Subway or LRT? The Debate In Toronto That We Are Not Allowed In Vancouver

This article is a must read for those in Vancouver who want to debate the proposed Broadway SkyTrain subway.

Three items that need attention:

  1. As Toronto does not operate with LRT, their capacity numbers for LRT are inaccurate. Since the 1980′s the capacity of a modern LRT line can be in excess of 20,000 pphpd.
  2. The article restates that the minimum threshold for a subway are traffic flows in excess of 15,000 pphpd.
  3. “RT is just a short form of “light rail transit.” It is technology widely used in European and North American cities and in its own right-of-way can run just as fast as a subway.” As Zwei has stated over and over again, LRT when it operates on a reserved R-o-W (which makes a simple tram LRT) is as fast as a subway, at a cheaper cost.

The proposed ALRT/ART SkyTrain Broadway subway does not and will not have the ridership to justify its construction, which will means precious transit monies that were to be spent elsewhere, instead will be spent to subsidize the Broadway subway.

The subway debate in Vancouver should be about costs and funding and not how many high rises the ‘condo kings’ can build at station sites.

Subway, LRT, SRT? What we know about transit in Scarborough

As council looks to finalize an alignment for a one-stop subway extension, it has left some residents questioning if they’ll be left on the bus.

By JENNIFER PAGLIAROCity Hall reporter
Wed., March 15, 2017

 

The debate over the future of transit in Scarborough returns to city hall with a council meeting that begins March 28. As city staff look for direction to continue studying a subway plan — one that Mayor John Tory says will bring needed growth to the urban centre — rising costs have raised questions about whether Scarborough is getting the most transit with the money available. With $3.56 billion in funding committed, a town hall Monday night left some residents with lingering questions about the plan on the table and whether they’ll be left on the bus. We break down the options and answer some of the major questions.

So, how many new transit stops will Scarborough be getting?

With the current funding, Scarborough will be going from five SRT stops (in addition to Kennedy) to just one subway stop at the Scarborough Town Centre. If more funding can be secured, council is looking to build an 18-stop LRT along Eglinton Ave. East. There are no additional funding commitments for that line right now. A request has been made to the federal government.

Who’s paying for the subway extension?

The province committed $1.48 billion (in 2010 dollars, with the province responsible for inflationary costs), originally pledged to the seven-stop LRT, the federal government committed $660 million, and the city will contribute $910 million for a total $3.56 billion. Of the city contribution, the majority is being raised through a special property tax from all Toronto residents that began in 2014 and will continue for the next 30 years. If instead of a subway, the seven-stop LRT was to be built with provincial money, the federal and city contributions that have been committed to Scarborough transit would almost cover the cost of the 18-stop Eglinton East LRT.

How many people will ride the subway extension?

Ridership during the rush hour in the busiest direction is expected to be 7,400 an hour in 2031 — well below the accepted minimum threshold for a subway of 15,000 people and the maximum capacity of 36,000 people. The capacity of an LRT is 2,000 to 15,000 an hour depending on the configuration. The daily ridership of the planned subway extension is expected to be 30,800 in 2031 — less than the SRT’s current daily ridership of nearly 39,000.

Will I get where I’m going faster?

City staff confirmed with the Star this week that replacing the SRT with the proposed subway extension “would save customers approximately eight minutes for travel from Scarborough Centre Station to any station west of Kennedy.” But that doesn’t factor in the bus trips for individual users, who may spend more time on a bus getting to a rapid transit station with the one-stop plan. It also doesn’t consider the time that could be saved compared to the LRT plan.

What is an LRT?

LRT is just a short form of “light rail transit.” It is technology widely used in European and North American cities and in its own right-of-way can run just as fast as a subway. Though the Scarborough LRT has been compared to the existing streetcar network, the LRT had more in common with the Eglinton Crosstown line under construction now, using longer, higher capacity, low-floor vehicles. It would have run in the SRT corridor and never interacted with traffic. An improved transfer with a single flight of stairs was originally planned at Kennedy Station. With changes to the redesign of that station, the connection could be made by simply crossing the platform on the same level, which staff has not studied.

Will there be new stations at Centennial College or the University of Toronto’s Scarborough campus?

There will be no station at Centennial. The seven-stop LRT gave the college its own station, before that plan was scrapped.

There is a station planned at UTSC on the 18-stop Eglinton East LRT, but that line is currently unfunded.

Will there be a stop at The Scarborough Hospital?

No. Former mayor Rob Ford’s three-stop subway plan proposed a stop at McCowan Rd. and Lawrence Ave., but that stop has been eliminated in the revised subway plan.

Hasn’t council already voted to build a subway?

Since May 2013, there have been at least seven key votes on Scarborough transit. But the subway project is not a done deal with funding agreements yet to be signed, design yet to be advanced and construction contracts yet to be tendered. Though subway proponents have tried to blame a delay on advocates for the LRT alternative, the delay has been exclusively related to staff reports not being ready on time, additional review of subway options recommended by staff and regular processes involved with billion-dollar infrastructure projects. Staff are recommending they return to council again in “late 2018” with a more concrete cost estimate after more design work.

When is the subway extension expected to be finished?

City staff estimated construction would take approximately six years and that the earliest it could be done is the second quarter of 2026.

And just in, the following article should put to rest the notion that all transit investment is good investment. Sometimes after billions are spent to suit politcal wishes and not customer wishes, the customer stops taking transit and takes the car instead!

Metrolinx study finds Tory’s Smart Track could spur auto commuting

OLIVER MOORE

The Globe and Mail

Published  Thursday, Mar. 16, 2017 4:10PM EDT

Last updated  Thursday, Mar. 16, 2017 8:20PM EDT

 

Parts of Mayor John Tory’s Smart Track plan will slow down transit enough to push a large number of users to drive instead, initial business cases for the regional transit agency Metrolinx has found.

The long-delayed reports undermine the argument for the three transit stations proposed for outside the city core and raise new questions about a plan that has been heavily revised since it helped win Mr. Tory the mayoralty.

The consultant reports show that stations proposed on the GO lines at St. Clair, Lawrence East and Finch East would make the trains less attractive to current users. This would push down net GO ridership over the next 60 years, resulting in more than a billion kilometres of additional driving over the same period. None of these stations – which have an estimated total construction cost of $162.6-million – would attract enough passengers to cover even day-to-day operating costs, the reports conclude.

The mayor’s office did not respond specifically to questions about whether these stations were good transit policy or at odds with his goal of reducing congestion.

“Metrolinx and City Council have voted to move ahead with Smart Track. It is an investment … that will provide much-needed transit for residents,” mayoral spokesman Don Peat said in an e-mail.

“City staff have also made it clear that the Smart Track stations in Scarborough along with the subway extension and the Eglinton East LRT form a network that help address local transit and long-distance travel needs in that area.”

The other three proposed stations for GO lines within the city – at Liberty Village, Unilever and Gerrard – do much better in the Metrolinx analysis. Liberty Village appears to perform best on paper, attracting about 5,000 daily users by 2031 and preventing about 600-million kilometres of driving over the next 60 years.

The stark difference between the stations that emerged in the analyses could lead to questions at council about the wisdom of proceeding with all six.

“It’s almost like if you treat transit like a slogan instead of a network, it doesn’t work well,” said Councillor Gord Perks. “This is just further evidence that, for the last six years, transit planning has focused on glamour projects instead of an effective network.”

A spokeswoman for Metrolinx stressed that the analyses released Thursday were “just one metric” for assessing the projects, and that work would continue. “In every initial business case, emphasis is placed on both a project’s benefits and obstacles so those obstacles can be addressed as the project is refined and designed,” Anne Marie Aikins said in a statement. “All stations are moving forward to the next stage of our work.”

A potential caveat about the findings is that the analysis was done assuming the current GO fare.

“TTC fare at the new station may increase the ridership (boardings and alightings) at the station; however, the net impact to new revenue may be negative and requires further study,” reads the report dedicated to Lawrence East station.

Mr. Tory promised that people would be able to use Smart Track for a TTC fare, something the province has not agreed to. Metrolinx is currently pushing toward some form of fare integration, meaning that it is unclear what the cost to ride any transit in the city may be by the time any of these stations were to be built.

Smart Track was proposed by Mr. Tory during his election campaign. He pitched it as a 22-stop transit service running largely on existing GO rail tracks, taking advantage of provincial plans to electrify these lines and move to more frequent service. The plan has been whittled down repeatedly.

Plans for a heavy rail extension along or under Eglinton were jettisoned in favour of a light rail line on the surface. The number of stations on the GO corridors has shrunk. And the frequency of trains will be what the province decides to put on for its regional express rail plans, with no additional service because of Smart Track.

Comments

2 Responses to “Subway or LRT? The Debate In Toronto That We Are Not Allowed In Vancouver”
  1. eric chris says:

    First my little “free speech” rant: TransLink is a ship of fools who expect “Joe” taxpayer to bail them out whenever they don’t think things through. They’re incompetent.

    They have a $4 billion deficit and arguably the biggest operating budget for public transit in Canada (bigger operating budget than Toronto’s TTC moving twice the number of passengers of TransLink) because they are stupid and corrupt. They can forget about drivers being their patsies to pay road taxes for them to keep it up as fools. They’re going to have to pack their bags and the get the heck out of Dodge after they are indicted for fraud over their exaggerated capacity claims which they used for s-train in an attempt to defraud the federal government funding s-train which can’t move 26.000 pphpd “one day”. Their days of collecting paychecks to spend their days with their heads up their rear ends are coming to an end.

    “Headway”
    Headway used for public transit is a misleading term. It is loosely used to both refer to the separation of buses and trains during transit (motion) and the frequency of service. For bus or train service with a frequency of service of every 15 minutes to one hour, the brief stop (seconds) to pick up or drop of passengers makes the headway essentially the same as the frequency of service. This not the case for s-train where the frequency of service is two to three minutes and the headway (separation between s-trains) is one to two minutes. For s-train, physics gets in the way of TransLink trying to use a razor thin frequency of service which determines the true capacity of s-train.

    http://www.railforthevalley.com/latest-news/zweisystem/a-useful-idiot/#comment-121570

    As Haveacow pointed out in his excellent post, TransLink can’t just turn up the juice (current) to run s-trains faster or make s-trains longer to increase capacity beyond 15,000 pphpd due to the prohibitive cost of basically tearing down to replace the current s-train lines and the legal restrictions on the headway imposed by Transport Canada. Here is his insightful post:

    http://www.railforthevalley.com/latest-news/zweisystem/why-translink-cant-be-honest/

    Making the speed of s-train or LRT faster is accomplished by cutting out stations (increasing the distance between stations) and is offset by the longer travel times to walk or bus it to the s-train or LRT station. Proved worldwide: the optimum spacing of stops for public transit is about 500 metres. TransLink violated this and is paying to bus people to its s-trains (stops spaced about every 1,000 metres to 2,000 metres apart) and has doubled the cost of public transit (all costs included) in Vancouver.

    While s-train (rail “rapid” transit) might be faster for the minority of the users of public transit, s-train service owing to the added transfers from buses is relatively slow compared to tram service for the vast majority of the users of public transit. Through the fake news publishers controlled by TransLink, TransLink has lied to say the opposite about the s-train service discouraging transit use.

    http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/new-tram-routes-proposed-for-adelaide/news-story/6baac6d954b1606ac03fc97be4a88284

    Similarly, while b-line (bus “rapid” transit) might be faster for the minority of the users of public transit, b-line service owing to the added transfers from buses is relatively slow compared to regular trolleybus service for the vast majority of the users of public transit. Through the fake news publishers controlled by TransLink, TransLink has lied to say the opposite about the b-line service discouraging transit use (to double transfers reported as misleading ridership).

    Doing away with the 99 B-Line “express diesel buses” in service every two to three minutes on Broadway and replacing them with articulated “electric” trolleybuses in service every two to three minutes speeds up the commute for almost everyone using public transit on Broadway. Annually, it eliminates millions of kilograms of carbon emissions from the 99 B-Line “diesel bus” service running totally underneath electric trolleybus lines and slowing down the commute for most transit users.

    https://www.facebook.com/Trolleybus-Hess-351372715222605/

    If it comes down to “upgrading” the crumbling infrastructure of s-train to ostensibly “increase capacity” at a few stations at a cost to taxpayers of tens of billions of dollars over the decades or running trams in parallel to the existing s-train lines for a few hundred million dollars: trams win and remove all the buses currently transporting people to s-train. Fixing public transit means getting rid of the crooks at TransLink and building tram lines.

    We have a better chance of a circular runway getting built for planes in Vancouver than the subway getting built for s-train in Vancouver. Next year, we have a municipal election; the subway loving Mayor of Vancouver will be replaced and the tram will be go ahead along Broadway. These are my long term predictions.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-39284294

  2. PATRICK M. CONDON says:

    The Star is clearly against this wild waste of money. Too bad we dont have a similar newspaper here.

    P

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