Ontario Line: Many Questions, Few Answers

This article is a companion piece to my article in NOW Toronto Doug Ford’s Ontario Line headed down the wrong track which should be read first as an introduction.

In preparation of that piece, I sent a set of questions to Metrolinx to clarify and expand on many elements of the project. Some of their responses were included in the article, but for limits both of space and complexity, not all of them.

The many duplicate responses (which begin at question 5) are here for readers to see. The text is copied “as is” from a Metrolinx email received on Friday, January 31, 2020. My comments, if any, are in italics after each question and answer.

I look forward to Metrolinx providing more substantive answers to many of these questions before they bother the public with another round of superficial consultation.

Q1: At last night’s meeting at MCC, there was talk of a fifth open house to be announced. Do you have a date and location for this? If so, and assuming it falls sometime next week, I will include it in the article.

  • Yes, it will be on Wednesday, Feb. 5, at the Estonian House – 958 Broadview Ave.

Steve: The period is between 6:30 and 8:30 pm. Estonian House is located at Chester Hill Road midway between Danforth and Mortimer on the west side of Broadview.

Q2: As I understand the TPAP process, it does not include any provision for analysis of significant alternatives to the proposal such as alternate routes. This type of study, formerly part of an EA, is now handled in the “pre-study” period of the TPAP and was actually underway by Metrolinx for the Relief Line North before the last election was called. Is it correct to say that although there is public consultation, this concerns only the effect of implementation on the proposed alignment, and that changes such as rerouting to the original Relief Line South in whole or in part are not on the table?

  • The project—including the underground, at-grade and elevated components of it—is the plan we are advancing. That said, we will work with communities to ensure a comprehensive array of measures are in place to address any noise or vibration impacts and to ensure designs are sensitive and respectful of communities.

Steve: This is an example of Metrolinx talking about noise and vibration while ignoring many other aspects of their plan’s effect on communities.

Q3: The planned RFQ release is in Spring 2020 with an RFP in Summer/Fall 2020 and financial close in Winter/Spring 2022, as I understand things. (a) Are these still the dates for each stage, and (b) if the RFP is going out in summer/fall this year, realistically what opportunity is there for changing the design?

  • Yes, this is timeline we’ve been presenting at the open houses we’ve held over the past week. We will hold another round of public consultations in the spring and there will be ongoing engagement through to 2022, when Financial Close is reached.

Steve: There may be more consultations in the spring, but there is no guarantee that there will be any more information if all must wait until publication of the Preliminary Design in the summer.

Q4: The Preliminary Business Case including the engineering information about alignment, stations, etc., is supposed to come out in July according to statements at last night’s meeting [January 28]. (a) How much time will there be for review or possible modification if the RFP is planned for summer/fall? (b) Could/would the RFP include provision for pricing on alternatives such as underground vs elevated structures?

  • We are advancing design and engineering studies for the elevation configuration that has been presented in the Initial Business Case and at the open houses. The options we’re looking at are focused on how the project can be best delivered under that plan. The exact timing of the Preliminary Design Business Case is still to be determined, but it is targeted for completion this summer. We will hold another round of public consultations in the spring and there will be ongoing engagement through to 2022, when Financial Close is reached.

Steve: Note that the date for the Preliminary Design is not yet finalized. The later this comes out, the less time there will be to comment, let alone have any effect before the scheme goes to Request for Proposals.

Q5: In all of the discussion of environmental effects, there has been a lot of concentration on noise, but none on visual intrusion. By analogy to both the Weston corridor and to the Davenport Diamond project, this is a significant concern. Do you have estimates of the height of the structures planned along the corridor, and to what base are these measured? For example, where the track is on a berm as at Queen Street, a measurement from track level upwards does not give the full combined height of the berm and the new structure relative to adjacent lands. Also, do you have at least the massing for station structures such as at Queen and at Gerrard, even if not the final design?

  • Planning work is still underway for matters such as this, but once known, they would form the basis of engagement materials we would present to communities in subsequent rounds of consultations.

Steve: First instance.

Q6: For the proposed elevated structure through Thorncliffe/Flemingdon Park, do you have drawings showing the massing of the running structure and the stations? Do you plan a double track structure with centre platform stations, or separate single track structures for each direction?

  • Planning work is still underway for matters such as this, but once known, they would form the basis of engagement materials we would present to communities in subsequent rounds of consultations.

Steve: Second instance.

Q7: Will the connection track from Overlea Blvd north to the MSF be single or double track?

  • Planning work is still underway for matters such as this, but once known, they would form the basis of engagement materials we would present to communities in subsequent rounds of consultations.

Steve: Third instance.

Q8: What facilities will be provided for vertical access to and within stations including escalators (bidirectional or up only) and elevators?

  • Our intention is to exceed accessibility standards for all our stations, including vertical access standards. We will of course use a mixture of escalators and elevators.

Steve: My reason for asking this is that GO Transit has been, shall we say, parsimonious in the provision of vertical access at its stations. I wanted to get Metrolinx on the record for comparison with actual station designs when they appear.

Q9: From a discussion last night, I was told that there has not yet been a decision on using twin bored tunnels as on Eglinton, versus a single large bore which could accommodate station structures within it. Do you have any further comment on this especially as it relates to the surface footprint of stations during construction?

  • Planning work is still underway for matters such as this, but once known, they would form the basis of engagement materials we would present to communities in subsequent rounds of consultations.

Steve: Fourth instance. This directly contradicts information passed to me by people who have been told that Metrolinx prefers a single bore tunnel because this has a number of construction advantages, especially at stations.

Q10: Where do you propose to place the tunnel boring launch sites? What scale of property will required by analogy to the facilities on Eglinton at Black Creek and at Brentcliffe?

  • Planning work is still underway for matters such as this, but once known, they would form the basis of engagement materials we would present to communities in subsequent rounds of consultations.

Steve: Fifth instance.

Q11: Is there any consideration of staging the project so that it would open in phases, notably with the section west of downtown treated as a separate sub-project?

  • It’s expected that the entire line would open at the same time. A maintenance and storage facility, which is planned for the northeastern segment, would need to be up and running to support operations.

Steve: Yes, only opening the southern portion is not practical because the MSF will be in Thorncliffe Park. My question was, of course, aimed at the downtown to Exhibition segment which could be diplomatically postponed as a cost saving measure, albeit with upheaval for interruption of tunneling downtown.

Q12: I understand that the Gerrard Smart Track station has been dropped from plans because it cannot fit with the Ontario Line structure. Is this correct? Also, with the OL station at Exhibition, is there consideration of dropping the Liberty Village Smart Track station?

  • We are analyzing all stations and expansion plans through our business case planning process and will provide updates as we release further versions. We will be looking at how all our existing and planning transit services work together to ensure we’re building the right projects.

Steve: The IBC report explicitly refers to serving Liberty Village from Exhibition Station.

Q13: The OL will co-exist in the rail corridor with GO, VIA and CN. (a) What are the federal regulations affecting the spacing between mainline railway operations and rapid transit tracks? (b) What consideration has been made for co-existence of the OL’s ATC signalling technology, the signalling to be installed on the GO trackage and the effects of 25kV electrification of GO Transit? (c) Has there been any consideration of the effect of upgraded VIA HFR service sharing the LSE corridor for its route out of downtown?

  • Planning and preliminary engineering work is underway for design concerns such as these and, once known, they would form the basis of the design of the shared corridor.  We will be able to present additional details at future rounds of public consultations.
  • We are currently studying concepts for the shared corridor and will be performing thorough risk assessments and engineering evaluations on the interface between the Ontario Line and the rail corridor which will be done in coordination with the GO Expansion program.  We are currently reviewing all relevant standards and looking at comparable best practices from around the world.
  • Ontario Line and GO Expansion teams will work with VIA to coordinate the overall regional transportation requirements in this corridor

Steve: This is a technical matter affecting both the choice of signalling/control technology for the Ontario Line as well as the geometry of a combined GO/VIA/OL corridor. The ability to fit a surface OL into the segment between East Harbour and Gerrard depends on using the minimum space possible for each component.

Q14: Demand figures have been cited in published reports for all day, peak hour and peak point. It is quite clear that, as with any modelling, you must have detailed numbers station by station along the line. I would like to acquire this information both for on train demand and station usage, broken down by time of day to the extent that this is available.

  • We are still looking at options for exact alignment and station location. Planning work is still underway for matters such as this, but once known, it would form the basis of engagement materials we would present to communities in subsequent rounds of consultations.

Steve: This does not answer the question for materials already produced. City and Metrolinx reports include reductions in demand made possible with the OL, and these are clearly based on modelling which Metrolinx will not release.

Note also that when any study talks about “reduction” this is relative to the “business as usual” model where demand continues to grow within the capability of the network without the new line. This is not the same thing as a reduction versus today’s conditions.

Q15: Your demand estimates assume a train capacity of 850 passengers per train. What loading standard are you using for this? Crush? Regular service load? How much passenger space would each train have? The distinction here is that the 1,100 number used by the TTC is not the crush load for a subway car, but rather a service design load that allows both for variation from train to train and preserves passenger mobility for boarding and alighting without undue dwell time. By comparison, the TTC uses a design load of 220 per SRT train which is 52m, long. This scales up under 500 for a 100m train. How do you get to 850?

  • This is detailed on page 32 of the Initial Business Case, which models 2.85 passengers/sq. m and reflects Transit Cooperative Research Program’s guidance on tolerable loading.

Steve: This topic deserves a better explanation than simply saying that the factor used fits within tolerable loading as per a standard industry reference. The text of the relevant section appears below. The important points are (a) there is a variation in loading standards from system to system and vehicle to vehicle depending on many factors, and (b) the upper bound of capacity should be treated as a “peak within peak”, not as a sustained hourly capacity. The TTC’s service design standards use a per train load of 1,100 which allows for this factor even though more people can physically be on one vehicle.

When Metrolinx cites the capacity of the Ontario Line this depends on trains with comparatively more standees (who need less space than seated riders) and operation at full load on a consistent basis through the peak hour. Metrolinx faces problems with uneven demand at OL stations due to the much wider headways of connecting services that will provide passengers in large groups, not as a steady flow.


Most rail transit systems have loading standards for the peak-hour, peak-point location with more relaxed standards away from entry into the city center and for off-peak times. Exhibit 3-21 shows loading standards over the peak 15 minutes for selected heavy rail systems.

Exhibit 3-21

Passenger Space on Selected North American Heavy Rail Systems
Passenger Space (based on Gross Floor Space)

System (City) (p/m²) (ft²/p)
NYCT (New York) 2.6 into CBD 4.0 into CBD
CTA (Chicago) 1.5 into CBD 7.0 into CBD
SEPTA (Philadelphia) 1.3 into CBD 8.0 into CBD
MBTA (Boston) 2.0 into CBD 5.0 into CBD
BART (San Francisco) 1.2-1.9 9.0-5.75
WMATA (Washington) 0.9-2.0 12.0-5.0
MARTA (Atlanta) 1.4-1.6 7.5-6.75
TTC (Toronto) 1.8-2.4 6.0-4.5
STCUM (Montréal) 2.6-3.2 4.0-3.4

Care should be taken in comparing and applying the service standards with hourly average loadings. Service standards are usually based on the peak within the peak—15 minutes or less. The difference between 15 minute and peak hour flows can be represented by a peak hour factor.

The peak hour factor for New York subway’s trunk routes averages 0.817. Outside New York the peak-within-the-peak period tends to be more pronounced and the peak hour diversity factor is lower. In part this is due to the long-established Manhattan program to stagger work hours and the natural tendency of passengers to avoid the most crowded period—particularly on lines that are close to capacity.



The Batelle Institute recommends comfort levels for public transport vehicles and provides details of the projected body space of passengers in various situations. The most useful of these for rail transit capacity […] for males are:

  • Comfortable: 2-3 passengers per m² (5.4 to 3.6 ft²/p),
  • Uncomfortable: 5 passengers per m² (2.2 ft²/p), and
  • Unacceptable: >8 passengers per m² (1.3 ft²/p).


The vehicle capacity for existing systems should be based on actual loading levels of a comparable service. Actual levels on a specific system or line should be adjusted for any difference in car size and interior layout—particularly the number of seats.

Manufacturer specified passenger loading—total, maximum, full, or crush load does not necessarily represent a realistic occupancy level. Rather it reflects applying a set criteria—such as 5 or occasionally 6 passengers per square meter (2.2 to 1.8 ft²/p)—to the floor space remaining after seating space is deducted. In particular crush load can represent the theoretical, and often unattainable, loading used to calculate vehicle structural strength or the minimum traction equipment performance.

[Source: Transit Capacity and Quality of Service Manual, pp 3-29 and 3-30. Transit Cooperative Research Program, Transportation Research Board, National Research Council, USA. 1999]

Q16: How many trains will you require for service at the projected 90 second frequency? Will the MSF in Thorncliffe Park be big enough to accommodate the entire fleet? Do you plan to use online storage to offset yard requirements, and if so, what additional trackage/structures will be needed along the line to provide this?

  • Planning work is still underway for matters such as this, but once known, they would form the basis of engagement materials we would present to communities in subsequent rounds of consultations.

Steve: Sixth instance. The important question here is how much capacity will be required on opening day as opposed to 50 years in the future, and whether there will be sufficient capacity at the MSF to stable and maintain the fleet. This affects the yard and carhouse sizes, and in turn the property requirements even if the entire facility is not built for day one of service.

Q17: A new role identified in published reports for the OL is relief of GO Transit’s Lake Shore corridor and Union Station. Do you have demand modelling that shows this effect and can I get those numbers?

  • During the modelling for the Ontario Line Initial Business Case, we found that providing very fast and easy transfers at Exhibition Station and East Harbour Station led to high numbers of passengers transferring from GO to the Ontario Line, which offloads Union Station. Ontario Line will reduce the number of GO passengers passing through Union Station by 13% overall in the busiest peak hour.  An update to this modelling will be reflected in the Preliminary Design Business Case, due this summer.

Steve: This is a very large number of passengers diverted from Union Station and shows that “relief” of Union will be at least as important as for the Yonge subway. Until we see the updated model, we will not know the actual numbers and the degree of change at various points on the network. One might reasonably ask whether this project is as important to Metrolinx to stave off total congestion at Union as it is for the TTC subway network.

Q18: Unlike East Harbour Station where one can reasonably assume the transfer moves will be between the westbound platform on OL to/from GO in the AM peak, and conversely between the eastbound platform in the PM peak, the situation at Exhibition is different because it is a terminal station for the OL. What is your plan for trains to exchange passengers at this location?

  • Planning work is still underway for matters such as this, but once known, they would form the basis of engagement materials we would present to communities in subsequent rounds of consultations.

Steve: Seventh instance.

Q19: Do you have updated demand projections for the Yonge subway north and south of Bloor based on the relief the OL will provide?

  • We have modelled reductions in passenger volumes, which are detailed on pages 53 and 54 of the Initial Business Case. An update to this modelling will be reflected in the Preliminary Design Business Case, due this summer.

Steve: The information in the IBC gives percentage reductions relative to “Business As Usual” but not numeric values. Of particular concern is the degree to which any capacity released in the network will immediately be backfilled by latent demand.

Q20: An issue that arose in modelling for Smart Track and for the Scarborough subway was that the demand was sensitive to fares. What is the assumed fare for a GO+OL trip? Was any financial penalty assessed in the model or was the transfer assumed to be free in either direction? More generally, did the model assume that there would be free transfers between TTC and Metrolinx routes, or did it include a premium for this type of trip? The cross platform transfer design you seek implies a free transfer especially if the passenger volumes will be high. Do you have alternate demand model results with and without a transfer premium?

  • The modelling in the Initial Business Case was based on the existing fare structures in 2018.

Steve: The fare structure cited by the IBC includes the Double Discount Fare between GO and TTC whereby an adult rider travelling on both systems gets roughly a 50% discount on their TTC fare provided that they are (a) paying with Presto and (b) not using a monthly pass. This scheme will end on March 31, 2020, because no agency is willing to pick up the tab. Meanwhile, co-fares will continue to exist for the 905-to-GO transfers as there are few enough of these that they will not break the bank at Queen’s Park.

What would be the effect on trip diversions between the OL and GO Transit if a full TTC fare were required?

20 thoughts on “Ontario Line: Many Questions, Few Answers

  1. Why do you suppose that Exhibition being an OL terminal station would affect transfer patterns between OL and GO?

    Steve: The plan is to have the OL tracks straddle the GO corridor. Unless the OL structures extend west of the station so that turnbacks can occur there, half of the trains would be on the “wrong” side for an across the platform transfer in the peak direction. Of course, if Metrolinx were more forthcoming with their design work, we would know if this is going to be a problem.

    The diagram they have been using ever since the IBC is for East Harbour which is a line station where OL trains on the north track are always westbound, and those on the south track are always eastbound.


  2. Great questions, Steve.

    The answers, such as they are, are inadequate, dubious, and evasive; ergo, all together unacceptable.


    I may have missed this above; but questions I have…..

    1) If the MSF is located in Thorncliffe/Leaside, the connection to the mainline track will have to pass underneath the Gatineau Hydro Corridor, while presumably being elevated over roads and/or buildings. Has an assessment been done to establish that sufficient clearance is available? Would such a connection require buildings to be removed or the Thorncliffe Community Garden?

    2) If the MSF were located at roughly the original site, and assuming it had to cross the small valley at near-grade in order to pass under the Hydro Corridor, the gradient appears to be in excess of 6% to arrive at typical elevated track height. Has this been assessed? Should this be the case, how would that be mitigated?

    2b) What height is the elevated track being modeled at?

    Steve: I asked about massing generally as well as single vs double track structures. They declined to answer.

    3) If the line requires not less than 40 trains for the purpose of the capacity calculation; what spare ratio is being utilized? How many will be required to be stored in the yard from day one?

    4) Has the originally identified MSF site been removed from consideration?

    4b) Has consideration been given the to effect of employment displacement that a new MSF in Leaside may create?

    5) Has consideration of the interface between the widened USRC/Don Yard approach from the west with they associated hydro corridor been considered?

    6) Has the interface between the OL, the mainline, and GO Richmond Hill been considered?

    7a) Should the current MSF sites prove unworkable, has any consideration been given to what work would be required at what cost and over what time to free up TTC Greenwood?

    7b) Has any assessment been done on a connection track to same?

    8) Do Station models envision the use of escalators (note that GO typically avoids these)?

    If so, has consideration been given to reliability risks if stations are exposed to the elements?

    If not, has the slower passenger throughput been considered? Are sufficient elevators in the plan for passenger for whom stairs are impossible or an undue burden?

    Steve: Metrolinx explicitly replied to my question about accessibility and confirmed that there would be escalators and elevators. How many and where is something we will have to wait for the detailed plans to see.

    9) Are platform edge doors being contemplated? If so, how will this work w/stations exposed to the elements. At cross-platform stations, would this treatment also be applied to ‘GO’ side?

    Steve: Yes PEDs are part of the plan. It’s in the IBC.

    10) If PEDS are not being considered, will the design accommodate their future installation?

    11) Will Metrolinx provide full replacement cost for any displaced municipal parkland and/or community facilities? If so, is this in current project estimates?

    12) Do real estate acquisition costs factor in the current year over year growth in value in Toronto real estate?

    13) Will the MSF site be determined solely by Metrolinx and acquired on behalf of any P3 partner or will the P3 partner have discretion and/or risk associated with this?

    14) Will the P3 partner have any choice of vehicle; if so, how can station lengths and MSF size be pre-determined with precision?

    15) Will the delivery of estimated capacity be an affirmative contractual obligation of the P3 partner? If so, what penalty/remedy will exist if said capacity does not materialize?

    16) Metrolinx is currently working on a strategy for regional fare integration. Presumably the intent of said strategy would be to make taking transit more seemless and attractive.

    Has any potential modal split shift as a result of fare integration been modeled into this project?

    Steve: The fare modelling is based on the fare structure as it existed in 2018. This is in the IBC and in the answer to Q20.

    You really do expect a lot of detail from an organization that would not tell you the time even if they were in a room full of clocks. “We’re working on it, come back in the summer.”


  3. Q14 they snuck in another instance, so I think you’re actually up to eight instances.

    Steve: Yes, that was sort of half an instance, and I didn’t count it because they actually added a sentence.


  4. Nice questions! Too bad they recycle the same garbage.

    How come you never asked about the planned OL-Line 5 interchange? I would’ve loved to see them put their stupidity on paper, and they are more likely to respond to your e-mail than they are to a random Joe sending in a question which would be very detailed.

    Steve: I could not cite that from first-hand knowledge. They would have just repeated the same crap that they don’t have designs yet when it is perfectly clear that they do, but won’t present them.


  5. “the Initial Business Case, which models 2.85 passengers/sq. m”

    Uh-oh. That is packed very tight for Toronto, a recipe for long station stops for unloading. There is no way anyone can see that and continue believing there is a service design that can meet the specified throughputs. This isn’t even close.

    It also translates into little room for future ridership growth in the peak, and calls the technology choice into question.


  6. The schematic for the Ontario Line stations in the presentation make it clear that the Gerrard GO station has been cancelled. No GO station is shown there on the figures, unlike East Harbour, Union, Exhibition (and even Bathurst yard and Liberty Village).

    In addition, it’s not shown as an interchange station (unlike Science Centre, Pape, Queen, Osgoode, and Exhibition).

    Two different staff at the Open House at Ryerson said the same thing.

    Steve: Yes, but as a corporation they will not admit what is plainly evident and which the staff have released in dribs and drabs, if only to mollify the public.


  7. First, thanks for your thoughtful answers Steve.

    Second, do you know how proposed platform widths compare with what the TTC built the TYSSE?

    I’m curious to know if they are large enough, particularly if throughput falls below their seemingly optimistic assumptions.

    PS: Yes, I do expect a great deal from public servants; but no more than they should expect from themselves.

    Steve: Metrolinx has not published any design info on station configurations.


  8. I must say, I still don’t understand why we are spending billions to build a subway in Scarborough to replace an existing at grade/elevated rapid transit line, while at the same time building a new rapid transit line that will be at grade/elevated through several densely populated urban areas in Toronto. At least the existing SRT cuts mostly through industrial areas, bordering hydro fields, factories and warehouses throughout the majority of its length. The Ontario line, by contrast, will run through century-old residential areas. I’d be OK with it, except that if it’s not good enough for industrial Scarborough to have an at-grade/elevated rapid transit line, why then is it good enough for residential areas in Riverdale and Leslieville?


  9. I would have thought that the space the Ontario Line will take up in the railway corridor should be left for GO and Via expansion, and I thought that I have seen plans in the past for more than 4 railway tracks.

    Has it been determined that 4 tracks are enough, or has there been no thought given here.

    Steve: My suspicion is that there has been some thought, and it boils down to jamming as much in the corridor as possible without looking too closely at the details.


  10. The TPAP is an expedited Environment Assessment (EA) process. Metrolinx will write a TPAP report describing the various risks and the mitigating action they will take for the OL project. The Public has 60 days to file objections to the report, citing omissions, inadequate mitigation etc. Mx responds to the objections. The Minister of the Environment reads the report, objections and rebuttals and hands down a decision.

    The TPAP is a completely bogus exercise for Mx projects.

    Mx is exempt from the requirements under Part II of the EA act.

    The Minister of the Environment weighs objections from the public against rebuttals from Mx (headed by his peer, the Minister of Transport). Both Ministers work for the Premier.

    Neither the objections nor rebuttals are made public, citing privacy issues.

    The fix is in, the Minister of Environment will always approve the TPAP.

    Steve: In summary, when Metrolinx tells the public that they will have input through these mechanisms, they are being “misleading” to use the parliamentary term, and they damn well should know it.


  11. Q2: As I understand the TPAP process, it does not include any provision for analysis of significant alternatives to the proposal such as alternate routes.

    Via Ben Spurr, Joe Cressy says the Ford’s/Metrolinx has been talking to private interests in the backrooms about different alignments and station locations. This is going to get more fun soon!

    Steve: Previous TPAP exercises have been conducted in a bastadardized version of the old EA with the alternative analysis happening on an informal basis leading up to a TPAP to review the selected option. The same thing is still happening, but (a) with the discussions of alternatives in secret among selected groups, and (b) the public engaged in an exercise where they have no meaningful input.


  12. Steve I think you missed one instance of repetition 😉

    Steve: As I said in a previous response, there is a case where the repetition is preceded by another sentence and I gave them that one for free. Readers can make up their minds.


  13. In response to Leo G.

    It is quite clear why we are spending the money on a fully underground B-D Line Extension.

    It’s because the Ford-McGuinty plan of connecting the SRT to ECLRT was cancelled by City Councillors and the Liberals themselves. If this plan had been optimized, a Billion could have easily been saved.


  14. Is there a basic write-up explaining the reasons for moving to the Ontario Line plan, versus the historical Relief Line for which I believe preliminary design work had started.

    Steve: Doug Ford had a better idea, or at least the boffins at Metrolinx did, and convinced him it was worth doing. The argument is that the revised and extended alignment allows more coverage, ridership and development potential (especially at Ontario Place) than the original subway plan. Even before the last election, Metrolinx had been dragging out design work on the Relief Line North, and this meant there was an opening for a “new” plan to spring out of that organization to support the new boss and his priorities. This was also part of the takeover of subway projects by the province.


  15. My question at the open house was:

    How does this alignment interact with future transit expansion? The DRL afaik had accounted for, in the future, building out along King Street to the West and then heading North, completing the longstanding “Wide U” idea which complements line 1. It seems the OL has no plan for extension west, and doesn’t take into account future needs.

    I didn’t take notes, but my recollection is basically, “Yeah, we didn’t take that into account. Maybe we could extend west along the GO line from exhibition?”. Which, of course, is not really a useful place for a subway/light rail/whatever this ends up being since they don’t know.

    If we ever did end up building the western part of the wide u alongside the Ontario Line, the stations along Queen would seem to be rather close to stations along King. Wasteful.

    Other questions I have but didn’t get a chance to ask include:

    2) Has any study been done on the ergonomics/impact of wiggly alignments like this, where for some origins and destinations, you’ll be going the “wrong way” for a while? E.g. if I was at King and Bathurst, and wanted to go to Pape, on the OL I would have to go north to queen, then back further south than I started, then back north to Pape. To me, that *feels* uncomfortable. I’d probably just take the Bathurst car north to line 2, so I’m always going in the right direction.

    3) Not so much a question, but I don’t believe we’ll see as much diversion from Union as they think, and predict the GO interchanges being much more lightly used than they expect. If I’m coming in from the West, and want to go to Queen, sure, I might transfer to the Ontario Line. But if I’m going further north, I’d definitely stay on the GO one more stop, switch to line 1 at Union, and thereby avoid an extra transfer. I suppose we would need to see their secret modeling to understand whether this concern is addressed.


  16. I’m very glad that you have the stomach and discipline to be so ‘on’ to all of this non-sense, though there’s no question we need Relief. But I do wish we could focus on Relief functions, and hone a project or five to say Yonge Relief, including what the Metro level agreed to in an OP c. 1995, and which a tiny footnote in Ed Levy’s book indicated Metro passed the torch to GO to lead on connecting the Richmond Hill Line up to Eglinton area. (The Metro idea was a surface transit route up through the Don Valley perhaps on Bayview; there are other options, and yes, I would include putting transit on parts of the DVP 🙂 as there aren’t any fares being taken in on that bit of limited access infrastructure.

    But alas, the TPAPs, TPPAPs and TPPPAPs* are “Any type of subway as long as it’s here’ analysis” – a cruel joke on Toronto, taxpayers, and transit users. But as these provincial Cons are almost certainly trying to bank on the feds to be roped in to their schemings, don’t forget to be in touch with your federal level reps about not giving up a cent to these Cons,and I think we could fairly easily get triage Relief up to Eglinton by mostly surface for quicker Relief, to the point the feds and TO should go it alone.

    And no, these Cons can’t be trusted as shown by: gas tax revenue sharing promise scrapped; constant breaking of contracts with clauses to try to prevent suits of redress; and most recently, the Hamilton LRT pullback, though if we could apply the same ‘criteria’ to the Suspect Subway Extension, maybe it would finally wither, though yes, of course, we need to $$pend in Scarborough as well.

    *(TPPAP = The Province’s Plans are Perfect; TPPPAP = Toronto’s Premier’s Piratization Plans are Priorities)


  17. I’m wondering why anyone would go out to Exhibition to catch a GO train which usually has no seats left on leaving Union (at least in rush hour).

    Unless they were planning on going to Oshawa.

    Steve: Yes, Metrolinx does not appear to have grappled with the problem of boarding outbound just beyond the peak point. The same could be said for eastbound riders trying to get on at East Harbour. Inbound, the scheme works as a distribution method for downtown, but outbound is quite another matter. Too much modelling is done based on the AM peak.


  18. What struck me most about the Mx presentation was how it totally lacked any human dimension. I would think they should be able to explain how dropping the OL in an established neighbourhood enhances the residents’ quality of life and gave the residents something they were asking for.

    Hard to make the case since that is not at all why the OL was dumped on them.

    Mx seemed to believe discussing technical numbers like ridership, frequency of service and train capacities would convince residents, OL was a good idea. Mx has no sale pitch for these residents.

    There is no way the residents would gather together and decide that they needed an Ontario Line in their neighbourhood. Mx doesn’t know how to fill community needs. It’s just one big ATM rolling out expensive bling for the party in power.

    Steve: When the organization’s entire history is based on moving people between places without much regard for what’s in between, this is not surprising.


  19. br60103 said “I’m wondering why anyone would go out to Exhibition to catch a GO train which usually has no seats left on leaving Union (at least in rush hour).”

    There are 2 rush-hours. In the morning, someone may switch from GO to OL at EX, it they are going to City Hall – as long as the transfer is no more difficult than the one at Union. (They likely have a better chance of getting a seat, since EX is a terminal station.

    In the PM, what you describe may be correct. Possibly if the transfer is so much easier at OL/GO than Union/GO, then maybe someone would forgo their GO seat, but unlikely.

    The East is more interesting. In morning, transferring from GO to OL in the morning would mean getting on a subway that is full (or at least no seats), after having come down from Thorncliffe. The PM is similar, as the OL to GO would put them on an already full GO train.

    Thus, the OL plan does provide some benefit for 1 of the 4 scenarios. (and likely similar benefit would be derives if it were a regular interchange compared to the cross-platform one that is the cornerstone of the OL plan).


  20. Speaking personally, I am worried by the apparent imperative to include a cross-platform transfer at East Harbour. That seems to maximize the difficulty and negative effects of coming back above ground in the rail corridor.

    Near Gerrard Square, the inbound tracks would presumably surface on the north side of the rail corridor with a westward horizontal curve. But the outbound tracks need to surface south of the rail corridor with a separate portal and a wide S-curve to bring them back against it?

    Then south to East Harbour, split on new outermost tracks in the widened rail corridor. But that would seem to require duplicated power delivery infrastructure running down both sides? I guess it could just be overhead catenary installed as part of the GO electrification, but that doesn’t really sound like what’s in the IBC…

    And splitting the tracks would also seem to require doubling the number of crash barriers/separation distances vs having the OL tracks running together? I guess the vehicles could be built to mainline safety standards to avoid that, but again that’s not what the IBC suggests.

    Anyway, after East Harbour the tracks remain split approaching the Don River along the outer edges of the corridor. Which suggests needing to build two new bridges to cross the river? Followed by an immediate dip for the inbound tracks to dig under the Richmond Hill Corridor. And the outbound tracks swinging further south to avoid the Lakeshore tail tracks before digging under the rail corridor and curving north to rejoin the inbound tracks in a single bore tunnel somewhere beneath the Distillery? And more tight S-curves? Why?


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