New LRT lines will head east
Transit City light rail network to boost service to east part of city
Jun 04, 2008 04:30 AM
Transit planners hear it from residents. They hear it from the Scarborough councillors on the Toronto Transit Commission. Their end of the city is underserved, especially when it comes to transit.
Now, TTC officials say Scarborough is setting the stage for the kind of integrated transit plan that will give suburbanites the efficient streetcar service usually associated with downtown.
Two of the first three planned Transit City streetcar (light rail) lines – Sheppard East and Eglinton-Crosstown, from Pearson airport to Kennedy station – will serve Scarborough directly.
Add to that the extension and renovation of the Scarborough Rapid Transit line, and the TTC is more than meeting the requests set out two years ago by Scarborough councillors, says Mitch Stambler, manager of service planning.
The trade-off is that extending the Sheppard subway line moves down on the priority list – a fact that Councillor Raymond Cho (Scarborough-Rouge River) believes to be short-sighted.
Rising gas prices and growing environmental concerns would prod more people out of their cars if they had the convenience of a subway.
"The city has to show leadership, not just (build) LRT because it's cheap," he said.
Cho has been pushing the TTC to extend the SRT north at least to Malvern Town Centre from Kennedy Station, which is set to become a unique transit hub.
"We're doing a fairly detailed design study of Kennedy station because of the lousy transfer that exists today between the SRT and the subway. We are committed to make that a far more passenger-friendly station," Stambler said.
"Kennedy becomes the Union Station of the east end, with the Bloor-Danforth line coming in. You have the Scarborough-Malvern line feeding (in) people, you have Eglinton feeding people in both directions. I don't think there's another station in the system that has four modes," said TTC chair Adam Giambrone. He predicts similar connectivity for North York and Etobicoke as Transit City moves to completion around 2021.
Plans for Scarborough also extend beyond Toronto with potential links to York and Durham regions.
Transit City light rail, including Sheppard Ave., will run on its own right-of-way, with a priority green at signals. That will make it swifter and more reliable than streetcar lines that run in mixed traffic.
Facts and figures on two planned routes
SHEPPARD EAST LRT
Original plan: LRT running 14 km down the middle of Sheppard from the Don Mills subway station to Morningside Ave. Requires a grade separation near the Agincourt GO station, about 320 metres between Reidmount and Lamont Aves.
Complication: LRT will connect to the subway at Don Mills station, but there's no decision yet whether the streetcar would dip into a tunnel below Highway 404, just past Consumers Rd., or whether it would make sense to extend the Sheppard subway out to the LRT, given that tunnelling would be needed anyway.
Cost: $555 million for construction and streetcars. That will rise somewhat because an underground section at the 404 was not factored into the original cost.
Potential extension: To the Toronto Zoo at Meadowvale Rd., 1.4 km north of Sheppard. There's the potential of shared parking with the zoo, said TTC chair Adam Giambrone. But it's not clear if that's a feasible park-and-ride solution.
"We don't know if people would park and ride on an LRT. It's a long way to go if you're coming downtown. Maybe you should get on GO. But these are all the things that are being looked at," Giambrone said.
Potential spur: LRT could loop down to Scarborough Town Centre.
"It's clear that ridership does not justify us ending the Sheppard LRT line at the Scarborough Centre. But it may justify one in three cars (going there)," said Giambrone.
Potential regional connection: Durham
How many riders: Early projections are for up to 1,700 riders per hour, per direction, by 2031, a volume similar to the King streetcar.
Where it's at: Environmental assessment goes before the planning and growth committee and city council in July. That would mean shovels in the ground next year, with service expected to begin about three years after that.
Why not a subway: Projected ridership doesn't justify the capacity and expense, according to TTC manager of service planning Mitch Stambler.
SCARBOROUGH RAPID TRANSIT
The plan: Run a refurbished SRT to Sheppard; study feasibility of extending it to Malvern Town Centre.
Proposed stations: At Markham and Centennial; Sheppard and Malvern; with others potentially between those areas.
Potential regional connection: York Region
How many riders: Preliminary forecast 10,000 riders per morning rush hour by 2031.
Where it's at: Scheduled for completion in 2014. Environmental assessment likely to go to city council in November.
Complication: Service disruption could last eight months, with buses substituted.
Cost: $1.2 billion, including extension to Malvern but not vehicles
Why not subway or at-grade LRT: Ridership isn't there. The 10,000 per hour predicted for 2031 falls short of ridership of 29,000 per hour now on the Yonge subway and 19,000 per hour in the peak on the University-Spadina subway.
Community "open houses" on both projects will be held 6:30-9 p.m. tonight at Malvern Community Centre Gym, 30 Sewells Rd.
There will be a second open house on the Scarborough RT tomorrow at 4:30-7 p.m., in the Scarborough Centre Station mezzanine at Scarborough Town Centre, 300 Borough Dr.
Sheppard East LRT Line
http://www.mikecolle.com/PDF/Eglinton Crosstown LRT backgrounder and survey - COLOUR.pdf
• New Rapid Transit Proposal on Eglinton Avenue from Kennedy Station to the Pearson International Airport •
• The Eglinton Crosstown corridor has been chosen for a major transit development
• The Toronto Area is one of the fastest growing regions in North America, and it is Canada’s most
congested urban area.
• Growing by approximately 100,000 people – and 50,000 cars – a year, the GTA’s traffic congestion
proble ms are only getting worse.
• Commuting in the GTA currently takes 32 per cent longer than it would in free-flowing conditions.
By 2031, it will take 40 per cent longer.
Congestion costs the GTA over $2 billion each year in lost time, fuel costs and untold tonnes of carbon dioxide are
released into our communities every day of the year, 24/7.