Transit TO: Transit Expansion

February 20, 2016 - Highlights Report

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Toronto Transit Consultation Meetings

February 20, 2016

Highlights Report

This concise Highlights Report has been prepared to provide the City of Toronto, TTC and Metrolinx with a snapshot of the feedback captured at the public meeting held on February 20, 2016. A more detailed report of the feedback captured during this phase of consultations will be prepared in the coming days.

Introduction

On Tuesday, February 20, 2016, the City of Toronto, City Planning Division (Transportation Planning), the TTC and Metrolinx, hosted a public meeting on key transit projects currently being planned across the City. . The meeting was held at Richview Collegiate Institute, 1738 Islington Avenue, Toronto. 

The public meeting presented the various transit projects being studied as part of a network approach to transit planning undertaken by the City, TTC and Metrolinx, including:

Six and Fifteen Year Transit Planning: Show the potential development of Toronto's rapid transit system over the next 6 and 15 years

Scarborough Transit Extension: Present a proposed approach to optimizing the transit network in Scarborough, including the development of an express subway to Scarborough centre, SmartTrack and the extension of the Crosstown LRT eastward to the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus.

Relief Line: Present the results of the corridor evaluation and the preferred corridor.

Waterfront Transit Reset: Introduce a new initiative to improve transit options along the waterfront.

SmartTrack / GO Regional Express Rail (RER): Present current work to develop GO RER and to integrate it with SmartTrack on the Stouffville and Kitchener corridors.

SmartTrack Western Corridor Feasibility Study: Present the results of a study considering feasibility of SmartTrack heavy rail western corridor options connecting Mount Dennis and the Mississauga Airport Corporate Centre. A heavy rail option will not be recommended due to significant community impact, higher cost and lower projected ridership compared to the LRT.

GO Electrification: Present recent work on plans to electrify Metrolinx-owned rail corridors.

 

The meeting featured a series of panels and an overview presentation. Participants were given time before and after the presentation to look at the display panels, and speak with project staff from the City, TTC and Metrolinx.

Following an introductory presentation on Coordinated Network Transit Planning given by Hilary Holden (Director, Transit and Sustainable Transportation, City of Toronto) and James Perttula (Program Manager, Transit Implementation Unit, City of Toronto) at 10:00 AM, participants had the opportunity to ask questions of clarification as well as provide feedback.

Approximately 130 people attended the public meeting, including Councillors John Campbell (Ward 4) and Stephen Holyday (Ward 3), MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj (Etobicoke Centre), and MPP Yvan Baker (Etobicoke Centre).

Highlights of Participant Feedback

Questions of Clarification

The discussion captured during the question and answer period following the overview presentation is summarized below. Questions are noted with a “Q”, comments with “C” and answers with “A”. Answers were provided by Hilary Holden and James Perttula unless noted otherwise.

Q. I wanted more information on the Eglinton West Corridor; I haven’t seen this in printed form. Where is this information available?  

A.  The approved LRT project is available here and online and we can also send you a hard copy. We are still early in the process of considering how to optimize the approved project and will be producing materials to help explain those options.

 

Q. Why do we have the "no left turn" option still in place on Eglinton?

A. Part of the review of the approved LRT plan is to consider these traffic impacts. We welcome your thoughts today andwill be reporting back to you on our recommendations.

C. Eglinton cannot be widened; traffic will get worse with the LRT. We should go back to the drawing board. Also, I got an email from my Councillor that this meeting was specifically about the Eglinton West Corridor, not all Toronto Transit projects. I would have liked to just focus on Eglinton as it is relevant to this location.

A. The land that has been sold off along Eglinton is surplus to what is needed for the LRT and will not affect construction. The focus of the presentation was on building out the full rapid transit network across Toronto.

Q. Why are we being restricted the length of time for questions? This question period should be expended today to accommodate everyone.

A. We will extend the question period today to make sure everyone’s questions are answered.

Q. There is a lot of momentum to build transit now while the funding and desire is available. Our concern is that the plan does not have enough background and research done. What is the detailed plan for the tracks, platforms, stations etc. for the Eglinton West Corridor? We would prefer to receive this relevant information before moving forward.

A. Council directed us to study the implementation of heavy rail on a proposed new SmartTrack Western Corridor.Based on that study, we are recommending that Council implement LRT on Eglinton West, rather than proceed with constructing heavy rail. . Details about the 2009 approved project are available but a review of that project is in early stages so we do not have much information to share on this review. We want to make sure the research is done first before presenting.

Q. Why not widen Eglinton and improve the bus service not LRT. A subway or underground LRT is my preferred options. I don’t see anything that surface LRT can do that bus service cannot.

A. Please share that type of feedback on your comment cards. We do not have detailed plans yet, it is in the early stages. Others have suggest we put in bus rapid transit (BRT) rather than LRT. We will consider this as part of the review.

C. LRTs are not street cars and this misconceptions needs to go away.

A. We don’t have LRT yet in Toronto so I encourage you to research the difference between the two to understand how they will work. We will be producing resources in the coming months to help explain what LRT is and what its advantages are.

Q. What are the implications for traffic on Eglinton during and after construction?

A. The issue of traffic congestion will never go away in Toronto; we need to provide options that are competitive in the long-term. We will be reviewing traffic studies to ensure that traffic will be managed appropriately. I encourage you to research LRT systems to get a better idea of what it will look like. We cannot say a lot about what this particular LRT will look like as a commitment to LRT has not been made yet.

Q. Eglinton was created to have potential to be a transportation corridor. Looking at the sold off surplus land I’m very disappointed that it was not utilized. I would encourage you to look at something that utilizes proper grade separation.

A. The right-of-way required for the LRT has been preserved.

Q. Eglinton will get busier, past maximum capacity. Building above ground would cause further congestion. Can LRTs be underground? Or hybrid?

A. The central portion of the Crosstown currently under construction is being built underground. There are a few sections along Eglinton West where underground could make sense, but this will increase costs and time.

Q. How can you go forward to do this plan without a traffic study? Should we be paying for it personally if the City will not?

A. All of the studies required for the approval of the project, including traffic impact, were done in 2009. That study is available here today. We will need to review this and possibly update it.

Q. What is the timeline for the LRT extension?

A. We need approval to construct the preferred option, and then secure funding. Updating estimated costs will allow us to set more accurate implementation dates. We will be reporting to City Council on our recommended implementation schedule in June, and will need political support and funding to make it happen.

Q. How is the above ground the preferred choice? Everyone wants the LRT underground?

A. We will not be recommending heavy rail underground, we are recommending LRT. We will be reviewing the 2009 approved alignment of the LRT. This review will consider tunneling sections of the LRT as an option.

Q. Why can we not add BRT like in Mississauga to our map, connected to Mount Dennis?

A. We can add BRT to our modelling studies.

C. This plan doesn’t benefit Etobicoke as much as it benefits Mississauga. We should consider driverless vehicles moving forward and plan accordingly.

C. There is no space for LRT in many areas on Eglinton. There is no space for a corridor. The corner of Kipling and Eglinton has been promised as a green space. I don’t think this is in the early stages. It’s been happening from 2009. The funding being a problem for this, if the preferred solution is underground than let’s do the right thing and pay the money for the proper system.

A. The reason why this planning process stopped in 2009 is that there was no funding available and it was not a Council priority. The introduction of SmartTrack has made the Eglinton West corridor a priority, and the LRT option is being recommended as the best network improvement.

C. The preference seems to be for LRT over buses or subway. This is becoming problematic. It’s a little cheaper than one but worse than both. There are operational problems with LRT. The transit lane should be able to accommodate buses as well and with the ability to move in and out of it. Also there has to be 4 wall shelters for the stops in Toronto.

C. There is another option that is not on your plan. There should be a bus option. In the spirit of open public consultation, please include a bus option next time.

A. When we come back in April, we can report back on buses as another option.

C. A grand plan for transit was created in 1974, nothing has been done. We need to bite the bullet and just build it.

Q. We have a major problem at the 401 getting on and off Eglinton. If you have enough room for an LRT there should be enough to widen Eglinton. Can you commit to doing a traffic study?

A. We will be reviewing the 2009 traffic studies but they won’t be updated by April, when we update you on the project. City policy is to move people not vehicles. So we will be looking forward with moving the maximum number of people in mind.

Q. Why aren’t buses the preferred option?

A. We don’t have a preferred option. We are reporting to you that heavy rail is not preferred, so we are reverting to the 2009 approved LRT project. Next, we will be reviewing that project.

C. Please compare the LRT to the Queensway rather than Spadina Streetcar.

Q. This kind of overview presentation was helpful. Is it feasible to have LRT on the outside of the road, or a fully elevated train?

A. We are reviewing the 2009 approved project. Many things are feasible, but it comes down to a balance of costs and benefits.

C. Yvan Baker – I have heard a lot of these comments before and I have shared these with the city, and the provincial government. This is an important investment; the traffic study needs to be thorough enough to cover all areas of the project (noise, traffic etc.). It is important to have a thorough consultation process. We should move forward smartly and prudently.

C. Councilor Holyday – We are committed to being diligent in this process. We need to step back and look at the broader transit plan. Think of the shape and future of the Eglinton you would like to see. Development will attract people. So think of where you would like to see development moving forward and write down your comments.

C. Councilor Campbell - The reason we are here today is because John Tory was elected on a platform to bring SmartTrack to Toronto. The planners here today will report to City Council that heavy rail is not recommended for the Eglinton West Corridor. Now we are looking at LRT because that is the next option (and already approved by Council). I also want to let everyone know there are many, many other projects that are higher priorities to the city than this. This process will take a while, however we need to get people out of cars and on to public transit so the Eglinton West Corridor must be developed one way or another.

 

 

Next Steps

A more detailed report of all consultation activities will be made available after this phase of consultation. Comments must be submitted by March 4, 2016 to ensure inclusion in this report.