Statement on Promised Funding for SmartTrack by Federal Government

Posted on: June 19th, 2015

On June 18th, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Finance Minister Joe Oliver, and Toronto Mayor John Tory announced that the federal government would provide up to 1/3 of the construction cost of SmartTrack, up to $2.6 billion in 2015 dollars, should the city choose to build it and should the current party retain control of government in the federal election this fall. Other political parties have not yet confirmed their competing funding proposals.

CodeRedTO is an advocate for all forms of improved transit, and welcomes investment in public transit from the federal government, since all levels of government need to recognize the benefit of public transit to the entire GTHA and beyond. However, it’s important for governments to provide more than election promises and deliver on consistent, predictable funds for transit expansion and operation. Yesterday’s announcement is really just a campaign promise: elect us and we will give you these funds.

We also respect the expertise of our city planners and City Council’s authority to debate and decide what to build. SmartTrack and RER will be a useful part of the overall mix of public transit in Toronto, though the TTC’s first priority is a Relief Subway Line and it is a more developed plan than SmartTrack at the moment. We would hope that federal funding would be forthcoming to support whatever the City decides is best.

Click to learn more about the planning process for SmartTrack, RER, and the Relief Subway Line.

CodeRedTO Report:
Light Rail in Historic Cities

Posted on: June 14th, 2015

Recent conversations about upgrading transit in the GTHA have often included discussion of Brampton’s beautiful downtown – an historic Ontario city first incorporated over 160 years ago. This got us thinking about trams, light rail, and how surface rail has been used around the world for far longer than the cars and trucks that travel through Brampton’s downtown today.

Henry Ford’s Model T automobile, the first car in North America, began production in 1896. But several surface rail systems, mostly what we would call streetcars and trams, began operation long before then:

  • 1862: Geneva, Switzerland
  • 1863: Alexandria, Egypt
  • 1865: Berlin, Germany
  • 1869: Brussels, Belgium
  • 1871: Bucharest, Romania
  • 1872: Barcelona, Spain
  • 1877: Rome, Italy

Over 80 surface rail systems opened before the Model T began production, including several in North America such as Toronto’s streetcar network.

However, the technology of modern light rail used today is quite advanced compared to some of those ancient systems, and LRT is fast becoming the transit mode of choice for improved coverage of medium-density areas such as Mississauga-Brampton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Hamilton, northern Etobicoke and Scarborough, and others worldwide.

Since 2000, 27 cities have launched new light railnot streetcar – lines, including:

  • Valparaiso, Chile
  • Gold Coast, Australia
  • Seattle, WA
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN
  • Bergen, Norway
  • Madrid, Spain
  • Bucharest, Romania
  • Jerusalem, Israel

We counted, and there are over 80 cities worldwide which run light rail systems as part of their public transit networks. And many of these cities are much older than Brampton, with far less space to work with. Soon Kitchener’s historic downtown will join them with light rail as well.

But can historic cities make light rail work? In fact they do, in pedestrian-, cyclist-, tourist-, and business-friendly ways:


Historic_Reims

Reims, France (founded 80 B.C.E.)


Historic_Grenoble

Grenoble, France (settled ~43 B.C.E.)


Historic_Brussels

Brussels, Belgium (settled ~580 C.E.)


Historic_Vienna

Vienna, Austria (settled ~500 B.C.E.)


Historic_Ghent

Ghent, Belgium (first churches founded ~650 C.E.)
(Note the wooden bridge structure)


Historic_Amsterdam

Amsterdam, Netherlands (founded ~1300 C.E.)


Historic_Jaffa

Tel Aviv, Israel


The Colosseum in Rome

The Colosseum in Rome

Click here to learn more about the Hurontario-Main LRT coming to Mississauga and Brampton
Click here to download this report in PDF format

Transit Projects and
Events Update

Posted on: June 10th, 2015

This past winter and spring have been a busy time for CodeRedTO and for transit news in the GTHA, so here’s a big update about what CodeRedTO has been up to, and what’s coming next!

See below for updates on these topics:

  • Light Rail Projects in Ontario
  • Subway Projects
  • SmartTrack and GO Regional Express Rail
  • Activities in partnership with Move The GTHA
  • Supporting Local Transit Advocacy
  • Upcoming Events

 

Light Rail Projects in Ontario

The Finch West LRT in north-west Toronto was recently confirmed as fully-funded and moving ahead by the provincial government. Preparations and procurement have begun including an Environmental Assessment for the Maintenance and Storage Facility (MSF) required for the light rail vehicles (LRVs) that will bring faster, higher-capacity, and more predictable transit to northern Etobicoke. Construction is expected to begin in 2017, with the line opening in 2021. Metrolinx is hosting an Open House for the MSF at 1685 Finch Avenue West from 7-9pm on June 24. Learn more

The Sheppard East LRT in north-east Toronto, which began construction in 2009 (scheduled to open in 2013) but was put on hiatus in 2010, has not resumed construction. The provincial government recently stated that construction would resume after the Finch West LRT opens, in 2021 at the earliest, with the line opening in 2025 at the earliest. Several members of Toronto City Council and MPPs at Queen’s Park continue to push against this project.

The Hamilton “B-Line” LRT was recently awarded full funding by the provincial government in a welcome move to build new rapid transit for Hamilton’s growing population, and is moving ahead with procurement expected to begin in 2017, construction in 2019, and the line opening in 2024. Learn more

Mississauga & Brampton’s Hurontario-Main LRT was recently awarded full funding by the provincial government, although some Brampton councillors continue to push against this project traveling on the approved and more direct route through their downtown. CodeRedTO partners Fight Gridlock in Brampton are building support for this major transit improvement for Brampton. Learn more

Kitchener-Waterloo’s iON LRT continues major construction, with its partner Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line reaching Cambridge residents and businesses (to be upgraded to LRT in future). Operations are expected to begin in 2017 – the first operational light rail line in Ontario! Learn more

Ottawa’s Confederation Line LRT upgrade to its existing east-west BRT Transitway continues tunnel and station excavation and construction, and begins track construction this year. Operations are expected to begin in 2018. Learn more

 

Subway Projects

The Scarborough Subway Extension continues its early stages, with corridor evaluation and future station location evaluation. The precise locations of stations, and estimates of costs above the initial $3.5 billion expected, are still to be determined. CodeRedTO is participating in this project’s “Stakeholder Advisory Group” to contribute to the quality and effectiveness of this council-approved extension. Eight different public meetings are being held June 13-25 to discuss the project and hear from residents and businesses about their preferences. This extension is expected to open in 2023 at the earliest. Learn more

The Relief Subway Line continues the planning process of corridor evaluation and future station location evaluation. The recommended locations of stations, and estimates of costs, are expected to become available in September 2015. This project has been proposed multiple times since the 1980’s as the subway network has become more congested, but has no committed funding. Completing the planning process now allows a faster start in future once funding has been identified. CodeRedTO is participating in this project’s “Stakeholder Advisory Group” to contribute to the quality and effectiveness of this future line. Similar to the Scarborough project, eight different public meetings are being held June 13-25 to discuss this project and hear from residents and businesses and community groups about their preferences and needs. Learn more

 

SmartTrack and GO Regional Express Rail

Metrolinx is planning to upgrade large sections of its GO Train network to use electric trains instead of diesel, which allows faster and more frequent service, even with additional stops. The term being used for this improved service is borrowed from the Paris RER, but is translated to “Regional Express Rail.” The province recently announced significant funding for this project, with electrified service beginning within the next decade.

Electrified RER is a prerequisite for the SmartTrack proposal from Toronto Mayor John Tory, however there is no funding yet identified for SmartTrack. As part of the city’s planning process, eight days of public meetings are being held June 13-25 to discuss the project options and community needs. Learn more about RER and SmartTrack.

Related to RER and SmartTrack is the Union Pearson Express (UPX) rail line to Pearson airport, which opened June 6th. Priced separately from both TTC and GO fares as a premium service, this line may be absorbed into RER and SmartTrack in future due to overlapping ridership and restricted track space.

 

Activities in partnership with Move The GTHA

In 2012, CodeRedTO helped co-found Move The GTHA, a diverse group of organizations from health, labour, business, policy, environment, and citizen advocacy working together to build awareness, engagement and education in support of investment in our region’s transportation system. We have worked together to advocate for improved transit investment by the provincial government, to provide support for existing approved projects, and have met with Premier Kathleen Wynne and Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca to forcefully discuss these issues.

In May, CodeRedTO signed on to a letter to the Premier regarding future carbon pricing in Ontario, advocating for this revenue to be directed toward transit operations and expansion to help decrease our reliance on personal vehicles run on fossil fuels as much as possible. We recently received a detailed and positive response from the Premier, and we look forward to learning more.

Last week, CodeRedTO signed on to a statement regarding the future of the Gardiner East (from Jarvis to the DVP). This section of the expressway supports only 3% of commuters, compared to 72% who use transit, walk, or cycle into the downtown core. Our view is that the large investment required to maintain the Gardiner East would be better spent supporting the many tens of thousands more commuters in our bus, streetcar, future LRT, and subway network. Learn more from our partner organization CodeBlueTO.

 

Supporting Local Transit Advocacy

Thanks to some funding from the Toronto Atmospheric Fund, CodeRedTO has been able to increase our support for local advocates across the GTHA, including Our Place Initiative in Etobicoke who are working for improved streetcar options for their residents, North West Transit Action who are working to build support and community benefits for the Finch West LRT line, Scarborough Transit Action who are pushing back against repeated delays and cancellations of rapid transit for residents across Scarborough, and others. If your organization is working on transit issues please let us know and tell us how we can help!

 

Upcoming Events

TTC Riders is holding their Annual General Meeting on June 17th from 5:15-8:30pm at 25 Cecil Street. Their keynote speaker is internationally-acclaimed author Naomi Klein, and you can hear about upcoming plans, get some tasty snacks, vote for new board members, and enter to win some great prizes!

Toronto Transit Alliance is holding the Big Debate on June 16th from 5:30-8:30pm at 227 Bloor Street East. Featuring Toronto Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat, Metrolinx CEO Bruce McQuaig, former TTC Chair and Councillor Adam Giambrone and representatives of Ellis-Don and Munro Ltd, debating transit operations and transit network expansion.

Metrolinx is hosting an Open House for the Finch West LRT’s future Maintenance and Storage Facility, at 1685 Finch Avenue West from 7-9pm on June 24thLearn more

The City of Toronto and the TTC are holding eight days of separate public meetings on SmartTrack, the Scarborough Subway Extension and the Relief Subway Line between June 13th and 25th, to hear from communities about their needs and preferences for these projects.

Metrolinx is hosting an Open House for the MSF at 1685 Finch Avenue West from 7-9pm on June 24thLearn more

 

Get involved!

CodeRedTO welcomes volunteers from across the GTHA and beyond (not just TO!) to help us attend public meetings, contribute to “behind the scenes” planning meetings, create new infographics and messaging for improved transit debates, and more. Get in touch! Also, if you have questions, please email info@coderedto.com at any time. We’ll do our best to help!

Mayor Tory’s Support For Existing Transit Projects A Welcome Change

Posted on: March 19th, 2015

MEDIA RELEASE

Mayor Tory’s Support For Existing Transit Projects A Welcome Change

After years of uncertainty and contradictory statements and plans from City Hall, CodeRedTO welcomes today’s statements from Mayor Tory’s office that the planned, approved, and 100%-provincially-funded modern light rail lines coming to Finch West and Sheppard East “will proceed as planned,” precisely as council voted exactly three years ago. [Finch, Sheppard]

“After a long municipal election that avoided definite statements on over $2.2 billion of spending inside Etobicoke and Scarborough, this is a welcome bit of clarity,” said Executive Director Cameron MacLeod.

Mayor Tory’s office signaled that, as planned, the Finch West LRT project will begin construction in 2017, opening in 2021. This line will replace one of Toronto’s busiest bus routes which currently serves over 44,000 riders per day – almost the same number as the Scarborough RT.

Similarly, the Sheppard East LRT project will be constructed in the same timeframe, and will include an underground across-the-platform connection to the Sheppard subway and easy connection to the future Bloor-Danforth subway extension. This line will carry over 36,000 riders per day, similar to the 85 Sheppard East and 190 Scarborough Centre Rocket buses.

The Sheppard East and Finch West LRT lines were first announced in 2007, fully funded by the province [for Finch, and partially by the federal government, for Sheppard] in 2009, including any cost overruns, and confirmed by City Council in 2012.

Unlike extensions to existing subway lines which require large capital investments by the city to construct, and cover only a small portion of the city, these two light rail lines will provide over 40 stops and over 22km of modern transit in reserved rights-of-way at no additional cost to the city’s capital budget. The vehicles will travel an average of 50-60% faster overall than the current overcrowded and unpredictable bus service.

CodeRedTO looks forward to the dramatic improvement in freedom of movement and reliability of public transit for such a large portion of our city, and future transit improvements discussed by Mayor Tory, City Council, and the TTC.

About CodeRedTO:
CodeRedTO is a non-partisan, volunteer-run, regional transit advocate which promotes more and better transit options for more residents, using all available technologies as appropriate; better information for better decision-making; an end to reversals of existing plans; and increased, predictable funding for public transit expansion and operation. Links to sources can be found at www.CodeRedTO.com.

Sources for statements attributed to Mayor Tory’s office:
http://m.torontosun.com/2015/03/18/city-ombud-term-lengths-eyed
https://twitter.com/agalbraith/status/578609806468067328

CodeRedTO Meets with Premier Kathleen Wynne and Minister Steven Del Duca

Posted on: October 14th, 2014

Today CodeRedTO’s Executive Director, along with several members of our partner organization Move The GTHA, met for over an hour with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca.

10634059_10154737712380593_4749825972784265796_o

The meeting was a frank, wide-ranging, and engaging discussion of transit goals, priorities, and advice, including our hopes to see both short- and medium-term “wins” to bring better transit to more GTHA residents sooner. Topics discussed included governance, current projects, future project decision-making, public education, and potential future revenue streams. We were pleased to have significant give-and-take, and to make clear our interest in continuing to push for better transit and less political interference.

Members of the Move The GTHA collective and CodeRedTO look forward to continuing our discussions with the provincial government.

Future Transit Question: Are subways the better investment?

Posted on: October 6th, 2014

CodeRedTO takes your questions and finds answers! Today’s question, from Richard on Facebook: The population of Toronto will double in the coming decades. Therefore, those currently less dense areas of Toronto will become more dense over time. Therefore,wouldn’t subways be preferable for the smarter long-term investment??

 

Hi Richard –

You’re right that population is growing fast, but city planners are seeing it grow at different rates in different areas, and they account for that in population and density projections. For example, the Sheppard subway was built based on very high projections that turned out to be way too high, so they’ve learned from that experience to make better projections. Also, the downtown core is growing far faster now than other areas, which is different from in the 1980’s when they first decided on the Sheppard subway.

Globe & Mail: Toronto’s density plan is working

If we had unlimited funding, then building subways would allow us to handle whatever growth arrived, but unfortunately we don’t – voters keep demanding tax cuts! Subways are a huge cash drain: for example, the Scarborough subway extension (just 3 stops in a low-density part of the city) is going to cost far more than $3 billion to construct, and will lose money each day (as most low-density transit systems do).

Human Transit Blog: Transit and profitability

Transit is an investment in helping our city be more efficient and productive, but typically we want investments that make money, not lose money. Since we know that they lose money in operations cost, and that they cost huge amounts ($350 million per kilometre (often more) just to build), and that we won’t need that capacity in Etobicoke or Scarborough for several decades, building subways exclusively is not what CodeRedTO considers a smart investment. You need high density population and employment to make the system worth it now, and we only see that in certain parts of the GTHA.

Even the Sheppard subway, opened over 12 years ago, still loses money every day. The new Spadina subway extension to York University is also projected to cost over $14 million per year in extra subsidies for operations costs. That doesn’t make them bad, but we have to “invest” with our eyes open.

Human Transit: Density is not Destiny

Luckily we have other options. Over 80 cities worldwide use modern light rail lines like are planned for Toronto, with more being built all the time. And since light rail can be elevated, underground, and at the surface, depending on what you need, it’s more flexible than subways and far more affordable, even though it can handle pretty high capacity of ridership – not the same as an all-tunnel subway of course, but we don’t need that capacity in every single neighbourhood.

Over80citiesmap

Remember that all major world-class cities use light rail in addition to subways – Hong Kong, Paris, London, NYC (in New Jersey, not in Manhattan), Tokyo – they all benefit from having options, and Toronto is one of the only places that hasn’t figured that out. We are being left behind after being ahead on transit in the 20th century.

CodeRedTO wants subways AND light rail AND buses AND streetcars, in the right places, and proper funding to make them run properly too.

Sheppard East residents need the full 12km of Light Rail planned

Posted on: September 16th, 2014

Some members of city council, and some candidates for council, have recently made statements misrepresenting the current plan for modern light rail transit (LRT) along Sheppard Avenue East. To assist residents, CodeRedTO has assembled the facts, resource links on the plan, and we have calculated how alternate options would look and perform.

Learn more about light rail transit by visiting our Resources page!

After reviewing reports from the City of Toronto and Metrolinx, our key findings:

  • Given the current $1 billion budget committed by the province of Ontario and the government of Canada, less than 3km of subway could be built, as opposed to about 12km of modern light rail transit (LRT).
  • If only 3km of subway were to be built, it would add only one new stop east of Victoria Park, and have just two new stations.
  • The Sheppard East LRT project already has a completed Environmental Assessment, and will be under construction from approximately 2017-2020. Any subway would require at least 2-4 more years before construction could begin, with all planning starting from scratch.
  • The City of Toronto and Metrolinx have a signed legal agreement to deliver this LRT line that includes the province paying for all construction costs. Any change to another mode would require renegotiation and penalties due to contract cancellation with suppliers.

Sheppard_East_Light_Rail_Facts

The facts clearly show that a subway along Sheppard East would be shorter, would take longer to build, and would serve fewer residents. But more significantly for Scarborough residents, our calculations show that it would save far less time for a rider traveling between Morningside or Malvern and any new subway station near Warden.

Buses traveling in mixed traffic along Sheppard East can take 40 minutes to travel this distance (though of course this varies by time of day). While a subway would provide fast travel over 3km of this distance, the transfer time between bus and subway (estimated by Google at 4 minutes on average) means that the average rider’s travel time would drop by as little as five minutes.

However, the light rail planned for Sheppard East uses reserved rights-of-way so transit vehicles are never stuck behind single-passenger cars, and are able to travel 25-40% faster than the current buses, consistently in all traffic and weather conditions. Our calculations showed that riders could travel from Morningside to Yonge Street in ten minutes less, with a level transfer on the same platform at Don Mills Station.

Sheppard_East_travel_Times

Download our fact-check flyer now, and share with candidates at your door to ensure they have the facts.

Find out more by visiting our Resources page!

Finch West residents need the full 10km of Rapid Transit as planned

Posted on: July 29th, 2014

Some members of city council, and some candidates for council, have recently made statements misrepresenting the current plan for modern light rail transit (LRT) along Finch Avenue West. To assist residents, CodeRedTO has assembled the facts, resource links on the plan, and we have calculated how alternate options would look and perform.

Learn more about light rail transit by visiting our Resources page!

After reviewing reports from the City of Toronto and Metrolinx, our key findings:

  • Given the current $1.2 billion budget committed by the province of Ontario, only about 3km of subway could be built, as opposed to about 10km of modern light rail transit (LRT).
  • If only 3km of subway were to be built, it would not cross highway 400 into Etobicoke at all, and have just two new stations.
  • The Finch West LRT project already has a completed Environmental Assessment, and will be under construction from approximately 2017-2020. Any subway would require at least 2-4 more years before construction could begin, with all planning starting from scratch.
  • The City of Toronto and Metrolinx have a signed legal agreement to deliver this LRT line that includes the province paying for all construction costs. Any change to another mode would require renegotiation and penalties due to contract cancellation with suppliers.

Light_Rail_Facts_FinchW

 

The facts clearly show that a subway along Finch West would be shorter, would take longer to build, and would serve fewer residents. But more significantly for Etobicoke residents, our calculations show that it would save almost no time for a rider traveling between Humber College in western Etobicoke and the new subway station at Finch and Keele.

Buses traveling in mixed traffic along Finch West take over 42 minutes to travel this distance (though of course this varies by time of day). While a subway would provide fast travel over 3km of this distance, the transfer time between bus and subway (estimated by Google at 4 minutes on average) means that the average rider’s travel time would drop by only one minute.

However, the light rail planned for Finch West uses reserved rights-of-way so transit vehicles are never stuck behind single-passenger cars, and are able to travel 50-70% faster than the current buses, consistently in all conditions. Our calculations showed that riders could travel from Humber College to Keele in just 28 minutes with no transfer, a time saving of over 1/3.

Light_Rail_Travel_Times_FinchW

 

Download our fact-check flyer now, and share with candidates at your door to ensure they have the facts.

Find out more by visiting our Resources page!

Options for Scarborough RT Replacement

Posted on: July 8th, 2014

Recent news reports have raised questions regarding the 2013 decision by Toronto City Council selecting a subway extension to replace the previously approved by council light rail plan. To encourage accurate discussions, here are the facts:

Capture

(click to view full-size image)

LRT plan:

  • 9.9 km, with 7 stations
  • scheduled to open in 2019
  • serves nearly double the number of Scarborough residents
  • redesigns the transfer at Kennedy to be a one-storey difference
  • costs $1.5+ billion less
  • requires a shutdown of the SRT line for 2-3 years
  • is under current legal contract to be fully funded by the province, including all overruns

Subway plan:

  • 7.6 km, with 3 stations
  • would open in 2023 or later
  • eliminates transfer at Kennedy
  • has not yet been studied so costs and timeframes are estimates
  • requires city to renegotiate existing Master Agreement with the province
  • requires city to pay for all sunk costs and cancellation fees, operations costs, at least $750 million of construction, and all construction overruns

Note that neither option would disrupt mixed-vehicle traffic on city roads once construction is complete.

Sources:

SSAC Spreads False and Misleading Information on Transit

Posted on: May 26th, 2014

Early on May 26, a new advocacy group named the Sheppard Subway Action Coalition, represented by the founder of a group called “Real Torontonians Build Subways”, Patricia Sinclair, handed out false and misleading information to commuters to influence election results in their area. The only information provided as to their group’s membership and funding is as follows:

“The SSAC is comprised of several groups of concerned ratepayers and businesses who are concerned about the negative impact of an LRT and who support the completion of the Sheppard subway.”

CodeRedTO does not condone misleading voters and we have evaluated their claims below. Of the SSAC’s over two dozen claims, at least six were false, and at least twelve were either too vague or subjective to evaluate, or were presented in a misleading way. Three alleged benefits of subways over light rail in fact apply equally to both modes.

Please contact us with any updates, corrections, or questions at any time.

In a website section titled “Why Subway?”, the SSAC lists ten bullet points (shown below in red), with zero supporting context, links, or evidence. Our comments follow each claim.

  • TRAVEL TIME IS REDUCED Correct, underground tunnels do reduce travel time for any vehicle, regardless of technology. This is a major benefit of LRT: it can travel both in tunnels (like under Eglinton and on Sheppard under the 404), and on the surface. Subway trains cannot travel on the surface unless the entire right-of-way is closed off for safety, preventing any other travel options across the route.
  • UNIMPEDED TRAFFIC FLOW PROVIDES GREATER RELIABILITY Correct, underground tunnels do prevent traffic from blocking the vehicle. Since the vast majority of traffic congestion is parallel to the traffic flow, LRT has this benefit for most of its right-of-way as well, since on Sheppard it will travel in an exclusive right-of-way separate from car traffic. This fact is not mentioned at SheppardSubway.com.
  • RAPID, RELIABLE TRANSIT ATTRACTS PEOPLE TO PUBLIC TRANSIT Correct, but has nothing to do with subways. All effective, modern transit modes with reliable travel improve ridership and influence travel decisions.
  • REDUCES GRIDLOCK False: Induced demand shows that traffic congestion cannot be reduced. There is always latent demand which will backfill any improvements. This is a well-studied issue and has been shown time and again in new highway development. The Big Move (which includes LRT, subway, bus, and regional train improvements) has been presented as a way to reduce the growth of congestion, not as a way to reduce it.
  • UNDERGROUND TRANSIT = GREATER SAFETY, FEWER ACCIDENTS Correct.
  • HIGHEST ECONOMIC INDICATORS, CREATION OF MORE JOBS Too vague a claim to evaluate. It is true that improved transit reliability and travel times do improve employment and residential development in various ways. However, a review of the Sheppard Subway shows that employment in that corridor has not grown, only residential, and much of that can be attributed to highway proximity. The vast majority of job growth within the GTHA is in the urban cores, not uniformly along subway lines.
  • GREATEST IMPACT ON DEVELOPMENT Too vague a claim to evaluate. Some subway development areas experience rapid change (many condos on Sheppard), while others experience little change (Toronto’s ward 29, Toronto-Danforth, its lowest-density ward and has had subway service since the 1960’s). It should be noted that some SSAC members (incluing a shared executive member / webmaster) appear to be affiliated with a residents’ association currently protesting against development near an existing subway station.
  • PROPERTY VALUES NEAR SUBWAY STATIONS AND LINES RISE Correct, but this is also true of light rail development, as shown in the Journal of Transport and Land Use which studied the Charlotte LRT from 1997-2008, and by the University of North Texas, which found value jumps of about 25% for properties along the Dallas DART LRT line.
  • BETTER FOR ENVIRONMENT, REDUCES GREENHOUSE GASES False: the carbon emissions and greenhouse gases emitted to create an underground tunnel far outweigh those required for surface development, and the carbon emissions required to ventilate, heat and cool, clean, monitor for security, install escalators and elevators, and to maintain underground construction far outweigh that of surface stations. All transit is “better for environment” and “reduces greenhouse gases”, when compared to personal car traffic.
  • HIGHER QUALITY OF LIFE Too vague to evaluate, but one important point is that quality of life must consider not only the car driver who refuses to ever see a transit vehicle, but also the youth or senior traveler who must travel farther to reach a transit station, usually by walking to a bus stop, then riding that bus in traffic jams, just to reach a distance subway station. LRT surface stations on Sheppard will be placed an average of 600-800m apart, while subway stops are typically twice the distance.

In a second section titled “Why No LRT?”, the SSAC lists eleven bullet points (shown below in red), again with zero supporting context, links, or evidence.

  • 9 INTERSECTIONS IN SHEPPARD CORRIDOR AT CAPACITY IN 2008 This may be true, but no information about where this claim was found is provided. As discussed above, induced demand means this will not change regardless of transit technology (or even additional car lanes) being added.
  • SHARING INTERSECTIONS IMPEDES TRAFFIC FLOW Correct, though this is true of all forms of transportation.
  • INCREASED RATE OF ACCCIDENTS [sic] Without any data, impossible to evaluate this claim.
  • TRAVEL TIME UNRELIABLE (weather, breakdowns, accidents) Exposure to the elements does have impact on surface travel, though LRT performs strongly in all weather types as evidenced by successful LRT systems in extreme-winter environments around the world, including Minneapolis, Calgary, and Edmonton. Breakdowns and accidents can occur, though since the Sheppard East LRT design includes dedicated advance-green signals for all vehicles crossing LRT tracks, this is a misleading claim.
  • GREATER LENGTH OF TRAVEL TIME VERSUS SUBWAY OR EXPRESS BUS LRT does take slightly longer than subway to travel a similar distance, but since stops are farther apart the total travel time for LRT vs Subway is often far closer than claimed. Mapped and measured example (using proposed Sheppard East LRT design):

SheppardTravelTimeExample

Note: Not shown in this chart are the average 4-minute transfer time (per Google Maps) from one mode to another (such as LRT to subway at Don Mills Station), and the average 1-3 minute travel time (estimated by CodeRedTO) to reach an underground platform to board a subway.
  • CENTRE STREET STOPS INCONVENIENT & UNCOMFORTABLE Subjective, but often false: surface stops are more accessible (no broken escalators and elevators as are common underground) and are faster to access (meaning fewer missed vehicles).
  • BENEFITS OF CONTINUOUS TRANSIT LINE LOST Correct. The transfer from subway or bus to LRT at Don Mills Station will be convenient and quick with the LRT and subway vehicles sitting on the same level along the same platform, but the transfer does introduce a short time penalty.
  • PROPERTY VALUES ALONG RIGHT-OF-WAY DECREASE False, as shown in the Journal of Transport and Land Use which studied the Charlotte LRT from 1997-2008, and by the University of North Texas, which found value jumps of about 25% for properties along the Dallas DART LRT line.
  • ADVERSE HEALTH RISKS: HIGHER RATES OF CONGESTION AND NOISE False, as discussed above.
  • REDUCES TRAFFIC LANES False. The Sheppard East LRT Environmental Assessment plan shows nearly no changes to the space allocated to mixed traffic. It is required that four car traffic lanes be maintained for the full length of the LRT line, which matches the current road space in all but one section of Sheppard near Consumers Road (where the LRT will enter its tunnel to connect to the existing subway line). In fact, cars will enjoy increased road space as the frequent Sheppard East buses will disappear from traffic.
  • FOSTERS CAR INFILTRATION INTO STABLE NEIGHBOURHOODS Too vague to evaluate without links or evidence, though we agree car traffic does adapt to changing conditions, just as it does today for the disruptive tunnel construction along Eglinton.

The SSAC has produced a printable flyer that includes additional claims (shown below in red):

  • Eliminate left-hand turns between major intersections. Correct, just as left-hand turns are not possible along University Avenue (above a subway), along Eglinton Avenue East in Scarborough (no subway or LRT), and along Markham Road near Sheppard East (no subway or LRT).
  • Negative impact on reducing greenhouse gases. False. “Rail transportation produces far fewer greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than road,” according to the Pembina Institute, but the carbon emissions and greenhouse gases emitted to create an underground tunnel far outweigh those required for surface development, and the carbon emissions required to ventilate, heat and cool, clean, monitor for security, install escalators and elevators, and to maintain underground construction far outweigh that of surface stations. All transit is “better for environment” and “reduces greenhouse gases”, when compared to personal car traffic.
  • Limited economic development potential and uplift. Too vague to evaluate, though according to Cervero and Duncan in the Transportation Research Record, “substantial capitalization benefits were found, on the order of 23% for a typical commercial parcel near a light rail transit stop”.
  • Highest operating costs per passenger mile. Impossible to evaluate without any links to source. However, the American Public Transportation Association says that “used appropriately, LRT enhances transit efficiency,” and that in six cities across the USA, LRT provided “22 percent of total system boardings and carrying 30 percent of systemwide passenger miles but consuming only 17 percent of the operating and maintenance costs.”
  • Does not meet City’s Official Plan nor Provincial Growth Plan. Too vague to evaluate. The City of Toronto and the Ontario ministries each update official plans regularly (though sparingly), and both plans indicate support for public transit, for travel options, for improved development, and for increased use of solutions that work in other cities and provinces. Both subway and LRT are mentioned in the December 2010 City of Toronto Official Plan, and both subway and LRT are mentioned in the Places To Grow Act’s Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

It should also be noted that the SSAC does not use any of the following words or phrases on their website or in their printed materials:

  • price
  • dollars
  • construction time
  • construction cost

The only mention of this key aspect of transit development comes in the phrase “subways necessitate large upfront costs” – note the costs are usually double that of light rail – but there is no comparison of ridership (which would not double), travel time (which would not halve), or construction time (which would be longer by at least 1-2 years at minimum due to the EA and design process).

Since Sheppard East provides wide suburban roadways with room for both car lanes and LRT lanes, the same investment can create improved transit speed and options for a far greater portion of Scarborough – roughly double the distance can be built along Sheppard using LRT, at the same cost. A subway extension would help some riders to be sure, but it would also perhaps irreversibly damage transit improvement for all of Scarborough east of McCowan Road.

Subways and light rail are both great solutions for different situations. In the past, Toronto has only built subways, slowly and with great expense, meaning huge sections of our city are left without modern transit. Since light rail is being built and used in over 80 cities worldwide (and more every year), we have an opportunity to improve options for more of our city without incurring greater cost and more delays.

In the case of Sheppard East, CodeRedTO endorses the smart transit option: LRT.

How to Help

JOIN our email list to stay informed!

LEARN about Transit and why there's room for subways, light rail, and streetcars in our region, and how light rail is actually a great city-building choice for the lower-density neighbourhoods in Etobicoke, Scarborough, North York, Mississauga, Brampton, Hamilton, and Kitchener-Waterloo.

CALL your City Councillor, and tell them that you want rational, affordable, and rapid transit in Toronto to benefit everyone, not just one small section of the city. Rapid transit to Malvern, Morningside, Jane & Finch are achievable if we learn from successful transit networks around the world.

TELL your friends and family that subways are amazing - they really are! - but with limited funding we have to make rational decisions about whether to support more residents or leave people waiting for crowded buses for decades longer.

Did you know: The bus routes on Finch have over 85% of the ridership of the (much shorter) Sheppard Subway, and the bus routes on Eglinton already have over 140%! The lengths differ but the need is common in many areas of the city. We are decades behind and need better transit options for our residents now.

Contact us at info@CodeRedTO.com

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