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Toronto on its way to being a Transit City?


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The TTC is planning an announcement tomorrow that will highlight the transit authority’s LRT plans for the future (at 10:30am, City Hall, Committee Room 2). The Toronto Star has an article and interview with TTC Chair Adam Giambrone. The basic premise is to turn-over major traffic corridors in the city to LRT lines along Finch West, Don Mills, Sheppard East, the western Waterfront, and extending the Scarborough RT northeast. These LRT lines would use more modern vehicles than the streetcars Toronto currently employs.

What is most interesting about the LRT proposals is the estimated cost: $2.4 billion. That’s roughly the same amount it will cost to build the subway extension to York University and into Vaughan. That new subway line will span 6 kilometres. The LRT proposals will cover 60-80 kilometres and could help bring much needed rapid transit to ten times more people than the Spadina subway extension will help. This is not to say we think subways are bad, but no one can argue that the construction of underground networks are not black holes for cash. Considering the tight budgetary constraints the TTC finds itself in, a vast LRT network is much more cost-effective and doable.

The Star reports:

• A dedicated transit corridor on Finch Ave., in part utilizing the hydro right of way, to connect north Scarborough and north Etobicoke to the subway;
• A west waterfront line linking Etobicoke to Union Station;
• Connecting the Sheppard subway line to Scarborough Town Centre;
• Extending the Scarborough Rapid Transit (SRT) line to northeastern Scarborough. Since the SRT is due to wear out by about 2011 in any case, it’s the subject of a separate planning process.

Another important rapid transit route that will likely be covered in the TTC report tomorrow is the Don Mills corridor, Giambrone said. Planning work is already under way on Don Mills.

Environmental assessment work has also been done on several of the other proposed lines.

The cost of the new system will be huge.

Giambrone said the all-in costs of building light rapid transit lines is about $30 million a kilometre. That would put the price tag for an 80-kilometre system at $2.4 billion.

Giambrone shied away from saying that tomorrow’s report will be an implementation plan with firm schedules and costs.

Let’s hear your comments.

photo by Toronto Star



  1. This is great…however i am a little weary of these huge announcements that never get implimented! If this works, Toronto could once again reign supreme in world transit.

  2. Light rail on the Finch hydro corridor is pretty much a non-starter. There is no way Hydro One will accept it, and provincial legislation gives them a virtual veto (must be based on technical grounds). They’d have much better luck with a busway than LRT. That being said, this seems to be a LONG overdue plan.. dare I say vision… for the TTC.

  3. While I agree that LRT is probably the most cost-effective way to build more rapid-transit, I really wish we had a proper subway system.

    My father-in-law made a good point about the lack of money for building a proper subway network: somebody just has to stand up and say “Let’s Do It” and find a way of getting it done. How did every other great city get a great subway system? Not by saying “It’s too expensive.”

  4. This is amazing news. It sounds like the TTC and the politicians who run it finally get it.
    Giambrone is really on the ball.

  5. Tom makes a good point, but what I don’t understand is why the subway extension has to be exclusively underground. I’m not familiar with the area – but can’t most of it be surface rail? (to cut costs)

  6. While I agree that LRT is probably the most cost-effective way to build more rapid-transit, I really wish we had a proper subway system.

    My father-in-law made a good point about the lack of money for building a proper subway network: somebody just has to stand up and say “Let’s Do It” and find a way of getting it done. How did every other great city get a great subway system? Not by saying “It’s too expensive.”


    Honestly, it’s really depressing to hear this “OMG THEY SHOULD JUST FIND A WAY AND BUILD TEH SUBWAYZ” argument.

    If we assume $150 million per kilometre of subway, then we’d have to spend something around $12 billion dollars to as much subway as we could get LRT under this plan.

    If you can find more than $1 billion each year for the next ten years to build all these subways, I’m sure the experts are all ears. If it’s so easy to say “let’s do it” and “find a way,” then suggest something to them.

  7. And of course that’s not mentioning the increased operating costs every year for running all those subways, most of which will be empty.

  8. Oh, wonderful…commit yourself to the rest of Toronto only after committing millions to Vaughn. Will the money REALLY be available when the time comes? How many times have we heard some sort of news about this, only to be let down?

    Toronto better put up or shut up.

  9. Although this is GREAT news there is one caveat….The TTC has had a similar plan in the works for a few years now. The Ridership Growth Strategy from 2003 and Building a Transit City from 2005 have extensive information about LRT lines in Toronto. This plan may make these ideas more concrete, but before we all get our hopes up, it’s important to note that these are not *new* ideas.

    That being said, I’m going to go with Tom on this one and say it’s time we ALL stood up and said “Let’s Do it!”

  10. Sean, I’ve heard of the Hydro corridors being an easy(ier) way to get higher-order public transit near major arterial roads without decreasing the capacity of the roads. But no one I’ve heard speak about it has ever expressed the cynicism you’ve got about Hydro One getting on side with the idea. What’s Hydro’s public reason and/or suspected motivation for vetoing rapid transit? And hasn’t the BRT to York from Downsview that runs through a Hydro corridor received all of its approvals? Why was that project allowed by Hydro but not others?

    Tom, every other city with a great network of subways has a national transit strategy and/or a share of a tax that grows with the economy. So David Miller has stood up and said “let’s do it” and he’s tabled the ideas that will get it done. However, it takes at least one, and likely two, other person/people to stand up with him.

  11. “Connecting the Sheppard Subway line to Scarborough Centre”.

    I hope they used this vaguely worded description in order to leave the door open for a Sheppard subway extension to Victoria Park. That would be the most logical thing to do. There, they could build a proper transfer facility from subway to LRT, similar to what was done at Spadina.

    If they’re thinking of building LRT from Don Mills eastward, that is a big mistake. Traffic around Fairview and the 404/Consumers area is too heavy, and in fact Sheppard itself is too narrow for a dedicated ROW around the 404 interchange. The last thing we want is for an “LRT” vehicle sitting in traffic as it approaches Don Mills.

    As for the Don Mills LRT, it appears that it will terminate at Pape Station. Another mistake. All these proposed LRT lines will bring even more people to the subway, which is the last thing we need. B-D west of Pape, and Yonge south of Bloor will become overloaded. We need some kind of downtown relief line, whether it’s a subway from Pape to Union, or a continuation of the Don Mills LRT to somewhere around Union. I realize a downtown relief line in the form of a subway is a fantasy at this point, but to terminate the Don Mills LRT at Pape is a huge mistake.

  12. Jason, have you been to any other big cities in the rest of the world? Toronto needs a lot more than a few LRT lines to “reign supreme”. Did Toronto ever “reign supreme”???

  13. I think most people are in agreement over the fact that subways are better but LRT systems are just more affordable, especially for a cash-strapped transit plan that we have in Toronto.

    I’m just concerned at the fact that Toronto & the surrounding GTA is so massive & a bit skeptical that LTR’s can provide the transit infrastructure that is required. I’d really hate to be on a streetcar travelling from the ‘burbs into the city regardless of right of way. The Bloor/Danforth Line is long enough without express trains. I guess I welcome the idea of major increases to public transportation, but we should not loose sight of subway systems stretching throughout the GTA.

  14. I hope this Finch LRT goes East too for the benefit of Seneca College. The buses are constantly packed because of it and the high rises across the 404. And also, isnt part of the Bus Terminal for Finch Station on the Hydro Lands?

  15. “B-D west of Pape, and Yonge south of Bloor will become overloaded.”

    Already is my friend. Already is. At least half the NB Yonge train transfers at Bloor which is why a Downtown Relief Line is needed ASAP.

    That’s why the Don Mills LRT should terminate at Broadview and continue into town via an improved Broadview alignment *if it must terminate within the study area*.

  16. If only they could junk the entire Spadina North extension and replace it with this, sigh…..

    I do have one problem with the light rail plan, specifically the use of the Hydro Right of Way north of Finch. That is, who’s going to use it? The problem here is that while it appears to be convenient, it is too far from the large apartment blocks that are on Finch Avenue. Consider this: the 36 Finch West and 39 Finch East are two of the busiest routes on the system mostly due to the high density housing the street runs alongside of. Sure, you could try to board a bus to connect with this LRT, but this adds valuable minutes to the commute. How long must one wait for a bus to go to the LRT? How long must the ride be to the LRT? And how long must I wait for an LRT train? How many stops are there on the LRT between my stop and the subway? (note of reference: the 39E express bus runs express between Warden and Finch Station stopping only at Victoria Park and Don Mills, despite the traffic)

    LRTs can be congestion killers if they were put on the right place. This does not appear to be it, if they really want an LRT line, it needs to go right on Finch, no question.

  17. Some comments on the comments:

    TOM > other cities got their subways because they built them when the car was not king (pre-WWII). Others got great systems because they built them in the 50s and 60s when community consultation was not a priority.

    SEAN > Is it really a non-starter? You and I have talked about this….

    LAURA K > My understanding is that this proposal is built on the RGS and the TRansit City reports.

    LEO > Sheppard is wide enough to support an LRT. If you have 5 lanes for cars, you can fit an LRT in there easily. Also, this would not be mixed traffic, they’d be on dedicated ROWs.

  18. Isn’t there wisdom in extending the Sheppard Line westbound to at least Downsview? It will enable Scarborough residents to get to York U, Vaughan or Yorkdale, and create an alternate way to get into the Anex area.

    As for the LRT plans, Don Mills is good as another N/S route and Finch wouldn be necessary if Sheppard was extended across the city.

  19. Matt kinda got at this in his comment but as much as this announcement deserves to be talked about and hyped as the future of transit in Toronto, the concepts and plans really aren’t new.

    I expect the only difference that you’ll see between the Ridership Growth Strategy, Transit City plan and the Mayor’s platform is that it’s all in one document, printed on City of Toronto/TTC letterhead. If we’re lucky it might have a few high-level operational insights.

    Best case scenario here is that the report going to the Commission is used as the jumping off point for TTC staff to build a comprehensive and detailed vision/action plan for the next 10 to 20 years.

    I hope this is also a document designed to inspire Scarborough, Etobicoke and North York residents. If there’s buy-in (not just “that’s nice,” more like “I want it NOW”) from the people who live in the outlaying parts of Toronto then this and the One Cent campaign could have a profound impact.

  20. If the new LRTs are built properly, then they will be competitive with subways as they are in other cities with modern LRT systems (e.g. many cities in France, Portland). Since these will be relatively long-distance modes of transport, this means effective signal priority, stops no more than every 500m, and modern light rail vehicles like the Bombardier Flexity, Alstom Citadis or Siemens Avanto. If we build all our LRTs like St. Clair or Spadina, it will take two or three hours to get from one end of the city to another.

    Will any of the new LRT lines run on existing streetcar tracks? If so, the existing track gauge will have to be maintained and new LRT vehicles will have to be capable of handling sharp curves. If they will be completely independent systems, it might make sense to abandon the TTC gauge and adopt completely standard equipment to reduce costs.

  21. Hi it’s me the bored map-maker. Just curious about a few statements above. (Cause you probably know what I’m doing again.)

    “A dedicated transit corridor on Finch Ave., in part utilizing the hydro right of way, to connect north Scarborough and north Etobicoke to the subway;”

    Where in Etobicoke would this most likely end?

    “Connecting the Sheppard subway line to Scarborough Town Centre;”

    Wold this just be a temporary solution or full solution to the lack of money? Cause I still think a subway would be good.

    Other than that, the Don Mills, Waterfront (east and west) are good ideas. I have no opinion about the SRT, it’s Toronto’s mistake I wanna see what they do (hahaha).

  22. Nobody answered my query about having the subway run above ground to cut costs. Is this even possible? Is anybody talking about high speed trains to Ottawa, Montreal, New York, and Chicago? We have to have something in place when the island airport gets closed after I win the mayoral race in 2034. Does anyone think we can have BOTH LRTs and subways? A voice in the back of my head keeps saying “raise your expectations”.

  23. Even if what is released tomorrow is simply the next version of the Transit City / Ridership Growth Strategy, it is important to have a detailed vision of what the system could look like so we can then raise the money to build it, and the equally-important political will to push cars out of the way.

    It took years of effort from Rocket Riders / TEA / Steve Munro to convince the TTC to put out the Ridership Growth Strategy, but that succeeded in changing the debate from ‘how much can we cut from the transit budget this year’ to ‘how much would it cost to get more riders’? Miller does deserve kudos for that, because he was key in making it happen and selling the RGS to Council.

    But even if the TTC comes out with the most glorious transit vision in the world tomorrow, it’s not going to happen if we don’t get behind it and push like hell. Because we not only have to find $2.4 billion, we have to take back space from cars and no politician is going to want to push that agenda without backup.

  24. Don Mills is definitely a good idea, the divided lanes of Don Mills and Millway are perfect for it. However, I’m rather wary about the street cars on the narrow Pape Avenue. I’m imagining traffic getting as bad as downtown Queen Street on a weekend. If Case Ootes thinks that bike lanes are the worst at causing traffic congestion in his little ward, he has another thing coming!

  25. Matthew,

    Yes, Sheppard is wide enough for LRT. My concern is the bridge over the 404, where it would not be wide enough for an LRT unless they expand the bridge.

    Even if they widen that bridge, there is always an extremely long queue of cars turning left to get onto the northbound 404 (there’s no room to change that entrance onto the southside of Sheppard due to an office building that is located there). There is also a 404 off-ramp that brings a steady stream of cars onto Sheppard as well. That means that even on a ROW, streetcars will be sitting through some very long lights cycles at both sets of lights on either side of the 404.

    We need to go underground until past the 404, whether it is LRT or subway. May as well be subway so that a proper transfer facility can be built. Don’t forget that some people using Sheppard would start their route on the Sheppard bus, then switch to the LRT, then the subway and after that, probably another subway or bus. So we should make the LRT/subway transfer as quick and painless as possible. Don Mills station doesn’t offer that opportunity.

  26. If it’s not a subway then I will not ride it. Why should I take transit that competes with traffic lights and the needs of other vehicles. If that’s the case then I’ll take my car. Also, if it does not get me within a decent walking distance to my destination (including my car at the subway parking lot) then forget it. I often talk to people who would not have a problem taking the subway downtown as I did recently for a trade show. But a bus?! Or streetcar?… or anything else that stops at lights etc etc. No way. The better way is a subway, period!

  27. I think LRTs are great for local traffic. I applaud this announcement. I do, though, think that when we think about connecting the suburbs, the interregional piece is what is missing. All the continued enthusiasm about subways to everywhere, really needs to be channelled into revitalizing the GO train network.

    Imagine “express” trains that connect various transit hubs across Toronto and the GTA. Bloor to Richmond Hill in four stops. Eglinton to Guildwood in a handful. Imagine those trains running so often it’d be like taking the subway — go to the platform and catch the next one. And imagine that they were interconnected with the other systems: every station an intermodal hub with subway, VIVA, Brampton Transit, etc., and a fare structure that made using it all make sense?

    For those who are eager for new subways, isn’t a more long-haul infrastructure — i.e. GO transit, but with frequency, interconnection, and higher-density use than massive surface parking lots — what we really need? Long-haul infrastructure would even play nice with LRTs.

    In other words: if we want to move people off the subway dream towards things more practical, the LRT piece can’t be the whole vision. The interregional rail piece has got to be there, too.

  28. RE: “I’ve heard of the Hydro corridors being an easy(ier) way to get higher-order public transit near major arterial roads without decreasing the capacity of the roads.”

    At some point, don’t we WANT to decrease the capacity of roads for cars? If we take thousands of cars off the road by building a new transit line in a hydro corridor, then doesn’t the remaining car traffic on the road move more freely and entice car-oriented commuters back into their vehicles?

    Whether it is built on-street or in the corridor, I doubt a Finch line will attract significant numbers of new riders. The car culture is second only to hockey in some parts of this city and it’s going to take more to get people out of their cars.

    I’ll be greatly encouraged if the plan includes ways to pay for ongoing expansion of a true city-wide network (other than simply begging Ottawa) that includes making driving a car an expensive, inconvenient alternative.

  29. Adam and Matt: I have some specific knowledge about this topic, as I was the senior planner for the Municipal Affairs and Housing Hydro Corridors Secondary Use Project before I left the public sector. There are somethings I can say about it and some things I can’t (the project is ongoing and subject to confidential info).

    The Act (IIRC, the Energy Reliabilty and Consumer Protection Act or something) that gave the Province ownership of the hydro corridors (with no compensation to HONI (Hydro One), including the Finch and Gatineau through Toronto, also specifically gave HONI the right to oppose secondary uses around their towers.

    They can’t, however, just oppose them because they don’t like them.. they can, though oppose them for technical compatibility reasons (to give one). The transmission network in the province is so fragile right now that if there is ANY chance a secondary use, such as LRT, could interfere with HONI’s present or FUTURE (bold and underline that) plans for their primary use of the corridors, i.e. transmission, that new use will not be allowed by the Province (the landowner). It is as simple, and as complex, as that. HONI’s legislated primacy of use isn’t going anywhere, and last I heard is still the elephant in the room (but I haven’t worked there in a couple months). Needless to say, if you lay down an LRT, that could compromise future expansion in the corridor.. BRT is more flexible.

    Next is community opposition. there are a lot of people who have homes backing onto hydro corridors that enjoy the parklike setting. Expect a stink to be raised from east to west if they are expected to now have a major transportation route in their backyard… NIMBY, literally.

    On more narrow corridors that are full of towers, like the Gatineau (which runs parallel to the shoreline through Scarborough and across south Toronto and out to Hamilton following the QEW), this isn’t an issue because there is no room for a secondary use other than trails or parks. But in the Finch, there’s room for expansion and room for transit.. but for both? That remains to be seen.

  30. What’s wrong with community consultation Matthew? Does it just slow down the process, or is there something about them that prevents projects being great?

  31. SEAN > thanks for the hydro corridor update.

    LEO > I’m up in that area over the next few days and I will check out the bridge over the 404. I wasn’t saying your wrong, I was just saying that an LRT will take away car lanes so I’m not sure if that’s a worry.

    SAM > I have nothing against community consultation. I was just pointing out that NIMBYism hadn’t matured and governments put things like highways, bridges, and yes, subways, whereever they felt they wanted it, no matter what locals said. This is how the Gardiner got built, and we know that it has not been great for neighbourhoods (though very good at moving a high volume of traffic in and out of the city).

  32. Regarding the Don Mills LRT, whatever plans come up will be subject to change. I know that the Portlands environmental assessments are considering a Cherry Street LRT and looking at ways to bring the line up to the Bloor-Danforth subway. Parliament is one option, as is Broadview, but another option could be as an express route beside the Bayview Avenue extension.

    When the Don Mills LRT was a Don Mills BRT, one proposal to get around narrow Pape Avenue was to route the BRT north and west on Millwood and along Redway Road (parallelling the CP tracks) to the Bayview Avenue extension and then following the extension to Castle Frank station (either coming out of the valley via the off-ramp, or serving a new bus platform at the bottom of the valley accessed by escalators so lengthy, I’d pay a visit with a ghetto blaster to play that yodelling song that goes with the Price is Right mountain climber game).

    Well, if the Don Mills LRT follows this route, it makes sense that it could be interlined with the Cherry Street run through the valley, and indeed, this could be rendered into a kind of downtown relief line easily enough.

    My point is, don’t judge whatever comes out tomorrow on the basis of individual lines. The minute details can be altered later. The point is that we have an actual network on the table.

  33. Transit city? Yes. Good. Finally.
    Pedestrians and cyclists? No thanks!
    That’s the message from City Hall and all other levels of Government.
    It’s being delivered loud and clear.

    Message received.
    Time to for to create our own streets.

  34. Toronto should build many lrt lines to improve public transportation in Toronto.
    The councillors should look towards London and other European cities to see the vast building of subway anmd lrt lines.
    This is the only way to assist people out of their cars and onto public transit.

  35. At last – an LRT plan put into play.

    It’s maddening seeing all those pictures in the newspapers with the ARLV and CRLV tanks or the RT as the equivalent to what editors think will be in place with the new LRT lines. Torontonians have been given a ruse over the last few decades on what exactly an LRT could be.

    When I hear LRT – this is what I have in mind (and with the right of way – cars get the hell out of the way!): Strasbourg, France Mannheim to Heidelberg, Germany Rotterdam, Netherlands Amsterdam Paris Hanover, Germany

  36. first off I’d like to respond to one post specifically, “At some point, don’t we WANT to decrease the capacity of roads for cars?” the answer is NO. I find that most of the people in the anti-car crowd, down own cars themselvs. when they do buy one, and see how and when they are used, they suddenly lose thier fear of cars. Cars are not the enemy, they can be made to be 100% free of emissions if governments are willing to fund such things. As for the transit plan itself, I think on the whole it is good. I do see some gaps however. Eglinton West might get nice LRT but what of Eglinton East? If you build an LRT along the Finch Hydro area, wont it conflict with a finished Sheppard line – EG where will the finch LRT end? also, on the other side, what of Etobicoke, it might be easier for someone to Rexdale to go to Finch now, but what about Kipling? expanding the SRT will also be costly, either you need to tunnel under malvern (if people think the gardiner, which runs though an industrial area, is too ugly, they certainly wont want more raised SRT tracks though residential areas) and that will be costly, or convert to a type of LRT technology that can be run along streets. Part of the problem we have is that people see this as a Car VS Bus problem. it’s not. Imagine a war where one of the coutries is locked in a civil war. Transportation is a war on time and space – might sound silly but its true. the faster you can get somewhere, the better, but that takes space, and that is something that’s limited. It is possible for Transit and Automobiles to co-exist and for both to work very well. Berlin and New York City seem to get that idea. London seems anti-car, while most of Texas is anti-transit. the reality is neither of those work. what is needed is a balanced approach, and this is a great step in that direction.

    ~Nick J Boragina – former candidate for city council, Ward 19, and member of the Toronto Party

  37. (for the record, my postings above are my personal opinion. I’m certainly not speaking on behalf of the province or in any kind of official capacity. I left that behind when I stopped working for the province.)

  38. Matt: “This is how the Gardiner got built, and we know that it has not been great for neighbourhoods (though very good at moving a high volume of traffic in and out of the city).”

    Unfortunately, if we like it or not, there is a great need to do just that. The suburbs and the US trading market are out there and we need efficient means of interracting with them.. and that means the highway system. They, like many other uses, will never be good for neighbourhoods… but they are a necessary evil.

    I’m also a supporter of the community consultation process. The problem is both sides almost always have diametrically opposed and intractable positions. The militant activists opposing the bullheaded proponents. This is why things end up at the OMB. There is no room for rational debate anymore in the consultation process, and both sides are to blame.

    We had a project recently where neighbours opposed a use that was permitted as-of-right by the zoning. Instead of working with the proponent on compromises on things like built form that would have blended in, they just opposed it in its entirety.. and they lost and aren’t even going to get built form concessions (which were on the table). Sadly, this isn’t an isolated occurence.

  39. Matthew,

    I realized this morning that I understated the problem on the Sheppard bridge over the 404. There are actually two highway on-ramps that are accessed on the eastbound side by making a left turn. When you’re up there, I think you’ll see that those queues, especially the northbound 404 one that is directly on the bridge, are always quite long. In addition, there is the northbound 404 exit to Sheppard that I already mentioned.

    Trying to squeeze a two-way ROW on that bridge would leave one eastbound lane for car traffic. That will never happen, guaranteed. Just look at the “signal priority” for streetcars on Spadina and St Clair – do we really expect the road folks to allow Sheppard to be reduced to one eastbound car lane over the 404? No way.

    Next, assuming that the bridge is widened, we still have to contend with a few dozen cars making left turns at both highway on-ramps during every light cycle. With an LRT ROW, those two intersections will require a good 20 – 30 seconds of left turn-only signal-time during rush hours to move all those cars because they won’t be able to turn left at any other time due to the ROW.

    I’m interested to read what you think once you’ve seen it. Maybe I’m missing something, but I really don’t think so. I’ve been on the bus through there as recently as last week, and it’s always painfully slow getting past those two interesections at the bridge (not to mention the most transit-unfriendly lights at Fairview, just east of Don Mills).

  40. I love subways too, but $2.4 billion just to build an extension of 6 kilometers of tunnel and track onto an existing subway works out to $400 million a kilometer!

    That means the paltry 61.9 kilometers of tunnel and track we have now (excluding the SRT) is worth $24.76 billion! That would buy a lot of LRT track and trains, and a lot more buses.

    Maybe it’s time to look into how these construction contracts are awarded.

    That being said, anything that offers drivers a reasonable alternative to their cars is great news for everyone, drivers and non-drivers alike.

  41. *** Why not consider a monorail system elevated above the city streets? This way road traffic is not impacted. People want a solution that is quick compared to driving. If you are sitting in a LRT waiting at a stop light how is that any more efficient then driving a car? I say remove existing street cars in place of a monorail system. Seattle has plans to implement a monorail system, we could learn from their experience. Take a look at the draft images of Seattle’s proposal. ***

  42. Yes, this all might be nice but in the central/west waterfront we’ve been steadfastly ignoring a good start on a downtown relief line by insisting on the Front St. Extension rather than a Front St. transitway which could provide effective and robust transit back and forth from Etobicoke. Instead we have a c. $500M WWLRT which is second rate because it is a loopy milk run through the Ex and will never be fast enough to really draw in riders from the Gardiner. Giambrone persists in supporting the car project and the NDP-dominated TTC have kept on track with Metro-era plans that simply aren’t good enough value for the limited mobility offered. I think we need No FSE and a corridor study of the waterfront transit south of the 1949 Queen St. subway alignment with a ride-sharing program costed out too.

  43. hamish – the WWLRT may be changed… in recent public consultations a majority favored re-routing the service through the South part of Liberty village instead, where the Front Street extension is supposed to go.

    The technical feasibility still needs to be worked out, but it certainly looks a lot more useful now to downtowners. I’m not sure about the Gardiner-replacing ability of it, though.

    See the comments from the last consultation.

  44. Darren, why a monorail? Why not instead elevate regular LRT tracks, and run regular LRTs on them, such as Chicago’s EL?

    Would a monorail system be less expensive to maintain?

  45. We really need to shake our collective heads and get rid of the two transit myths that are choking this city: “rapid transit means subways”, and “LRT is just a new name for streetcars”.

    Ideally, the Spadina extension to Vaughan should be implemented as LRT and not subway, not only because of the cost but also because the capacity that LRT can provide is more than ample not only for immediate needs, but for far into the future.

    I believe that because Toronto kept its streetcars when most other cities removed them, it has left us with an etched-in incorrect image of what LRT can be.

    A real LRT plan should involve vehicles that are NOT compatible with the existing streetcar network, and not necessarily because of track gauge. For reliability, power pick-up should be with pantograph, not with outdated trolley poles that can jump off the wire. The overhead wire for pantographs must zig-zag as you go down the track so that it does not wear a groove in the pantograph, and this zig-zagging is generally not conducive to trolley pole operation.

  46. Darren, the monorail plan for Seattle was killed by voters in 2005 after project costs soared to $1.7 billion (US) for 10 miles of monorail with about the same capactiy as an LRT line. That works out to $125 million Canadian per km; at that rate today’s Transit City plan would cost about $15 billion.

  47. Sue – I was about to agree with Darren’s comment when I saw yours. One thing about monorail compared to raised LRT is that a dual directional monorail can take up no more than 1-2 lanes tops of roadspace, and while raised LRT can be a serious eyesore (think of something similar to the Scarborough RT), monorail is elegent, modern, and does not block out the sky much at all. Indianapolis has a raised LRT that looks quite similar to a monorail, but it still takes up more sky real estate than a monorail ever would.

    The new LRT map has just been released ( and it appears that this new network may be an extension of the current “LRT streetcars” on Spadina and St. Clair rather than a modern LRT network. Hopefully this will not be the case, and the current “LRT” lines will be upgraded to something similar to what Europe has.

    With that out of the way, I totally agree with Darren that monorail should be looked at seriously. Though monorail construction costs are more expensive than LRTs, they are much cheaper than subways and can have frequency, speeds and capacities of subways too. Besides that, they do not have to deal with city traffic at all and in many cases just merely fly over gridlock. This would be the best way to get people like Brian out of their cars and into transit.

  48. Sue, yes any sort of elevated rail system would suffice. Typically monorails are less expensive to maintain. When space is an issue monorails are usually optimal. Structurally they could be sustained via supports in the center of the street where street cars currently run. The supports would be surrounded by curbs so cars are not constantly bouncing into them. From an esthetics standpoint you could also plant flowers/grass in the center of the street at the base of the monorail support to help green-ify the downtown core a bit.

  49. I like this plan, but I disagree with one of the corridors. Sheppard east should not be an LRT. It should be cmompleted as a subway since they already started the subway. Plus, the corridor warrants a subway. All they have to do is dig east from DonMills station, then bring the subway above ground and into the air. I think its cheaper to build a bridge than to dig a tunnel. And if its made of concrete, it wouldn’t be an eyesore. Sheppard should be a subway!! If not, then we wasted 2 billion building the stub-line that it is.

    I agree with the other corridors though. Im not sure how they plan to fit an LRT up eglinton though, but, oh well.

    Transit City is a good idea, but Sheppard should be a subway, not LRT.

  50. I agree with Andrew re: Sheppard line. As someone said over at Urban Toronto, they should either build the Sheppard subway out eastward, or convert it to LRT.

    Sticking a transfer point in the middle of the thing is not a good idea — it’s as though they were poking a stick in the stubway’s eye to permanently cripple that which they never liked in the first place.

    The stubway is already there. It needs to become part of a coherent plan.

  51. I think LRTs are great, but it doesn’t make sense to force people to switch modes at Don Mills. The Sheppard line should be extended as a subway, although it could be partly built on the surface, like most of the Spadina line. Vancouver made the mistake of building an LRT when a full subway was needed.

  52. Why extend the subway to York Region? The TTC should serve Toronto first before serving any other region. The last time I checked, Toronto includes Scarborough. The money used to extend the Y-U-S line to York Region could be better spent on extending the Sheppard line east to Scarborough (and perhaps also west, if that’s feasible). Right now, the Sheppard line goes nowhere. Since we have the darn subway line already, at least let’s get our money’s worth by extending it to get more ridership on the line. That’s much better than having spent all that money on building a pretty much useless line, and ending up building an LRT extension for it.

  53. NIck wrote: “Cars are not the enemy, they can be made to be 100% free of emissions”

    No they can’t. Any car, and every car, will always be obnoxious polluters. The amount of energy and resources required to produce cars in the first place is outrageous. You gonna make them out of recycled bottles?

    electric cars have to get charged from the grid which means coal and nuclear.

    hydrogen cars use enourmous amounts of energy.

    we need to get 80% of our cars off the road. at a minimum. single occupant cars within city limits is a crime, with a small handfull of expeptions such as peoplw with disabilities, people moving big heavy things like refrigerators, and… I don’t know. probably a few other things. can’t think of any right now.

    also, cars are anti-social, ugly, extremely dangerous and compeletly inefecient. they are a joke.

    as for transit and money, i think this LRT plan is good but we need way more than this. Tom was dead-on with his first comment. It all comes down to political will. We live in a wealthy city in a wealthy country. Billions are spent on the military , and billions are hoarded by the rich.

    If we wanted to spend a billion a year on transit infrastructure, we could. The money is there. If government is “cash-strapped” it’s because they’re gutless to challenge the right-wing agenda of small government and privatisation. It’s a lousy excuse and it doesn’t hold water. The money is there. It’s just about priorities.

  54. The subway is finished. People need to realize this. LRT is the last best hope we have, and if you don’t like it, fine, I hope you enjoy sitting in traffic in your SUV.

  55. Thanks for the images Geoff – helpful to think of them going onto a Front St. transitway, and Ian thanks for the tip about the north of the tracks alignment. At the first mtg on the Mon.? in Parkdale, a CNEA gent by name of Henry Knox said they wanted it on the north side of the tracks and not in the Ex, though if it could help kill the car races it would almost be worth mis-spending a $100mill eh?
    Now what if we started spending this sort of coin for the LRT and Sorbara subway on bike infrastructure? The Sheppard subway bill could have given everyone in TO a free bike!
    But at least the TTC operators aren’t the passholes that some people are.

  56. mez> I agree with a lot of what you say, but some cars *are* beautiful, and are engineering works or art. Audi TT. They look like little round pills. I don’t think I want to own one, but when I see one, they move down the street magnificently. So, i’d say leave “ugly” out of your critique.

  57. How will these vehicles get their energy? Will they still run on electricity from overhead wires?

  58. Will these LRT cars still run on overhead wires? If not, where will they get their energy source? Will they still run on electricity?

  59. I have read conflicting versions about what is proposed and/or in the works for the piece of Kingston Rd between Victoria Park and Eglinton. Can anyone clarify?

  60. Re rob italiano.

    youre thinking streetcars. many lrt don’t use wires, they take power from the third rail just like a subway. i think the biggest problem in toronto is people thinking the LRT as Streetcars when they are not. Streetcars are antiquated and should be done away with forever.

  61. Matthew Blackett:

    We just put in a subway here in Los Angeles. The most recently constructed segment opened in 2000. That’s only 7 years ago. Not the 20’s, or even the 60’s, the last time I checked.

    It is possible to build more subways, and you should, but Transit City has a lot of potential. Your subway system is your backbone, with LRT feeding into the subway lines, so subways should be built eventually. Really you guys need two huge loop lines with the Sheppard subway connecting with the Bloor-Danforth, and on the other end, going into Scarborough Town Center. The second loop should connect the Yonge and US lines “at the top.”

    But it sounds like you guys could make a lot better use of LRT lines right now, and finish the subway system later. The important thing is to get these ideas out and have people talking about them.

    Rob/Kelvin: Most LRT systems do use overhead wires. It is possible to have underground power collection, but if the LRT vehicles are running in the street in mixed traffic, which seems like that is what is being proposed, they can’t use a “third rail,” they must use a “paddle” that extends through a slot in the street to a conduit in the street where they get the power, so that cars (or bicyclists or pedestrians) don’t accidentally touch live power lines. The (long removed) streetcar system in Washington D.C. was built like this, and some systems in Europe have it, but I don’t think any system in North America uses it right now.

  62. Great news, I was very excited to see the transit city website and all the plans this city has to offer to improve our transit, but I need to say these are not new ideas and this plan actually falls short. Very short. Our subway system should be extended not just LRT. The LRT yes, they are very good and this plan calls for some pretty good lines criss-crossing the city but please stop saying we do not have any money for subways, just do it, all worldclass cities do not whine like ours, oh it’s too expensive. Look at other cities around the world we are as we say, one of the riches countries in the world and yet we can’t afford anything. Build it, invest in it and please stop talking and analyzing, just do it. I keep looking at transit systems around the world and it makes me sick I mean literally sick and tired when I realize how far behind we are. And this whole, so called new plan for Transit city actually has no creativity in it. What about monorails, some kind of innovative transport system? Look up the internet ” Future of Transit” What about a train, or monorail or subway line along HWY 401? TTC and Mayor say we want to be leaders in Public Transit. Gentelmen, reality check with this plan, go online and visit Madrid, London, New York, Bejing, Tokyo, etc I could go on. I think if we want to get rid off the gridlock we should pay attention to the busiest corridor in GTA. There is no vision in this plan, it just seems to me we are still trying to copy cat other cities just to KEEP UP, that is if we can. Please do not get me wrong, it is a start but the hype about it before it was announced made me feel like it was going to be something WOW. Our Mayor says we are a worldclass city, you know I wish I could proudly say that but I can’t becasue if I did I would be lying. The city of this size should have a subway system minimum three times the size in length and number of stations. Anyhow, the plan is a good start either it we will see it happen is another thing judging from our past. I say please start somewhere. I really hope our city will some day be able to be proud to have the best transit system in the wolrd. BUILD IT. Do not wait.

  63. The proposed plan is a Mickey-Mouse (TM) plan for a Mickey Mouse operation, propsed to satisfy vision-free politicians to timid to demand the necessary funds.

    World-class transit, whether built before WWII, in the 50’s, or today, needs to be underground subway. Why? Because subways aare needed to server the dense areas where people want to go. LRT lines, either blocked by traffic lights or run over open areas without population or business density, are a waste of money. Which city was it, Barcelona, that built their huge subway network in the last decade or 2?

    The current two halves of the line feeding downtown are at capacity. A relief line is needed. It should run down Queen St. to make it easier to access more of the downtown. From there, it should run in directions that makes it a short feeder hop from as much of Toronto as possible – Weston, Jane, Don Mills, whatever. Maybe we need a King line that turns into the Lakeshore / Kingston Rd. line, too.

    Use deep tunnel boring to avoid disturbing the surface, reduce construction disruption, and stay below any utilities that would need relocating.

    To attract riders, subways need to service the most commonly used areas. In modern North America, that means most of the congested downtown areas, newer “town centres” like North Yonge, and also the larger suburban malls – Yorkdale and Fairview are a good start. Other good targets are suburban colleges – a captive demographic more likely to use transit.

    If you must connect Vaughn, or Mississauga, or newmarket- why not go to expanded “semi-GO” systems – with the speed and infrequent stops of a GO train, but electrified and run almost as frequently as subways – i.e. every 15-20 minutes, from 6am to 12pm. Again, make many of the stop points key destinations, like Square 1, CNE, colleges, or town centres.

    LRT that stops at more than 2 traffic lights in your trip is will not attract people out of cars. At the very least, surface transit should have the same priority as the Calgary C-train; but to my mind, that makes it a subway not LRT.

  64. The LRT grid proposal looks like a good start at dealing with the inner burbs, but funneling more people into an already-congested downtown core (especially the Yonge/University section of the subway) is a flaw which needs to be addressed. A downtown relief line is long overdue — perhaps a Front Street LRT that went underground in the core area? Queen Street streetcars below grade between Spadina and Sherbourne? I’ve also long wished for a revived Bay Street line, mostly on the surface but dipping below grade to connect with the subway at the upper platform level, pushing subway surface back down to the ghost platform below, then continuing north and west to connect with the subway (and/or a cross-town express light rail line) at Dupont — which brings me to my next point:

    Another real need is express service. Even on the subway, stopping every few block adds huge amounts of time to a cross-town trip, and that’s a huge disincentive to transit use for many car drivers. A fully-integrated GO system is probably the best bet, but it would require a major culture change at GO itself, as well as at the provincial and federal governments — AND at the national railway companies. Absolutely essential in the long run, it’s probably unlikely in the short-to-medium term: best to focus on the reasonably doable benefiting the biggest number of (existing and potential) riders first.

  65. I think that there should be LRT lines on the following:
    Kingston Rd and Meadowvale Road
    Islington Av
    St Clair Av W and Scarlett Road
    Queen St and Lake Shore Blvd W
    Bathurst St
    Sheppard Av E and Port Union Rd
    Sheppard Av W
    Eglinton Av E and Morningside Av
    Eglinton Av W
    Danforth Rd and McCowan Rd
    Finch Av E
    Finch Av W and Humberwood Dr (to Woodbine Racetrack)
    Jane St and Windmere Rd
    Neilson Rd
    Lawrence Av E
    Lawrence Av W and Dixon Rd
    Don Mills Rd, Millwood Rd, Pape Av and Carlaw Av
    Victoria Pk Av & Warden Av
    Queens Quay (to Humber Loop)

  66. I think that the municipal government should focus less on the Spadina subway extension and more on the Scarborough RT and Sheppard Subway extensions and LRT lines.

  67. The LRT is a thoughtful idea, but the TTC has taken this good idea and turned it rotten, proposing LRT lines on the worst streets. Putting one on Eglinton Avenue would result in more traffic and congestion (and headaches) than on King Street, and I for one know how much of a pain that is. Also there’s planning to make the Eglintion section between Keele and Don Mills completely underground! Isn’t that a little pointless? The congestion situation would be the same on the proposed lines for Pape/Don Mills, and the Sheppard East LRT line is useless since there’s already a subway line there (kinda the same with the Waterfront too). I say to you, Giambrone, to scrap this idea and wait for the funding for extensions of subway lines on Sheppard (both directions), Bloor/Danforth (both too), and to re-start the Eglintion line to the airport that the Harris government threw out the window in 1995. More expensive, yes, but a hell of a lot more useful then this Transit City joke.

    Just my 2 cents.

  68. I think that the Sheppard East line should go from Sheppard Station to Rouge Hill GO Station, & that a Sheppard West line to Weston Road should be created. I also think that the Don Mills line should go underground from Pape Avenue & Donlands Road to Carlaw Avenue & Lake Shore Boulevard. The Queen streetcar line should be converted to LRT. The Harbourfront LRT should terminate at either Humber Loop or Dundas West Station. I think that there should be a line from Main Station to McCowan Road & Steeles Avenue.

  69. Linking North York and Scarborough centres by half a subway and half an LRT line seems guaranteed to inhibit ridership growth, by forcing a transfer in the middle of the trip (keeping in mind that many people on the line will have already transferred at one end or the other, or at an intermediate station). If, as the Transit City plan implies, the TTC has given up on the prospect of ever extending the Sheppard subway, would a reasonable alternative not be to pull the subway tracks out of the tunnels, rebuild the stations, and run the LRT vehicle from one end to the other – Yonge to Scarborough Centre? My understanding is that the ridership of the subway is well within the capacity of an LRT line. It would create the best LRT facility in the city, link the centres, attract riders, and the subway cars can be reassigned to provide more frequent service on Y-U-S.