February 27, 2016 – Highlights Report
Toronto Transit Consultation Meetings
February 27, 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 27, 2016. A more detailed report of the feedback during this phase of consultations will be prepared in the coming days.
On Saturday, February 27, 2016, the City of Toronto, City Planning Division (Transportation Planning), the TTC and Metrolinx, hosted a public meeting on seven key transit projects currently being planned. The meeting was held at the Scarborough Civic Centre, 150 Borough Drive, 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 interactive feedback activities on each project. Participants could freely move between display panels and activities at their own pace, 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 James Perttula (Program Manager, Transit Implementation Unit, City of Toronto) at 10:00 AM, participants had the opportunity to ask questions of clarification as well as provide feedback.
Approximately 100 individuals attended the public meeting, including Ward 41 Councillor Chin Lee and Ward 44 Councillor Ron Moeser.
Highlights of Participant Feedback
Questions of Clarification
The discussion captured 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 and James Perttula.
Q. Why does the eastern segment of the Eglinton Crosstown end at the University of Toronto Scarborough campus instead of continuing further east as originally planned?
A. The Scarborough-Malvern LRT was originally to terminate near Morningside and Sheppard. Current transit planning efforts focus on what can be accomplished in the near term. There is an opportunity to further extend the LRT at a later date.
C. The speed at which these projects (particularly GO RER) are moving forward is unprecedented and terrifying – my concern is that mistakes may be made. Communication between the City and Metrolinx needs to be improved and there needs to be better community involvement. Perhaps a meeting could be arranged with community groups/associations in the near future?
A. We are working closely with Metrolinx to identify new stations on the existing GO Transit network. There will be an environmental assessment completed for electrification of the corridor, as well as for any new stations. I suggest that you make sure you understand which processes you want or need to engage in. City or Metrolinx staff can help to explain the processes. We are always willing to meet with interested community groups.
Q. Do you have ridership numbers for each option proposed for the Scarborough Subway Extension (e.g., optimized concept, multiple stops, etc.)? Are any Neighbourhood Improvement Areas being served through the Extension?
A. A model was developed by the University of Toronto to analyze ridership, which has yielded sensible numbers. Three memos have been issued that will be presented to the Executive Committee of City Council at the meeting scheduled for March 9, 2016. We have not completed the analysis of the express subway extension to Scarborough Centre, but we expect lower ridership simply because it works as part of a network that allows people more options for travel by transit (e.g., LRT, SmartTrack). The express Scarborough Subway Extension is still being studied. To clarify, a decision has not been made yet.
No version of the subway has any stations that directly serve Neighborhood Improvement Areas (NIAs) effectively. The Crosstown LRT corridor will travel through five NIAs along Eglinton and Kingston Roads – 16 of the 18 stations currently being planned are within NIAs. A significant benefit of the project is that it provides transit access to underserved areas of the City.
Q. I am skeptical about the number of people who will use SmartTrack from places like Stouffville and Markham. Do you have ridership projections for SmartTrack from those communities?
A. One of the memos I mentioned earlier analyzed ridership for the three different corridor options proposed for SmartTrack. Higher ridership is projected if fares are integrated with TTC service, and if service is frequent.
Q. The Relief Line is a fabulous idea that addresses congestion at the Bloor and Yonge interchange station. I am surprised that the same process is not being applied to address congestion on the Queen and King streetcars.
A. Strategies to address crowding on the Queen and King streetcars will be analyzed during the alignment phase of the Relief Line study. While the preferred corridor runs from Pape Station to Queen, an alignment within that corridor has not been determined.
Q. I live near Lawrence Station on the SRT. The optimized concept for the Scarborough Subway Extension removes stops that are on the current SRT line. What is the plan to replace the existing service?
A. Impact to users of existing SRT stations is considered in our evaluation criteria for the subway extension, but the plan does not replace the SRT in its current form. A Lawrence Station is proposed on the SmartTrack corridor, which is at the same location as the existing SRT station. Some of the Scarborough Subway Extension options have stations at Lawrence Avenue East, but further east. The SRT will not be taken out of service until the new corridors are operational.
Q. I am concerned about the transit route proposed for Kingston Road. Will it be a surface route that uses streetcars?
A. It would be a surface route in a dedicated lane for the LRT vehicles.
Q. A multi-stop subway was originally planned to replace the SRT. The number of stations proposed for the subway has since been reduced. If this is to address the greater needs of Scarborough then it is acceptable, but there is a perception that people downtown are making decisions that negatively influence this project.
A. That is not what we as planners, are proposing. We want to deliver good transit for people living and working in Scarborough. The principle of the optimized concept is that for same funding envelope that was approved for the subway, as it was originally proposed, we can increase access to rapid transit in other areas in Scarborough (e.g., University of Toronto Scarborough, the Avenues, and Neighbourhood Improvement Areas). Further work will also be undertaken to ensure that areas around these transit investments become areas of growth and economic development.
Q. Did the development of the optimized concept include consultation? We told you during previous consultations that we wanted an alignment on McCowan Road. I don’t agree with removing stops on the subway. If you are suggesting that we take buses to the SmartTrack corridor, which is managed by Metrolinx, we need assurance that the fares will be integrated.
A. We asked the Executive Committee of City Council on January 28, 2016 for approval to consult on the optimized concept for the Scarborough Subway Extension. Part of that is our consultation today, but we will also be doing further consultation on our findings in May.
The optimized concept was developed by looking at options to improve local and regional transit service in Scarborough. Considering several components together (e.g., SmartTrack and Scarborough Subway) allowed us to consider an optimized concept for the subway. The connection to downtown is important, but not the only priority. The majority of people who travel downtown from Scarborough use transit, but there are many more people whose trips both start and end in Scarborough; most of them do not take transit today but could benefit from better transit within growth areas of Scarborough. Fare integration is a key issue. We are working with Metrolinx to resolve it.
Q. Residents in Scarborough are not able to access employment opportunities in other parts of the City or region; there is a lack of rapid transit in Scarborough and issues with service reliability on existing bus routes. Is this being taken into consideration in your analysis? Ridership should not be the only factor used to justify transit investments. The lack of rapid transit is also impeding cultural integration across the City as well.
A. All of our work is about improving access to opportunities (employment and otherwise) for Torontonians. We are responding to make the transit network more relevant to residents in Scarborough, which is measured by how many people choose to use it.
Q. Subways are the most expensive type of public transit to build. Why is the stop at Lawrence Avenue being removed? If you are going to build the subway, do it right.
A. We are studying how much it will cost to protect for future stations on the subway extension. It’s all on the table right now.
C. I am the General Manager at Scarborough Town Centre (STC). Nearly 50 percent of shoppers take transit to the mall. Oxford Properties is investing in STC and recognizes the importance of transit to the future of the mall and surrounding community. We see a bright future for Scarborough Centre. We will continue to be involved in this process as a stakeholder.
C. Are the SmartTrack stations at Lawrence, Ellesmere and Finch a given?
A. We are working with Metrolinx to explore different options for integrating SmartTrack and RER. SmartTrack Option A includes one station in Scarborough. Option B includes stations at Lawrence, Ellesmere and Finch, in addition to the existing stations on the corridor.
C. The maps that were presented for SmartTrack are misleading as they present stations at Lawrence, Ellesmere, and Finch as a given, not one of two options.
Q. The most recent Metrolinx documents indicate that the SmartTrack corridor north of Kennedy is considered a future phase of development. How will that impact service to residents who rely on connections north of Kennedy station?
A. The information presented is based on our current discussions with Metrolinx. There have been different ideas about how the two services would integrate, but these are the most current arrangements being studied.
C. SmartTrack makes sense only if there are stations at Lawrence and Ellesmere to replace the ones that will be lost on the SRT. I do think that using the money saved through the optimized concept to extend the Eglinton Crosstown LRT is a great idea.
A. We are working with a specified funding envelope. We can build stations on the Scarborough Subway corridor, but the tradeoff is less funding for the LRT extension. In order to implement rapid transit we need good planning, political support and funding. We have two of the three requirements; we’re working on the planning piece.
C. Tax free municipal bonds would generate funding, but you need political support and enabling legislation through the City of Toronto Act.
Q. The plans presented focus transit improvements in central Scarborough. Nothing has been proposed for the southwest area of Scarborough from Kingston Road to Victoria Park.
A. We recognize that there are other areas of Scarborough that need improved transit, but we identified top priorities for Scarborough as a whole, and did assessed how existing plans would address those priorities. We are not suggesting that the plans presented address all of the transit needs in Scarborough – this is the starting point.
Q. Could you explain the preoccupation of eliminating the three stations on the SRT? What is the rationale?
A. The rationale is that the new line and SmartTrack are quite close together. Duplicating the stations on both services is expensive and would split ridership. We are taking out the duplication.
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.