Archive for May, 2008

Don Mills LRT EA Open Houses

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

Don Mills LRTThree open house meetings for the Don Mills LRT meetings are planned for June 10 (6:00 pm to 8:30 pm at Rosedale Heights School for the Arts, 711 Bloor Street East), June 17 (6:00 pm to 8:30 pm East York Town Centre, 45 Overlea Boulevard)  and June 18 (3:00 pm to 6:00 pm at the Don Mills Subway Station).  They will include presentation of:

A serious of route and transfer/connection options are being examined. Some key connections to be evaluated are the Don Mills subway station and Sheppard East LRT the Bloor-Danforth subway, and the Eglinton Crosstown LRT.

Re-think of Subway Not Going Away

Friday, May 30th, 2008

Over the past two weeks, York Region community newspapers printed a two-part article written by David Fleischer questioning the idea of extending the Spadina and Yonge subway lines into York Region (see blog articles on part one and part two). 

Rather than that being the end of the issue, the community papers had an editorial in this week’s editions on the subject once again that calls into question the spending of such a ruinously high amount of money on transit projects that benefits such a small number of people.

LRVs to Spare

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

Toronto’s streetcar fleet is being pushed to its limits. Every working car must be on the road during rush hours to provide the current service levels, which few would argue are sufficient. The thought of having enough spares that they could be leased to another city is almost incomprehensible, though it has been done occasionally in the past (and yes, wheel-sets needed to be changed due to the unique gauge used in Toronto).

Mulhouse Tram Line 2 at Tour Nessel

The city of Mulhouse in France is in that situation. Their system, recently opened in 2006, has a fleet of 27 Alstom Citadis 302 model LRVs. Currently, seven of these 32 metre long, 5-section LRVs have gone on tour, so to speak.

Public domain photo by Fiorella Grinstein of LRV in Puerto Madero district of Beunos Aires

The first two left in 2007 for a two-year stint in Beunos Aires to operate on the first section of the new LRT line in that city’s Puerto Madero district. This line is considered experimental and is only 2 km long with four stops that opened on July 14, 2007.  If successful, there are plans to extend it another 2 km at one end, and an additional 5.2 km at the other end. It is likely that Alstom will be the supplier of their permanent cars.

The first of five Citadis trams arrive in Melbourne - photo from Tramlines brochure

Five other LRVs have recently been shipped to Melbourne on a four year lease to operate on their busiest routes. These will likely see most service on route 96 operating between East Brunswick and St. Kilda Beach. This route operates through the city on Bourke Street which became the first downtown street to have all platform stops along it late in 2007.

Sheppard East LRT / Scarborough RT EA Meetings

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

I had planned to post this earlier in the week when I received email notification, but other things came up. Then I received a notice in today’s mail, which reminded me. Anyone know why the city is spending money to mail out information that is also being emailed out?

Sheppard East LRTThe Sheppard East LRT meetings are on June 3 (Agincourt Collegiate) and June 4 (Malvern Community Centre).  Both of these will be from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm. They will include presentation of:

the recommended design for the Sheppard Avenue East LRT, including stop locations, the proposed grade separation of Sheppard Avenue at the Agincourt Go Line and the preferred option for making the LRT/subway connection.

Scarborough RTThe Scarborough RT Extension meetings are on June 4 (Malvern Community Centre, jointly with the Sheppard EA) from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm and June 5 (Scarborough RT Station) from 4:30 pm to 7:00 pm.  They will include:

The rationale for selecting the preferred network: an SRT extension to Malvern Town Centre, and SRT alignments to be considered for detailed evaluation.

Though this is a busy week with a number of transit-related open houses, I plan to stop by the open house on Wednesday.

David Gunn’s Concerns About Subway Expansion

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

In the second part of a two-part article on transit expansion in York Region (part one discussed this site), former TTC general manager David Gunn was quoted as saying, “Why are you going to extend that subway today when you can’t run any more trains through Bloor?”

This is a main argument in my opposition to radial expansion of the TTC’s Subway system. With the exception of extending the Yonge line to Steeles, no other radial expansion can justify its cost. Even an extension to Steeles is only justifiable because of its ability to eliminate the bottleneck of 17 bus routes on Yonge from Steeles to Finch (TTC routes 53, 60, and 97; YRT routes 2, 5, 23, 77, 88, 91, and 99; five YRT express routes; and VIVA Blue and Pink), plus provide a second location to turn back trains to permit headways shorter than about 140 seconds during peak times.

While I support a network of LRT lines as a priority to move us towards having the level of transit service that we should have, new additions to the Subway network are not out of the question, provided the numbers warrant it and the additions enhance the network by connecting with the existing system in at least two locations. There are two possibilities where this could apply at this time.

One is the central part of the Eglinton crosstown LRT line under Transit City. This is the 10 km part of the line from about Keele to Leslie that would be built underground. The plans for TC are being revised to have this built in a way that would make it easier to convert to full Subway in the future if needed. I personally think that it is a waste of money to provide this sort of forward thinking for the simple reason that if the line’s patronage increased to the point where full Subway operation is needed, there is no way a heavily-used LRT line will be shut down for six months (or longer) while the conversion takes place. If the projections really show that a subway will be needed (they don’t), build it as full Subway from now. As a Subway line, it would enhance the overall network by connecting at Yonge and at Allen Road.

The second possibility is a downtown relief line (DRL) connecting with the Bloor-Danforth line anywhere from Greeenwood to Pape and heading downtown to connect with the Yonge line anywhere between Dundas and Union. This line could later be extended west and back up to the Bloor-Danforth line somewhere near Keele. Though there are no definite LRT plans as an alternative, a U-shaped connecting extension of the Don Mills and Jane Transit City lines is a possibility. I remain unconvinced on which option is better for this as it will have to be looked into further.

The bottom line is, the only Subway expansion that should be considered is that which is network enhancing, not radially expanding. Consider the city of Buenos Aires:  Their system has consisted of five lines. One relatively short line downtown that intersects with four lines that radiate out into suburban areas. Travelling from the far end of any one radial line to the far end of another is a long trip downtown and back out. In many cases, a cross-town bus trip takes much less time.

Buenos Aires subway network

This can be compared to Toronto, if you consider we also have four radial lines coming out of downtown: Bloor, Spadina, Yonge, and Danforth. Currently, a new line is under construction in Buenos Aires. Shown in yellow on the map above, the first portion of it opened last year. This is an example of a network enhancing line. It will continue north and cross B (red) and D (green) and terminate at the northern end of C (blue). This takes a lot of pressure off of the central part of the system. Additional plans are in the works for other lines that provide other network enhancements that not only provide capacity to new areas, but also provide alternative ways to get to a destination.

One additional note about Buenos Aires relevant to our situation here: instead of further radial expansion of the E line (purple), a 7.4 km light rail line was implemented in 1987 referred to as the PreMetro, or the P line. Stretching out from the dense city centre, it makes sense that an appropriate mode change must occur at some point.