Ontario Line South Open Houses

Metrolinx will hold two online open houses covering the draft Environmental Assessment Impact Report as it relates to the southern portion of the line from Gerrard to Exhibition.

No sessions have been announced yet for the northern portion of the line from Gerrard north to Science Centre Station.

Correction: The north segment sessions took place in late February, but somehow I missed them. I will consolidate notes about them all in due course.

I will post news from these sessions in coming days.

15 thoughts on “Ontario Line South Open Houses

  1. Hi Steve, The OL held open houses for the North Portions on Feb 22 and 24.

    It would be great if you could write a piece about the north section as a lot of the material is relatively new especially station locations. Thx in advance.

    Steve: Thanks for this. I have corrected the URL for the February 24 session in your comment (you pointed to March 3). I looked at the presentation deck and there’s very little in it. The station location info is in the EA and I have already covered that in another article. However, I will run the videos, especially the Q&A sessions, to see what new might have come out there. Stay tuned.

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  2. The Ontario Line will lead to a surplus of streetcars as it replaces the King Line permanently. The Waterfront West LRT will also be cancelled as it directly competes with the Ontario Line.

    Steve: You really don’t understand how the King line works, do you. It gets very heavy traffic from Broadview and from Roncesvalles, as well as through Parkdale, areas that the OL does not serve. Coming through downtown the OL is on Queen primarily and people bound for the business district have no reason to change. Even up on Queen, when you factor in the extra time that transferring to an inbound train would cost, one is better of just staying on the Queen car.

    The WWLRT would run to southern Etobicoke, and the OL is more likely to be extended northwest than to Etobicoke, if it is extended at all. The biggest problem for the WWLRT is the long gap between areas with lots of residents and the existing line. The priority is much stronger for the Waterfront east streetcar network which will serve a lot of new development, much of which is not in easy walking distance of an Ontario Line Station.

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  3. Steve: You really don’t understand how the King line works, do you. It gets very heavy traffic from Broadview and from Roncesvalles, as well as through Parkdale, areas that the OL does not serve.

    Actually, I understand perfectly well but travel patterns will change substantially when the Ontario Line opens as if they don’t, then the Ontario Line trains will run completely empty except for the crew (if any).

    Steve: You are making the same mistake the TTC did half a century ago when the Bloor subway opened. They assumed that traffic on the King car originated as transfers from Bloor-Danforth at the terminals (now Broadview and Dundas West Stations). They cut service on the King car by more than half, and very quickly discovered that they had to restore most of the former service. In fact, the demand originates along the line and people do not ride north on Ronces or Broadview to get to downtown the long way around.

    Yes, traffic will shift, but this will be moreso traffic that originates further out such as in Scarborough, Thorncliffe/Flemingdon and Don Mills that does not use the King car today.

    On the west side, demand originates over a wide area, not just at a few nodes where there will be OL stations. Yes, there is a station near Liberty Village, but it as the extreme south end of a district that will, by 2030, extend fully from the Gardiner north to Queen. People are not going to walk south to Exhibition Station if there is good, reliable service on the east-west lines providing a direct ride to downtown.

    Steve: Coming through downtown the OL is on Queen primarily and people bound for the business district have no reason to change.

    That only supports my viewpoint that ridership on streetcars will drop substantially once the Ontario Line opens.

    Steve: Even up on Queen, when you factor in the extra time that transferring to an inbound train would cost, one is better of just staying on the Queen car.

    My comment was for the King car but you are using the Queen car to somehow justify the survival of the King car. Please explain.

    Steve: You are reading my statement the wrong way around. Someone who is coming west on the Queen car has little incentive to change at Leslieville/Riverside station because of the extra time and annoyance of the transfer versus a slightly faster trip to the business district. (There is also the much longer exit time from deep OL stations downtown.) If they are on the Kingston Road car which runs via King Street, the OL will not even take them to their destination. One point that is often missed is that the outbound trip would require a transfer from the OL to a streetcar at Riverside. If one can simply board the car downtown, why build a change enroute into your trip?

    Also, don’t forget that streetcar service will be substantially interrupted for nearly a decade once construction on the Ontario Line begins which will further destroy the ridership on the streetcar system on top of what the pandemic has already done.

    Steve: I disagree. If anything there will be more disruption to Queen than to King because of the long-term closure from Bay to Victoria. People will still need to get to downtown. What do you expect them to do, drive?

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  4. Why wouldn’t they extend the line to Etobicoke within the rail corridor to serve Humber Bay Shores area instead of the unnecessary proposed Park Lawn Go Station. It makes much more sense to have a subway access in the area, with the increasing high rise condos, rather than Go with the nearby Exhibition and Mimico stations anyway. Right now, the only way to go to downtown is a very long slow ride on the 501 streetcar or a bus ride to Old Mill, line 2 ride followed by line 1 ride. Both options can add up to 1 hour to reach downtown.

    Steve: If the Ontario Line were extended west, it would probably have one station somewhere near Sunnyside, maybe something east of the Humber and then something over near Park Lawn. Whether this would ever be built, I don’t know. There is also a desire by some to see the OL turn north to Dundas West and possibly beyond.

    Meanwhile, there is the long delayed plan to provide a better connection for the 501 by splitting off from The Queensway at Colborne Lodge Road, turning south under the railway and then running east via a new dedicated corridor to the Exhibition where it would connect to the existing Harbourfront service (and the future OL station). That whole scheme has been in limbo for years as attention focused on higher priority plans such as the Scarborough Subway.

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  5. I wonder when people call the planned Park Lawn GO station “unnecessary” and then go on to list how poor the current transit connection between Humber Bay Shores and downtown is. GO is the shortest connection between those two points and the track is already there. It’d be way cheaper to build Park Lawn GO and subsidize good service on the GO at TTC fare than to build a new subway (even surface-subway) out from Exhibition.

    Steve: A big problem is that GO regards both Mimico and Pawk Lawn as “local” stations and moreover will alternate between stopping at one or the other in order to preserve the holy grail of a speedy trip from Oakville to downtown. The development planned on the Christie’s site includes both Park Lawn station and a new streetcar loop replacing Humber as the west end of the 501H service. It would also be the west end of the Waterfront West LRT.

    It is ironic that the development on the Lake Shore was originally seen as typically car-oriented Etobicoke buildings, but things changed and people want to take transit into downtown. The TTC has not helped with years of on again-off again bus service that runs extremely erratically.

    The scheme to run via Queensway and Colborne Lodge, rather than trying to shoe-horn in yet another service at Roncesvalles, was born during the Miller era, and died along with Transit City, thanks to Rob Ford’s hatred of streetcars. Now it faces the problem of how to get through the CNE lands and the premise that the Ontario Line somehow makes it redundant.

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  6. GO is indeed the fastest connection between any Etobicoke GO station and Exhibition or Union stations.

    However, once you start factoring in the time to get to the GO station, and the time to get anywhere once you get off at Exhibition or Union, the advantage can drop quickly. Even more so if you have a fixed time of departure or arrival that doesn’t quite fit the GO schedule. It may actually be faster to take the TTC (late evening 501 shuttle buses can zip right along).

    I can walk to Long Branch GO station in under ten minutes. But I might take TTC downtown anyway, depending on when and where exactly I’m going.

    Free local transit if I am using GO would be nice, but of course Metrolinx has not rolled it out to TTC users: A whole list of transit agencies, but not TTC.

    100% co-fare between local transit agencies and GO Transit

    Metrolinx is also introducing co-fare changes to make local transit free when transferring between GO Transit and participating agencies, which include Durham Region Transit, Milton Transit, Grand River Transit, Guelph Transit, Oakville Transit, MiWay, Brampton Transit, Hamilton Street Railway, Burlington Transit, Bradford West Gwillimbury Transit and York Region Transit, with continued participation from Barrie Transit.

    Steve: It’s rather embarrassing for a so-called “regional” agency to announce something like this that so obviously excludes Toronto. Dougie’s voters obviously don’t live in the 416.

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  7. There’s minimal ‘choice’ in fundamentals, and so we’re having a costly exercise in details, and near-zero recognition of the massive decline in riderships, though we should be carving out billions, for transit investments, yes, not Big Spending. There’s almost some good news to the Ukrainian mess however, in that the spiking gas prices have added another billion as a guess (what’s one more?), as well as maybe impatience by many for an option, and perhaps that may bite the Carservatives and Carswervatives, even the Not a Dumb car addict Party, and get us towards thinking of a triage/cheaper/on-surface sub-regional project as we do need some form of network relief function, especially of the Yonge line and south of Eglinton through Thorncliffe to the core.

    And there are, or have been plans, starting with what was in the last Metro OP, urging an EA to be done by GO to connect Richmond Hill GO to the Don Mills/Eglinton area for linkage to a Relief project, but somehow, EA not done with the smash-up of the Harris Conservatives, and they filled in Eglinton, also in the 1957 plan, and only now is it becoming complete. So even though there’s a massive climate crisis, we could take a couple more years to be doing a re-think, if other parties have will/brains, and let’s hope for a minority of some description, but one that likes to squeeze the billions, not give them away to an already subsidized group.

    Steve: Nobody should celebrate “good news” based on war. I am allowing this comment through on a one-time basis to make the point. Any similar comments in the future will be deleted.

    Gas prices are only one of many components in a car culture, and the massive infrastructure around car use to the detriment of transit is not something that will be easy to change. We are already seeing that the response to climate crisis is to develop alternate fuel cars, not to reduce car usage.

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  8. Now for the good news about rising gasoline prices. Alberta will be in surplus territory.

    Expect increase in transit use. Bad news for the transit agencies, the price of their fuel will also go up.

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  9. I agree with George’s viewpoint that the Ontario Line is a danger to the continued existence of streetcars but I think that a greater danger to streetcars is the existence of articulated and bi-articulated electric/hydrogen buses in Asia which will eventually make their way here. One big advantage of these clean ultra-high capacity buses over streetcars is that extremely disruptive and expensive track work is no longer needed. Another big advantage of these clean ultra-high capacity buses over streetcars is that they are more flexible. With streetcars if one breaks down, then all the others behind it are stuck as well delaying tens of thousands of people when only a single streetcar broke down but this is simply not the case with buses. I think that ultra-high capacity clean electric/hydrogen buses with bus only lanes is the way of the future.

    Steve: When I start to see these buses replacing streetcars and LRT on major systems, and not just on captive market cities where a government is showing off their technology, then I will start to worry. There are a number of issues you have not addressed such as operation on comparatively narrow streets and underground. In any event, I’m not going to get into a big debate on this here beyond saying that streetcar breakdowns very rarely delay “tens of thousands” of people. That overstatement alone undermines your credibility.

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  10. @Tom;

    I have ridden 3 section articulated trolley busses in Europe and they have their place, but it will not be on the narrow streets of downtown Toronto as they have trouble tracking around 90 degree tight corners. They would work on some outer suburban streets.

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  11. I remember about 5 years ago it was Uber that was going to kill off transit as we know it. There’s always some hot new technology being hyped by people who want to make money off lobbying.

    As for “ultra-high capacity clean buses”, they have double-articulated trolleybuses in a number of cities in Switzerland – where they complement the streetcar systems.

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  12. With King and Queen, it might be interesting to find out (depending on how good the process of looking at data is, ie. I distrust most everyone’s at institutional now, the provision (finally!) of safer cycling on Richmond and Adelaide (#2 for E/W in 1992) has had on usages here. Of course that really good use of $ for the King RoW has meant a bump up in riders, which is an argument for extending the King RoW, though perhaps maybe we should forgo it all being on King, but try it on Queen W, maybe from Shaw or Bathurst, out to Parkdale, mimicking the 1957 intent for better transit on Queen, but out to Islington.

    Steve: King is an unusual case in that it has other parallel roads nearby and is generally not dependent on parking leaving the curb lane for a mix of patios and transit platforms. Extending this model elsewhere would be quite challenging. Even attempts to lengthen the “peak period” parking restrictions met stiff resistance on various parts of Queen, Dundas, College and Broadview.

    Aah, the cars! We are not allowed to have transit competitive with cars, and must keep the biking extra-dangerous for most to keep ridership up and $ flowing to support suburban areas. So we may be dumping multi-millions in to deep holes that could flood, with high costs to operate all the machinery/lights rather than things on surface that could/would move people well enough, though in my view through past decades, with trying to have the road-based Front St. Extension made to be a transitway, (following as it turned out a c. 1985 plan that somehow we never got around to doing a second more detailed analysis despite a large time savings from lower Etobicoke), the majority of the government(s) do NOT WANT a good transit option from Etobicoke in to the core to be built (even a sub-regional/faster/network relief option run by TTC), because that might lead to calls for tolls on the Gardiner or having a car-free area in the core, if transit was improved.

    Steve: We do not make biking dangerous as a way to sustain transit ridership. That is a bullshit argument I am tired of hearing.

    As for better transit from Etobicoke being opposed because it would lead to Gardiner tolls, how do you explain the pressure for better GO service and a new Park Lawn Station, as well as better Queen service west of Humber, the long-awaited Waterfront West line that is now partly entangled with the OL at Exhibition, and the possibility of extending the BD line to Sherway?

    Deep holes that could flood. Have you looked at the existing subway? It is under the water table in several places. There are things called pumps to deal with that. Yes, some of the planned alignments are dubious and expensive, but more is involved than the vertical alignment including blatant vote buying with a subway in every pot.

    Suburban domination (dumb-men-nation) is very entrenched in Caronto/Carontop/Moronto.

    So this west-end OL is more about relieving GO (despite all the huge sums in to Union, and large decline in riderships), and the devilopment of OPlace and the Ex (something good from Covid – too much else going on to really get on that file, but if a second term….), vs. having a heavy rail offshoot on Wellington, somehow.

    And we cannot insist that improved transit go to Parkdale and beyond, building our options shut, because all of the developers of course have the rights to build big buildings and ensure a possible RoW is obstructed. As per usual, everywhere.

    Leaving one of the still-clearer ones – the Gardiner – out of exploration. Would it be technically OK with the weight of transit vehicles, and their loads? Transit, tolls, and trucks? And opened to the public on Sunday for that waterfront promenade that everything south of Front St. was supposed to be when Toronto was more of a village?

    Should we forgo, somehow, all of the Rail Deck stuff for thinking of a decked option for improved, semi-local transit? That would involve a plan, right….. And political will, and an ability to wrestle with rail companies, and the federal level did intervene at least once with ordering Toronto to do those underpasses….

    Many billions for more concrete and materials in less-wise places but basic inadequate exploration of options through the decades, with all parties/levels to blame, though yes we could see a larger car-free/restricted zone in Caronto some century, of High Park, railtracks, Don Valley and the Lake, and yes, charges to bring in SOVs etc. in.

    Heck, we can’t even have Open Streets on either King or Queen, (because the other road could be an easy travel option), perhaps because there’s less $ in some of these areas and the pollutricks are less-easy with multiple councillors.

    We likely need two or three projects, not just one, but as with King RoW, maybe there are some fairly easy ways to boost transit and avoid burning billions. And thus it’s a shame ‘we’ are positioning to bury excess billions in the Ford priority transit schemes, and as it’s quite a few gas plants worth of proposed expenditure, is anybody else home? I suspect not, as all three major parties pursue power with the votorists a major block.

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  13. I don’t understand why people keep wishing for trolley buses because we might as well go for more flexible battery/hydrogen buses. We cannot make public transit decisions based on nostalgia. Yes, trolley buses and streetcars served a very important role in our history but the world has moved on, technology has moved on. For instance: at the Beijing Winter Olympics, there were self-driving fully electric clean shuttles transporting athletes to and from the Athletes’ Village to the sporting venues, trolley buses and streetcars were not chosen because these games were being held in 2022 and not in 1922.

    Steve: The choice was much simpler than the date: the service was temporary, not a permanent main-line installation, and the peak demand was nowhere near what you would need to justify infrastrucure.

    A big issue with battery buses is the need to recharge and to carry a lot of weight around in batteries. On major corridors, buses could run under wires to charge while in motion rather than needing charging stations along the way and having buses (and drivers) sit idle waiting for the bus to “fill up”. This option is more attractive in cities that already have trolley buses and therefore are not starting from scratch on the infrastructure.

    Hydrogen is “green” only to the point that it is created with green energy. The natural gas industry would love to sell us gas-based hydrogen, or use the gas to generate electricity to generate hydrogen. This is a more general problem for electricity everywhere: just how green is it depending on the source of power, and do we count nuclear as “green”?

    Finally, China likes to show off its technology, and there is a market in far more cities for buses than for streetcars or trolleybuses. Why would they build something as a showcase if most cities would not be in the market?

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  14. I don’t understand why people keep wishing for trolley buses because we might as well go for more flexible battery/hydrogen buses. We cannot make public transit decisions based on nostalgia.

    Because trolleybuses these days have a battery for considerable off-wire capacity while also easily recharging along trunk sections under the wire, resulting in longer overall range and thus higher utilization and lower costs than battery buses. Would you think the Swiss are running double-articulated trolleybuses to Geneva airport out of nostalgia?

    Steve addressed the issue with cleanness of hydrogen in practice. To this I would add that certain companies have been trying to make hydrogen buses built in Canada happen for decades and have largely failed to gain traction despite generous government support. Their website lists that they delivered 1000 hydrogen-fuel-cell buses for use in China, and there were about 2000 deliveries by other manufacturers. That’s slightly bigger than the size of TTC’s bus fleet, in a country of over a billion people with proportionally much stronger transit ridership than Toronto’s.

    For instance: at the Beijing Winter Olympics, there were self-driving fully electric clean shuttles transporting athletes to and from the Athletes’ Village to the sporting venues

    There are self-driving fully electric clean shuttles operating in Canada today, as novelty and research. But that’s not a solution for major bus routes in a major city. Otherwise, let’s see this self-driving shuttle driving on Dufferin Street.

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  15. Mo Zaki asked about extending the Ontario Line westward. Surely providing an alternative North-South route for riders who take the Yonge line should be a higher priority?

    When John Tory had been Mayor for a year or so there were several meetings where planners had the embarrassing task of presenting plans to the public to integrate Smart-Track and the original DRL. As we all remember phase one of the original DRL had its northern terminus at Danforth.

    I buttonholed several of those planners over how many North-South riders of the Yonge line a DRL that terminated at Danforth would really divert. One guy had numbers. He said it was anticipated it would divert 800 riders per hour from the Yonge line. I snorted. Why that was only about one fully loaded trainset, per hour!

    Maybe, with Covid, and work from home, some of the pressure is off the Yonge line. But I think that should be seen as temporary.

    I’d like to see the Ontario Line terminate at Sheppard, Steeles, or even the 407 – at a big intermodal hub.

    Steve, thanks for all your very valuable hard work.

    Steve: You’re welcome! TTC and Metrolinx produced projections for relief line “short” and “long” effects on the Yonge line years. In 2015, the projected drop on Yonge for the “short” version was about 6,600/hour, and for the “long” version to Sheppard was 11,600. The math is fairly basic in setting an upper bound on “relief”. Only riders coming from the east can be diverted, and of those, a large number are not bound for the core area. Some of those will go via the University line, and some are destined closer to Bloor than to Queen and won’t change lines. This leaves about one quarter of the Danforth demand as a potential diversion. If the line goes further north to Sheppard, many riders who would otherwise travel west to Yonge are diverted.

    Metrolinx has to take some responsibility for delays in this project because they were responsible for studying the segment north from Pape Station, but dragged their feet on the work.

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