The RT and Scarborough’s Future

The Final Report of the Scarborough RT Strategic Plan came up for discussion nearly at the end of a very long Commission meeting on August 30.  This was preceded by a long presentation on the Capital Budget, approval of the Bombardier subway car order and a moving deputation by the wives of two workmen seriously injured by on-the-job carbon monoxide poisoning.  Lengthy debate was unlikely.

Councillor Michael Thompson, Chair of Scarborough Community Council, led off the deputations by presenting a position agreed to by 9 of the 10 Scarborough Councillors.  Versions of this previously reported in the media and in an earlier post on this site did not convey the full story, and this will be important as debate on Scarborough’s future transit network continues.  Here are the high points:

  • Support for the RT upgrade to use Mark II cars but this is conditional on extension of the line to Malvern
  • A new RT station at Brimley Road to be included in the upgrade project
  • Further extension of the RT beyond its planned terminus at Markham and Sheppard to Malvern Centre
  • A minimum of 40 km of new LRT lines on various Scarborough corridors
  • Examination of a Sheppard Subway extension STC
  • Long term plans for a Danforth subway extension to STC (the next time the RT wears out)
  • Integration of Scarborough’s transit network with other initiatives by York and Durham regions and by GO Transit
  • Creation of an appealing brand name for the RT in the manner of Vancouver’s Skytrain

Councillor Raymond Cho, the dissenting voice on Scarborough Council, agreed that the RT should be extended to Malvern Centre (Nielson & Finch).  He argued that the original Environmental Assessment for this line was done before the developments in the area had been built and that a review of the plan is needed.  Cho differs from the other Councillors in wanting the Sheppard Subway extended east to Sheppard and Meadowvale.

Various members of the activist community spoke to the proposal, but there was little consistency in their positions.  This is always the Catch-22 of activism.  As individuals, each person gets to argue and support their own scheme (there are at least as many activist-created rapid transit schemes as there are activists, probably more).  Activist groups are notoriously difficult to sustain because, in the absence of a single, common threat (a major environmental problem, an unwanted local development), consensus is very difficult to achieve, and there is often doubt about who speaks for whom.

I brought up the rear with a slightly modified version of the presentation posted earlier on this site.  A few references were changed including:

  • Remarks about possible bias in the presentation as shown by pictures of the Vancouver Skytrain were omitted because these were not actually displayed in the meeting (they are part of the material on the project’s website).
  • My initial sense that Scarborough Council was supporting an all-LRT option was, of course, no longer valid and my proposal for more extensive study of this could not be piggybacked on their position.

Commissioner Ashton asked that I address the cost differential between the RT and LRT options.  I replied that although the simple RT upgrading proposed by staff was about $140-million cheaper than the LRT alternative, this differential would be eaten up by the extra cost of RT technology for any extension of the line beyond McCowan Station.  I also noted that in an earlier presentation on the Capital Budget, the project cost shown for the RT was $501-million, not $360-million.  Even allowing for inflation, there is a discrepancy between the two figures that needs to be explained.

Councillor Ashton then asked TTC staff about the LRT issue.  Bill Dawson of the Planning Department replied that the main concern for an extension was the projected demand of 8,000 passengers per hour on the RT itself.  With a design load of 140 per car, this translates to 57 cars per hour.  In practice this would mean a two-minute headway of two-car trains, or a three-minute headway of three-car trains.  If the RT extension is built partly on street, the latter would require very large stations.  Dawson was concerned that service reliability could not be maintained for the line as a whole with this level of street right-of-way operation.

This is a fascinating statement coming from TTC staff.  In effect, they are saying that they could not maintain proper service without a totally exclusive right-of-way.  There is no question that 8,000 pphpd is a substantial load for an LRT line (comparable to demand on the Bloor-Danforth streetcar before the subway opened).  What is missing here is any discussion of whether the line might branch and serve different parts of north-east Scarborough without trying to run the full service on a single, street-based route. 

Moreover, we need to remember that the projected demand is for year 2031 when the new RT will once again be up for replacement, and buildout of a full LRT network in Scarborough is easily a decade or more in the future.

These capacity issues, as presented by TTC staff, convinced Ashton to support the RT-based proposal.

Commissioner de Baeremaeker moved the staff recommendations with an amendment asking for a report by yearend 2006 on possibilities for a Scarborough network.

I am not hopeful that the momentum for an upgraded RT will be stopped if only because it is, superficially, the cheapest alternative in the medium term and can be most easily implemented.  However, the wish list from Scarborough Council will be a challenge both for the TTC and for City Council in many ways:

  • The assumption that there is actually $1-billion just sitting there for Scarborough’s taking is based on a concept of “equity” with North York and its Spadina extension.  Money doesn’t grow on trees in any municipality, and even the Spadina subway is in jeapordy due to funding cutbacks.
  • The Malvern RT extension has an old (early 1990s) EA approval, but this is hopelessly out of date.  When the extension north to Finch (or beyond) was discussed, a flurry of activity among staff indicated that this might not be easily incorporated in the scheme.  Obviously, the further the RT goes, the more it will cost.  No right-of-way for an extension has been protected north of Sheppard Avenue.
  • The Brimley Road station is an additional project cost regardless of which technology is chosen.
  • Extension of the Sheppard Subway (regardless of its terminus) is extremely costly.  Just to reach Victoria Park (the first logical step) would set us back about $400-million based on the estimated Scarborough Subway’s cost.
  • Extension of the Danforth Subway is at least 30 years in the future (when whatever replaces the RT wears out).  However, since this project is not part of the Official Plan, right-of-way protection will be difficult.
  • Sadly, the additional LRT lines in Scarborough will not have an anchor route from which to grow.  This will make the initial cost of any line higher, and I doubt we will actually see any of them built.  Instead, TTC staff will propose a network of BRT lines, roads will be widened in a few places, and that’s all Scarborough will ever see.

I may sound cynical here, but the fundamental problem is that we have very severe financial problems in Toronto’s transit system.  Billion-dollar plans come and go, but few will actually be built.  Whenever new money comes available, the first thought Councillors have is “where can we build another subway” rather than “how can we improve the transit system”.  Until this changes, transit riders will spend long, cold days waiting for the few buses and streetcars we deign to operate.

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17 Responses to The RT and Scarborough’s Future

  1. Jonathan Cooper says:

    So much for the Scarborough councillers seeing the light on LRT.

    It would make so much more sense to have LRT on the RT route, so you could at least have the option of combining on-street LRT routes with the existing ROW. That way you could have, for example, a Lawrence LRT that runs along the rail corridor to Kennedy station, or a Progress LRT that run on-street from Sheppard and joins the ROW at STC.

    Why does the TTC continue to support third-rail technology? It would seem to me that running overhead wires provides much more operational flexibility? Perhaps they know this and want to ensure we never have mixed on-street/grade separated routes?

  2. Benny Cheung says:

    A billion dollar plan is not all that much considering that the US spends this much on a day in Iraq alone just to protect oil. A billion dollars to buy reduced reliance on Middle East Oil is worth it. Governments of all level just do not understand that what is good for Bombardier is good for Canada. Money should be used to build transit infrustructure so that cities can order more Bombardier vechiles. This help to offset the R&D cost for Bombardier and provide for the existence of a middle class. If the government do not support Bombardier in this way, it will end up in history just like the Avro Arrow.

    Bombardier has mentioned in the past that extended the ICTS to Malvern is not all that expensive. Since the new Mark II vehicles are smarter and lighter, one can run them with much more closer intervals. If the Mark II can run at 90 seconds interval, the TTC can get away with running with a 2 car operation. Assuming each Mark II can carry 200 passengers (crush load based on New York’s system), there would be 40 trainsets running each hour. This means it can easily carry 8000 passengers per hour. Running 2 car trainsets will mean smaller stations. Smaller stations save contruction costs and maintainence costs.

    Raymond Cho is crazy for suggesting the metro be extended all the way out to Meadowvale. There is no density to support a metro out there. I advise him to look up what ICTS means. Scarborough need something in between the capacity of a tram and a metro. Still the Sheppard metro should be extended to Scarborough Center. There is no point in telling people to transfer at Don Mills to ICTS/tram to Scarborough Center and than ICTS/tram to Malvern.

    Once the trunk line is built in Scarborough within a decade, Bombardier will release a whole new generation of trams. These trams can branch off from the ICTS stations. In the tram magazines, Bombardier is rumouring to lauch a driverless tram built with composite materials. Since it will be so light, it can probably be 80% low floor with enough power to spare for steep uphills. This will be perfect for TTCs application.

    To end off, I suggest the TTC hire a new ad company. The TTC need to capture the public’s dream for fast travel to succeed. NASA can launch a shuttle at $200 million because it emodies the public’s dream for space travel. An ICTS travelling on a guideway represent something from a science fiction novel. Remember the 1982 RT slogan? It was “Tomorrow’s transit, today”. The TTC should return to that image.

  3. Matt says:

    Just to reply to one of Benny’s comments: reliance on Middle East oil is more of an American issue than a Canadian one.  Canada produces more oil (and energy in general) than it consumes. T hat said, there are all sorts of good environmental reasons to use less oil.

    In general, this seems like another failed public consultation for the TTC.  At the meetings, the public’s focus was distracted by the subway option, while the real dilemma — RT vs. LRT — went almost unnoticed.  There’s no way to know if the public has a preference between those two.  And with the idea of an extended LRT network so vague, many people who might be affected weren’t paying attention — e.g. people further east on Ellesmere Road who never knew one of the study’s options might provide them a transfer-free ride to Kennedy.

    I do agree with the proposal to find a better name to replace the confusing “RT”. How about the ScarTrain?

  4. N. Clawson says:

    I would disagree with some of Mr. Cheung’s remarks (#2)

    Firstly, at ‘crush load’, dwell times increase dramatically, reducing real capacity.  You can see this on the TTC streetcars anytime you get anything above 75 passengers.

    2nd, the forecasting of transit demand on a route is in no way exact.  I believe it’s a mistake to skimp on station space.  You just have to see how stations such as Union and the B-D platform at the Y-U-S interchange crimp real capacity and cause bunching.  Same thing on the Spadina streetcar route.

    In contrast, the Montreal Metro has very generous platforms.

    In my view, stations space should be adequate for 25-50% over expected ridership.

    Third – subsidizing certain corporations with the goal of creating a middle class invariably fails cost/benefit justification.  Remeber that Switzerland does not produce any automobiles, BC and Alberta don’t make any transit vehicles or automobiles – yet these economies have no trouble sustaining their middle classes.

  5. Benny Cheung says:

    Just a response to Matt.  While Canada is a net oil exporter, it still imports a massive amount of Middle East oil.  Kuwati and Saudi crude has less sulfur and higher octane than synthetic crude from Alberta.  Still, any reduction in oil use is good.  We can agree to that.

    Mr. Clawson, I listed the crush load statistics just as a reference.  Bombardier mentioned that the ICTS system can run in a 6 car confirguration.  In this case, capacity will never be a problem.  If the new ICTS system require additional trains, small stations would not be a liability.  ICTS runs primarily on a guideway and making a station like Midland bigger does not cost a lot of money, since the elevators and escalators are already built with the smaller station.  There is no digging required which is another plus.

    Station space is always lacking.  Even in transit freindly Japan, every station seems to be at over capacity.  Their stations are never as eloborate as ours.  On lines like the Yamanote and Tokaido, stations are above ground with a small roof over it.  Most do not even have an escalator.  Most stations are less than 6 feet in width and it is filled with vending machines selling hot food, magazines, tobacco and even beer.

    I am not against LRT/tram technology.  It is just that they are not very fast.  I work at University and Pearl St, so I have experience with the Queen and King trams.  It took me 5 minutes on the Queen tram just to get from Spadina to McCaul.  The King tram took forever to go from Simcoe to Spadina.  I was late several times from lunch due to that.  When I take the metro, I can go to the Eaton Center in less than 10 minutes consistently.  How can a trunk line in Scarborough be based on tram technology?  ICTS is fast and if we have trams branching from it, this is the way to go.

    Mr. Clawson, I will research some more about the subsidizing corporations to sustain a middle class.  I remember former President Eisenhower had an interest piece on this topic.

  6. John Duncan says:

    Benny,

    What about LRT/tram technology isn’t very fast?  The CLRVs and ALRVs are capable of travelling at up to 90km/h.  That’s faster than the ICTS actually moves, isn’t it?

    There’s a bunch of reasons why the Queen (especially) and King streetcar service is interminably slow, and Steve and other posters have covered them quite well.  Briefly, they are poor scheduling and drivers clumping together, lack of transit priority at signals, very frequent stops, and shared ROW operation.  Not a one of these is really a technological issue; they’re to do with budgets, planning and politics.

    What do you believe will stop an LRT on exclusive ROW with signal priority and infrequent stops from performing at the same speed as a rebuilt ICTS?

  7. James Bow says:

    How can a trunk line in Scarborough be based on tram technology?

    Because you are comparing apples to oranges.  The reason the Queen and King cars are slower than the Scarborough RT is because they are in mixed traffic and the Scarborough RT is not.  The proposal to convert the SRT to LRT operation does NOT entail taking away the private right-of-way and operating the new trams in competition with private automobiles.

    It may surprise you to learn that the trams on Queen and King actually have a higher maximum speed than the ICTS cars on the Scarborough RT. That’s because these cars were originally designed with the SRT’s operation in mind.

  8. Joseph C says:

    All i can say is, ICTS Technology is far better then the poor example that Scarborough has, but most of all the name HAS TO CHANGE.  I’ve asked at least a dozen people in York Region or Peel Region about Transit Imporovments like an “LRT” along Highway 7.  Their first response would be, what is LRT, is it like the LRT in Scarborough.

    The Name HAS TO CHANGE, and the newsmedia has to stop calling LRT a “dedicated lane for streetcars” because the instant a person hears streetcars, the slow long commute in downtown toronto comes to mind, not to mention the old cars that it uses.

    First change Scarborough RT into another name like AirTrain or AutoTrain.  Second, make the system driverless and then the TTC can see the TRUE benefits of ALRT since it does not have drivers.  Last, make modest expansions into Malvern and try experimenting interlining which would clearly disperse out a lot of commuter traffic.

    One way to do this is to extend the AirTrain dead north parallel to the railtracks and end at Agincourt GO Station.  Then the Sheppard Subway can end there for atleast 10 or so years as a temporary solution.  Make a line that goes from STC to Agincourt GO via Interlining.

    This is a more REASONABLE extension to STC and it will provide a connection with the B-D Subway.

    Steve:  “Interlining” is a term normally used to indicate either that multiple services share parts of the same route or that a single vehicle/train operates on multiple routes.  Sorry for appearing thick here, but it’s not entirely clear how you would achive this in your scheme.

  9. N. Clawson says:

    Mr Cheung – I’m not a proponent of ‘tram’ technology – at least as implemented in this city.  My view is that rail-based service should be limited to true arterial service.  All local service should provided by buses.  LRT has only proven effective as the arterial (i.e. to central commercial district) in small to medium-sized cities.

    In terms of researching the efficacy of subsidies, you might wish to research the economics of ‘Comparative Advantage’.

    Steve:  Could you expand on what you mean by that last term?  This might make an interesting thread in its own right.

  10. Tom B. says:

    It’s funny that despite increased provincial and federal funding (okay an increase from zero but nonetheless…) and the transfer of gas tax dollars that there is still no money for transit expansion.  The gas tax money was supposed to go to capital but my understanding is that the city will use it all to subsidize operations and has just moves those dollars into other program areas.

    Steve:  One big problem with the gas tax money is that it was barely enough to get us back to the old level at which transit was funded before the cutbacks of the 1990s.  We need much much more to accomplish the rebuilding and improvement of our transit service that is foreseen in the Official Plan and other such documents.  

    If the City dedicated some of these revenues into a “Public Transit Capital Corp” which was empowered to borrow against them (plus other revenues such as road user charges or parking fees), we might actually see some new construction.  But politicians won’t take any risks anymore which we can see from the fact that very little gets built these days (even NYC hasn’t built a major new subway line since 1940) so I tend to agree with Steve’s pessimism and suggestion we should focus on improving service.

    Steve:  The problem with borrowing against future gas tax revenue is that this revenue will only sustain “$X” worth of capital investment, and when you’ve spent it, you’re back to square one.  Even if we do get the money (Ottawa is dragging its feet, and changes at Queen’s Park are clawing back funds via cutbacks in other subsidies), we will need to spend all of it on current requirements.  Given the political situation, no lender is going to bank on that money coming to Toronto reliably and forever to pay off any debt.

  11. Benny Cheung says:

    I am surprised that my response generated so much interest.  I understand that the Scarborough tram system will not be anything like the Queen trams.  However, as the tram extends past Bellamy, you will be sure that it will interact with traffic just like on Queen St.  At least with ICTS, we get a dedicated guideway.  This government has shown no interest in enforcing the King St tram lane, there is no indication that they want to enforce tram lanes let say on Progress Ave.

    Steve:  The King Street lane was a joke from the day it was instituted.  It was originally to be just in the core, and even then there were special pleadings from the theatre district (where would the tour buses go?) and the King Edward Hotel.  Then a councillor, Jack Layton if memory servesm got the idea that we should extend it west to Dufferin and east to Parliament even though this was totally impractical to the west and totally unnecessary to the east.

    The TTC’s latest mad scheme for King is to run two-car trains less often because this has been shown on a computer simulation (that I do not believe) to cause less delay.  Probably the idea is that with fewer transit units there is less to get in the way of the cars and magically everything moves faster.  The fact that people would have to wait almost 8 minutes for a train in the PM peak seems to have escaped TTC planners who should know that long waits are a strong deterent to ridership.  This scheme is complete hogwash and the sooner the TTC abandons it, the better.

    All of this shows how, when it comes to transit priority, we either make empty gestures or are simply incompetent.

    ICTS also has a trump card over trams in that it can be operated by a computer.  From an efficiency standpoint, nothing can beat a computer.  For example, the Tokyo Yamanote loop line is about 34.5 km in lenght.  On a conventional human operated metro, it takes about 61 to 65 minutes to complete one loop and stopping for 29 stations.  On the new metro with ATC (automatic train control), the travel time is reduced to about 58 minutes due to more precise acceleration and braking.  Trams cannot be operated with a computer even if you build right of ways like Spadina. Left turn vehicles and predestrians will prevent the introduction of driverless trams.

    Trams do have a place in Scarborough like running on Finch Ave and McCowan Ave.  However, the Scarborough ICTS corridor carries more people than the Sheppard metro line.  We ought to invest in a metro technology.  Just for reference, the city of Hakodate, Hokkiado has about 300000 people, yet they have several JR stations (think GO train) and 15 km of tram lines.  Clearly, Scarborough has a long way to go.

    I have purchased many rail simulation software from Taito (http://www.taito.co.jp/d3/cp/ryojo/).  While these are games like MS Flight Simulator, it is accurate enough to be used as simulator for employee training. 

    There are no tram system in Japan that is completed seperated from traffic like ICTS.  Most trams in Japan operate at about 40 km/h just to maintain harmony on the street. Imagine a tram roaring down Spadina at 80 km/h, people would get quite scared.  This is why every Japanese city over 500000 people have abandon tram technology and move to something with either third rail or guideways.

    Steve:  As I have said before, the speed of the Spadina car is largely dictated by three factors:

    • station spacing
    • station dwell time
    • the lack of signal priority

    This is not an inherent flaw in LRT/tram technology, but a huge problem with the way it is used.  I am sure we could figure out a way to screw up ICTS by doing something like putting a farebox on the train, making everyone show the driver their transfer and holding trains at every stop for no good reason. 

    If Scarborough wants money to build transit it has to be creative.  Universities are always underfunded.  Yet, they solicit for cash from every one.  The TTC does not even accept donations.  I am sure the likes of Conrad Black would love to use some of his wealth and create a positive legacy.  If he donates enough, we can have a “Conrad Black Memorial Line” instead of the Scarborough RT.  Universities have rooms, trees, chairs and buildings name after people, why can’t the TTC?  Steve or anyone feel like donating say $500 to have an ICTS seat name after you?  I am thinking seriously about this myself.

    Steve:  I’ll take a seat on the King car, thanks.  Meanwhile, the thought of such a paragon of private enterprise as Lord Black donating money to public transit is highly amusing.

  12. N. Clawson says:

    “Comparative Advantage” is a term used in macroeconomics. T he principle – which is supported by some fairly straightforward mathematics – is that nations (or regions, provinces) will best prosper best from producing and trading what they are best at – even at the expense of not producing goods where they have reasonable efficiencies.

    Subsidies by definition move societal resources from economic sectors that are self-sustaining and to economic sectors that less so.  The result is a net loss to the overall economy.

    Steve:  I have a problem with the definition of a “self-sustaining” economic sector.  Many aspects of our society do not easily lend themselves to dollars-and-cents economic analysis.  The values assigned to some activity or benefit varywildly depending on your political philosophy.  We make ruinous decisions such as building subway lines to the middle of nowhere to sustain a political fiction that this somehow will eliminate transportation problems and, oh by the way, make a lot of construction companies and property developers giddy with joy.

    When we stop making plans for mega projects that transfer money to developers, engineers and construction firms, we might also look at the comparatively small premium we will be paying to send work to the folks in Thunder Bay. 

  13. N. Clawson says:

    The question of the relative efficacy of subways and other choices is distinct from the choice of which private sector company to purchase equipment from.

    The focus on a small number of jobs in Thunder Bay is misplaced.  Thunder Bay and Toronto both have unemployment rates noticeably higher that the provincial average:

    Thunder Bay: Q2-2006 – 8.1%
    Toronto: July-2006 – 7.5%
    Ontario: July 2006 – 6.4%

    In addition, from 2001 to 2005 total employment in Thunder Bay was virtually unchanged – whereas total employment in the City of Toronto dropped 1.8%.

    Steve:  We have to be careful in comparing the City of Toronto to Thunder Bay.  If a job disappears in Thunder Bay, it is not likely to be replaced in some other company or another sector of the local economy.  In the City of Toronto, jobs have been migrating to the 905 for some time, and someone who loses a job in the 416 has alternatives to choose from.

  14. jj says:

    What is crazy about getting rapid transit out east?

    Toronto doesn’t end at Kennedy or even McCowan there are a lot of residents, businesses, schools and potential developments in East Scarborough and they won’t come to fruition until the city recognizes them.

  15. Ben says:

    I believe the thing holding the Scarborough RT back is not its age, but how it feels as if it were designed for “second class citizens.” A few years ago I was staying at Centennial College’s residence and commuted to their CCC campus in East York. Here are some of my negative impressions from this period:

    • Why so many stairs at Kennedy??? Why didn’t they install a direct escalator from the subway to the RT???
    • Sideway seating: The person who thought this was a good idea should have their testicles removed by a pit bull!!! Despite the ability to fit more people into the vehicle, it is awkward and uncomfortable.
    • Why do the stations look like prison cells??? I don’t think we need anything as fancy as the stuff on the Spadina line, but jeez these are some of the most depressing and unappealing transit stops in Canada!!!
    • Why does Midland station exist??? Besides the fact that it is right next to a recycling plant (great for stinking up the train), it is completely visable from Ellesmere station!!! Why not just have one station where the train makes its turn and have access to both streets???
    • Why is there an opening near the roof of the bus area at Scarborough Center??? Ensure your passengers continue to freeze while they wait for connecting buses in winter I suppose???

    Despite going out of its way to create the most unappealing transit trip imaginable, one thing it does do good is that it is FAST. During rush hour, you aren’t gonna get from Ellesmere to Eglinton in 6 minutes on the DVP. So rather than leave it as the drab and disgusting line that it is, improve it. Offer front way seating, paint the various stops, create an insulated heated/air conditioned bus waiting area at SC, abandon the Midland stop, and even create a high density commercial district around Kennedy station so it actually serves a purpose to get off there rather than it being nothing more than a pointless transfer stop.

    Steve: Many of the things you comment on are tied directly to the history of the original Scarborough LRT proposal and to warped planning in Scarborough and Metro at the time. As you likely know, the line was originally designed as an LRT line including a proposed extension to Malvern. You can look at excerpts of the reports elsewhere on this site at this link.

    The stations at Ellesmere and at Midland were to be at grade and, of course, Ellesmere was not going to be buried under a huge overpass.

    The trek up at Kennedy is a matter of geometry. The subway platform is in the middle of the structure directly under the RT tracks. It is impossible to do a straight run from the bottom level to the top because you will come out in the wrong place. The downward escalator flow works well, but the upward one is nonsense. You have to be at the far east end of the train to get on the 2-level up escalator, then walk back half-way down the station to continue up to the RT. Perish the though that the up escalators would form a convenient direct route.

    The original RT cars did not have sideways seating, but this was implemented during a retrofit without consultation, probably by predecessors of the same bright sparks who tried to bring us perimeter seating on the new subway cars. To be fair, with those narrow cars, the transverse seating left a narrow aisle at the two end compartments, but it would have been nice to be asked. Of course, LRT cars would have been wider and this would not have been an issue.

    The station design is nothing to write home about, but when you start with a $96-million LRT project that balloons into a $240-million RT project, you tend to scrimp and save where you can. The original at-grade LRT stations would have been a lot simpler, mind you, and you would still freeze your buns off waiting for service.

    Why is Kennedy not a major node? Originally that was the plan with the junction of the RT, the Danforth subway and the proposed Eglinton line. Then Scarborough Council got cold feet and worried that their precious Town Centre wouldn’t develop if there was a node like that just down the road. This is not unlike what happened with the Etobicoke City Centre at Burnhamthorpe and West Mall, and the Six Points (destroyed to make a highway interchange). The development actually happened at Islington where there were the beginnings of an actual neighbourhood as well as a real transit node. Plans for Kennedy/Eglinton were downsized and the result is there for everyone to see.

    The RT’s impact was incalculable in that we lost the chance to see what a low-cost suburban LRT line would look like and start building a network that would have included a line parallel to Finch, and a line linking Kipling Station to the airport. Some days I am extremely bitter about the huge mistakes Toronto has made in its transit choices, and recent funding announcements continue taking us down the same path — transit to serve political ends, not practical ones.

    Let’s hope we do better in the days to come.

  16. Ben says:

    Thanks for the speedy reply. I never knew so much went wrong with the long term planning for this line, but then again long term planning and the TTC rarely see eye to eye. Hopefully sometime in the next decade, some of these streetcar ROW will become the footprint to a true LRT network in Toronto.

    As for the RT, maybe they should get some neighbourhood kids over the summer to come in and paint the stations??? It would allow them to earn some money, and it would keep them away from the gangs that plague the area. And in the long run, would create less depressing transit line.

    BTW while we’re here, I’ve heard mentioned on here that streetcars have a top speed of 80km/h, which is faster than the RT trains. What is the top speed of the RT, and what is the fastest speed it travels at during long stretches (ie: between Ellesmere and Lawrence East)???

    Steve: The top speed of the CLRVs is actually 110km/h, but they have never run at that speed except possibly on a test track. No urban line needs that kind of speed, but the boffins who designed the cars didn’t think that one through. That’s why they have suck heavy trucks — for high speed stability they would never need.

    The top speed of the RT is around 70km/h but it rarely runs at that speed. In Vancouver, they tend to reserve top speed for situations where the service has a gap and they are trying to make up time to even out the service. But also, Vancouver has a far more complex system and it runs automatically under control from the central dispatchers and their computers.

    There is no point in designing for very high speed operation if the stations are relatively close together because you never get up to full speed, or waste a lot of energy accelerating only to have to slow down again. Very high speed operation also demands complete grade separation for safety.

  17. Tommy Thomson says:

    As a Vancouver resident, I think Scarborough should go for the Mark II RT cars (second-generation SkyTrain). SkyTrain has been such a tremendous success in Vancouver. The trains come much more frequently than the subway trains in Toronto. LRT is second-rate…look to Calgary for that. SkyTrain actually has the potential to get people out of their cars.

    Steve: And if Calgary had to build their system with Skytrain it would have cost a fortune. I thought you folks out west believed in value for money?

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