Transit City Status Update

This month’s TTC agenda includes a long update on the status of the Transit City plans.  I will not attempt to précis this report, but will touch on points of particular interest.

Funding is in place to allow continued work on Environmental Assessments [sic] and other engineering work, but the real challenge comes later this year when construction is slated to begin on Sheppard.  The fog may clear a bit once the provincial budget is announced and we know just how much money will flow to Metrolinx and to transit in general.

A related problem, of course, is the question of new LRVs for the existing and future streetcar/LRT networks.  By the time the budget is out, the TTC should know what the bids for new cars look like, and Queen’s Park will have to decide whether they are serious about paying for them. Continue reading

Transit City — The Movie

Today’s TTC meeting brought us an update on the various parts of the Transit City plan.  You can read the full report yourself, and there is a quick review of the status of various lines and studies below.

Meanwhile, the TTC is starting a media campaign to tell people about Transit City and about LRT.  You can watch the video on the TTC’s website.  Although it is a breath of fresh air to see the TTC promoting LRT after all these years, there are a few oddities in this piece (the timings where they occur are included below).

  • (0:39) “Work on Transiy City is already well underway.”  Hmmm … a few traffic barriers does not make a construction project.  I wonder why they don’t show the upheaval on St. Clair?  Shortly later we see a new car mockup superimposed on the westbound stop at Yonge Street.
  • (0:55)  “What is Light Rail Transit?”  We learn that LRT is used around the world including, wait for it, in Vancouver!  Er, ah, there’s a heritage streetcar line running with a former BC Electric interurban car, but no LRT.  This is a howling error.  Other cities shown on the world map are many fewer than the actual inventory.
  • (1:15)  “LRT can operate in a street, but has the flexibility to operate underground like a subway.”  LRT advocates will be amused to hear that their chosen mode has the “flexibility” to be just like a subway, when the real issue is the inflexibility and cost of 100% grade separated modes.
  • (1:50) Light rail is bigger than standard streetcars, and allows level boarding from platforms.  It’s nice to hear how LRT is a streetcar, but not a streetcar.
  • (2:10) LRT cars don’t need loops!  Amazing what you can do with modern technology.  See also Kennedy Station Loop.
  • (2:20) All door loading … but wait .. it’s a subway car!
  • (2:38) LRT will be separated from the effects of traffic congestion, not to mention pesky “transit priority” signals if the animation can be believed.
  • (3:32) Streetscaping.  Aside from the gigantic, fast-growing trees (maybe they’re from Vancouver too), note the typical suburban layout with wide setbacks of buildings from the street.  Contrast this with later illustrations of dense suburban redevelopment.
  • (4:05) Transit will be an even better travel alternative.  With a new subway train?  What’s that doing here?

The map of projects reflects the original Transit City announcement because many possible changes are still under study by both TTC and Metrolinx.

Transit City project updates follow the break.

Continue reading

Jane/Eglinton LRT Open House

Lately I have been distracted by other events, and neglected to post information about the Jane LRT Environmental Assessment.  The display panels from the open houses can be found on the project website.  Note that three linked “display drawings” showing the detailed route layout on an aerial view of the line are quite large with the fine details visible only if they are viewed at 100% size.

There will be a joint presentation of the Jane and Eglinton LRT:

Monday September 22
6:30pm to 9:00pm
Centennial Recreation Centre West, gymnasium
2694 Eglinton Ave West
(just east of the York Civic Centre and adjacent to York Memorial Collegiate Institute)

The Jane LRT design is, putting it mildly, challenging because of the narrow right-of-way available for the south end of the route.  Alternatives including underground construction or reduction in the number of road lanes are being considered.  These will be a harder sell in the Jane corridor than on other Transit City routes because of the lower projected demand relative to the community impact and the cost of an underground option.  This would place the line underground south of Wilson Avenue, but would result in much wider average station spacing (1km if underground, 500m if on the surface).

Oddly, the same language about running LRV trains because of the difficulty of managing close headways is carried over from other EA materials.  This gives us the absurb claim that it is difficult to manage a headway of 3’30” of single cars, and a 7’00” headway of trains would be operated for reliability.  Contrast this with the Eglinton LRT EA where the proposed headways are 3-4 minutes.

At York University, there are three proposed routes to link the Jane LRT with Steeles West Station.  One stays completely on Jane and Steeles, one skirts the campus on the west side via Murray Ross Parkway, and one goes through the campus.

Two Metrolinx proposals (shown on the map published by the Star) include a northern extension of the Jane line to meet up with east-west service in York Region, and truncation of the south end at Eglinton where it would connect to whatever is built in the Eglinton corridor.  Also omitted, thanks to the ever-present Blue 22 line, is any mention of a service via the Weston rail corridor to Union Station.  Both of these schemes for the south end of the line would leave the Jane LRT serving only the portion of the route north of Eglinton with bus service remaining south to Bloor.  These options should be examined if only to determine their impact on peak service demand and the origin-destination pattern of riders in the Jane corridor.

The refined proposals for the Jane route will come back to a second series of open house meetings later in 2008.

Jane LRT Public Meetings

The meeting dates and locations for the proposed Jane LRT are:

Tuesday, August 26, 2008
6:30pm to 9:00pm
Jane Finch Mall
1911 Finch Avenue West (SE corner of Finch Ave and Jane St)

Thursday, August 28, 2008
6:30pm to 9:00pm
Syme Woolner Community School – Gymnasium
69 Pritchard Ave (north of Jane and St. Clair intersection, east of Jane)

The project website does not yet contain the display panels for these meetings.