The 10 Problems with Transit City

1) Too many transfers. Takes two transfers to go from Agincourt to Downsview or from STC to Yonge St. Continues to force hundreds of thousands of riders a day to transfer at Kennedy station and Don Mills needlessly. Will impose a new transfer on riders travelling along Eglinton from east of Kennedy.

2) Too slow. While buses average 17 km/h and subways average 30 km/h, the LRTs will average 23 km/h. The Transit City proposal won't provide rapid transit across northern Toronto and won't be a significant improvement over the buses for local travel either. >From Meadowvale till Don Mills, the maximum amount of time a rider can save would be about 14 minutes. However, the closer a rider is to Don Mills, the less the time that will be saved. West of Agincourt, the reduction in frequencies from today's buses could actually increase total travel time even if the transit time is shorter due to longer wait times.

3) Nothing Cross-town about it. Toronto's biggest transport flaws are our limited options for travelling east-west, which also involve some of our longest travelling and commuting distances. LRTs travelling at 23 kph will not make cross-town travel very feasible. Travelling from Malvern to York University on the Sheppard-Finch Crosstown could take at least 75 mins. Travelling to the airport from Kennedy station using the Eglinton Crosstown LRT would take approximately 80 minutes (about the same time as the subway and airport express bus today). These travel time estimates also assume near perfect reliability and don't take into account the risks of running some of the world's longest tram lines near traffic.

4) Far away stops. To achieve the desired speed for the trams, the Transit City plan nearly doubles the current spacing of the current bus stops to over 400m. This means that riders will have to walk twice as far to catch the LRT than their current bus route today. This will have a disproportionate impact on older riders and those with mobility challenges.

5) Impedes Traffic. The Transit City proposal will severely restrict left turns on major corridors like Sheppard East and Eglinton which could have adverse impacts on small businesses along the corridor. Restricting left turns to every 400m is also likely to increase traffic congestion on major arteries in the city.

6) Won't solve overcrowding. Transit City does nothing to solve congestion on the current subway network.  In particular, the Transit City plan does nothing to solve the congestion at Yonge-Bloor.  In fact, Transit City could make overcrowding worse by dumping additional riders on the unimproved subway network.

7) Poor value for money. At a cost of nearly $12 billion dollars, the Transit City LRTs will offer only a marginal advantage over current bus services. Much of the speed advantage of the Transit City trams comes from their exclusive corridor. Similar corridors could be constructed for buses at a fraction of the cost and in a significantly shorter time frame to improve service immediately. The poorest of the lot will be the Sheppard East LRT. At a cost of nearly $1 billion dollars, the Sheppard East LRT will only save the average rider a few minutes and will impose an unnecessary transfer from an already existing subway line.

8) Does not support development well. Transit City leaves Scarborough Centre as the only urban growth centre (designated by the Province under the Places to Grow Act) inside the 416 without subway service. The LRT will also limit the potential for development and densification along important corridors like Sheppard East, Eglinton and Don Mills. 

9) Not forward thinking. The deployment of between $12-15 billion will use up decades worth of planned transit funds for Toronto on tram plan limiting opportunity to expand the core subway network.  This will tie Toronto's hand in handling residential and commercial growth in the city.

10) No regional focus. Transit City does a very poor job of facilitating travel between Toronto the suburban regions.  For example, Durham region has proposed a rapid bus link to Scarborough Centre.  However, Durham Region commuters would still have to use the Scarborough RT to access the subway at Kennedy station or take an express bus to connect to the Sheppard subway at Don Mills.  Transit City does nothing for them.  The plan also leave Mississauga residents in the cold.  Transit City has no effective connections with the Mississauga transit network other than the extension of the Eglinton LRT to the airport and the Waterfront West LRT at Long Branch.  However, these connections won't any significant impact on commuters riding into Toronto.

Stay tuned for our proposal on how to provide true rapid transit for Toronto.

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