February 25, 2016 – Highlights Report
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Toronto Transit Consultation Meetings
February 25, 2016
This concise Highlights Report has been prepared to provide the City of Toronto, TTC and Metrolinx with a snapshot of the feedback captured at the public meeting held on February 25, 2016. A more detailed report of the feedback during this phase of consultations will be prepared in the coming days.
On Thursday, February 25, 2016, the City of Toronto, City Planning Division (Transportation Planning), the TTC and Metrolinx, hosted a public meeting on key transit projects currently being planned. The meeting was held at Riverdale Collegiate Institute, 1094 Gerrard St. East, Toronto.
The public meeting focused on the various transit projects being studied as part of a network approach to transit planning undertaken by the City, TTC and Metrolinx, including:
Six and Fifteen Year Transit Planning: Show the potential development of Toronto’s rapid transit system over the next 6 and 15 years
Scarborough Transit Extension: Present a proposed approach to optimizing the transit network in Scarborough, including the development of an express subway to Scarborough Centre, SmartTrack and the extension of the Crosstown LRT eastward to the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus.
Relief Line: Present the results of the corridor evaluation and the preferred corridor.
Waterfront Transit Reset: Introduce a new initiative to improve transit options along the waterfront.
SmartTrack / GO Regional Express Rail (RER): Present current work to develop GO RER and to integrate it with SmartTrack on the Stouffville and Kitchener corridors.
SmartTrack Western Corridor Feasibility Study: Present the results of a study considering feasibility of SmartTrack heavy rail western corridor options connecting Mount Dennis and the Mississauga Airport Corporate Centre. A heavy rail option will not be recommended due to significant community impact, higher cost and lower projected ridership compared to the LRT.
GO Electrification: Present recent work on plans to electrify Metrolinx-owned rail corridors.
The meeting featured a series of panels and an overview presentation. Participants were given time before and after the presentation to look at the display panels, and speak with project staff from the City, TTC and Metrolinx.
Following an introductory presentation on Coordinated Network Transit Planning given by Hilary Holden (Director, Transit and Sustainable Transportation, City of Toronto) and Hans Riekko (Senior Planner, Transit Implementation Unit, City of Toronto) at 7:00 PM, participants had the opportunity to ask questions of clarification as well as provide feedback.
Approximately 190 individuals attended the public meeting, including Ward 30 Councillor Paula Fletcher, Ward 32 Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon, Ward 21 Councillor Joe Mihevc, Ward 29 Councillor Mary Fragedakis, Toronto-Danforth MPP Peter Tabuns and Toronto-Danforth MP Julie Dabrusin.
Highlights of Participant Feedback
Questions of Clarification
The discussion that took place during the question and answer period following the overview presentation is summarized below. Questions are noted with a “Q”, comments with “C” and answers with “A”. Answers were provided by Hilary Holden, Hans Riekko, and Paul Millet (Transportation and Operations Specialist, TTC).
Q. What are the concerns with tunneling costs under the river for the Relief Line?
A. The project team has done a lot of geotechnical work to understand these challenges. The bedrock dips down where the river cuts through it and the area is filled with peat and soft soils. Different types of rock and soil require different tunneling machines. And, the shorter the distance across the river, the less risk and expense.
Q. How deep is the dip under the Don River?
A. We are looking at maintaining at least 3-4 metres of bedrock cover over the tunnel which puts the tunnel at a depth of 16-20 metres in some spots.
Q. I didn’t see anything in the fare integration recommendations about timed use e.g. during peak periods you pay more compared to the rest of the day. I am also concerned about how a distance based system would increase costs for lower income communities which tend to be on the periphery of the City.
A. The display panels available refer to Metrolinx’ fare integration study. Their study is looking at recommending a structure to Metrolinx’ Board of Directors on June 28, 2016. In order to get SmartTrack right and make the rail system more relevant in the City, we need to get the fares right. In terms of affordability, there are slightly different policy goals between the City and Province. The City is working to assess the benefits and costs of different scenarios and will be reporting on our conclusions before Metrolinx reports to their Board in June.
Q. It feels like a whole swath of the area is being skipped over in terms of Relief Line station locations. Why are there not more stations being considered east of the Don River between Gerrard Square and Queen/Broadview?
A. When we start to look at where we could actually put a station, there isn’t an appropriate place to put a station because of where the curve needs to be.
Q. What about putting a station on either side of the curve?
A. The radius of the curve carries on. Putting a station on either end of the curve would make them very close to Pape/Gerrard and Queen/Broadview. We still have some work to do and tonight we are seeking feedback on suggested alignments.
Q. How much time savings do you predict for travelling to the downtown core on the Relief Line compared to via Bloor/Yonge?
A. For corridor B1, the travel time from Coxwell to Queen is about 17% faster than taking the existing route via Bloor/Yonge. That equals a savings of about 3.5 minutes.
Q. What are the merits of the current proposed express subway extension to Scarborough Centre compared to previous proposals?
A. There is a report that went to Council’s Executive Committee on January 28, 2016 that speaks to this in great length. The express subway and easterly extension of the Eglinton East LRT represent the best investment in Scarborough, because the Centre and Avenues are where we want to see growth and development. Most of the SRT ridership comes from transfers from east-west buses. Bus riders can transfer to the system at SmartTrack stations.
Q. What is the potential impact of tunneling on the foundation of older homes? Many homes in the proposed Relief Line corridor are over 100 years old.
A. We tunneled very close to the Schulich Building at York University very recently. We paid special attention to do no damage and were very strict on our tolerance. The Relief Line tunnel will be substantially deeper, through bedrock, therefore we do not expect any damage to foundations.
Q. Your model compares the time it takes to get downtown via two transit choices, and I think this comparison is the wrong one to consider. Have you looked at a comparison of volumes? I think more stations through the neighbourhoods is better.
A. Ridership modelling actually considers what is called “generalized cost.” This means that we turn all the elements of the journey into a cost e.g., time, fare, parking, etc. By providing an alternative route to downtown from the east, we are providing more capacity and reducing the “time” part of that cost for the transit trip, and we can predict how many more people will use it. We can also look at de-congestion benefits by estimating which users would have previously chosen to drive.
Q. What is the value add of the SmartTrack proposal? There could be other ways to improve surface transit from east to west with less duplication.
A. The GO RER Plan has funding and it is the foundation of the SmartTrack idea. SmartTrack is looking at potentially adding frequency (more vehicles per hour) and new stations. We will need to address where we can get the best benefit for the money spent.
Q. In terms of the process, will the residents of the community have a chance to vote on the proposed alignments in the preferred Relief Line corridor?
A. Tonight we are asking for input on the alignments and where the stations entrances should be. In April will come back to the public with a recommended alignment and recommended station locations. All feedback is used to inform our recommendations to City Council, and feedback is recorded verbatim in our reports.
Q. For the RER plan, is Metrolinx looking at the economic benefits of station locations?
A. The Metrolinx analysis is comprehensive. Each proposed station will undergo a business case assessment. The area surrounding the potential stations has been looked at in great detail. The City has been working closely with Metrolinx and providing information on things like neighbourhood zoning and potential for growth.
Q. Is there a projected start and end date for construction of the Relief Line?
A. It should be in place no later than 2031. It might take ten years to build from the time we receive funding. Once we receive funding, we would do the detailed design and construction.
Q. Do you have a sense of the cost of the project? Has the Provincial government made any commitment for funding?
A. There is no commitment for funding for the Relief Line at this time. We continue to make the case that it is a very important project. In terms of the construction costs we are estimating an order of magnitude cost of $3.7B (in 2016 dollars).
Q. I am concerned about increased trains and frequency. What are the advantages of switching from diesel to electric trains?
A. Electrified trains are quieter. They accelerate and decelerate faster; they are lighter vehicles with a lower environmental impact. There is a report on Metrolinx’s website that speaks to electrification and the advantages.
Q. Given the plans for development at the Unilever site, I am surprised that the Relief Line corridor doesn’t give direct access to it. They are projecting 50,000 new jobs. Not serving this potentially large employment hub with the subway seems counterintuitive.
A. The alignment options on Eastern Avenue would be on the border of the Unilever site so we could have a station within walking distance of most of the site. Queen and Broadview is a 5-6 minute walking distance from the edge of the site. There is also a proposed Unilever SmartTrack station that Metrolinx is helping us evaluate.
Q. What are some of the constraints for building a station at the Unilever site?
A. The challenge is that the Unilever site is located in the Don River’s floodplain. The Broadview extension will be going down through the site and we would have to locate the station well east of Broadview.
Q. It seems that you are making a lot of assumptions about the growth in Scarborough. How can you justify the subway? There is very little growth in the area right now.
A. You are right that the low density in Scarborough is a challenge, so we need to be clear on how we serve Scarborough with transit. Areas meant for intensification – the Avenues and Scarborough Centre – need to be served with rapid transit. We will be connecting the stable neighbourhoods with local buses. The integration of these services is very important.
A more detailed report of all consultation activities will be made available after this phase of consultation. Comments must be submitted by March 4, 2016 to ensure inclusion in this report.