The Government of Ontario has been responsible for a lot of hot air over the years, and that applies to all three political parties. But their agencies Infrastructure Ontario and Metrolinx have come up with the biggest pile of crap I have seen in a very long time going back to Bill Davis and the flim-flam surrounding his failed maglev train project.
The Scarborough Subway Extension Preliminary Design Business Case is a classic attempt to support a bad project by cooking the books outrageously and hoping nobody will notice. Even with their sleight-of-hand, Metrolinx cannot make the SSE look good as a business proposition. It fails not by a small amount that could be “adjusted” out of the way, but by a country mile.
This raises two fundamental questions:
- Is the methodology of Metrolinx’ so-called business cases a valid way to examine transit projects?
- Has Metrolinx used a comparison that so flagrantly misrepresents reality that it destroys credibility not only of the report, but of the organization?
This analysis has a fundamental problem. It compares two schemes, one of which is the flimsiest of straw men, in an attempt to make the subway look better than it is.
- One option is the extension from Kennedy Station to Sheppard East with stops along the way at Lawrence/McCowan and Scarborough Town Centre.
- The other is a network that assumes the Scarborough RT does not exist, but is replaced with many, many buses.
The latter option has never been on the table.
Missing is the one we all know and love or hate. The Scarborough LRT from Kennedy Station to Malvern is not even mentioned, not even in the potted history of rapid transit plans which begins with the SRT in 1985, not with the LRT plan that first appeared in the 1960s. Possibly Metrolinx planners are too young to know about this, or they are willfully ignorant.
The result? The subway “saves” thousands of hours of travel time, makes trips far more convenient, gets more cars off of the road, and on and on. But of course it would, just as the replacement of any surface network by a subway would make a huge difference.
However, that should not be the basis of comparison, and Metrolinx/IO flagrantly spend page after page extolling the subway’s virtue versus “Business As Usual”, a bus network that does not exist and has never been proposed. Their rationale is that the SRT will not last forever but will succumb to old age, and a bus network will be the “base case” against the subway would be measured.
Based on available information, it is understood that the SRT would require substantial investment to remain operational during the business case’s time frame (beyond 2029/2030) and so it would be inappropriate to include it for comparison purposes.
It has been assummed that a replacement bus network has been established to provide the type and volume of transit connections required to serve former SRT passengers. In reviewing this document it will be of value to keep this assumption in mind as the Scarborough Subway Extension is not being compared against the SRT, but rather against transit network scenario where Scarborough is largely served by surface route buses. [p 17]
Indeed, some text reads as if the SRT was never there, and the subway is a spectacular network addition built out into an area that has never seen rapid transit.
This is a deeply dishonest presentation. It does not review the real alternative to the subway, and it grossly inflates the subway’s benefit.
I am under no illusion that we will ever go back to the LRT plan. If the government would just say “a subway’s what we need and what we will build”, fine. That’s a policy decision. But when a collection of well-paid staff and consultants cook up this sort of BS to give a political decision a patina of professional respectability, that’s going too far.
If Metrolinx has stooped to this level in order to please their boss at Queen’s Park, they have shown just how trustworthy their work on everything else must be. For starters, there’s the Ontario Line, but that’s a whole other article.
As an aside, the document is littered with typos showing that it was not carefully edited even though it was considered by the Metrolinx Board in January, according to the Globe’s Oliver Moore. It has almost certainly been pushed out the door at the last minute in anticipation of public meetings next week.
It is also ironic that Hamilton lost its LRT plan thanks to provincial complaints about runaway costs while two signature Doug Ford projects, the three stop Scarborough Subway Extension and the underground version of the Eglinton West LRT extension roll on despite bad economic reviews.
There is little point in my reviewing this document in excruciating detail because almost every page depends on comparisons with an utterly invalid base case. However, there is the occasional point worth noting, a few of which will surprise readers I am sure.
The Scarborough Subway Extension offers improvements compared to a Business As Usual scenario, generating $2.7 billion worth of economic benefits. [p 8]
The report neglects to mention that almost all of those benefits are travel time savings achieved by comparing trips on a subway extension versus a supposed bus network. Similarly the change in residential and work populations who would be near a rapid transit station is inflated by the total absence of any stations in the base case. Even with this inflated “benefit”, the extension comes nowhere near breaking even on a Net Present Value (NPV) basis.
After almost 30 years of continuous operation, the SRT’s vehicles are reaching the end of their serviceable life. The SRT system was designed to specifically accommodate the original Bombardier `Mark I` vehicles. The next generation of vehicles (used in Vancouver and elsewhere) are longer and unable to accommodate the turning radius requirements of the SRT infrastructure.
Actually, the SRT passed the 30 year mark in 2015, but who am I to quibble over Metrolinx’ flawed arithmetic? More to the point, the reason the later generation of vehicles used in Vancouver will not fit on the SRT infrastructure is that it was deliberately downsized on Queen’s Park’s orders so that the TTC could not revert to LRT. An “own goal”.
There are many benefits of any new and extended line for increased capacity and reach, not to mention spreading demand among stations, but these are discussed solely in the context of a subway.
The base network to which the SSE would be added is shown in the map below. Note that the east end of the Sheppard East Subway Extension, a line proposed for the 2030s, would be at McCowan. The Benefits Case notes that there would be a provision for a non-revenue track connection between the lines, but that they would operate separately, not with through running.
[…] future Line 4 Extension (Sheppard Subway) non-revenue connecting track in special trackwork area south of Sheppard Ave East and provisioning for future passenger transfer between Line 4 and Line 2 at this location. [p 24]
The extension itself has the familiar three-stop configuration although the station at STC will be on McCowan, not within the STC lands as in the original TTC proposal.
Demand modelling for the extension and other lines assumes that the GO+TTC “Double Discount Fare” is in place. This scheme is about to disappear thanks to Queen’s Park’s parsimonious attitude to transit funding (and probably because it is seen as a “Toronto” subsidy even though the main beneficiaries are GO Transit riders from the 905).
On one hand, the analysis talks about 38,000 people living in walking distance of stations.
All metrics related to walking distance access were calclulated [sic] using an 800m radius buffer (as the crow flies distance) around stations, where an 800m walk is considered to take approximately ten minutes at the standard average walking speed (5 km/hour). [p 28, footnote 5]
Elsewhere, however, the analysis is clear that a large proportion of the SSE’s demand will arrive on connecting buses just as happens today with much of the rapid transit network. Walk-in trade is a primary mode of access only in and near downtown.
The increased levels of rapid transit accessibility can be expected to strengthen the many communities of Scarborough. The Stations at Sheppard and McCowan, Scarborough Centre (at Ellesmere), and Lawrence and McCowan are all expected to attract a significant portion of their ridership from bus users. Connecting express bus services on Finch and Steeles with SSE stations further extends the impact of the Scarborough Subway Extension. [p 33]
An example of the distortion caused by the “BAU” comparison is the description of access to the UTSC campus.
Scarborough Centre is also the transit gateway to the employment and educational destinations of Centennial College’s Progress Campus (13,250 students and 2,300 staff and faculty) and the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus (more than 13,000 students, 1,000 full time staff and faculty), which are served by bus connections. The SSE station at Scarborough Centre would be within close proximity to the employment area at Scarborough Centre and allow for shorter bus connections to these academic institutions than under BAU. [p 30]
Of course the subway extension makes the trip shorter if one ignores that the SRT already exists and could have been replaced by an LRT network with greater reach. There is no mention of the proposed Eglinton East LRT extension.
A trip to downtown is similarly distorted. Without question the LRT network scheme would retain the transfer at Kennedy, although it would have been substantially improved, but the LRT would have continued into Malvern. This is a worst case comparison on two counts both in ignoring what the LRT might have achieved, especially in northeast Scarborough, and by making the comparator a bus link from STC to Kennedy.
Traffic congestion caused by buses adds to the woes of the “BAU” scheme.
In the BAU, the volume of buses needing to be operated to replace the SRT in Scarborough is significant. These buses are competing for space with other vehicular traffic on many north-south corridors. Passengers on these buses are prone to delays from weather, road construction, collisions as well as general traffic congestion. The SSE in contrast provides a reliable service that is generally immune from disruptions at the surface level. [p 39]
A calculation of energy savings compares subway trips with bus and auto trips (not even allowing for electric buses), but the LRT option which is also electric is not mentioned [p 44]. The same problem crops up with estimates of pollution caused by various mixes of travel.
These are “true” statements, but a bus network has never been the alternative under consideration. The parliamentary term is “misleading”.
A heat map of jobs in Scarborough is quite revealing. STC must still compete with employment concentrations further west, and no development is shown around Kennedy Station even though it will be a major transit hub. The force-feeding of STC as an artificial node continues even though city planning reports consistently show low growth at this supposed centre.
For the extension to attract ridership, it needs to be built where people reside and jobs are located today, and where there is potential for growth in the future. Transit infrastructure has been found to encourage development activities in all categories of use, generating further economic benefits for communities and the region. This growth and development, in turn, generates more transit ridership.
The Scarborough Subway Extension connects two Urban Growth Centres (UGC) : Scarborough Centre and the Downtown Toronto UGC to other areas in the region by providing a rapid transit connection. [p 33]
The location of suburban centres was dictated more by political considerations than good planning. A link from STC to downtown is not a panacea for that node. Instead, it simply provides a way for people from Scarborough to get to downtown jobs faster. Dare I mention that the STC-downtown link has not appeared to be much of a boon to the former’s development? Line 2 is not packed with AM peak riders outbound to STC.
A fundamental problem at many suburban nodes is that much of their demand comes from auto-oriented areas outside of the transit system’s reach.
The airport is an excellent example of a major centre whose employees come from a wide range of origins. One line will not transform access for a majority of travellers. The same problem beset the Union-Pearson Express whose catchment area, especially when it stopped only at the terminals, did not include the location of most airport-bound passengers.
Metrolinx/IO plan to farm out the work to P3s in two separate contracts. One would be for early works and tunnel construction, while the other would be for stations and fitting out the completed structure.
The preliminary plan is described only in text, not in drawings. There will two tunnel boring machines (TBMs), one boring south from Sheppard and the other east then north from Kennedy Station.
This implies a single bore tunnel design with station platforms included inside the tunnel structure. This is implied but not clearly stated, nor is there any discussion of the cost and technical tradeoffs even though these probably favour the single tunnel design.
The indicative construction schedule assumes the use of two tunnel boring machines (TBM), with one launched southward from the future station box at Sheppard and McCowan and another launched eastward on Eglinton Avenue East between Midland Road and Commonwealth Avenue. The tunnel drive logistics are based on an analysis that indicates that a 2 TBM scenario represents a schedule savings compared to a single TBM schedule.
The first TBM will proceed south along McCowan Road to an extraction shaft located on the Scarborough Rouge Hospital property immediately north of Lawrence Avenue East. The second TBM will proceed east and north along Eglinton Avenue East, Danforth Road and McCowan Road, to the same extraction shaft. Open cut construction methods are expected to be used, with appropriate support of excavation, for the launch and extraction shafts, the three stations, all emergency exit building locations as well as the transition area between Kennedy Station and the south TBM launch shaft.
The scheme includes the creation of a tail track east of Kennedy Station that could be used to short turn part of the service. Partial versus full service to northern Scarborough has been an issue in debates over the extension, and in the TTC’s version, the turnback option had been removed. Now it’s back.
The Kennedy transition section extends roughly 550 metres from the east side of the GO Transit Stouffville rail corridor to Commonwealth Avenue and will include special track work and a pocket track to enable every second subway train to short turn to suit ridership demand and minimize fleet requirements, as well as lower operating costs. [p 24]
The proposed additional fleet is not sufficient to operate all trains through to Sheppard especially if the TTC reduces headways on Line 2 with ATC by the time the extension opens.
It is assumed in this business case that 6 train sets will be purchased at a cost of $27,234,000 each, measured in 2020$ [p 60, footnote]
The actual service levels used for estimating the operating costs over the project’s life are not specified and, therefore, we do not know if there would be extra costs to provide more service beyond Kennedy.
This has a knock-on effect for Line 2 during construction because modification of the existing tail tracks at Kennedy Station will constrain operations there and it is not clear that the TTC could maintain the level of service now offered under those conditions.
Impacts During Construction
Line 2 – Operations at Kennedy Station will be significantly impacted during construction due to the limited overrun distance once re-alignment of the tail track in the transition section begins. The reduced overshoot distance requires a reduced speed on arrival onto the platform during construction. To mitigate this impact, the Kennedy pocket track/transition structure must be built in stages. [pp 64-65]
Anyone who has seen Kennedy terminal operations when one or both tail tracks are occupied will know how much more slowly trains must enter the station to avoid over-running the platform. This is enforced by the signal system and it affects the cycle time for the terminal. In turn, the minimum headway that can be supported especially if terminal operations do not run like clockwork (a common situation) produces backlogs of trains in the eastbound approach.
This is an appalling “analysis” of the Scarborough Subway Extension that purports to show its benefits compared with a bus network that has never been an option.
The point of comparison was always an LRT network versus one or more subway extensions, but that is not even mentioned. Instead Metrolinx and IO spend 66 pages “proving” how good the subway option is based on a false premise.
This is unprofessional and dishonest, and shows the level of moral rot that has set in at what should be a valued regional agency.
My one quibble with your excellent but depressing post is that the alternatives that should have been considered included the Soberman SRT rehab recommendation and the spur off the upgraded Stouffville corridor (which Metrolinx planners agree, with a flyover/underpass arrangement, leaves 16-tph capacity not needed for RER/GO Expansion available to STC and beyond). The fact is that the SSE is the fourth-best option if we’re doing this comparison properly.
Steve: I agree with the idea of looking at alternatives, but this should be in a network context. For example, the reason for proposing an LRT in place of the SRT was that it would have been part of a network including Sheppard East and the Eglinton East line to UTSC. A GO spur has to be seen in the context of GO as an electrified urban service, not as a commuter rail line that deigns to stop occasionally in the 416 while charging us a princely fee.
Metrolinx always considers alternatives in isolation. Even the Relief or Ontario line analyses (it doesn’t matter which) don’t really give a monetary credit for the avoided cost of relief to subway congestion elsewhere.
From a previous post.
The real moral of this sad story is that Metrolinx 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. Metrolinx is only accountable to Doug Ford, not the citizens.
I think we can safely conclude now that Hamilton lost its LRT because Doug Ford hates LRT. He cannot cancel Crosstown, Finch, and Hurontario because they are already too far underway (plus the Crosstown is under ground a great deal, and in its current form a creature of the Rob Ford mayoralty), but we can see the pattern from Queen’s Park’s insistence that Crosstown West be mostly buried (unlike the original plans) and that the SSE be built in an even more expensive manner.
Now we can see this as well in this report, where LRT (planned more than once for Scarborough) is not even mentioned as if it did not exist. Obviously the books cannot be cooked to show the revamped SSE being better than an LRT, so let’s pretend it’s not there. I mean there is even not a comparison vs. the SRT because it is wished away by one BS paragraph (new generation cars cannot fit … as if cars cannot be made to spec, there are tons of transit lines around the world that require unique vehicles). Even if the SRT is not rescuable in any way (and putting aside the LRT amnesia), why not compare the subway to it to show what people will be getting with the subway, compared to what they have now with the SRT?
Imagine, subways better than buses in an area which already has rapid transit … who would’ve thunk it?
I hope your screen and keyboard survived intact; smells disgusting, and is. So as it’s clear that the scheming is even more brazen, and the Cons are immune to logic on pet projects, what can be done to respect taxpayers and improve transit?
One key point is working the federal level: the large sums have to come from somewhere, and it’s not going to be Mr. Ford’s own pockets. So if the disgusting taint of this is clearly and quickly and widely shared with the various Liberal MPs in Toronto and beyond, and with clear demands to AVOID $hovelling out the billions on more suspect schemes, there’s a chance it could wither.
It is a tall order to get the federal level having principles and respecting taxpayers, planning and the climate, but if they hired APTA/UITP (with CUTA assisting of course), that would be a welcome few millions spent to provide the bulletproof reasons for not going along with less-wise/dumb schemes, though of course we need to spend $$$ in Scar orough, and in Etobicoke, but also in the core, and be smarter about all of it.
Steve: The problem for Ford is that he will discover he has been led down the garden path on earlier estimates of his pet lines, and the feds have already committed what they will pay toward these projects. The rest is Ontario’s dime.
I am waiting for a cruise missile from Queen’s Park to hit Metrolinx, figuratively speaking of course as Union Station is a really nice building.
As Stephen Wickens says – look at the alternatives.
In 2006: Upgrade to Mark III was compared with LRT and B-D subway extension. They were ranked: #1 = Mark III, #2 = LRT, #3 = B-D extension.
In 2012: Through running Eglinton with SRT was compared with separate Eglinton LRT and SRT, and they were ranked: #1 = combined Eg./SRT, #2 = separate LRT.
In ~2013: Connecting Eglinton with SRT as Mark III was discussed but never analysed.
In ~2015: Smart Spur (connect from GO corridor to STC) was discussed but never analysed.
Based on what analysis has been done, it appears that subway extension is likely the worst option, followed closely by the LRT with transfer. I could even do a napkin sketch of a route from STC to Don Valley, and down the valley to downtown, and still be better than the choices we have been debating for the past (almost) decade.
I am not sure if the problem is stubbornness or politics – after all, both the Liberals and PC’s have the same policy here. If somebody really cared about transit, they would throw a lifeline to the gov’t to find a way to allow them to re-analyse the route (maybe by calling it a Value Engineering exercise) without being politically harassed for it.
Steve: Connecting Eglinton and the SRT with Mark III cars was proposed by Bombardier when Dalton McGuinty was Premier and David Miller was Mayor. They wanted an untendered contract to “extend” the SRT. They were told to get lost.
As for any new analysis, it should also include the full Scarborough LRT network including Sheppard and Eglinton East. The whole premise was not to build a standalone line like the SRT, but to make that route part of something larger.
Keep kicking their asses, Steve.
Still not sure why there seems to never be any mention of purchasing a new rolling stock to keep line 3 open (wouldn’t be the first time Ontario designed new trains). I feel like it would cost significantly less that building a brand new system for $3 billion(?) when one already exists doing the same thing (if not more).
Even if the whole SRT is beyond repairable, why not try to use the property (and stations) already there to expand line 2? I imagine that retrofitting line 3 to TTC subway standards would be a lot cheaper and quicker than this abhorrent subway expansion.
The report makes a big deal about both the population of potential riders, as well as the number of jobs, within walking distance of the stations. It says:
This is utter disingenuous BS. Your riders aren’t flying crows, they’re people. They have to follow paths. And they have to stop at any traffic lights. I have tried to walk between Scarborough Centre station and McCowan station … you know, it’s just about impossible. There are berms, non-pedestrian roadways, and concrete cliffs in the way.
Obviously if they had hired an honest and competent transit consultant, the “t0 minute walking distance” would not be laid out by a simple circle drawn on the map — presumably to capture the most residential and employment locations. Jarrett Walker pointed this problem out years ago where he writes:
The Metrolinx boffins are ignoring good advice, freely given back in 2011, on a public blog. One presumes that they are ignoring it because it is very, very inconvenient for them to admit it.
I will also point out that walking 800m in 10 minutes, or maintaining a speed of 5km/h, is probably not achievable for everyone, even under ideal circumstances. The simple case of traffic lights will slow you down, maybe halving the average speed. (For STC station, anything north of the 401 is going to be an unpleasant, long walk over multiple dangerous slip lanes and intersections.) Add in pouring rain, snow, ice, or extreme heat and humidity. Many of the locations within that easily-drawn 800m circle will be an unpleasant 10-20 minute walk from the stations, at the best of times, for the most mobile and healthy of individuals.
The obvious benefit of LRT is that stations are cheaper to build and with lower impact, so you can have more of them, and more people within a realistic walking distance. Then you wouldn’t have to pass off obvious nonsense as professional judgement.
Steve: It was because of this ludicrous claim about walking distance that I flagged their comment about the number of riders arriving by bus feeders. I am really tired of hearing about “transit oriented development” as if it is the only source of riding. GO Transit would not exist without parking lots, and TTC subways would be empty without bus feeder routes (or comparatively so).
With regard to the BS base case: ***WHY*** would we create a fleet of buses on a route that is presumably 43B? While the SRT corridor is a 30+ year established corridor it isn’t necessary in and of itself.
If the SRT were removed from existence, a would-be rider would likely go to KENNEDY station and take the 43B or take some combination of two buses to get to Scarborough Town Centre. In the previous SSE with 38 bus bays at Scarborough Centre, it looked as though there was a quantum singularity at the site that distorted the path of almost every bus (read: gerrymander) passing ‘nearby’ that forced the bus to pass through it on the way to it’s destination.
I think the importance of the mall/civic centre is somewhat overstated/overweighted (though the regional bus connection located there is worthy of a rapid transit link regardless). We don’t send Bathurst, Dufferin or Wilson buses into Yorkdale just because they happen to be “close” to it…
Lastly, the job density map is a horrid suburban joke. The purple areas look impressive if you don’t bother to read the metric (over 100 jobs).
Smart Spur was a non starter because it depended on Smart Track which was not feasible because it took too much capacity from GO but also because by the time you started branching and branching your effective headway was useless. If Smart Track could run every 5 minutes (unlikely) you would have a 10 minute headway to STC.
Its curves were ridiculous because it was main line rail, not even HRT or LRT which would have smaller radii. It also tries to solve a problem designed for LRT at best with main line railway equipment which is not suited for this purpose. You can see the proposal by going onto the Transport Action Ontario website and searching for smart spur.
It is designed by a person who appears to have a switch fetish because it incorporates so many of them. One of the principles of good design for anything is don’t make it overly complicated and this one does JUST that. At least Metrolinx has the brains to put in a grade separation at Scarborough Junction and keep the Uxbridge sub trains to the north of the Lakeshore as much as possible to simplify operations.
This group has grandiose ideas but no ability to think clearly. I should know because I was on their board for two years and president for one. When they couldn’t get serious about changing I walked out of the annual general meeting saying I would not run for the board again, serve as past president, nor renew my membership.
Not again with that Dumb Spur idea! You can’t serve a route like this with conventional commuter rail technology. But little boys will be little boys, and they’re often allowed to use their crayons to draw lines on Mommy and Daddy’s cocktail napkins when the party’s over.
Thank you Mr Munro. A lot of things are missing in their plan. The subway station obviously needs to be realigned and rebuilt. The arena stands in the way. And since when is a 35 year old rapid transit line “life expired”? London, NYC, Buenos Aires and others beg to differ. Do something useful with Sheppard…west to Downsview and east to STC would reduce or eliminate the need for the 1 stop folly. Upgrade the SRT…New York, Vancouver and Kuala Lumpur are but a few using same tech. This also adds fast options to downtown. We just need longer platforms on the SRT. Is sommeone getting a back hander or is the transit file handled by buffoons?
The word is “redaction”. We’ve seen it with Doug’s idol, Donald Trump. It happens with many reports or publications that the powers-that-be want to control. We’ve seen it with the bible books, “editing” or “correcting” passages that don’t conform to the belief of the times.
We’ve seen it recently with the Ontario Line reports, where 4,000 pages were “censored” (redacted) out of 5,600 pages of internal Metrolinx documents. We see it with the Scarborough Subway Extension.
There is more to come.
Adding to my earlier comment, the BD east extension up to Sheppard is only if much use if a connection to the Sheppard subway is made. As I mentioned earlier about relocation, not only do the BD line Kennedy need realignment, what about the Eglinton Crosstown or the Kennedy GO station. A lot of wasted expense. Most cities require a transfer of some sort to the city centre. I ride the SRT at least twice per week. Yes, it’s bloody noisy and quite cramped. Chicago L trains aren’t much bigger, nor is London deep level tube stock. I even believe Glasgow Subway carriages are even smaller. Don’t waste money. Upgrade the line with new trains and upgraded stations. Spend the money improving all the other transit options in Scarborough.
Steve: As you are probably aware, the eastern extension of the Sheppard Subway is on Metrolinx priority list, but not as high as the Line 2 extension. The Metrolinx report makes explicit reference to this.
This made me think of my own too-rough sketches of surface Relief to the core via the Gatineau and Don Valley, as a response to the lack of logic in all of this. So for the record and, uh, ‘nudges’ from various, perhaps this is a comprehensive list of what is, and is less possible for this large area east of the Don, which is one of its complications…
As now being done, it sure smells like a property owner, construction interests and big labour with some politicians are the winners, and why aren’t the supporting politicians putting in a mere $10,000,000 of their own money if it’s soo wonderful?
Steve: Among this long list, I really must point out that it is 1.65 km from the east end of St. Clair in Moore Park to O’Connor and Broadview in East York as the crow flies. This would be much longer than the Humber River bridge at Old Mill, and roughly three times the length of the Prince Edward Viaduct.
Steve has commented upon how this Metrolinx report has an absurd straw man base case.
It is disturbing how transit professionals would go along with this report. Another example of politics trumping professionalism may be seen in the report’s “BENEFIT 7: Improve Quality of Life and Public Health” on page 45.
One would think that a key source of information on public health in Toronto would be Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health. But, alas, Doug Ford could not help but bully and feud with the former Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David McKeown.
Toronto’s Integrity Commissioner forced both Ford brothers to apologize for the bullying. Also here.
Fulfilling the saying, “They have learned nothing, and forgotten nothing,” Doug Ford then went on as Ontario premier to bully Toronto’s current Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa.
Fortunately for Mr. Ford, there is no pesky provincial Integrity Commissioner to force him to apologize for yet again bullying another civil servant for doing their job.
The unfortunate reality, as reported in a unanimous report by all of the GTHA’s Medical Officers of Health, is that every year in the GTHA motor vehicle operators poison and kill over 712 people with their fine particles (PM2.5) and other lethal cancer-causing poisons. Motor vehicle operators also poison and injure over 2,812 people so severely that they have to be hospitalized. The cost of all this poisoning, killing and injuring is over $4.6 billion per year. Source at page 20.
Please note that, in the pre-Doug Ford year of 2008, Metrolinx did have models [see p 14] that took into account PM2.5 and other lethal poisons from motor vehicle operators.
But now that Doug Ford is boss, politically inconvenient facts need to be quietly ignored.
Steve: While I agree that the Fords were/are completely ignorant of the value of Public Health, I don’t think that this is a connection you can make to Metrolinx. They have a standard methodology for their analysis that converts the alleged reduction of auto travel into a pollution/health benefit. The flaw is that it does not allow for backfilling of demand on roads and assumes that any trip diverted to transit translates to a reduction of emissions and injuries. Roads don’t work that way unless there is so large a shift to transit in a corridor that the traffic just disappears. Nothing they plan will have that effect.
Metrolinx is capable of cooking up bogus reports even without the Premier’s expertise.
I haven’t been to Chicago, but I can say that, at 6’2″, I have to duck through the doorways on the London deep-level stock. Once I’m in, though, I can just stand up straight. On the Glasgow Subway, though, I can’t even stand up straight in the centre of the car. (They’re basically the same design as some of the London cars, with the sharply curved roof, but about 10% smaller.)
And your useless trivia for the day: the Glasgow Subway appears to be the last remaining system built to a 4′ running gauge.
Thanks for both opportunity to share out ideas, and a ‘nudge’ back about possibly linking St. Clair Ave. E with each other, where I was trying to learn a ‘lessen’ and not put in detail. It makes almost no sense to do a direct line linkage with all the density of Thorncliffe as well as the harm to the Valleys, but a two-stage linkage starting just east of Mt Pleasant, where a tunnel should be underway to Thorncliffe, details to be determined, makes some sense as a way to further improve the linkages to the TTC from this density and high-transit-using node. But we also do NOT have capacity on the Yonge line for more influxes, so we’d need to have much more of a robust bus service on Mount Pleasant, from that point, and perhaps have a reversible lane for only-transit on Jarvis, perhaps as simple as a lane of red paint, taking maybe just a decade to put down, this being Caronto/Moronto.. Bypassing Yonge as a stop might also be needed, so any streetcar would keep going straight over to the less-used Spadina side of Line 1 a bit west at Bathurst.. Phase 2 to link the further St. Clair Ave. E might be less worth it, especially with the very long list of needed projects, including repairs, which should also include the margins of the streetcar tracks throughout the CIty. Notice of Hazard again, TTC, as it is perhaps a deadly thing for a cyclist, but we like keeping the competition to the trans*it near-deadly, to keep the core being milked to support suburbs/lower density areas.
Makes me wonder: do the Metrolinx planners belong to a professional association with responsibility to monitor ethics and standards? Could complaints be made?
Steve: No. Ethics in planning are whatever the client defines them as.
You probably don’t have the same laws as the US does. In the US, failure to consider a valid alternative is grounds for the courts to rule that the environmental impact statement is invalid and sending everyone back to square one, which is why studies cannot be cooked in this particular fashion. (They have to work harder to cook the studies.) In this case the LRT is so blatantly a valid alternative that the courts would force them to consider it in the US. Any equivalent environmental law in Canada?
Steve: There used to be more of this in the provincial law (which is what applies here because no federal interest is involved). In the interest of speeding up projects, this was changed to a “Transit Project Assessment Process” or TPAP. There is an informal preliminary process that arrives at a preferred alternative. Then this choice is put through a formal review which is rather restrictive in what it looks at. By the time a project gets to this stage, changing the choice is almost impossible. There is no mechanism for legal review. The whole premise is that transit is “good” and therefore deserves a fast path to approval. However, as we have seen, this can be perverted to serve political ends, and especially if the so-called professionals who run this process collude with the politicians to produce the desired outcome.
If Line 3 was refurbished (e.g. rebuilding Kennedy Line 3 platforms to be underground on the same level as Line 2 with tracks radius accomodating new trains from Bombardier/Alstom or other manufacturers (it’s confirmed that Bombardier’s LIM system isn’t proprietary as other transit and LRT activists have claimed for years. Instead with provision set for future extensions and replacing the manually-driven semi grade-separated Line 5 in the future, then riders could experience similar benefits as a subway with future benefits of fully automated train operations (as seen on the SkyTrain in Vancouver, and Kelana Jaya line in Kuala Lumpur) but at a much lower cost than building a new Line 2 extension as currently proposed or a new LRT (I.e. overall value greater than current proposal and LRT alternatives). Also riders could stay within gated area without needing to exit when transferring between trains even if Line 5 is replaced by a fully automated Line 3.
Steve: In none of the debates about the SRT or its replacement has anyone here claimed that the LIM technology is proprietary. However, it does impose physical limits and makes the trains much more susceptible to weather problems in the winter (icing and snow buildup) than conventional rotary motor propulsion.
As for transfers between routes, there was never any intention for there to be fare barriers within Kennedy Station, and if Metrolinx has managed to add these to their design that’s news to me.
Regarding the cost of comparable systems with LRT, the original scheme for Scarborough was a network of LRT lines, not just the Line 3 replacement. Sheppard to Morningside. Eglinton east to UTSC and Sheppard. SLRT to Malvern Centre.
The saving was in avoiding the higher cost of grade-separated transit for that network. On Eglinton itself, Metrolinx screwed up the design by opting not to widen the road sufficiently to accommodate the LRT even though space is available. Also, the boneheaded decision to have minimal transit signal priority says something about a combination of the City’s stupidity and Metrolinx’ strange unwillingness to fight for better LRT when they are quite prepared to build the Ontario Line through neighbourhoods over quite vocal opposition. They don’t really believe in LRT, and there is a Skytrain fifth columnist working there who is behind the DRL/OL’s technology change.