Spadina subway extension clears funding hurdle

Spadina Extension preferred alignment

The Toronto Star is announcing on its front page that a final $697 million from the federal government has sealed the Spadina Subway Extension deal (see their article here). The money comes as part of a large package of funding for transit in the GTA including:

A Mississauga transitway, a bus-only road along Highway 403 and Eastgate Parkway from Burnhamthorpe Rd. to Eglinton Ave. E.

Brampton’s $280-million Acceleride project, meant to speed bus service. Ontario has already committed $95 million for the improvements.

An expansion of York Region’s Viva bus system. York Region officials want to get buses on to dedicated lanes.

The widening of Highway 7, in the amount of $55 million.

An environmental assessment to extend Highway 407 eastward to link up with Highway 401. This would go through federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s Whitby-Oshawa riding.

A $5 million study of rapid transit in Durham.

For those unfamiliar with the $2 billion Spadina Extension proposal, it continues the Spadina subway line north to York University, then beyond Toronto’s boundary at Steeles to connect to (the future) Vaughan Corporate Centre at Highway 7 in Vaughan. I include a map below from the TTC‘s website on the matter – more information can be had here.

crossposted to


  1. I still think this is a complete waste of money. There are other areas of the city that need a subway line much more than York U or “emerging” areas. What about the fantasized “Eglinton Line”, or completing what you started and finishing the Sheppard Line! It’s just a political game that we’re all hostage to.

  2. Absolutely.

    And when you look at the post “Help Build a Transit City” ( from 2 days ago, it makes you wonder how (if at all) this subway extension really fits into a larger transit strategy capable of solving problems at the GTA level.

    While it’s great that York University gets a subway connection, one has to wonder what $2 billion could have gotten in other modes.

    Unfortunately, these big money projects are always political, and cities end up tagging along on a politician’s pet project coat-tails. For the City to ignore the opportunity could be disastrous too since there’s no guarantee that the political will could be generated around different, less glamorous projects.

    You will find the same sentiment in Vancouver regarding the Canada Line, (, whose alignment noone seems to be particularly happy about and which was equally driven by politics and the forced-hand of the upcoming Olympics.

  3. Actually I was just checking the Canada Line out – they’re doing 16 stations in a length of 19.5km for $1.9 billion (2003 dollars), for a whole new north-south subway line including a connection to the airport.

    We’re getting 8.6km and 6 stations for $2 billion, connecting to a university and a yet-to-be “corporate centre”, and not much else.

    Hmmm. Value for money? Perhaps not.

  4. “We’re getting 8.6km and 6 stations for $2 billion, connecting to a university and a yet-to-be “corporate centre”, and not much else”. Spoken like a true downtowner.

  5. Que Bono? It’s obvious. 905 votes Tory. Vaughan wants to live in automobile-land, but get to work easily. 416 does not vote Tory, so why give them LRTs or the like? However, though the money would go a lot further within 416, the truth is we need the money there AND elsewhere too.

    It does make more sense to extend the subway north on the Avenue, rather than the Yonge line, just because Yonge is already at capacity or more. My friend who rides the Avenue line from St. Clair West chose that location because it is so much less busy than the Yonge line… for now.

    When are we going to integrate all GTA transit?!

  6. It mystifies me that, with all the begging, borrowing and stealing in order to fund an extension to what is presently a field in Vaughan, the central city has been completely ignored in all subway planning. When will it get through the heads of the TTC that maybe, just maybe, the dense-and-getting-much-denser areas of down- and midtown might be somewhat more deserving of new subways than the distant suburbs?

    Transit planning is totally backward in this city, which is probably why we have such an underpowered subway network. What about a line on Queen, or a second ‘U’ around the current one, or the aforementioned Eglinton line? All of them make way too much sense, I suppose. Better to give the areas that actually have the transit ridership to support subways some 30-year old streetcars, and bore tunnels through empty fields.

  7. Privatization is a dirty word in transitspeak but if the TTC’s subway system were privatized, all further construction would naturally align itself according to demand and not political dictum.

    If I remember correctly, the BD and Yonge-University (not Spadina) lines generate a small profit.

  8. A poor use of public money. Imagine the useful system we could have built if we’d spent it on a web of LRT lines criss-crossing the city. Something like this:

    Spending $2B on this subway extension benefits residents of the northwest corner of the city and the small percentage of York students who come from downtown and the southeast. That’s it.

  9. “Spoken like a true downtowner.”

    Hmm. I suppose so, but when there is limited money for transit, we have to set priorities based on need, practicality and a macro idea of the large-scale system we want.

    The Canada Line in Vancouver connects downtown Vancouver to the very suburban City of Richmond. It’s an entirely new line 19 km long. It will quite clearly benefit the “non-downtowner” populations of Vancouver and Richmond tremendously. And they’re building it for the same money as we seem to be proposing this much smaller extension to the Spadina line.

    I’m not sure questioning the value our transit system receives from the Spadina extension has anything to do with being a “downtowner” simply because the extension doesn’t serve downtown. For a “downtowner” student at York, this line would make life a lot easier.

    However, despite the construction of the Millennium Line and the new Canada Line in Vancouver, on neither occasion did they go out of their way to connect the lines to Simon Fraser or UBC – for better or worse. Simon Fraser is supplied with a fast and frequent bus from the nearest Skytrain station. The question remains, can a university create enough demand to justify a subway line?

    Suburban places can hardly expect the same level of service and connectivity as a real, established downtown with a massive density of business and residential population. Vaughan’s new downtown (the corporate centre) is still non-existent. Why is York Region’s VIVA system happily allowed to pursue the logical course of Bus Rapid Tranist to transitways to eventual (when demand requires it) Light Rail, while “non-downtowners” seem to demand that the TTC build a subway everywhere.

    As the “Sexy public transit, part I” post ( from November made clear, an extensive BRT/LRT network for the entire City of Toronto could be had for an “Estimated total cost: $1.5 billion (rough estimate)” with an “Estimated ridership growth: 80 million new riders by 2016 (conservative estimate)”. Such a system would serve transit riders in every part of the City and ease connections to neighbouring systems.

    Now ask yourself how much you can expect “downtowners” and everyone else who doesn’t live in Vaughan or the immediate vicinity of York University to feel happy that we’re spending more money to get astonishingly less – not only less than the potential extensive BRT system we could have had, but significantly less than Vancouver’s getting for the same money. In fact, building subways in this cavalier manner appears to be an implicit criticism of the York VIVA approach to improving transit in suburban areas.

    Given all that, I find it hard to be a cheerleader for this line.

  10. I think the reason there’s such a cost difference vs. Vancouver is the capacity of the line. The Canada Line will carry up to 334 people on each train, with trains every 3 minutes: that’s 6,700 per direction, per hour. The Spadina extension will be built to Toronto subway standards, which provide capacity closer to 30,000 per direction per hour.

    Seems like a stretch to say it’s a direct criticism of VIVA. VIVA is supposed to build up to bigger, faster routes over time; this route is just getting way ahead of the rest of the system. The EA site’s drawings for VCC subway station do show an east-west VIVA BRT/LRT line on Highway 7. That could be a crucial link, though oddly they don’t seem to have bothered with an indoor connection.

  11. i just wanted to add that although many ppl think it’s a waste, the reality is that over 40k people go to york to learn or teach every day and they just keep building more and more and more parking. If this will divert even 30% of the cars, imagine all the gridlock and smog we can avert. i went to york for a few years back in the 90s, parking was a nightmare then and i hear it’s only gotten worse. i think a large university deserves a subway stop if at all feasible.

  12. re: Vancouver’s Canada Line – you’re probably right, Matt. But in that case maybe they should have considered fast-tracking the Viva Orange line (Downsview Station to Martin Grove) conversion to some form of higher capacity line (either LRT or small subway or something) since that line duplicates the entire Spadina line extension and goes beyond.

    While this does risk repeating the Scarborough RT experience, it would be nice to think that we’ve learned something since then. A more comparable line might be the proposed Evergreen light rail transit line in Vancouver which comes off of an existing Skytrain line. It’s 11 km long with 12 stations, although the cost for this line still seems to be around $1 billion, but seems like it will be at grade along existing streets and through exclusive right-of-ways.

    The obsession with the TTC subway standards means that we can’t break out of this box of the existing lines. There was no reason whatsoever to build the Sheppard line to the standards of the Yonge and Bloor-Danforth lines, and now they’re doing it again.

  13. While my heart agrees with Suzan, the map that Robin posted a few comments above demonstrates the wastefulness of massive subway construction, especially when our transit system is financially strained. We have to think with our heads, and that means going with cheaper alternatives that can be just as effective for a larger percentage of the city.

    York deserves a high-speed connection to it, but a subway coming from only two directions will not be the saviour of the driving problems of York. It will have to be come from east and west (LRT on the hyrdo corridors anyone???) in multiple forms of transit. Hopefully it can be done with LRT on ROWs, dedicated bus lanes.

    Though, in time I hope we can bus lanes into LRT corridors becuz people have a hard time getting out of their car and on to a bus, but seem much more comfortable getting onto a different mode of transit like trains and subways.

  14. I was talking to a York student about articulated buses one day, and he said, “Have you ever seen nine TTC buses line up in a row?”

    I admitted that I hadn’t, but I declared that it sounded like a job for articulated buses!

    He kind of rolled his eyes, looked at me and said, “… or a subway.”

  15. I’m happy that the feds are finally giving money to this project. It is not the best use of money, but the subway will help commuters from Vaughan to commute downtown, and will help students at York, who are very tired from riding the old and very cramped GM buses which the TTC runs on the 196 York Rocket. The subway will mainly serve the university of course, but if the right incentives are given, there is a lot of redevelopment potential on both the Downsview lands, the Steeles West industrial park and the proposed Vaughan Corporate centre. If what Vaughan ends up building is even close to what Markham is building for it’s new downtown, then the subway will be justified.
    Currently, the demand is not there for a subway. The demand could easily be handled by the GO train network. However, the GO system is quite useless since it only offers unidirectional service, and only a couple of trains a day. Most people these days cannot live by such a limited timetable, and that is why GO needs to quickly accelerate it’s rail expansion program to increase capacity to allow for bidirectional hourly service or better on all of its lines. Only this would prevent suburbanites from clamouring for a subway. Vaughan residents who work downtown mostly drive all the way down or drive to Yorkdale to park their cars to hop on the subway. This creates quite a bit of traffic on the 400 and 401. By extending the subway north to Hwy 7, it will
    alleviate capacity on the highways as the downtown commuters will switch to a relaxing subway ride rather than deal with crazy traffic.

    The federal funding is welcome since any improvement to transit in the GTA is welcome. This funding will also help fund the BRT’s on Yonge Street (construction set to begin in 2008) and Hwy 7 as well as Brampton and Mississauga. Now if only the GTTA would help integrate fares and service.

    Many people who live downtown would argue that downtown or even midtown (Eglinton) deserves a subway, and of course they do. However, the Spadina line already has the EA completed and is all set for construction. To build a line along Queen and or Eglinton would require years and years of EA studies and would be tremendously more expensive to build, since downtown areas are very dense and construction would be much more complex. It is much cheaper to simply convert the entire Toronto streetcar network to LRT type service. Ban all parking from the narrow main streets, and give all streetcars the ROW on all its routes. Build VIVA style stations along the lines giving users the next vehicle arrival time, and you will get great service downtown at fractions of the cost of a subway. LRT service promotes great street level activities. It works wonders in European cities. In Gothenburg, Sweden, there is a very extensive tram network, which is all on a ROW.
    Toronto could easily mimic this style of system in the downtown core. We already have Spadina, Queens Quay and soon St. Clair.

    As for midtown, I believe Eglinton does deserve to have a subway stretching from Pickering to Pearson. It would greatly help reduce cross-city commuter traffic. However, the cost is quite prohibitive and would require a massive political push to get it done. The city needs this, but where are all the local politicians from Mississauga and Pickering asking for a subway, and forming a group to demand it as York has? There aren’t, and since there large projects are political beasts by nature, a strong political push is required before they can be build. The least we can do is to force the current city council to start an EA along Eglinton. An east-west express service is needed badly. The B-D subway is too slow to offer the required service for cross-town commuters.

    All aboard the subway to IKEA Vaughan by 2014! 🙂

  16. Paul> I’d argue the old GM busses themselves are not cramped (perhaps overcrowded on the York rocket line) but they’re spacious compared to the lowfloor busses where my knees forever hit the seat in front of me.

  17. I have been taking the rocket 196 to York everyday to York for the last 6 years and to be honest it doesn’t bother me much. Only around September do things get pretty hectic but for the most part it’s totally not that bad. There always seems to be a bus, one after the other. The ride to Downsview is not so bad either, depending on the time of day, fifteen minutes or so. There was a proposal for an alternate route to be built especially for the 196 but I have not heard much on that lately. Over the years York U and its surrounding area are busting at the seams with evening traffic, especially when there is an accident on the 401.

    As a commuter who has lived in the York University area all my life I have absolutely no problem with the subway reaching here. Yes the price tag that comes along with it may seem a bit much but the TTC must expand it’s subway to all sides of the city. These days I see the city growing upward rather than east-west.

    Let’s see, Kipling station is pretty much set with access to Mississauga, anything further out and you’re probably taking the GO train or Driving in. Scarborough’s got their LRT, it may need revamping but at least they got it. The Queens Quay LRT is alright too. With the growth of Vaughn, Woodbridge, Maple and King City and the whole of York Region building an extension north does not sound such a bad idea. The population growth up here in the last 10 – 15 years is phenomenal. Look at how much these regions are asking for to better their systems. They will be asking for much more in several years. The longer we wait the more expensive it will get to complete. It is the one thing that must happen in order for this city to keep up with the expanding GTA.

  18. Finance Minister Greg Sorbara, who represents Vaughan, wields a lot of power and, under his watch, a subway to York U/Steeles suddenly became a subway to Vaughan. Interestingly, when Julian Fantino was fired as Toronto’s police chief, the Liberals quickly gave him something to do. Word was is that he’d run against Sorbara for the Tories. When Emergency Management Commissioner wasn’t enough, he got the top job at the OPP. Part of me wonders if that too was to help keep Sorbara’s seat safe.

    Right now, the Vaughan Corporate Centre is made up of a AMC Theatre, an Ikea and a Wal-Mart. Vaughan even decided to build its new civic centre out in Maple, far from the VCC. In comparison, when Mississauga wanted to develop Square One as its city centre, it made the bold step of building is city hall, main library and theatre in that location. It has taken a while, but at least that area now has some density worth at least a light rail line.

    We seem to like building subways to Ikea – Sheppard, now Vaughan. Maybe Mississauga should bring Ikea back – North America’s first Ikea was on Dundas between Dixie and Cawthra. So my cynical theory to get a subway requires either a finance minister, or an Ikea to get a subway, or even both. Same with Scarborough. (To get an expressway to your town, you need a premier – the start of Highway 11 widening to North Bay was under Mike Harris’ watch, Highway 410 was announced while “Brampton Billy” Davis was still in charge.)

    I also agree with Shawn. The reason why the old GMs are on the 196 is probably because they can pack a lot more people than a new low floor bus.

  19. This Spadina subway extension scares me… the TTC is just recovering from the albatross that is the Shepperd subway and now this? Are we destined for another 10 years of waiting for new buses or even a few LRT/BRT lines?

    Granted, the Spadina subway is not without some merit as a transit line, but it’s effectiveness pales in comparison to what could be done with the same amount of money for the ENTIRE CITY…

    The politicization of transit is disheartening… when are we going to get the best bang for our transit buck, rather than our political buck?

    We need to raise the profile of this issue during the two upcoming elections… I really wonder what John Tory and Dion think about this…

  20. Maybe I’m reading too much into Paul’s choice of words, but to me the notion that different parts of the city “deserve” subway lines is a big problem. Yonge and Bloor Streets didn’t deserve their subway lines — they desperately needed them to replace overcrowded streetcar services. Neighbourhoods around the city deserve good transit, but the type of transit should be driven by need, not entitlement.

    I agree with Robin that we do need to start building high quality transit lines that aren’t full subways, and therefore can be built more cheaply. The sense of entitlement makes this hard to do — now that Vaughan has a subway connection, will people say Mississauga deserves one? It’s too late to build a cheaper alternative to this line, but it wouldn’t be too late to declare a moratorium on planning any other subway extensions. With the subway option off the table, people would have to get more creative, and cost-effective.

  21. Alden:
    Your sentiments are well-meaning, but when you crunch the numbers and look objectively at all the options it becomes clear that spending all that money on a few subway stations is a poor decision.

    This post at the Steve Munro blog (and the discussion in its comments) is what convinced me:

  22. I’ve always been a favour of a subway to York University. It is needed, no questions asked. But an extension to Highway 7 and Jane is absolute nonsense. Just look at that area right now. No highrise buildings, no condos, just an empty industrial area. In this area, I would have expected the Federal Tories (no matter how much I hate those guys) to step in and stop the project, or at the very least, cut it back to York University, its correct terminus.

    I’m not in favour of an extension outside Toronto for the simple fact that all fares outside of Toronto are not integrated with the TTC. I don’t see why we have to pander to the 905 community when the subway extension does not benefit us as much as it benefits them. But even so, extending the Spadina Line to Vaughan isn’t the answer. If you ride on Yonge Street between Highway 7 and Finch Station, you’ll know that the streets are absolutely jam packed. If such an extension to York Region is required, then it should be the Yonge Line to Richmond Hill Center Terminal. It may cost more than the Spadina subway to Vaughan, but it will help alleviate the chaos on Yonge as well as serve THREE critical communities, Vaughan, Markham, AND Richmond Hill would benefit from a Yonge Line extension.

    Still I believe that any extension to York University should stop there and be served by the Sheppard, instead of Spadina Lines. Such an extension would complete the second east-west line that Sheppard is supposed to be while linking Sheppard to a ridership generating area. Also, it provides a link with riders on the Yonge Line to York University. Sure this means that Spadina Riders would have to transfer at Downsview, but then Yonge Line patrons can deal with a single transfer to York University instead of two when the Sheppard Line is eventually extended to Downsview.

    Final Word: Stop the extension to Vaughan. It is a waste of money.

  23. Shawn> You are correct the lowfloor buses are terrible.

  24. Eric makes good points. A lot of the posters above want to write off the whole Spadina extension. But a subway at York U and a subway at Jane-7 are rather different propositions.

    An extension to York U makes a lot of sense to me. It’s a huge trip generator — one of the biggest in the city, and the acres of parking lot are unbelievable. The Jane-7 extension, on the other, seems kind of nutty.

    I’d support the TTC adopting internal bylaws that forbid it from siting subway stations at locations without sufficient (1) density, or at least (2) planned density. In other words, the TTC should be bound by rules in which it simply doesn’t allow itself to build subway stations in areas with less than a certain number of persons and jobs per square kilometre. (Is a full-time student a “job” for density purposes? I don’t know how this is measured.)

    Finally, I agree with Eric about Yonge line to the Langstaff GO/VIVA “Richmond Hall Centre” station (located on Richmond Hall’s soutern border). The stretch between Finch and 7 is non-stop YRT (and Brampton) and, on the southern part, TTC buses, and even the reserved lane can be pretty slow at rush hour, especially for all the non-TTC buses forced to stop at every TTC stop behind the local buses.

    Other benefits might include YRT reconfiguring some of VIVA’s routes to feed Langstaff subway rather than FInch subway; boosting GO train ridership taking the “express” route; finally getting the systems to cooperate on a joint TTC-GO-YRT terminal; and accelerating plans to densify that corridor from a residential standpoint.

  25. There are, I believe, capacity issues with a Yonge north extension. The hope, as it has always been is to try and draw more people onto the less utilized “U-S” portions of the line because Bloor/Yonge is overloaded.

    The criticism of the lines make sense; but at least we’ll get proper BRT to Finch.

  26. Mind you, I’m not COMPLETELY in favour of subway extensions in general. They are good if the benefits can be seen outright. In the case of Spadina to York University, the benefits are obvious in two ways: 1) York University itself and 2) it can be used as a hub similar to how Finch is being used by the YRT.

    I’ll also point out it is close to the Highway 400 where a lot of potential commuters would be. But in order for this to work properly, the MTO needs to complete the interchange at Steeles. It is not complete at this time as it can only be accessed to and from the south.

    I also agree with Craig’s comments that the money can be better used to benefit the entire city rather than one area. It would be nice to use the money to invest in a network of LRT lines along Don Mills, Jane, Finch, Eglinton, etc. But unlike the Sheppard line, the extension to York University does have outright merits, but an extension to Vaughan does not.

    Again, I’d say extending the Sheppard Line to York University is a better choice than Spadina. Combine that with an extension to Scarborough Town Center in the east makes the Sheppard subway a major corridor in its own right.

  27. In his presentation at the Transit Forum last week, Rob McIsaac, head of GTTA, said that they are designing a transit pass that would be used universally across the entire Toronto transit network. He didn’t say much about the logistics of it, but it seemed to an immediate priority. So for those that mentioned that in the thread, there’s something to look forward to.

    Anyway, I think connecting the subway to York University is a great idea. Universities are major centres of employment and will efficiently connect much creative capital to the rest of the city. For long term planning in the region, I think it will be very beneficial to the city and region.

  28. Any extension of a line must be a continuation of the line. Otherwise we’ll have another RT on our hands in 20 years. Eventhough it’s not cheap, it would benefit the entire city of Toronto in the long run. Yes, contrary to what many on this site are saying, it would benefit the city. Subways aren’t just for current demand, they are built for the future as well. North York City Centre for example was even more desolate than Vaughan Centre when they first built the North Yonge extension. Now that area has matured into a second downtown. Scarborough Centre’s growth however, is curtailed because the RT can’t satisfy demand.

    Many of you ‘haters’ are just downtown-centric elitists who scoff at any transit improvements in the suburbs because “they don’t deserve it”. But you have to plan for the future. And this subway extension would finally make redevelopment of the Downsview airport into a high density neighbourhood feasible(Sheppard West station). It would channel downtown-bound commuters on the Finch West and Steeles West buses off the Yonge Line and onto the Spandina Line, allowing for some much needed space to be freed up. This would also allow for more intensification along Yonge. The ever so annoying short turns at St. Clair West would be moved up to Wilson(again benefitting the CITY). Oh, and who can forget York U? Can you imagine it being as dense as U of T someday? I know it’s hard, but now there is a possibility of it happening.

    Vaughan and Brampton routes would also feed the subway adding to the line’s ridership. It’s funny how people complain that the Spadina subway is underused. Then this plan to significantly add to its ridership comes up and everyone strikes it down.

    Sure, there are other lines that probably should be built before this one, but the truth is we need something similar to N.Q. Duong’s proposal. That however requires a comprehensive funding plan we don’t have yet. For the current system(one line at a time) the Spadina extension is quite good.

    A lot of you bring up LRT, and I DO think we need a lot of lines built(Kingston Rd, Lakeshore West, Portlands, St. Clair West, Jane, Lawrence, Dufferin, Bathurst, Vic Park, perhaps Finch), but they can’t be the backbone of the system in Toronto. Eglinton, Sheppard, Don Mills, Weston corridor, and Queen require subways. And when subways are built, they should have stations a maximum of 1km apart. How can dense neighbourhoods develop along subway lines if you have to take a bus even if you live on top of one? They should serve local demand within the city of Toronto(and some significant nodes on the periphery, i.e. Vaughan Centre, Downtown Markham, perhaps Richmond Hill Transit Centre and Mississauga City Cente), while straight suburb to downtown commutes would be served by Go trains(all day service, electrified high speed trains). I’ve got a lot of ideas. I’ll make a map sometime.

    The point is, this extension is not the system we’re all looking for, but it is SOMETHING, and it’s JUSTIFIED. You haters should stop complaining.

  29. As many have stated before, extending the Yonge line north would make more sense from a ridership point of view, however if that were to happen, Bloor-Yonge station would need to be greatly expanded to allow for more boardings and increase in ridership.

    As for the usefullness of the Spadina extension to Hwy7 rather than Steeles, I believe Steeles is a bad end point of the line simply because it will not help with much downtown heading traffic, since you can’t exit the 400 on Steeles (heading southbound) as previously mentioned. Also, a great benefit to taking it north to Hwy7 is that it acts as another crossing of the 407. It is these highway crossings that cause bottlenecks since there are only so many (or few) places to cross. The subway to Hwy 7 will help facilitate the construction of Vaughan’s corporate centre development. Stopping the subway at Steeles would only be good if there would be a BRT or LRT planned along Steeles (which would actually be a great idea IMHO). The reason to take it to Hwy7 is because York region is planning just that: a BRT and eventually an LRT along Hwy 7. So it makes more sense to take it up to Hwy7 before the development occurs rather than wait to do it once buildings are already constructed on the now vacant land.

  30. Take a look at the Tokyo subway map to get an idea of what a city looks like where you can get from anywhere to anywhere by rail:

    The system has its imperfections: non-integrated fare system between companies both public and private, and differing fares by distance. It should also be noted that this map represents the rail lines in an area the size of the GTA, but with a population of our entire country. Density helps a lot. The lines in black actually equal the complexity of those nine in colour, but belong to different companies

    Take that map and divide the number of lines by six, to approximate equal service for our lower density, and you are still left with a hell of a system. They also build an entire LINE (!) every year or so. What looks like a gordian knot of lines is less complicated than it looks, once you learn to navigate to the major points of your own use of the city. One thing that makes personal navigation of the city easiest is the plethora of options, so most users are not funnelled into choke-points, and the non-grid arrangement allows for greater efficiency in the choice of people’s own routes.

  31. I doubt there is anyone that has commented here that HATES or even dislikes subways. In a perfect world, we’d have loads of subway lines. But Its mostly a question of whether we can AFFORD subways. Right now the answer is no, so if there is $2billion worth of funds available it should be spent on on LRTs and ROWs, etc.

    A subway make look good on paper, but the number don’t add up. Even the Uni-Spadina line has never reached its capacity. Density and intensification have not happened around any of those nodes/stations. In fact, only in the core has density changed once the subways were installed. A few places like Vic Park, High Park, North York centre, Finch, Sheppard, and now Kipling have since increased densities with a station opening.

    Some other thoughts:

    • Encourage development at the same time as construction. There has to be a plan to densify all those stops or the line is useless (I mean this in financial terms only).

    • People do not commute from the burbs to downtown like they used to. The commute from burb to burb. So any real investment we need to make is east-west corridors.

    • I see lots of value in the York extension — what i don’t see is enough in return for the expense right now. I’d rather see investment in LRT surface routes so we can get the best bang for our buck.

    • Lastly, it is almost impossible to compare Toronto, or any other city, to one another when it comes to subway lines, etc. The geography will always be different, so will the politics, and the timing of the city’s growth in the modern age.

  32. nish_s: I’m not a suburban hater, nor am I pro downtown. The point here is whether or not it is justified to build such an extension. However, other than to score political points, I can see no other reason why such an extension to Vaughan is necessary.

    Take York Region’s VIVA. VIVA’s Orange Line runs from Downsview Station to Martin Grove and Highway 7 via York University. On a busy day, you’d be hopeful to see a full bus on that line, but on most runs you’re almost always guaranteed a seat. And this bus runs every 10 minutes. Compared this to the 196. Every bus is jam packed, and the frequency is less than 3 minutes during rush hour.

    Other than the VIVA route, there are few routes that would benefit from an extension to Jane and Highway 7:
    – 77 Highway 7/Centre Street
    – 20 Jane/Concord (most likely combined with the 35D Jane extension)
    – Route 10, cut back to Jane and Highway 7.
    – Weston Road bus to Major Mackenzie

    There is no way in which the Jane and Highway 7 area will ever be a trip generator, even 20 years from now. This is an area of low density development. You need high density development for this to work.

    Proper subway expansion requires careful analysis of the potential benefits. The Scarborough RT was a good idea at the time, but it should have been a subway extension given its ridership potential. Patrons of that line are now paying for it with busy trains and a supplemental express service which barely suffices as a substitute.

    The Sheppard line was a good idea at its time, but its first phase should have run all the way to Victoria Park. Sheppard between Victoria Park and Don Mills sees a lot of traffic, thus swallowing valuable commuter minutes. Also, the parking lot at Don Mills Station is Cash only, it should have allowed for Metropass parking instead of at Leslie Station. And Don Mills does not connect to the 401. Ridership on this line would most likely be higher if it was built as originally intended.

    Plus the Sheppard Line should have been built when sufficient development was in place. Subways should be built in areas where potential ridership is already in place. They should not be built for us to “wait for it”.

    Ultimately, this is what is going to doom this extension when it is built. The Sheppard Line has been constantly derided as being a “white elephant”. The Vaughan extension will probably considered to be an even bigger white elephant. Criticisms of the TTC will continue to increase with regards to poor subway planning and future federal and provincial politicians will refuse to fund any more extensions, even if they are needed. No one wants to be associated to be a poorly planned urban project.
    “white elephants”

  33. I’m a bit wary of the timing of this. I am wrong in understanding that this money will be tied to the passage of the next federal spring budget (which may very well not pass), and the outcome of the next provincial election? Could this amount to nothing in the long run? Hadn’t Martin promised 1 billion in transit funding prior to his defeat in the last election?

  34. Eric said: “Criticisms of the TTC will continue to increase with regards to poor subway planning and future federal and provincial politicians will refuse to fund any more extensions, even if they are needed. No one wants to be associated to be a poorly planned urban project “white elephants.””

    Well, okay, except that’s it’s the Provincial and Federal governments who are pushing for this extension, not the TTC or the City. Anyone paying attention knows that the City’s priority is a LRT network–and rightly so. But when the others want to spend $1.2B in your city on a project that’s at least somewhere on the TTC’s agenda, how do you say no?

  35. Many of you ‘haters’ are just downtown-centric elitists who scoff at any transit improvements in the suburbs because “they don’t deserve it”.

    Oh, PUH-LEEZ. Downtown centric elitists? Honestly, does it get stupider than that?

  36. The Toronto Environmental Alliance estimates that the TTC spends $8 million more a year to operate the Sheppard subway than it did the previous Sheppard bus route…

    $8 million more than could be spent on buses for Malvern or Northern Etobicoke…

    How many extra millions will we waste for the Spadina subway extension?

    York only has a student/staff population of approximately 57,000… why would we be build a subway that has an hourly capacity between 20,000 and 40,000 people?

    I wonder what York’s Planning department and planning students have to say about this…

    I should ask… their answer might determine if I consider York for Grad School… lol

  37. A LRT surface route from Downsview to Steeles via York U sounds like an idea. It could work work although the route might be a little tricky. The only thing I am afraid of is it turning into the east LRT, over used and out of date. It is much cheaper and will serve the same purpose. Plus, although I ride a packed 196 to work every morning, I could see the subway to York empty. Yes there is alot of people making the trip up there but not that much.

    Would a surface LRT route to steeles serve as a temporary solution to a potentially much larger problem in communting between the 905 and 416?

  38. Sandra: exactly. The TTC’s original plan was for an extension to York University only. The Provs and the Feds want it to go to Vaughan.

    In the case of the Sheppard Line, the TTC wanted it to initially go to Victoria Park to bypass traffic issues on Sheppard over the 404. Guess who got it cut back to Don Mills? The Provincial government.

    In the case of the Scarborough RT, the TTC wanted it to be a full subway line. Guess who got them to use those RT vehicles?

    The TTC is unfortunately left with dealing with these decisions and are unfairly blamed with “going ahead with it”. In the case of the Sheppard Subway, more so because the TTC was more in favour of it. It is now considered as an orphan, a stub-way in which no other level of government feels like funding it further in order to properly extend the line to where it is supposed to go. I’m pretty sure that you would have received better ridership results had its first phase was properly completed to where it was originally supposed to go.

  39. Craig Cal

    that the Sheppard bus is still running parallel to the subway (due to station spacing at present) is probably not helping those numbers. I suspect many people heading to York take the bus for the at grade transfer to Sheppard West from Sheppard East – if the Sheppard was extended, as it should be, to Downsview those passengers might opt for the 0-change-to-Downsview subway instead.

    On the general point, I agree that it should be subway to Steeles and LRT in a “fan” out to various 905 centres, with commuters to downtown going by enhanced GO transit service. Unfortunately the current streetcar system has put people off LRT because of the TTC’s scheduling and shortturns and because the shorter streetcar at 18m only adds a limited extra capacity over a bus.

    In Dublin, Ireland they are upgrading all their 30m streetcars to a standard length of 40m because of the demand for service – if the power supply allowed it at their current service level they might have gone all the way to the maximum 50m!

  40. The extension to York U makes some sense; the extension beyond to Vaughan makes only political sense, buying the votes of the 905ers. I am interested to see that nobody in the comments so far has noted that Toronto is one of the few cities of its size in the world where it is impossible to get to the airport by public transit. Even in Ottawa, you can take an express bus, along a busway, for a regular fare. Take a city like Frankfurt, Germany, where you can take the train to the airport, and an escalator to the departures area. If money were to be spent on subways or light rail, it might better have been steered to the airport.

  41. I have been arguing with myopic sub-St. Clair city dwellers for years about this. What sense does a subway route make if commuters have to drive what is literally half way into a city to get on the subway. Once a commuter has already paid for the car, insurance, gas, maintenance and parking what incentive is there for them to park their cars at Finch or Sheppard Ave and pay to get on a subway. Not only does the York region extension make sense so would an extension of the Yonge Line to Major Mackenzie. You can not stop the sprawl unless you take the automobile out of the equation. If you build the subway efficient land use in the form of higher densities will come. Take a look at Sheppard Ave E. Vaughan has a future uses plan that calls for intensification at significant transit nodes including the soon to be Vaughan Corporate centre.

  42. The RT line was in fact originally supposed to LRT in its own RoW. The TTC readily admits all post-1978 subway extensions are failures in terms of modal split/density etc. An ideal TTC world would have seen proper LRT and streetcar access to the suburbs, since the densities cannot support subway use.

    One defence is that the VCC could become like North York Centre with subway access. The problem of course is that “could” is not the same as “will.”

    Another (probably most relevant) defence is that to increase transit mode share both transit and densities have to be attractive. Even the best BRT in the world is not psychologically going to match up to a subway ride in the eyes of most commuters.

    What’s really need (north of Highway 7 anyways) is better GO service, and what’s needed south of highway 7 is better land use.

  43. Aside from all the politics around this, I think this might be good for 416ers and 905ers for more entertaining reasons.

    With this subway in place, 416ers can take a subway up to all the big box stores in 905 in about 25-35 minutes, versus over an hour drive in a car (if you have access).

    Conversely, a 905er can now come into the city for Friday/Saturday night and not have to worry about parking troubles. I think that the immediate benefits may not be visible, but 2-4 years later they may become evident.

  44. MikeF: this only works if YRT fares are INTEGRATED with TTC fares. They are not, and hence presents one of our barriers of our GTA fare system.

    Likewise, there are other places one can go other than the big box stores at Jane and Highway 7. Ikea? Leslie Station has one. AMC and Colossus? There are many other stations with theatres attached to them, say Eglinton, Sheppard-Yonge, North York Centre. Walmart? There’s one near Dufferin Station. Tons of restaurant ideas near any one subway station. Bally’s? There are other workout areas near other subway stations. Staples? Victoria Park Station, North York Centre, Summerhill, King, and St. Patrick.

    The Point is that these big box stores or stores similar can easily be accessed by the TTC subway station in the same ease that you are proposing in the Vaughan extension. But the Vaughan extension is marked with a very serious flaw: the fares are not integrated. Which means if I want to board a VIVA bus or any route coming from VCC, I need to pay an extra fare. Why pay extra money to go up to the stores near the VCC when I can save money and do it down here? And even so, how long do I have to wait for a bus to get to my destination? 15 minutes? 30 minutes? 60 minutes?

    We should not be creating subway lines so you can “hurry up and wait”. And any thought of expanding to the region must involve a discussion on Fare Integration. A person living in Vaughan should not have to pay 2 fares in order to cross the border into Toronto. Remove fare boundaries and you remove one of the biggest obstacles to riding public transit.

  45. What’s really need (north of Highway 7 anyways) is better GO service, and what’s needed south of highway 7 is better land use.


    I still don’t see why the TTC can’t bind itself not to put subway stations anywhere except zones with a certain minimum density. If Jane-7 wants a subway, let Vaughan City Council show us the plan.

    How much does it cost, compared to subway-building. to get a real-life GO train system going? With regular trains running a whole bunch of times daily. Interconnections with local 905 transit systems and everything. I mean, sell that as an express “subway” line that needs building for commuters, and politics can really get transit going.

  46. As soon as all of the governments providing funds to the subway extension sign on the dotted line, Jane & Finch will become a gold mine for developers.

    This probably means the decades-old apartment buildings owned slumloards will be razed to make room for more well-to-do condo dewellers.

    There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with re-development but, as is always the case, it has to be done smart. And, because it will almost surely mean that buildings with affordable rents will disappear, hundreds of families will need help finding new accomodations they can afford.

    So I hope the local councillors bring an interim control by-law to Council before the building permit applications start streaming into City Hall. This will allow the community to develop a complete plan that includes how the planning and social needs of the current and future Jane & Finch community will be addressed between now and the day subways start running.

  47. Since the turn of the 1900s, both public transit and road infrastructure in Toronto has been backwards, and is only getting more and more backwards. Having too much time on my hands commuting, I have drawn up alternative plans to Toronto’s rapid transit based on where it is today, the plans back in the 60s, and what they should have done when planning rapid transit in the early 1900s. Unfortunately I must get to bed, so I may go into what we should do now later this week.

    I will say this though: I personally believe Toronto will collapse under its own weight. Its lack of infrastructure has left us with one of the most sprawled metro areas on earth (yet ironically is pro transit), and I think it is only a matter of time before people get sick of the situations here and move to other cities with booming economies (ie: Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal).

  48. I still don’t see why the TTC can’t bind itself not to put subway stations anywhere except zones with a certain minimum density. If Jane-7 wants a subway, let Vaughan City Council show us the plan.

    Unfortunately, the TTC is not spending the money; the Feds are. TTC fares pay only for 78% of the operation of the network. Taxpayers have to supply the difference, as well as 100% of the capital costs. Therefore, the TTC has almost no leverage on where major projects like new subway lines go. They already have a plan in place which can improve transit across the city in a more cost-effective fashion — it’s called the Ridership Growth Strategy, and it improves transit through more achievable means such as adding more buses and streetcars, operating routes more frequently and putting the more heavily used routes onto private right-of-way.

    But this costs money, and the TTC can’t raise those funds itself. So it’s dependent on the political decisions of the City of Toronto as well as the provincial and federal governments. And the provincial and federal governments are not interested in spending money on low-key, cost-effective efforts when there’s photo opportunities to be had in announcing new subway construction. About the only thing that Toronto City Council can do is withhold its own 1/3rd of the funding of this project, but this would likely result in political retribution from the senior levels of government. They don’t believe the Ridership Growth Strategy will be funded if they play hardball, and besides, $1 billion for a subway that may be more than what is needed may be better than nothing. Play nice, and maybe the senior levels of government may throw some money towards the Ridership Growth Strategy.

    Ultimately, the final responsibility rests with us, the voters. We respond more to political announcements for new subway construction than we do for announcements on new buses and streetcars. We’ve got to get more excited about bread and butter measures. We’ve got to write to our MPs and MPPs telling them that the Ridership Growth Strategy is what we want, moreso than a subway to York University. And we’ve got to vote for politicians that favour more cost-effective measures for improving transit.

    Who here has written to their MP or MPP on this issue? If you haven’t, do so, now.

  49. Eric Chow, fare boundaries are an unfortunate necessity for a region the size of the GTA. The last thing the TTC needs is to split single fares with YRT for 905 commuters heading down to Toronto.

    I do think, however, that there should be a wider fare boundary that is based on total distance travelled – say a 5km border zone instead of just a line on Steeles. This way, someone travelling from around VCC to, say, York U, would pay a single fare, whereas if they travel more than 5km they pay a double fare. Of course, this scheme presupposes that we will have a modern fare collection system with smart cards such as those found in NYC and other cities. Without that, no real changes are possible.

    If you still think that there should be no fare boundaries between the 905 and the 416, then a percentage of property taxes from homeowners and busineses in York Region should flow to the TTC, just like they do here in the 416. I shouldn’t have to subsidize 905 commuters off my property tax bill.

  50. Adam, do you really think so? Look at Victoria Park station. It’s surrounded by low income high rise buildings (Crescent Town), and has been for decades, even though there is a subway stop right in the middle of that neighbourhood. Granted, there are two condos right on VP, but they are very much undervalued compared to the condo market in the rest of the 416. My point here is that a subway stop doesn’t always provide the key to gentrification.

    Jane and Finch will be a good 15 walk from the new Keele/Finch station; it won’t even be right at their doorstep like it is at VP. Add to this the fact that it’s simply not a desirable neighbourhood to live in (just look at how it’s portrayed by the media), and I doubt we’ll see any changes.

    This line will benefit York U and VCC, but Jane/Finch will continue to be the Jane/Finch we know today, unfortunately. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the TTC has classical music playing at Keele/Finch station in a vain attempt to keep the ‘kids’ in check, like they do at other trouble spots on the TTC, such as Kennedy, Warden and Main.

  51. Leo, your Vic Park example is a good one. But I think the difference is that York University employs so many people with middle (and better) incomes that, with the much improved public transit, the neighbourhood could become desireable if re-developed.

    The wildcard in all of this could be the TCHC properties. If the much-needed repairs remain outstanding over the next five years (which is more likely than not) then that could keep developers away because who wants a neighbour like that?(meaning TCHC not the tenants of the building).

    Also, I don’t have a reference for this but I’ve heard that there are at least a few developers, including York University’s corporate arm, hording land up that way so they can unload it for a huge profit when it’s known that the subway will be going ahead.

  52. That’s a good point. The land that York owns could be used to kick-start some major redevelopment in that area. There is no such available land in the area around VP station (except for parkland and the golfcourse, both of which I’m guessing are untouchable). It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

  53. Leo, no, the thing that needs to be done is to unite all the GTA transit agencies under one banner. TTC, YRT, Brampton, Mississauga, and even Durham, all needs to be run and operated by a single entity. Under this entity, service north of Steeles could be increased to similar frequencies as services south of Steeles. This kind of service will do wonders in encouraging those north of Steeles to take transit. Then when appropriate service is built up, then you can have your Vaughan extension.

    My original point stands, they can extend the subway to York University, and nowhere further. This already benefits YRT routes as it provides a convenient connection at Steeles. So why create an extension that benefits sixty people per train when increased bus service between York U and the VCC can do just the same job?

  54. I don’t think that will ever happen, at least not with the TTC included. I could see the 905 transit agencies under a GTA banner, but not the TTC, which carries 90% of all transit trips in the GTA. You could never convince the TTC (or the City of Toronto, or most Torontonians for that matter) that relinquishing control of the TTC to an overall GTA transit authority would be good for Toronto. It would be seen as something that would greatly benefit 905 residents, but not 416ers . In fact, it could even be seen as a detriment to the 416, because most available funds would likely be used to expand transit in the underserved 905 areas.

    Here’s the bottom line: the City of Toronto is a relatively well-built, transit and pedestrian friendly city (for the most part). The 905 is not. It was built to a scale that accomodates the private automobile and highly discourages public transit and walking. The 905 municipal governments need to figure out a way to address this without having to drag Toronto or the TTC into it. Once the 905 pulls itself up to an urban level that is at least comparable to Toronto, then we can discuss integrating transit agencies and having a common fare. Until then, I think we need to keep things separate.

  55. Eric, one point where we do agree is that the Spadina extension should not proceed beyond Steeles. How can we justify building a subway to another empty field when we have high-density corridors such as Eglinton that desperately need rapid transit?

    Vaughan needs to stop talking and start building. When they get to the point where there is sufficient density to support a subway, they can line up behind other projects that have been on hold for decades. I know that won’t happen, for obvious political reasons already stated in this thread, and that’s a shame.

  56. There has been considerable discussion over the past year concerning the spadina extension. With the contribution from the federal government, this is now a done deal. There is now no sense in us wasting our energy and potential influence over arguing whether it should have been done that way. Most agree (even Adam Giambrone) that it is not the best use of available money but that is the way it happened.
    Where we need to spend our energy is developing the next round, and in this there is considerably more agreement that it needs to be LRT based. One thing we need to do is to get the Scarborough RT into a technology compatible with the rest of the TTC.

  57. Okay, I’m back. Now, here is what they SHOULD do:

    Okay, first of all, sorry to disappoint the downtowners here, but YorkU DOES need a subway line. Next to downtown Toronto and maybe downtown Hamilton, it is the largest center in the GTA. Extending it to Highway 7 on the surface may not seem like a good idea, but it would make getting into Toronto MUCH easier for people in Woodbridge.

    However, why stop there???

    Vaughan Mills Mall is just one city block north, and just beyond that is Canada’s Wonderland and Maple!!! If that asshat Miller could stop fearing the private sector so much, I’m sure both would help to get the subway up through that corridor.

  58. Oh, but would the private sector indeed finance a subway line in this corridor if it were their money at risk?

    Or would they would do extensive, well-analyzed ridership estimates, based on expected population density along the line and prospective feeder transit routes?

    Yes, York University and Jane Finch have a clear need for something better than mixed-traffic bus service.

    But the private sector (if it was their money and not taxpayers) wouldn’t just look at York U. and declare — without extensive research — that it merited a subway at $100 million per kilometer. That’s a luxury left to observers, legacy-seekers and vote-hunting politicians.

    And by the way, the private sector number-crunching would just as likely be done downtown as in some business park in Mississauga…

    It’s not the numbers in the area code that count, but the number of riders and how many dollars it costs to move each one.

    Ed Drass

  59. A subway to Wonderland is insane. First of all, that kind of long-haul commute should be on GO. Secondly, a subway line has limitations on how long it can be. The further north you extend Spadina, the more likely trains will be at capacity before even reaching the Bloor line. It’s the same reason why Yonge can’t be extended up to Major Mac – trains would be full by the time they got to midtown Toronto.

  60. “Next to downtown Toronto and maybe downtown Hamilton, it (York U) is the largest center in the GTA”.

    Yonge & Eglinton beats it, I’m sure. It has both high employment densities and very high residential densities. It’s also a major entertainment destination (theatres, clubs, restaurants), and is home to several educational institutions (high schools, language schools, business schools, etc).

    Eglinton Station on the Yonge line has 68,000 daily riders. Put a subway or LRT under Eglinton and that station would become the third busiest on the TTC, maybe even the second busiest. Today on Eglinton East, you have seven bus routes (not including additional branches) inching their way through traffic. Imagine how many more people would take transit in that corridor if there was an underground LRT to Leaside, continued as a surface LRT into Scarborough. Then imagine the same scenario heading west, with an underground LRT to Keele, continued on the surface to the airport.

    The only problem with this would be that we would also need to build a downtown relief line to relieve the Yonge line south of Bloor (which would be OK in my books). Even without rapid transit on Eglinton, it’s only a matter of time before Yonge reaches capacity again (especially if they ever finish the Sheppard subway).

  61. Ben: have you seen what kind of development that is on Jane between Highway 7 and Rutherford?

    Now compare this to Yonge Street between Finch and Highway 7.

    The difference: Jane is a small industrial area whereas Yonge is a busy street with high-density housing.

    I don’t think Miller would be afraid of such an extension if it was offered to him. The Yonge corridor deserves more attention than Jane.

    As for Vaughan Mills, the solution to that is simple: MORE BUSES. YRT is adding new buses to that route because of increasing demand, but look, frequency on this route is no better than 15 minutes IIRC. Compare that to the Sheppard East route to Fairview Mall BEFORE the Sheppard Line, its frequency can be as high as 6 minutes during NON PEAK hours.

    The mistake that is consistently being made here is planning subway extensions where demand is possible not probable. This was the case with the Sheppard line but at least there was some existing demand on this corridor. Compare this to the Vaughan extension and there is no existing demand, just a pipe dream.

    A subway to York University? Fine. Vaughan Corporate Center? No. Increase frequency on the Jane Street route and it will do the same job as the subway for a lot less. If you are that ballyhooed over having a “rapid transit” corridor from York to Canada’s Wonderland, then here is a solution: have VIVA take care of that, if you can consider VIVA as a rapid transit solution (its just a glorified express bus).

  62. Ben: you also say “Extending it to Highway 7 on the surface may not seem like a good idea, but it would make getting into Toronto MUCH easier for people in Woodbridge.”

    How about this: enhanced LRT service which makes getting into Toronto MUCH easier for people in the GTA?

    Note how I put in GTA instead of Woodbridge?

    This is what Miller and Giambrone wants, but ultimately, its the higher ups that decide where the funding will go. I am surprised that Flaherty would go ahead with this extension to Vaughan. Knowing the bean counter he is, you would have thought that he would have opted for the LRT network option which costs the same price and assists ALL of the GTA instead of just one area.

  63. Did you even bother reading the rest of my post, or did you just stop when I approved the Vaughan extension??? While I will admit I didn’t make it very clear, I did essentially say they should take it north to Major Mackenzie Dr. (“and just beyond that is Canada’s Wonderland and Maple”). So if this was just the beginning of the Spadina project and they do eventually get it to Major Mac and Jane, you’d have an extension that makes transit accessible to York University, “Vaughan Corporate Center,” Woodbridge, Vaughan Mills Mall (one of the largest malls in the GTA), Canada’s Wonderland, and Maple. While there are definitely areas more deserving of subways, if they went ahead with all this, this line would not be as useless as some of you may think.

    Oh and Eric, being a college student living with his folks up in the north end of Richmond Hill with no car, I know much too well how insaine traffic can get on Yonge St between Finch and Highway 7, especially during rush hour. As I said in my first post, I have drawn up rough sketches of what they “should” do which is “theoretically” possible, including a subway extension into northern York Region (as well as many other lines and extensions, including in downtown Toronto). But we are are here to discuss the Spadina extension, and leaving it at Highway 7 makes about as much sense as leaving the Sheppard line at Don Mills.

  64. Oh, and for those of you who say an extension to Wonderland is dumb: Besides Maple being right next door, there are a lot of high school students in Toronto that work there during the summer which would really appreciate this extension. And let’s not forget the whole tourist factor as well. Imagine a family on vacation staying in the City of Toronto and taking the subway to Wonderland for a day trip rather than staying in the suburbs and driving everywhere around the GTA.

  65. Ben: Jane between Rutherford and Major Mackenzie isn’t that much better. Maple is full of low density residences. Keyword, LOW DENSITY. Other than a few apartment buildings here and there, the area of Maple holds as many people as a square block in Toronto. Let’s do a comparison, shall we?

    Suppose we were to extend the Sheppard Subway to Victoria Park (which they should do). In the immediate area of that intersection there is about 10 apartment buildings, not to mention countless office areas and other mixed-density housing. I’d estimate about 15,000 people around the immediate vicinity of a subway to Victoria Park. That’s about the number of people living in Maple, except this is spread over a very large area, I’d estimate over 10 square kilometers. Granted it’s growing, but the point is this, SUBWAYS ARE MEANT TO TRANSPORT LARGE NUMBERS OF PEOPLE IN HIGH DENSITY AREAS AND ARE NOT MEANT FOR LOW DENSITY DEVELOPMENTS.

    There are a lot of requests for Subway expansion and it is not just the Vaughan Corporate Center. Mississauga would like a nice chunky extension of the Bloor Danforth Line to the heart of Missisauga. There are calls for the TTC to build a subway line on Don Mills Road and Pape between Fairview and Union Station. There are calls for a subway extension to the airport and maybe to Brampton. And you know what? These kind of extension is more justified than the subway-line-to-nowhere. The difference is that such a subway would serve higher density developments than yours.

    Sure it would be convenient, sure it would be nice, sure it would help tourism, but this can all be accomplished by not blowing billions into a project which everyone knows is going to be a money pit. You want convenient transportation between Maple and York University (where I hope the subway WILL stop), with stops at Vaughan Mills and Canada’s Wonderland, right? VIVA line on Jane Street then, it’s that simple, although as I said earlier, I can’t seem to justify VIVA as rapid transit, as it is just a glorified express bus (why call it rapid transit when you are running alongside traffic anyway?. Hopefully, VIVA will get their thumb out of their rear and start scrounging around for REAL rapid transit, preferably a LRT. But my point is clear, for something like this, a subway is a big money pit: constructing it, and running it. Wouldn’t it be cheaper and just as effective to get a lower density LRT line? Besides, Wonderland is open less than 5 months of the year, you don’t want a subway running empty for the other 7 months do you?

    This is why it is better (and makes more political sense though I don’t know why politicians won’t support it) to make a large network of LRT routes, in their own right of way, around the Toronto area that would most likely benefit not just one small measly area, but large swaths of Toronto and the GTA. LRT lines along Steeles, Finch, Don Mills, Jane, Bathurst, Eglinton, Kingston Road, McCowan Road. Imagine extending the LRT network into York Region or Missisauga or Brampton. You would get just as much convenience than taking a subway. And THERE are your political points.

    One other thing: why is it that when we talk about transit expansion, the richer neighbourhoods don’t want an LRT, they want a Subway? I’m hearing about more protests from richer neighbourhoods about LRT construction because they fear “it will degrade property prices, just build a subway and we’ll be ok”?

  66. Before I go to bed, allow me to reiterate a good point by Leo Gonzalez: “Eric, one point where we do agree is that the Spadina extension should not proceed beyond Steeles. How can we justify building a subway to another empty field when we have high-density corridors such as Eglinton that desperately need rapid transit?”

    Well said. May I remind Ben that the cancelled Eglinton subway would have carried more people between stations on Jane to Allen Road. The difference is that the numbers that would take such a subway line are HUGE, moreso than Maple. And need I remind Ben that the area of Victoria Park that would benefit from a Sheppard subway expansion is oh about 1-2 square kilometers large. If Maple were that big with that many people and say it was a kilometer away from York University, then yes, extend it to Maple. Let’s put it to you this way: 15,000 people over 1-2 square Kilometer with a proposed subway extension. Or 15,000 over a ten square kilometer with a proposed subway extension. Who needs it more?

  67. I think the old phrase “looking a gift horse in the mouth” is apt here. If the choice were between the York/Vaughan extension and another option (LRT network, Eglinton Subway) then the criticism would be important. But, for political reasons, the choice is actually between the York/Vaughan extension and nothing. Given that choice, I’m happy to have the York/Vaughan extension (even if it puts the city into more capital debt). It’s something that needed to be done eventually, and it’s better than nothing.

    For the city to make the most of it, however, both Toronto and Vaughan have to change their planning and push the development of high-density living and also working (so that the subway is used in both directions) space around the new subway stations. It’s ok to build a subway into underused areas, as long as you make sure that those areas get built up around the station as it is built, to make it worthwhile. That will be the tricky part.

  68. If it were me, it would be nothing. A message should be sent that proper transit planning is needed, and if the TTC already has an idea on what to do, the politicians should listen to them. Unfortunately, we have federal and provincial politicians with a bad case of earwax and a mayor desperate for any transit funding.

    The TTC should make its own decisions on expansion. They should not have the decisions rammed down their throat. Remember the Scarborough RT? The TTC wanted it as a streetcar line. Scarborough wanted it as a subway. The Provincial government wanted to advertise its ICTS trains and wanted Toronto to be its pet project. So the TTC capitulated, which now turns out to be a very big mistake. Even though wouldn’t have been a subway line, at the same time, we would not have been stuck with a large and expensive system to maintain. Having the Scarborough RT as streetcars as originally planned would have been a precursor to a much larger LRT development, and as the TTC already has the technology, would cost a lot less to run.

    If the feds were to kill this project, then fine kill it. Allow for time so that we can do this RIGHT.

  69. who are the people upset about this ‘overly expensive’ subway extension? small-minded fusspots who are looking at the matter backwards.

    the truth is, the york subway (like the eglinton subway, the sheppard subway) will HAVE to be built eventually, and it’s not going to get any cheaper. so build it! and start yesterday!

    the problem is not picking one line over the other; the problem is: why aren’t all 5 subways (bloor-danforth, sheppard, yonge-university, eglinton, queen) being built at once? that’s what needs to be done.

    if it’s a political process that determines construction, then I say let’s support our most capable politicians who need subways in their ridings to get re-elected. congrats to greg sorbara and whoever else used their influence to get the subway built in their riding. shame on the politicians in scarborough and eglinton for not being capable to pull off similar feats and leave their constituents in gridlock.

  70. Been busy for a few days, so I don’t know how active this thread still is, but whatever.

    Anyways, I totally agree with Pat above me. The York University/Jane subway is something that needs to be done. I mean we could nitpick as to what should be done, etc. but this extension is a good place to start at least. If I could turn the clocks back 100 years, I’d have put in the Queen subway (and as a full subway too, not an underground LRT route as it was initially planned), as well as subway lines along Spadina, University, Bay, and Parliament and across College/Carlton and have axed the Bloor/Danforth to create a true subway downtown core.

    Hopefully once this is done or even while under way, talks can begin with replacing the Scarborough RT with subway and the development of a LRT network across the GTA (including replacing the Sheppard subway with LRT, though I will admit it has been useful at times). One thing I must note is that if Toronto does invest in a LRT system, it MUST be faster than driving a car through these corridors!!! The Spadina/Queens Quay “LRT” streetcars are just slow, and having them in their own lanes does little to help this. Hopefully Toronto will learn from past LRT experiments and look to Europe to develop an efficient and reliable LRT network. Otherwise, they might as well implement a Viva/Rocket “BRT” express bus throughout Toronto and work on giving them their own lane ways over time.

    In conclusion, the York/Vaughan extension will not be as useless as many of you think, as it will help the 40,000+ students get to York University, will take thousands of Brampton/Vaughan/Simcoe commuters of overcrowded downtown streets, and is in a position to be extended to two of Ontario’s premiere attractions and one of the largest communities in the GTA. YES THERE ARE AREAS IN TORONTO THAT WOULD BENEFIT MORE FROM SUBWAY OR LRT DEVELOPMENT, and hopefully this extension is only the beginning to such projects, and it would be a shame if it’s not. Overall I think this is a balanced and realistic position to the issue, and if you don’t agree with it then that’s your choice.

    (BTW, the person who said that Eglinton gets 60,000+ riders per day, that includes getting on and coming back home. So if there was a York University stop, it would probably be in the range of 80,000)

  71. It would be nice if we could have all the subways that we want. However, the reality is that we can’t. If we had our way, there would have been subways on Sheppard, Eglinton, Don Mills, etc. etc. etc…..

    But alas it is not that way. So therefore if there is going to be any subway extension it should be measured and planned properly.

    Politicians have tried to make subway extension in their riding a priority. The only reason why the Vaughan Extension has so much support is because it goes into the riding of Greg Sorbara, the Finance Minister, who wields considerable clout. If the government of today was not run by the Liberals, you can bet that the extension would not run there.

    Yes, its a shame that the politicians in Toronto are not able to get any clout to get any form of improved transit service in their riding. There were calls from Scarborough MPPs to replace the outdated Scarborough RT with a subway line, but where has it gotten them? Still, the fact remains that to most transit planners, there really is no logical reason to extend the subway to Vaughan, even replacing the Scarborough RT with a subway makes more transit sense. Remember that the original idea was for the subway to be extended to York University, run east along Steeles, then south to Finch making the Yonge-University-Spadina line one big “O”.

    Mind you that we all would like subways to be everywhere. That’s what the anti-ROW people on St Clair wanted, a subway, but the LRT is the correct answer for them. But if subways are going to remain expensive, we need to find cheaper but still effective ways of providing convenient transit to the GTA. The Vaughan extension does not do that rather than to serve a small number of commuters. Compare that to a LRT network that can serve the entire GTA and you may have a solution that can do a better job of solving gridlock than any subway extension can do.

  72. Ben, let me tell you something.

    I live close to the Wilson Subway Station.

    I work at 400 and Highway 7.

    I am one person who would most definitely benefit from an extension to Highway 7 and Jane.

    But I don’t support it.

    I understand that the extension would run to York University. I support that.

    But not anywhere north of Steeles.

    The reason is there: you can’t put a subway in the middle of nowhere and “hope” that people will use it. The problem becomes apparent when building plans do not coincide with Transit development. Sure you could say that building the line to Highway 7 and Jane will spur development, but where is the proof that it will happen? There is none. There are no builders lining up for miles saying that they will develop the area once the subway is built. Even Vaughan constructed its city centre in Maple, and there is only lowrise development to there.

    The worst thing that could happen once that subway is built is that it remains underused, and that development around that area remains sparse. It could happen, I’m not saying it will, but with transit planning these days, I would not be surprised if it does. A subway station is supposed to encourage ridership around its immediate area, and if there is nothing there, why build it? There will always be the 1000 commuters from the 400 who would benefit from the Highway 7 extension, you can always have them go to Steeles. This leaves the likely few customers in the immediate area who would benefit from an extension to Highway 7. Why build it to Highway 7 when you can have similar benefits building it to Steeles.

    Mind you, the extension to Steeles will work just as well as any extension to Highway 7. All they really need to do is to finish the interchange at Steeles and voila, you have a convenient drive to the subway for Simcoe and Northern York Region residents in the same vein as Highway 7. I’m pretty sure that the government wouldn’t mind finishing it as it would help the car people.

    For this reason, I don’t see the immediate benefits of any subway extension to Vaughan. The transit planners in this thread know it, there are other ways to properly serve the VCC area (i.e. better bus service). Cut it back to Steeles, then use the rest of the money to improve service in other areas.

    If that is not what you call a “balanced” approach, I don’t know what is.

  73. One other thing, if you are hoping that this extension will be the precursor to other extensions to come, then watch out. If the extension to Jane and Highway 7 is a failure, then you can kiss your other subway extensions goodbye. Try begging provincial or federal politicians for a subway to Eglinton (where it is needed) and they will say “well you built the Sorbara Line”, and that turned out to be a flop so “why build other subways that won’t work”?

    I’d rather not have this happen. Cut it back to York University. It will benefit the York Regionites just as you mentioned.

  74. Eric, you make some good points and I don’t think we are that far off from seeing eye to eye. We both agree that having a subway to York University is a good idea. But you feel that a subway into Vaughan is not a good idea because there are other areas in the GTA that would benefit from enhanced transit, and that the money could be used better elsewhere in transit development. I also agree with this to an extent.

    However, one thing to think about is that Toronto already has good transit service, while York Region does not. Even the VIVA “rapid transit” runs less frequently than most TTC bus routes. I believe it is important to both extend transit as well as intensify transit, and this project seems to focus more on expanding while something like St. Clair or Sheppard focus on intensifying. The GTA is second only to the LA and New York/Tri-State areas in terms of urban sprawl, so any transit expansion is a good thing.

    And I must restate that I am not against intensifying transit in urban areas either. Walking home from work today, I was thinking about maybe some kind of skytrain solution. I’m not talking about another bulky Scarborough RT or something they have in Chicago, but what about a sleek and modern monorail RT like solution that would be no more than a single lane wide? Would be much cheaper than digging underground, and it wouldn’t have to deal with cross traffic like a surface RT would, even with signal priority.

  75. Toronto has good transit service? Sure, when I can get a seat and not be bumped up against 100 people on a crowded bus. The problem here is that on the far corners of the Toronto Area, trying to get downtown can be as long as a 90 minute affair. What you’re proposing cuts down commuting times for a small portion of people with an expensive piece of infrastructure that cannot be guaranteed to generate its own revenue. Why should millions of Toronto commuters suffer so that the small few get an extension that benefits them and only them?

    The money saved from cutting the terminus from Highway 7 to York University can go a long way towards easing these kinds of commuter headaches. It won’t cost people from the north in terms of significant commute times (provided they complete the Steeles interchange). The money saved here can be used to enhance service where it is needed the most, those Toronto People in far flung places can use the transit benefits more so than the morthern residents, without costing the northern residents much.

    Bottom Line: Toronto’s transit system should not be looking after someone else’s residents. If you want enhanced transit service along Jane Street, go ask the YRT to provide that service. If you believe RT service is important to Maple, go ask YRT to provide the LRT link between York and Maple.

    As for your “Transit Solutions”, despite your ideas they all come down to one thing: Money. The only real cheap solution is a LRT network, the reason being is that modification to existing infrastructure will not be as expensive as building a skytrain or digging underground. A single lane RT solution is like GO transit, and in a city like Toronto, any RT solution needs to be bi-directional.

  76. Ben,

    There is no way a York U stop will have 80,000 people a day. That fact remains that a good 40% or more of people going to York will continue to drive because they live nowhere near a rapid transit line, plus there are several thousand students who live on campus and don’t need to commute there every day. I think a more realistic number is around 35,000 people a day using a York U stop.

    Again, I support a Spadina subway to Steeles, but let’s not overinflate numbers here. A subway under Eglinton Ave would have much higher ridership than the Spadina North extension, no question. And it would also serve existing residential, retail and business areas that are densely built and perfect for a rapid transit route.

  77. The push to add a portion of the subway extension into Vaughan makes me wonder who owns property around the proposed station sites?
    I’ve heard rumours that some of those involved in the decision making or announcements may also have family interests in the local area…..
    Hmmm… A new subway certainly would increase local property values, wouldn’t it?

  78. Why don’t the TTC just extend the line to York U and keep the leftover money for the Yonge Line Extension since the VIVA Blue Line is crowding at a high rate.

  79. One aspect that has not appeared to have been questioned is that of ‘one size fits all’ at an cost of about $300m per mile. The original Yonge subway was built with two fundamentally different techniques, underground and open cut. Each has good and bad points about them, but maybe the best approach is to specify the least expensive approach compatible with the area. If a subway was built north of Steeles entirely in open cut it should reduce the cost dramatically. Stations in an open cut would also be much cheaper (Compare Rosedale with an underground station). The design of stations on open cut portions of the Chicage subway are very similar to stations GO builds today (except for the platform height). An open cut does require tradeoffs such as depth of the cut, noise issues, ongoing maintenance, and cross streets, but these can be part of the cost decision.

  80. we should make a airport express line to Toronto International Airport from Union, just like Hong Kong

  81. Put an LRT line going out to York University and Vaughn or express bus lines and expand the subway system in the downtown core!

    You can’t have a “world class” city with two pathetic subway lines! It takes three hours to get from one side of Toronto to the other using public transportation!!

    Downtown Toronto desperately needs more subway lines, Not LRT lines! This is what would make our city truly great.

    Why can’t our lame-brained politicians ever think long term and do what would truly make Toronto a great place to live, work and visit. Expanding the subway line to Vaughn is INSANE!!!

    We need to start a letter writing campaign/protest to stop this madness now. This is our city, we deserve the best and we shouldn’t put up with ridiculous ideas from short term thinking politicians.

  82. For the fact that “close to fourteen hundred buses move people through the campus each day,” alone, this is a good idea to extend to York. Beyond that, it seems to be another Sheppard Line, from nowhere to nowhere and completely underused.

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