March 20, 2017

A Scathing Critique of Transit Planning in Toronto

Tamim Raad draws attention to the comments on Toronto transit planning by those who were there in the ‘golden age,’ in this Globe and Mail article:

TO transit

Toronto’s transit system was once such a wonder that, even into the 1980s, people came from around the world to study how it planned infrastructure projects, how it executed them and how it operated.

That so-called “golden age” also produced transit experts so revered, they got to travel the globe in return. For some, their views have been valued well past retirement age – though not so much in their hometown.

Three of them – Richard Soberman, Ed Levy and David Crowley – recently gathered for lunch and a gab. The Scarborough subway, which is to be voted on again March 28, was not the focus, but it came up often.

We have to be careful; this idea there was a golden age is a bit of myth,” says Dr. Soberman, former chair of civil engineering at the University of Toronto and lead author of many seminal transportation reports dating to the early 1960s. “We did very good things – on time, on budget – but we made big politically driven errors back then, too. Building a subway [Spadina] on an expressway median was a huge one. Putting the Queen subway on Bloor has turned out to be a mistake.”

“Precisely,” says Mr. Levy, jumping in. Mr. Levy, a planner, engineer and author of Rapid Transit in Toronto, A Century of Plans, Projects, Politics and Paralysis, says that great cities that have been able to sustainably expand subways kept building from the middle out (and they didn’t tunnel in low-density areas).

By not doing Queen right after Yonge, “we missed a crucial starting point for network-building. We’ve never been able to get back to a logical order,” Mr. Levy says. “Call it the Queen line, relief line, whatever, the whole GTA has needed this piece of infrastructure for decades, but politicians keep wasting scarce capital on frills and vote buying.”

“Toronto’s biggest transit problem,” says Mr. Crowley, who specializes in data analysis, travel market research and demand forecasting, “is we’ve overloaded core parts of the subway. We’d basically done that on lower Yonge 30 years ago, when I was still at the TTC. We have to relearn the importance of downtown to the whole region, the whole country. We’re in danger of killing the golden goose.”

Noting that trains from Scarborough and North York are often full before crossing into the old city, Mr. Crowley says that, “data and demand patterns are telling us the stupidest thing we could do is make any of our lines longer [before putting another subway through the core].”

“Much as I like the Eglinton Crosstown idea, and it’s overdue, too,” Mr. Levy says, “I fear what it will do to Yonge-line crowding. Again, the sequence is so wrong.”

Are bureaucrats shirking their responsibility to speak truth to power?

“We sure needed [TTC chief executive] Andy Byford to be blunt about this Scarborough subway plan,” Mr. Levy says. “He should have spoken up.”

Might the reticence be what some call “the Webster effect”? (Mr. Byford’s predecessor, Gary Webster, was fired for objecting to then-mayor Rob Ford’s insistence the entire Eglinton Crosstown go underground).

Unwillingness to speak up isn’t new,” Dr. Soberman says, citing pressure from North York politicians in the early 1970s that spurred two well-regarded TTC executives to vote for the Spadina subway in the expressway corridor “even though they knew only idiots would think it was a good idea.”

The difference is, he says, “back then politicians listened, even if they didn’t always take our advice. They respected facts. Now they only want confirmation of their preconceived ideas, and too many people [bureaucrats and private-sector consultants], who should be providing objective professional advice are playing along with the game.”

“On Scarborough,” Mr. Levy says, “you won’t find a single independent transit professional who can support this, but they won’t say so publicly. The three of us can say this stuff without recrimination; we’re retired.”

“The minute the politicians speak,” Mr. Crowley says, “the civil service and the consulting community are happy to say, ‘Oh, that’s a great idea. Yes, let’s study that.’ I started to see this trend in the 1980s at the TTC. I’d raised serious, fact-based concerns about Sheppard-subway ridership forecasts and the role of the project. It upset people. I was told, ‘You’re never supposed to do that – you have to play along.’ “That’s when I knew it was time to get out,” says Mr. Crowley, who went on to a career with international private-sector firms. “This Scarborough boondoggle, if we were talking about gas plants, it could bring down a government, but transit is ‘special’ for reasons I don’t understand.”

We’ve also overestimated the potential of these sub-downtowns, especially on jobs,” Mr. Levy says. “It’s twisted our spending priorities.”

“Transportation planning has become a bullshit field,” says Dr. Soberman. “A civil engineer wouldn’t say a bridge is going to be safe if his calculations show it might fall down, but a transportation planner can say anything. There’s no downside other than you waste public funds.”

“And the more we waste public funds, the harder it is to raise tax revenue for transit needs,” Mr. Levy says. “We’ve badly underfunded transit, but people don’t trust politicians to spend money well. When was the last time we did anything good? The Kipling and Kennedy extensions? That’s nearly 40 years ago. Most people recognized Sheppard was a mistake, but people who learned from it are ignored. It’s often impossible to even get good ideas considered. Politicians have a role to play, but …”

“It’s always been political – always will be – but we need to get smarter about where politicians join the process,” Dr. Soberman says. “If you don’t generate good ideas, you’re guaranteed bad results. If you generate good ideas and they’re ignored, you won’t do any better. Current politicians are comfortable ignoring the people most likely to generate the best ideas. And the media, you guys, haven’t always helped. This subway-versus-LRT debate was simplistic and maddening. Scarborough deserves better transit, but the best options aren’t even being considered.” (Dr. Soberman would simply buy new rolling stock for the SRT and rebuild a bend to accommodate new vehicles.)

“Maybe we’re part of the problem,” Mr. Crowley says. “If the professionals had done a better job diagnosing problems, identifying prescriptions and educating politicians and the public on issues and options, politicians wouldn’t have moved into the vacuum.”

Getting in the last word, Mr. Soberman says, “too many people in positions of power don’t seem to know what they don’t know. Whether it’s at the province and Metrolinx or at the city and TTC, if we don’t figure out new governance models, we’ll never regain the public trust and Toronto will suffer for generations.”

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  1. Sadly, the province did the same with BC Transit in Vancouver, before transferring it to the GVRD (now Metro Vancouver). Ridership was increasing, yet they did not increase capacity. They the gave this underfunded organization to the region, without giving them enough money or proper funding mechanisms and it has been a struggle for Translink to fund current let alone future infrastructure and operations.

  2. Yeah, authorization for the vehicle levy (on which TransLink’s propsoed funding was based) was rejected by Dosanjh’s NDP government – and no subsequent government has proceeded with it.
    Seattle has a vehicle levy (“car tab”) which raises some funds for its transit system.

  3. PS – at least we don’t have a huge boondoggle equivalent to their $3.5 billion ONE-stop subway – which will NOT even have the foresight for “future” station rough-ins.
    Part of the problem – why no one wants to upgrade the SRT (same as our SkyTrain) is because of the politicians who want to “correct” the “wrong” when their proposed LRT line was converted to the ALRT technology. The main issues are a tight curve that needs replacing and the transfer facility at Kennedy. Both of those could be fixed at much lower cost than a new line. An integrated intermediate capacity line could have worked well along Eglinton, then through running on the SRT route.
    Toronto also has a fixation with building new subways all underground (not even at grade through empty fields or elevated crossing Hwy 401 on the Spadina Line extension.

  4. But I am pretty sure that we could easily convene a similar round table of retired professionals here who would also talk about how the politicians have messed up transit planning here. The Millennium Line was the NDP’s cock-up, the Canada Line the BC libs – and who is going to save us from the Broadway subway?
    The TTC article also doesn’t talk about Ontario’s equivalent to BC obsession with Freeways – the 407 tollway, the Gardiner expressway, the extension of sprawl and the 404 into the Oakridges Morraine and so on.

    1. The Millennium line has been a poor performer, but I feel like the Canada Line has generally exceeded most people’s performance expectations. What is your complaint with the Canada Line?

    2. There is an excellent chance the Millennium Line ridership will increase exponentially once the connectivity between the Coquitlam transitshed, the Canada Line and points west are completed along Broadway.

  5. Planning transit authorities should ask directly the systems directors who have municipal at-grade/surface train-transit systems on the impact of having very long, extensive train systems at ground level on car traffic volume management, pedestrian safety, etc.
    it prevents transportation local authorities from implementing pedestrian/cyclist activated / on-demand traffic signalling systems. This is the problem in the whole of downtown Calgary..because the trains are at grade 99%, of the downtown system, pedestrian activated traffic lights (I’m not talking about crosswalks) can’t be installed. Otherwise it disrupts/is in conflict with the need for safe timed signalling for trains stopping and crossing also on schedule. The end result is non-peak car traffic hours (which is well over 70% of the 24 hr. period) and vast 4-6 lane roads downtown are light car traffic, yet pedestrians are waiting too long for traffic lights to change for the many hours of the day where car traffic is very light. I live downtown and make these observations.
    There are also several fatalities of pedestrians and cars illegally going over the tracks in Calgary –annually. Ask for that data before you make significant decisions on surface level trains over long distances if there will insufficient people built barriers. I winced when I learned that Waterloo County is having primarily at-grade Grand River Light Rail train system. Hopefully there’s enough barriers to prevent people from illegally stepping across the tracks..
    Toronto was smart in having a large chunk of their train system underground with some smaller sections elevated over major roads… otherwise Toronto car traffic congestion and movement would be even worse. Please seriously don’t become enamored with at grade, new systems for Metro Toronto. I realize Scarborough Light Rail Transit train is partially at surface..

    1. This is an astute observation and should be brought forward to counter the absurd notion that a frequent, high-capacity surface LRT is desirable — or even possible — in the Broadway corridor. Pedestrian traffic crossing the street is often very high in the central corridor, usually with liberal sprinklings of the elderly and infirm going to doctor’s appointments in the Hospital Precinct.
      I am also one who has had a relative killed by Calgary’s C-train while on foot in a blinding snowstorm. There are excellent reasons the newish West Leg is mostly grade-separated.

  6. The price of success of attracting immigrants, jobs and affluent buyers: more traffic.
    Like most cities in Canada the pace of growth was rapid and as such major investments into roads, tunnels, bridges, subways, buses and LRTs had to be made BUT WERE NOT. The key culprit is inviting immigrants without any payment for this infrastructure incl schools and healthcare.
    Come on in: it’s free. THAT is the major disconnect. It is the very same reason we see the rise of nationalism i.e. the rise of Trump, Brexit , AfD in Germany, FN in France or the recent Dutch election.
    Nationalism means a certain set of norms or order. Laws are based on social norms. Otherwise the phrase ” I am American” , for example, or ” I am Dutch” is meaningless. As such, three things are expected of immigrants: “First, they were expected to learn English, the common tongue. Second, they were expected to understand the civic order and be loyal to it. The third element was not Jefferson’s. It was that immigrants had to find economic opportunity. Immigration only works when this opportunity exists. Without that, the immigrants remain the huddled masses, the wretched refuse etched on the Statue of Liberty. Immigrants don’t want to go where no economic opportunities exist, and welcoming immigrants heedless of the economic consequences leaves both immigrants and the class they will compete with desperate and bitter.”
    Reciprocity ( such as paying far more for Toronto’s subway system) and integration is required and that is sadly missing in far too many countries. The rise of nationalism is the result. It will not go away.

    1. Thomas, you’re not signed in with your usual avatar, so I’m not sure whether this is you, or someone spoofing you…
      To blame Toronto’s transit problems on immigrants would be laughable, except that it isn’t funny in the slightest.
      “Come on in: it’s free” – describe that for me, please…
      Last I checked, the majority of immigrants to this country buy things (paying GST/PST), work a job (paying income taxes), rent or own a home (paying property taxes, either directly or indirectly), and often drive a car (paying fuel taxes and parking). So how is this “free” for immigrants? Perhaps your argument is that they pay less than Canadian-born? In that case, perhaps we should ban Canadian-born children under the age of 16….they barely contribute anything to the tax base and are freeloading off the system, by your logic (we’d also avoid needing any schools at all and could re-allocate the expenditures on that pesky education line item to tax cuts….an anti-government win-win!!).
      If there’s a “capacity to invest” problem in this country, it has to do with domestic taxation policy and domestic investment prioritization problems. In Toronto’s case, you can add a problematic regional governance model. Immigration is not the problem, it’s a convenient scape-goat for our own inability to make tough decisions and charge citizens what it actually costs to provide quality service.

      1. The issue is dishonest politicians that do not educate themselves or society at large about the cost of immigration and urban growth. Look at N-Van. Massive growth. A few years later: oops, we have a traffic, congestion and public transit problem. Same things as Toronto. Toronto on a larger scale.
        Excessive immigration, and a trend to urbanize among immigrants and folks already here is the cause for this transit mess, not just in Toronto. The mess extends into school systems and healthcare that now eat up 70%+ of our provincial budgets !
        My point was not to blame immigrants, but to show the enlightened reader that wishes to open their eyes that populism (aka the rise of Trump, Brexit, etc) and traffic issues are related.
        More humans need more infrastructure, and the infrastructure investment is lacking. Dishnonest politicians get elected on promises and sunny ways slogans, then break them and leave the ever growing mess to the next team of politicians.
        The very sensible Toronto mayor John Tory proposed a sensible road toll to use the $s for more public subways, yet to be rejected by both the Liberal government in power as well as the possible next government the so called conservatives. The mess will continue for at least 6 more years in Toronto.

        1. You seemed to have missed the infrastructure bank being created right now by the federal Libs which will see accounts growing to $35 B in short order. That’s a lotta infrastructure funding. Far short of the $300 B we really need, but it’s a start.

      2. The issue is dishonest posters that do not educate themselves, and a society at large that doesn’t call out erroneous claims. Look at North Van, or perhaps the North Shore since the three municipalities share traffic issues.
        You claim massive growth. On what basis? You are talking about population changes. Well, we have the census for that. Compare 2011 to 2016. The combined North Shore grew by 3.4% in five years. Compare that to 6.5% for Metro Vancouver, or 5.6% for BC in the same time period.
        Put another way, the North Shore has experienced a compounded average annual population growth rate of 0.68% for five years. And one of the municipalities actually had a decrease in population.
        Unfounded claims based on an absence of facts is the cause for this nonsense.

        1. It’s difficult to read this somewhat aggressive and dismissive comment and not be shocked. Certainly, if one is involved at all in the projections for population growth and working with Metro Vancouver.
          Metro Vancouver issued an updated population projection statement in 2015 showing that by 2041 Vancouver is expected to grow by just about 25%, yet the North Shore by 35%.
          Yes, the North Shore is expected to outgrow Vancouver with a 50% higher growth rate.
          It’s all here, provided by Regional Planning Services at Metro Vancouver:

        2. Furthermore:
          In december the Vancouver Sun asked Translink and others about the massive gridlock on the North Shore.
          “Impeded flows have been noted at TransLink, which is responsible for regional transportation planning.
          “The North Shore is one of the highest incidents of change we have seen,” says Geoff Cross, vice-president of planning. “It doesn’t take a lot of additional cars for that to happen” — about 3,000 more vehicles a day between 2005 and 2015.
          North Vancouver District Coun. Lisa Muri, for one, believes development has outpaced the ability of roads and transit to keep up. A district report notes 10,000 new building units are expected by 2030, and 20,000 additional people.
          And it’s not just the district that is expanding. Towers are slated all over the North Shore, including villages and town centres at Park Royal, Lower Capilano, Lower Lynn, Upper Lynn, Maplewood, Edgemont, Harbourside and Lonsdale.
          “It’s going to get much worse,” says Muri.
          The problem is more than just highway expansion and the fact the Lions Gate Bridge is at capacity as well. North Vancouver’s 50-year-old interchanges at the Second Narrows can’t keep pace with the high-speed ones on the south side, built at a cost of $3.3 billion along with the new Port Mann. Some North Van on-ramps are so constricted that vehicles must crawl along to admit newcomers, clogging the whole system.”

          DesRosier Automotive also points out a 40% increase in BC since 2011 in the sales of cars and light trucks.

        3. I think it is unfortunate that you are shocked. Perhaps you have a higher tolerance for nonsensical claims, which are what I was responding to.
          Thomas claimed that North Vancouver had terrible traffic congestion, and linked that to “massive population growth.” Except that by all measures, there hasn’t been massive population growth.
          And that is even before we get to the claim that this massive population growth has been due to immigration.
          Now that we have disconnected the themes of current traffic congestion and population growth, (let alone immigration) you want to argue that we are going to get more population growth. Fine, what of it? Vancouver demonstrated massive population and job growth with no accompanying growth in vehicle traffic. Let’s put the growth in areas that are served by transit.

        4. “North Vancouver’s 50-year-old interchanges at the Second Narrows can’t keep pace with the high-speed ones on the south side, built at a cost of $3.3 billion along with the new Port Mann. Some North Van on-ramps are so constricted that vehicles must crawl along to admit newcomers, clogging the whole system.”
          And there it is. Justification for new interchanges to “solve congestion”. Note the reference to the Port Mann. We had a commenter on here a while ago (looking at you, Eric) who said that the Port Mann solved congestion when it was built. When it was pointed out that the congestion just moved (as confirmed in your own link at the time) you disagreed.
          So now you see it. And yet you argue to continue to try and build our way out of congestion.

        5. Speaking of dishonesty, why should the North Shore, with only 11% of the population of the Burrard peninsula, get more than its fair share of infrastructure, knowing that funding for it has fallen short everywhere due to political malfeasance?

        6. Jeff; the congestion on both sides of the Port Mann Bridge has been relieved.
          Is anyone seriously imagining that all that traffic from the North Shore was going to Surrey, Langley and beyond and not to Vancouver and Burnaby? Sure.
          Just because it happens to be the same road does not mean it’s all going to the same place. Traveling westbound from Lonsdale there are about 15 exits before anyone gets to the Port Mann Bridge.
          It just doesn’t sink in that offering the North Shore One More SeaBus is never going to win the hearts and minds of those living there. Neither will it suffice for “50 year old interchange on-ramps”.
          The philosophy that not building road infrastructure is what must be followed because roads simply fill up, does have some merit but laughing at congestion and dismissing it as simply a valve that is needed to control the volume of traffic is childish and impractical, in the absence of massive rapid-transit alternatives.

        7. Jeff, the congestion on both sides of the Port Mann has been relieved.
          The Trans Canada west of the debt-ridden, under-used, over built bridge is very congested in one direction, then the other depending on the crush hour. The downstream congestion is a lot worse since the completion of the PM TC SPR project. That is a function of the increasing single-occupant vehicle traffic expanding into the new space created just for them as planned.
          Increase the supply of road and you increase the supply of traffic. This is a phenomenon observed all over the world for 3/4 of a century now. Why would Vancouver be any different?

        8. You should also get out of your van, Eric, and talk to the residents near East 1st Ave to gauge their perceptions of the increased congestion and traffic from the freeway. Warning, you may lose a few teeth.

        9. Yeah, Alex. Well said. It will be a stretch to expect those along 1st to vote again for Vision. That is one big congested back up. The road has to go underground to Terminal.

        10. Was it Vision that expanded Hwy 1 and just shifted the congestion on to 1st (not to mention on to the North Shore, as noted above)?
          If you want to argue for expanding 1st, focus on Translink as the route is part of the Major Road Network. Good luck with that.

        11. “…laughing at congestion and dismissing it as simply a valve that is needed to control the volume of traffic is childish and impractical…”
          I don’t see posters laughing at congestion. There is some laughing at commenters who think that building wider roads to “fix” it is a workable solution, though.
          You noted the lack of investment in transit alternatives. Now there is a problem with a clear solution. Best to put your energies there, IMO.

        12. Got some news for you Jeff. The Chair of TransLinks’ Mayors’ Council just happens to be the leader of Vision Vancouver. You know, Gregor of Vision.
          “The Mayors’ Council appoints the majority of members on the TransLink Board of Directors. It approves transportation plans prepared by TransLink, …”

        13. Eric, are you seriously suggesting that the Vision party runs Translink, and without the input of the rest of the mayors in the region?
          And since you ignored the Hwy 1 issue, are you contending that it was Translink (or Vision in your world) that expanded Hwy 1 and pushed the congestion down the road to places such as 1st Ave and the North Shore interchanges?

        14. Deflecting probably won’t work. Those along 1st Avenue will expect their local politicians to be responsible for what Alex describes, the endless congestion.
          Gregor is always trying to blame the province for the homeless and lack of affordable homes, when Gregor should be sharing in lots of blame and, in fact, the province has contributed more to assisting in social housing than ever before.
          Now we have someone that wants to kick the 1st Avenue congestion issue, down the road, as they say. Won’t work. 1st Avenue is not only in Vancouver it is TransLink’s responsibility and Gregor of Vision is Chairman of TransLink’s Mayors’ Council, as well, they elect the TransLink Board of Directors. Mayor Gregor of Vision Vancouver also happens to be on the TransLink Board of Directors.
          Yet some keep saying, “Qui, moi?”. It’s Gregor’s, and Visions’, baby.

    2. Immigrants do integrate. They do learn English; albeit some more quickly than others. They most assuredly all pay taxes in their various forms. Nationalists’ real beef is that immigrants can’t all be white and/or Christian. The foreigners are just too foreign.
      But yes, let’s blame them for our fabricated transit “woes”, among other societal problems real and imaginary. They’re an easy target and don’t benefit from the same footing of financial and legal legitimacy as real Canadians to properly fight back. It’ll be fun.

      1. Let me just say that without immigrants Toronto would not have a traffic issue. We cannot get the benefits only. Large scale immigration has tremendous costs, on the school system, on the healthcare system and on urban infrastructure, and this cost is either not talked about, ignored or minimized. At some point the benefits to those already here gets compromised. That causes populism aka Trump, Brexit, etc .. That was my point. See also my further comments above. The issues are related.

        1. Without immigrants there would be no Toronto. There wouldn’t be the “tremendous costs” on the environment, education, and social fabric of “those already here”.
          Without immigrants we wouldn’t be reading the often ludicrous rants of Thomas Beyer.
          Why are the immigrants that included Thomas Beyer (or his family) a good thing while the immigrants that come now a bad thing? What changed?

        2. Who said it is bad ? I merely was commenting on other trends in the world i.e. issues THAT ARE RELATED to excessive immigration.
          Much like excessive public servants’ salaries it is not taken into consideration when discussing funding (or lack thereof) for public services, be it healthcare, education or public transit. These causes of lack of funding are often ignored, swept under the carpet if you will.
          Canada has 1% immigration, and many cities, such as GTA grow at 2-3% a year. Healthcare, schools and public transit are all under-funded.

        3. Beyermath. Funny stuff, that.
          Okay, let’s take a reductionist’s extraordinarily myopic point of view. Let’s cut our immigration intake by 100,000 a year, then extend that to a million in 10 years.
          100,000 people not paying taxes would result in about $2 billion a year in taxes not being paid and more expenditures over the year not entering the economy. A million people not paying taxes and not participating in the economy would result in about $200 billion not added to the Canadian tax draw every year. Then you’ve got the subsequent generations from those million immigrants absent from the economy. Less money paid, less money available.
          How does that square with building a nation, especially one with an inherent low birth rate?

        4. Correction: “…. 1,000,000 people not paying $20 billion a year, creating a vacuum of $200 billion over 10 years ….”

    3. Beyermath, again. Always from one momentary snapshot in time, and one point of view: cost.
      Well, I’m a third generation immigrant who descended from four European immigrants. There are now five generations in Canada with about 600 of us in total, and growing. You are probably looking at $200 million paid in taxes by my family since 1902. That’s not including the typical economic multipliers for buying stuff, like houses, food and clothing. That’s financing a pretty good hunk of infrastructure from one family, in my view.
      Thomas, immigrants and refugees always benefit the economy in succeeding generations. You have failed to do any cost-benefit analysis on this issue.

      1. Not as simple. Many people benefit Canada for sure, and many mooch off the healthcare and education system and then perhaps their kids participate, 3 decades later and pay up. Do we have studies on that, by immigrant group, color, race or faith ?
        We fail to integrate properly adult immigrants and hand out far too much free stuff: hospital visits, doctor’s visits, education, public transit .. and as we see in this post now it starts to hurt all if not properly funded.
        The volume (or pacing) is critical. This issue is not black and white.
        Mainstream politicians fail to mention these topics due to media backlash, and eventually it bites them. The result is Brexit, Trump, AfD, FN, Gert Wilders etc.
        Spending 70%+ of any provincial budget on healthcare and education is not sustainable. It will collapse just like the public transit system in Toronto if we do not have an open debate.

        1. If this issue is not simple or black / white, then why portray it in simplistic, b / w terms?
          I’ve used my family as one example of tens of millions. Every single generation started working in their teens and spent over a half century as participants in the economy — and as taxpayers.
          There are very good independent and peer-reviewed data out there on immigrants and refugees that will prove you wrong about the Mooch Factor, which I think you are exaggerating to make a rather uninformed point during one moment in time that completely ignores family growth and opportunity. It’s not up to me to conduct the research for you, lazy bones.

  7. (Stupidest thing to do is make lines in longer without additional lines in the core ) ????????? No explanation why the stations & trains can’t be longer on existing lines instead

    1. Most people taking rapid transit still use it to commute to the core, at least in Toronto. Imagine that you have 5 lines radiating out from the core to the suburbs. They all feed commuters into the core in the a.m. If you double the length of those lines, serving more suburbs and picking up more suburban commuters (say 50% more than before they were extended), then that is 50% more commuters needing to transfer onto core-area transit to get to their final destinations.
      If the core area transit is not expanded or redundant lines built in the core, then the core area transit will just get more congested. Does that not make sense?

        1. To make the trains longer, you would need to also make the stations longer. I’ve actually never heard this idea seriously considered (anyone?) but it would certainly be prohibitively expensive, disruptive to the whole city, and probably require temporarily shutting down the entire system. That’s because unless the original planners of the subway planned for this then there will be curves, inclines, track-switches, etc. near the edges of stations which will make it impossible to extend the stations as the track is currently configured, thus, major rebuild.
          So, given those likely constraints, I’m guessing that making stations longer wouldn’t be reasonable, and thus you can’t make trains longer. Running more trains with shorter headways is also a no go since the trains are already running at maximum headways during rush hour. What the TTC recently did was buy new trains with connections between individual cars as well as new seating configurations, which resulted in higher train capacity without needing longer trains, but there’s only so much you can do with the Yonge line as it is. They need new lines.
          Keep in mind, the TTC Subway carries over 1 million riders every weekday (more than double Skytrain). Line 1, the Yonge line – the one we’re talking about here – carries 731,000 of those million riders ever single day, so it’s not surprising that it’s overcrowded.

        2. I heard the Canada Line stations were roughed in for longer stations, so that the they can eventually use longer trains. Also, it can be done with an operating line, but likely with partial station closures similar to what was done at Main Street station, when it was refurbished. Vancouver has plans to build stations on the Canada Line at 33rd and 59th and the plan is to do it an operating line, although some of the work will need to be done during hours the system is closed I suspect. Until recently, they weren’t running 6 car trains, which they are now doing for some trains, so that should help with overcrowding.

        3. The below ground Canada Line stations were roughed in for longer platforms, but that isn’t the first step for increased passenger capacity. They will move to more frequent trains, then additional cars, then revised on board seating arrangements, to accommodate more passengers. That is for the Canada Line. The Broadway Line will use the train length and train frequencies established for the Millenium Line, since it is an extension of that line.
          It is not correct to compare Canada Line and Millenium/Expo Line platform lengths and train lengths. They were designed differently on purpose.

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