Updated October 27, 2021 at 12:15pm: The link to the TTC’s Line 3 Replacement page has been updated to point to their new website.
In July, I wrote about the first round of consultations and option evaluations in What Bus Service Will Replace the SRT? Please refer to that article for information about the original long list of options. Many variations were scored, but only a few made it through to the final selection.
In January 2022, staff will take their recommendation to the TTC Board. There are three options still on the table, but option 1 will be recommended to the Board. Still at issue is the question of which of option(s) would be used for the interim period between the SRT shutdown and conversion of the right-of-way for BRT operation.
- A hybrid option running on street from STC (Scarborough Town Centre) to Ellesmere Station and then south on a new BRT corridor in a repurposed SRT right-of-way to Kennedy Station. (Recommended)
- On street operation from STC to Kennedy Station using Brimley and Midland as a one-way pair with buses running southbound on one and northbound on the other.
- On street operation from STC to Kennedy Station using a mixture of Brimley, Midland and Kennedy (see map below).
In the TTC’s words:
Why this option performed well in our evaluation: This option performs the best under the criteria of customer experience, neighbourhood and community impact, and equity. Customers will have the fastest and most reliable journey with this option.
Although conversion of the right-of-way for BRT is more expensive, this option will provide superior service reliability and travel time by getting buses out of traffic for most of their route.
Regardless of the routing option chosen, there are two options for route configurations:
- Extend major routes from STC to Kennedy Station to eliminate the need for riders to transfer enroute.
- Continue to terminate all routes at STC and operate a separate bus shuttle from there to Kennedy Station.
There are advantages, depending on your outlook, in each model.
With route extensions:
- Riders will not transfer at STC and this will recoup some of the travel time that would otherwise be lost enroute. For option 1 with buses having a dedicated access into Kennedy Station from the north, the TTC estimates that travel time from STC to Kennedy would be similar to that now provided by the SRT including the elimination of transfer time.
- The vehicles on these routes would be drawn from the fleet as a whole, not a dedicated subset.
- The shuttle itself might operate less reliably with a mix of longer routes, but this would not really be a problem for riders destined for points on the extended bus routes who would have to wait for a specific bus anyhow at Kennedy rather than at STC (for outbound trips).
With a dedicated shuttle:
- Riders would have to transfer at STC in both directions adding both to their journey times and to pedestrian congestion at that station.
- A dedicated fleet of buses could be used for the shuttle, such as vehicles from the eBus fleet.
- As a short route, reliability might be better.
None of the configurations with a dedicated shuttle made the cut primarily because of the transfer penalty this would impose at STC.
The TTC has launched a rider survey to obtain feedback from staff recommendations about the alternatives to Line 3 SRT service when it shuts down in Fall 2023. The survey is open to October 29, 2021. For those who cannot access the survey online, a hard copy is available by mail on request.
Recommended Option 1
This option would include:
- Operation on a dedicated roadway from Ellesmere to Kennedy Station with access at Ellesmere and Lawrence via existing roadways to the stations.
- A new stop at Tara Avenue (the pedestrian bridge between Kennedy and Lawrence East Stations).
- Possible implementation of RapidTO Red Lanes on Ellesmere between STC and Ellesmere Station.
- Only the stretch of (mainly) elevated guideway between Ellesmere and McCowan Stations would be available for adaptive reuse until the SSE opened and the BRT corridor was decommissioned (assuming that there was no future need for it).
The arrangement at Kennedy Station would look like this:
Although it is not shown above, the bus loading area at Kennedy would be expanded along the north and east sides of the south parking lot to provide for the volume of service operating here.
At Tara Avenue, riders from nearby communities could directly access the service. It is ironic that this stop was proposed as part of the original Scarborough LRT but was dropped to save money when the ICTS/RT technology replaced LRT.
Buses entering the right-of-way from Lawrence would do so as shown below:
Similarly, at Ellesmere, buses would enter the right-of-way via existing service roads now used for the short-turn service on 95 York Mills.
The Brimley-Kennedy couplet would see buses operating northbound on Midland and southbund on Brimley to lessen the effect of a new frequent service if only one street were used in both directions.
This option includes:
- Stops at Ellesmere and Lawrence both ways emulating the existing SRT.
- Buses would have to operate through the construction zone on Eglinton for the Scarborough Subway and Eglinton East LRT Extensions.
- The entire SRT corridor would be available for adaptive use once the SRT technology had been stripped off of it and it was rebuilt into something else such as a cycling roadway.
In this version, the Midland/Brimley couplet are used north of Lawrence as in Option 2, but for the stretch to Eglinton, a Kennedy/Midland couplet would be used. This would shift some of the bus traffic away from the SSE/EELRT extension construction zone east of Kennedy Station.
Which Routes Would Be Extended to Kennedy Station?
The following routes are proposed for through service from STC to Kennedy Station:
- 38 Highland Creek
- 129 McCowan North
- 131 Nugget
- 133 Neilson
- 134 Progress
- 938 Highland Creek Express (to be confirmed)
- 939 Finch East Express
- 954 Lawrence East Express (to be confirmed given that this route may be extended to Science Centre Station in 2022)
- 985 Sheppard East Express
Construction and Conversion for BRT
Several things have to occur in preparation for the changeover. Some of them are independent of the service design that will replace the SRT, notably the need for more TTC platform space at STC and Kennedy Stations.
GO Transit and other regional buses will be displaced from STC in Fall 2022. Whatever transit priority measures might be required for the bus service would be installed during 2023 with implementation of bus service on an interim STC/Kennedy route in Fall 2023.
Reconstruction of the right-of-way between Ellesmere and Kennedy Stations is projected to take two years, but (a) this is a conservative estimate, and (b) there remains the question of whether the leg from Lawrence southward could be brought into service as a first phase.
Why Not Run Buses on the SRT Elevated Guideway?
There are several problems with using the elevated guideway which make this option a non-starter:
- Unless new ramps to and from the guideway were built, buses would all have to enter east of McCowan Station where the guideway drops to ground level.
- The guideway has no provision for keeping buses “on track” in a narrow space.
- Station platforms would have to be altered to suit bus widths.
- There would be no change in accessibility at the elevated stations.
Buses would have to leave the right-of-way where it descends to grade just before the tunnel at Ellesmere as they could not operate reliably though that narrow space.
This arrangement would make the bus routes less direct and would undo any benefit the elevated guideway might have compared to running on street from STC to Ellesmere Station.