(For a larger version of the Transit City map, click HERE)
I've been meaning to write about the Toronto Transit City plan for quite some time.
For whatever the reason, I have a sizable fetish for public transportation. I love the idea of paying less than three bucks and being able to travel anywhere in the city without having to worry about traffic, gas prices, parking, or cutting myself off after two drinks because I need to drive home. And maybe it's because I don't rely on public transportation to get to-and-from work every day, but I always find myself engulfed in warm, fuzzy feelings every time I'm riding the streetcar or the subway - it's the feeling of knowing you're doing the right thing.
But with that being said, the Toronto Transit system, as it is currently constituted, is not without considerable shortcomings. It is ridiculous that you can't take the subway to-and-from the airport (in Cleveland... yes, Cleveland... you can take an LRT train from the airport to Jacob's Field for $2). It's a joke that the subway stops running before the bars close (the vomit comet, though highly entertaining, is hardly sufficient for the fifth most populous city in North America). Every streetcar line should be dedicated (yes, even along the Dundas line), and if people don't like the traffic problems that creates, that's just perfect because they shouldn't be driving in the city anyway. It's obvious that the City of Toronto and the TTC clearly have a long, long way to go.
But this Transit City plan goes a long way in addressing many of those issues. The dedicated St. Clair streetcar line is almost complete, and the increase in property value along Corso Italia is already apparent. You can expect the same kind of escalating property values along the rest of these proposed routes.
Here's a rundown of the newly proposed Light Rail Transit lines (for a crash course on LRT, click HERE), courtesy of The City of Toronto website:
(Each of the corridors contained in the Plan is described briefly here, together with the benefits and costs associated with each. The costs are approximate, and include the cost of light rail vehicles and the savings attributable to the smaller bus fleet that would be required. Costs have not been included in this report for light-rail vehicle maintenance facilities which would be required to support new light-rail lines.)
Don Mills Corridor
This 18-kilometre long corridor would stretch along the Don Mills Road corridor from Steeles Avenue to the Don Valley, and then south to a connection with the Bloor-Danforth Subway. The corridor would provide fast and frequent north-south service over a busy transit corridor east of the Yonge Subway and west of the Scarborough RT. Light rail service would connect with the Sheppard Subway and the Sheppard East light rail corridor at Don Mills Station. A northerly extension could be built to provide direct service into York Region. Direct connections would be made to the Eglinton Crosstown light rail line, and through operation between the Don Mills and Eglinton Crosstown lines would be possible, potentially providing more transfer-free journeys for transit customers.
Light rail service would operate in the surface on dedicated rights-of-way. Estimated annual ridership in 2021 would be 21.2 million customer-trips. Order-of-magnitude cost of the corridor would be pproximately $675 million.
Eglinton Crosstown Corridor
This 31-kilometre long corridor would link Kennedy Station in the east with Pearson Airport and the Mississauga Transitway in the west, via a new light rail service that would stretch across Toronto. The corridor would provide a fast and frequent east-west service through the central part of Toronto, as well as important regional connections. The corridor would connect with the existing Bloor-Danforth, Yonge, Scarborough RT and Spadina subways, and with the proposed new Scarborough Malvern, Don Mills, and Jane light rail corridors. In addition to connections to Mississauga in the west, the Eglinton Crosstown corridor could eventually connect with Durham Region in the east, via the Scarborough Malvern and Sheppard East light rail corridors.
Light rail service would operate on the surface in a dedicated right-of-way from Kennedy Station to approximately Laird Drive, then underground to Keele Street, and then again on the surface in a dedicated right of way to Mississauga and Pearson Airport. Estimated annual ridership in 2021 would be 53 million customer-trips. Order-of-magnitude cost of the corridor would be approximately $2.2 billion.
Eglinton Crosstown Corridor - Open House
Etobicoke-Finch West Corridor
This 18-kilometre long corridor would link Finch Station with northern Etobicoke. The light rail line would run west from Finch Station on the Yonge Subway along Finch Avenue. The line would end at or near Highway 27, Humber College, and the Humberwood community. The light rail service would replace a busy existing bus route, and would provide fast and frequent east-west service through the northern part of North York and Etobicoke. In addition to Finch Station on the Yonge Subway, the line would connect with Finch West Station on the Spadina Subway extension, and with the Jane light rail corridor. In the future, the Etobicoke-Finch West corridor could be extended farther west to Mississauga, or south to the Woodbine racetrack or Pearson Airport areas to provide important regional connections.
Light rail service would operate entirely in a dedicated surface right-of-way. Estimated annual ridership in 2021 would be 25 million customer-trips. Order-of-magnitude cost of the corridor would be approximately $835 million.
This 17-kilometre long corridor would stretch along Jane Street from Steeles West Station on the padina Subway to the Bloor-Danforth Subway. The corridor would provide fast and frequent north-south service in the western part of Toronto along a very busy transit corridor. A northerly extension could be built to provide direct service into York Region. A short east-west segment would connect to the St Clair streetcar line at Keele Street. Direct connections would be made to Steeles West Station on the Spadina Subway, the Etobicoke-Finch West light rail line, the Eglinton Crosstown light rail line, the St Clair streetcar line, and the Bloor-Danforth Subway.
Light rail service would operate entirely on the surface in a dedicated right-of-way. Estimated annual ridership in 2021 would be 24 million customer-trips. Order-of-magnitude cost of the corridor would be approximately $630 million.
Scarborough Malvern Corridor
This 15-kilometre long corridor would link Kennedy Station with northern Scarborough, Malvern, and the Morningside Heights community. The light rail service would run east from Kennedy Station on Eglinton Avenue, northeast on Kingston Road, and then north on Morningside Drive to the Malvern and Morningside Heights communities. The line would provide new high-quality light rail service along several busy existing transit routes, and would provide direct service to the University of Toronto at Scarborough and Centennial College’s Ellesmere Campus. The Scarborough Malvern light rail line would connect with the Sheppard East light rail line at Morningside Drive and Sheppard Avenue, and light rail service could potentially be through-routed west or east on the Sheppard East corridor, increasing convenience for transit customers.
Light rail service would operate entirely on the surface in a dedicated right-of-way. Estimated annual ridership in 2021 would be 14 million customer-trips. Order-of-magnitude cost of the corridor would be approximately $630 million.
City of Toronto - Transit City Projects
Sheppard East Corridor
Sheppard East Corridor
This 14-kilometre long corridor would extend rapid transit service east from Don Mills Station to northern Scarborough, Malvern, and, potentially, Durham Region. The light rail line would run east from Don Mills Station on the Sheppard Subway along Sheppard Avenue, replacing two busy existing bus routes, and providing fast and frequent east-west service through the northern part of Scarborough, with potential future regional connections. A key requirement of the selected route is the planned extension of the Scarborough RT to a new terminal at Sheppard Avenue in the Malvern community, which would provide important connections from Sheppard Avenue to Scarborough Centre and to the Bloor-Danforth Subway. At its eastern end, the Sheppard East corridor would connect with the Scarborough Malvern light rail corridor. A direct connection would be possible with GO Transit’s Stouffville line. The Sheppard East corridor could eventually be extended farther east to Durham Region, and light rail service on the Sheppard East Corridor could be through-routed over the Scarborough Malvern Corridor to provide further transit connections.
Light rail service would operate from the underground transfer terminal at Don Mills Station, rising to the surface to operate the rest of the way in a dedicated right-of-way. Estimated annual ridership in 2021 would be 17 million customer-trips. Order-of-magnitude cost of the corridor would be approximately $555 million.
Waterfront West Corridor
This 11-kilometre long corridor would link Union Station and Exhibition Place with Parkdale, High Park, and southern Etobicoke. The new light rail line would start from the existing Exhibition streetcar loop, and run west along the Gardiner Expressway/Lakeshore GO Train corridor to the existing Queensway and Lake Shore streetcar tracks, which would be upgraded where necessary to a dedicated surface right-of-way. The light rail service would provide fast and frequent east-west service from southern Etobicoke to Union Station along the waterfront. Eventual extensions could be made west into Mississauga and east from Union Station into the eastern waterfront.
Light rail service would operate entirely in a dedicated surface right-of-way. Estimated annual ridership in 2021 would be 21 million customer-trips. Order-of-magnitude cost of the corridor would be approximately $540 million.
Some rudimentary calculations by a guy who dropped out of math in the 11th grade show that the cost of these 7 projects would run somewhere in the neighbourhood of $6.065 billion... By no means chump change, but in my estimation, a small price to pay to bring this great city up to the standards of other world class cities (have you seen Moscow's Metro map? Wasn't that supposed to be a communist city until 1991? How the hell do they have a transportation systme like that?).
So how do you raise $6 and a half billion dollars? Push that GST back up a point and earmark that money for infrastructure renewal. Charge tolls to people who drive in the downtown core the way they do in London. Take the absurd $1.50 "service fee" that I'm charged when paying my parking tickets online (isn't the whole point of an internet-based payment option to eliminate the need for "service"?), and use that money to invest in an adequate transportation system so I won't have to drive, park, and subsequently receive the three parking tickets a month that I currently do...
Finding the money... to me, that's the easy part. It's spending it the right way that's the challenge. Let's hope that somebody out there can manage to get it done. Because I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to the day, in the not-too-distant future, where I'll be able to return home from abroad, grab my gear from the baggage claim at Pearson International, and ride the subway back to my home in the greatest city in the world.