TTC Major Projects Overview: September 2021

The agenda for the TTC Board’s meeting on September 15, 2021, contains three related reports about the status of capital projects:

Among the projects discussed are several that relate collectively to the Bloor-Danforth Modernization Project (Line 2) that was originally proposed when Andy Byford was CEO. It was always a report that was “coming soon” to the Board, but after Byford’s departure, references to it vanished without a trace. I will return to the collection of BD Modernization projects later in this article.

A major problem for decades with TTC capital planning was that many vital projects simply were not included in the project list, or were given dates so far in the future that they did not affect the 10-year spending projections. This produced the familiar “iceberg” in City capital planning where the bulk of needed work was invisible.

The problem with invisibility is that when debates about transit funding start, projects that are not flagged as important are not even on the table for discussion. New, high-profile projects like subway extensions appear to be “affordable”.

There is a danger that at some point governments will decide that the cupboard is bare, and spending on any new transit projects will have to wait for better financial times. This will be compounded by financing schemes, notably “public-private partnerships” where future operating costs are buried in overall project numbers. These costs will compete with subsidies for transit operations in general. Construction projects might be underway all over the city, but this activity could mask a future crisis.

Please, Sir, I Want Some More!

The current election campaign includes a call from Mayor Tory for added Federal transit funding including support for the Eglinton East and Waterfront East LRT lines, not to mention new vehicles of which the most important are a fleet for Line 2.

The Waterfront East project has bumbled along for years, and is now actually close to the point where Council will be presented with a preferred option and asked to fund more detailed design quite soon. This is an area that was going to be “Transit First”, although visitors might be forgiven for mistaking the 72 Pape bus as the kind of transit condo builders had in mind as they redeveloped lands from Yonge east to Parliament. Some developers have complained about the lack of transit, and the further east one goes, the greater a problem this becomes.

The Eglinton East extension to UTSC was part of a Scarborough transit plan that saw Council endorse a Line 2 extension with the clear understanding that money was available for the LRT line too. Generously speaking, that was wishful thinking at the time, and Eglinton East languishes as an unfunded project.

For many years, the TTC has know it would need a new fleet for Line 2 BD. The T1 trains on that line were delivered between 1995 and 2001, and their 30-year design lifespan will soon end. As of the 2021 version of the 15 year capital plan, the replacement trains were an “unfunded” project, and the project timetable stretched into the mid 2030s.

City budget pressures were accommodated a few years ago by deleting the T1 replacement project from capital plans. Instead the TTC proposed rebuilding these cars for an additional decade of service. This would stave off spending both on a new fleet and on a new carhouse, at the cost of assuming the trains would actually last that long. The TTC has found out the hard way just what the effect of keeping vehicles past their proper lifetime might be, and that is not a fate Toronto can afford on one of the two major subway lines. The T1 replacement project is back in the list, but there is no money to pay for it.

Finally, a signature John Tory project is SmartTrack which has dwindled to a handful of GO stations, some of which Metrolinx should be paying for, not the City (East Harbour is a prime example). If we did not have to keep the fiction of SmartTrack alive, money could have gone to other more pressing transit needs.

When politicians cry to the feds that they need more money, they should first contemplate the spending room they gave up by ignoring parts of the network and by putting most if not all of their financial nest-egg into politically driven works. It does not really matter if Ontario has taken over responsibility for projects like the Scarborough Subway because one way or another the federal contribution will not be available to fund other Toronto priorities. The same is true of the Eglinton West LRT subway.

Any national party could reasonably say “we already helped to pay for the projects you, Toronto, said were your priorities”, but now you want more? A related issue for any federal government is that funding schemes must be fitted to a national scale, and other cities might reasonably complain if Toronto gets special treatment.

A Long Project List

  • Bloor-Yonge Capacity Improvements
  • Line 5
    • Eglinton Crosstown LRT
    • Eglinton Crosstown West Extension
    • Eglinton Crosstown East East Extension
  • Line 6 Finch LRT
  • Line 1 Extension to Richmond Hill
  • Line 2 Extension to Sheppard/McCowan
  • Line 3 Ontario
  • Waterfront Transit Network
    • East LRT and station expansions
    • West LRT from Exhibition to Dufferin
  • BRT Projects
    • Durham-Scarborough
    • Dundas West
  • Line 4 Sheppard Extension
  • Transit Control Integration
  • Subway Fleet Replacement (T1) and Expansion
  • Fleet Storage
  • Automatic Train Control
  • Platform Doors
  • Easier Access Plan
  • Purchase of New Buses and Electrification

New Subway Cars

The Transit Network Expansion Update report recommends that the TTC Board:

Authorize the Chief Executive Officer to negotiate and execute any agreement with Metrolinx and/or the Province for the TTC to procure on behalf of Metrolinx the trains required for the Line 1 Yonge North Subway Extension and Line 2 Scarborough Subway Extension, subject to a full funding approval from Metrolinx and/or the Province of expansion trains.

Making a bulk procurement of trains both for expansion needs and for the T1 replacement is an obvious tactic, but at this point, the funding sought is only for projects which Ontario has taken on as its own: Yonge North and Scarborough. Everything else remains unfunded.

There is a political element to this purchase beyond Toronto. The Alstom (formerly Bombardier) plant in Thunder Bay needs more work to remain in operation, and a big order would certainly tide them over. Money will start falling from provincial and federal trees any day now, and Premier Ford has already talked about a subway car order with plant workers.

Pressure within the TTC for this order was relieved somewhat when the opening date for the Scarborough Subway slipped from 2026 to 2029-30.

The total projected order is for 95 trains, 80 for replacement of the Line 2 fleet and growth on Line 1, and a further 15 for the Scarborough and Yonge extensions. In the 2021 version of the 15-Year Capital Plan, the Line 2 fleet replacement is projected to extend beyond 2036, but this does not accord with other requirements, notably ATC operation on the Scarborough extension.

Automatic Train Control and Platform Doors

Conversion of Line 1 YUS to automatic train control has progressed from Vaughan south to Union and north to Rosedale. Extension to Eglinton was planned to occur in 2021Q3, but with that quarter almost ended, and no planned subway closure in the affected area, it is clear that this has slipped into Q4. Completion of the project north to Finch is planned for 2022Q3.

[After this article was written, the TTC advised that the cutover from Rosedale to Eglinton is tentatively planned for the first weekend in October 2021.]

The Line 2 BD ATC project will follow on the heels of Line 1 at a total projected cost of $811 million, almost all of which is funded in the Capital Plan. Any growth in Line 2 capacity depends on being able to run more frequent service, and that depends both on ATC conversion and a new, larger fleet.

Still in progress is the conversion of the work car fleet so that all cars are visible to the ATC system.

The TTC plans to move to One Person Train Operation (OPTO) on Line 2 BD following ATC conversion.

Both the Yonge North and the Scarborough subway projects will operate with ATC, and this will have to be integrated with the systems that will be in place on the existing lines.

The Ontario Line will be fully automatic, but as it will not (and cannot) interoperate with the existing subways, it does not have to use the same ATC technology.

Not listed among the TTC’s major projects, but included in the 15-Year plan, is a retrofit of platform doors to existing stations. The estimated cost is $1.335 billion, but only money for a small study, not detailed design, is in the “funded” column. Platform doors would reduce the incidence of “passengers at track level”, a phrase that covers a wide variety of events, and the associated delays. The Ontario Line will have platform doors built in.

I have inquired of Metrolinx about their plans for the SSE and YNSE stations. They replied that the stations will be designed “so that platform edge doors can be installed in the future”.

Easier Access Plan

The project to retrofit elevators and make other accessibility changes in subway stations is mentioned only in the quarterly financial update.

Construction is underway at Yorkdale, Lansdowne, Sherbourne, Donlands and College Stations.

Design is complete and procurement underway for Greenwood, Castle Frank, Rosedale, Glencairn and Summerhill Stations.

Design work is in progress for Old Mill, High Park, Museum, Lawrence, Spadina, King, Christie, Warden & Islington Stations.

Warden and Islington are complex projects that will include redevelopment of the station sites and conversion of their bus terminals from individual bays to a shared island platform for all routes. Accessibility plans for interim facilities during these projects have not been finalized.

Fire Ventilation Upgrades

The quarterly financial report includes details about upgrades and equipment replacements for many subway stations. This project is driven both by modern fire codes about station access routes and by the need to replace and upgrade existing fan systems for higher capacity.

Where new exits and/or accessibility upgrades are planned for stations, this work is usually bundled with ventilation work.

Construction is underway at Eglinton (Metrolinx LRT project), Donlands and College Stations (Second Exit/Entrance and Easier Access), Sheppard West station and Clanton Park.

Design is in progress for Museum and Lawrence (Second Exit/Entrance and Easier Access), Summerhill and Dundas West (Second Exit/Entrance).

This project includes $1.5 billion in unfunded work beyond 2030.

TTC Participation in Provincial Rapid Transit Project Planning

Although Ontario has taken over four big projects, the TTC continues to have a role because of the need to integrate new facilities in their operations.

Metrolinx is funding 34 temporary staff positions at the TTC through 2025 for “costs associated with its project assurance role, requiring technical reviews and project monitoring during the project delivery phase” of the provincial projects.

Station planning for new lines includes major transfer facilities at Steeles/Yonge, Scarborough Centre, Sheppard/McCowan, and Thorncliffe Park. (A new terminal at Science Centre Station, Don Mills/Eglinton, already exists as part of the Line 5 Eglinton Crosstown project.) Although there is some debate about the need for a Cummer Station, provision for future construction could be included in the YNSE project much as provision for “Park Home”, later North York Centre, station was included in the Finch extension.

As for other transfer points:

Discussions about bus and streetcar connections at all other stations [are] also occurring, as the Provincial project teams share preliminary designs with TTC and City staff. Ensuring that the station designs permit excellent connections for TTC customers between buses, streetcars, and trains is a key outcome intended by TTC staff.

Metrolinx makes a big issue of convenient transfer connections, especially among its own projects, but how well they address transfers to/from the TTC remains to be seen. This also includes the question of barrier-free access within fare paid areas.

As the TTC ramps up its participation in the Line 5 Eglinton Crosstown project, it is not clear how much is actually happening.

As the operator of Line 5 and the TTC network, it is critical that the TTC be engaged in testing, commissioning and safety certification of the ECLRT to ensure the successful operational acceptance of the project. Testing, commissioning and safety certification processes for the ECLRT are underway and discussions are ongoing between Metrolinx and the TTC regarding the TTC’s role and responsibilities in relation to this process.

For the larger network:

The TTC’s expectation is that customers travelling on the expanded network will experience a seamless and consistent journey. A seamless journey includes but not limited to fares, wayfinding, and customer experience, that is consistent across the TTC network.

If Metrolinx treats the TTC anything like their approach to local community groups, the TTC might well find themselves left aside on design and operational planning.

The Operating & Maintenance agreement details are still not finalized.

(Term 19) 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.

The TTC has been working closely with Metrolinx to provide further definition and detail to the level of activities encompassed under transit operations and maintenance to inform the basis of future operating and maintenance agreements. This includes, but is not limited to activities related to communications, planning closures and diversions, network operations in one integrated control centre, and system safety management and maintenance responsibilities.

Transit Control Expansion and Unification

A plan for a new/expanded Transit Control facility to integrate all current and future needs for all transit modes is in the conceptual design phase. The project has full funding and an opening date of 2028. Consolidation of control functions would occur over an extended period to 2045 and is partly dependent on integration of new Metrolinx projects into the TTC’s network management systems.

Line 5 Eglinton Crosstown Operations

For budget and staffing purposes, the TTC has to nail down its projected Line 5 costs even if the O&M agreement is not yet finalized. The table below shows the anticipated costs and staffing levels. Costs in 2021 and part of 2022 are for training and startup. The high Labour and Benefits cost in 2022 does not align with the projected staffing by comparison with 2023.

Bloor-Danforth Modernization

For many years, several related projects that would collectively rejuvenate and improve Line 2 BD existed in Capital plans, but they were treated independently and their sequencing did not make sense. In many cases, the fact that project “B” required project “A”, or that it was a pre-requisite for “C”, simply was not mentioned.

Under CEO Andy Byford, the TTC Board was promised a unified renewal plan for Line 2, but it never appeared, at least as a public document. However, it is not difficult to pull together a potential list:

  • Bloor-Yonge Station expansion and provision of a separate eastbound platform (funded and approved; detailed design underway). See Expanding Bloor-Yonge Station.
  • Replacement of the Line 2 fleet (T1 trains)
  • Additional trains for more frequent service and the Scarborough extension
  • Rejuvenated and increased power supply to handle more trains
  • Maintenance and storage facilities for the new fleet including co-existence of old and new trains.
  • Automatic train control
  • One person train operation (OPTO) including wayside and on board facilities for platform monitoring
  • Track, infrastructure and station renewal and improvements

In pre-pandemic schedules, Line 2 operated with a peak service of 46 trains (45 scheduled plus 1 gap train) with an AM peak service every 2’21”. The T1 fleet is 370 cars, or 61 trains, built as “married pairs” with three pairs making up a trainset. Greenwood Shops is designed for this configuration while, by comparison, Wilson is can handle the six-car TR trainsets on Line 1 YUS. Assuming a spare factor of 20 per cent (one spare train for every 5 in service), a 46 train peak service translates to a 55 train requirement.

The TTC owns more T1s than it actually requires because original plans for the Vaughan extension included using surplus T1s on Lines 1 and 4. Later planning for the Scarborough extension to STC assumed that the existing fleet could provide service with every second train short-turning at Kennedy, although this plan left no room for growth and would have hobbled an ATC conversion with old equipment.

The operating plan for the extended Line 2 has not been published. However, a turnback pocket track east of Kennedy Station was planned originally, then deleted, then restored. It is not clear whether the Line 2 fleet plan includes provision for full service to Sheppard or not, nor what the target headway with ATC would be.

For example, reducing train spacing from 141 seconds (2’21” as at present) to 130 seconds (2’10”) gives an 8.5 per cent increase in capacity. This would translate to 5 more trains on the existing line (without any allowance for possibly faster trips under ATC that could reduce requirements).

Getting down to a 120 second headway (2’00”) would give a 17.5 per cent capacity increase, but would require 10 more trains including spares.

Running more frequent service also drives up power consumption and substation/distribution requirements. More passengers can add loads on stations for pedestrian circulation, and new capacity must be added between points where riders actually want to move.

Current TTC plans call for the renovation of the Greenwood Yard site, although this would provide no net addition to storage, and there remains the question of handling 6-car trainsets at a shop designed for shorter units. Originally, Greenwood was to be the yard for the Relief Line (via a connection between the RL and Line 2 at Pape), but with the Ontario Line plan this is no longer needed.

The fate of a proposed new yard southwest of Kipling Station on the former Obico Yard property is unknown, although the City has acquired this property for a new yard. Actually building it (and the connection tunnel under the CPR to Kipling Station) is an unfunded project in the 15 Year Capital Plan. The project would be easier to “market” if this were part of a western extension of the subway.

Moving to OPTO would occur following a new fleet, ATC conversion of Line 2, and provision of the necessary platform monitoring system (cameras in stations, video monitors on trains, communication systems between them).

Any plans for major station and infrastructure renewal have to be co-ordinated with upgrades to signals and power to avoid having work crews tripping over each other and conflicting requirements for access to sections of the line.

The largest single project now in the design stage is the expansion of Bloor-Yonge Station including the provision of a new eastbound platform, a scheme roughly parallel to the splitting of platforms at Union Station between the Yonge (new) and University (existing) platforms.

Overall, this is not a trivial collection of projects, and timelines must be both co-ordinated and respected. Putting work off to a future date because there are more pressing needs, especially political ones, elsewhere is simply not an option.

The Capital Plan should reflect both the complexity and the dependencies between these projects to ensure that the overall schedule does not compromise future operations.

Maintenance and Storage Facilities

As noted above, there is a question of where the TTC will store all of its trains, including the fleet bulge that will exist during equipment delivery, testing and acceptance.

The Line 1 and Line 2 Capacity Enhancement Programs have identified the need for additional subway vehicle storage and maintenance capacity as a result of increased demand due to future growth in ridership, as well as the Line 1 Yonge North Subway Extension and Line 2 East Extension that cannot be accommodated by existing facilities.

TTC staff are working collaboratively with Metrolinx and other third party stakeholders to define the service planning criteria, as well as review of storage and maintenance concepts to address these shortfalls. This includes a proposed new train maintenance and storage facility on the northeast leg of Line 1 which will connect with Yonge North subway corridor, as well as upgrades to the TTC Greenwood Yard for Line 2.

On Line 2 BD, there are various capacity improvements for storage:

  • Reactivation of Keele (formerly Vincent) Yard to store 6 trains (in service)
  • Conversion of the CN delivery spur at Greenwood Yard to a storage track (in service)
  • Addition of a third track at Kipling Station to store 2 trains (under construction)
  • Addition of storage on the SSE (this would not be available until after the extension was operational)
  • A new yard at Kipling (unlikely until the 2030s under current plans)

On Line 1 YUS, there are fewer options:

  • Further expansion at Wilson Yard
  • Creation of a new yard and MSF on the YNSE somewhere beyond the planned terminus (not available until the extension is in service)

Two other constraints affect yard capacity:

  • It is not enough to have more storage tracks, but trains must be able to get through the link(s) to the mainline in the time needed to build service up in the morning and down again at night. A second link from Wilson Yard for access to and from the north was added just for this purpose. Greenwood Yard is constrained by the capacity of trains operating thru the wye with the main line even allowing for ATC.
  • The TTC’s growing fleet of work cars needs storage and maintenance space, and as the system grows, so does the need for work equipment. Also, these cars are all returning to their yards from overnight work at the same time as regular trains are going into service adding to congestion at yard access points.

The only “wiggle room” within the existing fleet and storage is provided by the small excess of T1 trains. This would allow some trains to be retired without affecting service delivery as new trains came onto the property for acceptance testing.

SSE Early Works and Bus Replacement / Eglinton East LRT

Work is underway at the north end of the Scarborough Subway Extension for the tunnel boring machine launch shaft. At the southwest end of the line, preparatory works at Kennedy Station will include a new fan plant to upgrade station ventilation, and a new substation to supply power both for that fan plant and for the extension.

The structure of the SSE conflicts with the originally planned portal for the Eglinton East LRT east of Kennedy Station, and this requires the LRT to operate in tunnel through a new station at Midland before it emerges onto Eglinton. The EELRT is current an unfunded project, and it is not clear whether the LRT tunnel structure will be built concurrently with the subway tunnel extension.

For a diagram of the proposed LRT tunnel, see Eglinton East & Waterfront LRT Updates.

The Eglinton East LRT extension is unfunded.

The Line 3 Replacement Study summarizes work to date on the options for the interim bus service that will replace the SRT between its shutdown in 3Q2023 and the SSE’s opening in 2029-30.

The primary origin-destination pair for SRT riders is central Scarborough and downtown Toronto as shown in the map below. However, there are many riders for whom the core is not the destination, and their origins within Scarborough are not close to STC.

In the post-RT service design there are two options:

  • Extend all major routes that now terminate at an RT station to Kennedy Station, or
  • Operate a shuttle service between STC and Kennedy with transfers at Kennedy as today.

The first option has the advantage of eliminating transfer traffic at the possible expense of running more buses through to Kennedy than would necessarily be required for a dedicated shuttle, especially if that operated with artics rather than standard sized vehicles. If service is through-routed, the amount of platform space required for terminating bus trips and transferring passengers will be lower than if a shuttle is operated. The TTC foresees GO and other regional carriers being displaced from STC to provide more platform space for TTC’s own operations.

Routes proposed for extension to Kennedy are: 38 Highland Creek, 134 Progress, 129 McCowan North, 939 Finch East Express, 131 Nugget, 954 Lawrence East Express, 133 Neilson and 985 Sheppard East Express. (The recently added 938 Highland Creek Express is an obvious added candidate.)

Public feedback indicated that there is a strong preference for a service running within the existing SRT corridor rather than on arterials where buses could be subject to traffic congestion, or alternately significant transit priority measures would be required. The TTC’s preliminary review of using the corridor for BRT found:

Early findings from the engineering feasibility study confirms that the existing Line 3 right-of-way can be converted to accommodate buses, and the existing station structures will not impact bus operation. Further details about the right-of-way conversion will be available in the next phase of this Study when routing recommendations are presented. Subject to the finalization of this Study, the proposed alternative in the shuttle bus concept that would consider guided-bus technology on the Line 3 right-of-way could be screened out as the technology would not be required and the existing fleet would not need to be retrofitted to operate on the right-of-way.

The reference to guided buses arose from a vendor who made an unsolicited proposal for this type of operation.

The estimated cost of modifying parts of the SRT right-of-way as a BRT is $57 million.

There is a desire to operate electric buses if possible both as a showcase and to reduce noise from the operation in neighbourhoods through which it will pass. The challenge is that until a substantial proportion of the fleet is electric, at least in Scarborough-serving bus divisions, the total number of electric buses needed for through-routing of bus service will be substantial, whereas a shuttle could operate with its own dedicated fleet.

The report includes a passing reference to on-route charging stations where buses would not be able to stay in service all day. This is an intriguing evolution in the eBus study which must take into account operational limits of an eBus on a single overnight charge.

The TTC currently has many more buses than it requires for service plus maintenance spares. How long this situation will last depends on a combination of ridership recovery and continued subsidy to operate more service than ridership would strictly require under non-covid conditions. If new buses are acquired for SRT shuttle service, their cost is estimated at $85 million, although they would remain active in the fleet after the subway extension opens, and would have an offsetting residual value in deferring of a future bus purchase.

The replacement options are summarized in the chart below.

If the option to use the SRT right-of-way at least partially is chosen, there would still be a period until Fall 2025 when the replacement bus service would operate on street. This begs the question of whether the conversion could be staged so that the segment south of Lawrence could be pressed into service first and give the buses a dedicated route into Kennedy Station separate from the road network.

Ontario Line Construction Effects on Surface Network Operations

The downtown section of the Ontario Line will be almost entirely underground, and the running tunnel will be built first, much as on the Eglinton Crosstown. However, unlike Eglinton, most stations will be built by mining down to the tunnel level rather than opening the street above. Whether Metrolinx will actually achieve a disruption-free environment remains to be seen.

The one exception will be the Queen/Yonge station where a long street closure is planned for open excavation. See Metrolinx Announces Construction Plans for Queen Station. There is a good chance that the work at Queen and Yonge will overlap with planned work at Bloor and Yonge for the station expansion project.

East of the Don River, there will effects at road crossings from Eastern to Gerrard because Metrolinx plans to raise the rail corridor to improve under-bridge clearances. Depending on how this work is staged, there will be some disruption to streetcar service. It will be essential to maintain one open route, either on Queen or Gerrard, across the rail corridor for access to Leslie and Russell carhouses. No staging details have been announced.

Work within Thorncliffe Park should occur without disruption of the bus routes because the elevated structure will be located on the north side of Overlea Boulevard.

Waterfront LRT

The eastern waterfront LRT expansion includes several segments that are the subject of a study coming to Council in fall 2021. See Waterfront East LRT: June 2021 Update.

  • Queens Quay East LRT from Bay to a realigned Cherry Street
  • Reconstruction of Union Station Loop, Queens Quay Station and the junction at Queens Quay and Bay
  • Cherry Street LRT south from Queens Quay to Polson Street
  • Cherry Street LRT connection north from Queens Quay to Distillery Loop

In parallel with this work, the affected streets will be redesigned in a manner similar to Queens Quay West.

A current issue, to be addressed by the pending report, will be the staging of the work and whether a continuous service on Queens Quay can be maintained while the Bay Street tunnel is closed. There is also the matter of the connection north on Cherry to Distillery Loop and whether this would be included in the early stages of the overall project.

The Waterfront East project is not yet funded.

A connection east via Commissioners from Cherry to an extended Broadview streetcar serving the East Harbour development, and thence to Leslie Barns, is a future project with no specific timeline.

Design of an extension of the Waterfront West line to Dufferin Street is underway. Funding for construction is still required.

The purpose of this link is to allow cars from the west (such as 508 Lake Shore) to enter downtown via an alternative route than King Street. However this will not avoid congestion at the King-Queen-Queensway-Roncesvalles intersection. Protection for a future LRT extension west parallel to Lake Shore with a track connection to The Queensway at Colborne Lodge Drive (formerly Howard Road) will be included in the design.

For a time, there was a concern that the Waterfront West line would duplicate the Ontario Line, but if that line is ever extended, it is more likely to head north to link with the Bloor Subway.

BRT Projects

There are two “flavours” of BRT projects.

Metrolinx will build two reserved lane facilities linking points east and west of the City with the subway system.

Neither of these is a TTC project beyond issues of accommodating new bus services at TTC terminals and potential sharing of the BRT corridors by TTC services.

Meanwhile the RapidTO plan within Toronto will examine five additional corridors for “red lane” treatments. Study and public consultation for Jane Street from Eglinton to Steeles is underway. The timing of future corridors — Dufferin, Steeles West, Finch East and Lawrence East — is still to be determined. The initial corridor on Eglinton-Kingston-Morningside is already in operation with modest success in reducing travel times, although some of this was achieved through stop elimination.

Purchase of Buses and Electrification

The TTC plans to buy 337 Hybrid Electric buses in 2022/23, and expects to award this contract in October 2021. A Request for Proposals for about 300 eBuses will be issued in 2021Q4 with deliveries to run from 2023 to 2025.

There are several challenges in the eBus program:

  • The percentage of vehicles in the test fleets available for service and the reliability of vehicles has been lower than expected.
  • Implementation of eBuses is dependent on completion of charging systems at garages, and the possible need (as noted in the SRT bus replacement report) for on-route charging to ensure that vehicles can operate all day without returning to garages.
  • Funding for bus purchases is in place only to 2025, and the electrification infrastructure only has the one third City share of funding in place.

Feasibility studies are underway for electrification infrastructure at all garages.

The phasing timetable for installation of charging stations is:

  1. Charging infrastructure to support 60 eBuses at Arrow, Mt. Dennis and Eglinton was completed on June 30, 2021.
  2. Up to 50 charging station at all garages: completion in 2028.
  3. 50 per cent of charging stations at all garages: completion in 2035.
  4. 100 per cent of charging stations at all garages: completion in 2036.

Design work is underway for electrification infrastructure at all garages.

Eglinton Crosstown West Extension

Metrolinx has let the contract for the Crosstown’s western tunnel. There is no word yet on an airport extension route or funding.

Line 4 Sheppard Extension to McCowan

Planning work on this proposal is underway at Metrolinx, but there are no details available yet.

16 thoughts on “TTC Major Projects Overview: September 2021

  1. Extension to Eglinton was planned to occur in 2021Q3, but with that quarter almost ended, and no planned subway closure in the affected area, it is clear that this has slipped into Q4. Completion of the project north to Finch is planned for 2022Q3.

    The reason project completion is pushed so far into next year is that ATC from Eglinton to Finch will not be turned until after the platform shift to the north at Eglinton occurs. This will save them from having to reprogram stop locations next year. However, rather than switchover at Davisville it seems they’ll actually do the switch at some point between the two stations.

    According to the Financial Update for the Period Ended July 3, 2021 and Major Projects Update (pg.26) it seems that construction on ATC was wrapped up in July. It also says that the Rosedale to Eglinton block will be turned on this month, so presumably we’ll see the ATC setup soon.

    Steve: Yes, I expected that the changeover at Eglinton would not happen until post Line 5 opening because of the stop location change. A midpoint switchover makes sense because that will allow all of Davisville interlocking to be converted while leaving Eglinton on the old system.

    I think that the info in the Major Projects Update is out of date, and that’s why I flagged it. If you look at the subway shutdown list, there is no weekend-long shutdown planned on the affected portion of Yonge.


  2. “Construction is underway at … and Clanton Park.”

    OK you got me with this one. I did look it up at Google to find out where is this place exactly, but I see it encompasses a part of Wilson, but it’s maybe not there specifically as it also goes near Sheppard West. Is it an emergency exit area?

    Steve: Yes.


  3. Hmmm. Streetcars tend to drive on the left lane or middle lane. Express buses tend to drive on the left lane or middle lane.

    If I were dictator, I would request that the express buses be converted to express streetcars, keeping the buses for the local stops.

    It’s too bad that when the TTC expanded past its original fare zone one in the 1950’s, they didn’t extend the streetcar lines then, The TTC was following the propaganda issued by the “transit experts” from the bus companies at the time.


  4. > It will be essential to maintain one open route, either on Queen or Gerrard, across the rail corridor for access to Leslie and Russell carhouses. No staging details have been announced.

    Question: Does the current planned timeline for Ontario Line construction allow enough time for TTC/City to design and build the proposed streetcar loop northeast of Queen and Broadview, or is that unlikely to happen in time?

    Steve: Building that loop could easily be done before the OL construction affects Queen Street. However, this loop has completely disappeared from the TTC’s plans.


  5. Most of these projects as Steve mentioned are UNFUNDED and they are going to remain unfunded FOREVER unless people vote for the change that they want to see. Election next Monday and truth be told that you are going to get the status quo if you vote for the status quo but if you want change, then you need to go out and vote for change. The choice is yours, better is possible.


  6. Nothing about upgrading the streetcar track switches. We will be continuing to “go slow” with the streetcars until the next century or if we get adequate transit funding, which ever comes last it seems.

    Steve: There are long-running projects with annual allocations for streetcar and subway track and power upgrades. They are not reported in the major project list because they don’t have fixed locations, start and end dates. They are listed at the start of the detailed project list, and share with many other budget lines an “unfunded” status in future years. What tends to happen is that money is reallocated from project savings or “found money” when another government ponies up funding for a specific project elsewhere in the list, but this is becoming more difficult as so much subsidy is tied up in really big new projects like the SSE and Eglinton, and standing allocations from federal and provincial gas tax don’t come close to what is needed.

    Overall, about $26 billion of the $48 billion total was unfunded as of last December.


  7. For Line 5 and the Eglinton West LRT extension, are there unfunded capital costs, presumably to be borne by the Province, to lengthen the underground platforms from 60 meters to 90 meters?

    And, at least for Line 5, might the work need to occur toward the 10-year anniversary of Opening Day 2022?

    Steve: Er, where did you get the idea that the Line 5 platforms were only 60m long?g?


  8. Steve: Metrolinx will build two reserved lane facilities linking points east and west of the City with the subway system.

    The Durham-Scarborough busway will connect to STC Station.
    The Dundas busway will connect to Kipling Station.

    Neither of these is a TTC project beyond issues of accommodating new bus services at TTC terminals and potential sharing of the BRT corridors by TTC services.

    I assume the Dundas BRT will run the “BRT service” buses out of the new interregional terminal while TTC buses will run from the subway and enter the busway at the Subway Crescent intersection, or somewhere between Subway and Aukland. That may lead to some interesting challenges with drivers turning to access the new park & ride entrance.

    I suspect that the Durham-Scarborough BRT will similarly connect through the interregional section of the bus terminal on the other side of the wasp waist design (if they’re still building it that way?).



  9. Steve: Er, where did you get the idea that the Line 5 platforms were only 60m long?

    From this PDF file available online, on page 7 of 17.

    Possibly this changed sometime before the project began, as this is a March 2010 document. (Otherwise known as ancient history in transit planning.)

    If not, and if it is still accurate, would the capital costs be significant or rather just a few million dollars per underground station?

    Steve: Detailed platform level drawings are not available for all Crosstown stations, but even assuming that false walls were installed, the station structure (which is the really expensive part) will be long enough. That 2010 document was from before Ontario took over the project. If they are included in the initial build, they will not be expensive to remove.


  10. Just brief input from a quicker scan: it sure seems that the existing core of older Toronto gets a $hortfall, if not a bit $crewed to enable more suburban services over distances, with the likely less-right assumption that the core will continue to have the jobs. So it’s a big mess, and almost all of the expansion projects are going to worsen it, and increase the brittleness, by not really providing the network resiliencies of options.

    To adapt a phrase from Lovins of tunnelling through a cost barrier with systems rethinking, too bad we’re not pausing the ‘planning’ with this systemic dip in riderships to think of the silver buckshot vs. silver bullet, especially with the Ontario Line, and working towards a real triage project of needed Yonge Relief with connection to the Richmond Hill GO line N of Eglinton as per the 1995 Metro OP. And with finally improving the linkages at Dundas W. and Main with GO could we not relieve the Bloor/Yonge press, and at hundreds of millions if not a billion less? And if we did have a surface route from Eglinton via Thorncliffe and the Don in to the core, is not that also surface Relief at billions less, done sooner?

    Options that actually maybe work and save large sums aren’t possible under all of this ‘planning’ and copious funding of transit however. And yes, it sure is complicated, but is that all worsened by the pollutricks of the various politicians? And it sure feels like the oil, gas, car and construction interests are trumping the public interest, and there goes the climate eh?

    Meanwhile, system hazards to cyclists abound with the near-rubble beside streetcar tracks.

    Steve: I am willing to bet that if there were any project trimming, it would “defer” part of the Ontario Line because “the core doesn’t need it”, and then magically the suburban extensions would continue. We have been here before, specifically in the early 1990s when the subway capacity crisis of the late 1980s evaporated, for a time.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Ram: Most of these projects as Steve mentioned are UNFUNDED and they are going to remain unfunded FOREVER unless people vote for the change that they want to see. Election next Monday and truth be told that you are going to get the status quo if you vote for the status quo but if you want change, then you need to go out and vote for change. The choice is yours, better is possible.

    I completely agree. This is why I am voting for change this Monday. I am also fed up with all of the Liberal corruption scandals.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Steve said: I am willing to bet that if there were any project trimming, it would “defer” part of the Ontario Line because “the core doesn’t need it”, and then magically the suburban extensions would continue.

    And yup, the suburbs dominate the schemings and $haftings and sabotaging of the core, so why not overload the spines a bit more, because they can? This includes the Liberals too, and if anyone is monitoring the Richmond Hill area campaigns, would be fascinating to know about how the Liberal types there are promoting the foolish Yonge extension etc., and then contrast that with Liberal statements in the core areas, ie. Liberals are Part of the Problem, and so is the NDP too, not just the carservatives. (Hmm, new term – curse-rvatives?, and too bad they too don’t have a million of their own personal wealth ‘invested’ in outcomes’).

    But with the overloads on Yonge especially, where the need is most likely to reappear again in shorter order, while the suburban riders will be able to get a seat at the morning, it may be really tough in the afternoon, and they too may not like the sardine way.

    And too bad officialdumb isn’t promoting more of a sub-regional approach in the outer core – the distances are greater and so is the need for more of an express set of services, and at NO extra cost – if it’s about the $$$, then shut down Sheppard stubway or Spadina after York U, correct?

    Liked by 1 person

  13. So, it looks like there actually considering retrofitting the ROW for Line 3 into a BRT?

    I remember a couple of months ago when TTC officials said it would not be possible…
    They can do this, they just have to stop being lazy.

    Steve: I don’t remember them ever saying it would not be possible, just not for the entire corridor from McCowan to Kennedy.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. At the latest Metrolinx online meeting for the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension, many participants were voicing objections against the proposed elevated guideway over Eglinton Flats between Jane and Scarlet. Most want the section to be underground instead of elevated. The concerns are that the elevated guideway would be ugly, would be a barrier and would cut through the middle of the park and its amenities. (On the latter point, Metrolinx said the elevated section would be along the north edge of Eglinton Avenue on the boulevard between the street and its sidewalk.) A few want it at street level in the middle of Eglinton Avenue through Eglinton Flats. Metrolinx objected to a surface alignment because having riders crossing to the middle of the street to board trams would be inconvenient and time-consuming. (They didn’t say whether this would be a problem east of Leslie Street.) Previously, they had said that it would be too difficult to transition from surface to tunnel west of Scarlet.

    Recording of last session.

    Steve: I looked at the presentation deck earlier and will run through the full meeting later this week. Thanks for the quick update!

    I remember that even back in the Transit City days there was no option to go under the Humber River because of the depth needed to achieve this and its effect on the potential location for a station, not to mention the grade on the eastern approach. As for boarding on street, they should take a short ride up to Finch which is almost entirely a surface line. Metrolinx always makes a virtue out of whatever design they are using, even if the design changes and with it the explanation for why the new one is the best.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. With the T1 life extension program being cancelled, the original plan was for a prototype new trainset to arrive in 2024, and the rest of the new fleet starting in 2026. Is that still the plan (in spite of the replacement projected to possibly continue until 2036), and how realistic is it, given that it’s almost 2022, and the new fleet is still in its planning stage? Are there any concrete plans to procure funding for the unfunded portions of this project as well as coordinate the timing to match other projects like the Scarborough subway & ATC on Line 2?

    Steve: With the SSE opening now put off to 2029/30, there is time to replace the T1 cars and get the ATC conversion well underway. Doug Ford has already mentioned new subway cars to workers in Thunder Bay, and if they just crank out more TRs, this will bypass the whole design phase for a new fleet.

    Also, if the Yonge extension will follow the proposed alignment parallel to the existing Richmond Hill GO line, would it require the construction of a level crossing at Langstaff rd. like the existing GO line?

    Steve: Langstaff Road is to be grade separated from the GO/subway corridor.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. On Monday, October 18, at Eglinton Station, I noticed that all four block signals (one at each end of both tracks, all interlocking) had been replaced by four new ATC signals. I could no longer see the old block signals (maybe they were shrouded) but the new ATC signals were illuminated and operational. At Lawrence Station, the old block signals are active and the new ATC signals are shrouded.

    So, are trains changing between ATC and block signaling between Eglinton and Lawrence?

    Steve: I have not been on that part of the line recently to check how they are handling the switchover. I will have to check, or maybe a helpful reader can inform us.


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