Revised June 9, 2022: A section has been added at the end of the article based on the discussion at the Executive Committee meeting.
Two reports are on Toronto’s Executive Committee Agenda for June 8, 2022. Between them, they provide updates for various rapid transit projects around the city.
- Advancing City Priority Transit Expansion Projects – Eglinton East Light Rail Transit and Waterfront East Light Rail Transit
- Metrolinx Transit Expansion Projects – Second Quarter 2022
- A related report recently at Planning & Housing Committee: City-Initiated Zoning By-law Amendments to Implement Ontario Line – Final Report. Note that the recommendations in this report were amended to strip out two sections of land, notably the Osgoode Hall property, as well as some lands near East Harbour Station.
Rather than attempting a single, omnibus article covering all of the projects, I will break the review apart on a line-by-line basis. This is the first in a series of articles.
I will update this article if any further details come out in the Executive Committee meeting.
A Scarborough Network
Several projects over coming decades will change the transit map in Scarborough including the Line 2 Danforth Subway extension to Sheppard, the Line 4 Sheppard Subway extension to McCowan, the Durham-Scarborough BRT, GO service expansion on the Lakeshore East and Stouffville corridors, and the Eglinton East LRT.
Eglinton East LRT
This version of the plan has changed since the last report to Council on the subject. See Eglinton East & Waterfront LRT Updates for the December 2021 iteration.
- The EELRT as shown in this plan includes a leg west to McCowan where it would connect to the extended Lines 2 and 4. The report speaks of “the future transit hub at Sheppard and McCowan” [p. 7] and implies that plans for a subway extension east from McCowan have fallen off of the table.
- The planned Maintenance and Storage Facility (MSF) has shifted back to the site on Sheppard at Conlins originally proposed in Transit City. This would have been a joint carhouse for the Sheppard, Scarborough-Malvern and (possibly) Scarborough LRT lines. In the December 2021 report the MSF was to be near the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus (UTSC), but they now eye this land for development.
- The connection at Kennedy Station has been substantially modified to be on the surface east of the GO station. This is needed because the scheme to stack tunnels for the Line 2 extension and the EELRT proved unworkable.
- Because the EELRT will operate as a separate service from Line 5 Crosstown, it can operate with 50m trains compared to the 90m that Crosstown is built for. This reduces the space needed for stations, and allows the EELRT to stay on the surface through the Kingston Road & Morningside intersection where the original plan had an underpass.
- The northeastern terminus of the EELRT will be at Malvern Centre. The previous plan had an option of ending a first phase at UTSC with the inevitable question of whether a second phase would ever be built.
The “Distinct Service” Model
With the EELRT split off from the Crosstown Line 5, it will have its own fleet and service design that are no tied to requirements west of Kennedy Station. Two options for Kennedy terminal were considered:
- An at grade link with the EELRT swinging south out of the Eglinton Avenue median to terminate on the east side of the GO corridor.
- An elevated link that would rise from Eglinton and swing south to use the space now occupied by the Line 3 SRT station on the upper level.
The at grade option has an estimated cost saving of up to $650 million (2022$) compared to the elevated scheme, and it will not require demolition of properties along Eglinton. Travel time for the elevated option would be approximately 30 seconds shorter than the at grade option.
The fleet would be specific to the EELRT and would be designed to operate on steeper grades than the Line 5 trains. This would avoid the need for a new bridge over Highland Creek. The TTC is “assessing the market” for suitable vehicles, and the report cites examples used in “Kitchener-Waterloo, Edmonton, Calgary, Portland, and New Jersey”. The option of a separate fleet disentangles the EELRT from the Metrolinx consortium building and maintaining Line 5, and this could be a return to a “TTC” line after the business models used for the Crosstown and Ontario Line projects.
The Conlins MSF property can accommodate the needs of the “distinct” option to 2051 and beyond.
The projected cost, at a low level of design, is that the “distinct” model would run to $3.9 billion 2022$ for the Kennedy to Malvern portion, compared to about $6 billion for a through-routed design with Line 5 Crosstown.
The cost savings are mainly attributed to the alignment remaining at-grade along its entire length, using existing road infrastructure, requiring less property acquisition, and using shorter trains and platforms. [p. 10]
Construction would be faster with no grade separations, and the line could open “in the early or mid-2030s” or 3-to-4 years sooner than a Line 5 extension.
It is mildly amusing to see a simplified LRT proposal touting the benefits of at-grade construction with service scaled to likely demand, an argument that is usually fought over subway vs LRT proposals.
Planning is underway for a surface LRT east from Sheppard-McCowan Station.
City staff have initiated discussion with Metrolinx to begin planning for an at-grade EELRT interface with the SSE at Sheppard-McCowan Station. Subject to City Council approval of the recommendations in this report, City staff will continue planning with Metrolinx to identify a preferred EELRT interface design at Sheppard-McCowan Station and will submit a formal request in fall 2022 to the Metrolinx SSE project team to accommodate the design plans accordingly. [p. 11]
With the EELRT going across Highway 401, it is important that infrastructure capable of handling an LRT line is in place. The Province plans to rehab the Morningside Bridges at Highway 401 in 2025, and they will incorporate EELRT requirements into this project.
Public consultation for the EELRT would take place in 2023Q1 with an updated status report to Council in Q3.
Kennedy Station Options
The drawing below shows the original proposal for both the SSE and EELRT to be underground at Kennedy. The two tunnels (SSE in black, EELRT in red) would have run side-by-side, although at different elevations, but would be on top of each other as the EELRT swung into the middle of Eglinton Avenue and surfaced. Note that the Midland Station on the EELRT would be underground in this scheme.
There are several points where structures are too close together either tunnel-to-tunnel, or tunnel adjacent objects.
Two “families” of options, one at grade (blue) and one elevated (red) were examined (left diagram below) and the best of each was reviewed in more detail to compare them (right diagram below).
The at grade option has a surface station at Midland with a three-track section to the east. This is to provide storage that would not be available at Kennedy Station where the surface LRT dead-ends east of the GO corridor. The LRT would swing south from Eglinton into its own corridor, and the station at Kennedy would connect into an existing underpass.
The elevated alignment would swing to the north side of Eglinton and serve Midland with an elevated station on the northeast corner of that intersection. The line would climb further and its Kennedy Station platform would be roughly where the existing SRT platform is today. Tail tracks beyond the station would provide for train storage.
Notes from the Executive Committee Meeting
Several people gave deputations at the meeting with a focus on the proposed 25-metre long LRVs for the “distinct” option of the EELRT, and more generally on the speed and capacity of the future line.
Although the report discusses the reasoning behind the change from 30m to 25m vehicles, it does not do so with worked examples, and there was no staff presentation to illuminate the issue.
The problem originates in a design change made by Metrolinx in the design at Kennedy Station. When the line would have had through running to STC via an LRT replacement for the SRT, the Eglinton Crosstown LRT was to be at the same depth as the existing subway with a common mezzanine above for transfers between the two lines. With the decision to extend the subway, the Crosstown’s elevation was changed to be at mezzanine level to reduce the cost of excavation for the new station.
If the EELRT was to through-run with the Crosstown, it would have to cross under the GO corridor just above, but to the north of the subway tunnel. The geometry of the situation was such that the EELRT, instead of surfacing east of Kennedy Station, would have to run underground through a Midland Station and then rise to the surface.
The subway tunnel was not designed by Metrolinx to carry the load of an LRT line immediately above it, and there were also clearance problems with the southeastern abutment of the Eglinton Avenue bridge over the GO corridor. The lack of a joint tunnel design for the two services says something about the lack of commitment to project integration.
The revised scheme keeps the LRT line on the surface saving the cost of a tunnel from east of Midland to Kennedy, but the surface terminal imposes space constraints of its own. The diagram below (which also appears earlier in the article) shows the layout. Key areas are:
- the platform at Kennedy Stn (left image, in red)
- the crossover track east of the platform
- a stopping areas between the crossover and Eglinton Avenue and west of Midland (orange) Midland
- station platforms at Midland and at Falmouth (red)
- the storage track between Midland and Falmouth stations
Each of the areas listed above must be able to hold a train. Stations obviously are sized for the trains, but with the crossing from centre-running west of Midland into the station area, a train must be able to stop on either side of that crossing without blocking traffic.
There is not enough room for these areas to be 90m long, particularly in the section west of Midland.
At other locations on the route, the use of shorter trains will likely simplify the station layouts, notably at UTSC and at Kingston Road/Morningside where some underground construction was part of the original plan. It would be worthwhile for City staff to illustrate what design changes are enabled by use of shorter trains.
The shorter trains obviously will carry fewer riders per train than the 90m trains planned for the Crosstown. The real question is whether they will be able to handle future demand. Scarborough RT riders suffered for years from the limitations of the SRT fleet which constrained the line’s capacity. The technology could have carried more riders, but the fleet limited the amount of service. As it aged and trains became less reliable, the number available for service dwindled with nothing to replace them. The last thing we need on the EELRT is a service that is fleet-constrained for capacity.
The City’s report speaks of a five minute headway of two-car trains, in other words 12 trains, or 24 cars per hour. What is not at all clear is whether this is a maximum, or whether the surface configuration and priority signalling will be able to handle more frequent service, say every 3 minutes or 20 trains per hour. This would inevitably present more opportunities for conflict with other road traffic because the LRT would require priority at intersections more often. This will also affect future fleet size and carhouse space requirements.
A related issue is the service design on the Malvern leg of the route. Assuming that the full proposal west to Sheppard/McCowan station is built, there will be a desire for through service to Malvern from both the western and southern lines (i.e. from both the Line 4 terminus at McCowan and from UTSC). Such an operation could pose limitations on the service level on each branch because they would have to merge for the run to Malvern.
Some deputants spoke of the 25m cars as if they were some sort of experiment, yet another generation of the SRT folly imposed on Scarborough. Manufacturers commonly produce their products in varying lengths (and widths) to suit local needs. The real concern will be whether Toronto might face a significant price penalty for a small order of vehicles, especially as future add-ons to the fleet. However, to give the impression that the shorter car is somehow experimental misrepresents the actual state of the LRV industry.
Service capacity is determined by the space on a vehicle and the number of vehicles per hour. Problems commonly emerge in debates comparing vehicles and technology because there are three ways possible loads are calculated:
- Crush capacity: This is the maximum number of people who can be jammed onto a vehicle, and it is not unusual to see this used by vendors. It is totally impractical for day to day operations because this leaves no circulation space, and can lead to very long dwell times at stations. (Note that if trains are packed, it is likely that the same condition exists on platforms and passengers movement to/from trains is difficult.)
- Peak capacity: This is somewhat less than the crush level and might be thought of as comfortably full. This is the level that service should reach at peak-within-peak conditions from surge loads or after delays, but it cannot be sustained for extended periods both for comfort and dwell times.
- Service design capacity: This is an average load on which service levels are designed. Typically this leaves room in vehicles for circulation, although pinch points within vehicles could be problem areas.
The TTC service design capacities (from their Service Standards at p. 10) are:
- 30m streetcar: 130
- 12m standard low floor bus: 50
- 18m articulated low floor bus: 77
An important distinction between buses and rail vehicles is that the latter tend to have more standee space and can handle a higher load in peaks than buses relative to the service design values.
Scaling from the streetcar value, a 25m LRV would hold about 110 passengers for the purpose of service design.
A service of 12 two-car trains per hour would have a design capacity of about 2,600 per hour. If headways were reduced to 3 minutes, or 20 trains per hour, the capacity goes up to 4,400.
The EELRT corridor is now served by four routes: 86 Scarborough, 986 Scarborough Express, 116 Morningside, and 905 Eglinton East Express.
Here are the current AM peak service levels for these routes, as well as the January 2020 pre-covid levels.
|Route||2022 Hdwy||Veh/Hr||Cap||2020 Hdwy||Veh/Hr||Cap|
|905 Eglinton East Express||9’15”||6.5||325||10’00”||6||300|
|986 Scarborough Express||6’00”||10||500||5’00”||12||600|
A planned EELRT service capacity of 2,600/hour is only modestly higher than that provided by the four bus routes in January 2020. It is not clear whether all bus service in the corridor would be replaced by the LRT and what would happen with routes that branch off such as 86/986.
According to the Business Case for the EELRT, travel times for buses in reserved (red) lanes and LRT will be similar. This is not a ringing endorsement of LRT. The Business Case notes that the bus values are based on covid-era travel times and may be higher when traffic returns to normal.
In previous articles, I have reviewed the effects of both the covid era and the red lane implementation on travel times for 86 Scarborough and 116 Morningside. These were routes where implementation of reserved lanes was comparatively easy because they were already in place during peak periods for part of these routes.
There was a drop in travel times at the onset of covid (early 2020) and again when the red lanes went into effect in fall 2020. However, the latter change also included some stop eliminations and so the effect is not strictly due to the red lanes. The effect at the time, and the behaviour of the routes over the past two years varies with direction and time of day, but there is little sign of a return to congested conditions spilling over on this route up to May 2022.
An important issue in BRT vs LRT comparisons will be whether the BRT values are based on express (906/986) or local (86/116) operations as the LRT will run local. Also, if any new transfer connections are added compared to existing routes, this will affect end-to-end travel time for some trips. A more detailed review of travel time benefits by route segment, direction and time of day is required.
I get that there are difficulties in connecting through Kennedy. But having the lines entirely disconnected from each other seems to be adding a barrier to future flexibility, when it’s hard to know what future needs are.
Are we to understand that a ‘distinct’ EELRT service could have a distinct rolling stock technology?
How many would that make for Toronto? 7? I’ve lost count.
Wouldn’t that increase maintenance and service cost in the long run? If the desire is to have a shorter vehicle, wouldn’t it make sense to have 2-car Flexity Freedoms made, or a double-cab single car train? Those shorter trains could still interline potentially in the future, or be usable on other Flexity Freedom lines.
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This sounds like a long walk, the kind that would benefit from an airport-style movator. Is the transfer at least shorter than the one between lines 1 and 2 at Spadina?
Steve: I am waiting to see the planned layout of the connection with both GO and the LRT terminal. Kennedy Station has for decades suffered from forcing people into difficult transfers.
I do like these changes, makes the design and cost more appropriate to the demand and service level, and increases the likelihood that the remaining funding can be found,
I have always been skeptical of the need to extend the route to Malvern, is there really enough demand to head southeast from Malvern to require LRT? I thought this extension was a political promise to make up for the cancelled Scarborough LRT.
I don’t understand how the WFLRT is not their top priority for funding and to get constructed. The area already has a lot of new development, with a ton more in the pipe. The area is so poorly served by existing transit it’s barely served at all.
Why can’t they figure out some way to get the developers to cover the cost of this line when it will be to their benefit to do so. It’s seems to me like such a logical solution. Or have the city slap a levy on each unit sold in these new buildings to help finance this project. Even if it’s 500 dollars per unit upon closing. That combined with any developer cash would leave the city almost off the hook.
And I mean when WFT starts laying out new roads surely they will be building the trackage much like they did down cherry street all those years ago. So how hard is it going to be to get this thing going.
It just seems like an ass backwards approach. Spend money to improve transit in an area that already has transit and is stagnant in growth. over spending money on transit for a new growing area with no transit.
Steve: Some of the cost is recovered via development charges although they go against the city as a whole (as do other projects that the city funds). There is nowhere near enough money sloshing around in new development budgets to pay for a transit line, and one could make a big argument that the new builds should not bear the cost of transit to serve buildings that have been there for years. Equally, why should developers on Queens Quay pay a premium for transit when those along other lines get it for free?
The big problem is that there are no votes in empty waterfront land, and the focus is on building subways to get votes. Oddly enough, the same approach is not taken to highway building where ploughing through vacant land is seen as a boon for developers.
Do they mention what gauge the line will be built to? “Metrolinx” or “TTC”?
In Toronto, gauge choices can be political!
Steve: It would make sense to be standard gauge in case anyone ever figures out a way to link the EELRT to, say, Crosstown.
At one of the virtual meetings for the SSE, a question was raised about whether Sheppard/McCowan station would support an LRT line east from the station. A Metrolinx person did not quite answer the question but said that Metrolinx was planning for future extensions west to Don Mills station and northwards. So it appears that Metrolinx is not allowing for an LRT connection. Are the city and Metrolinx out of sync?
It appears that the city is is going it alone on the EELRT. I don’t think the Ford government would help finance the project. Could the city afford the $3.9 billion project even with some federal support?
Steve: First off, I would never believe that someone from Metrolinx knows what is really going on and will give you current, accurate info. They have terrible problems with internal comms, not to mention outright misdirection. As for the city, when Doug Ford said “I will pay for the Scarborough Subway”, the city rededicated its share to the EELRT. This won’t pay for the whole thing, but it’s a start. As for the Feds, the big problem is that all of ther announced funding is already dedicated to projects that were claimed to be “priorities”.
I still think Sheppard Subway is better going to STC. But my guess is that the Sheppard/McCowan Station was already designed to accommodate the future Sheppard Subway.
Finding a way to grade-separate this should always be one of the options. This would be fully elevated loop line; Kennedy Station to Kingston to Morningside to Finch to Malvern to Centennial to STC to Kennedy Road to Kennedy Station.
From this, all other costs can be compared. I suspect only 100% on-street and 100% grade-separated would make the cut.
Is there an intent for the various bus routes that would continue to operate on portions of Eglinton Avenue east of Kennedy Station to use the dedicated LRT corridor?
Steve: I doubt it, but this raises an interesting question about what the surface network will look like, and how much bus traffic would remain. Obviously the red lanes would disappear.
Building the EELRT as a separate system from the Eglinton LRT is obviously insane. What happened to the notion of a network? We’re possibly heading to a situation where the TTC will have 5 separate rail networks: streetcar, subway, Ontario Line, Eglinton LRT, EELRT. The sensible number is 2: subway, LRT; but due to historical accident it’s unrealistic to fold the streetcars into the LRT network in the foreseeable future, so the practical number is 3.
It’s OK if there is some diversity of vehicle, but the idea that one would build each line as a separate project is sheer lunacy. I would go further and suggest that some vehicle diversity is a positive good: it ensures the system doesn’t become dependent on vehicles from one manufacturer in a non-obvious way that causes trouble in the future.
Even Ontario Line north of Danforth should be a separate line with smaller trains and stations because the demand is simply not there to justify a single line. The Yonge extension from Finch should be an at-grade LRT because LRT can handle the demand and the road is wide enough to accommodate dedicated LRT lanes.
Steve: If the Ontario Line goes to at least Sheppard, the demand on it will be substantial and would overtax a “smaller” system. The primary expense of building it will be the structure, either as an elevated or underground. If the fleet is unique to that extension, it gives us yet another orphaned group of cars like the RT.
As for the Yonge extension, the projected demand south to Finch Station would strain an LRT line, especially one running in the middle of the road. The problem has always been where a subway line should end and an LRT/BRT network should begin. This is further complicated by the mix of downtown-oriented demand that should be on GO as opposed to “local” traffic on Yonge, and the GO/TTC fare structure which pushes riders onto the subway.
In Toronto, tramways have a history of being slower than the buses they replace, bc of TTC operational practices.
For this tram, frequencies will be lower, headways longer. Door to door travel almost certainly longer.
The predicted capacity improvement is also marginal.
So all we’ll get out of this capital investment is operating cost savings for the TTC.
This project does not sound like a good use of money.
If it is okay to do this for the EELRT in Scarborough, then it should be okay to do this in the richer Greater Downtown Area as well. The fleet of the Ontario Line North and Ontario Line South need not differ except that fewer cars may be used for trains on the northern section which will allow for electricity savings and shorter stations which will save money and speed up construction.
Steve: There is a huge difference in the projected demand on Don Mills north of Eglinton and on the EELRT. And please spare me the “Scarborough vs Downtown” crap.
When did all those new transit lines suddenly appear on the map of Scarborough? Line 4 extension? BRT? LRT north of the 401? I thought the EELRT was the consolation prize for no subway, and its main justification was to provide a way to get to UTSC. But if all those other lines get built, do we really need the EELRT? The initial case for EELRT proposed it as being the only transit corridor going into east Scarborough. If we have 3 east-west transit corridors along Ellesmere, Kingston, and Sheppard, do we really need the extra capacity of LRT or would just BRT be enough?
Steve: The Line 4 extension was announced by Doug Ford some time ago, although the date is sometime in the 2030s. BRT has been under study for a while under the RapidTO program, but except for the planned conversion of the SRT right-of-way from Ellesmere to Kennedy Station, the only “BRT” in the TTC plans is BRT-lite with red paint. There is the Durham-STC busway, and it’s still not entirely clear what will be built. As for LRT north of the 401, that was part of the original Transit Cit scheme, and has been reactivated because UTSC has decided that they want to put a building on the land they had thought of letting the TTC use for a carhouse. TheMSF for the EELRT is now back at Conlins and Sheppard where it was first proposed.
As for competition with the LRT, neither the Durham busway nor the subway extension serve the same catchment area/travel pattern as the EELRT. One might argue that someone could ride the subway to STC and then take a bus to UTSC rather than riding the EELRT, but that’s about it.
The real question is, if all those LRT lines get built, do we really need the subway extension? And of course the answer is “No!”, which also provides an answer to the question of how to pay for all the LRT lines.
But I think almost everybody here understands this. Too bad Toronto Council doesn’t.
I just feel like they’re just incrementally adding transit lines without holistically looking at the transit issues of Scarborough any more. The city keeps saying that transit infrastructure should be carefully studied and built on their merits not their political viability, but I don’t remember a lot of comparative studies about some of these new lines. The transit planners have repeatedly ignored the Scarborough communities north of the 401, going so far as deliberately keep transit lines like the EELRT, SmartTrack, and the SSE south of the 401 because if they ever went north of the 401, then it would suck all the development dollars north of the 401, ruining plans for densification south of the 401. There are many people who want to live north of the 401 and not south of the 401. I’m not a Doug Ford fan, but I’m grateful that he’s forced many of those transit lines to go north of the 401. The city and province have repeatedly prevented plans for giant, dense condo projects in northern Scarborough due to lack of transit infrastructure. But then they refuse to build any such transit infrastructure up there, despite the demand.
Like, if northern Scarborough get SmartTrack, then I’m fine with EELRT to UTSC. But if there’s already a planned busway to UTSC, then is the EELRT along Kingston a greater priority than a transit corridor to Malvern? Is the EELRT along Kingston a greater priority than a transit corridor along Finch or Steeles or Markham road?
Steve: I think that your characterization of the lack of transit north of the 401 is off the mark. Remember that many planners, both amateur and professional, have had a hand in the plans as they now exist, not to mention two levels of government. There is some degree of “planning” by political expediency, and the phrase “Scarborough deserves” is invoked to justify any plan and insulate it from criticism. To some, it would seem as if there will never be enough transit promised for Scarborough, and this feeling is in part justified by the excess of promises over actual delivery of past decades.
Transit City, for all its problems, included Sheppard East, the Scarborough/Malvern line (now known as the EELRT), and for a time the long-awaited SRT extension to Malvern was on the map either as RT or LRT technology. All of this was lost thanks to the cancellation of Transit City, although parts have been revived.
The Scarborough subway extension has in one way or another been limited by cost and available funding. It became a one-stop joke ending at STC to keep costs down, and only goes to Sheppard because Ford’s transit plans thow more money at projects like this than was ever available before. Similarly, the Sheppard extension (a subway foreshortened at Don Mills because Mike Harris cut off funding), is back on the books because Ford has included it in his plans, but there is no guarantee it will actually be built given that it is more than two electoral mandates away.
SmartTrack was always a non-starter, and it is no longer really part of transit improvements for Scarborough. There will be service improvements on GO, but the big requirement is meaningful fare integration with the TTC that makes GO corridors a real part of the local transit network. The subway relocation east to McCowan came about because SmartTrack would have competed with it for passengers and this undermined the business case for an extension. And don’t forget that part of the original sales job for ST was a claim that it would render the need for all other transit projects unnecessary. That’s the kind of BS behind “transit planning” we have seen.
In this city and province, “transit planners” work under orders of politicians. Lay blame where it’s due.
People can want to live where they want to live, but where do they want to go?
Scarborough north of the 401 is prime swing-riding territory. Tell your politicians where you want to go, and that you want to go there by transit.
We’ve had a history of Scarborough projects supported by politicians all of stripes that were focused on providing a route for people who want to live north of the 401 to go south. Why is that? And what again was the name of the politician who ripped up the plan to build the Sheppard East LRT in 2010?
Do people north of the 401 want to go to North York Centre? Then Sheppard East subway and/or LRT would be a good route, and if you want to be ambitious, suggest to reallocate space on Finch or Steeles for another corridor. Do they want to connect to Markham? Then local busways or BRT corridors or an LRT to north, coupled with better all-day local service on GO would probably help. UTSC? There’s an LRT plan for that, with a pretty map connecting both north and south of the 401. Do they want to go downtown? Then considering the distance, they should probably push for effective and affordable GO service.
I don’t know. I still feel like the Durham BRT going all the way to STC is a material change that should require the EELRT to rejustify it’s existence. The initial justification for EELRT was always a little strange. Those neighbourhoods have very good GO train access already, so I’m not sure the incremental improvement of the LRT over a bus really provides much benefit for those communities. But I could sort of understand that having a transfer-free connection to the whole length of Eglinton would be useful for those neighbourhoods, and universities always have a lot of students without cars who need to get around, so I could sort of see the benefit of it. Of course, now the EELRT won’t have a transfer-free connection to the rest of Eglinton, and the university will have a faster, more direct connection to the rest of Toronto through the Durham BRT. So from my perspective, it seems the EELRT now no longer has any reasons for existing, transportation-wise. Do the residents of Malvern really want to take a long, circuitous route to Guildwood? The EELRT should have to justify why it’s a priority over Toronto’s long list of other transit projects. Or the funds could be retasked for general improvements to those neighbourhoods like better biking infrastructure, or they could improve access to the lake for local residents who aren’t multi-millionaires.
Steve: Part of this debate turns on the question of downtown-oriented travel versus anything else, including travel to UTSC. It’s obvious that Malvern could be connected to UTSC by a bus route given the likely level of demand, and of course they will also have the SSE at Sheppard/McCowan for trips downtown. The whole thing is very messy and bound up in expectations, promises and cancellations making any discussion of a network very difficult. Moreover, the moment anyone might say “maybe we don’t need the LRT” it will reinforce a pattern that has gone on for decades.
As reported in a recent Toronto star article, TTCriders opposes the “distinct service” concept because the smaller EELRT trains would be “experiment” like the SRT using untested transit technology. This seems to be an unreasonable criticism given that LRT is not untested technology and that an LRV model can come in various lengths.
TTCriders also objects to the transfer at Kennedy, and disagree with city staff that the shorter trains would provide sufficient capacity.
It appears that city staff is getting a seemingly contradictory message from Metrolinx: The SSE tunnel roof would not support the weight of a Crosstown extension, but such an extension would still be possible.
See Toronto Star
Steve: Frankly I think that TTCRiders is completely out to lunch on this one. Also I think that Metrolinx is putting out contradictory info, and city staff are not exactly on the ball. I will be writing up the discussion at Council in a separate post.