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Scarborough transit on its last wheels


The wheels have started turning on plans to replace the Scarborough rapid transit line.

The Toronto Transit Commission yesterday voted to spend $136,815 for a study of whether the line should be substituted with a subway, streetcars or buses.

The aging, elevated six-stop line, running 6.4 kilometres from Kennedy subway station to the Scarborough Town Centre, is both obsolete and overcrowded, said Councillor Howard Moscoe, the TTC's chair.

"The cars are obsolete, they don't manufacture them any more," said Moscoe (Ward 15, Eglinton-Lawrence). "The line itself is obsolete because we can't squeeze everybody who wants to be there onto it."

More than 44,000 passengers ride the line every day. Ridership is expected to grow 20 per cent by 2011 and the line can't handle the growth, the TTC says.

Transit consultant Richard Soberman has been hired to help figure out the best alternative. Options include:

Extending the Bloor-Danforth subway.

Introducing new light-rail technology.

Bringing in bus rapid transit, where buses would run in their own roadways.

"I tend to favour extension of the Bloor-Danforth subway out to the Scarborough Town Centre," Moscoe said. "Scarborough really has gotten the raw end of the stick when it comes to public transit. Ridership is huge and service is probably the weakest anywhere."

The commission voted to ensure city councillors from Scarborough are kept informed.

"They need to know the SRT is coming to the end of its life," said Councillor Bas Balkissoon (Ward 41, Scarborough-Rouge River). "A lot of people don't know that."

The 28 SRT cars are expected to be out of service by 2015.

The commission also decided to examine extending streetcar service through Exhibition Place west to Roncesvalles Ave.
Why they are even looking at buses, I do not get.

All these consulting plans are a waste of money. They know they have to extend the subway or rehab the RT.

If they do extend the subway, it would be great for travel time. You could actually be able to get to Yonge and Bloor from STC in like 25min, instead of the curent 35-40min.
All these consulting plans are a waste of money.They know they have to extend the subway OR rehab the RT.
But which one? Hence the study.
They have to add the buses option almost as a "do nothing" option - it would likely be rejected, given the loads the SRT carries.

However, I can see buses used as a temporary measure to help deal with loads and disruption during construction.
It could be interesting to see if any bus priority measures are implemented to try and deal with the loads during the conversion period. Bus lanes on Brimley or Midland? Busway running right beside the current SRT from Triton Rd over to Midland? (Would also be useful for the 190).
Is 44K passengers = 44K rides a day. If so, that doesn't seem like much. Even the 20% increase would amount to only 53K rides.

Seems more suited to streetcar/LRT cost benefit option.
^But that's because of its short length and the slower traveling time downtown. I'm sure a lot more people would take it if it shaved off five to ten minutes on a journey downtown, and had a continuous journey. I know whenever I went to STC from downtown (a few times), those transfers are a pain.

I agree that buses shouldn't even be an option. If LRT can't really cut it, why would lots of buses on the street? LRT should be looked at, since there's already trackage, but I think what's best for the system as a whole and growing the ridership is B-D subway extension. What is involved in upgrading to next-generation LRT? Would they need to relay track, or just buy new signals/cars?
Would they need to relay track, or just buy new signals/cars?
All of the above PLUS they would have to rebuild the tunnel between Ellesmere and Midland. Basically any vehicle that isn't custom-built won't fit through that tunnel.
44K on a 10min subway ride is a hell of alot of people.

And as was mentioned, many people don't even take the TTC in Scarborough right now because of the transfers, etc.

If it was one straight ride to downtown, you can bet thousands would switch.

Scarborough has been cheated out of quality fast transit for far to long.
A subway line all the way to STC would really improve things.

Add in SKIP STOP SERVICE and then we are really talking :)
44k riders a day is alot considering how short the SRT is. That is as much as Queen streetcar but that is much longer. If it really that overcrowded then subway seems like the only sensible choice.
If money is going to be spent on reducing the sharpness of curves (new bridges on elevated portions, perhaps new tunnel under the GO line), buying new vehicles, etc then why not extend the subway? There is no point spending a lot of money to have the same system as now which is less conveinient than a subway extension. Scarborough City Centre continues to intensify so demand for transit should only increase. A BRT is unlikely because that would be seen as a downgrade on an existing well travelled route. I don't know how city council could support a York subway extension while converting existing rapid transit to busses.
Hmm.. Ontario Government will start York U extension next year (that is pretty much assurred), but perhaps they can get them to kick off a Bloor/Danforth extension in 2010 (2014 completion)?

Does that mark the end of the Sheppard line though. Might get to Vic Park, but beyond that?
actually, the way i see this playing out would involve the restart of the sheppard construction project.

basically, whatever they do SCC station is up for some massive reconfiguration. if we're ever planning on actually finishing the sheppard line the most logical time to do it is while we've already got the station torn up to redo the RT. at the very least i would be amazed if they didn't rough in a subway station in the basement to accomodate an eventual sheppard link-up
"Does that mark the end of the Sheppard line though. Might get to Vic Park, but beyond that?"

People living west of Midland generally travel west to the Yonge line and it's possible that most likely won't switch to the Bloor line even if extended, so, no, this won't diminish the need for / benefits of the Sheppard extension. The Sheppard corridor between Don Mills and STC is still a safe bet for a successful subway extension. Leaving such a tiny gap beween subways - 2 miles? - would be silly.

If Bloor is extended, I hope they don't choose the "abandoned rail corridor via Brimley & Lawrence" route that would approach STC from due south - could be cheaper and would be slightly more direct, but overall would be a mistake.

There's an opportunity to double up both Sheppard and Bloor tracks between Midland-ish and STC, if the alignments are close for this stretch - and they should be.

"Is 44K passengers = 44K rides a day. If so, that doesn't seem like much. Even the 20% increase would amount to only 53K rides."

The 53K figure excludes people on the 43B, 57, 21(A), and 131E who would switch to the subway extension since they're travelling the same route already but with an added transfer; it excludes [potentially tens of] thousands of people who would switch to the extension from other modes or routes; if the extension goes through Midland & Lawrence, there's room to create a cluster of 12-15 towers, not to mention other unknown developments that would certainly be triggered.

"Bus lanes on Brimley or Midland?"

A significant chunk of the RT's ridership can easily be accommodated by existing routes - the 4 routes I mentioned above are all typically at half capacity, at the most. The Nugget Express can beat the RT on a good day, anyway, and the Midland bus is a speed demon - it usually gets from its bus bay to almost Steeles in 25 minutes during rush hour. Many people will find new routes by trying out different combos of buses - the trick would be to get them back onto the subway once extended...shouldn't be hard to do so.
actually, the way i see this playing out would involve the restart of the sheppard construction project.

I agree. Instead of building from the existing Sheppard line, we would see a building towards the Sheppard line from the Bloor line.

By building a subway to replace the SRT, they'd simply need to continue past Scarb. Town Center and link up with Sheppard. I think this will be the likely choice when this study reveals its results.