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Welcome to Transit City!

cross-posted to the Spacing Wire

Today at City Hall, the TTC announced its intentions loud and clear: If Toronto is going to become the greenest and most sustainable city in North America, it begins and starts with our transit system. [ click on the map to see a larger version ]

The “Toronto Transit City — Light Rail Plan” put forth today by TTC Chair Adam Giambrone and Mayor David Miller envisions a vast network of above-ground LRTs (like the streetcars in the rendering below) that stretch out into the far-reaches of this city. In order to bring reliable and effective transit to these communities, rapid-transit vehicles in their own dedicated lanes are being proposed on the following streets and traffic corridors:

  • Etobicoke-Finch West LRT (17.9 km): from Humber College in the west, to the Finch bus/subway station at Yonge (there is no indication in the plan for the LRT to run along the hydro corridor, as hypothisized yesterday in the Star);
  • Sheppard East LRT (13.6 km): connecting Don Mills subway station to Scarborough Town Centre and its RT station, and to the proposed Scarborough-Malvern LRT (see below). The line would operate underground for a short distance when leaving/approaching Don Mills station;
  • Jane Street LRT (16.5 km): terminating at the Jane subway station at Bloor in the south and the Steeles West subway station that will be a part of the University-Spadina subway extension;
  • Eglinton-Crosstown LRT (30.8 km): this line will cross the entire city starting at the airport, connecting to Mississauga Transit’s busway, and stretching across to Kennedy subway/RT station in Scarborough. Of note, the line would operate underground from Keele in the west to Laird in the east, avoiding the tight corridors of midtown Toronto;
  • Scarborough-Malvern LRT (15 km): running northeast out of Kennedy station, and then north along Malvern and Morningside;
  • Don Mills LRT (17.6 km): terminating at a Bloor-Danforth subway station (not specified) in the south, and Steeles Avenue in the north (with possible connection to York Region’s VIVA network);
  • Waterfront West LRT (11 km): Starting at Long Branch in the west, connecting to the CNE stop near Dufferin and terminating at Union station in the east. The line would runs along the Gardiner Expressway/GO Transit corridor between the CNE and the Queensway and Lake Shore streetcar lines.

The plan also outlines the current ridership numbers (almost all have bus routes) and the estimated LRT ridership in 2021:

  • Etobicoke-Finch West LRT
    : 11.3 million trips/yr
    in 2021
    : 24.6 million trips/yr
  • Sheppard East LRT
    : 10 million trips/yr
    in 2021
    : 16.5 million trips/yr
  • Jane Street LRT
    : 11.9 million trips/yr
    in 2021: 24 million trips/yr
  • Eglinton-Crosstown LRT
    : 19.0 million trips/yr
    in 2021: 52.8 million trips/yr
  • Scarborough-Malvern LRT
    : 9.6 million trips/yr
    in 2021
    : 14.1 million trips/yr
  • Don Mills LRT
    : 13.7 million trips/yr
    in 2021:
    21.2 million trips/yr
  • Waterfront West LRT
    : 5.2 million trips/yr
    in 2021
    : 20.8 million trips/yr

Also attached to the Transit City plan were a number of projects already approved or in the Environmental Assessment (EA) process. These include:

  • St. Clair ROW, under construction
  • Harbourfront East LRT, in the EA process
  • University-Spadina subway extension
  • Extending the Scarborough RT to connect with Sheppard East LRT
  • Yonge Street busway from Finch to Steeles to connect to York Region’s VIVA bus routes, in EA process

Spacing, along with other transit advocates like Steve Munro, has been very vocal about how the TTC needs to fully embrace the LRT option if it wants to increase its ridership without sucking every penny out of the TTC’s constrained budget. Transit City incorporates the TTC’s own Ridership Growth Strategy [2.3mb PDF], Building a Transit City report [2.9mb PDF], the mayor’s own political platform from the 2006 municipal election, and adheres to the City’s own Official Plan.

As many of our readers mentioned in yesterday’s comment section (“Is Toronto about to become a Transit City?”), this is just a plan. While most of us may be excited to see such a smart outlook on how to make our transit system more effective for a variety of regions in the city, there’s no way we can build this system without permanent funding from the two higher levels of government. It is no coincidence that the One Cent Now campaign was launched a month ago, then the National Transit Strategy by the Big City Mayors’ Caucus was announced a few weeks later, and now this — all in time for the upcoming federal and provincial budgets. It is a clear strategy on the mayor’s part to force the province and the federal governments to pay attention to Toronto’s most dire needs. Since we could find ourselves going to polls to elect federal MPs within weeks, and a provincial election coming in October, Miller and company want Toronto voters to make public transit one of the most important issues when choosing which political party you vote for.

rendering by Matthew Blackett for Spacing

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