I have created this post to hold a discussion on the nature of travel demand and service on Kingston Road.
This began in the comment thread on another item, and I have split this off as a separate topic.
I have created this post to hold a discussion on the nature of travel demand and service on Kingston Road.
This began in the comment thread on another item, and I have split this off as a separate topic.
Updated May 17, 2013 at 7:15 pm:
Recent events have raised questions about which versions of two major stations, Yonge and Kennedy, on the Eglinton LRT were actually to be built by Metrolinx.
In the case of Yonge Station, there are two quite different versions:
In the EA document (see plate 57A-E, pages 17-21 in the PDF), link from the LRT to the subway is handled via a mezzanine level between the two lines making the transition from east-west orientation (LRT) to north-south (subway). The primary route between the two lines reaches the subway level via new escalators and stairs into the north end of the subway platform. A secondary route rises all the way to the existing mezzanine level from the west end of the LRT platform and connects with both the paid and unpaid areas of the north entrance (under the BMO branch).
In the Metrolinx Central Station Reference Concept (see pages 47-52), the direct connection to the subway platform has been eliminated, and all traffic is funnelled to the upper mezzanine where it would connect to the paid area of the subway through area under the old bus terminal (now closed off). This would eventually be incorporated in redevelopment of the terminal lands.
In the case of Kennedy Station, one of the proposed layouts, quite different from what we have seen before, was shown by Councillor Bernardinetti at last week’s Council Meeting. It was unclear whether this was the version under active consideration by Metrolinx.
I wrote to Metrolinx for clarification, and here is their response (provided by Jamie Robinson via email).
The current Reference Design for the station includes a main entrance to the west (in the abandoned bus terminal property), which is meant to be an interim pavilion that will be incorporated in the future development of the site by Build Toronto.
The Reference Design is indicative of one design where requirements are reflected. The AFP process allows the Proponents, and later the Project Contractor to come up with a design solution that satisfies the requirements of the PSOS (Project Specific Output Specifications).
At Yonge/Eglinton the more recent design will be used. It is simpler to build and brings passengers through the “traditional” transfer route into the central part of the subway mezzanine just as they once came from the bus terminal.
Metrolinx has undertaken an intensive design exercise to review options for integrating a converted Scarborough RT and a new Eglinton Crosstown LRT into the existing Kennedy Station, as well as addressing other mobility hub considerations in this location. Based on this exercise, we have concluded that the basic station design indicated in the 2010 Environmental Project Report is the most functional and appropriate approach from a transit operations perspective. We have directed our design team to proceed with further design of this approved alternative.
This design was presented at an April 2010 public meeting. It includes a double-deck LRT station north of the existing structure under the existing bus platforms.
The SRT trains would use the upper level which is designed as a large loop at the existing mezzanine level of the station. The Eglinton trains would use the lower level which is designed as a conventional centre platform terminal station with a crossover.
Transfers between routes would be:
In the Metrolinx reply, I was curious about the implication that bidders might change the designs that were already approved. Metrolinx further replied:
With the decision to procure the project using an Alternative Financing and Procurement or AFP model, each proponent will be developing designs for the stations. Therefore a reference concept design (RCD) is being developed for each of these stations.
The RCD is intended to identify the location of entrances, exits and ancillary station (ventilation) equipment to allow property acquisition and (if required) major utility relocation to commence.
The Request For Qualifications (RFQ) for the project was issued by Infrastructure Ontario in January. Once a preferred proponent is selected, the proponent will be required t submit designs to Metrolinx and the City for approval. The designs will be reviewed by Metrolinx. The proponent will also be required to participate in the City’s Site Plan Review process which could potentially include the City’s Design Review Panel. There will also be a requirement for the preferred proponent to incorporate consultation with the public as a condition for design approval.
TTC CEO Andy Byford addressed the Empire Club on May 13, 2013 setting out a strong argument for political and financial support for the transit system (full text at the Torontoist site). After last week’s debacle at Council where almost nobody took any sense of responsibility for the future of transit beyond their own doorsteps, arguing for the TTC is a hard battle.
On one hand, we have an intensely local debate at the ward, if not the neighbourhood level, with the worst of petulant “I-want-a-subway-too” politics.
On the other, the region and the province are preoccupied with funding a large-scale plan that happens to have a spin-off for local transit, but one that will only give Toronto a fraction of what it costs to run and maintain the TTC today, let alone make substantive improvements.
In some ways, the TTC has been its own worst enemy managing on one hand to alienate potential supporters with poor community relations, unreliable budgeting and declining service quality, but on the other managing to attract riders and be more financially “efficient” in spite of itself. When political support for better funding and service is needed, the “success story” is that the TTC has managed to cram more riders into fewer buses and streetcars.
This is not a sustainable approach to transit. Growth – which has come disproportionately in off-peak periods when there is still some capacity in parts of the system – cannot continue on this basis.
Byford will formally launch a Five Year Plan for the TTC in the week of May 27, 2013, but his speech gives a broad outline of his goals. Are they enough, or is there too much concentration on the decor while the house rots around us?
Updated May 15, 2013 at 1:40 pm:
TTC CEO Andy Byford spoke yesterday evening at a meeting of the York Quay Neighbourhood Association. The question of transit service on the waterfront this summer was a major topic.
At this point, there is some uncertainty about when streetcar service will resume first to the loop at Queens Quay & Spadina, and then to Union Station. A late November date had been mentioned by Waterfront Toronto in a recent briefing to the neighbourhood, but Byford himself talked spring 2014. His remarks implied that this was somehow connected with work on the Union Station second platform. If the real constraint is at Union, then completing the track on Queens Quay doesn’t appear to be the issue.
I have asked for clarification of the dates from the TTC who are, according to Byford, pushing Waterfront Toronto to get their work done.
In the meantime, there is a desire for improved service on the waterfront, and the TTC plans service increases on the 509 Harbourfront bus. Weekend headways improved on May 12, and weekday improvements are planned starting June 24.
In response to a question about “seamless” transit service across Queens Quay, Byford replied that the TTC is reviewing travel patterns, but there is very strong demand to Union Station and the idea of replacing the rail link up Bay Street with some sort of people mover in the existing tunnel is a non-starter. The 65 Parliament bus may be extended west, and the 6 Bay bus east to Parliament if demand warrants it.
Byford argued that the Waterfront East LRT needs to be built, and sought to avoid the impression that he is concentration only on the Downtown Relief Line (DRL). Many LRT projects including Sheppard East, Finch West, Waterfront East and (pause here for a chuckle) the SRT/LRT conversion need to proceed too.
When the new Low Floor LRVs arrive, capacity can be increased. This was an intriguing comment because it implies Byford is not considering a 1:1 capacity replacement with the new cars, at least on this route.
The YQNA has raised issues about signage and the difficulty of finding where transit service is during construction. On his way to the meeting, Byford travelled by TTC and made the connection from Union to the 509 bus looking as if he were a tourist for a continuous set of direction signs. He noticed that the path is not marked continuously. This is a pervasive problem including on Queen’s Quay where the location of service is impossible to discover if one is unfamiliar with the area, and difficult even for a seasoned rider. Constant changes due to shifting construction don’t help. Byford agreed that improvements are needed.
A request for a free bus to the waterfront during certain times was rejected on the basis that the money could be better spend on service. Expedited, all-door boarding and rigourous clearing of vehicles parked at transit stops can also aid service, Byford said. (As a personal observation, I boarded a 509 bus southbound at King and Yonge as if it were a streetcar to get to this meeting thanks to a large truck parked at the bus stop.)
Residents asked for a stop eastbound at York, but Byford advised that this has been rejected by city traffic engineers. Requests for transit shelters should go to Waterfront Toronto who are responsible for street furniture. (This entire exchange was odd given that earlier in the evening, Byford had talked about the culture of finger-pointing between departments and agencies.)
Some of the responsibility for improvements will lie, Byford said, with the new Group Station Manager whose territory includes Union Station. However, this won’t look after problems with the surface portion of the 509 Harbourfront route unless there is some creep in the job description. This begs the question of a surface equivalent of a GSM to look after community concerns especially when there are temporary route diversions for construction and special events.
(I will discuss the remainder of Byford’s remarks concerning his Five Year Plan in a separate article.)
Updated May 15, 2013 at 1:30 pm:
TTC CEO Andy Byford spoke at a meeting of the York Quay Neighbourhood Association yesterday evening and the status of transit service to Queens Quay was a major topic. There appears to be some confusion among and within agencies about the date when service will return to Queens Quay on the 510 as a through route and as a streetcar.
The TTC Service Planning memo for the schedule period beginning June 23 says that the current operation is expected to last until the end of that period (late July). However, Waterfront Toronto and Andy Byford himself speak of November or even December dates. The TTC website has given June 2013 as a date for service resumption for quite some time, although this is to be corrected, presuming someone knows what the information should be.
Part of the confusion may arise from the fact that streetcar service will be suspended for reconstruction of the intersections at King and at Dundas and this will require bus replacement on the route. Those buses will be able to run through to Queen’s Quay replacing the shuttle and so there will be “through” service, just not with streetcars.
I have asked the TTC for definitive information on the date for resumption of streetcar service to Queens Quay.
The Service Planning memo also notes that a planned shutdown for reconstruction of the platform at Spadina Station Loop has been deferred to 2014. One can only hope that this will include changes to allow two LFLRVs to serve the platform simultaneously for unloading and loading.
Updated May 10, 2013 at 8:45 am:
A consolidated list of Council actions has been added to show the net effect of many overlapping motions and amendments.
Updated May 9, 2013 at 11:00 pm:
After an extremely long debate and complex voting process, the primary outcome of Council’s actions was:
The full minutes, for those with the heart to wade through them, are on the City’s website.
From a procedural viewpoint, Council merely offered “support” or a “request” for new subway lines, but did not actually ask that the Scarborough LRT be recast as a subway project. Speaker Nunziata ruled that Council was not technically reopening the matter of its agreement with Queen’s Park, and therefore only a simple majority of votes was needed for motions regarding changes to the proposed network to pass.
Before the voting even began, Transportation Minister Glen Murray had told the Queen’s Park press gallery that the province was building the already agreed-to network and would not entertain a change to subway technology for the SRT replacement. This did not deter Council from asking for the change anyhow, no doubt hoping that political winds at the Pink Palace will bring a change in policy.
This on the same day Transportation Minister Glen Murray emphasized that the province will not be giving Toronto a new subway extension in exchange for a deal on revenue streams to build transit. “I want to be very clear so no one misunderstands me: We have 15 projects, we’re not revisiting those projects, we’re continuing to build those projects,” he said. [The Globe And Mail, May 9, 2013]
Over half of the voting time, and a great deal of debate, was wasted on the question of which revenue tools, if any, Council would support. The staff report recommended a few, but rejected most. Rather than completely replacing this recommendation with a set of motions to adopt or reject each tool, Council wound up with a rat’s nest of overlapping and contradictory motions proposing new lists, and with some Councillors proposing amendments to others’ motions. The effect at times was to create double and triple negatives in the effect of some votes rather than simply taking each tool/tax/fee in turn and voting up or down on whether Council supported it.
In the end, Council rejected all of them, a process that could have taken a lot less time with only a modicum of procedural leadership.
Toronto now faces a provincial government that will almost certainly ignore its requests and, in the short term, will proceed with the agreed plan (which Council did not attempt to revoke).
For their parts, Metrolinx and the TTC owe everyone a much more detailed statement of the cost implications of the LRT and subway options to inform any decision to take one or the other path. Whether we will actually get this, given the vested interests in the fog of misinformation hanging over Council’s debate and Metrolinx planning, is another question.
Update 2 – Decisions taken by Council:
In this section, I have attempted to collect related motions together so that the overall intent of Council (assuming such a thing exists) is clear. Where an action is included in quotation marks, this is a direct quote from the Council motion.
Council did not explicitly name Sales Taxes or Development Charges in the list of revenue tools it supported. This has been construed by some Councillors as a backhanded endorsement by omission. However, a separate motion recommending a 1% province-wide sales tax dedicated to transportation programs throughout Ontario was defeated by a vote of 28:16.
Although Council does not support a parking levy, if one is imposed then:
Council indicated general support for regional transit expansion and for dedicated revenues to fund The Big Move’s capital and operating costs. Any new taxes or fees implemented should follow certain principles:
Council’s support for new fees is conditional on a 25% share of the revenue for incremental funding (ie: net new money) of municipal transit expansion with priorities to be set municipally. A regional property tax was explicitly rejected because this revenue stream is required to fund local requirements.
Separately, Council asked that Queen’s Park agree to fund 1/2 of transit operating costs, state of good repair programs and rolling stock in Toronto.
Council asked that the Federal government contribute to The Big Move with “equitable and increased” funding. The Feds were also asked to implement a regional income tax reduction to offset the cost of new taxes to the GTHA. Yes, you read that correctly. Council wants the Feds to, in effect, pay for the cost of transit expansion through a tax cut in the GTHA that would be clawed back through new provincial revenues.
Council asked that Metrolinx work with provincial and federal agencies to implement projects through public private partnerships (PPPs) to minimize costs. Of course, there is no guarantee that this will actually deliver better, cheaper projects over their lifetime, but this is part of current financial orthodoxy. In a separate motion, Council also asked that Metrolinx issue an international Request for Proposals (RFP) for future subway construction in Toronto. This is actually already Metrolinx’ practice.
Council asked that capital maintenance costs for any projects built and owned by Metrolinx be borne by that agency. By implication, municipalities should not be responsible for funding repairs to infrastructure that they do not own. This could be tricky depending on the wording of operating agreements between Metrolinx and municipalities.
Council asked that all Metrolinx and TTC projects “be aligned with City Building goals including appropriate transit oriented development on Metrolinx properties” and that both agencies “undertake Community Benefit Agreements for all transit lines and local projects funded through new revenue tools”.
Council requested reports from the City Manager on:
Council referred the following additional transit lines to the Chief Planner:
Council also decided that it should:
“not proceed with the proposed Yonge North Subway Extension until improvements have first been made to increase capacity on the existing Yonge University line by an amount at least equal to the increased ridership generated by the Yonge North Subway Extension.”
This is oddly worded because both the Richmond Hill extension and any project to relieve capacity downtown are Metrolinx projects within The Big Move, not Toronto projects. This appears to be a drafting error, and the motion should have read that Council does not support building the extension until there is capacity to absorb the new riding.
Notwithstanding the report request to the City Manager, Council also made several requests to Queen’s Park related to Metrolinx:
Updated May 7, 2013 at 9:30 am: The TTC has confirmed that the January 2013 cost estimate for the Scarborough LRT includes a $500m provision for a carhouse and yard. As previously discussed in this article, the yard is not required for the LRT option because the Scarborough and Sheppard East lines will share space at Conlins Road Carhouse.
The City Manager’s Report on “Revenue Tools” to fund transit expansion may, or may not, find its way onto Toronto Council’s agenda on May 7/8 depending on the success of political manoeuvres to bring the item onto the agenda. Executive Committee chose to defer the item to its May 28, 2013, meeting at which point the issue will be moot as Metrolinx will already have issued its recommendations to Queen’s Park.
In the run-up to a forced Council debate, it is not enough for some, including TTC Chair Karen Stintz, to simply appeal to a sense of democracy – six members of Executive should not be able to block debate by 45 members of Council on an important matter. This became a chance to dust off the “One City” plan and pull together a Scarborough coalition by advancing the cause of a Scarborough Subway – an extension of the Danforth line east and north from Kennedy Station to Sheppard and McCowan.
No sooner was this scheme back on the table, but other would-be players began to mutter about their own pet projects. That “extra half billion” the subway option in Scarborough may cost on paper could attract billions of add-ons, almost like the worst of pork-filled appropriations in the US Congress. What might fall off of the table to pay for the Scarborough subway plus any other extras needed to bring reluctant Councillors onside is unknown. Queen’s Park has been quite clear that there is no additional funding from that quarter, and so and extra must come from Toronto.
Queen’s Park can, of course, ignore whatever Council may try to add as conditions on approval of revenue tools, but if these undo the agreement to build LRT lines signed barely a year ago, this is no trivial discussion. Regional planning will take a back seat to political aspirations just as it has for the past four decades, and momentum for actual construction rather than endless debate and delay will be lost.
The whole concept that the subway option is “affordable” turns on the premise that it is only slightly more expensive than the LRT, and brings benefits the LRT option cannot. Some claims made for the subway option are, at best, misinformed, and at worst outright deceptions. Unfortunately, the public agencies charged with providing accurate information are staying silent lest they be drawn into yet another political debate that could wreck professional careers.
Here are a few questions that should be asked and answered.
The TTC met on April 24 to discuss a rather thin agenda, and the meeting was over in a not-quite-record 90 minutes. Discussed here:
Updated May 6, 2013 at 5:20pm: In the original version of these notes, Commissioner Heisey’s concern about unreliable service on Dundas Street was reported. The Commissioner has written to me to note that the service was actually worse than how I quoted his remarks. His correction is included near the end of the “Customer Satisfaction Survey” section below.
Updated May 1, 2013: The presentation slide decks and a video of the event are available from the City’s website (linked below).
On April 30, 2013 from 10:00am to noon in Toronto Council Chambers, the City of Toronto Planning Department will present the first in a series of events where planners (and inspired amateurs) will:
talk about key planning issues from a historical perspective, to talk about innovative emerging ideas and research concepts, and to learn how other Cities have tackled complex planning issues currently facing Toronto.
These sessions are intended as a development program for City staff, but because of the large venue, this one will be open to the public.
The topic will be Transit Planning: A Tale of Two Cities with three presentations and a Q&A.
Edward J. Levy will speak on “Rapid Transit in Toronto: A Century of Plans, Progress, Politics & Paralysis”.
I will speak on the past, present and future of the streetcar system with specific emphasis on its role in handling the growing population and travel demand in the near-downtown areas.
Students from the Environmental Studies program at YorkUniversity will speak on “Transit growing among the Vineyards: Lessons from Montpellier, France”.
For those who cannot attend in person, the session will be webcast. A link to this is available on the City Planning website.
See you there, or online.
April 29, 2013: Now that the Scarborough Subway is back on the table, what are the implications of the LRT and subway options.
See my comments on the Torontoist.
(Original post from April 24 below.)
Toronto Executive Committee’s vote to “receive” a report on potential transit revenue tools showed an appalling lack of leadership by Mayor Rob Ford, and a sense that he and a handful of minions can dictate the city’s agenda.
My comments are up on the Torontoist.
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