Eglinton West: An LRT Subway for Etobicoke?

On February 28, 2020, Metrolinx release a Preliminary Business Case for the Scarborough Subway Extension, and an Initial Business Case for the western extension of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT from Mount Dennis to Pearson Airport.

The Eglinton West Extension IBC is not as blatantly skewed as the Scarborough study in that it acknowledges the LRT plans and uses these as a starting point. The SSE study simply pretends that LRT does not exist and touts “benefits” of the subway versus a bus network.

The idea of a line along Eglinton West has been around for a long time.

  • 1972 ‘GO Urban’ and Rapid Transit Plan on Eglinton: Eglinton corridor was part of Province’s and TTC’s ‘Intermediate Capacity Transit System’ (ICTS) Network Plan (in which the present Scarborough RT was a part of)

  • 1985: ‘Network 2011’ and Eglinton West Plan: TTC Report identified Eglinton West as busway corridor as part of Metro Toronto’s rapid transit network plan (in which the present Sheppard subway was a part of)

  • 2007: ‘Transit City’ and Eglinton Crosstown Plan: Eglinton Crosstown LRT (spanning from Pearson in the west to Kennedy in the east) was part of the City of Toronto’s surface rapid transit expansion proposal

  • 2010: Crosstown LRT Project Approval: City of Toronto sought EA approval for surface LRT alignment from Kennedy to Pearson Airport Area boundary, one year after the City approved the full-length Eglinton Crosstown alignment

  • 2012: Eglinton West Segment Deferment: Metrolinx undertook Crosstown LRT construction, with Mount Dennis-Pearson Airport segment deferred due to funding constraint

  • 2016: Eglinton West LRT IBC: City of Toronto and Metrolinx co-published Eglinton West LRT’s first IBC and recommended surface LRT option, and the City approved funding for preliminary planning and design works

  • 2017: Grade Separation Review: City of Toronto approved arterial and midblock stops along Eglinton West and conducted grade separation study to address community concerns

  • 2019: Surface Option’s Affirmation: City of Toronto in its report maintained its preference for surface LRT based on fine-tuned benefit-cost analysis. [p 9]

As an historical note, a mid-1960s TTC plan to serve the airport with LRT linking southeast to the Bloor Subway and northeast to the Finch corridor was stillborn thanks to the 1972 GO Urban scheme.

We have arrived at a preferred subway option by provincial fiat:

In December 2017, the City of Toronto conducted further studies on additional grade-separated options based on inputs from the local community who are concerned with the at-grade LRT’s traffic impact. The number of options for the Toronto Segment were revised to four (featuring at-grade and below-grade alignments with frequent arterial and midblock stops, and a mostly below-grade alignment with either a single stop or multiple arterial stops) and re-evaluated using traffic model updates and additional metrics recommended by community representatives.

Nonetheless, the City of Toronto in early 2019 released a report re-confirming their preference for an at-grade LRT due to its cost-effectiveness in meeting all of the city’s project and policy objectives.

Subsequently, the Province’s 2019 Budget announcement included the extension of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT to Mississauga as one of the four budgeted rapid transit projects with an underground alignment. [p 27]

This is a second “Initial” study, but it is in the context of Premier Ford’s strong preference for subways. The usual caveats apply about the rough level of cost estimates and comparisons between options.

There is a fundamental conflict in the analysis in this study triggered both by the Premier’s distaste for “streetcars” and by Metrolinx methodology.

The surface option carries the greatest number of weekday riders, but one of the subway options carries the most “new” riders. In other words, the surface option does a better job of serving existing demand while not drawing as much new demand, while the subway option leaves some existing demand quite literally “out in the cold”, but (according to the modelling) shifts more people to transit from autos. The machinery of value assignment rewards the new riders more because they allegedly represent less auto use, and they tend to be longer-distance riders who save more travel time.

At no point does the study explain why carrying fewer total riders at much greater expense constitutes a valid planning outcome.

The Four Options

Five options are under consideration including a “Business As Usual” scenario in which service is provided by the 32A Eglinton West Bus. Unlike the Scarborough study, this is a base case that actually exists and provides a valid starting point for comparison.

All four of the LRT options include a leg between the Renforth Station and the airport that is lifted from past studies of this route, but this is a placeholder. The airport access will be affected by plans for a major surface transportation hub at Pearson Airport and this could affect the link’s alignment and stations.

All options will have construction impacts on the neighbourhoods around the line, although these vary depending on the type of construction (surface or underground) and the number of stations.

Option 1: Surface LRT

Option 1 is the Transit City Eglinton West line. There is a short section of tunnel at Weston Road to extend the current Line 5 westward through a section of Eglinton with buildings very close to the roadway, but the line then emerges to run  on the surface to Renforth. (The text accompanying the diagram in the report erroneously states that the portal would be east of Weston Road when, in fact, it would be to the west.) This arrangement has an approved Environmental Assessment in place.

Lands were reserved along the north side of Eglinton for the Richview Expressway originally planned to run east to meet Highway 400 (aka Black Creek Drive). Some of this land was sold for housing, but the strip needed for LRT expansion of the road was retained. Transit signal priority will be required to ensure good travel speeds for a surface LRT, although Toronto has an uneven record in giving true priority to transit. The road’s existing capacity, including provision for turns, would be maintained.

Option 2: Nine Stop LRT Subway

Option 2 contains the same stops on Eglinton West as in Option 1, but the route is completely underground from Mount Dennis to just east of Renforth Station. The tunnel would pass under three rivers at the Humber, a Humber tributary west of Royal York, and Mimico Creek west of Martin Grove.

The Humber Ravine is a particularly difficult area because of the grades required to get from Mount Dennis down below the river. Options 3 and 4 avoid this by crossing the Humber on an elevated structure, then diving underground west of Scarlett Road beyond the river’s floodplain.

The underground stations pose challenges because of high pressure gas lines underneath most sites. This affects both Options 2 and 4.

Option 3: The Express LRT Subway

Option 3 treats the extension as an express route to the airport district with connections to surface routes only at Jane and Kipling. The portion of the route over the Humber River would be on an elevated structure to avoid the complexity of going under this river.

The report talks about sustainable development with prosperous residential and commercial communities. This is difficult to achieve on a line with infrequent stops.

An express LRT from Renforth to Mount Dennis might look nice to a “regional” planner, but it does not address all of the demand in its corridor. Metrolinx’ focus is on “regional” travel including a coarse network of bus routes with 10 minute headways. How this is supposed to make any dents in auto travel demand is a mystery, but that is a separate study.

Option 4: Six Stop LRT Subway

Option 4 is a variant of Option 2 with three intermediate stations – Widdicombe Hill, Wincott and Mulham – dropped to reduce costs. Also, this option uses the elevated Humber River crossing from Option 3. (The report’s text includes the correct number of stops, six, in the section title, but claims there are seven stops in the body of the description. Editing errors like this do not inspire confidence in the care taken in preparation.)

This is the preferred alternative from the evaluation process.

The Evaluation

The projected all day ridership numbers are intriguing on a few points.

  • Option 1 has the most riders at 42,500 indicating that a line with the most stations will do best at attracting demand.
  • Option 2 has fewer riders at 36,500 similar to Option 4 at 37,000. This will reflect the interplay between fewer stations but faster travel in Option 4.
  • Option 3 despite being an express line has the lowest demand at 23,000.

The low change in demand for Option 3 shows that there is a substantial potential demand along the route, and in a later section this turns out to be transfer traffic from intersecting north-south buses.

As with so many other rapid transit studies, the importance of feeder services is not well understood by planners for whom the word “express” is though to be the key to “success”.

There is a rather odd contrast between the ridership prospects of the Eglinton alternatives which show Option1 best, and a statement later in the report.

When comparing against BAU, Option 4 has the highest increase increase in boardings for both Toronto’s Eglinton Crosstown LRT and Mississauga’s Transitway BRT, with a 23% jump in combined weekday boardings. [Footnote: Option 4 increases Crosstown and Transitway boardings of 119,000 and 7,000 by 23% and 16% respectively.] This increase demonstrates the value of a complete travel network, as existing rapid transit lines become more useful when the network is made seamless with fewer transfers and slow mixed-traffic links. [p 40]

The increases cited above translate to about 27k for the Crosstown and about 1k for the Transitway, a total of, say, 28k. This is far more than the number of new transit trips cited in Table 9 below suggesting that a good chunk of the projected new boardings are trips diverted from other routes, not net new transit trips. This is an important distinction when talking about congestion reductions and the like.

An obvious question to ask is whether an option is “better” because it carries more riders (even if a lot of them are on transit already) or because it attracts more “new” riders to transit.

Moreover one must be careful not to double count boardings when looking at riders transfering from MiWay to TTC. They are still only one person, and one cannot count their boardings on both systems as if each is a separate new rider.

All ridership projections include the then-current fare structures for 2019 including the GO/UPX/TTC co-fare that is about to be discontinued. This could affect the model’s distribution of trips between all-TTC and GO+TTC route choices.

As with so many of Metrolinx’ studies, the primary benefit lies in the imputed value of travel time savings for riders. In this case, the comparison is complicated by the interplay of travel time and demand. Option 1 has more all day ridership, but Option 4 saves more time for its less numerous riders, thereby winning out. Also, an underground line has the greatest benefit for riders who travel its entire length whereas a surface route is more supportive of demand and potential development along the way.

The chart below shows the travel time savings for each option. The differences seem large except when one looks at the total time as described in the text, not the delta values in the chart. The starting point is an 82 minute journey via the Crosstown from Yonge to Mount Dennis, then a TTC bus to Renforth, and finally a Miway bus to Square One. Of course it takes forever, and nobody in their right mind would attempt this unless they had no other choice. The surface LRT would get this down to 73 minutes, and the six-stop subway option to 68. This is still a long journey, and we don’t know how many people would attempt it. The chart is misleading because it exaggerates the proportionate saving over the entire trip.

The shortest trip of course is for the express subway Option 3 which speeds through Etobicoke almost as if it were not there to ferry people to and from the airport and Mississauga. These are the same savings numbers shown in Table 9 above.

The chart below shows the total travel time values rather than just the deltas as above.

From a financial perspective, none of the options will attract enough new ridership and fare revenue to offset the increased operations and maintenance costs. In a rare bout of clarity, the report notes that “this is consistent with most other rapid transit improvements of similar nature” [p 4]. Rapid transit, and indeed most transit, does not pay for itself out of the farebox. However, on a purely financial basis, Option 1 with its lowest cost would be preferred. Its capital cost is estimated at $2.128 billion (2019$, NPV) with a return on investment of 0.14. That is a very low figure, but it is the best of the lot.

An important point here is that all options are costs including the link from Renforth Station to the airport, but the value of this link is not stated. Therefore it is difficult to assess the cost estimates for the Mount Dennis to Renforth section in isolation, or in comparison with previous studies.

Regional Planning

Part of the evaluation includes access to homes and jobs. The metrics used are an 800m radius from stations for homes, and a travel time of 45 minutes to jobs. A subtle effect shows up in the evaluation of Option 1 which has only a 4% increase in access to jobs within 45 minutes, compared to 11-18% for the other options. The relative isolation of the airport means that jobs located there include a long travel segment that must be substantially shortened for these to change significantly in accessibility from other parts of the city. The surface operation of Option 1 and its additional stops to not make enough of a difference to affect the metric. This would be more obvious if Metrolinx published travel time gradient maps showing where the 45 minute boundaries lie for each option relative to the airport.

The dichotomy between regional and local planning shows up under the first Metrolinx Strategic Objective: Connect More Places with Better Frequent Rapid Transit.

The cumulative network effects will help to improve the overall connectivity within the region, particularly for Etobicoke and other suburban areas straddling the Eglinton Ave and Transitway corridors. The proposed investment will result in uninterrupted rapid transit connectivity that stretches from Toronto’s Golden Mile (Scarborough) in the east all the way to Mississauga’s Erin Mills Town Centre in the west, covering Midtown Toronto and Downtown Mississauga, both of which are important emerging urban growth centres in the GTHA, and Pearson Airport.

A well-connected frequent rapid transit network improves travel times between key regional destinations to enable transit users to get where they are going faster and to access further destinations. Of the four options, Option 4 will have the largest impact on regional transit accessibility, with 13,000 new transit trips and 140,000 person-minutes of morning peak transit travel time savings for the GTHA transit network as compared to the BAU scenario. [p 38]

In contrast, Option 1 will have the least impact, with 9,000 new transit trips and 60,000 person-minutes of morning peak transit travel time savings for the GTHA transit network. [p 39]

The statement about new transit trips omits that ridership on Option 1 is projected to be higher than for Option 4, although travel time savings would be less because of the surface alignment.

It is all very well to talk about major centres, but there are a lot of them, and moreover there is a lot of space in between. Travel time savings vary depending on where riders are going (their origin is not mapped here) and the large benefit is to employees in the airport district. However, this is spread over a large area, and good “last mile” links will be needed to make the simulated benefit actually useful.

There are some oddities on this map where a travel time increases are forecast implying that the demand model has a few kinks in it. A little piece of downtown Toronto is oddly a longer trip for riders after the LRT opens implying that the Eglinton West bus somehow has a far-reaching benefit on a corner of the city.

Underground Stations

There is a mildly amusing discussion of stations and accessibility.

Option 1 will be the most accessible as compared to other grade-separated options which feature elevated guideways and tunnels that require stations to be built further from the surface. Option 2 will be the least desirable in terms of station access and egress times as it features the most underground stations, which will likely require additional access times as compared to elevated stations.

Nonetheless, Option 2 together with Options 3 and 4 feature mostly grade-separated stations that afford the highest level of protection against severe weather conditions. The greater service reliability offered by these options is ultimately the most important contributing factor towards creating a more positive travel experience for transit users. [p 42]

One might suggest that the Eglinton West planners have a chat with the Ontario Line planners about the joys (or otherwise) of outdoor vs underground stations.

Shifting Ridership

The projected ridership profile for Option 4 is very interesting. The highest AM peak ridership is eastbound to the Spadina subway at Cedarvale (aka Eglinton West) Station, and continuing high over to Eglinton Station at Yonge.  However, on the Eglinton West extension, the predominant flow is outbound.

Note that the underlying network for this projection is supposed to include the Ontario Line, but the estimates for Science Centre station “Don Mills & Eglinton” suggest that boardings are more numerous than alightings (i.e.: more “ons” than “offs”).

The number of people getting off at Eglinton Station (over 8,000 in the peak period) should give pause to anyone thinking about “surplus” subway capacity.

No charts for other options were included in the report to show how their design would affect demand on the route.

The Line 5 extension is projected to draw many riders north from Line 2 (Bloor subway) to make their east-west journeys on Eglinton. Figure 15 below shows that the Eglinton West bus loses more riders to southbound demand, especially at Kipling, than it gains from northbound demand. This is expected to shift with the LRT in operation with some riders opting to stay on Eglinton would would otherwise travel south to Bloor.

Comparable numbers for the other options are not included in the report.

LRT vs Electric Buses

There is a passing reference to Electric Buses that warrants comment.

All options will be almost equally capable in reducing the GTHA’s contributions to climate change compared to the BAU due to the LRT’s cleaner energy source as compared to the traditional diesel bus, which the TTC recently aims to fully phase out beyond 2040. Besides, the LRT will likely produce lower well-to-wheel greenhouse gas (GhG) emission even when compared to electric buses with similar carrying capacity due to the former’s superiority in energy-efficient vehicle design. [p 52]

The issue referred to here is that any electric vehicle that includes an energy storage system wastes power on conversions from line to storage and back to motive power. This is not the case for a vehicle directly powered from overhead or third rail.

Cost Estimates

The initial capital costs are summarized in the table below and are stated in Year of Expenditure (YoE) as opposed to current dollars. Option 1 (surface) is of course the cheapest, although Option 3 saves a lot of money by crossing the Humber on a bridge and avoiding the cost of many stations. That is counterproductive as we have seen in the demand projections.

Option 1 has the highest cost for vehicle (and associated expansion of the Maintenance and Storage Facility) because the surface option has a slower speed (needing more cars to provide a given level of service) coupled with higher demand (needing more frequent service).

The ongoing operating, maintenance and capital renewal costs are also expressed in YoE terms. Because most of these occur in future decades, the cost is inflated relative to current dollars, especially for renewal items like replacement of the vehicle fleet in roughly 30 years.

The revenue effects table shows the distortion that comes by treating existing and net new riders differently. Option 1 has the highest demand, and therefore has the highest total revenue. However, Option 4 gets the most net new riders and therefore has the highest incremental revenue.

There is no consideration for the fact that some of the “existing” riders who come to Option 1 were formerly on Line 1 Bloor and by shifting them, space is available for other new riders.

The numbers above are collected into a single table which, unlike the source values, does include Net Present Value (NPV) adjustments to deflate future dollar values to current day. There are some strange things in this table.

First off, it is the total project revenue which is used, not the incremental value, and so at least here, total ridership takes precedence over new ridership.

Second, the ratio between the YoE values for Total Operating and Maintenance costs shown in Table 20 and the NPV values shown below are huge and well out of proportion to NPV adjustments for other factors. It is not credible that about $11 billion on a YoE basis reduces to $1.3 billion on an NPV basis. Similarly there is a very high ratio between YoE rehabilitation costs and the NPV values.

Unless this is resolved, the values shown below should be treated with suspicion.

In any event, the ROI for all options is low because of the low revenue benefit relative to capital cost, although the value is best for the surface option because it costs least and has the most demand.

Note that this analysis does not include any of the imputed benefits such as the value of travel time, or the alleged reduction in congestion from redirected auto-to-transit trips.

27 thoughts on “Eglinton West: An LRT Subway for Etobicoke?

  1. On the surface (ahem), it is unintuitive that Option 2, with faster, underground service but the same 9 stations as Option 1, has less ridership than Option 1.

    I understand that station access is poorer with underground stations, but surely the projected 6 minute time savings more than makes up for that?

    It would seem contradictory with the projections for Option 4, which is also underground, but drops 3 of Option 2’s stations to further reduce travel time by only 3 minutes, yet has higher ridership than Option 2.

    That smells to me like a number of knobs have been turned on the model to get an underground option (4) that doesn’t look too bad, when ignoring costs, compared to surface Option 1.


  2. I would never accuse transit planning in the GTA of consistency, but the AM ridership projection along the route yields some interesting observations.

    1) The ridership on Eglinton West is comparable or lower than the ridership between Science Centre and Kennedy, which is being built at-grade.
    2) The ridership between Renforth and Airport is lower than at any point along the at-grade ECLRT. A business case specific to that section might need herculean effort to justify rapid transit for that portion of the line.


  3. Hopefully final question.

    The above doesn’t indicate how many riders board/alight at Renfrew to transfer to the MiWay Transitway (essentially, continuing their east-west journey rather than going to the airport or having a Renforth destination). I’m curious to know what the travel time savings would be for Transitway buses that continue on and operate non-stop between Renforth and Mount Dennis vs. transfers to the 4 LRT options.

    I would think that Option 1 fares relatively poorly but Option 4 fares quite a bit better. I suspect Metrolinx’s models ‘like’ that kind of difference, even if it’s not the best way to build a network. (Since no transit is faster than one that never stops to pickup passengers).


  4. Great article. Seems lowest cost greatest ridership option should be the clear winner (ignoring the very poor business case). I am not sure how a different option could have ‘more new riders’ while having significantly less overall ridership unless more option 1 existing riders stop taking transit compared to new long distance riders? Maybe changes to feeder buses? Seems weird.

    Steve: The problem is in the way Metrolinx looks at the options. The surface option attracts more riders from other routes, notably the subway, because of easier connections. This pushes up ridership on Eglinton. The underground options attract more new riders because of the shorter travel times, but divert less traffic from other routes, netting out to a lower total ridership.


  5. None of Eglinton West’s major intersections is a node, even a suburban node. Scarlett and Eglinton is the busiest of the lot, with considerable density on the west side of Scarlett. It’s odd, then, that the super-express proposal situates the only intermediate stop at Jane. The intersection is in the middle of parkland, down in a floodplain. Golfers at the City golf course would be some of the few walk-on customers.

    The major commercial nodes on Eglinton West are at Wincott and Widdicombe. Removing these stops is a good way to eliminate any local shopping trips. So it’s a bit of a mystery why the option that does away with these stops has higher ridership than the one that includes the stops.

    To answer a question asked here, I don’t see why anyone would consider an extension of Mississauga’s busway to Mount Dennis instead of an LRT to Renforth. Not only does it not make sense from a transit perspective, it would have to run aboveground, and have the same effect on car traffic as the LRT would.

    I suppose the whole idea of burying the Eglinton West line is to get those pesky transit users out of the sight of the good burghers of mid-Etobicoke. I wonder where the Premier lives, and how often he uses his Presto card?


  6. Once the Finch West LRT reaches the airport, and assuming that the UPX Mount Dennis station doesn’t fail to materialize, I wonder if a better service design isn’t to have the Finch West line run through the airport to Renforth, instead of having EWLRT trains running up to the airport. For those originating near, east or south of Mount Dennis, the airport is not a likely destination via the EWLRT, since UPX can get you there faster (unless it remains much more expensive, especially for airport precinct workers).

    At some point in the future, it will make sense to convert the Miss. Transitway to Square One to LRT, and more ridership would want to continue east-west than have to transfer so that airport riders stay on. Although ECLRT line length at that point may be an overriding concern.

    On the other hand, since the ECLRT and FWLRT tracks and vehicles are compatible, or the same, there is no reason that Renforth couldn’t become a junction, with a more complex service plan.

    Steve: Why do I have visions of a very lost Finch Alstom car winding up at UTSC one day?

    Another issue here is the proposed link from frequent (remember frequent?) service in the GO/VIA Kitchener corridor with a link to the airport in both directions. The UPX might be reduced to a shuttle service. I can think of various configurations if the Eglinton and Finch LRTs existed to the airport and there was something coherent going on with the rail corridor. But every time we think we have a plan, we have an election and some bright spark has a better, dare I say it, a “smarter” idea.


  7. In response to Ed: I wasn’t contemplating a TransitWay extension, although Metrolinx did. I was thinking about MiWay’s service design after EWLRT is built. For Transitway users headed to Mount Dennis, EWLRT Option 1 doesn’t improve travel times by much. Metrolinx pegs the reduction as 5 minutes, but that is a wash for Transitway riders once a transfer at Renfrew is considered, and negative in terms of perceived time by riders, since riders perceive transfer time as longer than time spent underway.

    If Option 1 is bulit, MiWay might consider continuing to run buses from the Transitway to Mount Dennis as before, but change service to non-stop, shaving about 11 minutes from the trip rather than zero. That would be somewhat embarrassing, after spending over $2B on EWLRT, and if not accounted for, could dent Option 1’s ridership numbers a little bit.

    Option 4 for EWLRT would be more likely to make the bus alternatives unpalatable. Metrolinx models tends to over-privilege travel times, but this is one case where I can see that the models may be helping to more fully convert bus traffic to LRT.


  8. So apparently all options except the express option with no stops bring approximately the same benefit to Etobicoke residents, and it is the connection to the airport which skews things in favour of Option 4?

    I understand that Metrolinx as a regional transit agency is fixated on the airport connection, but as many have said this shows the folly of having a regional body plan local lines. Crosstown West should be primarily about best serving the residents of Etobicoke. Extra connections to the airport are great, but should not be the focus…any of the options improves connections to the airport. An express service to the airport already exists, in two forms (UP and the 900 bus from Kipling). At Steve often writes here, we need to serve local demand, not just trips between nodes someone has a fixation on.

    Burying the whole thing is just a function of Queen’s Park’s current subway obsession.

    Steve: On the subject of things “regional”, I have to mention the fever now gripping the airport authority who want to style their plot as “Union Station West”. They spend far too much time talking about the airport itself without addressing the large clusters of employment around, but not immediately next door, to the terminal. There are property owners south of the airport who distort the discussion toward serving their lands. The whole idea of SmartTrack was to find a way to get this auto-oriented district better served by transit because they had run out of road capacity. Meanwhile nobody talks about other parts of the airport including Dixon Road. It’s also important to note that the GTAA wants to put its new passenger terminal and transit gateway on the south north side of the site.


  9. To make an underground Eglinton West LRT more viable, they’ll have to rezone the surrounding neighbour from low density to high density.

    Start with Tettenhall Road (Doug Ford’s street). lol


  10. Steve: don’t you mean that the new passenger terminal and transit gateway are on the north side of the airport site, not the south?

    Steve: Sorry, you are correct. I got myself turned around in my mental map.


  11. Thanks for this Steve; and I’m sure you’re aware that Eglinton was in the 1957 plan for robust transit, out to c. Royal York in the west, and at least Don Mills on a straight-ish line, and nope, we didn’t really get around to doing it till almost now.

    A further point is that if we are at all serious about addressing the climate chaos/breakdown, we gotta rethink air travel and our hypermobility, especially as we aren’t counting air travel in our GHGs, and then there’s a double impact from the height of emissions. We’re already in the climate criminal camp for knowing full well about all of this stuff, and really not acting, so I do hope that the inevitable lawsuits actually target more the individuals responsible, ie. the Cons and those ridings that have voted for them, frequent fryers, and yes, those who have jobs in the industry/area, and the taxpayer/public is somewhat off the hook, though yes, we’re all a bit involved in the problem, me too.. But if there has just been a ruling to nix expansion of Heathrow on climate grounds, then we must adjust here, especially with the methane of the north lurking to bubble up and away.

    So it may not make ‘planning’ sense what’s proposed, but it seems clear that conclusion is from the wrong perspective. Election planning is more important than public interest/value, and the answer to “What is it that these Conservatives are conserving?” is ‘Con-self-serving.”


  12. Option 1 is the only sensible choice. Cost of 4 is an incredible waste of money, money that could be better spent elsewhere on transit.


  13. I’m missing something: where does the concept of MiWay buses running through from Renforth to Mt Dennis come from? With stops (apparently)?

    Eglinton today is a traffic mess in rush hour. If there’s a problem on the 401 east of the 427, everyone tries to escape to Eglinton, with predictable results.

    The only sensible connection for MiWay buses would be dedicated jump lanes at the very least. That will help in ordinary bad traffic, but if anything goes wrong, the traffic can be lined up solid for a kilometre back from each intersection. Then we start talking about an actual busway on the surface.

    That would be kind of crazy given that we have some kind of LRT underground already.


  14. Steve wrote: Another issue here is the proposed link from frequent (remember frequent?) service in the GO/VIA Kitchener corridor with a link to the airport in both directions.

    Airport rail service configuration is a thorny issue with no great solution. I think that in the long run, it makes sense to cut the Gordian knot and spend a ton of treasure to route the Kitchener line through the airport’s passenger intermodal terminal. This would come from Malton following the west side of Airport Road, and then using as little tunnel as feasible, getting back to the Kitchener corridor. Bonus marks for serving more of the Dixon/Belfield mega commercial area. It would only be for electric RER trains, but then diesels will only be on the longest-haul routes anyway.

    The ‘Eglinton’ and Finch LRTs should then take a route roughly orthogonal to GO, and serve the airport intermodal terminal plus north and south employment areas.

    I recognize that this is hideously expensive, but it’s the best way to integrate the airport into the city’s transit network. Of course, it won’t happen.


  15. Ed wrote: I’m missing something: where does the concept of MiWay buses running through from Renforth to Mt Dennis come from? With stops (apparently)?

    No stops. The concept comes from it being faster than Option 1, for Transitway riders headed to Mt Dennis (EWLRT will mean those folks are transferring modes twice, unless heading further east on the Crosstown).

    It’s purely speculative, because although MiWay does this with the 107 and 109 – running along the Transitway, then from Renforth to Humber College and Islington station – it does not do it for Mt Dennis (there’s no reason to until the Crosstown is built there). But once the Crosstown opens, MiWay may decide to run its buses there (non-stop), supplementing the local TTC route 32A and saving a transfer for its customers.

    Then, if EWLRT Option 1 were built, the TTC would end route 32A, but MiWay would have incentive to continue offering its express service.


  16. I’m surprised by how few people are disembarking at Mount Dennis in this model, or transferring at Caledonia at all. Does Metrolinx’s own model not include GO expansion operating by 2041? Or is this just how little impact GO will actually have on the TTC?

    Steve: They claim that the model is using the 2041 network and service plan, but as you say some of the flows look a bit odd. That said, I think the portion of the line west of Mount Dennis is not generating much downtown-oriented traffic, but rather is handling local traffic between north south routes. The fact that outbound demand is higher in the AM peak than inbound also shows how this is an area where downtown and travel patterns to it do not dominate. Traffic on the 401 is similarly focused to the west, not to the south.


  17. Now that I finally consulted some models, I found less than 20,000 Mississauga residents (in 2019) that would have the Transitway-EWLRT-KI route to downtown be the fastest. And I suspect a third of those would get shaved off by the completion of the Hurontario line.

    So most of the demand for eastbound AM alighting at Mt. Dennis would come from Etobicoke residents. That partly explains why the alighting number is so small but I still question it. The western alighting and both boarding numbers don’t surprise me.

    Fun Fact: Today, there are about 6,000 Mississauga residents for whom the fastest route to Union is via the Transitway, Pearson and UPX.


  18. Re the Crosstown westerly extension: given the lengthy details to startups, the Ford government hopefully will be gone by the time final approval is received as to construction mode. I generally prefer the mainly-surface option as, by keeping costs down, money is theoretically available for other projects, eg, the Crosstown eastern extension.


  19. Given that Options 1 and 2 include same stops, and Option 2 is faster, it is a bit surprising that the model predicts a higher weekday boarding count for Option 1 (Figure 14). Looks like a typo, unless they assume the stairs / elevators required in Option 2 will turn some riders away.

    Option 2 isn’t feasible anyway, noone is going to build that many underground stations.

    Steve: The demand model shows that riders who now use the Bloor subway for the east west-link in their trip would shift their travel north to Eglinton. This depends on connections with north-south bus routes which are less convenient with the underground options.


  20. What I find most surprising is that in the 1950’s and 1960’s, construction by cut-and-cover was found to be the best solution, in terms of cost, construction time and efficiency, and ease of access from street to track.

    Now, the analysis (for Eglinton, SSE, previous Central Eglinton, Spadina Subway extension) shows that TBM is the cheapest and most appropriate solution. Considering that the tunneling technology has been around for 150 years, I find this a little suspicious. Could it be that the design and construction decisions are not being made by engineers or with the consideration for efficiency and optimization.

    Steve: There are a few important differences.

    First, there is the very substantial upheaval of cut-and-cover construction. In the case of the original Yonge line this only affected Yonge Street from north of College to Union. This was accepted as the cost of progress. I am waiting for the screams when businesses find out how big a hole will be dug in Bloor Street to expand Bloor-Yonge Station. They will not be happy campers.

    The rest of the line is offset from the road and everything it its path was demolished. The same thing happened for the Bloor-Danforth subway which is located north of Bloor and Danforth, and which has a trail of parking lots and relatively new buildings in its path.

    By the time the Yonge line was extended north from Eglinton, this type of construction was abandoned except for the segment from Sheppard to Finch.

    One important point about Eglinton is that the terrain has a lot of hills and valleys, and for cut-and-cover this would have been a challenge because the line follows less steep grades than the street above. Also, Eglinton is a major utility corridor through the older part of the city and tunneling below this avoids much disruption.

    You can see how deep the structure is at stations. Imagine this along the route.

    As for Eglinton West, I don’t think a cut-and-cover option was ever seriously considered. Only surface vs deep tunnel.


  21. Besides cut&cover and TBM, there’s also New Austrian Tunnelling Method, where they mine out the tunnel and stations underground. That’s what was used in Ottawa because it’s supposedly cheaper though slower. After seeing what is happening with Eglinton and it’s TBM construction where they still have to shut down the road for several years to dig out the stations anyway, I’m actually a lot more receptive to cut&cover.


  22. Y’know all of this analysis is sort of pointless. The fact of the matter is that Doug Ford wants a subway in his riding, and he’s going to get it even if he has to rob the rest of Ontario to do it. Back in January 13, before these business case studies came out, Verster was already saying on TVO’s Agenda that Metrolinx was going to build a subway on Eglinton West. All the stats have been cooked. All this talk about regional networks is a lie. Their own map shows that Mississauga has worse travel times with the building of a subway on Eglinton because it’s faster for Mississauga riders to take a direct express bus down to the Bloor subway using the existing dedicated highway bus lanes. And they seem to purposely leave out any analysis of building an elevated line to save costs and to improve accessibility even though they argue for those exact same benefits for the much denser downtown Toronto.

    I’m also surprised there isn’t more of an uproar over Infrastructure Ontario’s insistence on using a PPP to build the line seeing as there are literal front-page scandals over Infrastructure Ontario’s handling of the PPP tendering for the transit lines in Ottawa. Is Toronto so self-absorbed that they don’t even notice what’s going on in the rest of Ontario?

    Steve: I think Toronto is waiting until June 2022 when they can throw Doug Ford out of Queen’s Park. Infrastructure Ontario will be harder as it’s a Liberal creation, and the folks there should only start polishing their resumes if the NDP forms the next government. IO is a pox on the transit landscape, but it keeps an army of potential contractors busy lusting after potential profits, at least until IO screws up by trying to transfer too much risk to the private sector.


  23. Ed says, “The major commercial nodes on Eglinton West are at Wincott and Widdicombe. Removing these stops is a good way to eliminate any local shopping trips. So it’s a bit of a mystery why the option that does away with these stops has higher ridership than the one that includes the stops.”

    I agree, especially given that hundreds of condo/townhouse lodgings have been built in the past few years (and are still being built) on the north side of Eglinton Avenue West along part of the frontage of the large commercial plaza situated at Wincott Drive, as well as westward along Eglinton and also east of Kipling Avenue plus west of Kipling Avenue, north of the Metro grocery store at Widdicombe Hill Blvd. There must be SOME of those residents who would opt to use transit rather than joining the throng of hundreds of cars each hour during the morning and evening rush periods. (The Route 32 Eglinton buses certainly aren’t empty along that stretch, especially given that there’s a high school (Martin Grove Collegiate) at the corner of Martin Grove Rd. and Eglinton Avenue West).

    Me, I shook my head when Build Toronto, a City corporation that is, in effect, Toronto’s real estate arm, sold off all of that portion of the Richview lands that had been originally held for the stillborn Richview Expressway construction and that, theoretically, could have been used as a foundation for the Eglinton Crosstown LRT once it finally made its way west of Weston and Mount Dennis. Or not. But nothing like that ain’t happenin’ now and I’ve always wondered if Rob and Doug Ford had it in their heads to prevent that “crazy nonsense” from taking place in a space that, of course, was destined to integrate a SUBWAY – and ONLY a subway.

    Ah, well, pipe dreams now. And with Doug sitting on the throne at Queen’s Park, any vestige of a sensible plan (or even a timely not-so-sensible plan) is most definitely up in smoke.

    Steve: Actually the city retained enough of the Richview lands so that Eglinton could be widened for an LRT right of way. That is the surface option.


  24. The drawings that I have seen for Eglinton West shows the Natural Gas line on the south side of road. There is still plenty of room on the north side. Even at the townhouses near Kipling there is 12m available (and at other places, it’s much more). They could even squeeze Eglinton a bit narrower and dig partly under the north lane of Eglinton. Of course the side platform station (which is currently planned), would have to be marginally west of Kipling, or staggered.
    If ever, now is the time to re-start cut-and-cover. People now realize that TBM is not the pain (and disruption) free panacea that it was thought to be a decade ago. Cut-and-cover is faster as it doesn’t require the tunnel to go through, before station construction can start. We can tell from Eglinton that stations are by far the most time consuming, so it’s good to get a head start on them. Stations are shallower, thus they can be constructed faster and cheaper – and are more convenient in service to boot. Maybe we have to pull out the CO2 card, and say the stations have less concrete requirements, with concrete being a large contributor to GHGs. Construction methods are much simpler allowing multiple local contractors to do the work, and starting at multiple locations at once if needed. If Toronto want’s to build this on time, and for reasonable budget, cut-and-cover is the only option.

    This also would make sense on McCowan. Here, and likely Eglinton West as well, they would make use of precast concrete components so the construction duration (and disruption to traffic) is reduced some more.

    Maybe what we need is a poorly worded P3 contract (nudge-nudge, wink-wink), that opens the door for the contractor use cut-and-cover if they provide some nominal compensation to the city. This way, the contractor lowers his bid by $1B (note it’s a cheaper bid, not profit to contractor), hands over maybe $50M to the city as compensation, and everyone’s happy.

    PS. I think the New Austrian Tunneling Method requires competent rock, otherwise some settlement developed to mobilize the strength of the soil or fractured rock.

    Steve: There is a Wikipedia entry for this method, and it is quite clear that it is for rock tunnels. We are not talking about that type of condition in almost any tunnel we will build in Toronto.


  25. I’d like to correct a couple items about the Downtown Ottawa Transit Tunnel, which opened for revenue service last September.

    1) An excavation tunneling method was used for the rock portions, but given the short tunnel length and particular geology, it was forecast to take less time than a TBM. However, the sand tunneling portions were .. what’s the word? … problematic. Despite some difficulties keeping Ottawa from turning into a giant sinkhole*, the 12.5km project went from contract approval to in service in 5.5 years.

    *not to be confused with the ever-bigger cash sinkhole located slightly north of the tunnel.

    2) It was not an IO project. The City consulted with IO on how to run a P3. It’s not clear how much difference it would have made. The City put a lot more financial risk onto the construction consortium than any IO project has. Unfortunately, in a DBFOM P3, it’s hard to avoid the risk of incompetent maintenance, which is what Ottawa is now suffering through (among other things), and being the guinea pig for Alstom’s ‘winterized’ trains which apparently don’t like moisture or cold, natch.

    ‘Phase 2’ was not an IO project either, else the City may not have managed somehow to award the contract to a consortium that failed the technical scoring, twice.

    The tragedy of P3 screwups in Phase 1 alone will make a great case study. The pair of Phase P3s will then deliver the farce.


  26. Life should become more relaxed for you in the near future, Steve, because all you’ll have to do is slightly modify your review of this Metrolinx business case to make it applicable to all the others that follow. These things are being ground out by people who are just hungry for public cash and will dance to any tune that is played in order to get it. Those temporarily occupying the Metrolinx executive suite — at least one of them marginally hidden — just keep telling these eager transportation “experts” what they want and — voila! — it is done.

    Steve: Actually, it is necessary to read their “business cases” cover to cover because they are written by different groups and have different approaches to similar problems.

    We can always hope for a thorough housecleaning at Metrolinx when the Ford crew are defeated, but then we hoped for that when the Liberals left. Metrolinx managed to worm its way into Ford’s good books by delivering on his transit fantasies.


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