Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Transit plan promises plenty but pays for precious little

with 16 comments

Globe and Mail

It’s déja vu, all over again

Yet another massive transit plan is promised for Toronto. And once again there is no real idea how to pay for it. Or rather the option of making the people who live and work there pay for it themselves is not eactly going to make any politician very popular. In fact the same probelm besets Vancouver (metro that is). We have a “plan” – only $14bn not $50bn but the same order of magnitude given the relative popluation. And also no real idea how to pay for it.

10c a km toll seems to me to be a bit unlikely.

Metrolinx also says it will study new ways to “capture” some of the boost to land values created by public transit, as well as looking at increased development charges and partnerships with the private sector.

Also just like here. Except that the Sheppard subway was going to be paid for like that and the developers just refused – and siad there were plenty of other places they could put up buildings where they could take nearly  all of the profits for themselves, so they didn’t need to develop on Sheppard West. And then the development business was going full blast. This will be an even harder stunt to pull off in a recession.

Metrolinx’s draft plan also shows the continuing state of the disagreement between Metrolinx and the Toronto Transit Commission over Toronto’s proposal for a partially tunnelled light-rail line for Eglinton. Metrolinx and the TTC had clashed over the provincial agency’s insistence on a more expensive but faster and fully tunnelled rapid-transit line using vehicles similar to those on the Scarborough RT or Vancouver’s SkyTrain.

Oh no, no that one again. The argument should be about why transit has to be the way to wean us off car dependency – not what kind of train, for goodness sake. The future of humanity on this planet is at stake. And we are arguing about details?

and the plan still includes

Extensions to Highways 407, 404, 427 and 410, as already identified in provincial growth plan

and that is the problem. That sounds even worse than Gateway, and for exactly the same reason. For years Metro TO has been spreading out all over the last warm flat bit of Ontario. Just like our sprawl has taken over the Fraser Valley. If Metrolinx and the Province of Ontario stick with this, that just means more low density subdivisions on land that will be needed to grow food. And all those people will still be driving and have to pay whatever the the oil companies and governments feel ike gouging from them. This is not sustainable development.

Tear up that plan and start again – and this time take as your starting point peak oil and the need to reduce fossil fuel consumption. Because those horsemen of the apocalypse cannot be ignored.

Written by Stephen Rees

September 24, 2008 at 10:02 am

16 Responses

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  1. At least we’ve built a line since the time of the Millennium Line / Sheppard Line construction.

    With their proposed Spadina Line extension (8.7 km) of full-scale subway (6 stations) expected to cost over $2 billion (i.e. the cost of the entire Canada Line), it’s no wonder there’s arguing over costs and technology.

    Ron C.

    September 24, 2008 at 11:19 am

  2. According to the DoRAVRight folks, the cost of the RAV/Canada line is past $2.5 billion and that’s for a truncated subway, which at best carry fewer passengers than light rail. Small stations, means that RAV has a maximum capacity of 15,000 pphpd, much less if the industry standard of standing customers at 4 persons standing per metre/sq., instead of InTransit BC’s theoretical capacity of 8 standing passengers per metre/sq. Small, 50 metre stations means at least a billion dollars more must be spent in increase capacity of RAV!

    The cost of a SkyTrain subway, with the same capacity of the Spadina subway (over 40,000 pphpd) would cost more! The 1983 TTC Accelerated Rapid Transit Study found that ICTS cost anything up to 10 times the cost of LRT for the same capacity, or cost more to build than a heavy rail subway with much less capacity!

    It also apparent that Bombardier’s lobbyists are hard at work forcing ICTS (ALRT,ART) onto the TTC, but the TTC seems to resist very strongly.

    It is not speed alone that attracts people to transit but the overall ambiance of the transit system.

    Malcolm J.

    September 24, 2008 at 3:25 pm

  3. That’s my point, Toronto is fixated on full scale subways costing much more than smaller scale systems. What’s the likelihood Toronto will need 40,000 pphpd at Vaughan Corporate Centre?

    Ron C.

    September 24, 2008 at 4:03 pm

  4. Actually, the TTC want to build a large light rail network, as well Hamilton and Montreal are in advanced state of planning for light rail. Me thinks the ‘SkyTrain/Bombardier lobby are at work with Metrolinx (the regional transit authority) and the globe.

    The first LRT line, will use the median of a widened Sheppard Ave. East, from the don Mills subway, across North Scarborough to Meadowvale Road. The 30 stop route will cost $655 million.

    Malcolm J.

    September 24, 2008 at 4:44 pm

  5. Yes, that’s largely in part because of the cost of the Sheppard Line as a subway that they are looking at completing the Sheppard Line using LRT. There’s even suggestions of back-tracking and converting the built portion of the Sheppard Line to LRT to avoid a forced transfer at Don Mills.

    Ron C.

    September 24, 2008 at 11:02 pm

  6. The real interesting battle is to tear down the Scarborough ICTS (SkyTrain) or not. My sources tell me that Bombardier is fighting hard to have the TTC to refurbish it, with Mk.2 cars. This means rebuilding the line.

    The TTC would rather tear it down and install LRT instead. The Scarborough Line has been problematic from the beginning (incl. poor performance in the snow – sound familiar?) and the guide-way is showing its age and sections needing replacing in the near future. (Remember that $2 billion retrofit of the Expo Line?)

    Also news and on this blog, the TTC has rejected Bombardier’s Flexity modular light rail cars as non compliant with the contract and issuing a new tender for replacement vehicles.

    We will see who has the stronger will; Metrolinx or the TTC.

    Malcolm J.

    September 25, 2008 at 7:32 am

  7. I think the main construction element of the retrofit of the RT would be the widening of a curved underpass under the GO tracks. I think the TTC already stopped using the turning loop that was originally at Kennedy Station (meant to be a demonstration of the tight turning radius of the steerable axles, and possibly a holdover of their single-ended streetcar mode of thinking). Much of the RT runs at grade in an exclusive ROW.

    The Expo Line was built with the MKIIs in mind – the wider car had been on the books since the 1980s, but the RT (as the first project) wasn’t designed for it. The only part that had to be reinforced was the Terminal Avenue demonstration segment. The RT supports use a much heavier looking V-type support for its elevated segments, not the T-type seen on the Expo Line.

    Ron C.

    September 25, 2008 at 10:31 am

  8. I’ve heard rumours but the source isn’t the most reliable, that Translink instead of upgrading the older Mk I cars as scheduled will just order additional Mk II cars and recoup some funds by supplying our old cars to the Scarborough line. I would imagine they would still need to be updated.

    Joe Just Joe

    September 26, 2008 at 8:31 am

  9. Joe, I doubt it very much, the Mk.1 cars are getting rather long in the tooth and I doubt the TTC will buy and refurbish them. TransLink may very well think this will happen, but by the time the new Mk. 2’s arrive the Mk.1’s will be almost 30 years old.

    Also, the Mk.1’s ‘spam-cans’ have been prone to metal fatigue, especially in subzero weather, something that happens very rarely in Vancouver.

    Malcolm J.

    September 26, 2008 at 10:20 am

  10. That’s quite a difference in capital cost – I doubt they would buy new cars instead of refurbishing the old ones. There were news reports years ago that the MKIs would be all replaced, but latest press I’ve heard earlier this year or last year was that they would be refurbished. It’s not as if we need all one type of vehicle (i.e. we don’t have platform sreen doors)and the TTC’s needs obviously don’t factor into TransLink’s decisions.

    Ron C.

    September 26, 2008 at 12:48 pm

  11. The oldest MK-1 cars are 23 years old, the newest, just 13.

    Dave

    September 26, 2008 at 1:03 pm

  12. The problem is simple – Bombardier will not build Mk.1 cars and to operate Mk. 2 cars, one has to rebuild the line.

    The other thing I find interesting is that the TTC gives the lifespan of the guide-way at about 30 years, why, I do not know.

    The conundrum they face is refurbish the cars and rebuild the line or abandon the line and either build a metro or light rail. Unlike light rail vehicles, the Mk.1’s are rather poorly built and the cost of refurbishment is high. Many of the cars have been somewhat refurbished in the past due to fatigue cracks, especially around the doors.

    I think if the TTC is successful in financing their large LRT scheme, I think the Scarborough line is toast in about 10 years.

    Malcolm J.

    September 26, 2008 at 1:31 pm

  13. Originally the Scarborough Rapid Transit was going to be a simple streetcar line on it’s own right of way. Due to politics we ended up with a turkey. Millions has been spent trying to make it right. It would have been better and cheaper to extend the Bloor Danforth subway.

    Andy Grant

    September 27, 2008 at 1:55 am

  14. What happened was that after spending millions to promote ICTS (later called ALRT-SkyTrain and now called ART) in Hamilton Ontario, City council stood their ground against the Bill Davis Conservative government and rejected ICTS. The provincially owned UTDC could not sell the system, as most thought it was junk and in desperation the Ontario government forced ICTS on a reluctant TTC – thus becoming the Scarborough Line.

    Malcolm J.

    September 27, 2008 at 6:46 am

  15. FYI – info on the SRT and on GO ALRT projects here:

    http://transit.toronto.on.ca/subway/5107.shtml

    http://transit.toronto.on.ca/gotransit/2107.shtml

    I suspect that if the SRT had been built as a streetcar line, it would be facing the same quandry that TTC is currnetly facing in replacing its aging streetcar fleet – which car to buy?

    Ron C.

    September 29, 2008 at 12:07 pm

  16. It’s also interesting to note that the GO ALRT would have electrified the Lakeshore GO Line – which I think is currently being proposed in the current megaplan.

    Ron C.

    September 29, 2008 at 12:09 pm


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