At its February 10, 2021 meeting, the TTC Board receive a long report entitled Transit Network Expansion.
The raison-d’être for the report is to obtain the authorization to increase staffing by 34 positions that would be funded by Metrolinx, but would be part of the TTC’s stucture. Many aspects of projects underway by Metrolinx depend on TTC input and acceptance because they affect lines the TTC will operate and, at least partly, maintain. A new Transit Expansion Assurance Department within Engineering & Construction. The authorization include provision for temporary expansion beyond 34 should this be required.
This move is intriguing because it implies Metrolinx has accepted that it cannot build new lines completely on their own without TTC input, especially when they will operate as part of the TTC network.
The report also requests authorization for:
[…] the Chief Executive Officer, in consultation with the City Manager, City of Toronto where applicable, to negotiate a Master Agreement and/or other applicable Agreements with the Province and/or any other relevant provincial agency for the purposes of the planning, procurement, construction, operations, and maintenance of the Subway Program, in accordance with Board and City Council direction, and to report back to the Board on the results of such negotiations. [pp. 2-3]
There is a great deal more involved in building and operating transit projects than holding a press conference with little more than a nice map. Now comes the hard part of actually doing the work. Whether Metrolinx will negotiate in good faith remains to be seen, but the TTC and Toronto appear to be less willing to hide Metrolinx’ faults in light of the Presto screwups.
Another recommendation has a hint that all is not well with consultations, as that should be any surprise to those who deal regularly with Metrolinx.
Request Metrolinx to conduct meaningful engagement with the TTC’s Advisory Committee on Accessible Transit (ACAT) as part of the Project Specific Output Specification (PSOS) review and design review for all projects within the provincial programs. [p. 3]
The operative word here is “meaningful”. ACAT has already complained of difficulties with Metrolinx including such basics as poorly designed elevators on the Eglinton Crosstown line that cannot be “fixed” because they have already been ordered.
Right from the outset, the TTC claims to have a significant role, a very different situation from the days when Metrolinx claimed it would be easy for them to take over the subway system.
The TTC continues to play a key role in the planning, technical review, and implementation of all major transit expansion projects in Toronto and the region. These include the Toronto Light Rail Transit Program and the provincial priority subway projects, referred to collectively as the “Subways Program”: the Ontario Line; the Scarborough Subway Extension; the Yonge North Subway Extension; and the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension. [p. 1]
In support of the staffing request, the report goes into great detail on many projects:
- Bloor-Yonge capacity expansion
- Line 1 north extension (Richmond Hill subway)
- Line 2 east extension (Scarborough subway)
- Line 3 (future Ontario Line)
- Line 5 Eglinton Crosstown LRT and proposed extensions to the east and west
- Line 6 Finch LRT
- Waterfront transit
- Bus priority corridors
Two projects are not listed among the group above, but there is a description buried in the section on Bloor-Yonge expansion.
- Overall subway system capacity and service expansion
- Any discussion of the Line 2 renewal project
There is no discussion at all about renewal and expansion of surface service. This is just as important as new lines, but it is not seen as “expansion” with the political interest and funding that brings. Yes, this is a “rapid transit” report, but the core network of subway lines dies without the surface feeder routes, and many trips do not lie conveniently along rapid transit corridors.
The map below shows the location of most of the projects, but there are some odd inclusions and omissions.
- The RapidTO bus corridors are not included.
- City-funded GO stations at St. Clair/Old Weston, Lansdowne, King/Liberty, East Harbour and Finch/Kennedy are shown.
- GO funded stations at Woodbine Racetrack, Mount Dennis, Caledonia and Park Lawn are shown.
- The planned improvement at between TTC’s Dundas West and GO’s Bloor station is not shown, nor is any potential link between Main and Danforth stations.
- SmartTrack stations are shown, but there is no discussion of how GO or ST service would fit into the overall network.
The following two maps have attracted a lot of attention, although they do not tell the full story. Much as I am a streetcar/LRT advocate, the presence of the entire streetcar network here is misleading, especially in the absence of the RapidTO proposals. Some of the streetcar lines run in reserved lanes, although thanks to overly generous scheduling some of them are no faster than the mixed-traffic operations they replaced (notably St. Clair). However, most of these routes rank equivalently to the bus network in terms of transit priority. If we are going to show the streetcar lines, why not the 10-minute network of key bus route?
The map is also distorted by having different and uneven scales in both directions. The size of downtown is exaggerated while other areas are compressed.
For example, the distance from Queen to Bloor is, in reality, half that of Bloor to Eglinton and one quarter of Eglinton to Finch. It is also one quarter of the distance from Yonge west to Jane or east to Victoria Park. For comparison, the TTC System Map is to scale, and it shows the city in its actual rectangular form.
This map gives an impression of coverage, but masks the size of the gaps between routes as one moves away from the core. Bus riders know all about those gaps.
By 2031, the network is hoped to look something like this. No BRT proposals are shown, but we do see the waterfront extensions west to Dufferin, and east to Broadview (East Harbour). Also missing are the GO corridors which, by 2031, should have frequent service and (maybe) attractive fares. They are (or should be) as much a part of “Future Rapid Transit” as the TTC routes.
This map is trying to do too much and too little at the same time. It also reveals a quite selective view of “regional” transit.
I am not trying to argue for a map that shows every detail, but it should exist (a) in scale and (b) in formats with overlays showing major parts of the network and how they relate to the overall plan. When people concentrate on the pretty coloured lines, they tend to forget the other equally important parts of the network.
The City-Province Relationship
City Council is on record with a raft of “directives” about how the relationship between the TTC and province should work. How much weight these carry in the real world of negotiations with Metrolinx remains to be seen. Some of these should be self-evident, in that responsibility for maintaining and operating extensions to existing lines should fall to the TTC. The situation with new, self-contained routes such as Crosstown, Finch West and the Ontario Line is not as clear. The actual agreement had a much-watered down version of this:
City/TTC will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Provincial Projects and the existing transit system, including in respect of labour relations. [p. 7]
The City also wants the fare structure to be unified within Toronto, not based on distance, and set by the TTC. Someone should remind the TTC’s fare policy study team that fare-by-distance is off of the table, at least if one believes that the City would or could hold to this policy in the face of provincial pressure.
City Council directed staff as part of work with Metrolinx on the Ontario Line, to ensure that: (a) there is full and affordable fare integration between all lines, systems and technologies, including a single fare for rides within the City of Toronto; (b) fares not be established based on distance; and (c) fares for any new lines be established by the TTC Board. [p. 7]
Funding and cost sharing remains somewhat vague as to quantity, but it is clear that the City will be on the hook to pay O&M costs for the system built by the province, even to the point that if 905 municipalities refuse to contribute their fair share. The report is silent on the continued subsidy of the Vaughan extension by the City of Toronto. There is no discussion of how the operating costs due to third party maintenance contracts (for example, running vehicle and infrastructure maintenance on the Crosstown) will be set and audited.
The arrangement between the Province and the City related to operations of the Provincial Projects will reflect the following core terms:
• Farebox revenue from the Provincial Projects will be applied to defray operating costs;
• In respect of a Provincial Project that extends beyond the boundary of the City to another municipality, the Province will negotiate with the relevant neighbouring municipality to secure an ongoing operating contribution, commensurate with the level of subway service provided in that municipality and,
• Subject to [the] above, any net subsidy required to operate each of the Provincial Projects will be the responsibility of the City.
The Province will define with the City, through ‘Operating & Maintenance (O&M) Agreements’ for the Provincial Projects, the specific roles and responsibilities of the parties, including (but not limited) to: (a) The performance of all maintenance functions; and, (b) The associated funding responsibilities of all maintenance functions. [p. 7]
The City will get several new lines at no cost on their capital budget, and with a substantial reallocation of federal funding. In October 2019, City Council authorized that federal monies formerly intended for the Scarborough and Relief Lines be reallocated to other capital projects. Meanwhile, Ontario hopes for a 40 per cent federal contribution to its projects, and all of this is coming from a limited pot of available federal subsidy.
This is a big shell game where the municipal, provincial and federal shares move from project to project, and there is no acknowledgement that each level has limitations on its spending. The combined value of the four key provincial projects – Scarborough, Richmond Hill, Eglinton West and Ontario Line – is in striking distance of $20 billion. The supposed federal share would amount to $8 billion, more than half of all announced national federal funding through to 2028. When Premier Ford announced his transit plans, he claimed that Ontario would go it alone if the feds did not contribute funding, but his resolve will be tested if that 40 per cent share does not appear.
Meanwhile at the City level:
Subject to entering into the Preliminary Agreement, and in anticipation of the realization of the City’s project expectations including project benefits as described in this report, City Council endorse the re-allocation of the federal funding under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program Public Transit Infrastructure Fund Phase 2 in accordance with the following, and direct the City Manager to advise the Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario accordingly:
a) up to $0.660 billion for the Province’s proposed three-stop Line 2 East Extension as described in the 2019 Ontario Budget; and
b) up to $3.151 billion for the Province’s proposed Ontario Line as described in the 2019 Ontario Budget and Initial Business Case.Source: Toronto-Ontario Transit Update at p. 5
Moreover, a large bill will be due as operation of the new lines ramps up. This has implications for future growth of service overall because a disproportionate amount of available operating funds could go to running new rapid transit lines. The TTC’s mid-to-long range planning does not acknowledge this looming problem. Thanks to the secrecy of Metrolinx’ contracts with private-sector partners we have no idea of the future costs that could be billed to the City as “operating and maintenance”, nor how these might be affected by policy decisions on service levels and quality.
Note that the reallocations above are separate from the City’s recent decision to redirect $1.238 billion in municipal funding to the Eglinton East LRT (1.6 per cent on municipal property tax bills).
- $880.4 million in funding supported by the Scarborough Subway Extension levy (1.6 per cent on property taxes), and
- $357.1 million from the Transit SSE Development Charge Reserve Fund.
The distribution of responsibilities between the TTC, Metrolinx and the operating company contracted by Metrolinx will be complex. The chart below is the TTC’s view of how things might work. Of particular note is that Metrolinx has responsibility for almost nothing except one key component – the service plan – and that is jointly with the TTC. There is no discussion of who has ultimate authority over service levels, nor of how future demand growth would be addressed.
Control Centre Integration
As part of its operating responsibilities and requirements, the TTC will integrate the control centre function for the Crosstown, Finch and Ontario lines in its Transit Control Centre (now located at the Hillcrest complex). Work is already underway in preparation for the Eglinton Crosstown opening in 2022.
In the case of the Eglinton Crosstown Line:
Critical to support an integrated transit network to provide a seamless, customer journey is a fully physically and procedurally integrated transit control centre. With the addition of the LRT, the TTC’s Transit Control Centre is being modified to include the systems required to control and monitor train movement, fire alarms, traction power, and other important activities that Transit Control currently performs for TTC network. […] It is expected that this work will be completed by February 2022. [p. 40]
In the case of the Ontario Line:
The TTC’s role as operator includes an integrated transit control centre, stations management and responsibility for the customer experience and customer journey. [p. 35]
Bloor-Yonge Station Expansion
I have already written about this project (see Expanding Bloor-Yonge Station) and have little to add here.
In brief, a new eastbound platform will be provided on the lower (Line 2 Bloor-Danforth) level to separate eastbound and westbound passengers. The upper level concourse areas linking Lines 1 and 2 will be substantially expanded by building out underneath Bloor Street to provide added circulation space. Ventillation capacity will be greatly increased to bring the station to current fire code.
This diagram shows the lower (Line 2) level of the station.
This drawing shows the upper concourse and Line 1 level.
Note how much of the expansion lies under Bloor Street and how the subway structure overall is constrained by existing buildings. The diagrams below show the outlines of the existing and expanded station on both levels.
The schedule for this project is:
- Q2 2021: Stage gate 3 with project baseline and updated cost estimate
- 2022: Early works
- 2024: Primary construction begins
- 2029: Expanded station opens in advance of Line 1 Richmond Hill extension
Funding of $500 million from each of the City of Toronto, Ontario and the federal governments is hoped for, although not all of it has been secured.
Expansion of Bloor-Yonge stations in various ways has been proposed from time to time over past decades. Aside from the engineering complexities of some schemes, there was a sense that “fixing” Bloor-Yonge and some improved signalling was all that was needed. Even worse, the need for “relief” of subway demand was downplayed on the premise that much more frequent service, and hence greater capacity, could be operated.
Only in the past decade, roughly, has the TTC acknowledged that more service has many knock-on effects on fleets, stations, power and more, and that the idea that we could just fit everyone into trains on the existing lines was complete folly. This attitude suited an era when the emphasis was on suburban expansion without the pesky difficulty of accommodating riders downtown.
Things have changed, and now we are playing “catch-up” with planning for riders and capacity that should already exist, not be in early stages of design.
Lines 1 and 2 Capacity Expansion
A priority for the TTC and the City, the Line 1 and Line 2 Capacity Enhancement Programs are a vital body of planning, engineering, and operational design work that is crucial to moving customers effectively on the TTC subway network. This TTC program will identify and deliver a significant suite of enhancements that will allow more frequent subway service to be operated on both lines. The comprehensive program is designed to deliver sufficient capacity to meet projected demand well into the future, and to ensure that additional ridership from increased development, a growing Toronto population, and the subway expansion projects can be safely and effectively accommodated.
Increasing system capacity is not simply a matter of running more trains. Many aspects of operations and capital needs are affected. All of these must be co-ordinated so that the promise of system improvements is supported, not undone. Past TTC planning has been too simplistic with a focus on single topics such as the automatic train control program or selective upgrades to key stations. The list now flagged by the TTC includes many items that have been ignored, at least in public discussions, in the past.
Inter-dependencies include but are not limited to:
• impact to existing terminal and interchange stations
• turnback operation
• electrical traction power
• fire ventilation and train control systems
• train storage and maintenance requirements, as well as
• station capacities
These are all an integral part of the existing subway operating environment that are dependent and/or require integration and interface management with expansion projects.
The report assumes that fleet growth can be handled through smaller storage facilities on the outer ends of the Richmond Hill and Scarborough extensions, as well as modifications to Greenwood Yard. There is no discussion of co-existence of current and future fleets during delivery, nor of a potential new carhouse at the Obico Yard lands southwest of Kipling Station which the City is acquiring.
The provincial projects have a bearing on TTC fleet expansion and new rail maintenance, and storage facility plans. TTC new subway train procurement plans for existing lines will require modification to include additional trains funded by the Province for Line 1 Yonge extension and Line 2 East Extension. The larger train fleets will require a re-evaluation of TTC plans for the size and location of expanded subway maintenance facilities.
If the capacity must be increased at Bloor-Yonge, this affects the number of trains required over the entirety of Lines 1 and 2. Past fleet estimates were based on the existing level of service, not on the higher level possible with ATC. Politically there may be a desire to see “full service” to the end of a line, but that has implications for both capital and operating costs. For example, early plans for the Scarborough extension included a turnback at Kennedy. This was cut in the one-stop extension plan, but is now reinstated in the station design.
Running more trains requires more power. Bringing more passengers to stations requires more circulation space including vertical links between platforms and the street, and improving stations to current fire code notably for ventilation.
Line 1 Richmond Hill Extension
The Richmond Hill extension has been an apple in York Region’s eye for decades. The idea that somehow additional riders would fit on the Yonge line goes back to the 1990s when a recession cut TTC ridership and peak subway demand by twenty percent (annual rides dropped from 450 to 360 million). That transient situation set the stage for the idea that there was plenty of room for more riders, an assumption that was unshakeable for years. Some TTC management could not understand why a “relief” line would be needed when everyone from Richmond Hill would easily be handled on the existing line with a few more trains.
The extension might have as many as six stations, although it remains to be seen whether the provincial government will leave all of them on the map. Within Toronto they would be at Cummer and at Steeles. Up to four more would be in York Region.
This project was taken over by Metrolinx/IO with Doug Ford’s new transit plan in April 2019. Capital funding would come from the province, although there is an appeal to the federal government for a 40 per cent contribution. Whether this will actually be available will depend on how funding in various envelopes (some only recently announced) is divvied up. There is not enough to pay for everything.
As to operating costs, as noted earlier, “the Province will negotiate with the relevant neighbouring municipality to secure an ongoing operating contribution”. Negotiate? When Ontario wants to do something in Toronto, they simply huff and puff and legislate Toronto’s objections out of their way. Toronto was already hornswoggled into paying roughly $1 million per month to subsidize the Vaughan subway, and Toronto taxpayers have every right to demand that York Region pull their weight. (That sweetheart deal was engineered by a former Liberal MPP for Vaughan, Greg Sorbara.)
Marginal new revenue from the extension will be low because so many riders will already be TTC users who pay fares for their trip south from Finch Station.
The TTC expects that the line will be designed not just for existing Yonge-University service levels, but for more frequent service to come when the benefits of of ATC are exploited starting in late 2022. They expect that the extension:
[…] has sufficient end of line train maintenance and storage facilities to support operation of the extension, and operation of more frequent service on the existing line. [p31]
The extension would be targeted to open in 2029-30 following opening of the Ontario Line to relieve demand on Line 1.
The next major step will be “the evaluation of the Province’s recommended alignment and station locations”. The City, York Region, and the Province continue to discuss the number and locations of stations, but much will depend on how much Queen’s Park wants to spend on this extension. The service plan from Finch northward will be an important component here. If all trains run through to Richmond Hill, the fleet will have to be bigger. This will affect the initial capital cost, the amount of train storage required at Richmond Hill, and the operating cost for which York Region will, in theory, be responsible.
Line 2 Scarborough Extension
The Scarborough extension, a subject of much controversy over the years, will reach the initial stage of work in 2021 with “early works” including:
- utility relocations,
- expansion of the substation and ventilation structures at Kennedy Station,
- preparation of the tunnel boring launch and extraction sites, and
- construction of headwalls at stations and emergency exits.
The contract(s) for tunneling, station construction, and fitting out the line will be awarded in winter-spring 2023 according to the most recent update from Infrastructure Ontario. The target opening date is sometime in 2029-2030.
The existing SRT will be decommissioned in 2023, and planning is now underway for various interim service options and routings.
Ontario has taken over funding responsibility for this project, and hopes for a 40 per cent federal contribution. Toronto already had a $660 million federal share lined up for the Scarborough LRT, later the TTC’s subway extension project, and the City has agreed to transfer this to Ontario’s SSE project. It is nowhere near 40 per cent of the roughly $6 billion touted as a current project cost.
The extension will include a pocket track east of Kennedy Station where service can be turned back so that only half of the trains run through to Sheppard/McCowan Station in a manner similar to the practice on Line 1 north of Glencairn Station in the AM peak (pre-covid service design). As with the Richmond Hill extension, if political pressure forces the TTC to run full service to the end of the line, this will affect fleet requirements, train storage and future operating costs.
Construction of the line directly affects both the proposed Eglinton Crosstown East Extension (Kennedy Station to UTSC and beyond) as well as operation of faster bus service in the Eglinton corridor with the RapidTO bus lanes. There will also be an effect on the SRT replacement service to the extent that bus replacements are affected by congestion from the construction activities.
The next major event for this project will be a review of provincial station designs.
Line 3 Ontario Line
The Ontario Line has been discussed in many articles on this site before, and I will not repeat that information in detail. It is planned as an automated transit line running from the Exhibition to the Science Centre by way of a meandering route across downtown, through the planned East Harbour development and then north to Eglinton. The vertical alignment proposed is a mix of underground, at grade and elevated running.
There has not been any announcement on the Ontario Line’s fleet (allegedly it is up to the eventual “operating” company to select a fleet), but Metrolinx routinely uses photos from Vancouver as an example of what they have in mind.
The alignment is effective settled, at least in Metrolinx’ mind, although there is an ongoing battle about the route from the Don River to Gerrard Station, and also rumblings of opposition to an elevated structure through Thorncliffe/Flemingdon Park.
Opening is planned for 2030.
Because the Ontario Line will be sui generis on the Toronto network, the City wants to ensure that it is part of the TTC’s fare territory rather than having its own tariff. However, the report only speaks of Ontario Line transfers to and from GO Transit (which would occur at Exhibition and East Harbour Stations), implying that the main concern is that a “TTC” fare is collected from riders who transfer between the two provincial services.
Any special fare payment arrangements at the two stations with OL-GO train connections be consistent with applicable TTC fare policy and fare collection plans. [p. 35]
There is also a concern that the Ontario Line not interfere with existing and planned streetcar operations at the Exhibition. Now that the OL station has been shifted entirely north of the rail corridor, it is less likely that the new line will interfere with streetcar operations to the south.
It does not preclude the continued operation of the TTC’s existing Exhibition Loop, and does not preclude the proposed extension of streetcar tracks between Exhibition Loop and Dufferin Street. [p. 35]
The next major planning step will be a detailed evaluation of the proposed alignment and stations.
Current plans for the Ontario Line would divide the construction and operations into three parts:
- Southern civil works, stations and tunnels (west of the Don River).
- Rolling stock, systems, operations and maintenance.
- The requests for proposals for these two contracts are in market closing in late 2021, and with contract award expected in fall 2022.
- Northern civil works, stations and tunnels (east and north of the Don River): A request for qualifications will be issued on spring 2022, with a request for proposals in fall 2022, and contract award in spring 2024.
Recent comments by the CEOs of both Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario suggest that the award of a few large contracts like this may not be the way they will proceed in the future, and so it is unclear just how the work will actually be broken up and managed. Much will depend on the market response to the proposal calls.
Originally, the Ontario Line Maintenance & Storage Facility was to be located in the northeastern portion of Thorncliffe Park close to the Gatineau Hydro corridor in what is now an industrial area. The province and City are discussing possible alternate sites because of the City’s concern about employment lands in the area and the effect on the road network. Nothing specific has been revealed yet, and it will be interesting to learn if an alternative can be found. One aspect of site selection will be the amount of actual train storage, as opposed to maintenance space, given that with automated equipment, smaller storage areas can be sprinkled around the line rather than consolidated at one location where operators would pick up their trains.
Line 5 Eglinton Crosstown
The Eglinton Crosstown LRT has been under construction for several years, but is planned to open in April 2022 although there is some doubt about whether this will actually be achieved. Metrolinx has not yet announced a formal date, but the timing is politically important because of the provincial election likely in mid-2022. The transition to revenue service has begun as shown in the chart below.
Staff recruiting is already underway (these are net additions over the bus operators who will be redeployed to service elsewhere). Total TTC staffing is projected at 235 positions. Train-the-trainer sessions will occur through 2021 with training of operating staff to follow through late 2021 and into 2022.
Two major interchange stations (Kennedy and Cedarvale/Eglinton West) will be complete by fall 2021, but the overall timeline is constrained by work at Eglinton Station that is projected to be ready concurrently with the start of revenue service. Note that the project schedule is two years old.
The TTC will be responsible for:
- Integrated transit control
- Train operations
- Station operations
- Fare inspection and Transit Enforcement
- Customer service
Capital funding including life cycle maintenance (e.g. replacement of vehicles and major overhaul of infrastructure) is covered completely by the province, while the City of Toronto is responsible for all operating and day-to-day maintenance costs offset by fare and other revenue. As with other lines, there is a difference between the gross and net new revenue because existing riders will not be paying new fares. Of course the TTC will no longer bear the cost of most of the bus service now operating in the Eglinton corridor except for a residual service between Don Mills and Weston Road.
The detailed operating and funding agreements are still being negotiated. These include:
- Train Operator Service Agreement
- Municipal Operating and Maintenance Funding Agreement
- Presto Agreement
The Presto Agreement includes the maintenance of fare gates supplied by the TTC. In the original design, Metrolinx had planned to use pillar-mounted fare machines except at subway interchange stations with, but this would have presented a different fare collection process to riders on the Eglinton line than on other parts of the system.
Line 5 Eglinton West Extension
The western extension of the ECLRT was originally planned as an integral part of the Transit City network, but this was replaced by the western branch of SmartTrack. When that plan came unglued thanks to its technical impossibility, the LRT scheme resurfaced, although that word is not exactly appropriate given Premier Ford’s insistence on burying most of the extension lest it interfere with road traffic in Etobicoke.
Ontario will fund the extension, but hopes for a 40 per cent federal contribution. The proposed scope extends only to Renforth Station. A further extension to Pearson Airport has not yet been announced, and this is entangled in plans for a major new passenger gateway to the airport. The section between Jane Street and Scarlett Road will be above ground for the Humber River crossing, and it will include a turnback so that more frequent service can be operated over the central part of the ECLRT than to Renforth and the airport.
Early works will begin soon, and award of the tunneling contract is expected in spring 2021. However, there is no date yet for the stations, railway and systems contracts even to enter a request for qualifications stage. The opening date target is 2030/2031.
Line 5 Eglinton East Extension
The Eglinton Crosstown east extension would run from Kennedy Station east via Eglinton and Kingston Road, then north via Morningside to the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus (UTSC). The scope of the project now includes the original Transit City link north from UTSC to Malvern via Sheppard and Neilson. The maintenance and storage facility (MSF) will be north of UTSC. This would be shared with a future Sheppard East LRT if that is ever built.
The capital cost is estimated at $4.0-4.4 billion including the full extent of the route and the MSF.
Originally, the extension was expected to be on the surface, but it is now planned to include underground sections west of Midland to Kennedy Station and at the Kingston Road-Lawrence-Morningside intersection.
The City of Toronto is now working on a detailed business case and a Transit Project Assessment. Funding for about one third of the full project was recently reallocated from the Scarborough Subway project, but there is no sense of how much might be available from provincial or federal partners. There is no target opening date.
Line 6 Finch West
The Finch West LRT is under construction with substantial work on the maintenance facility near Norfinch already completed, and preliminary works underway along the line.
The alignment is almost entirely at street level except for an underground station at the eastern terminal (Finch West station) and at the western end (Humber College).
As with the Eglinton Crosstown, the line and vehicles will be owned by Ontario, but will be operated by the City/TTC. Ontario will fund most of the capital cost with up to $333 million coming from the federal government.
The opening date target is 2023, and the TTC aims to have a similar operating agreement for Line 6 Finch as the one for Line 5 Eglinton Crosstown for consistency.
Waterfront East and West
Waterfront transit plans have existed for decades, but they do not get the attention of much larger subway and LRT projects in the suburbs. There are many components, but each has proceeded as an incremental change rather than as a single, integrated project. Development planning, especially in the eastern waterfront, has assumed that transit would be available to serve new homes, offices, academic and recreational sites. Actual delivery of transit lags far behind the brave hopes for a “transit first” neighbourhood.
- The original Harbourfront LRT (originally route 604) on Queens Quay between Spadina and Union Station opened in 1990. This included the connection track on Spadina north to King.
- The Spadina 510 LRT opened in 1997.
- The Queens Quay link from Spadina to Bathurst opened in 2000 launching the 509 Harbourfront service from Union to Exhibition Loop.
- A westward extension from Exhibition Loop to Dufferin Street is now in the design stage, but this work is on hold for co-ordination with the Ontario Line and other plans for Exhibition Place and Ontario Place. The intent is to provide through service (in effect a rerouted 508 Lake Shore car) from southern Etobicoke to Union Station via The Queensway, King, Dufferin and the Harbourfront route.
- A further westward extension from Dufferin to Colborne Lodge Road and The Queensway exists as part of a preliminary plan for the western waterfront, but this design has been dormant since the election of Rob Ford as Mayor.
- The first segment of eastern waterfront service on Cherry from King to Distillery Loop opened in 2016.
- Planning and design are underway for an eastern leg on Queens Quay from Bay including reconfiguration of the street in a manner similar to Queens Quay West and expansion of stations in the Bay Street tunnel. The scope was recently extended from Parliament to Cherry including a connection north to Distillery Loop.
- Further eastern waterfront extensions include:
- south on Cherry to the Ship Channel
- east on Commissioners to at least Broadview, or beyond to Leslie Barns
- south on Broadview from Queen to Commissioners through the planned East Harbour development
The hoped-for opening would be in the late 2020s, but beyond the 30 per cent design work now underway, there is no committed funding for this project.
Bus Priority Lanes
RapidTO Bus Lanes
The first of the “red lane” RapidTO corridors went into operation in October 2020 on the Eglinton-Kingston-Morningside corridor. There has been some improvement in travel times by buses, but the benefit of the reserved lanes is muddled by the concurrent removal of some local stops on the route. Implementation was comparatively easy because most of the roads are wide and on-street parking for local businesses and residents was not an issue.
More than red paint will be needed to keep non-transit traffic out of any “bus only” lanes on narrower streets. Proposed lanes on Jane and Dufferin have encountered substantial pushback about the conversion of curb lanes for exclusive 7×24 transit use.
The corridors under consideration are:
- Jane Street
- Dufferin Street
- Steeles Avenue West
- Finch Avenue East
- Lawrence Avenue East
The City and TTC hope to implement one new corridor annually, although this could be a challenge due to political reaction in some locations. A related issue is the gradual return of road traffic in the post-pandemic era and the capacity of roads to handle a return to “normal” conditions, let alone a shift from transit riding to autos.
[I have been tracking travel times on the BRT corridors and will publish updated reviews in coming months.]
Metrolinx and Durham Region are planning to build 36 km of dedicated bus lanes and platforms from Oshawa to the Scarborough Town Centre via Highway 2, Kingston Road and Ellesmere Road.
This project is in the preliminary planning stage. On Ellesmere, the design is likely to use median lanes and stops. The degree to which this would be shared by existing TTC services will depend on the stop locations and how these map to existing local and express services.
A Transit Project Assessment will be completed by the end of 2021. There is no target opening date.
Metrolinx is developing a business case for a 40 km BRT between Waterdown in Hamilton and Kipling Station. Design work has started, but primarily for the Mississauga section, with little done on the Toronto segment. As with the Durham-Scarborough BRT, the ability of local buses to use any reserved lanes will depend on stop locations and the ease of access for inside-Toronto service to and from the lanes.
The next stage in planning will be the evaluation of the recommended alignment, stop locations and operational model. There is no target opening date.