Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Initial thoughts about the OneCity proposal

OneCity transit plan map (

People in Toronto have long awaited transit.  We need it – there’s no question about it.  Toronto’s transportation problems have caused us to lose much productivity and economic activity.  A Metrolinx study illustrates a $2.7 billion* loss in GDP simply because we’re stuck in transit.  This is expected to balloon up to a $7.2 billion* loss in GDP by 2031.

*2006 dollars

But how do we resolve it?  It’s commonly known that traffic congestion in Toronto will not get better in the next decade or two.  Even if we build transit at a furious pace, the level of congestion we are facing is only expected to stay the same.  And that’s only if we can build transit – everyone seems to have ideas, but no one seems to want to pay for it.

That’s one aspect of the 2012 OneCity transit plan brought forward by Councillors Stintz and De Baeremaeker that tries to address what so many conveniently ignore.  Yes, we need to pay for it somehow, and asking taxpayers to pay for it makes sense.  Toronto has some of the lowest tax rates in all of Canada.  You certainly do get what you pay for.

But let’s talk about the actual plan itself.  Simply by looking at the map, it is obvious that it is a conglomeration of transit plans that have amassed over the years.  Lines from the Transit City proposal are evident, creating the bulk of the ten proposed LRT lines.  Some subway extensions from Network 2011 and before are visible, such as the ‘North York Relief Line’ (which, conveniently, doesn’t relieve anything at all), a Bloor subway extension to what appears to be Scarborough Centre, and most famously of all, the Downtown Relief Line (renamed the Don Mills express line, though it won’t be express and even more certainly won’t run under Don Mills for most of its route). 

Conveniently, it looks like this map is a rehash of Toronto-related transit in Metrolinx’ champion plan The Big Move.  The two even have similar timelines (well – if one ignores the delays caused by the ‘interest’ in subways by our car-friendly mayor). 

It’s a welcome start, but it doesn’t stop here.  Just like the plans before it, there are many problems that need to be addressed – and since all the individual problems from previous plans were never remedied, this plan carries these issues as well – in bulk.

Let’s discuss each line in some detail, starting with subways, then LRT, then streetcar/buses.

Proposed Subway Lines

1) Downtown Relief Line (Don Mills Express)
The Downtown line (I prefer this name, so I’m sticking with it) has been the focus of almost every amateur transit planner in Toronto for quite a while now.  Almost everyone’s alignment has it heading south on Don Mills from Eglinton, turning west through Thorncliffe Park, and south onto Pape.  Once the line reaches the existing GO Lakeshore East corridor, everyone’s alignment changes.  Some people want it along Queen to dual-purpose the line with replacement or realignment of the 501 Queen streetcar and ‘relieving’ the Yonge subway.  Some people want it along King to rid the TTC of one of its highest ridership routes. Some even have it going down to Union.  Everyone’s alignment differs, and this is going to be an issue for quite a while.

But back to the proposed Downtown line in the OneCity map.  The line seems to head south on Pape until Queen, then veer west along Queen and finally onto King, terminating at King station. 
This alignment provides some form of relief in that it encourages some reverse commuting if one were to travel to Ryerson University or other businesses.  But I believe that the fact that the line does not connect to the University side is a big mistake.  King and Bay is business central – there are tonnes of riders that would be aching for subway access, and it’d warrant it.  We need to know where these riders are coming from, and if the 25 Don Mills has the capacity to bring people down to Eglinton (or if people are even willing to take that bus to get down to the Downtown line).  It’s good to see that this proposal doesn’t end at Bloor like the Metrolinx version – this accommodates passengers coming in via the Crosstown.

I also wonder about how the line would be designed, once it hits high-density downtown.  New TTC stations are gigantic – almost every new station is monstrous in that it includes a 10m wide platform, a mezzanine, and sometimes even a gigantic bus terminal.  The downtown line will require different stations.  Downtown is cramped, streets are narrow – if we follow any sort of street alignment, construction is going to be an absolute pain with such a small easement.  The only way I can see stations being built is if we stack them (i.e. eastbound platform on top of the westbound platform).  And then there’s the line delay problem at terminal crossovers that almost every TTC subway passenger faces.  Will the Downtown line be the first to use an arriere-gare?

Conveniently, the plan also ignores the need for any sort of subway train yard requirements (though this may be due to how conceptual this plan is).  You can’t hope that subway trains will disappear overnight and be back in the morning for rush hour.

2) Bloor-Danforth Extension into Scarborough
This line has been proposed by many as a method of eliminating the forced transfer from the Scarborough RT (SRT) to the Bloor-Danforth line.  Most iterations of the line illustrate cutting through what is currently residential, doing a curve to the north and eventually ending up under McCowan. A station would probably be around the existing movie theatre area at Scarborough Centre, a fair distance from the existing SRT station, and finally the line extends up to Sheppard East.

It doesn’t work for me.  Firstly, I’m not a fan of abandoning corridors.  Secondly, the SRT is doing a fine job at carrying the loads it is designed to, and the conversion to LRT will open the possibility for Eglinton interlining and will increase line capacity by a ton.  Since the SRT is completely grade separated unlike the other street-running LRT lines, it has the capability for automated transit control (like the underground section on Eglinton), which will allow extremely close headways.  The conceptual design for the SRT conversion has a loop for SRT trains to turn back at Kennedy station.  This is good – the lack of a crossover will permit SRT trains to lose line delays that are currently experienced at terminal stations.  Any sort of delay would be experienced only at the terminal station at Sheppard.

It’s known that Sheppard doesn’t warrant a subway, thus the LRT option.  But what makes McCowan (and by extension Scarborough) deserve a subway any better?  It has even less redevelopment potential, with the 401 in its way and cuts through suburban areas on a diagonal currently not supported by roads.  The existing SRT rebuild proposal is fine – it works, and the line will survive and have capacity for years to come.  Not to mention it’s going to cost us both time and money to change the design (probably hitting 60, 90% now) simply by scrapping the SRT into a subway.  It would also leave bus operations alone instead of creating a better, easier system to navigate, save for a small change in running time for route 54 as it will no longer have to loop.

Ridership on the SRT was approximately 40,000 per day in 2009.  The combined ridership along Eglinton Ave. East of Kennedy Road based on routes 86 and 116 (in 2010-2011) would be about 38,000.  I would rather extend the subway eastward to Kingston Road along Eglinton Avenue.  This will greatly reduce bus traffic along Eglinton East, providing relief for many of these commuters and removing their transfer, while providing rapid transit options to those coming in from north-south routes such as Bellamy and Markham Road.  It also provides the ability to break the Markham Road route into two pieces for better operation.  However, this corridor is also earmarked for LRT via the Scarborough Malvern LRT, so this extension may not be required at all.  Road-running LRT services will likely not get the same kind of bus feeder system as subway stations do, save for the Eglinton line.

Not to mention that you can’t build a subway in four years, so you’d eventually have to either shut down the SRT or replace its rolling stock (which are not in production, and newest used vehicles are ATC-equipped from the 90s).  Good luck.

3) Sheppard West Extension
The famous ‘North York relief line’ is prominent on this map, providing a link from Don Mills all the way across to what will be Sheppard West station.  It’s said  to only have one new station at Bathurst.  This may be helpful in that people that currently transfer at Sheppard-Yonge may want to ensure that they have a seat heading south by crossing over to the other side, generating ridership for the Spadina line.  It will certainly help TTC subway operations as it will allow trains to head to and from Wilson yard to the Yonge line. But is it worth the high capital cost? 
The Expert Advisory panel that looked at whether subway or LRT was the choice for Sheppard East also determined that it may be feasible to run the Spadina line and Sheppard line as one to generate the ridership required to sustain a subway, as both are currently not running close to their capacity at all hours.  However, the TTC’s previous experience with interlining is sour as the small number of lines would mean that almost the entire system would be stopped if there were to be a delay on a single line. 

4) Yonge Subway Extension
York Region Rapid Transit Corporation has been pushing for this extension once it became evident that the line to Richmond Hill Centre wouldn’t be coming anytime soon.  It makes sense in that lots of buses would be removed from Yonge Street between Finch and Steeles.  The TTC will be extending the tail tracks north of Finch Station (currently scheduled for 2014) to approximately Drewry – might as well bring the line all the way to Steeles to eliminate bus traffic.  Over 100 buses pass through this area per hour – that is a huge amount of traffic.  The subway extension is worth it and should’ve (also, was to) been done a while ago.  The capital cost is worth saving the ten-fifteen minutes trudging up and down Yonge Street during rush hour, benefitting all riders on the crowded Steeles buses and YRT/Viva passengers.  Plus, as a side advantage, it’d finally stop the Steeles East and Steeles West passengers that get off along Yonge, and certainly stop the passengers that try to get off the Steeles East Express at Yonge/Steeles. IT DOESN’T STOP THERE.

5) I-METRO-E (Scarborough Express line)
Originally put forward by Markham councillor Jim Jones, the I-METRO-E is a repurposing of the existing Stouffville GO corridor for rapid transit.  We’re looking at a subway line on a corridor that currently has one track.  There is no space on some of the right of way to put another two tracks.

Yes, another two tracks.  You cannot run rapid transit (knowing TTC, probably a 5’30” headway at first; 150 seconds at best with ATC) on the same line as GO trains without a bypass track.  Since there is no way of properly scheduling rapid transit such that trains will show up at this location at this exact time, trains cannot easily weave around each other.  Therefore, three tracks are required, reminiscent of New York City subway operations, where two outside tracks are local and the centre is peak directional express.  There’s no space – you need to expropriate a lot, and this includes people’s backyards.  As an example, try to design the other two platforms at Agincourt while minimizing costs (i.e. keeping as much of the existing station as possible) – where’s the other platform going to go?  You will never achieve an 86 minute running time with only two tracks.

Regardless, that’s not the only problem that lies in this proposal.  It expects to get downtown using the Lakeshore East corridor.  That corridor is saturated with freight, VIA Rail and GO Transit.  You’ll never get away with putting rapid transit on it.  No more tracks fit on it.  Not to mention that Union Station is currently at capacity, and double berthing will only provide capacity for a short while (i.e. an end-of-pipe approach).  Perhaps it would be better to feed passengers onto the Bloor/Eglinton lines at Kennedy.

Another problem – fleet requirements.  If it becomes a subway line it’s almost guaranteed to be using Toronto Rocket cars.  Where are you going to store there?  Doesn’t look like there’s space for two more tracks, never mind a new yard. 

Let’s stick with double tracking and GO electrification.  Even 12-car BiLevel trains running hourly will definitely open up a ton of capacity.  Study the AMT Deux-Montagnes line – it’s a single track for most of the way, and even allows bidirectional electrical operation.  

6) Etobicoke Express
Quite simply, this is not happening.  The OneCity plan calls for complete redesign of the Air Rail Link into a commuter subway.  This may sound good, but it completely alienates the ARL concept.

It is not meant to be a commuter line.  It is meant for you to get from Union to Pearson in the quickest time possible, hassle free.  It is not going to stop up to ten, fifteen times, lengthening an airport commuter’s travel time to forty, fifty minutes.  It is a premium express service.  Other cities have premium airport expresses, so what’s wrong with Toronto having one? 

Not to mention that TTC will have a heck of a good time trying to convince GO to allow it to use a corridor that will be saturated with GO and VIA Rail trains in the future.

Rapid transit berthing will bring even more issues to Union Station.  Let’s stick with the Sumitomo DMUs for now; electrification will happen and the ARL will continue to keep its premium status.  Heck, with electrification, the running time will reduce and it will become even more premium.  Station design is too far ahead.  We’re not wasting money to change it.

I would rather a subway line be stuck under Weston.  GO will be double-tracking and introducing all-day service on its routes sometime soon, and this will help alleviate midday transit requirements.  The Weston mobility hub will be rebuilt into a destination.

That’s it for subways.  Onto LRT.

1) Don Mills LRT
This is imported from Transit City, except now it terminates at Eglinton.  This needs better scope definition as it is another route that could be both subway and LRT.  What kind of turnover is prevalent on the existing route 25?  Could we run a route 25E instead? 

2) Finch West LRT Phase 2
This was imported from Transit City, except funding has lowered its priority.  Not absolutely necessary as passengers can be accommodated by articulated buses once Finch West LRT phase one is complete, and transit service heading west will increase due to the new subway access.

3) Finch West LRT (Airport Extension)
What kind of alignment is this? This line is poorly drawn.  Study it first before putting it there.  From what it looks like, it’d be easier for it to parallel or even somehow use the ARL spur line.  But this seriously needs more study – a quick Google maps search illustrates the line passing through a large park.

4) ECLRT Phase 2
This is imported from Transit City.  It’s welcome, but I’d rather have it branch off into two lines – one will go to the airport, and one will enter Mississauga.  However, this will mean service that is twice the headway of that in Toronto. There could always be a short turn service in Mississauga if necessary.

5) Waterfront West LRT
This is imported from Transit City. A new line would extend from the existing Exhibition Loop parallel to the Gardiner Expressway, and connect with existing streetcar tracks at King Street.  It suffers from capacity issues at Union Station, and would run TTC-gauge LRVs.  It is questionable to see if this is actually ‘rapid’ as it shares much of its corridor with conventional streetcar routes.  I would prefer this become a 500-series streetcar route, if it were to ever be built.

6) Jane LRT
This is imported from Transit City. I am unfamiliar with the alignment, but I understand from other transit advocates that the road is too narrow at some portions for a median ROW (looks to be south of Lawrence), inflating costs to either elevate or dig.

7) SELRT Malvern Branch
The Malvern branch of the SELRT is an ill-conceived method of accommodating Malvern Centre passengers that would’ve taken the SRT. 

8) SELRT Zoo Branch
Why?  Ridership to the zoo is only seasonally high; we need to take a look at where passengers are coming in from.  There is a reason the Zoo Rocket failed. The Zoo Rocket had an average number of 26 passengers per bus.  This line would have too many sunk costs and it’d be infeasible to run transit service all the time to the Zoo.

9) SELRT Meadowvale Extension
Not really much to say here, except that it’d extend the LRT route further into suburbia.  I can’t say much due to lack of familiarity with the alignment, but it looks like it’d only attract put another hundred houses in range of rapid transit at a fairly high capital cost.

10) Scarborough Malvern LRT
There isn’t much to say here either, other than a direct port from the Transit City plan.  I can’t say much due to lack of familiarity with the alignment.

Now, finally: buses and streetcars.

1) Ellesmere BRT
This bus service may be run as a DRT Pulse service instead, since Durham Region is interested in providing a direct transit service to Scarborough Centre.  But as a DRT Pulse service rather than a TTC service, it may not be attractive to TTC customers based on the fare policy.  It may be attractive to UTSC students commuting from Scarborough Centre.

2) Kingston Road BRT
This is from the Transit City bus plan.  I am unfamiliar with this corridor, but the Kingston Road bus (route 12) only had 6400 daily riders in 2011.

3) Wilson BRT
Why along Wilson?  Does it deserve BRT better than say Finch East or Dufferin?  I think articulated buses would be good enough to serve this route.

4) St Clair Streetcar Extension
Not a problem – can be extended, but must loop somewhere, and expropriation will definitely be required for this.  The streetcar cannot connect with Jane LRT due to gauge change.

5) Waterfront East Streetcar
No one wants to fund Union Station capacity improvements.  A new portal will be needed on Queens Quay east of Bay for this streetcar to happen, but no one wants to provide the money.  I don’t believe the TTC has budgeted for streetcars to run on this route as well.

All that said, let’s move onto general issues that need to be dealt with.

Why is conventional transit, i.e. local bus and streetcar, completely ignored in this proposal?  This only attempts to fund rapid transit improvements – but not fund regular operations.  This rapid transit plan will increase operating costs by a lot, and the system must be prepared to fund these operating costs.  The TTC must be prepared to increase its workforce.  Maintenance costs for LRT lines will likely be covered by Metrolinx. Small improvements like queue-jump lanes, all-door boarding, and transit priority signals will enhance transit at small capital costs. It’s not always about making the map look good.

I previously said that asking taxpayers to fund this makes sense.  But when I say taxpayers, I don’t mean Toronto taxpayers.  I mean GTA taxpayers that will be using this transit network.  Simply because you live outside the municipal boundaries doesn’t mean you can escape these costs.  We need to be fair and if you’re a suburbanite that happens to use this transit system or happens to drive in Toronto, you need to help pay for easing congestion.

This plan needs to tackle improved bus and streetcar operations, such as moving to headway-based route management and using higher capacity vehicles (i.e. articulated buses) to reduce frequency for better, more consistent service. The TTC is already looking at using articulated buses on six routes, four of which will receive rapid transit improvements in this plan (and two of which are already receiving rapid transit, based on the Metrolinx 5-in-10 plan).  Articulated buses should be re-introduced on routes that used to have them, such as 39 Finch East (or 199 Finch Rocket) and 53 Steeles East.  Bunching is notorious on these routes. 

Even adopting the Transit City Bus Plan (TCBP) will bring massive improvements to bus operations.  It planned to add or improve express bus service to 15 bus routes, and it would certainly be a welcome change.  However, it was highly dependent on LRT lines being in operation to free up buses.  Aspects of the TCBP were highly customer-centric, such as more shelters and next vehicle arrival signs inside shelters, which is conformant with the new TTC CEO’s customer-oriented view.

The streetcar system is already going to receive new, higher capacity vehicles, and this will help route management in that they will be less frequent, so easier to manage.  From a customer view, this is slightly worse, but it means more consistent service throughout the network.

It also needs to look at fare systems.  Are you going to stick with a flat fare system?  Are you going to charge by distance?  What technology are you going to embrace? 

What will these rapid transit requirements mean to the road landscape?  Will we embrace non-automobile forms of transport, such as walking and biking?  Or will we be stuck with autocentric design?

What kind of redevelopment is planned in the vicinity of these lines for Toronto?  We can’t keep on building sprawl.  Could lines be built in hydro corridors?  What kind of ridership would be attracted to a line built in the Scarborough hydro corridor (i.e. the corridor that extends from approx. Eglinton and Victoria Park to Sheppard and Meadowvale)?

Where will all these trains be stored?  Toronto’s running out of space. 

What kind of stop spacing and frequency are we looking at here for LRT routes?  Is it good to provide a service with stops frequent enough that no bus service is required?  Or should we adopt larger stop spacing and provide a feeder bus service parallel to the LRT? 

What is ‘BRT’ in this proposal?  Is it the same system as say York Region’s viva?  Is it simply articulated buses running in mixed traffic?  Is it a direct port of New York’s Select Bus Service?  It’s not clear what this exactly is, and how it’d improve transit.  It could simply be more frequent buses that bunch for all we know.  This is another concept that needs better scope definition.

As stated, this plan needs more study, and I think The Big Move 2.0 will cover a lot of the same ground.  Let’s wait for that to come out before we adopt a plan, because this plan only considers Toronto and ignores all the growing municipalities around it that are responsible for a lot of the congestion experienced. At least the Big Move 2.0 will cover both goods movement and passenger movement, something that tends to be ignored in transit studies (i.e. freight traffic on Lakeshore).  We need to look at this holistically; Toronto doesn’t function on its own – everyone needs to work together if we want to truly build a transit system that benefits us all.  We can’t keep drawing lines on a map and say that’s what we’re building without looking at the big picture.

Lastly, what will this improved transit network mean in terms of the environment?  It will consume quite a bit more energy than the current system does – where are we getting this energy from?  Is it renewable?  Human systems are completely non-sustainable – i.e. we consume more than we produce.  Power requirements are simply going to escalate, and costs will as well.  So do we really need to expand our transit system to great extents?  Could we not redesign a city that brings you close to work?  North American energy requirements are excessively more than that overseas – why?  Are we able to establish ourselves as the leading city in North America?

It really all boils down to this: as people, what do we really need? 

Make a plan, stick with it.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Transit Pet Peeves

I have been taking transit for the past 1.5 years.

And passengers continue to do the same, stupid things.

Some of the generic pet peeves I see on the 53 Steeles East, Yonge-University-Spadina Subway, and Carlton streetcar:

53 Steeles East (though I'm sure the Finch East bus is just as terrible)
  • People that collect in the area between the front doors and rear doors, blocking the path and creating an even longer pinch point.
  • People that don't move back.
  • People that keep their bags or backpacks on, especially when the ground is dry, losing space.
  • People that don't have their fare ready.
  • People exiting by the front door during rush hour, at random stops.
  • People that create bag seats during rush hour peak, when the vehicle is crush loaded. The 'this is not a seat' thing on the Orion Vs is ok for bags, but not for people.
  • People that collect around the rear doors, obstructing those trying to exit.
  • People that stand in the middle, hear the 'please move back' announcement, look back to see that there is still space, and don't move back. Especially some guy that gets on at Putnam Gate.
  • These particular people that think you're supposed to ring the bell when the bus is at the desired stop.
  • Not necessarily related to the bus, but people that jaywalk in front of the Milliken GO tracks...when there's no train.
  • Hybrid buses operate on Steeles sometimes.  People don't stand  at the back during rush.  No reason why.
  • The people on this bus don't know how to speak English. 
  • People that talk loudly on their phones. Double bad when they speak loudly in Mandarin.
  • People that hold bars that are closer to you than them/intruding your space.
  • People that stick their feet in the aisle.
  • People sitting at the seats in front of the rear doors, or the most rear seats that block the window seat. And don't move.
  • People that put their stroller in the pinch point of the Orion Vs - right after the wheelchair seats.  People don't seem to be willing to turn the wheelchair seats up to put the stroller there.
  • People that want to get off, but reach the door late because they're busy yapping, only to see that the door doesn't open and the driver's area is going buzz buzz.
  • Loud headphones. 
  • Nextbus doesn't show 53E/Fs at Finch station on their app. 
  • Oh god.  People that bud in the line at Finch station, and people that force create their own line to get on the bus.  Each Orion V bus only has three seats of doors.  One time I saw six lines.
  • People that don't know the rear doors are not treadle operated.  Push the bar.
  • The most annoying, that TTC is at least trying to deal with - people that think the express bus stops at Yonge and Steeles. It doesn't. And they still try to get off there. 
Best thing I like about the Steeles bus is the 53E 30 run (~7:15-7:20 at Kennedy Road) in the morning. Almost always with a low load of people and close enough to the 53E in front such that it will be low load all the way to Finch.
Yonge Subway
  • People on this line are smarter, and actually make space for people.
  • People that congregate at a door that the platform is on.
  • Loud headphones.  
  • Feet on seats.
  • People that rush the door and jam it. Especially on Rocket trains.
  • People with a newspaper that want to sit at a certain seat, find a newspaper on that seat, and throw it under the seat.  The subway train is not a recycling bin.
  • People that don't take off their backpacks.
  • Public affection.  Hugging/sleeping on shoulders - ok. Full on making out - get a room.
  • Not a people problem, but lack of grab bars at the ends of each Rocket car.
  • It's nice to see that people usually give up their seats for pregnant women or seniors.  Good to know some courtesy exists.
506 Carlton
  • People not moving to the back of the streetcar.  Tonnes of space there.
  • People that don't know that the rear doors are treadle, despite saying 'step down'.
  • Car drivers that don't stop when streetcar doors unlock. Ugh. 
Some good outlines:

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Toronto's Transit Woes

There is a lot of talk in the media regarding the future of Toronto's transportation woes.  The same questions are repeatedly being asked - should it be Transit City?  Should it be subways?  Should it be perhaps be a hybrid of both plans?  Should we focus on new highways and more lanes?

These questions have already wasted at least one year since Mayor Rob Ford's induction into city office.  His victory was immediately followed by the 'cancellation' of former mayor David Miller and former TTC chair Adam Giambrone's Transit City plan, which would have brought multiple light rail transit lines and much-improved bus service to critical city corridors.  This was later followed by a memorandum of understanding between the mayor and the Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty, which supposedly ensures that the money earmarked for Transit City was now put towards a fully-underground Eglinton-Crosstown line, merged with the existing Scarborough RT line.

First, let's look at the original Transit City plan.  This would have brought lines to Finch Avenue West, Sheppard Avenue East, Jane Street, Don Mills Road, Eglinton Ave.West and East, Waterfront West, and Malvern, as well as an extensive reworking of the existing Scarborough RT.  Due to funding constraints, this was later reduced to multiple stages, with the priority on the Scarborough RT, Finch, Sheppard and Eglinton. The original initiative was spearheaded by the TTC prior to Metrolinx' Big Move plan, which later took over the Transit City plan and forced a change to standard rail gauge to 'ensure compatibility' with future LRT systems - though I'm not exactly sure what's wrong with having an extensive LRT network set to TTC gauge.  The plan would have also brought expanded express bus service, improved service on shorter corridors, and new express bus routes, such as on route 43 Kennedy, shortly after commissioning the new LRT lines. 

Fast forwarding to the future, the Ford plan has severely damaged Metrolinx' transit planning, and has forced the retooling of the entire Big Move plan.  The original Ford plan called for an extension of the Sheppard subway to Scarborough Centre, the decommissioning of the Scarborough RT, and an extension of the Bloor-Danforth line also to Scarborough Centre.  This was later changed in the memorandum to forgo the Danforth extension, but merged the Eglinton and Scarborough RT lines to be completely underground (save the SRT alignment), essentially acting as Bloor relief line.  This completely ignores one of the points of Transit City, which was for street revitalization to induce local travel over long-distance travel.

Road capacity increase through more lanes and highways will most certainly fail, as it induces demand and the new capacity is soon overwhelmed by more cars - and we are back at square one.

This was an extremely poor decision in retrospect.  For example, let's look at the downstream effects of the new Eglinton line.  The demand for the line has increased due to the new utter convenience and removed transfer at Kennedy station for downtown commuters.  However, it introduces a new problem at Eglinton station on the Yonge subway, which will become a bottleneck station and remove any sort of line capacity south of the station.  Currently, the Yonge subway travels during AM rush with full loads by Lawrence station (a self-observation over two years of commuting), and we want to pile more people onto these trains without any sort of improvement.  The Toronto Rockets supposedly boast about a 10% increase in capacity per train, but this is an end-of-pipe approach that will soon be overwhelmed. 

Transit City is not without its own problems, as it takes a long time for streets with new LRT lines to recover and become living streets.  However, the fact that it allows for more local travel will allow city planners to build more livable neighbourhoods over time, instead of small nodes with purely residential high-rises (for examples, look at any development around the Sheppard line.  These are terribly disconnected from each other.)  The pro-car individual may say that the LRT will interfere with traffic.  Yes, it does.  But what makes one think that a car is any more entitled to road space than transit?  The transit modal share is on the increase, and it only makes sense to invest more and more into transit.  However, to believe that sparse suburban developments even deserve subways is laughable.  You certainly get what you pay for.

But probably the most ridiculous thing about this entire transportation fiasco is the role that GO Transit plays.  GO Transit has so much unused capacity as it enters the City of Toronto borders that it probably would be able to take care of much of the transit demand that is currently being taken care of by subways.

Personally, I believe we need to have a combination of multiple transportation services, which can provide relief at most points of the city.  I have outlined a (very conceptual) plan for transportation revitalization, and it is critical it address the growing needs of the entire Greater Toronto Area.

Many of the things outlined happen in parallel.
  1. There are multiple parts to the first step:
    • Introduce the PRESTO smartcard for the TTC system, and instil a new fare-by-distance fare policy based on distance triangulation in all GTA local transit systems (YRT, MiWay, TTC, etc.) that is competitively priced, but slightly cheaper than GO Transit.  This will lead people to question whether the slightly higher price for GO is worth the faster commute.  It will provide an equilibrium in commuters between GO Transit and TTC.  The fare system will require tweaking, and could include more expensive fares for using subways over buses, etc.
    • Begin double tracking and electrification on GO train corridors, and increase station density within City of Toronto borders.  This will attract TTC bus commuters and increase ridership along the GO corridor.
    • Introduce train frequency and optimize the existing network, such as improved signalling and automated transit on subways, through intelligent transportation systems to ensure trains keep moving people. 
    • Fight for government  subsidy to keep transit running, and declare all public transit an essential service.  It is ridiculous to forbid people from travel during a transit labour strike as it penalizes people based on their modal choice.
    • Continue design on rapid transit routes that will be the focus for future urban developments.  For example, continue working on local rapid transit systems in Brampton, Durham Region, Mississauga and York Region, as well as select corridors in Toronto.  This will be a very difficult step to traverse as all four of these areas are overall fairly low density, and transit will not be able to reach every single household.
  2. There are also multiple parts to the second step.
    • Introduce new service on the newly electrified and double-tracked GO corridors.  Include scheduled short turns at Toronto borders, or further if needed, to ensure line capacity.  This also requires the procurement of new trains.  I personally think new trains should be similar to a subway fleet, as in Germany's many S-Bahn systems or like the PATH system in New York/New Jersey, though it seems far more likely to have electric multiple units capable of pulling GO's bi-level passenger cars.
    • Design and build new underground stations for GO services along King St or Queen St to reduce demand at Union station, and increase transit use downtown.  Note that this will require precise signalling, as it'd probably interline multiple lines.
    • Begin construction/revitalization of essential local rapid transit lines, such as the Eglinton line and Scarborough RT line.
    • Finish the Sheppard subway.  It's unfortunate I have to say this one, but past political regimes forced this to happen sometime.  Ridiculous that politicians frequently consider 'leaving their mark' through construction over good planning.
  3. Increase density in identified corridors for revitalization, and ensure that they have a good mix of residential and commercial.  Emphasize local travel over distant travel, and reduce train service as more and more people live, work and play in the same area.
Parallel to all these steps is adjusting local transit service and increased maintenance on existing lines to ensure its capability to safely carry people.

Again, this plan is highly conceptual, and I probably missed some things.  Regardless, it recognizes the necessity of GO Transit that it seems to be avoiding.  To the keen planner, you may have noticed I completely ignored the proposal for a Downtown Relief Line.

The most important thing to take from this is that we must recognize that the car is a great end-of-pipe approach and begin to build our cities for people again.  Take a look at the downtown area in Toronto and witness the sheer amount of people enjoying life.  Then take a look at any suburban area and look at what could've been.