Recently, the provincial government announced that the timeline for the Transit City Sheppard LRT has changed and that there was now room for hope for finishing the Sheppard subway. The surface LRT is now scheduled to start construction in 2017 and finish in 2021
. Eglinton is supposed to be finished in 2020. This gives us time to change the course of debate and elect the government we need to build real rapid transit in Toronto. Rather than spending $2B on surface LRT lines that are barely faster than busses and interfere with roads, we could be completing the Sheppard East subway, or be building the Downtown Relief Line East, or be elevating the Eglinton LRT.
With the recent resignation of Premier McGuinty, we need speak out and elect a premier - whether Conservative or Liberal - who support real rapid transit construction underground or in the air.
We need a premier and council who support a plan that builds more rapid transit
, that goes significantly faster than a regular bus, that serves more people, and that creates the transit network that Toronto needs. Anyone who does not support this vision
, we must vote out of power. Continue spreading the word that while Toronto wastes money on slow on-street transit, Vancouver, BC will surpass us as the biggest rapid transit system in Canada by cancelling their LRT project and choosing to build rapid elevated Skytrains.
Tell people that while some Toronto councillors want to run trains in the middle of the roads slowing transit and cars, Ottawa has chosen to run their trains in tunnels and away from roads, providing their citizens with fast transit and reliable commutes.We need a province for rapid transit that wont allow Toronto to fall behind
The fantasy OneCity map calls for $30B in projects.
A third of the funding is allocated to surface transit improvements - streetcars, surface LRTs, and busses (purple and blue on the map).
The second third goes to local rail - subway like service on GO train lines (pink on the map):
- $1.5B Air Rail Line Local (Etobicoke Express) from Union west to Eglinton-Weston and beyond: This is the proposal that the province shot down even though there was a near-unanimous vote on council (so much for “listening to council”). It is a small price to pay to add a lot more grade-separated rapid transit in the city - a good project supported by all sides.
- $7B GO Stouffville Line Local (Scarborough Express) from Union east to Kennedy, north to Sheppard and beyond: At almost a third of the total cost of the plan and with the line essentially mirroring a combination of the Downtown Relief Line, the Bloor-Danforth line, and Scarborough extension, one has to wonder whether this money could be better prioritized elsewhere.
The remaining third is allocated to subway construction. All four subway lines suggested are outlined in our letter to Premier McGuinty and all have merits (red on the map).
- $5.5B Downtown Relief Line from Queen to Science Centre: This project was planned since 1985 to ease congestion on the Yonge Line and to link new sections of Downtown. With the crowding on Yonge, this project must be built eventually.
- $1.5B Yonge Line extension from Finch to Steeles towards Richmond Hill Centre: This project is being pushed by York Region, but the added ridership dictates that the Downtown Relief Line to be built first. This project fills in the gap between Finch and Steeles and Richmond Hill, currently served by many busses.
- $1.5B Sheppard West Line from Sheppard-Yonge to Downsview: This project was planned since 1985 along with Sheppard East subway. It provides a transfer between the two legs of the Yonge-University-Spadina line. A good project for connectivity especially with the York University-Vaughan extension coming online.
- $0.5B Bloor-Danforth Line extension from Kennedy Station to Sheppard-McCowan: This project replaces the Scarborough RT retrofit currently planned, eliminating a five year shut down and the transfer at Kennedy.
- $1B Bloor-Yonge Station Expansion: This project is an interim solution to solve crowding problems on the Yonge line if the Downtown Relief Line is not built. However, it is under this plan. $1B could be better used elsewhere.
If the excessive GO Stouffville Line Local and Bloor-Yonge station expansion is eliminated, the local rail and subway components of the plan costs around $10.5B – approximately fitting the $10B to be raised under the tax scheme proposed.
While the discussion of new funding tools and the enthusiasm behind subway construction is great, the OneCity plan leaves some questions unanswered:
- With only $10B of the $30B plan funded, how are the projects prioritized - trams, local rail, or subway? Is this another scheme to dupe the city into providing money to build subways downtown only, while the rest of the city gets slow surface LRT?
- With $30B of projects proposed and with the $7B GO Stouffville Line Local and the $1B Bloor-Yonge expansion seeming redundant at this point, why is using $2B to bury the Sheppard East line as planned since 1985 not considered? Many councillors said they would support it if there is a funding plan. We have a chance at creating one now. OneCity does not solve the issues of east-west congestion in Toronto. Of the 6 rail and subway lines proposed only one, Sheppard West, addresses east-west travel outside of downtown, and in fact, it is the only line not to lead to downtown. Under the plan by Mayor Ford, the city would have 3 east-west underground crosstown lines. In the OneCity plan, the city continues to only have one – the Bloor-Danforth line. Between Don Mills and Scarborough north of Bloor, there will still not be grade-separated rapid transit.
The first phase of the plan, replacing the Scarborough RT retrofit with a Bloor-Danforth extension and a waterfront east tram line, will go to council tomorrow. Both lines are not overly contentious and the Bloor-Danforth extension provides much value (eliminating a transfer and a 5 year shutdown) at a small cost.
The funding plan and remainder of the projects will be coming this fall. With 80% of Torontonians supporting the plan, it has much steam, but the 2 question posed above must be answered to adequately gauge what is being proposed.
The GTA must come up with a realistic funding plan to address congestion to the core and on our east-west corridors, and this must be done using cost-effective grade-separated rapid transit.
Station on the elevated Canada Line in BC
is proposing to extend the Eglinton line's rapid transit terminus from Keele to Weston. This means Toronto will have an extra "subway" stop. This proposal replaces the surface LRT route that was originally planned for this section, bringing fast, reliable transit that won't interfere with traffic further west.
This will be done using elevated rail on the side of the road with an underground station at Weston where it will interchange with the GO.
Is elevated rail being embraced as a low-cost way to provide transit at subway speeds without interfering with roads? Will Toronto have a true, affordable rapid transit line to the airport in the future as opposed to the proposed slow surface LRT?
While Toronto embarks on building a new rapid transit line on Eglinton
from Keele to Laird, and an extension of the Yonge-University-Spadina subway from Downsview to York University to Vaughan Metropolitan Centre
. Metrolinx has decided
to endorse the split vote of Toronto Council and build the Sheppard East and Eglinton East lines as surface LRT and not as underground or elevated rapid transit. This decision divides the original Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown into two, forcing a transfer at Kennedy.
The reason for this is due to the difference in service, reliability, and automation between a grade-separated line (Scarborough RT) and a surface LRT line crossing intersections running at slower speeds (Eglinton).
While Metrolinx hides behind the council's divided vote to stifle subway construction and ignore the will of the people, they are rejecting a proposal that is passed almost unanimously by council to bring subway-like surface to the Air Rail Line.
The provincial cabinet has yet to issue their decision and the following letter was sent to Premier McGuinty and the MPPs. The future decades of transit is at stake and we must continue the fight.
Click images to enlarge.
As we continue to lobby the province, please ask your friends to sign our petition
and have your voices heard at Queen's Park. Metrolinx will address cabinet on April 25
, and there isn't much time. Rapid transit is a regional issue that affects riders and drivers across the GTA. These stakeholders's views must be reflected.
The Yonge-University-Spadina extension to Vaughan will bring a downtown vision to that area
, and we should do the same within Toronto. We have over $8B to build the Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown completely underground and elevated, and we have $1B leftover that can build the Sheppard subway to Victoria Park. With $1-2B more in funding, we can finish the Sheppard East line. Councillors are floating funding ideas, and they can be used to fund the remaining Sheppard East extension and the $4B Downtown Relief Line
that Toronto needs. With that, we will have a strong transit backbone zipping people all across the city.
(Subways Are For Everyone) has written a letter to Premier McGuinty detailing that the GTA suffers from the worst congestion in North America and that we should be using transit money to build fast rapid transit
in the region, not slow surface LRTs. Will the Premier support the subway vision that has stood the test of time, has the will of the people behind it, and has the support of the Scarborough Liberal MPPs? Make yourselves heard to the province
, and a letter from SubwaysTO will be released shortly. Click read more for SAFE's letter, and please continue to spread the word
Last week in a split decision, Toronto City Council voted for the surface LRT plan that canceled the Sheppard East subway along with underground Eglinton East line, and overturned the will of the people
. It was not the right choice to replace these two planned core rapid transit routes with surface transit.
Let's go back to the basics. What is rapid transit?
The American Public Transport Association states that rapid transit is "rail or motorbus transit service operating completely separate form all modes of transportation on an exclusive right of way".
This includes underground, trenched, and elevated rail, and other transit at grade not crossing intersections. Surface LRTs proposed on Eglinton and Sheppard East do not match this description, and surface LRTs are not rapid transit
.Why is rapid transit important?
Let's look at why Vancouver cancelled surface LRT in favour of grade-separation on its Evergreen Line
. This line will run underground, elevated, and at grade but separated, and cost only 12% more in captial costs than surface LRT
- Ridership: In Vancouver's case, grade separation brings more than 2x more riders - this is also true for Sheppard (27M riders if underground, 17M if surface LRT) and Eglinton (2x riders, 2x capacity if underground)
- Transfers: The grade separated plan eliminates transfers, saving commute time - this is also true at Kennedy and Don Mills if the lines are underground
- Speed: It is true in Vancouver as it is here that rapid transit is much faster than surface LRT. Surface LRTs are only be 6 km/h faster than a bus, while subways and elevated transit are 16 km/h faster.
- Operating Costs: Surface LRTs are shown to have a higher operating cost because various factors including the lack of automation - this is also true for Toronto ($15 - 20M more).
This is what the fight is about - common sense.
Ottawa is also building a LRT line, but they are using tunnels and a completely separate at-grade right of way, and they state, "Grade separation is necessary to allow for the high speeds and level of automation necessary to maximize the LRT system’s efficiency."We must continue to lobby the province and Metrolinx as they make their decisions. There is $2B at stake. With it, we could build a good chunk of the Sheppard East and Eglinton East lines underground, we could build the Downtown Relief Line East, or
we could use it to build Skytrains at costs only slightly higher than surface LRT and reach even farther. However, using this money to build surface LRTs on these core routes that need high speed and capacity is irresponsible and absurd.If this transit battle is truly about building transit that is fast and serves the most riders, there is one choice and that is grade-separated rapid transit - not surface LRTs. Please contact us
if you want to help the cause and continue to spread the word and get your friends to sign the petition. This will be a marathon and we will win in the end.
Yesterday, Toronto City Council voted to cancel the planned Sheppard Subway and replace it with a surface LRT
. It added onto the vote that placed the Eglinton East LRT at-grade. This was a huge set-back to rapid transit expansion in the city. We had a completely funded Eglinton-Scarborough underground and elevated line, and we had around 50% of the funding secured for the Sheppard East subway. Even though the pro-LRT councillors said they would build Sheppard if they had the money, this was not the case. The conservative concillors
did the right thing and proposed a transit tax that could be used to fill the funding gap. However, it was clear at the end that the pro-LRT councillors (most who have subways in their wards already) did not want to build fast rapid transit for the rest of the city. Rather, they wanted transit to be slow in outer Toronto so it resembles streetscapes of Spadina, and they wanted to show the Mayor that they are in charge. To be fair, there has to be blame on the pro-Subway side also for failing to bring the MOU plan to council and to make compromises earlier in the game that could have led to the completion of the Sheppard subway.
Network 2011 - 1985 plans for a comprehensive subway system to be built by 2011
In 1985, a plan - Network 2011
- was drafted to build the Downsview extension and the Sheppard, Eglinton, and Downtown Relief subways by 2011. This never materialized in the 25 years that has passed and only a fraction of that plan was built.
Today, a group of city councillors will be proposing a dedicated revenue source that will finally fund the Sheppard and Downtown Relief subways, and keep Eglinton underground (Globe and Mail
, National Post
, Toronto Sun
, Toronto Star
We need grade separated rapid transit on Eglinton and Sheppard. LRTs running at only a few km/h faster than a bus is not worth the money. Grade separated transit (underground, trenched, fully separated surface, elevated) is the best investment of available and future funding. See below for a slideshow making the case for it.
Please call the city councillors
and sign the petition
before the vote on March 21st to have your voice heard.
| SubwaysTO The Case for Rapid Transit|
|File Size: ||242 kb|
|File Type: || pdf|