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John Tory’s “One Toronto” Transit Plan

Mayoral candidate proposes single, bold change, but fails to confront the transit problems Toronto faces today.

Today, mayoral candidate John Tory announced his transit plan during an address to the Canadian Club.

The plan is almost entirely about one line—”SmartTrack” in Tory terminology—that would be built mostly on existing GO Transit corridors to link Markham, downtown Toronto, and the Airport Corporate Centre.

“SmartTrack” would serve western Scarborough, southern Toronto, and the centre of Etobicoke—a transit line for everyone, not just those pesky downtowners. Its fundamental premise is that rapid transit should go beyond serving inbound riders, and should make it possible for outgoing commuters to travel to jobs in places beyond the city—places they now reach only by car.

Image courtesy of the John Tory campaign. Larger version here.

In a clear move to attract subway advocates, the route is described as a “surface subway,” which is a more marketable term than Metrolinx’s “Regional Express Rail” (RER). The technology would be electric multiple unit (EMU), which involves regular commuter rail passenger cars that use electric propulsion as the subway does. This technology is used worldwide, but not in Toronto—thanks to GO Transit’s less-than-enthusiastic embrace of electrification.

EMU from Aukland, New Zealand. Image courtesy of the John Tory campaign.

Even where the line diverges from the existing rail corridors, it would be physically separate from roads, much as the subway is north of Rosedale Station. Eglinton Avenue West includes a wide swath of vacant land originally intended for the Richview Expressway, and this would become the location of the new trains. Effectively, this would replace the proposed western extension of the Eglinton-Crosstown LRT line. “SmartTrack” would not actually enter the airport, but would serve the office areas to the south.

Tory’s campaign pitches this as a full embrace of the “RER Vision,” which would bring Toronto into the same league as London, U.K. and other cities with extensive commuter rail networks. This means that Tory looks at transit not as the “TTC” or “GO,” but as one system that should exploit whatever resources are available to move people around the region. That positive outlook is offset by Tory’s continued embrace of the Scarborough subway, which draws many of its potential riders from the same catchment area as his own regional line. Moreover, Tory plays down the role of a “Downtown Relief Line” and claims that he supported it only as a general idea and never endorsed the specific subway scheme now being studied. He fails to grasp the wider role of the DRL as the first stage in a Don Mills subway.

SmartTrack would open by 2021—a very aggressive target considering the lethargic pace of Metrolinx expansion—and offer service at least every 15 minutes. The Scarborough subway would still be under construction, and a good chunk of the subway’s potential riders would have a better way to get around the city.

Tory hopes that with Toronto bringing one-third of the anticipated $8 billion cost to the table, other governments might be persuaded to spend big and spend quickly. He even believes that a Tim Hudak win in the coming provincial election would not be fatal to the plan, because it just “makes way too much sense.”

Toronto would pay for its share with Tax Increment Financing (TIF), which operates by earmarking taxes collected only because the new transit line is in place. Tory’s team has done preliminary number crunching, and it estimates that, based simply on lands around the rail corridor from Liberty Village to the Don River, there would be $150 million in new annual tax revenue. Of this, part would be earmarked for Tory’s proposal, with the equivalent of $2.5 billion (2014) dollars taken from this source. A detailed study (after a Tory victory) would be needed to verify this. What Tory’s plan does not tell us is whether reserving some of the taxes for SmartTrack would elbow other deserving projects off of the table.

Metrolinx is keen on Regional Express Rail, but whether it wants to push ahead as quickly remains to be seen. As for Ottawa, a lot would depend on who was in power when the time came for funding negotiations.

One of SmartTrack’s major roles would be to relieve Yonge-Bloor transit congestion. Riders who would otherwise funnel into the outer parts of the subway network would instead have a direct route to downtown. For this to have a meaningful effect, though, other factors—including frequent service, ease of access at stations, and a low fare—would have to be in place. Tory proposes that although this would be a Metrolinx line, a regular TTC fare (and free transfers to and from connecting TTC routes) would apply. In that respect, SmartTrack would be more like the Eglinton LRT line (a Metrolinx route that will be part of the TTC fare system) than a GO line, even though it would run mostly in GO corridors.

The new route is projected to carry 200,000 riders per day, but Tory’s team was unsure how many of these riders would be redirected from downtown trips, how many would be taking new counter-peak trips to suburban centres, and how many would be making off-peak trips. The numbers would depend in part on the service that would be operated. If only four trains per hour come into downtown, this would limit how many trips could be rerouted from Yonge-Bloor.

Tory was at pains to establish that he was not abandoning the proposed Downtown Relief Line subway, but suggested that its importance would diminish if his new route was in place. So the campaign pitch is that we would see the new SmartTrack by 2021, when the DRL would still be a decade away under current plans. One big reason for this, of course, is that the top subway building priority in Toronto is the Scarborough extension.

Apart from the SmartTrack proposal, there isn’t much to the Tory transit plan. The only bone thrown to surface bus and streetcar riders is a proposal for express buses to downtown from Don Mills and Liberty Village (the latter to compensate for problems people have with the overcrowded King and Queen streetcars). More service on these routes could provide benefits sooner and over a wider territory than a single GO station at Liberty Village, but Tory’s policy advisers seem not to have considered this. Nothing in his plan speaks to service quality or to capacity on the rest of the transit network, which has been affected by the cuts and constraints imposed by the Ford/Stintz regime.

Other parts of the subway network, notably the proposed Richmond Hill extension, get no mention either, although the campaign acknowledges that relief at Yonge-Bloor is essential to a network that would handle new riders from the north. Many of those riders should actually be accommodated by improved GO service as part of an RER network, but timing and political pressure for yet another subway could pre-empt any such discussion.

John Tory presents himself as the one mayoral candidate who can work with all parties and all factions of Toronto council. He seeks to win support based on a single, bold change to the way Toronto views transit, but he risks being seen as a candidate who has one big trick and little more. Like many others, including those at Queen’s Park, his focus is on building at five-to-10-year horizons, not on confronting the problems Toronto has today.

The city will certainly need more than a few express buses during the four-year term of this would-be mayor. The “One Toronto” transit plan omits huge parts of the network and the city, and fails the basic test of improving transit today and of undoing the damage wrought by Rob Ford. How long must Toronto wait just to be able to get on the Dufferin bus?

[Disclosure: Steve Munro has been consulted by several municipal candidates regarding transit issues, but is not serving as an official policy adviser to any of them, and has not received compensation from any of them. He has and will continue to offer his input to any candidate who asks for it equally (much as City staff briefings are available to all candidates who are interested), and he will continue to comment freely on the platforms of all candidates.]


  • Katarina_YYZ

    Yes, everyone laughed when Chow suggested adding some buses and streetcars — but come on! I am all for long-term thinking, but we need some planning that delivers at least a little relief NOW as well. How are any of these grandiose plans going to help you get to work tomorrow… or in 6 months… or 12 months… or 18 months… or 24 months… etc. It’s not reasonable to expect people to accept that their commute will be utter crap for the next 5 to 10 years.

    • bobloblawbloblawblah

      They’re not. Adding buses to a large number of routes and reducing the wait time between buses would go a lot way to making TTC better — much of the suburbs is serviced by bus. This change could be made easily over the next few years while we continue to squabble about subways.

      • Sceptical1

        While this is true, the subways are at capacity. Adding more buses will not make my 9 km commute to a subway any faster, because it still takes close to 30 minutes by bus due to traffic. We need more rapid transit lines as well as more frequent bus service. Tory’s plan merits a closer look. Chow’s plans are not bold enough to truly reduce congestion or to get me to work any faster.

        • bobloblawbloblawblah

          I agree. I take a crowded bus to that crowded subway and then catch an even more crowded bus. Chow’s plan is a to increase surface routes back to pre Fordian levels(which is something we need badly) and build subways. We can do both. What Tory is proposing is regional transit that doesn’t address overcrowding on the King and Queen cars and brings more people into an overtaxed Union Station. What makes me wonder about his plan is that he’s still advocating the Scarborough Bloor Danforth extension which draws people from the same area as this proposed “Smartrack” line. In short we need an increase to the overall network of transit — buses, streetcars, subways and LRT. Throwing money at only one sector won’t do it.

    • UnknownTransit

      There would be a short and long term goals. The network that feeds the subways need to improved for people to actually use subways. There’s no point of building a subway and have everyone drive there cause there’s no bus that’s getting people there. We’re not going to spend millions to build 6 story GO Transit parking lots so people can use transit. Most people who use TTC don’t have a car.

      • Katarina_YYZ

        Right. I was approving of the plan to add some buses and streetcars in my original post. Not sure how you and boblo are reading it.

    • sanjay

      For a little relief NOW I hope he proposes:

      -making King St and Queen St one way streets from Roncesvalles to the Don River it would make both the streetcar and car faster. One of the main problems I have seen is the streetcars and cars being stuck behind a couple of left turning cars. The streetcar lane is already marked as a HOV lane. Billions of $$$ aren’t needed to repaint street and new sign boards.

      I remember an article proposing this in TheStar a couple of years ago. Maybe add another oneway streetcar route looping through downtown core on richmond and adelaide between bathurst to parliament would make up for the longer walking distances. Much of the track is there already.

      Tory’s SmartTrack plan with a couple more stations would be the same as the DRL: a DundasWest/Carlton Stop, a Queen West stop, a King St(Liberty Village stop should be on King St), Jarvis (St Lawrence) stop, Parliament stop, would make this the same as the DRL.

      Go electrification with TTC integration and TTC fares within the city, would cover the entire city with subways without wasting money going underground

  • John Duncan

    So Tory’s plan is to transfer surface rail service from GO to the TTC, while the Tories’ plan is to transfer underground rail service from the TTC to GO?

    I can’t say that either sounds like a great idea to me. Yay for wonder twin election powers!

  • Andrew

    Any GO expansion plan needs to improve all the GO train lines, not just Stouffville and part of Georgetown. What about all the other GO lines that are not part of this “SmartTrack” proposal? Also running GO trains to Pearson via Eglinton is strange.

  • wklis

    Expect Union Station to get even more crowded by having EVERYTHING terminate in or around that vicinity.

    • Mark Dowling

      The PATH south of Richmond is already crammed as it is, and the new York pathway won’t “relieve” for long.

  • Ward32

    Thank you, Steve Munro. Maybe Mr. Tory is listening?

    • Paul Kishimoto

      Mr. Tory expects to be listened to.

      • William Paul

        Why should Tory listen to Munro? Mr. Munro hates and has major problems with every single plan, except his own of course. Wouldn’t it be nice to actually have a plan BUILT, rather than endlessly go on and on about how ‘wrong’ everyone elses plans are. “My way or the highway” Munro strikes again

        • Steve Munro

          William Paul manages to ignore the fact that I basically think Tory is on the right track with an integrated TTC fare line running frequent service on a mainly GO corridor. We spend a lot of time arguing about subways to serve riders who should be on the GO routes in the first place at billions in needless cost. What I fault Tory for is in only having half a plan — one line that does not and cannot solve all of Toronto’s pressing transit issues. Saying everyone else must wait until his own line is finished (that is Tory’s policy in regard to every other line on the map) leaves huge parts of Toronto with no transit improvements for the better part of a decade.

          • andrew97

            But you went out of your way to pick fights with Tory when he was leading CivicAction, because his ideas weren’t closely enough aligned with yours.

          • Mark Dowling

            Ah CivicAction. Let’s remind ourselves what Mitzie Hunter was in favour of before and after becoming a Liberal candidate. Tory underwent a similar transformation once Kouvalis came on board.

          • nevilleross

            He did so because Tory’s ideas are all caca and are based on short-sighted concepts/plans/ideas-Steve actually thinks what he proposes through compared to Tory and many other neocon politicians (especially neocon politicians like Tory who defunded transit in Ontario in the first place.)

          • William Paul

            actually Steve, leaving parts of Toronto with no improvements for a decade IS fine. Supposedly next year a brand new subway extension to nowhere will open. It may go to nowhere but the folks out on Finch West (Steeles) will have a new, high speed subway access to downtown which will be of huge benefit AND whatever it turns out to be, we will have a MAJOR east-west route along the entire(well, most) of the city along Eglinton which should benefit both east and west midtown riders. This is (I think) the biggest improvement since the Yonge line went to Finch! So I think for you to say NO improvements is not the case. Perhaps not as much improvement as you would have liked with all the LRT etc etc in the plans a while ago, but still HUGE improvements are already happening.

          • Steve Munro

            But Tory’s plan does nothing for people who will not live on or adjacent to the Vaughan subway, and we will all have to wait at least 6 years until we can ride along Eglinton. The issue is that Ford/Stintz slashed service and hobbled the TTC’s ability to grow, and Tory offers nothing for surface route users beyond a few express buses, one of which won’t do much good at all because there is no road for it to be “express” on.

          • dsmithhfx

            “leaving parts of Toronto with no improvements for a decade IS fine”

            Absolutely not.

  • m_ax

    Metrolinx is already studying something similar, and the Ontario Liberals more or less included it in their budget/platform. So why would Tory offer to pony up 1/3rd of the cash for what’s actually a regional project when we have a local project that’s our most pressing need?

    I also think he is either getting bad advice or is just bad at politics, or both. It’s probably both. Even before he announced his candidacy, he’s supported what he has branded “the Yonge Street Relief Line.” His campaign has been (unfairly) critical of Olivia Chow for somehow not supporting the relief line enough. And then he announces this today, and starts derisively referring to the option he previously supported as the “downtown relief line” and “Chow’s plan.”

    If there’s a strategy here, I’m not seeing it. And if that strategy is “look, I’m serious about building transit fast and Chow is not,” well, that’s a crap strategy.

    • Paul Kishimoto

      Your second and third paragraphs—100% agreed.

      But: “what’s actually a regional project”

      Please, tell us more about this distinction between regional and local.

      • m_ax

        I think what I was trying to get at is this: If his line goes into Markham and Mississauga, shouldn’t Peel and York Regions be at the table? Why does Tory see it as Toronto’s role to partner with the feds and province alone to fund this?

        If Metrolinx is already exploring this option and the Liberals will commit funding (could be a big IF, I recognize that), why would a Toronto mayoral candidate set aside the DRL for this when we could potentially have both, since it sure looks like we need them?

        • Paul Kishimoto

          Yes, they absolutely should be at the table.

          Many of the things that are now exclusively the jurisdiction of the TTC and occur within the borders of the City are mislabelled if we call them “local” issues.

          For instance, parking at terminal stations: Kipling, Downsview, etc. The commuters who use it are, for the most part, not Toronto residents. Supply or pricing changes by the TTC there would affect regional commuting patterns.

          Almost any big-ticket infrastructure item (including a DRL) will have regional impact, so I hinted that a “local” vs. “regional” distinction maybe doesn’t exist in this context.

          • m_ax

            Agreed 100%! Didn’t mean to oversimplify.

        • sanjay

          If you click on Learn more about financing SmartTrack, you will see (a footnote on the last page) :

          “Of the Line’s 53km, 46km is within Toronto city limits. Some of this cost will be borne by municipalities out-
          side Toronto participating in the Line. This will reduce the required amount from the City of Toronto

          • Squintz

            Has any of this been negotiated or agreed to is the big question though? Tory can say whatever he wants, but that doesn’t mean the other municipalities will pony up a cent.

          • dsmithhfx

            It also doesn’t mean other levels of government are going to play ball. At this stage it’s a trial balloon, not a plan. I think there is some merit to it, but Tory’s continued support of the discredited Scarborough subway extension doesn’t bode well.

  • UnknownTransit

    Funny plan. Ridership in Etobicoke? 1,000 daily. The lack of stations along the Eglinton Corridor would make transferring to the line really difficult. Kipling bus isn;t the only bus line in the west end. Scarlett and Jane are a 1km apart. You can’t have one station for them.

    If John Tory actually did his homework, he would know that the Eglinton Corridor for the Richview Expressway can’t be used any more. In 2010, Toronto declared parcels of lands unnecessary and ask Build Toronto to sell off the land. Anyone driven by Eglinton West would have seen townhouses going up on the land that John Tory is going to put this line.

    What is the point of building the Scarborough subway this surface subway is going up right beside it? The ridership will spread between the two lines. A real gravy train here. Ridership on the Scarborough Subway is already estimated to be lower than subway demands, there’s no need for you downtown oriented lines in close proximity. It would be nice, but to take out the LRTs and duplicate a line isn’t good planning,

    On the LRT side, Tory wants to cancel the Finch West and Sheppard East LRT for this line. So those neighbourhood aren’t important? At least Ford wants them to be converted to subways. The LRTs are in place to develop those avenues, promote local transit and improve priority neighbourhood to better transit. Scraping the LRTs and replace them with nothing doesn’t help.

    Finally, not everyone wants to go downtown. Mothers on the 36 Finch West in Rexdale or 85 Sheppard East in Malvern wants to get to nearby groceries stores and buy their necessary food for the week. That’s what the LRTs are for. Those low income mothers don’t have money for a car nor a voice to speak up. To John Tory, Rob Ford and Tim Hudak, those aren’t worthy for better transit. For the teenagers/students who needs to get around their neighbourhood, this plan does not help them.

    I’m tired of lines being cancelled cause they deem that another line is better. Find your own pot of gold instead of shuffling the pot around.

    • sanjay

      I don’t believe John Tory wants to cancel any of the already approved projects; Finch LRT, Sheppard LRT, Scarborough subway. This is the next project he is proposing to already approved and in progress projects. This is something we should approve of, for not wasting time cancelling projects and and insisting on subways.subways.subways with no plan to pay for them like Rob Ford did.

      • UnknownTransit

        He doesn’t support them and they don’t appear on his SmartTrack map. In his proposal, he speaks about people in the northwest and northeast would commute to this surface subway of his. For Etobicoke North, it would be faster to commute east on Finch West and down the Spadina subway than to take a bus to this line. An indication that he doesn’t want the LRTs built.


      “Unknown Transit”
      Do not quote the “Fords ” on anything related to transit , or anything else..

  • Moaz

    Steve Munro has regularly mentioned on his blog that the Richview corridor on the north side of Eglinton was no longer available for the Eglinton Crosstown LRT phase 2…but he doesn’t mention that here. He has also described the challenges that residents of Mount Dennis faced when there was talk about widening Eglinton at Weston…and how they forced the line undergound…but he doesn’t mention that the connection between the Weston Railway subdivision and Eglinton Ave West that Tory proposes would be very costly and disruptive to the neighbourhood.

    The wye connection between the Sheppard line and Yonge Line took years to build, disrupted traffic and added nearly a billion dollars to the cost of the Sheppard line…and they were mostly building that under a parking lot on the southeast corner of the intersection (which, by the way, is still there). Why would anyone want to repeat that in Mount Dennis?

    Cheers, Moaz

    • Steve Munro

      I chose not to get into the alignment issues because that could have turned the whole article into a technical tour of the route. But, yes, there are problems with the Eglinton alignment where some of the “expressway” corridor has been transferred to Build Toronto for redevelopment. There is also the tiny matter of getting from the Weston rail corridor over to Jane Street.

      • Moaz

        Thanks for the reply Steve.

        I agree that the concept of regional rail has potential (which you emphasized) but i think that Tory’s plan is really lacking on details and missing a lot of important pieces.

        With all the time he’s spent with Civic Action plus the time to review his fellow candidates’ plans…he could have done much better than this.

        Cheers, Moaz

      • bjhtn

        Including how to fit in a station on Tory’s route that would enable transfers to/from the end of the Eglinton LRT.

    • ei(pi)+1=0

      The entire Sheppard line cost $1B. Are you saying the entire cost was in the wye and the remaining 5km were built for a few hundred bucks.

      • Moaz

        Yes, yes I am. Try to figure out how.

        • ei(pi)+1=0

          Maybe they provided a front loaded bid where the excavation for the wye was for $900M, and the remainder of the construction was $50M. This way they got paid most of the money up front. :)

  • JGHali

    I suspect this flip flop will stand as the beginning of the end of Tory’s campaign, and, by extension, his political career of poorly-thought out ideas and defeats. How do we take him seriously now? He’s spent the last months attacking Chow for not supporting the DRL (whatever it should be called), pledging to build it “now”, and now it’s the wrong idea? What idiocy. And now all he offers is an impossible route adjustment married to the existing plan for GO electrification. Ridiculous. One wonders how this man survived in the corporate world let alone any other sphere of life.

    • Moaz

      The question now is how fast his fellow candidates seize on the relative impossibility of the Eglinton Avenue West portion of the SmartTrack proposal and push him into a political corner.

      Who will be the first to say “John Tory wants to bulldoze through a priority neighbourhood to build trains for the wealthy” (or similar)? Chow? Or Stintz? I’m putting my money on Chow.

      Cheers, Moaz

      • nevilleross

        Let’s hope that she really does say it and demolishes Tory but good.

  • Canmon

    Many of these tracks are privately owned. Everyone who rides GO or Via regularly knows that commuter trains are regularly delayed for freight trains, who have precedence. I don’t see how high frequency commuter trains can co-exist and haven’t heard Tory address that.

    • Steve Munro

      All of the tracks used for Tory’s plan are owned by the Province of Ontario, and the route specifically avoids sections that are still in private hands. There are other implementation problems, notably available rights-of-way for the full length of the route, but ownership isn’t one of them.

  • Sceptical1

    I would like to see the freight trains that regularly travel through Toronto get a new route north of Toronto, hopefully freeing up capacity for an RER. It could remove dangerous cargo from the middle of the city.

    I have to agree that a heavy rail route along the Don Valley Parkway would get my vote as long as there are stations at Sheppard, York Mills, Lawrence and Eglinton. It could use the tunnels that exist for the highway, keeping it out of regular commuter traffic.

    • tomwest

      There is a a heavy rail route along the Don Valley Parkway – it’s called the Richmond Hill GO line.

    • Mark Dowling

      The problem with moving the CP North Toronto rail line out of the city is 1) the yards such as Agincourt have to be moved 2) new track has to be laid to connect the existing mainlines to it and 3) no likelihood of a warm welcome from the municipalities through which it would run.

    • nevilleross

      To do this would require the building of new rail lines, and new freight rail terminals (currently, CP has one at the ass-end of Scarborough, in the Malvern district in and around Finch avenue east.) Also, I’m not sure that people would like dangerous cargo shipped out on trucks while this rebuilding happens.

      • Moaz

        I wonder if a plan can be engineered to allow the CPR to share CN’s York Subdivision … and possibly building a yard northeast of Toronto.

        The main cost would be in building a new track connection between the CP and CN lines in the west end. I wonder if money from the sale of the CP yard lands (as well as incentives from the Ontario government via Metrolinx) would bring in enough money to smooth things over for CP.

        Cheers, Moaz

        • nevilleross

          I wonder if a proposal to ship most of the stuff that we ship now on rail and road to be shipped by airship could be implemented (somebody suggested it in Omni magazine back in the early ’80′s) instead. But you’re probably right about your proposal.

  • Notcleverguy

    It’s a bold and ambitious plan, if it could somehow become reality I think it covers the GTA well.

  • iSkyscraper

    I have no problem with trying to do a London Overground style overlay onto the rail net. The problem is that it will never happen (the last Tory gov’t that built transit was, what, Bill Davis?)

    • bobloblawbloblawblah

      To be fair, it was Harris. It’s just that the line that should’ve been built, Eglinton West was cancelled in favour of Sheppard.

    • Malcolm Newall

      Now be fair the last goverment that built useful transit of any stripe was Davis. The Sheppard subway is not a worthy exception.

  • Jason Paris

    Curious how it will be funded by Tax Increment Financing (TIF), yet has very few stations through the quickly growing “shoulder” areas of the core where TIF financing is most realistic.

  • torontothegreat

    Anyone up for a game of Twister Tory?

    • dsmithhfx
  • tomwest

    How does cancelling funded LRT lines in the suburbs help them?

  • Malcolm Newall

    This has potential to improve service greatly, however, it seems to be primarily a promise of getting a provincial body to do something.

    Also it does not appear to address issues of intensification in the inner 416. Also is he really talking about going down the Richview corridor? Is that still possible (should have all been kept for an express LRT or BRT….). Or is he using the existing GO tracks in this area as well.
    In my mind it makes sense to complete the Crosstown to its original terminus to cover the western end, and retain a higher granularity than GO offers. How different is this than the notion of “all line all day 15 minute GO” except that it picks 2 lines. So is he not just in effect announcing that he has picked one of Murray’s many plans to champion?
    My concern is that this plan does not address some of the non downtown oriented travel. Transit City was meant to provide service more locally at a more fine grained level than what this is looking at. Yes need express bus, however, need to look at dedicated roadway for some of these express buses.
    While I understand his position with regards to Scarborough, this is such a waste of resources that I believe he is wrong here. There is a better, stronger, faster (to completion), cheaper LRT solution. If you want the extra speed, well just get rid of a few stops.
    Yes we need this service, however, it will not solve the issue at a more fine grained level. I would be more impressed if he would take a crack at the issue of management of headway on bus and streetcar routes.

    • wklis

      They are already building townhouses on the north side of Eglinton in Etobicoke. Is the Eglinton West linear park and bicycle path on the chopping block with this proposal?

  • Mark Dowling

    It takes two years to train a train driver. This is already causing constraints in adding GO service because of the need to begin UPX as well as take over from CP on the Milton line. Additionally, Hudak wants to cancel electrification of GO and Tory has few levers to make him change his mind, especially considering their history in the PCPO.

    • Malcolm Newall

      I personally think the import of electric is greatly overblown for a reasonable level of service. Could be just as easily done as diesel.
      The limitations of a shortage of drivers however, well, that is what it is.

      • spicygarage

        You forget acceleration.

        The reason why electrification is necessary is that diesel trains accelerate more slowly than electric trains. It doesn’t make much difference for a Toronto-Montreal trip, but a commuter train with frequent stops must accelerate and decelerate quickly.

        • Malcolm Newall

          How much difference will that make with 8 stops in the west, and 14 in the east. I think we are talking about a couple of minutes, and the basic service will be limited by space required by regulation.
          Some of the acceleraton benefit can be gained by converting to DMU from existing trains. While they would be noisier than electric, it would avoid the cost of electrification.

          • Robert Wightman

            EMUs can keep accelerating longer and at a higher rate than DMUs. If you are stopping every 2 to 3 km it will make a substantial difference. Between 30 and 60 seconds per stop.

          • Malcolm Newall

            I do not expect these trains to be operating much over 80kph personally. This is a speed a single level dmu can reach in 75 seconds or less. You are maybe saving 30 seconds in the acceleration and likely not more between stops. 10 trains per hour this would be huge 4 not so much. I am with Steve that it has to be done at the high end so it justifies electric, but at 15 minute service intervals I don’t think it does.

            Need to get exclusive on tracks, positive train control and a plan that would allow closer than 6 minute train spacing (exclusion from fra rules). That would justify electrification, provide real capacity and create a highly attractive service. Although in those circumstances could not run LRT cars?

          • Robert Wightman

            EMU normally have higher acceleration rates than DMUs and can maintain that rate for a longer time. This due to a combination of higher friction rates which means the train can accelerate at the maximum comfort for passengers for a much longer time. The higher power ratings for EMUs means the constant power speed point is higher also allowing for a longer acceleration rate. AT the spacing implied for Tory’s service they better get above 80 km/h, closer to 100 or more, or there is no point in building them.

            There is an op-ed article in today’s Star about this line and how it should be a Metrolynx Regional Express Rail service.

            I agree with your last paragraph but I took the times and station spacing for the St. Louis LRT line which is more like an interurban and placed it onto the Barrie line. The St. Louis LRT cars could cut 15 – 20 minutes of the service times so don’t down grade LRT even if it is probably not what you want to use there.

          • Malcolm Newall

            Downgrade LRT, are you kidding me? I would consider LRT in this application a huge upgrade. If we can get to operations that would permit LRT, that is the way to go. LRT with proposed stop spacing would attract huge ridership, and provide massive capacity. That would be as close to a silver bullet as Toronto is likely to come for regional service. LRT is also generally specifically designed around high accelleration and minimizing dwell time. Get that on the table and you might have a substantial impact on congestion.

          • Robert Wightman

            I apologize for miss interpreting your comment But you know who would label it as a damn street car. Take care

          • Malcolm Newall

            Robert, I am glad that we are in agreement. The question becomes, could this be achieved within the space on the line proposed. You could then start with service, and keep working down the headway as vehicles and trained staff became available.
            I suspect that this route would end up being a headway under 4 minutes and probably trains of 3 or more cars.
            Still need the Don Mills subway for inner 416, but the combination would be potent, especially if this was well connected to the various transit systems in question.

      • Steve Munro

        It depends on the service level. Metrolinx (and Tory’s people) persist in talking about 15 minute headways which won’t make for a huge capacity on any corridor, but the Tory folks also talk about getting down to subway-level service in single digit minutes. For that, the cost of electrification is spread over much more intensive service, and time savings also show up in operating savings with fewer trains. The “relief” function of Tory’s line won’t really be felt until it has very frequent service and the wait time to get a train does not add materially to the trip time.

        • Moaz

          The cost of the electrification has to include the cost of the new EMU fleet along with (hopefully) money that can potentially be gained from the sale of the prime movers and Bi – Level Coaches (to Montréal, Vancouver and US systems, possibly even VIA … and freight operators for the prime movers) and a large portion of the GO bus fleet (unless of course GO ends up expanding bus services because the private bus companies decide they want out).

          A public transit operator the size of GO moving to an electrified RER-type service will have a huge impact on the rail and bus industries. It’s possible that Metrolinx and the Ontario government may need to work out a deal with Bombardier so their plant in Thunder Bay isn’t affected by a slowdown in demand for Bi Level coaches…though I suppose Bombardier may find themselves building the Bi Level EMUs.

          Cheers, Moaz

          • nevilleross

            We don’t really need Bi-Level trains when we have a fleet of fast EMU’s, IMHO

          • Moaz

            It depends on how many people start using the trains. The morning and afternoon commutes already need Bi – Level trains and some lines are up to 12 cars now….and these are pretty frequent services. Even with the 15 minute frequencies offered by electric trains there will still be a need for high capacity trains during the peak hours….which is why I expect to see Bi Level EMUs.

            Cheers, Moaz

  • ScottyP

    May I remind you that it’s the complete lack of long-term thinking that got us into this transit mess in the first place.

    • Moaz

      Not forgetting the unnecessary politicization of transit…which this plan demonstrates in spades by arbotrarily taking the Metrolinx “Big U” and Eglinton Crosstown west phase and twisting them into one line.

  • Robert Wightman

    The main problems with this plan are:

    1) It operates on railway lines and will have to obey mainline railway rules. This will limit headways to about once every 10 minutes, perhaps every 6 with positive train control. It will take 2 years to train enginemen because of transport Canada rules.

    2) Union Station does not have the capacity to handle these extra passengers. The basic idea is good but the province should have built UPX as a transit line and isolated its tracks from GO’s so it would not need to follow main line rules. It needs to have its own route through the downtown, probably in a tunnel north of Front Street to act as a distributor there.

    3) This will put two heavy rapid transit lines in Scarborough within a few km of each other while leaving a huge void between the Uxbridge Sub and the Yonge Subway.

    This plan has some very good points, especially about using the surface rights of way for higher level transit but it does not solve the problem about the need for a Yonge relief line on the east side of the Don valley.

    Alas it looks like an idea that started out good was sidetracked by the desire to draw nice lines that appear to be cheap instead of spending a little extra time to do more analysis

    • nevilleross

      Union Station does not have the capacity to handle these extra passengers. The basic idea is good but the province should have built UPX as a transit line and isolated its tracks from GO’s so it would not need to follow main line rules. It needs to have its own route through the downtown, probably in a tunnel north of Front Street to act as a distributor there.

      This would probably also require a new station as well that would just be for the UPX and nothing else; where said station would be built with all of the condos and whatnot going up is also a problem.

      • Robert Wightman

        There would be stations in the new tunnel. If you are north of Front Street it is not going into Union. I thought the fact that would be astations in the tunnel would be obvious. The station would be built like a subway station, underground. Tory’s idea will not work if it tries to use Union.

        • Steve Munro

          Metrolinx already has an optional plan (as part of the Union Station Capacity Study) for (a) a satellite station in what is now Bathurst Yard (between Spadina and Bathurst) that would serve trains from the NW corridor services, and (b) a connection there to the DRL which would act as a feeder-distributor. It’s not a big leap to running Tory’s train through the proposed “DRL” tunnel and hook up with the rail corridor again at the Don River, although this would foreclose the possibility of a true DRL in the future unless we prebuild for it today.

          • Moaz

            This then leads back to the question of whether or not the DRL should use subway technology. I recall you saying that the DRL should be a TTC subway.

            If the Big U (because that is what we’re really discussing here) is built Metrolinx may wish to expand to cover the DRL routing via Toronto – Danforth and up to Don Mills.

            Either way we are going to see a tunnel through Toronto … and if electrification of the GO corridor is done with overhead wire (rather than 3rd rail as used in the UKs Southeastern Rail network) then the tunnel under Toronto is going to be very big.

            It should also be noted that aside from the new terminal at Bathurst Yard, Metrolinx is planning on removing one of the tracks at the south end of Union Station to build a high Platform 28/29 for VIA Trains. Metrolinx may also remove a track or two under the train shed to allow wider platforms.

            With all those changes plus the proposed HSR and RER, I don’t know how Union will accommodate all of the train movements and passengers….even with the satellite terminal at Bathurst Yard.

            The best thing I can say about Tory’s proposal is that he is the last major politican to jump on the RER Bandwagon. But he has definitely not thought through many significant details and challenges.

            I’m not sure if that is even expected of him…he just needs to look like he has a plan…but when did it become necessary for a mayoralty candidate to come in with a transit plan? I don’t recall David Miller campaigning with a transit plan in either election (though he was alluding to Transit City during his second campaign).

            Cheers, Moaz

        • Malcolm Newall

          Robert, what if we promised to fill in some tracks with platforms, and added I don’t know – say 12 or so escalators in each direction for each of these new platform space between platforms.
          You could do this for the Lakeshore east West and pair the Stouffville/Kitchener service routes. If you make the assumption that you can get to say 10 trains per hour, and even if you retain the mega train sizes now in use, you should be able to clear the plaftorms (~2 minutes to move full train off platform and a train every 3).
          Would it be possible to move people through the concourse, and then out into the PATH system. Between these 2 paired (4) lines, the balance of GO and TTC subway at Union, you should still “only” be say ~2500 people per minute.

          • Robert Wightman

            If you go through Union Station you should notice that every second platform is very narrow instead of just narrow. From track 2 out there used to be a passenger track, between platforms 2 and 3, 4 and 5, 6 and 7 etc and a narrow track for train servicing and between tracks 3 an4, 5 and 6, 7 and 8 etc. For some reason tracks 1 and 2 did not have this last platform. Standing on one of these platforms, especially an old baggage platform is dangerous when a train is moving beside you.

            I would propose removing tracks 3, 6 and 9 and replacing them with platforms which I would build at the same height as the handicap platform but going right out to car leaving a very narrow gap. This should be possible because it is done in Montreal with a high platform. This would make it more difficult for a person so slip under a moving train except between cars. This would leave tracks 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8 and 10 for GO. VIA can go to the extreme south on 11, 12 and 13.

            New and wider stairs and escalators could be put in which would empty the platforms faster and allow more trains to use them if they can ever figure out how to improve Transport Canada’s archaic operating rules. The line that TORY proposes, or some version of it, should NOT operate through UNION because it just cannot handle the extra passengers no matter how many stairs there are.

            The UPEx line should have been built as a rapid transit line, not a main line rail line. Metrolinx should have separated the 2 tracks for this line from the other tracks in the Weston corridor. When it gets down to Parkdale or the Exhibition it would need to go in a tunnel under Adelaide and/or Richmond through the downtown and act as its own distributor. A branch of this could continue up to Bramalea GO station as they own the rack to there. This line could either become the Downtown Don Mills relief line of perhaps magically go out to the Uxbridge line which is also entirely Metrolinx property.

            Trying to operate Tory’s, or any Regional Express Rail Network, entirely with equipment that follows Transport Canada’s rules is almost an impossibility because of the length of blocks required and high buff loading requirements not to mention the two year training period required to become an engineer.

            Someone has to say enough is enough and get out from under TC rules where ever possible. One of the reasons that expansion is so slow is the lack of qualified engineers.

          • Malcolm Newall

            So in essence you do not believe that the concourse area, and the outlets to PATH and the PATH network itself in this area can sustain the 100k+/hour foot traffic that this, plus the required improvements on GO Lakeshore, plus GO Barrie and Richmond Hill would mean. Or are you also concerned about too much transfer loading to the Union subway station?
            In essence this would take over the current Stouffville sub, and would need the current either Kitchener or UPX line (better) to work. Although if made to not conform to TC rules and achieved a 4 minute headway would likely attract ~20K riders from each branch. To make it really work needs LRT type rapid load and unload vehicles.
            I am of the mind that it would be better for future development to bleed some of this traffic away to both the east and west to allow future development.
            Can really serve the Don Mill relief function. Could you use the existing (unused much decayed) Don Mills sub for that? Do you not still have substantial issues of where they connect?

          • Robert Wightman

            The existing PATH can barely handle what is already there. Even with the development of the PATH connection via York there will be serious difficulties handling projected growth in traffic with out putting in Tory’s Smart Line. Union Subway station, even with the new platform, will still have a sub standard platform for University trains.

            In the West there would probably be stations at Liberty/ Exhibition, Bathurst, Spadina, University and Yonge as development is concentrated more to the west of Yonge. There could also be stops at King or Queen, Lansdowne/ Dundas, Bloor, St. Clair, Eglinton, Lawrence, Weston Road, Etobicoke North and Woodbine where the line would split, one branch to the airport and one to Bramalea.

            In the east end the right of way is more uncertain. If it is built with rapid transit type cars but with more seats to reflect the long haul nature then it could be tunnelled and become the Don Mills relief line. If you can separate two tracks on the Lakeshore east line it could connect into the Uxbridge sub as Tory proposes. Station locations would depend on the right of way chosen.

            If by the Don Mill Sub you mean the CP line from the Union Station Rail Corridor to Leaside the line is too deep in the valley to be useful south of Leaside. If you mean the abandoned spur from CN’s Richmond Hill line to Leaside forget it. It will never become a rail line again.

            The service would require cars with more seating than the subway and more doors than GO’s bi-levels. If we are going to a true RER then we would probably need another type of car.

            We do not need this on the Uxbridge Sub and the subway extension in Scarborough. Regardless of what is built we do need a Don Mills relief line. My proposal will never get built because it would require a lot of people to say; “Sorry, we chose the wrong route, technology etc.”

          • Malcolm Newall

            The subway proposal in Scarborough makes no sense as currently configured. Causes an impossible situation at Yonge to get worse. Real Don Mills /relief line must precede it.
            I have never really imagined a serious way of connecting the BDL to bottom of valley that did not involve gondolas, mega elavators or ridiculously long escalators.
            I would hope that we will see someone come to office that does not have too many locked ideas, and a broad ability to say he/she had a good one but met a better one along the way.

  • NL

    The thing about the SmartTrack plan is that it would only make sense if you wanted to abandon the Bloor-Danforth Scarborough extension and significantly improve east-west transit routes which may include extending the Sheppard subway to STC.

  • Steve Munro

    Yes, I agree that it would have made far more sense for Tory’s line to take over the function of the UPX to the airport, and extend the Eglinton line west to the Airport Corporate Centre (and thence into Pearson). Of course this would get Tory into the problem of saying that the UPX should be a local line and a head-on collision with Metrolinx, but he should have the courage to tell Metrolinx and QP that they really screwed up on that one and it’s time (or at least once Pan Am is out of the way) to admit their mistake.

    • nevilleross

      By which time, most of us that support this will be dead and gone, most likely.

    • Malcolm Newall

      Unless we get a change in party, and somehow Hudak sees this as essentially the same his existing subway proposal, or says this is a savings or improvement on it.

  • hamish

    In digging through an old box of transit stuff, I came across a Star Dec. 16, 2002 piece where there was coverage of a proposal called “SmartRide”, put forward by Aecon, and some copy read as: “SmartRide LRT favours light rail transit built on existing rail lines and hydro corridors” – and the accompanying map shows the good use of the Weston rail corridor as a transit-too corridor, which the UPX is a relative waste thereof, as noted by Steve in a comment. And yes, real transit advocacy and sense would tackle this travesty/waste – and even take it over with a few more stops. That diagonal corridor has been in some plans for public transit for decades, and its relative waste with the UPX is a bigger waste than the gas plants that some fuss about, whilst ignoring how at least the Conservatives also supported moving.

    • Moaz

      Ah, Smart Ride….I remember that out-of-the-blue proposal from a private consortium (which included LRV builder Alstom as I recall). Was that the GTA’s first exposure to the sexiness of a public private partnership? If I recall correctly David Collonette’s Union-Pearson rail link proposal (the predecessor of UPEx and another flirtation with P3) appeared more-or-less around the same time.

      Cheers, Moaz

    • nevilleross

      Hell, just a BART-type train system throughout Southern Ontario would be amazing.

      • Moaz

        That was GO Urban (or was it called GO ALRT?) I sometimes forget which unbuilt proposal is which.

        • nevilleross

          I know about that, and wish that we’d built it years ago. Such a sad thing that we didn’t.

      • TheSotSays

        How about a Batmobile for the parade committee?

  • OgtheDim

    Until somebody actually says something along the lines of,

    “You know, maybe you don’t have the right to park your car on King Street on whatever side you want to whenever you want to without getting towed and a huge fine.”

    all this is crayon drawing.

    The desires of the few do not always trump the needs of the many.

    • Angie Mac

      Very true.

      I am curious on your thoughts about this transit plan vs the other transit plans on the table. As far as I can see, there are 3 (sort of 4).

      Olivia Chow and Transit City are essentially the same thing. Initially, I liked Transit City. But it should be at the stages of completion, not still in debate.

      Rob Ford’s Subways Subways Subways. Too simple, not extensive. Not sure if he doesn’t know or doesn’t care what is needed.

      John Tory’s I do like. I like this idea of the above ground subway. And I love the idea of 7 years.

      • nevilleross

        Except for the fact that Tory’s ‘idea’ is caca, and cannot be built at all.

      • OgtheDim

        Tory’s ideas are crayon drawings. He obviously has a consultant or two behind him, but the people involved have obviously got ideas that do no encompass actually hearing what is going on in reality.

        Union Station can’t take this capacity.

        Its a duck that won’t ever quack.

        Chow and Soknacki at least are being realistic.


        I despise the Scarborough extension. Any ideas that include that are wasting money.

        • Angie Mac

          Olivia Chow’s transit plan just seems a little vague is all. I understand that she’s going to make the Scarborough subway an LRT. Is she proposing to bring back the entire Transit City program or just Scarborough?

          • dsmithhfx

            I think Chow deserves some credit for not tossing out wild eyed, pie-in-the-sky proposals in a desperate bid for votes.

            You’re right, Transit City would be well along by now, if Rob Ford and his merry band of clueless boot-lickers hadn’t cancelled it out of sheer spite, and not because they had a viable alternative or really, any plan whatsoever.

            There are some real hard fiscal realities that need to be taken into consideration. The one good thing about Tory’s plan — for which he deserves no credit — is that the Wynne government is already on it. If Timbit gets in, the whole thing is toast anyway.

            Chow is right to emphasize immediate relief, by restoring service levels cut by Ford and his little helper Karen Stintz, while they turned a blind eye to police budget bloat.

            It’s really galling that the TTC wound up with an ‘operating surplus’ after relentless fare increases and service cuts. That is not how transit is supposed to work. I think Chow at least understands that.

          • TheSotSays

            Fordophobia – Fear of the big guy who has almost 400,000 supporters.

            Chow told the Canadian Club on Tuesday that the reason no one showed up to listen to her was because of the Ontario debates last night. Yep, for sure. We all got so excited yesterday about the Ontario debates that it distracted us from wanting to eat lunch. Ha ha ha ha ha.

          • TheSotSays

            What does it matter?

            With her tax plundering record, her $530,000 MP expenses and her total disregard for the rules of decency in subsidized housing matters, her chances of mayoralty success are approximately zero.

          • Angie Mac

            The subsidized housing thing never really bothered me, but yes, the half a million in expenses is a major reason I’m skeptical of Olivia.

            Still, it seems that every one of them has a checkered past, with the exception of Soknacki. Seems like it’s almost mandatory to be a popular candidate.

          • dsmithhfx

            Easy. A vote for Ford is a vote for Chow.

            “Thing is, I don’t know very many rehab centres that allow a fellow to skip out at will, pick up the drycleaning, pose for pics with local yokels and stop at the bank; oh, and what about when a girl who flunked rehab leaves her watch in your room after you have given her your keys and she gets stopped for speeding and is charged with driving under the influence?

            OK, this part is just for the men: explain that bit about the watch and the keys to your wife who remains at home with the kids.”

          • TheSotSays

            “A vote for Ford, blah blah blah.”

            Say it once it’s merely only a bit childish, say it 50 times and you’re well away to looking like one of the 12 year olds on the NDP/Liberal Party voter lists.

        • TheSotSays

          Certainly Derp if anyone wants to know about reality they should get in touch with YOU.

      • OgtheDim

        And don’t get me started on the ridiculous idea Stintz has of a fare freeze…..

        • TheSotSays

          Go ahead Derp, get started. it’s always a laugh to see how foolish you can make yourself out to be.

        • TheSotSays

          Ah Derp you’re hard at it. You’re such an industrious little thing, it’s too bad you can’t earn a living wage .

    • TheSotSays

      Tell us about your desires, Derp

  • nevilleross

    Buses are just not that good at moving people and are becoming declasse in North America, hence all of the rail plans and building (LRT, streetcar and subway).

  • Robert Wightman

    This is the only unused rail line in Toronto and there are reasons for this;

    1) The line in Don Valley is impossible to connect with so there can be no useful stations between Leaside and the Lakeshore.

    2) The long high level bridge out of the valley is unsound and needs to be replaced.

    3) CP will never allow significant GO traffic on their main rail line between western Canada or Chicago and Montreal and points east to be compromised by heavy commuter service.

    This is unfortunately one of those lines on a map that looks so tempting until you start to look at it carefully. You are never going to run service that is much better than once every 10 minutes on a line that falls under Transport Canada rules which, unfortunately, are all lines that GO operates on.

    Many poster have said that the freight should be moved north of Toronto, especially hazardous cargoes. The problem is where do you put them. All the old freight lines that used to run from Sudbury or Capreol to Ottawa/ Montreal were abandoned long ago. CN and CP will not voluntarily build new lines to carry these trains when they already have lines. Is it their fault that the GTHA has grown so much?

    In the east end of Scarborough is should be fairly easy to connect CP’s Belleville sub to CN’s York sub Toronto by-pass and in Milton it should be easy to connect CN’s Halton Sub to CP’s Galt sub. I am not so sure if it is possible to connect the York Sub to CP’s MacTier sub near the Humber river because elevation difference for CP freights going to Western Canada. There is still the problem of getting from Agincourt Yard back to the York sub for trains to and from the west.

    If this could be done then it would free up CP’s lines from Milton to Agincourt where the trains could use the Havelock Sub that runs to Peterborough to go further east, hell an HSR to Peterborough.. Unfortunately there are only two chances of this happening and Slim left town quite a while ago

  • johnrossharvey

    I think this idea has some good points. The Jane/Scarlett stop is clearly an error as it should be closer to Weston/Lawrence. What no city, province, or fed has ever suggested are GRIDS. Several N-S and E-W lines instead of all squeezing to the hub of Union. The whole DRL must be Don Mills baffles me, it is not straight, has several hills, valleys, and bridges to cross. Millwood is the biggest problem, do you rebuild that bridge, add a bridge, or rework it while it remains standing, or worse yet tunnel deeper than any other line to go under the DVP. I think Bayview is a straighter option, closer to Yonge, a bridge link to Broadview would be less tall than Millwood even though it may be longer to get there. As for my grid idea, Dufferin, from Liberty Village into Vaughan or beyond, Bathurst from Billy Bishop into Richmond Hill, Warden from Beaches to Stouffville, Islington from Lake to Vaughan, Steeles as a north region connector, All of Finch, Albion-Wilson-YorkMills-Ellesmere, Dixon-Lawrence, Queensway-Queen-Kingston, All of Lake Shore (but tunnel below Indy track or grab rail corridor past it). Yes it will cost, but it will be far more effective that a bottlenecked hub of Union that cannot take more.

  • Robert Wightman

    The line was abandoned because the bridge was unsound and CP no longer ran any freights or passenger trains down to the harbour area or Union Station. When they still did some switching they brought the trains down Obicoke and across the Lakeshore trackage.

    The bridge is unsound for trains and I believe that it is the trusses and not the piers that are the problem. The trusses will not support the weight of a train but they help to hold the piers together in high winds. It costs money to take down a bridge and they managed to sell it and the line to Metrolinx. It is a lot cheaper to repair the bridge than to build a totally new one. It might make a good bicycle trail from Leaside to the waterfront if the winds don’t blow you off it.