Broadways Subway – A Boondoggle In The Making

Subways are very expensive items and only built when there is no other alternative available.

SkyTrain ICTS/ALRT/ART, was supposed to mitigate the high cost of subway construction, but it didn’t as it proved to almost as expensive as a heavy-rail metro to build, with the capacity of modern light-rail.

The result: No one builds with SkyTrain anymore, in fact nobody ever really built with it except for Vancouver and six other cities.

Toronto is getting a “real time” education on the pitfalls of subway construction and Metro Vancouver politicians should take heed, subway construction is a Pandora’s box of financial troubles waiting to happen.

As always, in the real world, transit is built to economically deal with traffic flows on a transit route; ) to 5,000 pphpd – bus from mini bus to express bus; 2,000 to 20,000 pphpd – LRT/tram, from simple streetcar to modern light rail; 15,000+ heavy rail metro (subway). Light metro has been relegated as a niche transit mode not as a urban transit mode.

Traffic flows on Broadway are less than 5,000 pphpd, barely justifying modern LRT and certainly not a subway.

Those supporting a Broadway subway are supporting a financial boondoggle.

Please share with your local politicians and the mainstream media. Toronto’s reporters are doing their work it seems, certainly not Vancouver’s!

The cost of the Spadina subway is now in excess of $400 million/km.

Chris Selley: Spadina subway extension a classic Toronto transitAi??screwup

National Post, Chris Selley | January 16, 2016
TTC CEO Andy Byford: ai???The good news is, the TYYSE is 80-per-cent complete. The track is virtually all in, the tunnels were completed back in 2013, the six stations are well advanced,ai???

Tyler Anderson/National PostTTC CEO Andy Byford: ai???The good news is, the TYYSE is 80-per-cent complete. The track is virtually all in, the tunnels were completed back in 2013, the six stations are well advanced,ai???

ai???Look over there!ai??? TTC CEO Andy Byford pointed and shouted to reporters aboard a chartered city bus early Friday afternoon. He was jokingly averting our eyes from a disabled TTC bus being towed away. But it was basically what he had been doing in earnest all morning, as he and site manager Peter Boyce toured us around York University station, midway point on the late and over-budget six-stop Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension (TYYSE).

What we saw was a loud, muddy, freezing-cold construction site, but one in which an objectively impressive subway station ai??i?? if you like that sort of thing ai??i?? is taking shape. It has a nifty wavy roof. It has a grand entrance through which natural light will filter down to the platform. Passengers will ostensibly look up and marvel at the ai???waffle slabai??? concrete roof.

All very nice, but we were there because of bad news. As we bussed northward, the project officially got considerably more expensive: A staff report anticipates up to $400-million extra will be needed to settle what Byford says are routine disputes with contractors ai??i?? 60 per cent to be borne by the city and 40 per cent by York Region. That brings the total price to around $3.2 billion for a subway line scheduled to open by the end of 2017 ai??i?? a significant departure from an original budget of $2.6 billion and an original deadline of 2015.

For the complete article……………


4 Responses to “Broadways Subway – A Boondoggle In The Making”
  1. Haveacow says:

    I have a general question how much in simple terms, is the Broadway Line to Arbutus expected to cost and how long is the line? Its around 6.5 km long as I remembered, am I correct? The cost that was thrown around was $2.1 Billion estimated in 2010, am I correct? Has it gone up, I’m sure it has, my estimate just to cover the recent increases in the price of concrete, it should be around $ 2.3 Billion just for that alone. Can someone give me correct up to date information please and thank you! I will tell you why later.


    Zwei replies: The Arbutus subway has a chequered history.

    When the provincial NDP made the switcheroo from LRT to SkyTrain in the late 1990’s, to entice the GVRD and GVRD top honcho Vancouver Councilor George Puil to buy into and help fund what we now call the Millennium Line, they promised to give the region control over transit planning and operation, with the entity we now call TransLink, as a further entice ment to “King George” as he was commonly known at the time, the NDP promised to pay two thirds of SkyTrain only construction, West of Commercial Drive (Broadway Station). At the time, the cost of a subway was put at $150 million/km, while LRT was then supposed to cost $50 million/km., so in Puil’s, the CoV and TransLink’s mind, with the NDP deal, a subway would cost the region about the same as LRT!

    The plan was to first build it to Arbutus and then to UBC.

    Enter the Liberals and goodbye the NDP promise.

    The Liberals wanted their own “vanity project” and thus came the Canada line. Using the same costing formula from TransLink and the CoV, the Canada Line should have cost about $1.3 billion.

    Ha, ha, ha!

    As the Canada Line progressed, the costs escalated to a point between $2.4 billion to $2.7 billion! The Susan Heyes legal team had documents showing that the real cost of the Canada Line was in excess of $2.7 billion, but the P-7 aspect of the project prevents an accurate accounting.

    Back to the Broadway subway, the cost for the 6km to 7 km line was estimated a decade ago at about $2 billion, but correspondence with an engineering firm two years ago, put a rough cost of between $2 to $3 billion depending on the engineering required and the cost of land acquisition. A Canada Line style subway with 40m to 50m station platforms – $2 billion; a subway for the future with 120m long station platforms, multi lifts or elevators, etc. $3 billion.

    So Zwei is accurate in calling the Arbutus subway a $3 billion project, for if a subway is to be built, it must be built for the future.

    The problem we face is local politicians just do not understand the cost of this project and think subways are both economic (cheap) and instant fixes to transit problems. My advice from overseas is that subways tend to become money pits, pauperizing the operating authority, unless there is the mass of ridership (15,000+) to justify construction.

  2. eric chris says:

    Vancouver with 25% of the population in Metro Vancouver and 1.7% of the population in Canada can’t hoard more than 1.7% of the $20 billion pledged by the Liberal Party of Canada for public transit. All cities in Canada are entitled to equal funding. Funding to Vancouver from the Government of Canada can’t exceed $340 million (1.7% of the $20 billion in funding for all cities in Canada) which can’t finance the cost of its subway estimated to cost $5 billion to reach UBC. Far too high are the expectations of TransLink for the funding of the subway in Vancouver.
    After failing to dupe taxpayers in Metro Vancouver for more funding, TransLink is scheming to deceive taxpayers in the rest of Canada to gets its funding which it neither deserves nor needs. Rather, TransLink can shed redundant staff costing about $100 million annually.

    TransLink is $3.6 billion in debt and seeks to obtain billions of dollars in funding which it can then use to pay down its debt. This is the plausible and likely motive for TransLink attempting to trick and swindle the Government of Canada for billions of dollars in funding for its subway, ostensibly to reduce air pollution from the growing number of zero emissions electric vehicles on the roads and to fight climate change with the many carbon emitting diesel buses required for the subway.

    “TransLink has one of the highest debt and interest burdens among similar rated global peers… TransLink’s net debt in the 2014 calendar year was $3.58 billion – its interest payments make up 12.4% of revenues.”

    Even NYC has started to question the wisdom of subways. I’d say $100 million is a bargain for 5,000 pph with a gondola along Broadway from Commercial Drive to Cambie Street to debottleneck traffic, but like I said, the subway is about getting billions of dollars to keep the crooks at TransLink out of jail and not about transit.

  3. Haveacow says:

    The reason I asked for the info was this.

    The Spadina Subway Extension to the City of Vaughn, in York Region.

    1. The project is late by almost 2 years, due to the fact that there was an accident which killed a construction worker at a key building site. The Ontario Workers Safety and Compensation Board halted all construction at the accident site until their investigation was complete. The investigation took almost a year!

    2. The project is the last Ontario rapid transit project that was not under the new rules which force contractors and subcontractors to pay all the construction bills until their section of the work is satisfactory and complete. Its amazing to see how much fewer construction problems and delays there are when contractors are using their own money and they must wait until the end of their participation in the project, to be paid by the government.

    3. The project includes not just the line itself but more upgrades to the TTC’s Transit Control, the Wilson Subway Yard as well as upgrades to the existing right of way between Wilson and Downsview Station (Downsview is currently the end of the line).

    4. The scope of the project changed 3 times. The start date of the planning for the project was around 2002 with construction set to start around 2005 or 2006. Due to the change in scope and funding delays construction didn’t start until 2011. I dare you to keep a capital budget straight, construction sites problem free and on target in that kind of project process and political climate.

    5. This line will join 2 major University Campuses, one with 55,000 students and another with 70,000 students. York University has several major community sport facilities all built before 1990. All were majorly upgraded for the Pan AM Games. The line also is directly connected to downtown Toronto and the busiest multimode transportation hub in Canada, Union Station (GO Trains, VIA Rail, Amtrack, UP Express and the new and improved GO Bus Terminal). The Line has connections to the Spadina and Harborfront LRT Lines as well as the new connections to the massive Eglinton LRT Line (opens 2020) and the Finch West LRT Line (construction starts in 3 months and ends in 2021).

    6. The Project includes the Y-U-S Line’s (Yonge-University-Spadina or Line #1) part of the new signaling system, replacing the current 60 year old system. The line currently has a peak frequency one train every 145-150 seconds. This frequency will reduce to a range of one train every 112 -120 seconds.

    Project Length:8.6 km
    Total Capital Cost: Now, $3.2 Billion
    Incremental Capital Cost: $373 Million per KM
    Practical Capacity; at Peak : currently 30000-32000 p/h/d, 36000-38000 p/h/d when first phase of new signaling system is activated.
    Type of service Technology: Full scale Subway/Metro Line

    The Broadway Extension of the Skytrain Millennium Line in the City of Vancouver

    It has many area transport destination connections as does the Spadina Subway line but they are fewer compared to the Spadina Line and it is 6.5-7.5 km short of its real goal which is the main campus of UBC. The length of the current project from VCC Clark Station to Arbutus via Broadway is 6.4-6.5 km. Translink has yet to find a way to pay for its 1/3 share of the project. The province of BC hasn’t officially put in money yet either but is hoped will put in its share when the Feds do. The Trudeau Government has said it plans to fund both the Broadway extension and the Surrey LRT system through an expanded infrastructure program. The current cost was originally based on a 2010 estimate of $2.1 Billion for the shorter version of the $3 Billion Line to UBC. Due to known increases in the cost of engineering and building material (concrete) involved in the project since 2010, a cost range of $2.2-$2.5 Billion should be expected. There is no plan to improve the service frequency of the Skytrain service within the time frame of the expected building phase but is planned for sometime after that. The current frequency on the combined section of the Skytrain service is 109 seconds.

    Project Length:6.4-6.5 km
    Total Capital Cost: Now, $2.1-2.5 Billion
    Incremental Capital Cost: $323-$390 Million per KM
    Practical Capacity; at Peak : currently 12800-14000 p/h/d, improved capacity is unknown due to lack of funding for capacity increase and known Transport Canada service limits
    Type of service Technology: Light Metro Line

    Conclusion: Regardless of the potential ridership of either extension, the Broadway Skytrain Millennium Line Extension will have per km capital cost only 15% less to 5% more than a late, over budget, physically longer, full scale Subway/Metro Line in Toronto. This Skytrain extension will for the foreseeable future, also have less than half the practical peak passenger carrying capacity of the Spadina Subway Line extension. I leave it to you to the good people to make a choice, its up to you.

  4. Haveacow says:

    A friend just told me the planned extension to Montreal’s Metro Blue Line of 6km from St. Michel to Anjou is a relatively cheap $250-$300 per km and yes, its a full scale Metro Line as well.

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