The City of Toronto’s City Planning division, together with the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), is starting to plan an extension to the Bloor-Danforth Subway (Line 2) to better serve Scarborough’s 650,000 residents. Interested members of the public are invited to attend the first public meetings and open houses for this important project.
The proposed Scarborough Subway Extension will replace the aging Scarborough RT and contribute to an integrated and comprehensive rapid transit network that will improve transit service in Scarborough and across Toronto.
The new Scarborough Subway Extension will extend the Bloor-Danforth Subway (Line 2) north from Kennedy Station to Sheppard Avenue. This extension will create a seamless journey for transit users by eliminating the existing need to transfer at Kennedy Station.
Preliminary estimates are that this new line is expected to carry between 9,500 to 14,000 customers in the peak hour in the peak direction, and will provide convenient connections with local and regional bus services and other rapid transit planned for the area, and for customers walking, cycling or being dropped off or picked up at planned stations.
Members of the public are encouraged to attend the first open houses to learn more about the project and provide input into the following:
study approach (terms of reference) and the Public Consultation Plan for the Scarborough Subway Project Assessment Study,
possible corridors for routes and station locations, and
criteria that will be applied to assess corridor options, routes and station locations.
Both meetings will provide the same information, so members of the public need only attend one of these two meetings: Saturday, January 31 from 10 a.m. to noon at Jean Vanier Catholic Secondary School, 959 Midland Ave., or Monday, February 2 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Scarborough Civic Centre, 150 Borough Dr.
For those unable to attend in person, materials can be reviewed, and feedback can be provided online.
I met with TTC officials on June 9, 2014, to get an update on progress on the proposed Scarborough Subway. I voted in favour of replacing the aging Scarborough RT with an extension of the Bloor-Danforth subway line. Toronto’s Transit Commission is currently conducting preliminary work on the line.
The 7.6 km subway extension will see three new stations added to the network: Lawrence East, Scarborough City Centre and Sheppard East. I hope a fourth station is added at Eglinton and Danforth. The trip from Kennedy Station to Sheppard East Station will take 10 minutes. Travelling that same distance currently takes more than 25 minutes because commuters have to walk up 3 flights of stairs, wait for the Scarborough RT and transfer to the 129 or 199 bus routes. The Scarborough subway will reduce commute times by 15 minutes or more.
Seven additional trains will be needed to serve the extension and to maintain current service levels on the Bloor-Danforth subway. Preparation will take 4 years (2014-2017), with construction to begin in 2018. The subway will be running by 2023. I spoke with a Metrolinx engineer who believes the scheduled completion date is very aggressive. The TTC is expecting to use the tunnel boring machines from the York University extension for the Scarborough subway.
A number of critics of the Scarborough Subway extension have stated there is insufficient ridership to justify the line. Subway lines require ridership of 15,000 passengers per hour per direction (pphpd) to be economically viable. In one study, peak ridership is projected at 9000 pphpd – 14,000 pphpd by 2031. In 30 years time, ridership will be closer to 20,000 pphpd. The Scarborough Subway is closer to meeting this threshold than any other line.
The City of Toronto will raise $910 million for the Scarborough Subway through a 1.6% levy (phased in over 3 years) on property taxes and development charges. Property taxes will contribute $745 million to the project while development charges will raise $165 million. This levy will be in effect for 30 years to pay for this extension.
The Federal Government has allocated $660 million for this project in Scarborough, but the funding is not tied to inflation. This will not cover inflation to construction costs as the project progresses over the next 8 years.
The Ontario Government is contributing $1.48 billion to the project. Provincial funding is tied to inflation and can be as high as $1.99 billion by 2023. However, the City of Toronto is expected to cover $85 million in sunk costs as a result of frequent changes to Toronto’s transit expansion plans.
These sunk costs accrued because Metrolinx was forced to renegotiate its contract with Bombardier for 182 light rail vehicles. Fewer vehicles are needed now that the Scarborough RT will be replaced with a subway. The $85 million in sunk costs also include preliminary work to redesign the transfer at Kennedy Station to accommodate the LRT line. The question of what to do with the Scarborough RT right-of-way has been an ongoing and contentious debate. Your input is appreciated.
A group has told Scarborough residents that they will get less service with the Scarborough Subway because the plan doesn’t include Ellesmere and Midland Stations. The Ellesmere SRT Station is the least used station in the TTC’s subway network with only 1140 daily riders. By comparison, Kennedy Station has 34,300 daily commuters. I fail to understand the logic of loss of service.
Passengers will just be interchanging at different points. It is likely that Ellesmere buses will be re-routed to the new Scarborough Civic Centre Station, instead of the Ellesmere SRT Station. The Scarborough Hospital Main Campus will be served by the new Lawrence East Station. If ridership warrants, express buses on Progress can be used to connect Centennial College to both Scarborough City Centre and Sheppard transit.
Downtown Relief Study
Consultations are in progress to study the capacity issues in certain parts of the TTC network. Item PG33.12 (June 10, 2014 Council meeting) authorizes staff to continue with the study, and I moved to include off-peak fare pricing into the Terms of Reference. Providing a discounted fare could influence enough riders to shift their travel to off-peak times when there is available capacity. This method has been used by the airline industry with great success, and is being used in time-of-use electricity pricing. This idea is well argued in a recent report called ‘Toronto’s Suburban Relief Line’ by Brady Yauch, Economist and Executive Director of the Consumer Policy Institute.
Happy Easter to Christians who observe this holiday, which marks the resurrection of Jesus Christ. My staff and I would like to extend best wishes to those in our community who celebrate Easter.
It was a tough winter and finally the weather is getting warmer. The December ice-storm cleanup continues. If you still have fallen debris, bundle any trunks less than 3 inches in diameter and leave them at the curb on yard-waste collection days. I contracted a company to cleanup my ice-storm debris, and it cost me $1,400 because 3 of my large trees had to be trimmed.
The first 3 months of 2014 have indeed been busy. In January, the 2014 Budget was finalized and in February and early March, I was working with residents on an OMB hearing in opposition to a proposed in-fill townhouse development on Midland Avenue. The OMB hearing lasted 5 days and the decision on the proposal is still pending. It was emotionally exhausting for those most impacted by the proposal.
There are 2 other proposed high-density developments close by, one at 23 Glen Watford Drive and another at 4181 Sheppard Ave E., on the south-west corner of Sheppard and Midland. There will be pressures for higher density developments along Sheppard due to proposed higher order public transit coming in the future. The higher the order of transit, the denser the proposed developments. The approved (but not yet started) Scarborough Subway extension will also mean additional development pressures around the Sheppard/McCowan area. But to build higher orders of transit, we will have to raise revenues to fund these infrastructure improvements. The decision to fund each individual transit project and raise the needed revenue is in the hands of the majority on City Council, the Provincial Legislature, and Federal Parliament.
This year, I have moved my Ward 41 Environment Day to the Nashdene Yard compound at 70 Nashdene Road on Sunday, June 8. The Scarborough District CRC’s are initiating a Customer Service Enhancement Program and the Staff and the Community Centres will be connecting with residents on this initiative. Ward 41 is included in Local Air Quality Studies this year, going into next. To find out more, please visit http://www.toronto.ca/localairquality . With the warm weather comes road construction season, so please see http://map.toronto.ca/maps/map.jsp?app=TorontoTraffic for road restrictions.
Municipal elections will be conducted in every municipality in Ontario on Monday, October 27th, and I encourage everyone to learn more by visiting http://www.toronto.ca/elections.
As always, if you have any comments, questions or concerns, please feel free to contact my office. My staff and I look forward to assisting you.
Councillor Chin Lee Ward 41 – Scarborough Rouge River