large population of Liberty Village, is remote from Ontario Place which would need its own station to provide convenient year-round access.

There is no information about the Ontario Line technology, although the province has stated that the line would have a potential capacity 30% greater than the existing subway. That would, in effect, get the Ontario Line to the same level as the subway can achieve once the Automatic Train Control project is finished. However, the type of equipment is more likely to resemble SkyTrain operations in Vancouver with frequent smaller automated trains to reduce the cost of tunnels and elevated guideways.

The Ontario Line has implications for other transit proposals, notably expansion of service on the GO Lake Shore West corridor and the Waterfront West LRT. In both cases, the Ontario Line would provide a distribution function for riders without their having to pass through Union Station. At its northern terminus, the line would provide an important link to Line 5 Crosstown diverting riders who might otherwise travel west to Line 1 Yonge to an alternate path into the core.

Although the Ontario Line will reduce demand at the Bloor-Yonge interchange, it will not eliminate congestion problems there, merely prevent them from becoming substantially worse. The TTC and City have plans to add a new eastbound platform on Line 2 Bloor-Danforth, as well as new circulation space to spread out the transfer traffic between Lines 1 and 2.

Plans for additional trains, line capacity, yards and signalling on both Lines 1 and 2 must also be reviewed including the need for new signalling, fleet and yard on Line 2. All of this represents major capital projects separate from the Ontario Line itself, and yet funding announcements so far concentrate only on the provincial segment of the plan.

Those are the details known to date, and this is a far cry from a fully worked out plan.

The Scarborough Subway Extension

The Scarborough extension of Line 2 Bloor-Danforth takes yet another twist with the provincial plan to revert to a three-stop (at least) line and a return to Sheppard as the northern terminus. According to the City report:

A station at Eglinton Avenue East and Brimley Road is being considered either as an alternative to a Lawrence station, or as a potential fourth station, which is one of the considerations to be addressed in the further assessment of this Provincial project. [p 13]

Among the issues under consideration are:

  • Whether all service would operate through to Sheppard or if a turnback would be implemented at Kennedy Station similar to the Line 1 arrangement where half of the AM peak service only operates north to Glencairn Station.
  • Storage for additional trains somewhere on the extension to handle the overflow from Greenwood Yard. That is affected, of course, by a decision on through or turnback service.

There is no discussion of a future Line 2 yard at Kipling, the implications of future capacity improvements beyond the existing service level of the implementation of Automatic Train Control. These options were deferred in the TTC’s capital plans by management with no discussion of the implications for future service by the TTC Board. These matters should be included in the overall review.

The terminal at Sheppard will be designed as a future interchange and with the provision for northerly extension. However, this design depends in part on the future of an eastern extension of the Sheppard Subway and/or a Sheppard East LRT.

With the shift of the terminus to Sheppard, the massive bus terminal at Scarborough Town Centre will not be required, although many routes will continue to focus on that location as their transfer point to the subway.

The station at Lawrence East is problematic not just because it will be challenging to build (Highland Creek crosses just north of Lawrence & McCowan), but because it threatens the viability of a Lawrence East Smart Track station. This has been part of the gerrymandering of Scarborough Transit plans for years with SmartTrack and the subway extension competing for the same passengers. The further north the subway goes, and the more stations it has, the less credible SmartTrack becomes as an alternative route to downtown especially with the comparatively infrequent service (4 trains/hour) planned by Metrolinx for “local” stations.

If a station is added at Eglinton & Brimley, this will affect the design of the Eglinton East LRT to UTSC. A through connection to Kennedy Station is essential to give the LRT access to the Crosstown line and thence to the maintenance facility at Mount Dennis, but some of the transfer moves between the subway and LRT might shift further east.

Eglinton West and Sheppard East

There is no further information on plans for either the Eglinton West extension of the Crosstown line, nor of provincial intentions regarding the Sheppard LRT although Premier Ford’s plan to extend the Sheppard subway would leave only a fragment of what was originally to be a longer LRT line (and network) in northern Scarborough.

SmartTrack

Any discussion of SmartTrack must recall that this began as a campaign tactic in John Tory’s 2014 mayoral bid, and that what was originally discussed was far different from what is now on the table. SmartTrack was to be a surface subway providing frequent service from Eglinton West to Markham via the Weston corridor, Union Station, Lake Shore East and the Stouffville line. Designers and proponents of ST did not take into account a number of physical limitations to their plan, and pieces have been falling off of the map over the five years since it was announced.

The scheme remains alive in the City’s transportation plans only as a set of additional GO stations, and even these have not reached the point of final approval for construction because the cost estimates and “stage gate” report to proceed have yet to come before Council. The situation is also clouded by dubious demand estimates and business cases for new GO stations generally during the previous provincial regime.

As noted above, the Scarborough extension competes directly with the Lawrence East ST station. It also would affect the Finch ST station and GO’s Agincourt station by providing an alternative terminus for trips from northeastern Scarborough to the subway. The Finch ST station has also run into strong opposition from the neighbourhood in which it would be located.

The Gerrard ST station already is in direct competition with the Relief/Ontario Line station at the same location, but with the opening date for the Ontario line moved forward, this competition could occur sooner than originally expected. Equally important is the question of just how many locations deserve closely-spaced GO stations providing much less frequent service than the subway.

The East Harbour station is a major development node where subway (Relief Line), GO and streetcar (the Broadview extension to the Waterfront East LRT) connections have been planned for some time. This station would remain as both a GO and Relief/Ontario line station because of its importance as an anchor to development in the eastern waterfront.

The Liberty Village ST station would be located north of King Street in an area where the rail corridor is crowded. Its cost has been rumoured to be very high, although there is nothing officially public yet. The Ontario Line station would be located near Exhibition GO station south of Liberty Village and would provide much more frequent service than would be available on the GO corridor.

Overall, we may be seeing the demise of SmartTrack simply because too little of it remains as a credible alternative to local TTC services.

Financing

The City report is silent on the question of financing the capital construction, let alone of future operating and maintenance costs.

After announcing $28 billion in new rapid transit lines, the province now calls on municipal governments (Toronto and York Region) to shoulder one third of the cost for lines in their respective territories, and on the federal government for another third. This runs headlong into two major problems.

At the federal level, the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund (PTIF) only allocates about $4 billion to Toronto, and some of that is already earmarked for other projects. By asking for over $7 billion, the province takes its funding request well beyond what Ottawa was prepared to pay. There is an added irony that if the Liberals were to lose the fall 2019 election, a new Conservative regime in Ottawa is even less likely to dole out billions for transit construction in Toronto.

The Canada Infrastructure Bank recently announced a $2 billion investment in the GO commuter rail expansion project, but this is completely separate from the TTC subway expansion plan. Moreover, this is an investment, not outright funding, and its effect is to lower the amount of investment that would be required by the private sector consortium that will be chosen to build and operate the expanded GO network.

At the municipal level, Toronto would be saddled with a large capital cost for lines that supposedly Queen’s Park is taking off the city’s hands. The government argues that this shift in control is needed because better financing arrangements are available to Ontario than to Toronto. However, Toronto would still be carrying an equal burden to the province and the timeframe for the overall scheme, especially the Ontario Line, would push new borrowing onto the City’s books just at a time when their overall capital planning is tightly constrained by the accumulation of debt for other projects.

This could be partly offset by eliminating some or all of the SmartTrack station program which was to be funded by the City, although such a move would reopen the issue of the City’s contribution to GO’s expansion plans.

Nobody has talked about operating costs for all of the system expansion, and that includes lines already under construction on Eglinton and Finch. There is no indication of how much Toronto will have to pay Metrolinx for the portion of operating costs that will be due to their contracted provider of maintenance for the fleet and infrastructure.

Next Steps

The City report is quite clear about the need to fully understand the implications of the proposed network including its demand and the potential effects of development in new station areas with projections out to 2061. This also includes many considerations for connectivity to the surface network and potential expansion of the rapid transit network.

  • Consider connection for bus and streetcar ridership that is delivered through excellent passenger connections;
  • Build in enough capacity, on the line and at stations, to be fit for purpose and meet projected ridership for many decades after opening date;
  • Be a flexible and adaptable system that can be increased in capacity in order to meet increased demand; and
  • Provide capacity on the line and at the stations that considers the effects of increased ridership from likely extensions of the Ontario Line north to Line 4 and west and north to Line 2. [p 15]

Other needed work includes:

  • An agreement on technology for both projects;
  • An assessment of potential service concepts based on travel demand modelling and fleet requirements and constraints;
  • An assessment of market capability to deliver the projects;
  • An assessment of the impacts of the projects on broader City interests and opportunities for city-building;
  • An assessment of the costs and schedules associated with the projects;
  • Agreement on an approach to public engagement on the projects;
  • A work plan to design two additional subway stations and other required project planning for the L2EE project; and
  • A risk assessment of extending the service life of Line 3 to 2029-30. [p 16]

To all of this I would add a burning need to understand the future role of GO Transit as a local and/or regional service provider, and a definition of the transit markets which each tier of the transit network will serve. A related and vital question is that of regional fare integration, the pricing of “local” and “regional” services and the effects of fare policy on travel demand and subsidy requirements.

The City’s requirements are much broader than the superficial planning we usually see from the province, at least in public documents, and they imply a much more solid understanding of the network than simply a rough sketch on a map unsupported by technical studies.

22 thoughts on “Ontario’s Transit Plans: Details Emerge in City Report

  1. Ignoring SmartTrack, and noting the RT may have to shut down before anything else is built, would it make more sense to build a subway extension using the current RT route rather than the new route?

    Steve: No. This would be very difficult because (a) Kennedy Station faces east, not north; (b) the curve at Ellesmere is too tight for subway trains; (c) the elevated structure from Midland to McCowan and associated stations would have to be totally rebuilt or demolished.

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  2. Building a station at Brimley and Eglinton is pointless especially when all the routes that pass through here head to Kennedy as well. If a Lawrence East Station was needed, maybe Brimley and Lawrence could be an good location.

    Steve: There are two problems here. First, if bus routes now operating to Kennedy are shortened to Brimley, there would have to be a large terminal built there to handle them while the one at Kennedy would be mostly empty. Second, the subway is going up McCowan, not Brimley, and so a station at Brimley and Lawrence is not possible.

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  3. Looks like the city gave the wrong address for the North York Memorial Community Hall, should be 5110 Yonge St.

    Steve: Thanks for this. I have passed the info on to Brad Ross at the city.

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  4. Steve, thanks for this. You mentioned briefly the question of routing of the Ontario Line coming over west of the Don from East Harbour; I remain confused by the potential feasibility. If, as various provincial officials have seemed to intimate, the plan is to bridge over the Don (rather than tunnel under it), and to leverage the existing rail corridor in some way, it seems there are (at least!) two key questions:

    1) Where in that general area west of the Don and adjacent-ish to the rail corridor is there room for the tunnel port to get the OL tracks under ground in time for the Sumach stop; and

    2) Depending on that answer, is a Sumach stop even feasible anymore given how tight the turn would have to be?

    I ask those two questions both out of general curiosity and, more importantly, because I am worried that the Province may propose a tunnel port that would infringe upon (or necessitate the partial tearing up of) Corktown Common, which I believe should be a total nonstarter. Thanks.

    Steve: I too have exactly the same concerns. When one remembers that the Metrolinx consultant behind the Ontario line is the same person who thought that SmartTrack as a mainline rail operation could run along the Richview Expressway lands north of Eglinton that had already been sold and had buildings on them, one really has to wonder just how outdated the napkin he drew the route on might have been.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks Steve, including the example of how to write somewhat dispassionately about fairly bad stuff, and lots of it, though I wasn’t a real fan of what the City has been working on as I think we need triage, on-surface, in the next few years vs. some Big Fixes (maybe) in some years, and now we’re nearly at 415ppm, it is getting dire (and we still don’t count concrete usage). So I see there’s lots of exce$$ and less-wise spending to Wa$te in what’s proposed, absolutely with #1 waste being the SSE. With the Ontario Line sales job, I remain worried that the federal level will cough up a commitment, and without clawbacks, so the province can flip the whole thing to a private consortium and give the federal $$ away, so Ontario can ‘make’ money on transit, and we do need relief, but never think of using an existing corridor like the DVP or GO transit, no that wouldn’t do the construction interests enough good. Meanwhile, Adam Vaughan’s tweet was apt:

    Adam Vaughan 🇨🇦
    ‏Verified account @TOAdamVaughan
    Jun 3
    Replying to @gordperks

    We never received the napkin…. we have however told Ford that Magic Markers are not actually magic
    5 replies 11 retweets 51 likes

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Steve writes:

    The Canada Infrastructure Bank recently announced a $2 billion investment in the GO commuter rail expansion project, but this is completely separate from the TTC subway expansion plan. Moreover, this is an investment, not outright funding, and its effect is to lower the amount of investment that would be required by the private sector consortium that will be chosen to build and operate the expanded GO network.

    The CIB remains a ‘dark horse’ in all of this. It’s been critically underutilized, and if I were the Feds about to assign more funding to GTHA rail transit schemes, I’d seriously look at doing so through the CIB…with added powers attached. One of those would be for the Feds to attach Section 92(10) powers to the project “For the General Advantage of Canada”:

    Section 92(10) powers are an extremely important and often used part of the Canadian Constitution. In the first five decades of Canadian history, the declaratory power was invoked more than 400 times, mostly to ensure that Canada’s burgeoning railway system grew to national advantage. By the First World War, virtually every inch of rail track in Canada was under federal jurisdiction. More recently, the declaratory power was used to make Canada’s nuclear industry a federal matter.

    Source: The Globe and Mail

    The author, yes, the right hand man to Stephen Harper:

    Tom Flanagan is professor of political science at the University of Calgary and a campaign manager for conservative parties.

    The Ont-Cons claim to be “Open for Business” and tout Private Investment as being crucial to their schemes.

    What better way to do it than to multiply taxpayers’ money by having the CIB oversee the projects that QP itself is now claiming “must be built on a business case”.

    In other words, these touted schemes can be financed by IO attracting private investment (good luck on that, McNaughton is the last person I’d give a dime to, let alone invest with) or done with the Fed’s arm’s-length CIB, for whom Bruce McQuaig was a technical adviser initially.

    This is one of the basic functions for the CIB. Will it be neutral in dealings with Ontario transit? Probably not completely, but compared to what the present Ford regime is demanding, it will be positively angelic.

    It seems P3 is the name of the game no matter what transpires. Far better it be in the hands on those with expertise on the matter, and a Federal infusion of cash with a Section 92(10) attached. The Province would be next to powerless to try any ‘tricks’ or power plays.

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  7. This plan is a fantasy and likely will not occur in the timeline shown on top of that I am so sick of the Ford’s family continued gravy of changing transit plans it is horrible and causes more pain in cancellation costs and dealing with gridlock.

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  8. Why would the city schedule public consultation at Scarborough Centre on Satuday June 22, when they’ve already announced the Scarborough RT won’t be running that weekend?

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  9. For the Ontario line, the details are almost too vague to pose proper thoughts. My inclination was to continue on Queen all the way west and then make one 90 degree turn (with some radius of course) to head south to Exhibition. This may make a connection to Kitchener GO line at the Liberty Village Smart Track Station on the way.

    In the East, I never liked the Carlaw jog. The sewer there necessitated the line to become very deep and very expensive. Either it should have made the one curve onto Pape, or I can live with this alignment under the rail corridor.

    For SSE, the Lawrence Station should be patterned after the Leslie (Sheppard Line) station. At Sheppard/McCowan, the tail track will likely extend several hundred metres north of Sheppard. Could the line not be extended to the CPR Agincourt yard? It’s a more convenient location for a TBM launch or extraction site. There is also room for a subway train yard here – I understand CPR wanted to get rid of part of this land a while ago. It would also lend itself to an at-grade extension to Markham/Finch for the terminal station.

    For the Sheppard Line, how much less expensive is it to continue along Sheppard to McCowan, compared to reverting to the original plan of heading directly to STC? I suspect going directly to STC is more convenient and more palatable to the public. It would likely be a more useful location for a future extension as well – to Centennial and Malvern along the SRT corridor.

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  10. Steve, I agree with your analysis. But stepping back from the details (or lack of details) it looks like the Ford Government might be trying to knit the higher order transit lines together into something a little more coherent. That is, lengthening the Relief Line (aka Ontario Line) and linking subways and the Crosstown look like good ideas.

    In my my dreams some sort of rational force would take over (the hand of God?) and force all three levels of government to sit at the same table and agree to a plan that will, in fact, link the major lines and extend them to provide the service that millions of us need. There are some good ideas here. If only Mr. Ford’s people had the foresight to sit down with the the other levels of government and carefully plan and finance these ideas. Just imagine! in 20 years things might move better!

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  11. If we are going to use a different technology on the Ontario line to save on tunnel cost, does that mean the new tunnels wil be too small (diameter) to run the same trains that we use on line 1, 2 and 4 in case we want to upgrade or use the same technology in the future?

    Steve: Almost certainly yes.

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  12. I am not sure how big an MSF facility would be needed for the Ontario Line, but there is not much available space in Thorncliffe. The only area north of Overlea is under the Hydro corridor.

    The only alternate location that springs to mind is a location in the Port Lands. With smaller cars, but more of them, wouldn’t a larger MSF be required?

    And Steve, hearing that the Metrolinx “consultant” is the same one who doodled up Smart Trak makes me fear that the Ontario Relief Line will also end up getting nibbled to death. Why not just take the existing shovel ready plans for the DRL and fund and fast track them? Guess they did not have the DF seal of approval!

    Politics, Transit and Toronto equals a lot of hot air and NO progress.

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  13. Steve, as far as you’re aware, how set is the province in using a Bathurst alignment for a part of the western section of the Ontario Line ? Like you say, this proposal neglects Liberty Village and other places such as Fort York. It seems like the Ford government has their hearts set on making Ontario Place a world class tourist destination, which leads me to believe that the Ontario Place station will be built primarily to suit that desire. Is there is any possible compromise where the line could follow Strachan and have a Liberty Village/Fort York station and then proceed to Ontario Place ?

    Secondly, a simple question I have is why has a western extension of the Sheppard subway has been overlooked in Ford’s plan. When the subway was first built, Sheppard-Yonge was made to accommodate a future west extension to Sheppard West or beyond. Is this something people don’t really desire or need anymore? Even Rob Ford’s transit plan when he ran for mayor included the westward extension of Line 4.

    Steve: I suspect that the alignment is extremely flexible at this point. It is going to be tricky to get from Queen down to the lake no matter where the line turns. As for Sheppard, that line is not a high priority for Ford even east of Don Mills. To the west, the projected demand for the link is low. The focus has to be on the Ontario Line if the Tories are going to build the Richmond Hill line without overwhelming the existing subway, and Sheppard is small change.

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  14. I haven’t dropped by in awhile nice to see that there’s still lots of talk and not much action from those that govern.

    I’d like to ask the question about what kind of magic will get the Ontario Line from Queen and Spadina to King and Bathurst. Practically every street corner in the area south of Queen either has a legacy building, a spanking new condo, the foundations for a new build or the planning committee sign indicating that one is in the planning stages. Tunnelling under the parking garage of a condo would seem to be a non-starter or hellishly expensive. There’s limited space to put station entrances at King and Bathurst without narrowing Bathurst as all the buildings are pretty much built to the sidewalk.

    My suspicion is that south of King on Bathurst the line will run in the long rumoured tunnel between Fort York and the Wheat Sheaf. The Ontario Line plan shows like it may have come from someone who had at least one too many pints while at the Sheaf and didn’t make the best use of the bar napkins.

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  15. Not sure about the station direction, but I suspect entirely rebuilding the whole RT line might still be cheaper than the current subway ‘plan’.

    Steve: Anything — an LRT line or an RT rebuild — would have been cheaper, but “Scarborough deserves a subway” is the mantra that drives all political decisions.

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  16. Excuse me?!? An elevated line through Thorncliffe and the west border of Flemingdon Park? How the F%#$ is Ford supposed to achieve this? And how will it connect to Line 5? The entire line from Thorncliffe up to Science Centre Station was supposed to be underground, with the exception of a bridge between the Thorncliffe island and the vicinity of Marc Garneau or Valley Park schools.

    Can someone tell me which f#$%nut came up with this idea? I will e-mail them daily until they publicly announce how stupid this idea is and also warn them that I will garner the entire Don Valley West and East votes (currently red ridings) to make sure they NEVER turn blue.

    Steve: The person responsible for the “design” such as it is to date for the Ontario Line works at Metrolinx, but previously was responsible for the SmartTrack design that ignored grades in Mount Dennis and the already-present buildings on Eglinton West where the Richview Expressway was to be originally. He also cooked up the HSR plan to serve the “tech corridor” by missing a few major centres along that line because they didn’t work into his plan. We are at the stage of planning on napkins, and any assumption of more serious thought on the subject is misplaced.

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  17. Hi Steve,
    Do you know any update on what’s going on with the Line 2 subway extension to STC that city council approved. Wasn’t that supposed to open in 2026 (with Ford now who knows)?

    What do you think will happen to the SRT – I read an article from Toronto Star stating it is unsafe to keep running and to push it to 2026. Didn’t they start pre-construction? From March – May, they’ve been digging something up at Mccowan & Triton Road everyday. Does that have anything to do with it?

    Steve: The Line 2 extension has been hijacked by Ford’s plans for a three-stop line going to Sheppard. Whether and when this will actually be built is an open question. I am sure that one way or another Scarborough will get just what they “deserve” for supporting the Ford follies.

    If there’s work going on now, it will be soil boring (the same thing has been going on along parts of the Relief Line) to get detailed ground conditions as part of the tunnel design work.

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  18. At a public session on the SSE, June 21, 2016 at City Hall, all three interveners advocated for a Lawrence East subway station. Deputy City Manager Livey responded that regrettably the subway tunnel was too deep for a subway station. Steve attended this meeting.

    I have no engineering experience but it seems to me a Lawrence East subway station would be very expensive and not practical because of the time loss getting up or down to the platform. You can blame the TTC obsession to tunnel only in bedrock for this problem. There are other tunneling techniques. My guess is that they would like to move the Lawrence East station to Brimley where the tunnel is likely shallower.

    Steve: Moving the Lawrence East station to Brimley would require moving the entire subway to Brimley and that’s not going to happen.

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  19. Re: The Ontario Line

    I don’t think that anyone is claiming that this is not a subway although: 1) It would be using smaller vehicles than the TTC uses on Lines 1, 2 & 4, 2) It would make use of a rail corridor and an elevated structure for part of the route.

    Consider the following: 1) We use smaller vehicles than the TTC uses for its subways and 2) we use an existing rail corridor that parallels Kennedy Rd and has been proven capable of accommodating rapid transit and an elevated structure that parallels Ellesmere. Wasn’t this the original proposal for replacing the Scarborough RT (before it was folded into the Transit City plan where all proposed lines would use the same vehicles.)

    How is one a subway and the other not a subway?

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  20. Suspect rebuilding the RT might be cheaper? The 2006 estimate for rebuilding the line, extending the station platforms for longer trains, and adjusting the curve between Ellesmere and Midland to handle the longer cars that Vancouver is now using, was only $190 million in 2006$.

    The latest estimate for the 1-stop subway extension is $3.9 billion (in 2018$) – and that doesn’t even include new vehicles (but does include $158 million for RT life extension and then another $102 million for knocking it down when the 1-stop subway extension is done). Making it even longer and adding 3 more stations … that’s pushing $5 billion … presumably $6 billion if escalated to year of spending.

    There’s no way that the $190 million will have escalated to $5 billion in only 12 years. $300 million is a reasonable estimate (probably on top of the $158 million life extension). Though they’d need new vehicles too. Vancouver just payed $298 million for 7 new 68-metre long trains of the same type. Currently the TTC has 7 51-metre long trains. So maybe another $300 million (though the $5 billion doesn’t include vehicles!).

    Can you imagine how far you could extend the SRT with the cost $4.5 or so billion left after rebuilding the existing bit? Could go north to Malvern, branch to Markham … and why not South to Scarborough GO?

    Or you could build about 100 rapid transit stops and track in Scarborough for the various proposed LRT projects that never get built.

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  21. The Ontario PC’s have overridden Toronto City Council by allowing developers to construct condo towers in the Bayview-Eglinton-Leaside area, as high as 35 storeys tall, with plans to increase this to 50 storeys tall by 2021.

    There was a limit of 8 storeys high as this area is mainly residential and populated by wealthy mansion owners who would of course loathe condos and traffic jams affecting their laid back lifestyles of investment living.

    Great! More constructions on Eglinton Avenue East going westbound between Bayview Avenue and Yonge St, and more condos that 99% of Canadians will not afford unless taking a huge mortgage for 100 years.

    Doug Ford would probably confiscate the baseball field at that high school near the intersection to sell for $1 and let developers construct condos like there is no tomorrow.

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  22. Should we be surprised that there’s not a single real-world transportation practitioner on that so-called “expert” panel Hizzoner has cobbled together in a championship display of snake oil salesmanship? I hear the echo of the captain of the Titanic right now: “Nothing to worry about, folks. We’re just stopping for ice.”

    But it really doesn’t matter, does it? All the decisions are now being made by Metrolinx under the direction of CEO Phil Verster, the not-for-public viewing Michael Schabas and all those failed Brit friends of theirs that they keep bringing in. The latest one comes from a failed UK rail passenger franchise that was so bad it was blocked from re-bidding for the concession.

    It’s the 1950s all over again. Failed Brits come here on fat salaries to show all of us dumb colonials how to do it … the same way they did it, which let to their transportation system melting down and having to be propped up at hideous publlc expense. It has never fully recovered.

    I especially like the fact that Dougie has given more power and money to a rat pack that was brought here by those dreaded, dastardly Grits. Now, proving Conservative nose stretching knows no bounds, their finance minister is saying it is both the Liberals and the NDP who are to jointly to blame for the Ontario Northland rail passenger mess that will now be fixed by the same ONR incompetents who created this mess under a rainbow hue of governments, including a couple of blue ones.

    Even more reassuring is the fact that the Metrolinx brain trust will be leading the ONR passenger revival crusade. Hallelujah and praise Premier Dougie! Start booking your trips to North Bay, Cobalt and all points north right now to avoid the crush of eager rail travelers who will be surging aboard some unspecified ONR trains running on unspecified routes at some unspecified future date. The matter is, of course, under study, so we need have no fears.

    I’d laugh, except it really is a tragedy.

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