When I first proposed an LRT option for transit on Yonge Street north of Steeles, I compared it to a subway extension that would only go to Highway 7. I originally made the assumption that there would only be TWO stations north of Steeles: one near Centre or Clark streets, and one at Richmond Hill Centre at Yonge and Highway 7.
When public information sessions for the environmental assessment were held, the plan doubled that by presenting FOUR stations: Clark, Royal Orchard, Langstaff/Longbridge, and Richmond Hill Centre. The plan also called for a 25-bay underground bus terminal at Steeles.
This past week, according to this article, York Region’s rapid transit board received the final conceptual study for the project. Gone is the Royal Orchard station, based on projections that by 2031 it would have only two-thirds the number of users as Bessarion, the TTC’s currently least used subway station. There would also be a 3-bay bus loop (above ground) added at Clark, and the underground bus terminal at Steeles would be reduced to 16 bays from 25.
It is also mentioned that talks are ongoing with the owners of Centrepoint Mall (southwest corner of Steeles and Yonge) about using some of their land for a bus terminal, which would move it to the surface instead of an underground. The original plans would have three levels below ground: a concourse, the bus terminal, then the subway. This would put the buses at ground level and involve a greater vertical travel when transferring.
The report mentions that only half the subway service will initially go north of Steeles, but somewhat erroneously cites the frequency at 3.5 minutes, and more erroneously assumes this will not be forever. This is 210 seconds, and assumes that service south of Steeles would be 105 seconds, which would be pushing it a little. With a new signalling system, service could theoretically be as often as 90 seconds, but that requires that there be absolutely no delays, EVER. 110-120 is more practical to allow for the occasional loading delay. Having half the trains turn back at Steeles will also be mandatory on a permanent basis as it is not physically possible to turn a train around at a current terminal in less than 140 seconds. Perhaps the terminal at Richmond Hill Centre will be built differently, with 2 or 3 tail tracks, but don’t hold your breath.
This story is not over yet.