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cityscape

Resurrecting the Scarborough Subway

A new TTC report on the idea that won't go away.

Photo by {a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/loozrboy/4683463347/"}Loozrboy{/a} from the {a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/torontoist"}Torontoist Flickr Pool{/a}.

The TTC board meeting agenda for January 21 includes a report on technology options for the Sheppard East and Scarborough RT lines. Once again, Toronto drags out the debate on whether these routes should be subway or LRT (light rapid transit), particularly when it comes to replacing the deteriorated Scarborough RT (SRT).

Especially galling is support for the subway option, not from one of Mayor Ford’s sycophants but from a “lefty”: Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker (Ward 38, Scarborough Centre).

In brief, the subway-vs-LRT argument goes like this: we can extend the Bloor-Danforth subway line to replace the Scarborough RT at only a modest extra cost (if you call $500 million “modest”), thereby giving Scarborough the rapid transit it dreams of.

Those dreams may be genuine civic pride, or they may be delusions induced by politicians who peddle the idea that only subways are good enough. This is an abdication of political responsibility.

Background

Transit City began with the premise that rapid transit expansion would have the greatest reach—go the farthest in reaching the largest number of residents—with LRT, and that subways should not be presumed as the first choice for any corridor. Originally, the Scarborough RT conversion to LRT was not included in Transit City to avoid that technology battle as part of the larger goal to win acceptance for an LRT network. Later, once retention of the orphan SRT technology (which is ICTS, or Intermediate Capacity Transit System) ceased to make sense, the SRT-to-LRT conversion plan took over.

TTC management did not shine here and continued to present the ICTS option well after it was clear an LRT would be preferable. Their cost comparison of the two technologies covered a line that stopped at McCowan Station. It ignored the considerable savings available with an LRT extension to Malvern and integration with a Scarborough LRT network. At a minimum, this position was misleading, and it held the LRT option at bay when it should have been actively pursued.

Although LRT exists world-wide in a variety of styles ranging from complete traffic isolation to near-streetcar operations, it gets a bad rap in Toronto in part because we have no good examples of LRT in a suburban setting. The St. Clair, Spadina, and Harbourfront rights-of-way work to the degree they can in settings with closely spaced traffic signals, tenuous traffic signal priority, single cars, pay-as-you-enter loading, and a line management style that accepts gaps six minutes wider than the scheduled headway as “punctual.”

Every time Toronto avoids building LRT and opts for talk of subways, citizens are denied a chance to see what LRT can do, and they are convinced that building LRT is settling for second best. They have to travel to exotic locales such as Calgary to see the real thing.

LRT vs. Subway for Scarborough

This week’s TTC report compares two implementations of a Scarborough line (see Exhibit 6, page 14 of the report [PDF]):

  • An LRT line replacing the existing SRT on the same alignment and continuing northeast to Sheppard and Progress (where it would connect for carhouse access to the Sheppard East LRT).
  • A subway line via Eglinton, Danforth Road and McCowan to Sheppard.

The LRT option would be slightly longer (9.9 vs 7.6 kilometres) because it would run further east, and it would have more stations (seven compared to three, not counting Kennedy in either case). Almost twice as many people (47,000 vs 24,000) would live and work within walking distance of an LRT station compared to the subway, whose primary function would be to funnel people into downtown, not to provide the kind of finer-grained local service possible with LRT.

A future LRT extension to Malvern has already been discussed, but it is not yet in Metrolinx’s short or medium term priority lists. A subway extension to Malvern would be difficult because Sheppard East subway station is further west (at McCowan), and a subway would likely be prohibitively expensive. These future cost and networking trade-offs are not included in the project comparisons.

LRT ridership is projected at 31 million, compared to 36 million annually for the subway, mainly because its slightly lower speed (a function of having more stops and of requiring a transfer—albeit an improved one—at Kennedy). There is no demand projection given for LRT with the Malvern extension, an option not available with the subway.

Although both lines have a “Scarborough Centre Station,” the subway station would be over at McCowan, well removed from the centre of the Scarborough Town Centre and further from condos that have developed there and to the west at Brimley. Indeed, a major condo developer at the Town Centre was required to fund a secondary entrance to that station on the RT, a connection that would be demolished along with the existing station when the subway opens. A long-sought “Brimley Station” would be impossible on the subway’s alignment.

The Cost Comparison

The projected costs for LRT and subway are $2.3 billion and $2.8 billion respectively, and a mentality of “what’s half a billion?” seems to be at work.

That half-billion could pay for half of the Sheppard East LRT, or could go toward extensions of the SRT to Malvern or the Sheppard line to UTSC campus. If the money were raised by the City of Toronto (supplementing Metrolinx funding with a “subway top-up”), this would add $500 million to the City’s debt, at an annual cost of $20 million (presuming they can borrow at four per cent). That money would not be available to run transit service elsewhere. (Only a few days ago, city council turned down a paltry $5 million in extra funding for the TTC’s 2013 budget.) As the Star points out, that $500 million is identical to the projected cost of repairing the crumbling Gardiner Expressway.

There is no comparison in the report of the operating cost of an LRT versus a subway, nor a discussion of who would pay for this. The LRT option would be a Metrolinx line and part of the LRT network now under construction. The subway option would be a TTC line, and its operating cost would fall entirely on the municipal government’s shoulders.

Metrolinx’s Role

After a lot of haggling about “who’s on top” in transit planning and operations in the GTA, Metrolinx emerged as the project owner for the new LRT lines. The simple fact is that funding is almost 100 per cent provincial (except for a $300 million federal contribution on Sheppard), and Queen’s Park wants its agency to be in control. The TTC will operate the lines, but the infrastructure and equipment will be maintained by a private partner yet to be selected.

Metrolinx was slow to embrace LRT as a viable technology, but now has seen the error of its ways and is pursuing several LRT projects in Toronto and elsewhere. The agency has stated quite clearly that it is sticking with LRT. From the Star:

Metrolinx, the provincial agency that is funding and building the SRT replacement as part of the Eglinton Crosstown line, immediately dismissed suggestions it might consider a subway.

“No, we have a plan, actually the city council approved that plan, the master agreement approved the scope—replacing SRT with light rail—and we are very rapidly moving forward,” said Metrolinx vice-president Jack Collins.

Metrolinx harms its own position by sticking with a lengthy estimate for the conversion period for the SRT. Again from the Star:

Converting the obsolete SRT system to modern light rail means closing the line down for about four years, shunting riders onto buses during the construction expected between 2015 and 2020.

“But then you have to look, on balance, at the lower cost and the bigger area that gets served … the disruption of building an entire new subway line versus repurposing an existing line. There’s trade-offs,” Collins said.

In fact, that 2020 reopening date is an outside number, and there was a time when the projected shutdown was at most three years long. Indeed, Collins himself has confirmed that the SRT project tender will encourage bidders to propose ways to shorten the total project time and get the LRT line open sooner.

Unfortunately, we are stuck with a situation where Queen’s Park stretched out the date to 2020 for financial planning reasons that have nothing to do with construction and everything to do with the government’s wish to defer transit spending for as long as possible. The Minister of Transportation, Bob Chiarelli, is on record saying that the line will open by 2020, and nobody wants to contradict him. As they say in political circles, “the minister was badly advised.” Possibly we will get a new minister, or a new premier will make an “aha!” announcement as part of a revised plan.

The idea of shutting down rapid transit in Scarborough for a five-year conversion paints the LRT option very negatively. Add to this the parlous condition of the SRT itself, kept in operation at Queen’s Park’s insistence until after the 2015 Pan Am Games. A subway looks far more appealing because the alternative is presented in the worst possible light.

There is deep irony in the fact that this entire debate turns on the provincial role in Toronto’s transit plans. Some politicians both at City Hall and at Queen’s Park would love to hand local transit to Metrolinx. Toronto wants provincial money as a way to avoid spending their own, but objects when Queen’s Park decides against Toronto politicians’ pet projects.

Where Do We Go From Here?

If this technology debate is going to continue at all, let it be on a fully informed basis with the real implications—capital and operating funding, accessibility and development effects, future network expansion—all on the table. On-again, off-again transit development should not be based on selective assessment of incomplete information.

Campaigns arguing that Scarborough, or any other community, “deserves” a subway miss a fundamental point. We all deserve good transit, and subways are only part of a much larger mix of options. Toronto and its politicians should be pushing for better transit overall, not pandering to and dividing local constituents from each other. Don’t pit riders of the Queen car, the Finch bus, the Dufferin bus, and the Morningside bus against each other, but fight for better transit everywhere.

City councillors can start by properly funding TTC service improvements. Three budgets’ worth of cutbacks must end, and even TTC chair Karen Stintz has said that freezing the subsidy is not an option for 2014. TTC CEO Andy Byford plans to present a five-year transit plan and this will not be without costs. Will council invest in transit growth by improving service and reducing crowding, the transit equivalent of road “congestion” everyone talks about? Or will they plead poor and stiff the long-suffering transit riders again?

Second photo by scorchez from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.

Comments

  • junctionist

    Without a Scarborough Centre Station at the current location, there just can’t be any expansion. So much has been invested there over the decades into Scarborough Civic Centre, Albert Campbell Square, the offices and condos and Scarborough Town Centre mall. To remove the rapid transit station for one in a far less central location would be a terrible step backwards.

    • Fresh_Start

      It is possible for the alignment to be along McCowan and still have a deviation westwards towards the exisitng Scarborough Ctr station site if starting 300 metres south of Ellesmere and going up Borough Approcah East.

      • Steve Munro

        This would be difficult because the station will require a big hole to be dug right where the mall and other buildings are now (see York U station for comparison).

  • exeng

    One of these days, Toronto will have politicians who understand mathematics. Until then, you’re doomed to have legions of bozos peddling snake-oil at bargain basement prices ,,, until the grown-ups find out the real price and then you start all over again.

    • Jacob

      Yes, one day Toronto will have politicians who understand mathematics. Then four years later, a bunch of nitwits shouting easy-to-remember slogans will get elected and undo all of their good work.

      Anyway, on the subject of SRT/LRT, if Ford hadn’t delayed the whole thing to begin with, it would have been converted already by 2015.

      • TinaFea

        but what about the taxpayers? The taxpayers want SUBWAYS! Subways, subways, subways! They came up to him at the mall and said they wanted subways. The taxpayers! World class cities! St. Clair disaster! Gravy train!

        • Bobbob

          Are you one of those?

  • John Duncan

    “The LRT option would be slightly longer (9.9 vs 7.6 kilometers) because it would run further east, and it would have more stations (seven compared to three, not counting Kennedy in either case).”

    I’m not sure if this is just dry humour on your part, but I wouldn’t consider 9.9km slightly longer than 7.6km… that would actually stretch very substantially (i.e. 30%) further into Scarborough.

    • Fresh_Start

      The existing alignment runs through industrial sprawl though. The subway alignment meanwhile would include 3 heavily trafficked stations at Eglinton-Brimley, Lawrence-McCowan and Sheppard-McCowan. A further extension to Finch-McCowan would result in most bus routes no longer needing to feed into STC.

      • Steve Munro

        Look at the map. There is no subway station at Eglinton & Brimley because the line dodges up Danforth to get to McCowan. Lawrence is the first station after Kennedy. That further extension to Finch would cost roughly $700 million making the subway option even more expensive.

        • TinaFea

          don’t listen to Fresh_Start, he’s nothing but a pouty whiner who thinks Rob Ford can do no wrong and that all of the city’s problems exist because of “lefties”.

          • Fresh_Start

            I do not appreciate being slandered. I want what’s best for my City, that is all. Obscene amounts of money are being squandered on a non-solution (keeping the SRT corridor alive) versus building a transfer-free commute from the Town Centre to downtown. A subway extension should have been done decades ago.

          • nunnia_bidness

            I would like to ride a unicorn to work every day, while hot babes gently caress my intimate parts, but that’s probably not going to happen. So why the obsession with a transfer-free commute from the Town Centre to downtown? It seems like you will never be happy until the city builds a direct line from YOUR house to Yonge-Dundas Square. Seriously, you can’t get up and transfer to a different vehicle when necessary? It takes like two minutes. Are you really that lazy? And what gives you the right to make these demands anyway? Are you like the president of the transit committee or something? If you want a “transfer free commute” for a ~25km journey, buy a car and quit yer blubberin’.

          • Bobbob

            And what gives you the right to discuss your intimate parts in this thread?

          • nunnia_bidness

            oh, I dunno … constitutional laws, perhaps? Freedom of expression … ever heard of it?

          • Bobbob

            OK. Likewise, Fresh_Start can talk about Scarborough subway and does not need your permission to do so.

          • nunnia_bidness

            I never said Fresh_Start couldn’t talk about Scarborough subway nor that she needed my permission to do so. What are you on about?

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Neville-Ross/100002343524258 Neville Ross

            Fresh Start, let’s get one thing straight-compared to Steve Munro and his wealth of experience on transit matters, you suck a load of fetid dingo’s kidneys. Please stop blathering on about subways to Scarborough Town Center; it’s only making you look like a rabid, foaming at the mouth Ford Nation member.

          • Bobbob

            Discuss your own kidneys neville, and preferably go elsewhere to do that

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Neville-Ross/100002343524258 Neville Ross

            My own kidneys are none of your fracking business, sir.

          • Bobbob

            I decide what is or is not my business. Your fracking is your problem, I dont care.

          • Comment_Book_Guy

            those blue-gel buttons on the LRT page are totally rad!

          • andrew97

            “A wealth of experience” doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s right.

          • Dave P.

            In this case, Steve Munro is right, and he has the numbers and analysis to prove it. Do you even know who he is?

          • andrew97

            I know exactly who he is, and he’s been wrong before, sometimes dreadfully.

          • Curious

            When has he been wrong? (Serious question)

          • andrew97

            I’ll just give you one example, his understanding of “backfill” (i.e., car traffic replacing trips that have been transferred to transit) is incorrect and contradicts scholarly studies; some of his resulting conclusions on the environmental effect of transit have been pretty screwy. I could point to other examples but I don’t want to get into a big thing here.

          • TinaFea

            slandered? wth

          • FU2

            You’re insane. Slander? Get a life, drama queen.

          • Dave P.

            I’ll take Steve Munro’s decades of transit advocacy over an anonymous internet commenter any day.

          • Steve Munro

            Yes, I am not always right, but I am also open to changing my mind when there is a convincing argument for an alternate position. In this case, I do not agree that the subway option is better overall. Having said that, can we talk about the issues rather than simply slagging each other?

  • Fresh_Start

    I’d rather see the Sheppard East LRT project scrapped if it means more grade separation along the Eglinton Crosstown Linecthrough Scarborough and a subway option to Scarborough Ctr.

    • edmundcjoconnor

      I’d rather see sustainable funding for transit, and politicians willing to take some hits for getting to grips with funding reality, rather than pretending the money is going to come from the sky to fund the transit that Scarborough and Toronto need. But we don’t live in my world, or yours, for that matter.

    • Justin

      I would rather see Transit City built before 2020, and scarborough enjoy the great benefits of LRT, and wonder they wasted so much time pushing for a subway.

    • Get_Real

      I would rather see you grow a brain, but that will never happen!

      • TinaFea

        no, don’t say that! Fresh_Start is a super guy, and very handsome too I might add, hee hee. Sure he didn’t get no fancy degrees or nothing but I still think we should listen raptly to his awesome ideas because they really are totally awesome. Like the example above – it totally makes sense to scrap the Sheppard East LRT project if it means more grade separation along the Eglinton Crosstown Line through Scarborough and a subway option to Scarborough Ctr. Totally! Bravo for the most excellent insight!

        • SCHRODINGERTHECAT

          Tinafea

          Al Fresh_Star is saying is ,”cancel the Sheppard LRT and use the cost savings to make the Eglinton Crosstown totally below grade”.

          It’s all ready below grade to Don Mills.
          Not really excellent insight.

          How do the shoppers that frequent Scarborough Town Centre get to Fairview mall to do their shoping and visa-versa.
          By the way – the same stores exist in STC and Fairvew Mall.

      • Bobbob

        I wish your brain functioned, not just filled your head to make it heavier

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Neville-Ross/100002343524258 Neville Ross

    When the frack are we going to get an electorate that can learn the facts about LRT and public transit systems before they vote? WHEN?

    • Bobbob

      That’s when you learn how to speak to the electorate, and to be polite

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Neville-Ross/100002343524258 Neville Ross

        Except that the electorate doesn’t want to think, but be dumb. That’s why I’m angry.

        • Bobbob

          Bashing the public wont get anything done at all.

    • ptanzola

      The electorate is not one person. It includes many people. Simpleminded approaches to problems deserve simpleminded feedback.

  • scottld

    Metrolinx has been slow to embrace many things.

    • Get_Real

      Hot Dog! We have a weiner.

  • andyindividual

    The comment about granularity is an important one. All agencies and public debate have been focused on transit into the city core. The reality is that most commuters are now crossing the city, reverse commuting or going from one transit dead zone to another. Our systems and planning do nothing for them.

    For example, I met a woman who lives in Flemington Park and works the night shift near the airport. Her husband works in Markham. With their budget, cars are out of the question. Employment options are not available for them where they are and affordable housing that’s closer to either workplace doesn’t exist in the industrial dead zones, so both spend hours commuting by multiple buses and freezing on street corners waiting. This is the story of the forgotten TTC user. Even Ford’s “non-elite” gibberish is about toys for the wealthy who might take a train downtown to a game once and a while, rather than drive.

    • JGHali

      Yes. Diffuse commuting routes aren’t especially amenable to big ticket projects like a Sheppard subway extension. Bus service can be made much better, and it is the network that has been neglected – even cut! – while Ford screams about subways. I don’t expect a subway is a realistic prospect on Bathurst, but I sure would prefer that the bus didn’t short turn at Finch and dump passengers off into the cold.

  • Burloak

    twice as many people live next to the LRT compared to the subway. This is such a meaningless statistic. If people do not want LRT, and will not use LRT, then what is the point of building it.

    An elevated Eglinton LRT, connected with the SRT, would actually serve the people that the line goes past. This would result in many people living near the LRT, actually using the LRT.

    Finally, if Metrolinx want ways to reduce the SRT closure – then they should look at SkyTrain (Mark II).

    • Rob Ford’s Underwear

      I don’t know if you knew this, but the SRT actually IS “Skytrain” (mark I) . The Mark II cars are slightly bigger and can’t make the corners at Kennedy or Ellesmere, it would all have to be rebuilt anyways. At one point the considered buying cars off Vancouver but they wanted replacement cost – ie, new car prices for 20 year old cars.

    • Dave P.

      You realize that the TTC did look at the Skytrain Mark II, right? And that the Mark ii trains won’t fit?

      • Burloak

        ‘I think TTC words (in 2006 report) were that Mark II “may” not fit through the tunnel at Ellesmere. I also recall that Steve Munro said something like TTC thought they would not fit, but now. I would be very glad to get an informed confirmation.
        Even if it won’t fit, there is still much less retrofit required for all the stations and the elevated structure.

        • Burloak

          Oops.

          I also recall that Steve Munro said something like TTC thought they would not fit, but now they say it will.

    • Lee Zamparo

      It’s quite meaningful actually. Proximity to network entry is one of the most important factors people use when planning a trip on public transit. An LRT station within 0.5km of more people versus a subway station within 2km? LRT all day long.

  • x

    Why is it that my comments do not work

    • FU

      Because you’re a fucktarded idiot?

      • Bobbob

        x and FU, make it two

  • Barni

    We are spending billions on a vanity subway for Vaughan via York University for which there are only about 40,000 riders a day – totally insufficient to rationalize a subway. Lets make this into an LRT line for which 40,000 per day passengers is economical and instead build a subway line into Scarborough which can not only service the underserviced Scarborough citizens but also the very large and increasing commuter traffic from Pickering into Toronto. Scarborough and Pickering residents are being jobbed so that Vaughan can have its “vanity” subway line. If an LRT is such a brilliant idea why not put an elevated LRT line on Eglinton Ave west and really save some big bucks? Apparently the only bright money saving ideas revolve around jobbing Scarborough/Pickering residents?!

    In the worst case lets stop the Eglinton subway at Leslie Street until the City Council and the Ontario government decide to pony up the money for a subway continuation through Scarborough. The current bus lanes along Eglinton are better than an LRT which will permanently remove two of six lanes on Eglinton Ave East and create havoc with vehicular traffic through the heart of Scarborough.

    Anyone who thinks that an LRT is the same quality as a subway need only to wait a few minutes for an LRT train at STC, or any other LRT stop, in January or February. Toronto definitely is not Vancouver and Scarborough does get winter.

    • Burloak

      The subway to Vaughan was to reward Greg Sorbara for his dedication to the Liberal Party, and not related to transit need. After all, what is a couple of Billion to help a Liberal. It is actually a huge source of problems now because the arguement about matching transit technology to demand was ignored at that time.
      As for the LRT stops, there is a difference between a stop in the middle of the street, and a station on a grade separated line. The station can be made to be a lot more like one of the stations on the Spadina Subway line (and a few others) where, although outdoors, they are still reasonably sheltered.

    • JGHali

      You’re suggesting that we switch gears *now* on the YUS extension to Vaughan? And why the hell do commuters in Pickering need to take the subway into Toronto? Are they incapable of getting on the GO trains? Does that also apply for people living near Agincourt or other GO stations in Scarborough?

      As for the complaint about above-ground stations, I suppose you’ve never been to Warden Station, to say nothing of Davisville, Rosedale, Eglinton West, Kipling, Yorkdale (which I assure you is freezing in the winter), Wilson, Glencairn, or Lawrence West? And you’ve never seen the Edmonton LRT? Or the same in Calgary?

      The elevated portions of the newest Canada Line Skytrain in Richmond, south of Vancouver, have made an ugly stripmall streetscape altogether worse. At least before pedestrians didn’t have to walk amidst tons of concrete above their heads.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Neville-Ross/100002343524258 Neville Ross

      Barni, please read up on LRT’s before you open your mouth. Yes, we really don’t need a subway to Vaughn via York University, but we do need a set of LRT lines in North York and Scarborough simply because there’s no density in either place to support subway lines. I’d rather wait in the cold for a LRT to come to me (and with grade separation, it’s faster) than have to descend into a cave to catch a train to someplace.

      Frankly, IMHO, I think that it’s time to give up the concept of a subway and just embrace street rail (streetcars and LRT) instead of subways and buses. Both are completely outdated.

    • Bobbob

      Too later to scrap Vaughan subway now, money are spent already

  • Roger B

    The Sheppard LRT at $2.3 billion is also a victim of TTC overengineering. Unlike other LRT lines the planned line to Malvern (quickly shortened) was almost 100% grade-separated and planners felt the need to separate even turning non-revenue trackage on minor streets.

    The Eglinton Crosstown also continues to add cost underground and lose stations. Sometimes this may be beneficial like the convenient underground transfers at Kennedy while other changes are questionable, like extending underground operation east to the DVP.

    • Steve Munro

      The non-revenue connection track at Sheppard was ditched (literally) because folks on that short chunk of Progress didn’t want “streetcars” even though few of them would operate there. Again, the pols took the easy way out by failing to confront people with the cost of their ignorance (assuming the pols were any better).

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Neville-Ross/100002343524258 Neville Ross

        Which proves the point I made before about the electorate. But, I’m being accused of being ‘simpleminded’ and of ‘hatred’.

  • Burloak

    It is interesting the cost of subway versus LRT is $2.8B vs. $2.3B. These are in 2011 dollars as per the table on the last page of the TTC report. My question is how did this increase from the $1.4B that appeared in the 2009 Metrolinx Benefit/Cost study. Inflation should only account for about a $100M to $200M increase.
    Either there is something funny going on with the numbers to make the Subway look closer to the LRT than it actually is, or the cost of converting the SRT to LRT is much more than originally thought.
    In 2006, a TTC study found that the subway was to worst option (way too expensive) and conversion to newer Mark II (SkyTrain) vehicles was best option (least expensive). This would suggest that both of the above are correct.

    • Steve Munro

      For one thing, the subway extension is not being charged with the cost of more trains on the BD line nor with the creation of a new yard. Oddly enough, these are the same trains that the preliminary Downtown Relief Study treated as “free” for the first phase of implementation of that line. I do not understand how the LRT is up to $2.3b. The last time Metrolinx published an estimate, it was $1.8b 2010$ and this includes a chunk of the new LRV fleet and roughly half of the cost of Conlins Road carhouse.

      • dsmithhfx

        Metrolinx fudging the numbers? Noooooo.

      • Justin

        Maybe this RFP is going to cost a lot more than Metrolinx wants to admit?

  • Burloak

    I do no know why Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker is singled out in this article. The other proponent of cancelling the SRT and extending the B-D subway was Karen Stintz – the TTC Chair. Just a few months after loudly campaigning that the Ford plan must be defeated and the Transit City plan re-instated – they proposed changing plans again. Both De Baeremaeker and Stintz lost all credibility at that time.

    • Steve Munro

      Stintz has been strangely silent. One City was a “chicken in every pot” plan, and its advocates refused to tell anyone that their ideas wouldn’t work. That’s not responsible leadership, but it’s a great way to get media attention.

  • Anderw

    How can the TTC rationally justify a subway on McCowan Road while simultaneously refusing to build one on Sheppard East? There is very little along McCowan Rd/Danforth Road south of Ellesmere except subdivisions. Sheppard between Kennedy and Don Mills is considerably higher density. Is refurbishing the Scarborough RT really so expensive that building a subway tunnel is only slightly more expensive? I find it hard to believe that the ridership on the Scarborough RT replacement would be much higher than an extended Sheppard subway. The ridership on the existing Scarborough RT and existing Sheppard subway is about the same (the Scarborough RT appears busier because it is lower capacity).

    • Steve Munro

      Actually it’s not the TTC who are “justifying” a McCowan subway. They are just saying “here’s what it would involve”.

  • gweed123

    If the LRT option is chosen for the SRT replacement, I would strongly support elevating the Eglinton LRT through the Golden Mile, so that an interlined Eglinton-Scarborough line can be 100% grade-separated.

    Running the Eglinton and Scarborough LRTs as separate lines would create a pain for anyone trying to get into or out of Scarborough (“which transfer do I want to take?”). But interline the two as a single thru-line, and you eliminate the forced transfer at Kennedy, and take a lot of pressure off the Bloor-Danforth Subway.

    The current setup, if it were to be interlined, would create a choke point along Eglinton East. Too many stops, too many traffic lights, and too many people for an in-median at-grade LRT to effectively handle. Elevate it though, and you’ve got a medium to high capacity crosstown route from Scarborough to Etobicoke (or almost Etobicoke).

    • dsmithhfx

      The “Golden Mile”? That wasteland of big box stores and parking lots? WTF?

      • gweed123

        Elevating that section isn’t about the Golden Mile itself. It’s about providing a reliable link between the grade-separated Scarborough LRT and the tunnelled section of the Eglinton LRT.

        Having tunnelled/at-grade/grade-separated/elevated doesn’t make much sense for a medium to high capacity crosstown route. Eliminate the at-grade section along Eglinton East and you have a completely grade-separated line and a convenient and effective way to get from Scarborough to the Yonge-University-Spadina Subway (and one day hopefully the DRL).

        • Still_Waters3

          But you create another capacity problem at Yonge/Eglinton Station, similar to what exists at Yonge/Bloor today, and is no cheaper or easier to fix. The DRL will be needed whatever you do. My entirely subjective opinion is that elevated lines (yes, including the Vancouver Skytrain) are mostly ugly and should be a last resort particularly along Avenues where you want to encourage mid-rise intensification. I also think that you are over-emphasizing the transfer issue. Weather-protected transfers between frequent rapid transit lines are not that big a problem.

    • Burloak

      I have seen many arguements against the Sheppard Subway. However, this elevated option has never been properly explored. An extra 3 or 4 hundred million (compared to over 6 Billion for the ECLRT and SRT) is a small price to pay to achieve 100% grade-separation.

  • Subways For All

    Reading all these comments. I have one thing to say to the subway promoters.. Get a life! There won’t be a subway in Scarborough. It’s out of the TTC’s hand, and Metrolinx clearly stated they are not going open the debate. Why are you wasting your time trying justify a subway? Give it up!

  • http://www.facebook.com/paullloydjohnson Paul Lloyd Johnson

    I still don’t get why people live in Scarborough and work downtown. If transit is so bad, move.

    • tyrannosaurus_rek

      Because they can’t afford to live downtown?
      Because the job they do isn’t available in Scarborough?

    • Live from Malvern

      Look at apartment prices at Neilson and Sheppard, then find a similar apartment downtown, then do the math.

      Step outside your bubble, asshat.

      • http://www.facebook.com/paullloydjohnson Paul Lloyd Johnson

        There’s no need to name call. I know it’s more expensive to live downtown, but there are closer places to live than Scarborough and theres a big saving to be had in transit costs and time. Spending millions on creating a direct link to ferry more people onto an already busy subway is ridiculous. I’m sorry but I’ve an advocate of living near your work.

        • rich1299

          Living near where you work is an ideal option but not always feasible unless we get serious about building affordable housing and raise minimum wage so that people can afford to live near where they work. But for may there work location changes frequently as with construction or contract workers and it just isn’t practical to move constantly, especially once you’ve put down roots in a neighbourhood.

          Also many jobs tend to be in terrible areas for living thanks to the way zoning has been done in this city over the decades keeping even light industrial as far as possible from residential and retail. It doesn’t need to be that way as we’ve seen when the city changed the zoning for the King Parliament area and allowed a mix of whatever type of use so long as it didn’t exceed noise or pollution limits. That has proved to be very successful as seen in the boom in this area in recent years of both jobs and housing.

          • http://www.facebook.com/paullloydjohnson Paul Lloyd Johnson

            I still believe that for a lot of people they want to have their cake and eat it. If you live far away from your job, don’t complain about the commute, do something about it.

          • rich1299

            Torontonians not complaining about their commute is like not complaining about the weather, its not going to happen even if they had door to door subway service.

            But I agree, for those who think the TTC is terrible they just need to take Mississauga Transit or some other smaller city’s transit system for a while, that will make them very grateful for the TTC.

            Most of my complaints about my commute have to do with other riders being inconsiderate. The thing that improved my commute by far the most was an MP3 player, I don’t listen to much music any more these days so didn’t get one for the longest time but being able to tune out other riders on the TTC has made my commute vastly better, and I made sure to buy one with the ear bids that go into your ear, not just your outer ear like some. I can clearly hear my music without it blaring but you cannot hear it without them in your ears, even when playing at a fairly loud volume with the ear buds out of my ears you still can’t hear the music. All ear buds should be like that, more of them are thankfully.

    • Lee Zamparo

      Are you so cynical to suggest that transit service from Scarborough to downtown will never be right? Moving is an expensive and complicated process, especially if you have a family. Getting your councillor to endorse a sensible transit plan is simple by comparison.

  • Little_LRT_mouse

    The idea of LRT lines as being presented and/or advocated for around TO is an idea of a group of some 50 people,who believe,that if you repeat a lie and/or factoid in sufficient quantity , that eventually general population will start to believe it,too. The whole discussion,that was started by David Miller and Adam Giambroni (and others) some ten years ago, is full of “bait-and-switch” arguments,that would make used car salesman blush with envy.

  • Matt

    Great points all around, Steve. A smart and insightful retort to the “subways or get out” crowd.

  • little_LRT_mouse

    I propose an exercise. Background: I have met a gentleman about four months ago, who said,that he worked as an electrician on the construction of SRT (ICTS) at Scrb. center and he said, that he was so disgusted with construction approach and lack of planning of Hydro (Scrb., TO,ON) plus TTC plus Bombardier, that he wowed to himself,that he would never work with and for these entities again. So here is an exercise. What would happen,if TTC were to invite the powerful Railway-control-offices from German-speaking countries and allowed them to perform full technology and construction audit (incl. infrared and/or X-ray cameras) of existing SRT. I think, that final result would be PASS with lots of exceptions.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Neville-Ross/100002343524258 Neville Ross

      Why the fuck don’t you go to these ‘German-speaking countries’ and live there, then?

  • A Random Transit Rider

    Why is this can of worms being open yet again??? Can we just get shovels in the ground already?! PLEASE?!

  • http://www.facebook.com/paullloydjohnson Paul Lloyd Johnson

    I still don’t get this obsession with funnelling people from Scarborough straight into the downtown core. The Downtown Relief Line is a much bigger priority as it serves to improve transit for people who live within the immediate vicinity of downtown. Scarborough was a city in its own right prior to 1998. If you live and work in what is effectively another town, I don’t think it is realistic to expect a direct link to your work.

    • http://www.facebook.com/paullloydjohnson Paul Lloyd Johnson

      I do however think LRT is a great solution in this instance.

    • kEiThZ

      Why not? Last I checked, Scarborough residents do pay taxes to the City of Toronto. And most of the fees being discussed (Vehicle Registration Tax, Road tolls, fare by distance) will impact Scarborough disproportionately to the core. You can’t expect Scarborough residents to support a proposal that is blatantly not in their interest without something in return.

      • http://www.facebook.com/paullloydjohnson Paul Lloyd Johnson

        It’s not that I don’t support transit for Scarborough, it’s that it needs to make sense. A subway isn’t necessary in this location. If you look at other cities, they build subways when there is no alternative, when the only place to put it is underground. The main route of this transit line can be built above ground, there is the space for it, burying it all, turns this into Rob Ford’s vanity project.

        • kEiThZ

          So the argument against building a subway here is that poeple will ride it and it will crowd another subway? What a great approach to building public transit!

          These riders are coming whether you like it or not. They are either crowding Yonge/Bloor or crowding Yonge/Eglinton. Ironically, them crowding Yonge/Bloor actually helps the case for the DRL.

          I wouldn’t worry about downtowners supporting anything. The entire fate of this exercise rest on the suburbs (416 and 905) who will be paying the bulk of the new ‘revenue tools’. If they rebel, you won’t just be facing the re-election of Rob Ford. You’ll have Tim Hudak to deal with.

  • Glenn Storey

    for the love of r.c. harris, stop with this already. build the damn l.r.t.

  • johnrossharvey

    https://www.dropbox.com/sh/u0q29f19aqjuv6x/6mdJD4rBb6

    check my link and read my powerpoints with transit plan options for most of southern ontario, right down to costs, based on the current St. Clair and VMC Spadina extension, sent link to Metrolinx, all government leaders provincially, Vaughan MP, mayors, transit authorities, and now you. My cost breakdown is pennies a day, governments are pathetic at simple math.