Feb. 27, 2016

Public Meeting - Metro Toronto Convention Centre - February 24'16

Below is the text of documents that I handed to one the City/Metrolinx representatives along with copies of my maps at the public meeting at the Metro Toronto Conventions Centre last night, Feb 24'16:

 

Scarborough Transit Plans and Proposals 

Dear Sir/Madame, 

Enclosed are copies of maps with my proposal for transit in Scarborough - I have not addressed the GTA as a whole because, as a long time resident of Scarborough (now living in Brampton ON), I am more familiar with the traffic and transit issues here than in the rest of the city - I am sure you will find my proposal very interesting - FYI; Phil Prentice is an alias, not my real name, as I don't want any publicity, or to draw any attention to myself 

I have forwarded a copy of my plan to John Tory and other government officials and interested parties and have begun posting and promoting my ideas online as Phil Prentice 

Please note; I have not had time to get into great detail (such as the number and orientation of stations) because I see you and the planning department are moving very quickly and making changes on the fly, and I want to get this out before any firm commitments are made 
 
I do have more to say - I will be posting my ideas and thoughts online as Phil Prentice at www.TorontoTransitBlog.com 

My main concern is that the number of different modes of transit used, and transfers, be kept to a minimum - I am pro-subway, but you will see that my plans make good use of various forms of transit while keeping things efficient and effective 

I do not believe that we need the SmartTrack - I think the electrification of the GO Train system and the increase in capacity and frequency that was being planned for previously, will serve the area north and east of the GTA for quite some time - I can imagine that the logistics of incorporating a SmartTrack with the existing GO system must be very challenging and costly, and I believe that the funding for this work could be better used elsewhere 

Please review and give my plan due consideration, and have your team test it; as I will be promoting my ideas online very aggressively 

I do realize that my proposed schedule and phasing are also aggressive (if not impossible), so I understand if most of my ideas need to be pushed out as much as five or ten years, but the important thing is to know where we want to go with this now, so that things are built with a future plan and options in mind - This will ensure that the cost to build and expand later will be reasonable and without needless waste 

 

P.S. - I have also enclosed a very rough draft of my proposal for the McCowan and Sheppard High-capacity Subway/LRT Station and High-capacity Parking Node - I did it in "Paint" but I can't get the station to run parallel to McCowan Road, so I can't align my station and tracks properly (but you should get the picture) - My daughter will be cleaning it up for me (in between baby and work) - The red Lines represent subways, and the amber lines follow your planning departments convention of using amber to represent LRT Lines 

One of the planners at one of the public meetings mentioned that there would have to be some form of a main station (near but away from Scarborough Centre) - I am sure they have looked at it, but the obvious choice is McCowan and Sheppard (due to the low density there at the moment) 
 

Regards,  WS (Alias Phil P) 

 

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GTA ACCESS BETWEEN EAST AND WEST AND THE PROPOSED LRT EXTENSION TO THE SHEPPARD AVENUE SUBWAY 

This city is sick and needs a quadruple bypass – The Ontario Government stopped expressway construction in the early 70s and look where we are now - Cars have not gone away and they are not going away anytime soon - The existing transit system provides very few options for those travelling between the east and west areas of the city – The rapid options are the Bloor-Danforth subway, Go Train service through Union Station, or by car using the 401 – The latest transit plan for the city does address some issues, but doesn't go far enough 

The reason that the existing Sheppard Avenue subway is underused is that it doesn't go to or from anywhere - An extension of the existing Sheppard subway [east to at least McCowan and Sheppard (together with the new Finch LRT and an LRT or subway connection between the Finch LRT and the Sheppard subway line), would:  create a real purpose for the existing Sheppard subway; tie everything together; minimize the number of different modes of transit and wasteful transfers between them; provide rapid public transit east to west for all of East York, North York, and Scarborough north of the 401; and would provide some relief to the Bloor-Danforth line - High capacity parking nodes at the east terminus of the Sheppard subway line at McCowan and Sheppard, and at the west terminus of the Finch LRT, would get people out of their cars, relieve traffic on the 401, and make the Sheppard Avenue subway line relevant - The high capacity parking node at McCowan and Sheppard would also service the  Scarborough subway line if the Scarborough subway were to be extended up to Sheppard Avenue 

The number of different modes of transit and transfers must be minimized – The Don Mills and Sheppard subway station should be connected by a subway to Scarborough Centre via McCowan and Sheppard, not an LRT – Even if we have to wait for it, it will be worth the wait – Agreed that the Scarborough subway, Crosstown East LRT, and SmartTrack (if it is actually built), need to be built first, but we should make up our minds and plan for it now – If you build it, they will come 

It should also be noted that when the comparison between the $1 billion cost of building a Sheppard LRT and the $3 billion cost of extending the existing Sheppard subway line to Scarborough Centre was made public, there was a hidden cost of almost $1 billion to build a new transitional station to connect the existing Don Mills and Sheppard subway station to the new Sheppard LRT – I don't believe that this cost was never fully disclosed or properly take into consideration when the decision was made for a Sheppard LRT instead of a subway extension - The real cost of building a Sheppard LRT would have been more like $2 billion – Having said this, how many 100s of millions will it cost to build a transitional station to connect the new Sheppard LRT to the new Scarborough subway?, not to mention the extra 18 minutes it will take to transfer from subway to LRT and back to subway again - The subway is looking like a better deal every time you look at it 

 

CROSSTOWN EAST LRT 

The extension of the Crosstown East LRT along Eglinton and Morningside to Malvern will be a huge benefit to Scarborough - The Crosstown East LRT could one day be run to Malvern and then double back (possibly through Centennial College and then) to Scarborough Centre or McCowan and Sheppard from there – Although routing it through Centennial College would be a bit of a trick; my latest proposal is to run a new LRT line north from the Eglinton GO station along Markham Road to connect with the Crosstown East LRT Extension at Centennial College, with a shuttle connecting Centennial College along Progress Avenue to Scarborough Centre 
 

FUTURE LOCAL RAPID TRANSIT FROM SCARBOROUGH CENTRE TOWARDS MARKHAM 

I am not suggesting that we build this subway now; but we should orient he subway station at McCowan and Sheppard so that it can connect to some form of local rapid transit between Scarborough Centre and Markham in the future – No cost; just dotted lines on your little drawings for now 

  

LET’S GET IT RIGHT! 

Let’s get it right the first time 

 

Regards,  WS (Alias Phil P) 

 

 

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My Scarborough Transit Plan and Proposal 

As a past and long-time resident of Scarborough (presently residing in Brampton); I am passionate about the issues with traffic and the future of travel and transit within the GTA - My focus right now is on Scarborough, as that seems to be the issue of the day (and I am not as familiar or knowledgeable about the transit issues in the rest of the GTA) 

I am a huge proponent of subways for Scarborough, and am fully aware of the immense initial capital cost, however; as far as Scarborough is concerned, it is my assertion that the extension of Line 2 from  

Kennedy and Eglinton along McCowan Road to Scarborough Centre; and then later, the future connection of Don Mills and Sheppard to Scarborough Centre by subway are well worth the cost (and the wait, if need be), if that’s what it takes to do it right – Although I do not believe that SmartTrack is necessary, I am willing to turn a blind eye as long as the Scarborough to Sheppard subway connection is made - Scarborough will be well served by SmartTrack, the Line 2 extension to Scarborough Centre, and the extension of the Crosstown East LRT from Kennedy and Eglinton to the Scarborough UofT Campus, for now, until other transit issues within the rest of the city have been addressed - Let’s wait and do the Scarborough and Sheppard lines right! 

Please excuse my biases, but as long-time resident to Scarborough, I am much more familiar with the traffic and transit issues and needs for Scarborough and the surrounding area - Let's slow down, use our heads, wait, and do the Scarborough and Sheppard lines right – Within the next week; I will be posting my proposal and sequence of development of transit for the east part of the city and the east GTA 

 

1 - STOP AND THINK 

I realize that the situation has reached a critical point, as the situation is dire, and the time to address these issues has long past.  We have beat these issues to death and the amount of time and money expended to date is horrendous, but; we should take the time to rethink the current transit proposal for Toronto for now - Let's not rush into it just because a SmartTrack was promised without full knowledge of all of the options, challenges, and costs.  Let’s take a brief pause and make sure we get it right.  We don’t need another gas plant scandal here. 

 

2 - BUILD THE DOWNTOWN SUBWAY RELIEF LINE, McCOWAN (SCARBOROUGH) SUBWAY [LINE 2] EXTENSION TO SCARBOROUGH CENTRE, AND EXTEND THE CROSSTOWN EAST LRT TO THE SCARBOROUGH UofT CAMPUS (UTSC) 

Plan and build the Downtown Toronto Relief Line, the Scarborough (McCowan) Subway Extension, and the extension of the Crosstown East LRT first.  Although I'm a staunch supporter of having the Scarborough subway extension built; the Downtown Relief Line should be built first.  This not just good planning; it’s common sense.  Building the Crosstown East LRT extension to the UTSC years ago would have taken pressure off of Scarborough for a few years and given time to secure adequate financing to build a proper three-stop subway, but it has been left it too late.  The Scarborough RT is on its last legs and will cost 100s of millions of dollars for temporary improvements just to stretch its life long enough to build the subway, if something new to Scarborough Centre isn’t built soon.  I understand that the costs seem steep, but; the extension of the subway along McCowan to Scarborough Centre affords the possibility of connecting Scarborough Centre with North York by subway with a one seat ride. 

I think council was on the right track when they voted for the for the three-stop Scarborough subway extension proposed for McCowan Road.  Unfortunately; things have veered off and are heading down the wrong track again. 

The Downtown Relief Line (DRL) is critical to the success of the Scarborough subway extension and the extension of the Crosstown LRT, as it would relieve pressure off the Bloor-Danforth line (Line 2), and the Yonge and Bloor subway station, before the Scarborough subway extension and the Crosstown East come on line.    

The Three-stop Scarborough Subway Extension and the DRL need to be built concurrently, with the DRL opening first 

My vision is that the Scarborough subway (which I will start referring to as the McCowan subway), be planned for a possible future extension to Markham; as well as turning west at McCowan and Sheppard to connect with the Sheppard Avenue subway (Line 3).  The McCowan subway could be extended north several (or even one), stop(s) at a time towards McCowan and Steeles Avenues, the Town of Markham, and Markville Shopping Centre as the demand and the population density requires it 

In my opinion; the three-stop subway was the correct way to go, however; if the two stops need to be sacrificed in order to fund the extension of the Crosstown LRT, then, it is a reasonable trade-off.  Although the other two stops have been omitted (at least for now), I think it is important to plan for both options (LRT as well as subway) for the connection between North York and Scarborough.  The cost of doing either would be astronomically higher later, if the two options are not planned for now; (tunnel routes and depths, station orientations, future parking requirements, allowances for connections with other current and future forms of transit, e.t.c.) 

 

3 - CROSSTOWN EAST LRT to SCARBOROUGH UofT CAMPUS (UTSC) 

Plan and build the Downtown Toronto Relief Line, and extend the Crosstown East LRT to Malvern, as per the latest planning update.  The Crosstown East LRT is a great idea and the right thing to do.  The UTDC tracks and stations should be oriented in such a way that the LRT can later be extended further north to Malvern Centre. 

 

4 - SMARTTRACK 

Although my plan is to exclude it, if funding is an issue, build SmartTrack later; with stops at Kennedy and Eglinton, Ellesmere, Sheppard, Finch, and Steeles - A Kennedy and Lawrence stop could be optional, if the McCowan and Lawrence subway station were to be built 

Ellesmere buses could stop at Scarborough Centre and continue through to and from Kennedy and Ellesmere from there 

 

5 - HIGH-CAPACITY PARKING NODE AT McCOWAN AND SHEPPARD 

Build a high-capacity parking node at McCowan and Sheppard (See my blog page entitled "LRT vs SHEPPARD AVENUE SUBWAY EXTENSION" for more information on my proposal for a high density parking node at McCowan and Sheppard) 

 

6 - SCARBOROUGH TO SHEPPARD SUBWAY CONNECTION 

Have the McCowan subway branch off at McCowan and Sheppard and loop back to connect the Sheppard subway to the Scarborough Centre including a high-capacity subway station at McCowan and Sheppard * - This extension would add at least three (3) new stops and require a retrofit of the existing Don Mills and Sheppard subway station - The cost to retrofit the Don Mills and Sheppard subway station would actually be far less than the cost of building a transitional station if an LRT were to be built; [My guesstimate would be $150 to $250 million for a subway retrofit versus almost a $1 billion for a transitional LRT station (Mr. Tory; have your planners give you a thumb-suck number on that one; I am sure my guesstimate is reasonably close] *  

 

7 - PICKERING HIGH-CAPACITY RAPID TRANSIT [HCRT (SMARTTRACK)] 

Pickering needs another rapid transit option to better connect it with the rest of the GTA - Plan for a future mode of high-capacity rapid transit to connect the Scarborough and Sheppard subway lines with Pickering at the Scarborough Centre subway station, (If planned now; the line could turn north into a separate track parallel with the Scarborough Centre subway station, and then come back south, turn west along Ellesmere and connect with the GO train station at Kennedy and Ellesmere [and then eventually (50 to 60 years down the road) even further west along York Mills to connect with the proposed DRL at Don Mills and York Mills, and the Yonge and York Mills subway station] – I did notice that the latest published plan for transit in the GTA does show a future Additional RT line from Pickering (now THIS would be a SmartTrack) - [It is unlikely that a subway could ever be justified east of McCowan as the greenbelt, Rouge Park, and Metro Zoo east of Scarborough would never have the density to ever justify it, however; another mode of rapid transit (such as SmartTrack between Scarborough Centre and Pickering would make sense here] - The Pickering High-capacity Rapid Transit line would provide more of a local service than the existing GO train in Pickering and Ajax, while also providing rapid connections to Scarborough Centre, the Sheppard subway, Kennedy and Ellesmere GO, the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, and the rest of the GTA north of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT - This line could eventually be extended east to Whitby and Oshawa with better local service along Highway #2 than the GO Train - When electrified, the GO Train would be upgraded as a faster and more frequent express service (just as they have been planning for many years now) 

 

THE WEST AND THE REST OF THE GTA 

My apologies to the West GTA - As a long-time resident of Scarborough; I am not as familiar or knowledgeable about the transit issues in that area of the city, however; I will try and tackle the west GTA at some point in the future - P.S.; I started my blog on Feb 2'16, so it's only a few weeks old, I am starting from virtually from scratch, and I have lots still to do just to address issues in my end of town - The only thing I have been doing over the past few years is e-mailing public officials, planners, politicians, the media, and other interested parties; to no avail 

 

* GREATEST CHALLENGE 

Building a new high capacity station servicing 2 subway lines while incorporating a tight t/y-shaped branch at McCowan and Sheppard is going to be tricky - The track from Scarborough Centre to the Sheppard subway line would have to start curving north of the McCowan and Sheppard subway station - It would have to be a gradual curve and turn back west south west before straightening out at Sheppard Avenue 

 

And finally; please excuse any typos or contradictions – My plans (just as the City's plans) are evolving as I go 

 

Pease see the enclosed maps, and be sure to visit my website at www.TorontoTransitBlog.com as I will be updating the site on a regular basis                             

 

Regards,  WS (Alias Phil P)