Eglinton-Crosstown LRT Design

Eglinton-Crosstown LRTFrom the recent open houses held for the Eglinton-Crosstown LRT, the project page has the display panels available. I have also placed copies on this site: Part 1 (2.5 Mb), Part 2 (2.1 Mb), and Part 3 (1.1 Mb).

Steve Munro has a good breakdown and description of the details on his site, split into three sections:

One item of note is that the TTC is considering the use of a single bore tunnel where tunnel boring is to be used.

Double bore tunnels would have two 6 metre bores for the tunnel, but cut and cover box construction would be used at stations and in places where underground storage and crossover tracks are needed. Bored portions of the TTC subway system uses this method.

Single Bore Tunnel

With a single bore, the diameter is 13 metres and two levels are created in the bore with one direction on the top and the other on the bottom. Stations are built within the bore itself, and room for crossover and storage tracks can be accommodated with a ramp between the levels. By eliminating the cut and cover construction mentioned above, this method of construction is less disruptive on the surface.

For those familiar with the SkyTrain in Vancouver, the portion downtown was built the former Dunsmuir railway tunnel. Unlike what the TTC is looking at, the Dunsmuir tunnel did not have a wide circular bore, but was only one track wide with high vertical clearance. This allowed a superstructure to be built to carry the westbound SkyTrain track. The Burrard and Granville Stations are located on the tunnel section and both have westbound (towards Waterfront) platforms on an upper level and eastbound on a lower level.

11 Responses to “Eglinton-Crosstown LRT Design”

  1. JJ Says:

    I’ve already posted this on Stevemunro but I’m seeking as much feedback/constructive criticism as possible for this suggestion.

    There are many aspects of this plan that are disappointing to say the least. In spite of the TTC’s own analysis regarding projected ridership growth levels along the Eglinton corridor, one needs to bare in mind that as a Crosstown route the Eglinton Line will do far more than serve a local populous adjacent to the actual street. Eglinton could easy well siphon away tens of thousands of commuter traffic heading inbound towards the Bloor-Danforth subway line daily, making it a credible alleviator relief line in its own right and can simplify interregional cross-GTA commutes as well. Now after hearing about the Crosstown LRT plan in greater detail, I’m more convinced than ever before that a subway belongs in this corridor. And if the LRT’s expenditure is already climbing astronomically up into subway range and beyond, why not?

    Cal’s comment: The cost of this 30 kilometre LRT line is reaching the full subway range, if you are comparing it with a subway line a little over half that distance. Its ridership projections do not warrant it. Besides, the single bore tunnel design is promising, as it will make extending the length of platforms cost effective if needed later. If ridership grows, it will grow in the middle section of this line, not all across the line, and a five-car LRT train in the tunnelled section can provide subway type of capacity.

    First PIA and the Airport Corporate Centre. ACC is a very large business park and most area employees will certainly not be within easy walking distance of a “rapid transit” station. They’ll continue to use feeder buses as they do today connecting to the RT service. This is why after Martin Grove the subway alignment could and should skip Renforth altogether and instead via a hydro corridor, which conveniently runs perpendicularly up to Hwy 27, run elevated across Dixon/Airport Rd to the airport’s Terminal 1 where the station can seamlessly connect with the People Mover tram. This would in the process include station(s) at Hwy 27 and/or Carlingview (transfer point with the 112 bus) where a number of airport area hotels, offices and conference centers are congregated. Note too that an Hwy 27 Stn would also be the jump-off point for Woodbine Entertainment, Humber College, even Albion Mall area-bound excursions; lessening the need for a full-length Finch West LRT corridor; which commuters coming in from the south and west may find cumbersome to use.

    I don’t understand why commuters from the south and west would have a problem with the Finch West LRT corridor. It serves an east and north catchment area, totally separate from the users of an Eglinton-Crosstown line to the airport. Both of these lines would provide totally separate access to the airport. This is like people in Scarborough saying that the Bloor-Danforth subway line shouln’t go west of St. George because it doesn’t help them get downtown.

    From Martin Grove to Royal York, the line could be done in a mixture of at-grade and open-trench configurations, and be elevated from Royal York to Mount Dennis Stn with Scarlett Rd Stn occurring on the SW corner of the intersection (making the western exits near grade level for easy access to Mulham Pl). Conversely I recommend skipping Jane Street for cost- and travel time advantages due to the unlikelihood of redevelopment of the surrounding parklands and low walk-in prospects other than it being an arbitrary transfer point for the Jane LRT.

    Mount Dennis Stn rather has quantifiable significance. It could one day be the western terminus of a Downtown subway line and a direct transfer connection with GO Transit. Given its “hub” appeal status and the reality that Weston Rd from Jane to Eglinton has more residents than the latter, a Jane LRT would be far more beneficial to riders by running underneath Weston Rd through this short stretch (only a Queens Quay-esque stop at Ray Ave is needed within the tunnel). This sets up a rationale to continue either LRT or subway technology adjacent to the Weston-Galt Sub between Bloor and Eglinton, further alleviating our system’s core lines. Such a subway connection nullifies any purpose/function for Jane LRT south of Eglinton. It also retains the close-knit stop spacings of the 35 Jane bus south of Weston Rd, which local residents will appreciate. The 35 bus could also take over the 32D’s loop around Emmett/West Park, whilst long-haulers from North York and Vaughan would be getting their limited-stopping LRT shuttle service.

    Keele North Stn’s about the only thing I like so far. I think it’d be a good idea to merge the 32C Trethewey bus with Route 59 Maple Leaf such that both ends of the route terminate at a metro (service along Church St and Gary Dr would be bi-directional on a single routing). Caledonia Stn however is too far over from its namesake. Were the station to be centered underneath Croham instead, with exits on both ends, there’d be no reason to time-consumingly detour the 47 bus when a simple on-street transfer could be done instead. The future GO connection and access to Westside Mall/Gabian Way is still achievable with customers not having to walk further than 100m over. Dufferin North should be some sort of on-street loop where the 90 bus can turnaround, and possibly include a westerly exit onto Ennerdale given the huge spacing gap between Dufferin and Caledonia. Why are these underground stations only 90m in length anyway, if the TTC has stated they’ll one-day be accommodating HRT trains? They should be subway standard length (150m) whereby these spacing gap issues are minimized.

    If they will be built to subway standards, they will have a roughed-in 150 metre length, with a finished 90 metre length, just like the Sheppard subway line. If the single bore tunnel construction is used, the entire length of the bore effectively becomes the rough-in, so extending finished platforms is (relatively) easy.

    Chaplin Stn is okay but should have exits out to Spadina Rd, seeing that the area’s comprised of several apartment complexes, a large high school and library. The gaps through East York are odd. Laird Dr is the principle street of Leaside, so why exclude it? A Brentcliffe Stn could easily be merged with Leslie, there’s little reason for two separate stops here as it’s mainly parkland. Put Brentcliffe Stn on a elevated guideway parallel to Aerodrome Cr, such that it’s level with the housing development to the east of Brentcliffe with escalators/elevators leading down to street level just to the west of Leslie/Eglinton. Having the subway continue along this elevated guideway through the Don Parklands (all the way til Bermondsey) is a great way to conserve funds not to mention readily provide easy access to major destinations close-by but not directly along Eglinton proper itself (i.e. the Science Centre and the Wynford Hts-Concorde business park). At Don Mills of course a side-of-the-roadway transfer to the DMLRT would be possible as would access to a shallow tunneled DRL.

    Separate Victoria Park and Pharmacy stops would not be needed were this a subway either, particularly if the station’s centered on Eglinton Square. It is quite possible to route the section through the Golden Mile at-grade, although it would close access off to some minor streets and freeway-dize the Warden intersection. Were a new southwest-northeast configured station platform to be designed for the Bloor-Danforth Line, this new Eglinton subway could takeover operations through the existing east-west platform at Kennedy Stn. This sets a precedence for continuing the B-D Line northeast to the Scarborough Centre through the hydro corridor and the parkland in-between Brimley and McCowan north of Lawrence. Such an acquisition would also bolster the case for continuing subway operations underneath Eglinton from Birchmount through to Kingston Rd (with a terminus likely in the vicinity of Guildwood Pkwy-Scarborough Golf Club Rd). This would minimize the need for a Scarborough-Malvern LRT as through-service BRT operations along Kingston Rd could seamlessly connect outer nodal areas such as West Hill, UTSC, Highland Creek and the Zoo to the subway at this location (as well connect to the B-D and DRL subways further southwest).

    The costing for all this could be very affordable, from as little as $150 million/km for the at-grade portions and $175 million/km for elevated/open-trenched options (at least that’s what the international norm is as evident by this website’s data).

    As stated on this site, in gathering figures to compare LRT and HRT costs, I have attempted to favour the HRT costs to eliminate any accusation of trying to show LRT in a tremendously preferred light. That means that I have leaned towards higher LRT costs and lower HRT costs. Using $150-175 million for HRT construction at grade and trenched is being very optimistic, especially when considering the values of real estate along this line. Added to that is the point that the HRT figures do not include vehicles, while the budget for the Eglinton line include the vehicles.

    And the funding for this subway would already exist per the reallocation of preexisting granted Transit City funding (9-13 Billion federal dollars). So a 37 kilometre subway line stretching from the airport to Guildwood using a mixture of above-, at- and below-grade configurations may cost just a billion and a half more than the $4 Billion estimates of a mere LRT line lacking true signal priority nor exclusive right-of-way and with one too many minor stations where instead a reduced service parallel bus route could easily serve the low-density residential areas in-between major arterials. This would still leave ample funds over with which to create a citywide mass transit network but with more emphasis of course on affordable BRT routings over costlier light-rail. Bolstering our existing network however by merely introducing more limited-stopping express bus routes (as is being proven successful along Finch East and Wilson) at no additional cost will ensure that everyone gets a rapid service but areas already exhibiting near subway levels of demand (over 153,500 customer trips begin or end along the Eglinton corridor on a daily basis or 9594pphpd) should be treated within that regard.

  2. Malcolm J. Says:

    A technical note first.

    The Dunsmuir Tunnel, used by Vancouver’s SkyTrain light-metro system was built to accommodate overhead catenary (never installed), with possible usage by the BC Electric interurbans or electric locomotives. The tunnel’s floor only had to be dropped 1.5 metres for a stacked SkyTrain operation, thus the cost for conversion was not excessive.

    Also I strongly believe that LRT operating in tunnels are defacto subways and not LRT. In Europe, where the tram descends from the street to the Stygian depths, they become subway or metro.

    Cal’s comment: Thanks for the additional details about the Dunsvuir Tunnel.

    As for the term ’subway’, this has been defined for this site. Placing anything in a tunnel makes it ’subway’ in the dictionary sense, but that is not everything that is implied when we talk of building a ‘full subway’, or building something to ‘full subway standards’. The cost of building a tunnel is always pricey, but building a tunnel with wider loading gauges, signaling systems, and station designs that must totally isolate passengers from track level have a significant cost to them. Furthermore, when a ‘full subway’ does emerge and run as a surface line, it must be totally isolated from its surroundings making it significantly more expensive to build due to the isolation infrastructure (e.g.: fencing) and the need for a wider right of way (increased real estate acquisition costs). LRT has the flexibility to shift easily from mixed traffic where necessary, to reserved median or parallel right of way, to private right of way, to elevated structure where needed, to tunnel where needed.

    In Europe in the 60’s and 70’s, there was a movement to put all public transit underground, but two things happened:

    1) Cities building subways, soon bankrupted their public transit budget (in Europe in the early 80’s, there was over 100 km. of subway tunnels built but never used due to the lack of funding to complete the metro line! Some now see operation. See this page for more details.

    2) Cities that replaced surface trams with subways, saw a decline in ridership as the expensive new subways were not as efficient in moving people - the car was just easier to use.

    In Europe, subway construction is kept at a bare minimum and only considered if ridership on a transit route demands long trains, at close headways.

    This subway mania by North American transit planners is really dated transit philosophy, where the lessons of the 70’s and 80’s in Europe have yet to cross the pond.

    The goal of course is to get the transit built and not get stuck in ‘pie in the sky’ planning that will never be built due to costs.

    I concur with that point - Toronto has suffered from this ‘pie in the sky’ planning for the past three decades. It goes this way: We need better transit. More subways means better transit, so we’ll build more subway. We can’t afford complete new subway lines, so we’ll just add a kilometre or two to the ends of what we have. Who’s constituency will get the benefit? We can’t decide, so we’ll wait and do it later… and on it goes while nothing gets built. At least the Transit City plan, while it has some flaws, looks at providing a whole network, that works together, across the entire city.

  3. JJ Says:

    “Cal’s comment: The cost of this 30 kilometre LRT line is reaching the full subway range, if you are comparing it with a subway line a little over half that distance. Its ridership projections do not warrant it.”

    Okay I get what you’re saying. However using strictly Canadian examples here for objectivity, STM/Montreal was able to build its 5.4km Laval extension for just $143 million/km. Even by today’s standards future metro extensions are estimated to be only $150 million/km there. And of course this even included the technical hassle of tunneling underneath a large body of water. Vancouver’s 19km long Canada Line (considered by many to be a true metro) was only $100 million/km to build. And not unlike what I’m proposing for along Eglinton, utilized a mixture of ROW stylings (bored-tunnel, cut-n-cover, road median/side-of-roadway alignments, elevated guideway). Is there any particular reason why high-order transit projects here in Toronto are overestimated to the point of making HRT technology uncompetitive against light-rail?

    Cal’s comment: The cost for subway construction in Toronto are what they are, but I suspect that since our most recent figures involve small extensions, there are some fixed project costs that drive up the per kilometre price for short lengths. Having built my own home, I know this all too well. For instance, when you hire an excavation contractor, part of the cost is the actual digging they do - the more digging, the more it costs. The other part of the cost is the cost for floating the equipment in and out of the site. The first part will vary, depending on whether you are building one or ten houses or kilometres of subway, but the float cost is fixed for the project, so one-tenth of it is attributed to each house or kilometre if ten are built.

    That said, it still remains a fact that the 8.6 kilometre Spadina extension is budgeted to cost about $265 per kilometre, and this line will utilize the mixture of ROW stylings mentioned above, with a significant part of the section north of Steeles being above ground.

    July 10 addition: In a response to a comment on his site, Steve Munro mentioned a fact about Toronto’s subway system: “Toronto subway cars are unusually wide, and although this gives them greater capacity than cars on some other systems, it also increases tunnelling costs.”

    This would also add a little to at-grade construction (greater land acquisition costs) as well as elevated structure costs, thought I suspect that elevated structures would have the least impact because of this.

    Speaking of where ridership will grow specifically and why, the middle-section will perform best only due to two factors: right-of-way exclusivity and fewer stops (not to mention a preexisting streetscape along much of this stretch encouraging further growth). Were planners to really examine the benefits of running the Crosstown LRT grade-separated beyond the tunnel through Etobicoke and east of Brentcliffe however, the outer portions of this line could be just as successful; particularly near the terminal-points where a lot of demand already exists.

    I’m willing to entertain the idea of keeping Eglinton-Crosstown as an LRT corridor were it designed in such a manner to make it at least have a compatible level of service quality to that of the subway (frequent headways, exclusive ROW). It’s not that hard to conceptualize either given the topography of the outer regions. An elevated guideway could take on sudden changes in grade elevation that a road-median LRT cannot. Road-median LRTs are limited to abide by whatever physical roadway conditions are present (hills, gullies, narrow turns, traffic signals, etc.). While the mutability of exclusive guideways means that they do not have to rigidly follow along a street grid.

    For instance, past “Brentcliffe-Leslie Stn” the RT line could simply cut through E.T. Seton Park to target the Ontario Science Centre directly, and then swing back across Eglinton and the DVP to run parallel to Wynford Dr @St Dennis (easy walking distance away from a high concentration of high-rise office and residential towers). A road-median LRT route however will not be as connective to either node and likely will require a needless couple stops transfer south or north of the corridor for greater accessibility, when Eglinton itself lacks any trip-generators of note through this whole stretch.

    I would prefer to see the line between Brencliiffe and Don Mills be placed south of Eglinton. It could emerge through a portal slightly east of what is proposed, in order to miss a small road between Eglinton and a housing development. Staying off the road, it could go under the CPR tracks through its own bore that would be better situated for a future GO-Seaton connection. I wouldn’t have it swing as far south as you have suggested, but an underground station beneath the Science Centre parking lot would be useful. From there, it could return beneath Eglinton and emerge in the median.

    I am of two minds about the route through the area just south of Eglinton between Don Mills and the DVP. In one sense, it would serve a great deal of transit users better and it would separate its crossing of the DVP from traffic that goes through an underpass that probably cannot be widened easily. I am concerned that it might lose some trip generators on the north side of Eglinton, but most of these may be up on Wynford Drive which would require a bus connection either way.

    If transit is unable to get people as close as possible to the major destinations they’d desire most, why even attempt to build something so expensive in the first place? I get that you may have a bias towards light-rail transit in favour of other modes, however where alternatives can provide adequate service levels with minimal disruption to neighbourhoods or commuter’s ease of travel these should also be explored. In bringing up Finch West, I personally see nothing essentially wrong with a rapid transit service from that corridor routing into the airport. However that this service must determinately be light-rail is another issue. West of Albion I question its validity, and if so definitely not beyond Humber College. When a surface line through mixed traffic, subject to stop lights and letting on/off a handful of people every 300-400m starts to get so long and bothersome that it actually deters many people from using it, maybe it’s not such a good allocation of funds.

    Ideally bus rapid transit (BRT) through the Finch Hydro Corridor- which actually runs on a diagonal from Weston Rd & Finch through to Dixon Rd & Martin Grove- is a superior way of connecting the residents of North York and northern Scarborough to the airport, in far less time than any light-rail surface affixed to the street grid would allow. It even runs directly parallel to all of the following high-density areas: Jane & Finch (Yorkgate Mall), Finch West Stn, Finch Stn, Old Cummer GO, Seneca College. And east of the 404/DVP it could run along Finch East proper same as the 39E express bus does. Has any such proposal even been subject to EA analysis?

    No such proposal has ever came forward, yet alone gone through an EA analysis, which took a few years until the current process was put into place recently. Besides, there are a whole lot of soccer families out there who would have a few things to say about taking out all the pitches along that corridor (7 between Bathurst and Dufferin, 1 plus 4 mini fields from York Gate to Norfinch)!

    It’d appear to me, and correct me if I’m wrong here, that there’s a deliberate attempt on TPTB’s part to sabotage any proposal which threatens to critically challenge Transit City as outlined from going ahead, even though numerous unexplored alternatives still exist (city/regional wide BRT, limited-stop express routes, the untapped potential of hydro-corridors/old railways/parklands, S-Bahn/U-Bahn/REX commuter-rail, GO/TTC fare integration akin to the 905’s $0.60 ride subsidy). But alas, I digress.

    It’s a matter of priorities with what funding can be obtained. I believe that LRT becomes truly rapid when it runs in its own right of way, but is far better than bus and substantially better than BRT when in a reserved median. Of course, signal priority is important, and I remain sceptical as to whether this will be implemented properly and efficiently in Toronto as the track record here is not stellar for that. BRT works best in a line-haul operation, as will be the case with the busway currently being built in the hydro corridor you speak of above between Dufferin and Keele to speed the connection between Downsview station and York University.

    There are a number of places around the city where LRT would provide very rapid service using railway and hydro right of ways. Unfortunately, due to so many years of next to nothing in transit development, we must play catch up and focus on connections that support a mix of local and cross-town patterns. The one bright spot is that the issue of what to do with the SRT is part of the developments that have been funded and conversion of this line to LRT will give us an LRT line that will have its own ROW and will be truly rapid.

  4. Malcolm J. Says:

    Not living in Toronto, I am ever mindful in commenting. To be successful, transit (rail) must not only serve destinations, but also serve residential areas as well.

    Subways should only be built if there is a barrier of some sort (river, highway, etc. and only for short lengths) or if ridership exceeds 400,000 to 500,000 a day on a ‘rail’ line.

    Cal’s comment: I might bring that ridership number down to as low as 250,000 - but I like this guideline for when to place an LRT line in a tunnel. Applying it to some of the plans for Transit City, I would say that the tunnel on the Eglinton-Crosstown line makes sense even for a section as long as 13 km. Here, the barier is the very limited space along that part of Eglinton. In the latest presentation of this line, there is another section in the Weston Road to Black Creek Drive area that they are proposing tunnel options and I am not convinced these are the best options. The difficulties of at-grade operation here may be better overcome with elevating the line instead. With the Sheppard East line, the barrier is the 404 combined with the already-existing underground station structure at Don Mills, so tunnelling makes sense here. The alignment for the Don Mills LRT, whether it should go to Coxwell, Donlands, or Pape subway stations on the Danforth, simply screams out for tunnelling for the same reason as the Eglinton line’s centre section. The difference here is that we will see some serious consideration of a DRL subway line going to the same place that would cause some substantial pedestrian movement changes to the station when combined with an LRT terminus. This is one place where subway would be better than LRT up to Eglinton where a hub with the Don Mills LRT to the north and the Eglinton-Crosstown line would make sense with a DRL subway line. Not to mention the added ‘Relief’ that the DRL would provide if built to Eglinton.

    The definition of LRT or what makes it different from a streetcar or tramway, is that it “operates on a reserved rights-of-way” or a line reserved solely for the use of the tram or streetcar. A reserved rights-of-ways, can be as simple as a HOV lane for trams only.

    Streetcar/tram/LRT stop spacing should be 500m to 600m in urban areas and further in lesser populated areas. Recent studies (Hass-Klau - Bus or Light Rail, Making the Right Choice) found that the majority of ridership for a transit system come from a 300m radius around ‘rail’ line (thus 600m maximum station spacing).

    In Europe it has been found that tramway’s (LRT) could attain commercial speeds approaching metro, yet operating on-street/at-grade and is one of the reason for the Renaissance of modern LRT in Europe and North America.

    It should be remembered that from the 80’s to date, European transit planning philosophy went from heavy-rail metro to LRT for urban ‘rail’ transit, simply that modern trams (LRT) achieved what a metro could, at a far cheaper cost. Lessons that I know Vancouver’s planners have not learned and I believe lessons that Toronto’s planners need to learn as well.

    Operating LRT in subways makes me nervous as I believe planners and politicians, treat them as poor-man’s metros and not LRT, rejecting the operational strength’s of modern light rail.

    There is also a bit of an “out of sight, out of mind” attitude from some members of the public. Subway is such an easy sell, despite its cost particularly where the ridership does not warrant it, because there are too many people in their cars that are all for getting every other car off the road and on transit, provided that the transit they all move to is not in their own way. Building an LRT subway is an extension of this thinking, but because people in the GTHA know subways better than they know LRT, that is what they support.

    Other than that, your blog is tops and one the top ten transit blogs I peruse!

    Thanks for the complement, but I have to say that a blog is only as good as the comments and discussions it promotes, so thanks for yours!

  5. Michael Forest Says:

    For some reason, Hydro opposes any permanent transit routes in their corridors. They allowed the YorkU busway between Dufferin and Keele under the assumption that it won’t be needed once the Spadina subway extension is built.

    Cal’s comment: I have heard that Hydro has this issue. As for the busway once the subway is built, I don’t see the public accepting that piece of infrastructure simply going unused if it is no longer needed for transit.

    Other challenges for the Finch hydro corridor transit would be: soccer fields as you mentioned; Lord Ross reservoir east of Dufferin; Humber River branches between Weston Rd and Albion. In some areas, the route might get too close to houses, and the resident would oppose high-speed vehicles running next to their backyards.

    But if the above issues can be overcome, Finch West LRT and the Hydro Busway do not necessarily preclude each other. They could co-exist and serve different markets.

    In my alternative to subway extensions, I propose placing an LRT line to York U and Vaughan along that corridor.

  6. David Says:

    Late to the party as usual, but here goes.

    Vancouver’s Canada Line is way over budget despite denials from both the private builder and the government. Some very interesting figures were revealed during a court case where a retailer successfully sued the project company and transit authority for compensation. It was supposed to be a bored tunnel and was approved on that basis, but the majority of the tunnel was actually built using cut-and-cover. Several km of street were essentially closed to all traffic for a period of about two full years and many businesses moved or failed.

    Cal’s comments: Ironically, back when the SubwayNow website was up to promote the Yonge extension to Richmond Hill, they had pages of how tunnels are constructed that showed the Canada Line’s cut-and-cover construction techniques. It’s a shame I did not save a copy for myself, as they were using it to promote the idea that subway was better than bus lanes (or LRT) because the construction of those alternatives are very disruptive to local businesses, residences, and commuters!

    Even if we accept the government’s lies, approximately half the Canada Line is above ground. Thus the tunnel section must have cost substantially more than $100M/km.

    The true cost of the tunnel section is probably $200M/km, with the bored tunnel portion probably costing even more than that.

  7. JJ Says:

    The Canada Line was originally supposed to total $1.9 billion ($1.76 billion in 2004 dollars when it was first proposed) for 19.2 kms or approximately $101 million/km. The final cost as of March 2009 is $2.054 billion or $107 million/km. And most of those additional costs (beyond inflation) are due to earmarks that the federal/provincial gov’ts tacked onto the project for the installation of new turnstiles at all 49 Skytrain stations, not just for RAV ($70M) and some unforeseen minor building complications around Vancouver City Centre Stn. That’s within reason, IMO. There also were some claims of driven away customers from businesses around Yaletown and in False Creek, but these cases weren’t typical of the norm by far. So before anyone starts to complain about budget oversights, let us remember just how many more kilometres of track and how many more exclusive ROW mass transit stations that just over $2 billion got them. I mean, just look how much the Sheppard Line cost and the YUS extensions will cost. Even LRT lines to nowhere will wind up costing us in the billions.

    Cal’s comment: I will leave comments on RAV up to other readers.

    Toronto could stand to learn a lot from Vancouver. A LOT!

    P3s come to mind as RAV has done, whereby private companies manage and operate the line and split fare revenues with BC Translink, under a 35 year lease agreement. Especially since the TTC increasingly seems oblivious as to how to efficiently operate its fleets or system as a whole; the private sector may teach them a thing or two about cost-savings like not spending frivolously on things such as cathedral sized bus terminals that presently sit half-empty and will soon have even less bus traffic feeding into them (e.g. Leslie, Don Mills, Downsview). Given the lucrative appeal of Toronto’s downtown core I’d imagine companies would be lining up and down the block vying for operational rights to the Downtown Relief Line, and given the financial stakes they’d know best how to build the line efficiently and in an alignment that’d best cater to the inner city’s preexisting nodal areas (i.e. more inland than a Front/rail corridor alignment); where high walk-in potential is best guaranteed.

    Other observations: the worker’s union is given way too much leeway; its members are being paid outrageously high wages to be rude to customers and take prolonged washroom or coffee breaks when they should be out driving the buses on schedule.

    I have my issues with public service unions, but I have to ask if they receive such outrageously high wages, why does the TTC have a problem with a lack of available drivers and high turnover? I don’t see a huge lineup of applicants at their door to get the jobs that pay such outrageously high wages.

    The EA process is also cumbersome because despite asking for the public’s opinion, the special interest lobbyist groups always have their way regardless. Case in point, back in 2006 when the vast majority of the polled public and city councilors stated that we favored extending the Bloor-Danforth Line to Scarborough Centre, the TTC ignored our pleas opting instead the more costly to retrofit and expand SRT. Mind you, this was right before Transit City came out of nowhere and was green lit before even being subject to non-affiliated critical analysis.

    There is an element of duplicity in that paragraph by stating that Transit City lacked “non-affiliated critical analysis”, yet the idea of extending the Bloor-Danforth line to Scarborough Centre should be built simply because “the vast majority of the polled public and city councilors” favoured it. Setting aside the idea that when polled about getting something or not, public response will almost always be in the affirmative, the usage numbers for extending a subway line further and further out are rarely supportive of the cost. A feeder system of pre-metro lines better serves the public in most every case.

    Now rhetorically speaking, I’m just curious to know what having a rival transit operator within the 416 would do towards getting the TTC to clean up its act, stop being influenced so much by politicians/contractors’ hidden agendas and put the general public’s needs first and forefront? That we haven’t yet mastered transit signal priority along streetcar corridors nor have been able to complete construction projects within deadline (case in point; 512 St Clair or the decade it takes to build one piecemeal subway line) is appalling. By stark contrast Vancouver’s Canada Line, which wasn’t even supposed to open until November, could now be up and running within a matter of weeks. That’s the epitome of running a tight ship.

    Anyway, I just came back to add that one driveway width across right-of-way through the Finch Hydro Corridor wouldn’t prevent other activities within those parklands, especially if placed off to one side instead of down the median where possible. Ontario Hydro’s request seems rather odd given the number of transit facilities that already exist within hydro corridors e.g. Finch GO Terminal, Old Cummer GO Stn, Kipling and Kennedy Stns, etc. There’d still be ample space for sports venues and other recreational use; and it should not be any more intrusive for local residents than a near inaudible humming sound as the buses go by. Blink and residents will likely not even notice its there after awhile. To get through the reservoir, the BRT lanes could simply bridge over it. Ditto when crossing the Humber Valley between Weston/Finch and Islington, with just one brief tunneled section/station en route @Albion Rd.

    This corridor would make a good crosstown route. I do not know what Hydro’s objection is as it has been used in the past and placing it to one side would lessen any issues. I have heard there are some issues of corrosion on buses operating under hydro lines (Cummer 42), but this didn’t seem to be an issue for building the York University busway. Also, I wonder if the effect is the same for a fully grounded vehicle (LRT or subway) compared to an insulated vehicle (bus). There does not seem to have been an issue with the subway between Warden and Victoria Park, though the hydro line through there is much smaller and operates at a lower voltage.

    So Finch West (all of 416 North Crosstown, really) as far as I can tell would have excellent mass transit service if FHC BRT to the airport were to be prioritized in conjunction with a “fixed” 191 Highway 27 bus (i.e. in addition to serving Humber College & Woodbine Ctr it’d also have limited stops at Woodbine Racetrack, Etobicoke Hosp., Finch-Albion/Albion Centres and a local Gracedale-Thistledown looping via Finch, Islington and Albion; doing away with the redundant local service looping up to Martin Grove/Steeles). I’d hope at least one person at Metrolinx or a similar body has thought along these lines or will begin to urgently before our city’s stuck with costly infrastructure that we can’t so easily do away with once its built.

  8. Simon Gordon Says:

    Eglinton-Crosstown LRT isn’t bad idea for Toronto because it’s cheaper to build and quick, but a subway along this route would be better to relieve traffic and slow also crowded Eglinton buses at rush hours. The LRT should go underground just west on Weston Rd, because Eglinton gets narrow at Weston. So underground from there to Leslie will be good and traffic will move smoothly. Hope the Weston/Mt. Dennis stop if underground be built closer to the Georgetown GO Line so it will connect to it, or the Black creek station if underground also be built close to it. But let’s wait and see if the (LRT) good or bad thing for this city.

    Cal’s comment: Placing the LRT line underground for about 10-13 km provides essentially an “LRT Subway”. Rider projections don’t show the need for a full subway, but the core of the line will be built for longer trains - certainly for three cars, but hopefully for four or even five (as Edmonton did). A 3-car LRT train will hold as many passengers as a 4-car subway train.

    Connections with GO will become important, and fare integration will eventually be a reality. Sadly, I don’t see very much forward-thinking in this area. Instead, there is too much ‘empire building’.

  9. Polly S. Says:

    It is of great concern that the TTC is considering bringing the LRT above ground at Keele street. The stretch of Eglinton between Keele and Jane is narrow and residential. To create an above ground route would mean knocking down approximately 30 houses and neighbourhood businesses. Community green space in Mount Dennis would also be taken and paved over to widen the road. The community would be divided into two thus limiting the community’s access to parks, schools, and other community resources. The TTC is proposing that the new width of Eglinton through Mount Dennis would be 36 meters wide! (this is about 1/3 of a football field, or about the same width as a highway). The TTC is also planning to restrict left turns along Eglinton where the LRT runs above ground. Drivers wishing to make a left turn at Jane would be redirected into the Mount Dennis community, resulting in inconveniences for drivers and, additional traffic for Mount Dennis. What the TTC needs to realize is that Mount Dennis is a residential area.

    Cal’s comment: Let’s set the facts straight. First, the current proposal does not have the LRT come to the surface at Keele. The West portal will be east of Black Creek Drive (as is mentioned later in this comment). West of this point, the road allowance of Eglinton is wide enough for 36 metres, which is the ’standard’ for major arteries throughout Toronto. This means, that with or without an LRT line on the surface, the road allowance could be widened with the necessary expropriations. Stating that the plan involves “knocking down 30 houses” is a bit of an exaggeration, but the plan is calling for 18 homes west of Weston Road to be expropriated and torn down, regardless of whether the line is at grade or in a tunnel. This is an issue that the TTC is going to have to be pushed to deal with, as there really should not be any reason to do this as there are alternatives that should be considered.

    Left turns at Jane will not be “redirected into the Mount Dennis community,” but instead will involve passing the intersection to make a U-turn some 150-200 metres past and come back to make a right turn. Possibly a little inconvenient for drivers, though sometimes this could actually save time over making a conventional left turn. At many intersections, this routing could be beneficial for local businesses by making it easier for car traffic to make an impulse stop, however this intersection lacks businesses that would benefit.

    If the LRT was tunnelled underground the impact on the community would be much less.

    Nobody would want this for their community, but for Mount Dennis this is just one of the inconveniences that the TTC has put on the Mount Dennis Community in the past couple of years. In 2007 a Bus Garage big enough to store and repair more then 250 buses was built in the community. The TTC is also vying for land on the former Kodak property to be used as a major maintenance facility for the LRT. This land was scheduled to be developed into retail so, it is to the community’s dismay that the TTC has interfered.

    It should be noted that there is no consensus in the community about using this land for retail. The traffic nightmares that the proposed retail development would create make the left turn issues on Eglinton due to the LRT line look very minor. The employment benefits that such a development provide to the community tend to be in the form of minimum wage jobs, which may or may not be a great benefit to the immediate community.

    It is a short distance between Keele and Jane. Considering the 4.6 billion dollar budget, the TTC owes it to the Mount Dennis community to plan a line that has as little as possible affect on the community. An underground track between Keele and Jane is the only option that will work for this stretch of Eglinton.

    Any assistance you can offer in supporting an underground track through Mount Dennis would be greatly appreciated.

    This message was posted by the Mount Dennis Eglinton LRT Coalition. (MDELRTC)

    It looks to me like the TTC has met this half way by establishing the western portal near Black Creek Drive.

    Looking at elevations in the area, here is what my proposal would be: the main tunnelled portion would come to the surface east of Black Creek Drive as the TTC is now proposing. Since the road is dropping into a valley at this location, the LRT essentially maintains its elevation and ‘pops out’ of the side of the valley. The line would continue at surface with one stop at Black Creek Drive and surface access into the planned maintenance facility on the Kodak lands. At, or just west of the railway lines, the line could return underground as the surrounding land climbs the west side of the valley. This could remain underground until about half way to Jane Street where it could return to the surface again.

  10. PM Says:

    I have a better idea; Lets cancel this entire B.S. LRT crap altogether, it is the biggest waste of money I have ever seen in my life. Take a look at St. Clair an absolute disaster! You’ll save 5 min on existing surface bus routes and walk a lot more!
    Lets instead build an Eglington subway from Keele to Laird. Extend the Sheppard subway from Yonge to Downsview. Extend Yonge line to Steeles.

    Cal’s comment: Sounds like a plan. Just pass on the extra four billion dollars you have sitting around to the city and they can put this with the funding already in place for Eglinton to build all of that, and you still won’t have any rail-based service west of Keele or east of Laird.

    St. Clair is not an LRT line, just a streetcar route, and is a bad example for several reasons. First, its schedule was delayed a year by legal action. More importantly, it was a horrible example of scheduling, where other services (gas, electric, water) were not co-ordinated with the track work.

    They are going to extend the Spadina line anyway to York U. Put 6 lanes on Eglington W. from Keele to 401 and make extra lane diamond for express bus rush hour service, same from Laird to Kennedy on the east route. Yes use Weston rail route for streetcar LRT from Bloor up to Finch Hydro ROW. and use Finch Hydro right of way for north crosstown LRT way from Airport to Zoo. Then you can connect the Scarbrough line from Town centre to this. They can make 6 lane Sheppard from Don Mills with diamond HOV to this line as well. Don Mills rd already has HOV lane! Money spent = about the same, traffic surface disruption = much less. Future capacity = much greater as subways beat out glorified streetcar lines any day and these stupid LRT lines will disrupt surface traffic with this plan permanently causing traffic jams and much more CO2 output as well as lost time!

    Buses max out at just under 5,000 passengers per hour and subways are not economical until 20,000. LRT is the ideal mode for in between these two with an appropriate cost. There is another factor at play as well: there are many potential transit users that will simply not board a bus. VIVA has actually managed to win over a few of this type, but overall, there is some mental block between “just a bus” and a rail vehicle, whether LRT, HRT, or commuter rail. The appropriate mode must be chosen to meet the proper needs, be it main backbone, express into the city, or semi-express feeder.

  11. Zack Says:

    @ PM The design of a transit service is based on the number of people it is expected to carry per hour in a single direction at the ‘peak point’, the busiest spot on the line. City planning forecasts for the Sheppard Avenue corridor into the foreseeable future show a peak point demand in the order of 3000 people per hour. This demand can easily be accommodated by LRT, particularly given that the new light rail vehicles being designed for the TTC will be about twice the size of a standard Toronto streetcar, and can be easily ‘coupled’ to operate as two-car trains, if single vehicles operation is getting too frequent to avoid vehicles catching up and ‘bunching’. A peak point demand of 3000 per hour is well below what would be required to justify the much higher cost of a subway.

    Preliminary cost estimates of a surface LRT - such as that proposed on Sheppard Avenue, including vehicles, is estimated to cost roughly $40 million per kilometre. In comparison, recent estimates for the extension of the Spadina/University subway, from Downsview station to Steeles Avenue, are over $200 million per kilometre (including vehicles).

    Also like everywhere across Toronto, there will be considerable growth in the LRT’s corridor in the future. By separating transit from general traffic, this project can provide a fast, reliable - i.e. predictable - ride for customers. More people will find transit attractive, so we are taking a major step towards ‘Building a Transit City”. Toronto’s Official Plan is premised on such an approach to making transit a more attractive travel option as the City grows.

    The City’s Official Plan designates certain sections of the city as ‘Avenues’ where they plan to develop a more urban and pedestrian friendly street environment – this includes the section on Sheppard Ave from Victoria Park to McCowan. Light Rail Transit (LRT) will help create development in this area that is more dense, varied and transit-oriented.