Archive for the ‘Subway Expansion’ Category

Do I Get To Say, “I Told You So”?

Friday, October 4th, 2013

A new report on a subway extension to Scarborough from Toronto’s city manager, Joe Pennachetti, has him saying:

The construction of a Relief Line subway or equivalent may become a prerequisite to address the higher ridership on the Bloor-Danforth line that will be accelerated by construction of the subway extension.

I have said this before. Despite the fact that the name of this site is the Toronto LRT Information Site, it is my opinion that a (Downtown) Relief Line is a major priority. I believe that the correct mode of transit is a very important part of good transit planning, and sometimes that means subways. Unfortunately, many politicians and much of the public have drank the Koolaid that has them believing that good transit planning can only mean subways, subways, subways.

This site was started about six months before the Transit City LRT Plan was made public. The original focus was to provide information on just what LRT is and what it can do for Toronto. LRT is a broad expression that covers much more than just streetcars, but because Toronto kept its streetcar network, residents know very little beyond this narrow scope. Of those who have visited cities with LRT, most have never used another city’s LRT system to get around and therefore have no idea of what LRT can and can’t do for us. Fear of the unknown, combined with misleading information or out and out lies, makes for great opposition to something. This site was originally meant to show what is done in other cities, and how some of this can apply to Toronto (as well as how some things may not apply in Toronto).

With the announcement of the Transit City plan, the need to convince the politicians diminished (but did not disappear), and the purpose of this site took on a slightly wider scope about what mode is better for a given corridor.

From this, it was clear that there are situations where a full subway line is necessary, and that is at the core of the subway network where capacity is non-existant. Expansion of the core will do little to improve transit for those living in the core, but it will do wonders for those needing to get to the core. Thus, the word “Downtown” in the name Downtown Relief Line is misleading in a way. It would relieve the downtown part of the subway network, but in doing so it increases capacity on the parts of the subway network bringing in people from further out.

Getting back to the point of this post, it was on March 15, 2012 that I said that Toronto badly needs a subway. Going even futher back, it was on June 2, 2009 that I spoke of removing the plans for the Don Mills LRT line south of Eglinton and replacing it with the DRL subway line.

So finally there is an official report that says what I have been saying for several years now. Now if we can only get people to pull their fingers out of their ears and stop saying, “I can’t hear you - subways, subways, subways!”

Yonge Subway Extension Plans Get Whittled Away

Saturday, April 14th, 2012

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.

Extending the Sheppard Line: Pros and Cons

Monday, July 25th, 2011

There was an article in Friday’s Toronto Star outlining pro and con views of extending the Sheppard line’s construction. You can click on the link to read the full article, but there are some points I will address here.

The article starts off with Councillor Norm Kelly. There is no particular quote of his that requires a direct comment, but the article does say, “He is convinced that ridership will be there.” Well, if he is convinced, that must be proof that we should spend billions to build the extension. Nothing like the convictions of a flip-flopper like Kelly to convince us all to do that.

A flip-flopper you say? Ah yes, let us not forget how solidly behind the SELRT prior to the election. Some constituents of his passed on a message from him that he was interested in hearing from someone with LRT knowledge in his bid to alleviate the concerns of the Save Our Sheppard group. That is, until the results of the election were in and the writing was on the wall for centre-of-the-road LRT lines, and he jumped on the Subway wagon.

The second person on the pro side in the article is Denis Lanoue who had these gems to say:

We were scared it would turn into a St. Clair Ave. scenario.

There is a reason people and businesses are located along Sheppard and not St. Clair: because it is not St. Clair. We are talking about a five-lane road that has an allotted space for seven lanes of traffic and adding an LRT median in the middle. Simple math tells us there is not a single square centimetre lost to car space.

Once the Subway extension is built, condos and other businesses will come up all along Sheppard and property taxes will help pay for the cost.

[capitalization of ‘Subway’ mine]

The Ford administration is already of the position that all the condos and businesses that will come up on Sheppard PLUS all the condos and businesses that will come up along the Eglinton-Crosstown subway-LRT line will be needed to pay for the Sheppard line. Many say that won’t be enough, but Lanoue somehow feels the development along Sheppard alone will cover the cost. How about this, Mr. Lanoue: a new $2000 annual levy added to the tax bill for every 25 metres of frontage along Sheppard Avenue until the Sheppard line is paid for?

We are wasting so much time in cars going from point A to B, LRT wasn’t going to be fast and it would have clogged street.

Lanoue must seem to think there is no Sheppard Avenue east of Kennedy Road, since that is where the extension’s alignment will part with the street. No higher order transit east of Sheppard (or northeast of Scarborough Town Centre as well) will greatly increase that time spent in cars.

This city’s primary focus on Subway expansion should be on a Downtown Relief Line, with current focus on its eastern leg from downtown somewhere around King or Queen to a connection on the Bloor-Danforth line somewhere between Pape and Coxwell, and continuing north to Don Mills and Eglinton.

Recently, my thoughts on this have shifted slightly to say that extending this all the way to Sheppard might be useful in taking a little more load off of Yonge, though that extension could be implemented later on. With this idea in mind, what about implementing a northern extension of a DRL to Sheppard as an eastward curving southward extension of the Sheppard line? Perhaps another option to consider.

When Stubbornness Trumps Financial Logic

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Respect for the Taxpayer. That was Rob Ford’s mantra that got him elected. He will stop at nothing to save the city’s taxpayers a few bucks.

Nothing could possibly be more important than saving the taxpayer a few dollars, right? Well, not if it involves some form of rail transit construction on the surface.

According to Steve Munro, Queen’s Park offered the city $2 billion towards the Sheppard Subway project provided that the they would allow the eastern part of Eglinton to remain on the surface. The city slammed the door on this idea. Not that an extension of the Sheppard line is a great idea, but if half of its funding could be secured this easily, why wouldn’t it be?

My position on the plans for the Eglinton line is that at least the section from the eastern portal between Leslie and Brentcliffe and Don Mills Road, the line should be built on the south side of Eglinton rather than down the middle. Looking further into this, it should be possible to continue a side-of-the-road right of way at least as far as Victoria Park or even Pharmacy. Between there and where it would go underground near Kennedy station, a median right of way is likely the best implementation.

Taxpayers be damned in order for the Fords to get their way.

Richmond Hill Subway On Hold

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

Back on March 27, I stated here that there would be no funding for the Yonge Subway extension to Richmond Hill. Today’s issue of the Richmond Hill Liberal has a story that starts on the front page about how this project has had its brakes slammed on because of lack of funding.

Hopefully, this will give the chance to reconsider how best to serve York Region by looking at LRT as a viable option that can meet the needs of the Yonge corridor and at the same time reach a far greater area, and people, for the same money.

This subway extension was being touted as the first subway project in the province to go through the new EA process. The level of zeal by the municipal politicians was akin to children jumping in excitement about getting a train set for Christmas. One of the telling quotes that suggests this is from York Region chairperson Bill Fisch. The City of Toronto placed some caveats on its support for this extension that were related capacity issues of the Yonge subway. Fisch commented, “I think they went overboard.”

If this does not show the “Wow! Once we have our train the world will be wonderful” attitude, then tell me what does. Does he not realize that a system that is bursting at its seams in its core cannot simply be extended further and further out and expect to attract more people. Does Fisch think that the system will magically just handle more?

The TTC has received funding to upgrade its signalling system. This is needed over the next few years because the current system is getting harder to repair, but this has been cited as being the panacea to increase capacity by decreasing head-ways. This will increase capacity, but not by as much as one might expect. Current rush hour head-ways are about 150 seconds and it is said that the new signalling system can bring that down to 90, for a capacity increase of about 66%. The trouble with that is, that leaves no room for any minor delay (think of that guy who grabs the door because he just has to get on this train). Minor delays of even 15 seconds will drastically effect the entire line’s operation. Let’s say to account for such problems, the headway can be brought down to 115 seconds. That gives us an increase in capacity of 29%. One problem with that: terminals such as Finch and Downsview require close to 140 seconds to turn a train around. The way around this is to short-turn trains, but that means that the ends of the line will not be used for its full capacity, even though it costs just as much.

Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti said he understood the approval (of the funding for the signalling upgrade) would lead to a green light for the subway, but now wondered if that money could have been better spent elsewhere. News to Frank: this upgrade is needed without the extension.

The new Toronto Rocket subway trains, that will begin to operate later this year, will add about 3% to the capacity of the line. This is mostly due to the space between each car that may be occupied by passengers, but it is partly due to the ability for passengers to spread out throughout the entire train. There is a possibility, though not funded yet, of adding a 50-foot trailer car to the middle of  a train to add some more capacity. This would add another 11% capacity.

Capacity of the trains themselves is not the whole issue. Can the stations downtown receive a significant increase of people arriving on trains? The simple answer is ‘no’. The Bloor-Yonge station alone is bursting at its seams. The TTC has plans of renovating this station to increase passenger flow and capacity, but this may not be enough. Worse yet, some parts of those plans may not be physically possible as the north end of the Yonge line platform sits within the foundation posts of the Hudson’s Bay tower. Many of the other stations lack a second exit as required by current fire code. Imagine an emergency need to evacuate with 20% more people on the system? Imagine it now!