Monday, November 17, 2008

Another kick at the can

Disappointed that the deadline to comment on the draft regional transportation plan on the Metrolinx website has passed? Still have a lot to say but worried your comments will fall upon deaf ears? Feel like the train has already left the station?

I'm listening!

In November of 2008, Metrolinx appointed me to sit on their Regional Transportation Plan Citizens Advisory Committee - a group of 18 community leaders tasked with analyzing the public consultation process, engaging in dialogue with the public, and providing advice to the Metrolinx Board of Directors. For the past year I've been faithfully fulfilling my duty by closely following the conversations on Metronauts, Urban Toronto, the Canadian Public Transportation Discussion Board and dozens of other sites and blogs for interesting ideas and opinions to bring to the people who have the power to implement them. It has shaped the Regional Transportation Plan in many ways already, and there are still opportunities for that to continue as we move towards final approval and implementation.

If you have any ideas, comments or suggestions that haven't been brought to the attention of Metrolinx staff though open houses or on the Metrolinx site, post a comment on this post or send me an email at andrae (at) gttavisions (dot) com. The Metrolinx Regional Transportation Plan consultation efforts have set a new standard for how the public can be engaged in the planning process, and we can only hope that policy-makers at other agencies take note. But, in the mean time, here's one last kick at the can.

Get your comments in and help make the future of this place we all call home just a bit brighter!

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At 11/23/2008 6:21 p.m. , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Andrae,

I am answering your call for last ditch RTP comments / suggestions, and sending a number of comments.

Since most of these points have already been discussed on transit forums, I’ll refrain from typing full reasoning to limit the size of this post, which is quite long anyway.

1. Enhanced GO services

1.1. Heavy rail connection To Pearson airport should serve multiple stops along the route, rather than just the airport and Union station.

1.2. It is a surprise that Stouffville GO line did not make it into the list of Express services, even in the 25-year plan. That line could serve as a rapid downtown link for the north-eastern parts of Toronto, as well as contribute to relieving Yonge subway.

2. Eglinton

Eglinton route should be implemented as LRT, which will greatly improve speed, capacity, and reliability compared to the present-day mixed traffic bus service. Attempt to build a subway on such a long line would break the bank.

For improved speed, it would be useful to place some parts of Eglinton LRT off the road rather than in the middle of the street.

It would be useful to absorb the southern portion of “Scarborough – Malvern” LRT into Eglinton line, so that the latter runs up to Morningside Mall and Lawrence and Kingston Rd., connects to Lakeshore East GO line, and to several Scarborough N-S buses.

3. Routes in Scarborough

Scarborough routes is a weak area of the otherwise sound Metrolinx plan. Looking at that future Scarborough transit map, one sees a weird mesh of routes, many of them having dubious ridership potential. I believe that the following would be a more rational scheme:

3.1. Danforth subway extended to STC, thus most of Scarborough gets a short one-seat ride to subway. An LRT line runs from STC to Malvern.

3.2. Sheppard subway extended to Kennedy / Agincourt (transit hub with GO), and an LRT line runs from there east to Meadowvale. Many E-W trips in the north would then occur via Sheppard subway. In particular, buses serving eastern portions of Finch and Ellesmere would operate from the subway terminus.

3.3. Eglinton LRT extended to Kingston Rd and then to Morningside Mall, covering the stretches with good intensification potential. No need in LRT up Morningside north of Lawrence.

3.4. Future (likely beyond the 25-year plan) enhancements could include: LRT from STC up McCowan into Markham; LRT along Lawrence East; LRT from STC to UofT Scarborough and then along Hwy #2 into Durham; extension of Sheppard subway from Agincourt to STC.

4. Finch – Sheppard corridor

Finch West LRT line should be implemented as planned (Yonge to the airport).

The best way to improve connectivity would be to extend Sheppard subway west to Downsview, and east to Kennedy. That way, many E-W trips across the north of Toronto will use a combination of Sheppard and Spadina subways (say, N-S bus to Sheppard E – Sheppard subway to Downsview – Spadina subway – E-W bus in the west end).

In addition, the Yonge to Downsview link will provide fast connection between the two extended N-S subways, and allow trains to shortcut between the Wilson yard and Yonge line.

5. Downtown transit and Don Mills corridor

Failure to relieve busy downtown subway lines creates a “choking hazard” in the system. While Metrolinx has decided against including the Downtown Core line into the list of “quick-win” projects funded by the first lot (presumably the province’s 11.5 B), at least that line should be listed for the next lot, within the 15-year plan.

It makes sense to build the southern portion (tunneled anyway) of Don Mills route as an extension of DCL, thus alleviating the capacity concerns on the Eglinton LRT.

6. South Etobicoke and Waterfront

It looks like the planned WW LRT route will cost much more than the original estimate, and as such won’t be cost-effective. Perhaps this project needs to be revisited, and treated in conjunction with DCL.

In the short and medium term, some improvements to the South Etobicoke service can be made without building new track. It is possible to buy more streetcars, use them to split the 501 line in two separate routes (Long Branch – downtown and Neville – Park Lawn) for easier line management, and complement the streetcars with a peak-hour premium express bus service (like the one for the Beaches).

Meanwhile, the Union streetcar loop can be not bothered with serving South Etobicoke, and used instead for enhanced service to Waterfront West (extend the line from Exhibition to Ontario Place) and East (Lakeshore – Cherry St).

In the longer term, once DCL subway goes west of downtown, South Etobicoke LRT can be connected to the closest DCL station at Queen West or King West. The section (1.5 – 2.5 km) between Roncesvalles and the subway interchange should be placed in a tunnel for true LRT operation.

7. Jane route and a N-S LRT in the west end

Jane would make a nice LRT route if the right-of way could fit on surface. However if it has to be underground from Bloor all the way to Wilson, it likely won’t be cost-effective.

Therefore, the Kipling route should be evaluated instead of Jane. Hopefully, the ROW can fit on surface there. Such line will be good for the N-S connectivity and provide one more link from the airport (to Bloor subway).

Best wishes,
Michael Forest


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