Why Not LRTs?
_ Speed and Capacity
Transit City at-grade LRT is surface transit - not rapid transit. It is not grade separated, it is only 6 km/h faster than regular bus, and it has almost a negligible speed benefit and capacity benefit when compared to BRT. The lack of an exclusive right of way, and the fact that it has too many stops, and stops at red lights makes it ineligible to be considered rapid transit. This slow service may be great for local transit feeding the subway system, but it is not what is needed on Eglinton and Sheppard – 2 east-west routes that the city needs to form the rapid transit backbone in Toronto. This small increase in benefit over regular busses is not worth the investment, and we should be investing in real rapid transit.
See St. Clair and Spadina LRTs, for example, they are good routes for local transport, but they cannot serve as the regional crosstown connector that we need Eglinton and Sheppard to be in order to get people off the roads and into transit.
If the Transit City Eglinton and Sheppard East LRTs are built, riders will be forced to continue using the transfer at Kennedy - something that an all-underground Eglinton line would eliminate - adding to commute times. It would also force riders to transfer at Don Mills to connect to the LRT to go further east, something that the subway extension would not have. Also, by not prioritizing the Sheppard West subway connection, Transit City ensures the transfer at Sheppard-Yonge remains for the riders who want to go further west. Overall, the Transit City LRT plan adds unnecessary transfers as it leaves the two rapid transit line stubbed.
Problems with Being on the Road
Surface LRT will add to road congestion by taking away space from road lanes and by limiting turns. Being in the middle of the road, it causes more pedestrians to have to cross these wide arterials. Also, transit service would be affected if there were any accidents on the road and in the intersections. The lack of real rapid transit will cause less people to dump their cars for transit and will not help with congestion.
Short Term Thinking, Quantity over Quality
Surface LRT is a short term solution to a long term congestion problem. It uses a local surface transit solution forced onto these 2 important east-west regional routes. While we can build more of it, it is not good value for money as it is only a marginal improvement from busses/BRT and will need to be replaced later as ridership exceeds capacity and as people desire faster transit. Surface LRT does not work as well in winters as subways do, and require track replacements that often clogs roads and holds back service. It is not the solution the city needs, and it is not real rapid transit.