Friday, March 16, 2007

Welcome To Transit City

"The Toronto Transit City plan is a bold vision for public transit. It will allow us to tackle climate change and reduce congestion, while improving service in all parts of the city." - Mayor David Miller

The mayor took the words right out of my mouth. This vision is bold and achieves many of the priorities the TTC has set out, builds many of the routes I've proposed in my GTTA plan, and brings transit to all corners of the city while allowing for extensions into the 905. There is literally something for everyone in this plan.

Lets go into detail:

The Don Mills corridor runs from Steeles to Bloor, via Don Mills Road and the Don Valley. The estimated annual ridership would be 21.2 million in 2021, and the line would cost $675 million for 18 km of surface LRT.

Since this line is pretty close to my GTTA proposal, I'm very excited. Its been a priority for some time, and with the line already in the EA process, its likely to be one of the first ones built. I recommend extending the line north into the Beaver Creek business area in Markham, to at least Highway 7. There's a huge number of workers in that area and condos under development, and it would connect to VIVA. I also recommend an extension southwards, paralleling the Don Valley. It could then swing west to Union Station via the railway corridor or via the Waterfront.

The Eglinton Crosstown Corridor runs from Kennedy Station to Pearson Airport, along Eglinton Avenue. The estimated annual ridership would be 53 million in 2021, and the cost will be $2.2 billion for 31 km of surface LRT with an underground section between Laird and Keele.

Another line which I proposed, this corridor is necessary as a crosstown alternative to the subway. It cuts through the some of the most dense areas outside of downtown, and provides the key rapid transit connection to the airport. Connections with the Mississauga busway will be sufficient for now, but the ultimate plan should be to incorporate the busway into an LRT branch. Out on the east end, this line should be merged with the proposed Scarborough Malvern corridor.

The Etobicoke-Finch West Corridor runs from Finch Station to Humber College, along Finch Avenue. The estimated annual ridership would be 25 million in 2021, and would cost $835 million for 18 km of surface LRT.

The line that surprised me the most, as every other proposal to date was to use the hydro corridor to get to Eglinton and Martin Grove from Finch and Weston. This will probably serve more people and will definitely provide a connection to Humber College. Extensions into Mississagua are possible, or into the far east end of Brampton.

The Jane Corridor runs from Steeles to Bloor, along Jane Street. The estimated annual ridership in 2021 is 25 million, and the cost is $630 million for 17 km of surface LRT.

There's definitely a need for rapid transit on Jane. Its one of the most frequent routes, and normally ends up bunching up. Possible extensions should take the line down the Humber River and into Union Station either by the Waterfront or by the railway corridor. There's also a connection to an extended St. Clair streetcar.

The Scarborough Malvern Corridor runs from Kennedy Station to Malvern along Eglinton, Kingston and Morningside. The estimated annual ridership in 2021 is 14 million, and the cost is $630 million for 15 km of surface LRT.

The line completes my GTA Line proposal, so I believe it and the Eglinton Crosstown Corridor should be one and the same. It will provide service to West Hill and to the University of Toronto, and provides a back-route into Malvern. Possible extensions go into Durham Region, or if not, by the Sheppard East corridor.

The Sheppard East Corridor runs from Don Mills to Malvern along Sheppard. The estimated annual ridership in 2021 would be 17 million, and the cost is $555 million for 14 km of surface LRT (which a short underground section at Don Mills).

I think I have a real problem with this line. If constructed, the cost of extending the subway goes up because of the financial hit we'll take demolishing the LRT. Essentially, it means that the Sheppard Subway dies. I do like the possible extensions into Durham Region, but I can't get over the fact that it will economically preclude subway construction. If this line is built as BRT (cheaper to build, cheaper to demolish), or if the existing subway tunnels are converted to LRT standards (to offer through service to Yonge), then it will have my full support.

The Waterfront West Corridor runs from Exhibition Loop to Roncesvalles & Queen, offering through service from Lake Shore and the Queensway to Union Station via the waterfront. Estimated annual ridership in 2021 would be 21 million, and the cost would be $540 million for 11 km of surface LRT.

In lieu of improving service on the 501 Queen, this is the next best thing to bring more people in from South Etobicoke. I'd like to see it connect with a southern extension of the Jane Corridor, and see connections with the Waterfront East corridor and the Don Mills Corridor.

As for the other plans on the books, there's:
  • The Harbourfront / Waterfont East LRT - To serve the eastern waterfront, and possibly to bring the Don Mills Corridor into Union Station.
  • The North Yonge busway -Speeding up buses on Yonge between Steeles and Finch.
  • The Spadina Subway Extension - To bring the subway into Vaughan.
  • The St. Clair Streetcar - To be completed and extended to at least Jane.
  • The Scarborough RT - To be extended to at least Sheppard.
  • The Kingston Road streetcars - To be extended to Eglinton.
All of these projects are in various stages of the planning process, but are integral parts of the whole transit picture. They should not be forgotten.

And so ends the post I had begun at 4:00 this afternoon. Transit city has been revealed, and aside from answering the funding questions, we he have a good plan to move forward with. If we make the commitments and stick to them, this plan stands a chance to bring about real change for a real city.

The button logos are from the City of Toronto.

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