Last week, we followed up our Lawrence East survey result release rally with a submission to the Auditor General of Ontario. Maybe you saw us in the news? Essentially, we find the lack of evidence based decision making in Scarborough transit decisions, fishy approval of the Lawrence East Go/Smart Track station and blatant ignoring of the Province’s own directives on climate change mitigation and use of business case analyses when planning the one-stop subway extension as grounds for an investigation by the AG’s office. Also, we’ve managed to breathe some life into the sterile transit debate by having the media highlight the experience of actual Scarborough transit riders, as opposed to the usual motorist voices who turn up to support the subway.
One might think that we can rest on our laurels and take a break but not us….not Scarborough Transit Action. Today, we will submit our comments to the TPAP (Transit Project Assessment Process). In a nutshell, this is a form of expedited environmental assessment process meant to move transit projects forward. While this seems like a good idea at the outset, with a project like the SSE, it is being used to circumvent debate and ensure that this destructive option moves ahead. Crucially, the TPAP for the SSE does not provide for an analysis of alternatives (such as the LRT option), nor does it give room for climate change mitigation to be included as a measurement of the project, nor does it properly give an assessment of the cost effectiveness of the project.
The Minister of the Environment and Climate Change can order a “bump up” from a TPAP to proper environmental assessment, which we hope will allow the flaws of the one-stop subway to be made more readily apparent to the policy community and wider public, especially those who do not currently ride transit and may not appreciate the true uselessness of the SSE for TTC passengers in Scarborough.
We have brought the concerns of transit riders to the highest halls of power over the past few weeks and if that’s not momentum, we don’t know what is. Stay tuned for more Scarborough Transit Action.
John Tory’s one-stop subway, just what everyone in Scarborough wants. At least, that’s what it’s boosters would have you believe. In their eyes, it is a transformative project that will generate so called jobs, development and growth at the Scarborough Town Centre, (though nowhere else) even though the Mayor’s office has to convince Oxford Properties, the STC owner, of the subway’s merits. A huge problem with the mayor’s plan (apart from the fact that it’s an expensive boondoggle) is the fact that the over 16,000 daily riders who board the Scarborough RT at stations other than the STC will see their stations close. And then are the more than 125,000 other Scarborough residents who will never see an expanded LRT network on Eglinton East or Sheppard as the subway eats up funding for these projects. Seems like the Mayor is only concerned with his vision of growth at the Town Centre, one clearly not even shared by the major developer in the area! Actual transit riders don’t factor into his vision.
Over the past two weeks, we have been surveying riders at Lawrence East station, the second most used station on the SRT , to find out their opinions on this station closure. Turns out, not only are riders not keen on this but most did not even know Lawrence East will be no more when (or if) the subway opens.
Our results show that of our over 200 respondents, only a small minority were even aware that their station is disappearing. This is just the least of it! Of these respondents, most were also not aware of how Mayor Tory hopes to replace the station with a SmartTrack station. (as you might expect, given their response to the first question) Furthermore, once they heard of the plan, most were unhappy with such a replacement, given that SmartTrack/Go fares are likely to remain high and offer no free transfer to the TTC network.
With their station closing and an unattractive replacement being forced on them, is it any surprise that riders would prefer the original 7 stop LRT plan, as it keeps their local station and offers them connections to both the rest of Scarborough AND the wider citywide transit network? Since our results show that almost equal proportions of riders are heading downtown and within Scarborough, why do most Scarborough councillors and the Mayor refuse to listen to their transit-using constituents?
We’ve packaged the entire survey as one document, feel free to print it and bring it and use it to explain to others that Scarborough does not want this subway! Lawrence East SRT Survey_ForPrint
This anger and frustration were on full display this morning when we presented our results to the media and rallied with riders disappointed in our politicians’ failure to invest in real transit for Scarborough. You can see us hard at work early this morning!
The message from survey respondents and those standing with us to save their station is loud and clear: it’s time to put the subway to rest, those who ride transit in Scarborough don’t want it.
On Monday night, STA members and allies in support of an LRT network attended Mayor Tory’s pro-subway town hall in Scarborough. The event took place at Centennial Recreation Centre and was organized by Connect Scarborough, Scarborough Community Renewal Organization and Centennial College.
Throughout most of his speech, Mayor Tory complained about LRT supporters and implored the crowd to “reach out to their councillors” to support the subway.
He is determined to push it through knowing full well that if approved, nothing else will ever get built in Scarborough, for a very long time.
All this political maneuvering and evasion made it almost impossible for the public to have a meaningful conversation about how best to serve transit riders who need to get around Scarborough, not just downtown. Still questions coming from the audience, showed there is growing support for better transit access with an LRT network, including the Scarborough, Eglinton and Sheppard East LRTs.
Although Centennial College, Vice President, Rosanna Cavallaro spoke in favour of improved transit, Davinder Singh, president of Centennial College Student Association raised concerns about losing the stop at Progress Campus that was part of the original seven-stop Scarborough LRT plan.
Vincent Puhakka, STA member, talked about canvassing near the Scarborough RT stations and asked what they were going to do to address the removal of stations at Lawrence, Ellesmere and Midland when the five-stop RT is replaced with a one-stop subway.
“Buses, buses buses”, was councillor De Baeremaeker’s reply.
Councillor De Baeremaeker’s wife, also attended. She attempted to revive the infamous TTC Briefing Note claiming an LRT would cost as much as a subway. This was quickly challenged by another resident who pointed out it was based on inflationary costs due to a ten year construction time line, not the usual 4-5 years it takes to build an LRT.
Franklyn Earle-McFadden, another STA member asked the Mayor to increase bus service and the number of elevators at subway stations so that transit riders with mobility issues don’t have such a hard time getting around on the TTC. MPP Brad Duguid told him he would be waiting until 2025.
Connect Scarborough, a pro-subway front group for Oxford Properties – owners of the Scarborough Town Centre was the only group allowed to have a table and to distribute information to attendees. Scarborough MPs and MPPs were also there in support of the one-stop subway, yet the Mayor seemed worried.
Perhaps deep down he knows it is a lousy plan that excludes too many transit riders in too many Priority Neighbourhoods and the rest of Toronto is not happy with the rising costs and falling ridership projections.
Transit planner Joell Anne Vanderwagen talks to Mayor Tory’s Executive about the Scarborough Subway Extension
Good morning fellow passengers on the Titanic. Our Captain is saying “full-speed ahead”, but we know how the story ends. This ship will crash on the rocks of reality—financial and function realities. Although we are being updated about the astronomical and escalating construction costs of the six-kilometre Scarborough Subway project, little is understood about the future operating costs. The latter is the gift that will keep on giving, or rather, taking. In fact, I suggest that this project (along with the Sheppard and Vaughan subways) will bankrupt the TTC.
Back in 1954 the TTC completed Canada’s first subway—the 7.4 Kilometre Yonge line from Union Station to Eglinton. It is said that on opening day there were 30,000 passengers per hour and, on the following days, well over 250,000 per day. On opening day, this 7.4 km subway had twelve stations, located about 400-700 metres apart. These numerous stations provided not only easy access to the service, but also, twelveopportunitiesfor revenue-paying passengers to board—who, in their numbers, more-than-paid for the expensive project and the higher operating costs of a subway. The line, of course, was set in the middle of a busy, dense urban corridor.
Let us contrast this with the proposed Scarborough Line: Here we have a six-kilometre tunnel with two stations—one at either end. The equivalent on the Yonge line would be to ride from Union Station all the way to St. Clair—with no King, Queen, Dundas, College, Wellesley, Bloor, Rosedale, or Summerhill stations in between! That’s very strange. Given the low-density residential areas through which the tunnel in Scarborough will go, there is not an option of adding eight more stations.
So, what “gifts” can we expect from the Scarborough subway in 2026? How accurately can we project the future operating costs? Before getting lost in these technical details, let us consider some simple logic illustrated in the following example:
Imagine a bus travelling a one-kilometre route.
It has 100 riders. Each pays a $1.00 fare. 100 riders X $1.00 fare = $100.00 dollars revenue.
The operating cost per kilometre (salaries, fuel, maintenance) = $100 dollars cost/km
With these two numbers we can calculate the revenue/cost ratio.
———————– = 100 % Thus, the revenue/cost ratio is 100% — meaning that
COST $100the service pays for itself and no subsidy is required.
Next, let’s imagine that the route has been extended to two kilometres with the same riders.
——————— = 50% The revenue/cost ratio is now 50% — requiring a subsidy.
Now, lets extend the route to six kilometres with the same group of 100 riders.
——————– = 16.6% The revenue/cost ratio is now 17% — requiring an 83% subsidy
This delicate relationship between distance and cost will not be obvious because we will see a full bus traveling the route. While this is an example of a simple, low-cost bus route, a subway is another issue entirely: there are tunnels with tracks and signaling and ventilation, along with expensive stations that are essentially underground buildings requiring escalators, elevators, ventilation, lighting, maintenance, cleaning staff, transit staff, etc. Thus, using underground tunnels to provide rapid transit is only appropriate in densely-developed, high-traffic corridors.
Light Rail lines, on the other hand, do not require expensive stations; they can be placed anywhere because power is taken from an overhead source. In contrast, both subways and the existing RT take their power from an electrified third rail that must be separated from pedestrians—either elevated, enclosed in a fence, or buried, which in turn, requires escalators and elevators that greatly inflate the capital and operating costs and tend to make developers want to reduce the number of stations.
Light Rail would actually serve the development plans of the Scarborough Town Centre better than the proposed subway. We can find our best example in Calgary. Beginning in 1981, Calgary created a radial system of three LRT lines leading into downtown, through which the trains travel on a 1.2 km pedestrian transit mall. The lines were built quickly and economically, mostly on the surface; one, for example, following a CPR right-of-way and another running down the middle of a wide arterial roadway. With its older downtown core surrounded by modern, low-density sprawl, this was the right model for Calgary and the system is a success story in terms of function, cost-effectiveness, and popularity.
In terms of its development pattern, Scarborough has more in common with Calgary than downtown Toronto and can benefit from Calgary’s example in planning the Town Centre. For example, if a transit mall were created, LRT lines coming from Kennedy station and from the northeast (Morningside and beyond) could make several stops across the area, creating better transit access throughout the site and a livelier pedestrian environment.
This is a model of “higher-order” transit for the Scarborough Town Centre. Rapid transit is not one thing! It can take different forms appropriate to different situations and the skill is choosing the right system, not under-building or over-building. The money NOT spent on a six-kilometre tunnel with one station could instead provide for a full rapid transit network for Scarborough—that could be speedily implemented.
It’s time to say NO to this one-stop, tunnel vision, fiasco. The latest city report shows that the 6 km extension of the Bloor/Danforth line – with a single stop at Scarborough Town Centre – now requires an even bigger investment of public funds. The cost has gone up again, to $3.35 billion, but the ability to attract new riders has dropped, from 4,500 to only 2,300.
In fact, the latest article by Star reporter, Jennifer Pagliaro, shows $600 million in costs have not been included in the $3.35 billion estimate, pushing it beyond the $3.56 billion funding limit. That means no money for the 18-stop Eglinton East LRT (EELRT). Worse, by prioritizing the one-stop subway, Mayor Tory and pro-subway councillors have ensured the EELRT must compete for federal funding with other projects such as Smart Track, Relief Line and Eglinton West LRT. The EELRT would serve 26,000 residents in five Neighbourhood Improvement Areas(NIAs). The SSE would serve at most only 3,100 residents of NIAs.
The report also proposes $187 million go toward an underground bus terminal. If built, Triton terminal will house 24 TTC buses, almost double the number of existing TTC buses that come into Scarborough Town Centre. If new transit lines are supposed to eliminate the need for buses, then this one-stop subway fails miserably. In fact, with the elimination of existing RT stations including Lawrence, Ellesmere and Midland, residents of Scarborough are getting less access to rapid transit, not more!
The Mayor and pro-subway councillors want us to ignore the facts and “just build something”, regardless of costs or consequences. But when the three-stop subway was approved in 2013, we didn’t know then what we know now. We must not put any more time and money into this boondoggle!
Join us when the subway report goes to the Executive Committee on Tuesday March 7th. Tell Mayor Tory to scrap the subway extension, and get on with building the seven-stop Scarborough and eighteen-stop Eglinton East LRT instead.
If you haven’t already, send a message to Mayor Tory and council.
Join us at the Executive Committee meeting at City Hall (100 Queen Street West) on Tuesday, March 7th @ 9:30 a.m. Register to speak to item EX23.1 at 416-392-4666, or send an email to the Executive Committee email@example.com.
Last week, Toronto Star journalist Jennifer Pagliaro had us wondering, yet again, what Mayor Tory is hiding vis a vis the one-stop Scarborough Subway Extension (SSE). The image in her article showed a redacted page from a business case analysis of four city projects: Smart Track, Relief Line, SSE and Eglinton East LRT. The study carried out by Arup consultants for the city last June, was never shared publicly.
Looking at the results for the one-stop SSE it’s plain to see why Mayor Tory and pro-subway councillors would want this report shelved. Even before costs of the one-stop jumped from $2 billion to $3.2 billion, the business case analysis paints a gloomy prognosis for this line.
On the cost side the subway would have a “significant amount of travel time disbenefit.” Could this be because riders who take the Scarborough RT to stations in between Kennedy and Scarborough Town Centre will be on slower buses? The only benefit is that after construction and operation costs of $252 million, there will be $0.75 billion remaining. But as already mentioned, this positive is eliminated with the increase in cost of the one-stop subway from $2 to $3.2 billion.
At Executive and Council meetings, when Chief Planner, Jennifer Keesmaat answers questions from councillors about the one-stop subway she regularly qualifies her answer with: “Assuming the three-stop subway as the base case…” The significance of this qualifier did not hit me until I read the Arup report.
In the last two columns of this chart we see the “Scarborough Subway” and the “Eglinton East LRT.” The base case for the Eglinton East LRT is the buses that currently serve the Eglinton Avenue East corridor. It seems logical that if you want to know if the Eglinton East LRT is good value for money it would have to provide shorter travel time, less crowding etc., than the existing bus system.
Where things go off the rails, is in the choice of a base case for the one-stop “McCowan Express” option. “Base Case 1” for this option is the three-stop subway. This is problematic because there was never a base case for the three-stop subway. It should have been compared to the Scarborough RT, as was the business case analysis of the seven-stop Scarborough LRT. In other words, we have no idea if the three-stop subway will provide value for money as a replacement for the Scarborough RT or not, but it is being used as a comparator for the one-stop, anyway.
After discussing the lack of base case for the three-stop SSE, the consultant proposes some explanatory text:
Would the Mayor and pro-subway councillors like to explain why the public is not allowed to see this explanation?
When people talk about the Scarborough Subway, they say they don’t want any more flip-flops, that we need to “get on with it and build something”. They conveniently forget the flip-flop started back in 2013, when council rejected a shovel-ready, funded LRT for a back-of-a-napkin, subway plan. They forget that to switch to a subway you have to go back to square one and at the very least, determine if it is an improvement over the SRT line you want to replace.
We have already lost three and a half years studying the one-stop Scarborough Subway Extension and we still don’t know if it would provide value for money. However, according to the findings of this report it will increase travel time and the current $3.35 billion cost would eliminate any potential savings. Add to this the Metrolinx report (also never released) stating that in order for a subway to be viable option it would require a $5 billion investment around STC and you have all the ingredients for a megaproject boondoggle.
The just released, city report includes a business case analysis but it does nothing to address these concerns. Instead, it merely provides us with a comparison between a Brimley and McCowan subway alignment. The full report on the one-stop will go to the Mayor’s Executive next Tuesday, March 7th.
You can read the Toronto Star article about the city report here.
Let’s lay this albatross to rest and start building some sensible transit lines for the 48% of transit riders travelling within Scarborough and the 23% heading downtown. Build the seven-stop Scarborough LRT now!
We spoke up loud and clear for the seven-stop Scarborough LRT!
On Thursday, January 19th, 2017, we made it clear to Mayor Tory and his Executive Committee, we want the facts on the seven-stop Scarborough LRT.
We started by hand delivering our complaint to the Toronto Ombudsman’s, office at 375 University Avenue. The complaint was about a TTC briefing note Mayor Tory and pro-subway councillors, used last July, to dissuade Council from voting for a 24-stop LRT network, including the Scarborough and Eglinton East LRTs.
We also received words of support and encouragement from Duff Conacher, co-founder of Democracy Watch:
“Good news and good luck with the ombudswoman…. Great that you have proceeded with this important complaint.”
Read Toronto Star journalist, Jennifer Pagliaro’s, article about the leaked TTC briefing note complaint here.
Next, equipped with our beautiful signs, we headed over to City Hall to voice our concern about the second delay to the Scarborough Subway Extension report. Since the report was not listed on the agenda, we couldn’t speak to Mayor Tory’s Executive directly. We had to find another way to voice our concern. We decided to walk quietly through the meeting room holding up our signs for them to read.
After exiting the meeting room we were told by security to leave City Hall. A lively exchange ensued around our right to assemble, and then the media arrived.
Watch Zach Ruiter’s video: Scarborough Transit Action for Evidence-Based Decision Making including Khalidha Nasiri’s and STA ally, Rosemary Frei’s response to CTV here.
While we were waiting in the hallway, we were able to catch Mayor Tory just as he was leaving and we gave him a copy of the Ombudsman complaint. He said it was “baseless and without merit”.
We asked why the subway report had been delayed again, and he claimed staff needed more time, denying rising costs or maneuvering for a Sheppard subway extension alignment as possible reasons.
A proposal for a Sheppard subway extension to Scarborough Town Centre was put forward by Ward 39 councillor Jim Karygiannis last summer, and is currently under study.
J.P. Rodrigues, a member of 1Love Malvern Transportation Working Group, said: “Part of the reason why there was some support for the one-stop subway extension before, was that it would come with the Eglinton East LRT, along with possible further expansion into Malvern. With this and the Sheppard East LRT, Malvern residents would have finally been connected by rapid transit to Scarborough and the rest of Toronto. However with rising subway costs, ongoing delays and whispers of a Sheppard subway extension, the Sheppard East LRT may never be built and Malvern residents will continue be deprived of access to rapid transit that they have been promised was coming to them since 1985!”
The Mayor also assured us, that the Eglinton East LRT from Kennedy Station to U of T Scarborough, would be built. But he wouldn’t say when construction would begin or if there was funding.
“We intend to hold him to that promise, ” said Joy Robertson, President – Scarborough Village Residents Unite (SRU) . You can read SRU’s statement on the Eglinton East LRT here.
Brenda Thompson, Co-Chair Scarborough Transit Action
PRESS CONFERENCE FOR TRANSIT FAIRNESS
Thursday, January 19th @ 11:30 a.m.
City Hall rotunda, Nathan Phillips Square, 100 Queen Street West
Mayor Tory claims he is in favour of “evidence-based decision making” but last summer he and his pro-subway councillors used a biased TTC briefing note to push a one-stop subway extension ahead of a twenty-four-stop LRT network that would serve Scarborough’s Priority Neighbourhoods and campuses.
We are holding a press conference in the rotunda of City Hall at 11:30 a.m. this Thursday against the second delay of the Scarborough Subway Extension report. Please JOIN US at City Hall to speak out against the second delay of the Scarborough subway extension report. It should have been on the agenda of Mayor Tory’s Executive meeting this Thursday but it has been delayed until March!
Why is Mayor Tory hiding the facts? What does he not want the public to know about the $3.56-billion, one-stop Scarborough Subway Extension?
We know the seven-stop Scarborough LRT is a better plan for transit riders. That’s why we are calling on Mayor Tory and pro-subway councillors to cancel the one-stop subway extension and build an LRT network, now!
Meet us in the City Hall Rotunda at 11:30 a.m. sharp this Thursday, January 19 – that’s tomorrow! Please come and speak up for Scarborough. Let’s send a message to Mayor Tory and his executive committee that we will not remain silent while they waste billions of scarce dollars making non-evidence-based decisions!
Mayor John Tory and his band of Scarborough politicians never miss a chance to tell Scarborough citizens about the one-stop extension that will allegedly bring Scarborough together as one people. The latest disingenuous rhetoric comes Tory himself, who is quoted as saying that a single stop for $3.2B is about equity.
The most divisive politicians use Scarborough and Scarborough City Centre synonymously, as if all 625,000 residents of Scarborough live in the centre of Scarborough. We find this rhetoric utterly insulting.
Here is a list of neighbourhoods in Scarborough who pay taxes but have yet to receive transit funding under Mayor Tory’s current Scarborough Transit plan.
Agincourt South-Malvern West
In addition, every single RT station will effectively shut down under Mayor Tory’s current Scarborough transit plan. Here is the list:
Lawrence East Station
If you live in Scarborough and we’ve missed your neighbourhood, let us know!