Updated February 21, 2020 at 11:00 am:
This update includes a reply from Metrolinx detailing the nine-month contractor delay he cited in his announcement of the 2022 opening for the Crosstown, as well as additional information on delays to the project.
Metrolinx Metrolinx Media Relations provided additional information on the status of work at this point in an email on February 20, 2020.
Based on CTS’s original schedule, 30% design packages for the majority of stations (the first step in the final design process) were to have been completed and approved by December 2015/January 2016.
With the exception of Keelesdale station, none of that work was completed until March 2016 or later, and in the case of Eglinton station the 30% design was rejected due to design deficiencies.
It’s also important to note, that other key aspects of design, such systems design components, were also delayed significantly.
Despite the known delay at this point, this was not mentioned in public reports in following months.
While the update explains some of the issues CEO Phil Verster referenced in his announcement, it does not explain the reason why the in service date continued to be cited as September 2021 well after Metrolinx knew that this was not likely or possible. The opening date has been cited publicly and is included in TTC’s 2021 budget and bus fleet plan.
Internal Metrolinx status reports from September 2019 show that the problem at Eglinton Station was already a known issue as were problems with ground water at Avenue Station and a conflict with CPR at Mount Dennis, among other construction-related delays. The estimated substantial completion date was already in 2022, and it continued to move later in the year to at least May 2022.
It is not clear whether “substantial completion” coincides with opening, or merely with the point where commissioning of the line can begin, a process that is several months long and during which other problems that could delay revenue service might arise.
Moreover, the claim by Minister Mulroney that proposed legislation would have accelerated this project by three years remains completely unsupported by the actual project chronology.
Updated February 21, 2020 at 7:00 pm: Metrolinx has confirmed that “substantial completion” includes commissioning so that revenue service can begin.
On February 18, Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney introduced the Building Transit Faster Act which is intended to speed up progress on the four key Ontario transit projects in the Toronto area: The Ontario Line, the Eglinton West LRT extension, the North Yonge subway extension to Richmond Hill, and the Scarborough Subway extension to Sheppard.
- Press Release from the Ministry of Transportation
- Bill 171, Building Transit Faster Act, 2020
- Proposed regulations for changes to the Environmental Assessment process
- Minister’s Press Conference
The day before, February 17, the Star’s Ben Spurr reported that the Crosstown line’s opening would be delayed until “well into 2022” according to Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster. This delay had been rumoured for some time, but was denied by Metrolinx until now.
Metrolinx published a statement on their website including photos showing unexpected conditions discovered on the Yonge Subway tunnel structure at Eglinton Station that were responsible for part of the delay.
The statement also includes a claim that the consortium building the project, Crosslinx Transit Solutions started work “nine months later than planned after contract award in July 2015”. This does not align with actual events as shown later in this article. I expect to receive a clarification from Metrolinx on this matter soon.
During her press conference, Minister Mulroney claimed that the Eglinton Crosstown project would have opened three years sooner had the provisions of the Act been in place. This claim is hard to believe considering the nature of the delays we know about, the types of delay addressed by the legislation, and the actual chronology of the project.
Eglinton and other projects have faced numerous hurdles, but these have overwhelmingly been political and financial.
To sort this out, I have assembled a history of the Eglinton Crosstown.
March 2003: Ridership Growth Strategy
Eglinton had been identified as a priority corridor in the 2003 Ridership Growth Strategy with the central section from Mount Dennis to Don Mills flagged as “Overcapacity in 2011 but requires alternate priority treatment”.
April 14, 2004: The TTC Board passed a motion:
That the TTC and City Planning staff jointly review the Official Plan’s designation of “Avenues” and “Higher Order Transit Corridors” and develop a plan for a transit network that supports the Official Plan. This review should include the examination of all modes including LRT.
October 20, 2004: The TTC Board passed a motion:
That staff be requested to develop an LRT Master Plan identifying the best short term and medium term opportunities for introducing LRT to augment ridership growth.
January 2005: Building a Transit City.
The concept of a city organized around its transit network was presented to the TTC Board. It included a number of surface transportation options, and was designed to link with the city’s Official Plan. Its goal was:
No one should be disadvantaged getting around Toronto if they don’t own a car.
This report included many proposals, but few of these were ever implemented. Among them was a transit priority scheme for King Street that was not implemented, and then in a reduced form, until November 2017.
March 2007: Toronto Transit City – Light Rail Plan
The Transit City Light Rail Plan was launched in March 2007. It included a network of mostly suburban LRT lines, but did not, at that point include replacement of the SRT with LRT technology.
May 21, 2008: The project plan called for early works to take place between 2008 and 2012 with construction in 2010 to 2016. The project plan below summarizes the timelines of the projects. Apologies for the resolution as I do not have an original copy to make a better scan.
November 2009: The TTC Board and Council approved the Transit Project Assessment for the Eglinton Crosstown LRT.
March 25, 2010: The provincial budget announces deferral of early spending on Transit City and a takeover by Metrolinx of responsibility for the projects. $4 billion was cut out of the first five years of the plan, and that required changes of scope and timing. Needless to say, the City of Toronto was not amused. The chart below was part of a letter from Mayor David Miller to Premier McGuinty comparing the original and revised plans. At this point, the opening date for Eglinton Crosstown was pushed out to a range of 2019-2022.
May 2010: Ministerial approval for the project is granted.
May 19, 2010: The Metrolinx Board considers a report on the Five-in-Ten scheme for the “Big 5” transit projects with three projects – Sheppard LRT, Eglinton LRT (Kennedy to Jane) and York Region VIVA – to proceed immediately. The Scarborough and Finch LRT projects would follow in 2015-2020.
The basis of the new plan was to reduce provincial spending in the first five years, and to trim the overall phase 1 requirements to fit within previously announced budgets. Work on the Scarborough LRT would not start until 2015 after the Pan Am Games.
Note that the new plan had been in the works for a few months (February) before the budget announcement in March and the Metrolinx report in May 2010.
The timeline comparison shows a completion date in late 2020 for both Eglinton and the SRT/LRT replacement. Under this plan, the west tunnel portal construction would begin in January 2011 and the east portal in January 2012. Tunneling would begin from the west in January 2012
June 2010: TTC purchases four tunnel boring machines for the Eglinton project. These were subsequently taken over by Metrolinx.
December 2010: Rob Ford becomes Mayor of Toronto and cancels Transit City. Despite this, work on the Eglinton project continues although it was delayed.
The west tunnel portal work began in September 2012 as compared with the originally planned January 2011, and tunnelling began in September 2013 as compared to the planned January 2012.December 2011 to February 2013: A series of public meetings were held to review station designs along the Eglinton corridor.
2013: An addedum was filled to the Environmental report changing the scope of work. The western terminal for phase 1 was shifted east from Jane to Mount Dennis, and the alignment for that segment was revised to avoid the narrow section of Eglinton Avenue west of Weston Road. This is now part of phase 2 and would be built underground.
June 27, 2013: Metrolinx Board Rapid Transit update. The planned schedule for the Eglinton project is
- January 2013: Issue Request for Qualifications
- Fall 2013: Issue Request for Proposals [this actually happened on December 20, 2013]
June 26, 2014: Metrolinx Board Rapid Transit update. There were two qualified consortia coming out of the RFQ process, After a 42 week “in market” period, submissions were expected in October 2014.
September 2014: A construction update at Metrolinx noted that station construction was expected to begin in spring/summer 2015. Some early work for station headwalls was already underway, although this was complicated at some locations by utility relocations that had to occur first.
March 3, 2015: Metrolinx Board Capital Projects Report. Proponent submissions were received in January/February 2015.
February 10, 2016: Metrolinx Board Capital Projects Report
Eglinton Crosstown LRT – 19 km Crosslinx Transit Solutions (Crosslinx), the consortium delivering the Design-Build-Finance-Maintain (DBFM) contract, will submit a 30% design scheme for each Crosstown station. The first design scheme for Keele Station was submitted in December 2015 and is currently under review by Metrolinx, the TTC and the City of Toronto. The remaining station designs will be submitted by Spring 2016.
This appears to be a perfectly normal early part of a Design-Build process where design work that would traditionally have been done by the buyer (TTC or Metrolinx) is performed by the consortium that will build the project.
April 27, 2016: An update on the LRT project status reported various past and future events:
- July 25, 2015: AFP financial close (in effect, this was the contract award to Crosslinx Transit Solutions)
- December 23, 2015: First of the 30% station designs submitted by Crosslinx [Note that this is erroneously dated 2016 in a table in the report, but is correctly reported in the text.]
- March 1, 2016: Construction starts
- April 30, 2016: Handover of tunnel section 1 (western segment) to Crosslinx
- June 7, 2016: At grade and stops 30% design
- September 2021: Revenue service
June 28, 2016: A Metrolinx Board report on capital projects notes that construction on the stations began on March 1, 2016 and that the opening date would be in 2021.
The 2021 completion date appears in regular reports for the next three years.
June 27, 2019: Last of the quarterly reports to include in service dates for projects and the 2021 date for Eglinton Crosstown. Reports later in 2019 did not include any dates for project completions.
From point of purchase of TBMs to completion of tunnels is 6 years…doesn’t say much for the Ontario line being complete in 2027 given they haven’t even begun the ordering process.
I continue to be a big believer that you have to buy shovels before you can get them in the ground.
The Crosstown’s missed deadline of September 2021 appears to be due to some unexpected obstruction at Eglinton Station. If that was the only reason, could Metrolinx open the line in September 2021 from Mount Dennis to Avenue stations where there are crossovers? The Crosstown could then feed passengers into Eglinton West Station.
However, perhaps some other underground stations are also behind schedule. On Monday I noted that the site for the main entrance to Mt. Pleasant Station is just a deep unfinished hole in the ground with a large excavator still at the bottom of the pit.
Steve: I believe that there are problems also at Avenue and Oakwood Stations. The latter would prevent even a service just from Mount Dennis to Cedarvale (Eglinton West). I have to check into this.
As for Mt. Pleasant, the holes for the two entrance buildings are fairly well along, and these are less complex than the work in the roadway because there are no/few utilities to contend with. They have also started to pour some of the station roof, and so this project may be better off than it appears from the surface. We will see in due course.
We’re VERY lucky that you have the time, skills and stomach for digging through all the steps of the trail of this large project, thank you Steve. It’s clear that as you say, the delays are far more on the political and financial side than as claimed by these Conservatives. But you didn’t mention the biggest ‘laugh’ – if the former batch of Conservatives under Mr. Harris hadn’t killed off this under-construction project in 1995, and filled in the work already done, we’d have close to two decades worth of service from it, and as a subway, not an LRT. Indeed, this lack of a really robust transit option (and I’ve heard it’s been built too narrow to upgrade to subway from LRT), maybe one of the ‘duh’ moments, though not as bad as Sheppard stubway, and the other extensions in to lower-density sprawl to help bankrupt the system.
But you and readers may know the answer to this worry about Eglinton: presumably it will draw in more riders than before when open, (and it’s perfect timing to have a PPP foul up on the delivery dates again isn’t it?). But is any boost in ridership actually able to fit on to the Yonge line? (I presume many new riders won’t simply be travelling on Eglinton alone). If we’ve ‘missed’ this Problem, and I think odds are high, then we really need some triage to get some form of transit up to Eglinton near Don Mills, and I’ve favoured a mostly surface option, with a few possibilities of course, all remaining officially unexplored at this moment, because it’s subways, or mostly subways, except in the core, though that’s where we really need to be spending.
And with all of the foul-ups and hold-backs of information and vagueness, how can the federal level be comfortable with giving billions for schemes? Is it an automatic hand-over of funds if the City caved to the Dougtator/province after being brutalized with the shrunken Council and Bill 107? Can we have some respect for taxpayers perhaps, and ensure that the federal level has standards for participating in projects?
Steve: I really don’t see a lot of this being sorted out until after the provincial election in 2022, assuming that Ford will no longer be premier. Of course the other two parties both have their own problems with the transit portfolio.
Hmm, I remember the handover of transit city to Metrolinx happening in the summer of 2012 and not 2010. Then in 2012, Metrolinx proposed to delay the Sheppard LRT by a few years when there was a TTC report saying it should begin construction immediately.
Steve: No it was in 2010. See the charts and source of reports in 2010 with Metrolinx setting the timetable and spending levels for various projects. TTC placed the order for the Eglinton TBMs in June 2010, but only a month later Metrolinx announced that it had ordered them. Any Toronto control over the project at that point was vestigial more as a matter of project administration, but with no political power.
I thought that you were fiercely against reporting on the Eglinton Crosstown. Indeed, you reported on the most minute of things like streetcar service changes but refused to cover the construction of the Eglinton Crosstown. What changed?
Steve: Metrolinx does an excellent job of posting construction photos of their work on their own site. I report on the political issue that the government and Metrolinx are making claims about delays to the project that are simply not borne out by the actual chronology.
As for service changes, if you actually read them, you would see that I report on service change across the entire city for all modes. Analyses of services on bus routes have been hamstrung for some time by the implementation of a new vehicle tracking system and the lack of detailed data from the TTC on bus routes. This was remedied in October 2019, and I have piles of data in various stages of analysis. Or maybe you missed some of the articles I published already such as the messes on 70 O’Connor and 41/941 Keele.
In a comment, above, Hamish Wilson mentioned Mike Harris’s cancellation of a heavy rail subway line, on Eglinton, including backfilling the beginning of the excavation for that line.
He wrote, of the Crosstown LRT tunnels,
Although it is peripheral to my main point, I do not believe the Crosstown LRT tunnels are too narrow for heavy rail. Yes, the Flexity vehicles are shorter and narrower than subway cars – but aren’t they topped by over a metre of pantograph? Didn’t the pantograph require drilling tunnels slightly wider than our existing heavy rail tunnels?
I suggest that upgrading an LRT route to a heavy rail route, should, generally, be a last resort.
Steve: The larger issue would be platform heights which would all require changes (and associated things like escalators and elevators) to match the floor height of subway cars).
I suggest Toronto’s experience with the SRT pinpoints one of the dangers of building a Light Rail line, thinking to upgrade it, when ridership requires.
A decade ago the plan was to tear out the SRT tracks, and lay down light rail tracks, and rebuild aspects of the stations and right of way that wouldn’t work with the Transit City LRT vehicles. This work would have required shutting down the SRT, and having riders use a fleet of shuttle buses, for over a year.
At one point, after Rob Ford challenged putting light rail through the SRT right of way the prospect of extending line 2 along that right of way was considered. This too would have required making riders use shuttle buses for a year, or two.
Steve: Claims of over three years were made, in part I think to make the LRT option look as bad as possible.
Replacing a rapid transit line with a fleet of shuttle buses is never going to give satisfactory performance, and has hidden costs. The TTC only has one fleet. Ideally, all of the buses that aren’t on scheduled routes, are available to mechanics to undergo routine maintenance. If you are going to have to devote 50 or 100 of the off-duty buses to a shuttle fleet you either have to make your mechanics work a midnight shift, or you have to purchase more buses.
Then there is the huge cost of bad service, during the shuttle bus period. Workers commuting on the route where rapid transit is being replaced by shuttle buses are less productive, because they are chronically late, or the longer commutes eats into their sleep and recreation hours.
Sometimes planning ahead, for expansion, is later seen as wise and sagacious – like the lower deck of the Bloor-Danforth bridge over the Don Valley. But, in other instances, the expansion never comes, and the costs to accommodate that expansion never pays off.
Steve: The deck on the Viaduct was in anticipation of a streetcar subway into downtown that was never built. This was not a case of planning sixty years into the future.
If Toronto had completed Transit City, in the 2020s, and then, a decade or more later, planners anticipated some of the Transit City LRT routes would reach capacity, in another decade, the correct response would not be to shut down the route, now that it is very busy, and upgrade it to heavy rail. I suggest a better choice would be to take ridership away from the very busy route by building another LRT route, near enough to give riders a choice. Once the new, nearby route is complete the impending overcapacity problem is over, and some riders will find the new route more convenient. Adding a new LRT route has the added advantage that twice as many people will have a rapid transit stop within walking distance.
If an LRT route can be built significantly cheaper than a heavy rail route, then building them when anticipated ridership doesn’t merit a heavy rail route, saves money.
Maybe I am repeating something most of here already agree on – the DRL was the exceptional case. The GTA is not Manhattan, and most of the GTA is not dense enough to merit building heavy rail routes. Sheppard was not dense enough to merit building a heavy rail route.
But to relieve the Yonge Line, the DRL really needs to be another heavy rail route. And it really should have gone north of Danforth, if it really were to relieve the Yonge Line. It really should go as far north as Sheppard, or Steeles, or Highway 7.
The Doug Ford Conservatives vague promise of replacing the heavy rail DRL with an Ontario Line, that uses unnamed new technology really means it will be using some kind of light rail, or intermediate capacity rail – not the heavy rail that route requires.
Once it is complete, and exceeds its capacity within a few years, are riders going to be cursing Doug Ford and Caroline Mulroney, for coercing taxpayers to pay for that reached its maximum capacity soon after it was built.
If they can’t live up to their promise of an accelerated schedule, and can’t deliver it more quickly than the planned DRL, who knows, it may be above its designed maximum capacity on opening day.
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It’s not that big a loss. The project was only another stubway — turning Eglinton West into an interchange station, and adding 4 stations west of the Spadina line, with the terminus at Black Creek Drive, not even as far as the current project is extending to the west, with nothing east of the existing Spadina line. This doesn’t mean the Harris government was any good of course — just by pure luck they killed one stubway; if they had done it because of good transit planning they would have killed the other one as well.
Steve: Harris needed to keep Mel Lastman sweet for the megacity deal that Mel initially opposed. Hence the Sheppard Stubway lived on.
What Toronto needs is the gradual addition of LRT lines on every major road, not more ill-considered subway lines. At some point in the future more subways may be needed, but not in the near future. The only exception is the Relief Line, which ironically is now downgraded to yet another incarnation of the mythical intermediate capacity concept. In reality I don’t see any space between low-end subway capacity and high-end LRT for anything else to fit, except possibly in highly unusual situations.
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If they could open the Eglinton Crosstown LRT from Mt. Dennis Station (just west of Black Creek) to Cedarvale (Eglinton West) Station, that is just about the same as the Eglinton West Subway (with the addition of Oakwood Station). It only temporarily paused in 1995 by Mike Harris for a “redesign”.
Regarding upgrading lines once they’ve been built – this is rather rarely done in practice worldwide. The two main reasons are the disruption it causes to existing service (especially as you’d usually upgrade a route because it’s busy, so you’d cause a lot of disruption) and the additional costs, limitations, and complexities of working with existing infrastructure.
Just look at how controversial the potential shutdown of the SRT was, and that’s not a particularly heavily-used line and it’s mostly above-ground in industrial areas – it’s as easy as it’d get.
If tunnels do happen to be the “wrong” size now, they almost certainly will never be re-bored – it’s straight-up cheaper to build new tunnels. But even if the tunnels are right, rebuilding everything else is difficult – platform heights and escalators/elevators are only the start, because if you’re running more service, you might need to construct more circulation space and exits somewhere. Then add norms and standards that have changed since initial construction. Then add in the surface buildings that have likely been built along the line since.
This topic gets brought up occasionally for London’s narrow-tube tunnels, but the consensus is that upgrading the old lines will never be cheaper than just building new lines nearby. And if you do that, you still have the old lines as well.
In case of Eglinton, if it really does reach capacity, the solution wouldn’t be to upgrade it, but to build a new, higher capacity line somewhere nearby, or somewhere where it can intercept passengers near their origins. You might have it making less stops, leaving the LRT as a local service, as a backup, and as a network-enhancing option. If you can’t pay for a subway, a grid of new mostly-surface LRT lines will probably be better value for money than upgrading an LRT.
Incidentially this is the same reason why building a Relief Line is a longer-term solution than upgrading the Yonge line and Bloor station in place. You can spend a billion on Yonge-Bloor, or you can spend it getting a decent chunk of brand new subway.
Similarly if Relief Line was to reach capacity, you’d try to hit some of its major traffic sources and destinations with a yet another line rather than squeezing every last drop from the RL.
I’m glad to have further expansion of the Eglinton subway history. But it is possible once begun, to incrementally add to a stubway, if it is in the right place, backed by numbers not wishes. And I think the Eglinton axis is quite sensible as it spans most of Toronto in a direct line with density, and precedent in the 1957 plan as well, roughly from Keele to Don Mills with angled extensions at those terminii. And just because it’s labelled a ‘subway’, doesn’t mean it has to be buried. In fact, the above-ground parts with light are far more attractive transit than underground, with better air as well, so we should be wary of the ‘carservative’ ‘thinking’ that likes subways – even though there’s billion$ more in cost from burying – because transit has to be out off the roads that ‘belong’ to cars. Respect for taxpayers actually means reclaiming roadspace for transit RoWs, and perhaps that means the DVP for a faster, sub-regional transitway from Eglinton, if we wanted to squeeze the billions.
Jarek, I think you and I are in complete agreement, or almost complete agreement.
The Boston Subway system has three heavy rail lines, all built long before the TTC’s original Yonge Line, which all use different rolling stock. Its Blue Line was originally built for streetcars, and now uses Heavy Rail trainsets, of especially short vehicles, that are, individually, no longer than streetcars, so they can navigate the tunnels tighter curves. Its tunnels take a long dip under the Harbour. So, in this particular case, rebuilding station platforms, etc, did make sense.
We haven’t heard much of it recently, but didn’t the TTC announce a desire to spend a huge amount to add additional east-west platform(s) at Yonge-Bloor, a few years ago? If they also mine out a new north-south platform BELOW the east-west platforms, so one of the current pair of north-south platforms could be retired, and both the existing and new north-south platforms were capable of boarding from both sides, they might have to spend more than a billion dollars.
Steve: There is a $1.5 billion project with approved funding from all three levels of government to add a new eastbound platform at Yonge Station in a manner similar to what was done at Union with the new south platform. There is no plan to go any deeper because (1) there are gradient problems realigning the Yonge line and (2) there is a lot of ground water at that intersection which is already a regular problem for the structure.
It may be a painful billion to spend, and it may be absolutely necessary to enable Barcelona style two side boarding, if the Ontario Line doesn’t provide enough relief.
I am saddened that the TTC hasn’t seemed to learn the lesson of Bloor-Yonge station. What lesson do I think that is? While it doesn’t GENERALLY make sense to spend a lot of money, anticipating future expansion, that may never happen, there are exceptions. I think one exception would be leaving enough room for vehicles to load and unload passengers from both sides, at those stations that intersect another rapid transit line.
Sheppard’s east-west platforms are separated by a gap of a couple of dozen meters, which may have been left so a central platform could be added, for two side boarding.
Steve: No, Sheppard will NEVER require two-sided boarding even with the wettest of wet dreams of Sheppard Subway extension advocates.
As for Bloor-Yonge, please remember that Bloor station was designed in the late 40s and early 50s, and at that point the east-west route through downtown was going to be on Queen Street. There were farms in much of what is now Scarborough, North York and parts of Etobicoke. The idea of providing for two-sided loading there would quite legitimately have been dismissed out of hand. A scheme to insert a middle platform in Bloor Station many years ago was dropped because of complexity and the need to close, yes close the station for an extended period during construction.
Hamish Wilson’s most recent comment suggests he was not convinced by arguments that it would make more sense to leave the Crosstown as-is, and build a nearby parallel route, to ease its congestion, if it was approaching capacity. He still seems to think retrofitting an LRT line to heavy rail is a good idea.
I think a parallel line, along Lawrence, would be a good candidate for relieving the Crosstown, if and when it was anticipated it was approaching its maximum capacity.
Hamish, would you be prepared to explain why you don’t find the arguments for building a parallel route, to relieve congestion, convincing?
The Exhibit 3 “Transit City Schedule” from May 21, 2008 is enough to make a grown man cry. Everything was scheduled to be in place in 10 years, by 2018. In other words, right now.
But the province delayed it, and Rob Ford killed it. So instead of having a complete network in place across the entire city, we got nothing. Zilch, zero, rien, nada. Nothing except frustration.
So yes, Steve is right. The delays to projects, and the delays everyone in Toronto experiences trying to get around the city, are 100% due to politics.
No. As soon as the Eglinton Crosstown opens, there will be rather a lot of people who will want to take this line and transfer at Yonge to go downtown. As anyone can testify who has recently tried to get onto the Yonge train at Eglinton during the AM peak hours, there is precisely zero extra capacity currently available.
This is, of course, the reason why John Tory opposes extending the Yonge line into Richmond Hill until after the Relief Line is constructed. In a rational world, he would have the same opposition to the Eglinton Crosstown for the same reason. But the people in Richmond Hill don’t vote for him, so…
Steve: In a way we are lucky that Line 5’s opening is delayed until 2022 so that there is a chance the ATC project on Line 1 will actually be finished (thanks to Rick Leary delaying it two years) and service on the line improved somewhat from the current level.
Steve, thanks for your followup comments to my latest. So, it sounds like there is no affordable way to provide 2 side boarding on the north-south platforms, at Yonge-Bloor. Surely future lines, like the Ontario Line can provide room for 2 side boarding, where they intersect with existing routes?
So, do you know the reason why the two east west platforms, at Sheppard, have that big gap between them?
Steve: Someone at the TTC had delusions of future demand on the line. Also I think it works structurally to fit with the tail tracks west of the station.
The main point of mentioning that a stubway, once started in the more correct place, can be extended is to rub noses in the Conservative scrapping of Eglinton in 1995. Now, of all the big projects of the last say decade, the Eglinton one is the best of the lot, and it too needs to go long, and longer, though not underground in the west end to help squeeze the capital dollars for all the other projects that are more real/needed, including Eglinton E LRT.
As for supplementing Eglinton, I’ve favoured an eastward extension of St. Clair Ave E. in a tunnel/bridge combo over to Thorncliffe, and thence to possibly link to St. Clair Ave. E, as we also need to have Relief of Danforth, and there’s really near-nothing occurring, except perhaps making it all worse with an extension and more intensification. Yes, we could do a better linkage of Main/Danforth and the Go/RER/SmartTrick could possibly help a lot, and yes, I see Danforth bikeways as transit relief. And I’ve also started to nudge on some form of rush-hour near-express busway on the Danforth, even trying for a reversible lane like Jarvis, but just for near-express bus transit, though complicated/new.
Glad to have Keven Love’s sense that there’s no more room on Yonge for any influx of new riders from a 60% faster trip, as a near-Eglinton banner suggests. Triage is needed, right? So for me that’s surface, including the DVP, and bypassing Bloor/Danforth to start. “Roadical’ thinking seems to be required for both the climate crisis and the transit urgencies. This is most unlikely given the fairly abject performance still at City Wall, let alone Ontcario. The refusal of the Council to even study a vehicle registration tax, c. 14-7 is pretty clear proof, though yes, we do have some movement on a commercial parking lot levy study, but as with bike lanes, a study is only a stage, not a reality.
For me, a resident of Scarborough, Steve has left out everything about the Crosstown into Scarborough. The Crosstown is underground from the west (reasonable), across central Toronto but surface into East York and Scarborough. At surface it is 4 lanes with no left turns (a left turn would block up one of the two lanes). In Scarborough, most of Eglinton is 7 lanes, and even wider at intersections with an added bus stop/right turn lane. The residents and car-lobby raised vigorous objection much like the Lesliville/eastenders objections to a surface Ontario Line. Mx did a traffic circulation study and found out they were in deep trouble. They designed a 6 lane Eglinton and Del Duca “found” an extra $1.6 billion to pay for it. The change required an amendment to the Master Agreement. City Council merely had to vote to agree to the change, no cost to the City. Because Rob Ford was so unpopular with a faction of Council, the motion to be moved by Councillor Holland (considered a Ford puppet) did not have a majority vote. We are stuck with 4 lanes.
Also untold is the technical report from a joint TTC/Mx study of the Kennedy station configuration, that the right-angle turn from Eglinton up the Stouffville corridor (14 station LRT) was operationally not feasible (short life of track and the delay required to make the turn slowly).
Got to mention Mayor Tory’s stupid requirement to keep the SRT operational until the Scarborough Subway Extension was completed because of the shuttle bus fleet hoax. The need for a shuttle bus fleet was a hoax raised by Andy Byford who opposed Murray’s offer of a free two stop subway. In fact. many buses could be routed to the Warden station, the way things ran before the Kennedy station was built. Extra buses would be needed but not a fleet. What should also be mentioned is that the joint Mx/TTC study also concluded that the right-angled turn for the subway was also not operationally feasible for the same reasons.
The real moral of this sad story is that Mx is not local and can get things wrong. With the new legislation, they have even more power to bully their way with wrong headed projects. Mx is only accountable to Doug Ford, not the citizens.
Steve: I left out the Scarborough portion of the chronology because the issue at hand was the late performance on the central stations contract.
I agree that Eglinton should have been widened and remember staff bemoaning the fact they had not included this in the original project. That was one of several cock-ups in Transit City that undermined its credibility. The portion in Scarborough doesn’t need to be underground.
I don’t remember an actual vote at Council on the proposed change to widen Eglinton. Did it ever come to a vote, or did the Councillor hold it back in anticipation of defeat? A road widening such as you describe would NOT cost $1.6 billion unless a lot of other work was larded onto the project on a “while we’re here, there’s more to do” basis so common in schemes where transit subsidies get to pay for road and utility improvements that would otherwise be on the city’s dime.
The curve operationally not feasible? I don’t think so. If this were operated with those crap cars now on the SRT, of course there are problems with the curves. The east end of Kennedy Station is a perfect example, and the fact that the loop could not be used by RT cars because they would derail shows the difference in design between them and LRVs/streetcars. It is simply not credible that the TTC would have put forward a design that was not technically sound for that loop. Indeed, the curves shown on the diagrams are gentler than those used by the SRT. Prove your claim.
The “need” to keep the SRT operational was not Tory’s doing. That idea was well established during the Ford era when an SRT shutdown was one of the strikes used against the LRT.
As a matter of geographical correctness, East York ends at the West Don River bridge, and so only a very small amount of the surface section is in that (former) borough. The section from the West Don to Victoria Park is in North York.
Exactly, the project already knew it was over budget.
Holland knew she didn’t have the votes because she never voted in favour other Councillor’s motions. The real quid pro quo. I checked with other Councillors, they weren’t going to support anything from Holland. A real life example of how stupid City Council is on transit matters.
I first questioned the engineers why the curve was not possible. I was immediately corrected. The curve is technically possible. Operationally, it takes so long to navigate the curve and the inconvenience of the frequency to replace the track were the only two reasons I understood. The engineers did not want that turn. The proof is the tail track of the Crosstown goes straight east on Eglinton. The Scarborough Subway Extension also goes east. The way the engineers want it. There was that famous subway / LRT vote at Council in October. After subway won, two months later, Mx unveils their plans for Kennedy station. They had never planned to make that turn.
Steve: I still do not believe this explanation about the curve. We are talking streetcars here. I cannot help thinking you were dealing with engineers who cannot think beyond subway specs.
The issues of ECLRT are not limited to political interference. Lack of Authority (AHJ) and oversight due to nature of PPP is crippling Metrolinx (see 2018 auditor general report).
Another huge contributor is Crosslinx’s lack of competence and expertise in all aspects, specifically Safety, Operation and Maintenance. Builders only think about completion not the years after building. Reducing a transit project to civil works and architecture results in products such as Ottawa Confederation Line that cannot operate normally for a couple of days.
PPP is suitable for risk transfer while building transit requires mitigation of risks not transferring them to public after building the line.
Although theoretically quality would be sacrificed for cost and schedule, in reality sacrificing scope and quality leads to delays, claims and cost overruns with a completed stubway that is not safe, reliable or efficient.
This is an important point. LRT can have the capacity of anywhere from 40-60% of subway for the price of anywhere from 35% to 65%. The range varies depending on a number of factors, but let’s use 50% of the capacity and 50% of the cost for a though experiment of comparison.
If a corridor does not warrant subway capacity now but could in another 15-20 years, LRT should be the clear solution. To build subway now, requires a huge cost NOW and when complete, each station will have roughly a 3-5 km radius catchment area that requires everyone within that radius to have some way to get to the subway.
By building an LRT line now, the up front cost is half the subway cost. LRT stations will typically be a little closer, so their catchment area along the line will be smaller, though the catchment area away from the line is similar (i.e. not circular anymore, but more elliptical). In 15-20 years when demand has increased, the second half of the cost (though, with inflation) can be spent to build a parallel LRT line along a street 4 km from the original line (or street grid more or less places major roads 2 km apart, with some exceptions). This increases the capacity, and reduces the catchment area on one side of the original and new line to just 2 km.
There is a bonus to this incremental increase in capacity, when the second line is in place, it becomes a backup service to the first when there is a problem (“when”, not “if” as we all know).
I suspect if an LRT network to provide incremental capacity were to be adopted, then the place for new subway lines would be for the longer distance between station routes that have a predominantly diagonal orientation rather than following the street grid.
Hamish, with Steve’s indulgence, I’d like to explore where and why we disagree. In 1975, when I was still in high school, the city tried something new, monthly meetings, where transit planners sat down and discussed the progress they were making in developing a new transit plan. “Metroplan” it was called. I went to just about every one. Maybe you were there too, Steve?
At the first meeting, the Chief Planner asked us what kind of rapid transit the city should build. I knew nothing, I assumed, like Rob Ford, the answer was subways, subways, subways. I’d never heard of Light Rail. But the Chief Planner was a good speaker, and very patient, and explained, in detail, what Light Rail was, and why a city like Metro Toronto, didn’t have many centres large enough to justify heavy rail.
After the year and half period, the planning staff recommended completing the subway extensions that were currently under construction, but then building an east-west LRT line. Where? Eglinton was their first choice, Sheppard was their second choice. And they recommended that if one was built along Eglinton, another LRT line should be built along Finch.
So, with regard to your suggestion that we also need relief on Danforth… Well the Crosstown LRT will be relief on Danforth. Some riders who board the subway on Danforth, after taking a southbound bus, who got on that southbound bus north of Eglinton, may find it as convenient, or more convenient, to take the Crosstown. Some riders who live between Danforth and Eglinton may find it more convenient to take the Crosstown.
What if so many riders want to ride the Crosstown that it looks like it will run out of capacity, in a decade? You don’t take it out of service, for a year, or two, or three, to upgrade it to heavy rail.
Here is a lesson from the TTC’s earlier rapid transit routes. The SRT, from Kennedy to Scarboro Town Centre, is almost the same length as the first leg of the Yonge Line – from Union to Eglinton. I am pretty sure the Sheppard stubway is of similar length.
I don’t think there is any question that the first Union to Eglinton leg was very successful. Successful due to density, and its replacement of a very heavily used streetcar route. If that first leg had been a failure the TTC may not have built an east-west line.
I wasn’t living in Toronto when the plan to build several additional subways, the Sheppard subway, the Eglinton subway, and, if I recall correctly, one or two additional new subways, or subway extensions. I wondered why the plans were at odds with the recommendations of the 1975 study that I watched being prepared.
Steve, you probably have a more well-informed opinion on those 1975 recommendations. Did you agree with them, in 1975? In 1990, or whenever those subways were ordered, did you think additional east-west subways were merited, or did you think the 1975 recommendation of LRTs were (still) valid?
Was anyone recommending a DRL in 1990?
Steve: The 1975 plan coincided with the international renaissance of LRT and the demise of the GO-Urban project that would have seen a network of elevated guideways all over the city. Of course I was in favour of this idea. I knew several of the people who worked on the transportation component of the plan known as the MTTPR (Metropolitan Toronto Transportation Plan Review).
Robert Wightman, who comments here from time to time, and I were responsible for the proposal to reroute the proposed Scarborough LRT as it then was straight north along the rail/hydro corridor to Ellesmere and then east parallel to Highland Creek and Progress into STC as an alternative to the politically unpopular diagonal route along the old Canadian Northern right-of-way.
As for the DRL, yes, there was a clear need for it in the mid-1980s when the Yonge Subway was packed and ridership was at its height. However, suburban pols were pushing for various extensions and they won out thanks to the mid-1990s collapse of ridership thanks to the recession. All of a sudden there was lots of “spare” capacity on Yonge and the DRL was no longer as critical a need. Without that recession, the network might have evolved quite differently.
In the run-up to the 1990 election, David Peterson announced a network of subways with almost literally a “chicken in every pot” scheme with a subway for each corner of the city. Bob Rae won the election, but with the recession landing on his plate and a need to prop up jobs, he opted to keep Peterson’s subway plans alive even though construction could not possibly start soon enough to have a big effect. The engineers, however, did not suffer, and the optics suited the NDP’s links with the labour movement. The government didn’t want to hear about LRT because it would not produce the same level of economic stimulus.
By the way, an original version of Peterson’s scheme did NOT include the Sheppard Subway as it was thought to be too expensive, but it was restored to the plan to bulk up the proposed spending. There was a big push to get it advanced as far a possible so that a new government would not cancel it, but Mike Harris pulled funding and it stopped at Don Mills when the money ran out. Work on Eglinton had barely started and, as we all know, they just filled in the hole.
So with artcticredriver’s comments, I did say/opine a bit earlier that the Eglinton project being the best of the lot recently, though it likely should have been qualified with c. 2 or 3 decades not merely the last ten years. With all the complications now, and further askwardness and cost with adjusting tech after built, LRT is it, but we still shouldn’t tunnel needelessly, and if we’d started, and kept going as a subway, it too could have been extended, because it all has to start somewheres.
I’m glad there’s strong support for LRT as transit; I still think the diagonality of the Gatineau Hydro corridor is well worth exploring for superior, off-road, equick, and quickly done, sub-regional transit through Scarborough that could easily squeze the billions and connect to a few major destinations, plus a host of bus routes. Perhaps bus; (easier connectivities) perhaps LRT, and I’m sure there will be pressure for a subway as well, but subways don’t have to be undergound, as we should know.
This corridor does intersect with Eglinton near Don Mills, but we don’t plan for transit too well do we? A shame we can’t manage to do better with all those billions, but it’s shorter term thinking, including elections, and so the jobs for machines/men agenda does emerge.
Yes, Eglinton will be some Relief to Danforth, but there’s a lot of people squeezed out through the years from the extensions to the east, and it’d be wrong to extend it further, until there’s better value for the $$ of fares on the Danforth, and will they release a BCA? There’s also a lot of development pressure along Danforth, with lower density and mmostly low-rise structures.
But with Eglinton opening, that brings back an earlier point: the prospect of even more load on to Yonge, and that I don’t think it’s been factored in for the urgencies of the system, i.e. we need triage, and the fastest/smartest way is through the DOn Valley to the core, with older plans for some precedence, including a Metro-era OP, though of course they were not so trustworthy as to only do a transitway. So I’m favouring/urging a triage Keeping It Simply Surface for the most part project cutting out Riverdale to aim for Thorncliffe and thus up to Eglinton, and I’m quite sure that the supports at least of the Half-Mile Bridge are strong enough for another couple of centuries, as one option. Though there should be a neutral and public listing of all the options as we need silver buckshot, not necessarily a Big Subway project, though we likely need two, and in the core, including something that would be modelled after the 1957 plan that goes much further east along c. Queen St. to perhaps Coxwell.
@ Calvin Henry-Cotnam
Haven’t you heard the latest from Ford’s new friend the great rail and transit planner Michael Schabas, who thought that the city still owned the right of way on the north side of Eglinton and that you could run heavy rail Smart Track along it. He has now convinced the Province to build a different type of DRL called the Ontario Line. While it will be built with smaller equipment the advantages of automated control, short headway and other magic will let it carry as much as a conventional HRT. Have you no faith Calvin?
The one thing that I find interesting is that each station has a 100′ section at one end for equipment such as ventilation etc. It appears from the drawing that there could be space for platforms down it. This, if true would give 400′ for platform length which would allow 4 car trains. While you can’t, supposedly, run 4 car trains on the surface it might be possible to cut off 1 car at the end of the tunnel section then put it onto the end of the next train going the other way. This would allow 4 car trains in the central tunnelled sections and 3 car trains on the surface. Since the central section is supposedly going to be ATO this might give a close enough headway so that it could get into the low 80% capacity of HRT. It should be possible to run the 4 car trains as far as Don Mills because there will only be one surface station at Leslie and there should be some way of running ATO through it.
Oh, something I forgot to include in my account of the 1975 recommendation to build an LRT route on Eglinton. If I recall correctly the 1975 recommendation to build an LRT along Eglinton also recommended tunneling the western portion, and running the eastern portion above ground. Planners recognized, in 1975, that there was room for putting the right of way above ground, in the east, but no room in the west.
Since some respondents here have questioned this decision I should have mentioned it was the recommendation back then, too.
Steve: There was always lots of room in the west for a surface alignment. By 1975, the expressway plans had been cancelled, and the Richview Expressway lands were sitting there free for use. The difficult section has always been the middle portion of Eglinton that is five lanes wide with buildings right to the sidewalk line. This includes not just the section in the old City of Toronto and Leaside, but also in portions of York.
Looking out my window onto Eglinton Ave. here in Etobicoke it’s kind of depressing thinking that I could have been seeing Flexitys zooming by for a few years now already, instead of waiting until 2022 to be able to take a bus to Mount Dennis to see them.
There is a misunderstanding here. What is questioned was the decision restrict Eglinton East to 4 lanes rather than 6 lanes. Mx recognized it was a mistake to ignore the objections, as it turns out, the objections were valid. After Mx changed their mind and designed for 6 lanes, stupid City Council didn’t vote for the change because of their childishness.
There is a lot of historical references here. Transit requirements are in constant flux. Current problems, over-crowding on the Yonge Subway and crowding on the Bloor/Danforth subway are far more important issues. Looking in the rear view mirror will not address solutions required now. For me, it’s far more important to work on Transit City 2020.
My question is, “Why wait so long to start construction at Eglinton-Yonge Station?” I know they don’t want to spend money too soon but this is their major transfer point so any problem here would be disastrous.