SmartTrack funding approval puts the cart before the horse

Update on April 25, 2018 approval of SmartTrack by Toronto Council 

Last month, a delegation of Scarborough residents and transit advocates spoke to City Council’s Executive Committee regarding the SmartTrack Stations and Metrolinx Regional Express Rail (GO RER) programs (agenda item EX:33.1). We objected to Mayor Tory’s plan to replace the existing five Scarborough RT stations with one GO/SmartTrack station at Lawrence East and a one-stop subway from Kennedy station to Scarborough Town Centre (STC). 

 Watch Anil Lewis, who resides near the Lawrence East RT station, speaking to the mayor’s handpicked committee here. Read how the Lawrence East GO RER/SmartTrack station will leave more transit riders on buses here 

Scarborough subway boosters who wanted a station at Lawrence and McCowan were offered the Lawrence East GO/SmartTrack station instead. But it is not a good substitute for transit riders who rely on the Scarborough RT.  

 GO/SmartTrack is a separate line from the Scarborough subway, and would only connect to it at Kennedy station, not at the STC terminus.  Replacing five SRT stops with two north-south lines will take commuters downtown, but it won’t get them around Scarborough. The SRT connects to downtown as well as to Lawrence, Midland, Ellesmere, STC and McCowan. A seven-stop LRT to replace the RT – as originally planned – would add stops at Centennial College Progress and Sheppard Avenue East.   

But that’s not all. A seven-stop LRT would let you transfer from a bus at no extra cost and wait no more than five minutes for the next train. Not so with SmartTrack.  

Notwithstanding the Lawrence East GO/SmartTrack station’s inadequacy as a replacement for the RT stop, Scarborough Transit Action supports GO RER/SmartTrack if it can attract enough riders to help reduce overcrowding on the Bloor/Danforth subway line. A 2016 study by University of Toronto professor Eric Miller concluded that RER service every five minutes for a TTC fare would serve more than 300,000 daily riders. (Charging GO fares would cut ridership by up to two-thirds.) 

 

http://uttri.utoronto.ca/files/2018/02/SmartTrack_Final_Jan-27-18.pdf (pg. 41)

 

Since 2016, the number of SmartTrack stations promised has been cut from 22 to six, and with service levels and full fare integration unresolved, ridership is predictably less:  

TTC/GO/SmartTrack fare integration 

Because SmartTrack is “local” GO service with additional stations in Toronto, it has been included in the discussion around fare integration between TTC, GO and Union Pearson Express. The April 26, 2018, Metrolinx decision improved the affordability of using these services under the following terms: 

  • $3 Presto adult fare between all GO stations within the City of Toronto. 
  • Discounts of up to $1.50 for transit users who transfer between these municipal transit networks and the TTC using Presto. 
  • The province will replace lost revenue for the next three years, so the TTC does not need to raise fares to make up the revenue shortfall. 

This makes SmartTrack more affordable, but the Presto discount is not the same as full fare integration. Full fare integration would be to pay just one TTC fare to and from SmartTrack to GO or UP Express. If the Lawrence East GO/SmartTrack station is to replace the Lawrence East RT station or a subway station at Lawrence and McCowan, it shouldn’t cost more than one TTC fare to transfer from the 54 Lawrence East bus. 

 

Lawrence East GO/SmartTrack vs. SRT and Scarborough LRT 

The only advantage of the Lawrence East GO/SmartTrack station is that riders will not have to take buses during construction as they would with the Scarborough LRT.  But Scarborough LRT construction could begin at Sheppard Avenue East, allowing two new stations to be built before shutting the RT. Given the choice between riding on buses permanently after the RT is dismantled and riding on buses temporarily, most transit riders – knowing they would gain two new rapid transit stops – would likely put up with the inconvenience of LRT construction. 

 SmartTrack service frequency unresolved 

Below is the city’s estimate of SmartTrack service including Lawrence East: 

https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2018/ex/bgrd/backgroundfile-113940.pdf

 

But is this realistic? There are unresolved technical issues around eight- and five-minute service that neither the city nor Metrolinx is talking about: 

  • A modern signaling system is needed to run five-minute trains, but there is no mention of new signalling for SmartTrack. 
  • The GO/SmartTrack trains’ bi-level Electrical Multiple Units (EMUs) will make it difficult to provide five minute-service. It takes a long time for passengers to load and unload bi-level trains since they have fewer doors than subways or LRT cars, and some passengers will be descending from the upper deck.   
  • The GO/SmartTrack RER’s Stouffville track is also used for freight. Eight-minute SmartTrack service violates current freight train regulations, which require 15 minutes between trains.  
  • At Union Station, difficulty getting trains in and out and platform design creates a bottleneck. 

It is disturbing how little Metrolinx and the city have discussed or explained SmartTrack frequency. At the March 2018 public consultation meeting in Scarborough, Metrolinx officials announced that “local service would be every 15 minutes” – a far cry from  the city’s claim of eight- and five-minute service.  

Frequency is crucial to SmartTrack’s success, and should have been resolved soon after the U of T report showed five-minute service was required to make it viable. Instead, Council approved a funding and financial strategy before signing a service level agreement with Metrolinx, the operator of the trains. The city is now committed to spending $1.46 billion for SmartTrack.   

The GO/Lawrence East SmartTrack station will not rescue the $3.35+ billion, one-stop Scarborough subway boondoggle. And in prioritizing both of these lines for funding, much-needed east-west rapid transit lines like the Eglinton East LRT must compete with the Waterfront LRT and the relief subway line for scarce transit dollars. Meanwhile, the provincially defunded Sheppard East LRT from Don Mills to Morningside has all but disappeared from the city’s list of priority projects.  

Watch Jamaal Myers speak to the Executive Committee about going ahead with the Eglinton East LRT instead of the Scarborough subway here  

Scarborough needs a rapid transit network. Prioritizing the Scarborough, Eglinton East and Sheppard East LRTs would bring much-needed connectivity to our outer neighbourhoods. Toronto needs relief from overcrowding on the Bloor/Danforth line. But we shouldn’t have to sacrifice one for the other. If we allow Mayor Tory and his allies on council to chart the course on transit, we could forfeit both. 

Brenda Thompson

Does Mayor John Tory really want to build the Eglinton East LRT further into Scarborough?

On Tuesday, May 22, Toronto City Council voted to proceed with plans to extend the Eglinton East LRT, despite the fact there is no money to pay for it. An extended Eglinton East LRT network is consistent with our wish for a robust, reliable, well-functioning public transit network in Scarborough but there’s one problem — Mayor John Tory continues to spend all of the approved funding on the Scarborough subway.

The Eglinton East LRT extension to Malvern, formerly known as the Crosstown East LRT, formerly known as the Scarborough-Malvern LRT, has already been studied, planned and designed for the last decade. It would have been built many years ago, but for lack of political will to pay for the project.

On the other hand, Mayor Tory stubbornly continues to promise Scarborough residents a one-stop, $4B subway station to Scarborough Town Centre within the next ten years, when a seven-stop Scarborough Centre LRT would add more stations and leave money available to immediately construct and open the Eglinton East line to Malvern within the next five years.

It is time to cancel the near $4B Scarborough subway project, reinstate funding for the Scarborough Centre LRT, and use the remaining funds to pay for an extended Eglinton East LRT to Malvern. If Mayor Tory really wants to build the Eglinton East LRT, he should explain to Scarborough residents, Toronto taxpayers and TTC riders how he intends to pay for it.

Milan Gokhale

Transit is supposed to serve people. Which of these routes serves more priority neighbourhoods and people?

Mayor John Tory continues to promote the myth that he is building a subway for Scarborough, but it doesn’t appear that he has actually visited many neighbourhoods in Scarborough.

Transit riders in Scarborough know well that it is useless to build a subway station if almost no one can walk to the station. The network building potential for high value rapid transit, like LRTs and BRTs, is washed away from the agenda by a political dynamic that begins with the concerns of car drivers and ends with a hostility towards useful transit. By talking to transit riders, we know that good transit moves beyond fixing a single route. It involves thinking about how to spend $3B to benefit the most number of people.

These images tell the story best. Mayor Tory, who are you really building transit for?

 

Take Action to Save our Stations

Emailinfo@scarboroughtransitaction.ca to join us at the Executive Committee meeting April 17 at 9:30 a.m. – City Hall, 100 Queen Street West, Committee Room 1.

Ten reasons why Lawrence East SmartTrack/GO station will hurt Scarborough transit riders

  1. It removes rapid transit access. Four RT stations: Lawrence East, Ellesmere, Midland and McCowan will be eliminated and replaced with one SmartTrack/GO station at Lawrence and a one-stop subway to Scarborough Town Centre.

  2. You will pay more. TTC riders on the 54 Lawrence East bus will have to pay an extra GO fare  minus $1.50 to go south from the Lawrence East SmartTrack station to Kennedy or north to Agincourt.

  3. It will be hard to get to. Riders on the 54 Lawrence  bus will have to get off at the Lawrence East overpass and walk down several flights of stairs or take an elevator to get to the Lawrence SmartTrack/GO platform.

  4. You will wait longer. Instead of every four minutes riders will wait 15 minutes for “local service” via  SmartTrack.

  5. You will be on buses permanently. The Lawrence East RT station will remain open during construction of the SmartTrack station but once the Scarborough subway is complete, the SRT will be dismantled leaving more TTC riders on buses, forever.

  6. You will spend more time on buses. More than 16,700 existing riders use the four RT stations that will close.  They will have to take the bus, drive or walk to where they want to go.

  7. No more rapid transit from Lawrence East to Scarborough Town Centre – and no replacement bus service either. There is no plan to run a 54 Lawrence East bus to the new Triton (STC) bus station after the Scarborough RT is shut down. Riders will only be able to ride an express 54 Lawrence East bus to Kennedy Station.

  8. You will  wait ten years to replace the Scarborough RT with a one-stop subway and one SmartTrack station when we could be replacing the SRT with the seven-stop Scarborough LRT to Centennial College Progress and Sheppard Avenue East in five years.

  9. Our public money is being wasted. Why spend $3.7-billion for a one-stop subway and one SmartTrack station when we could replace the SRT with a seven-stop LRT for a lot less?

  10. Scarborough’s Priority Neighbourhoods are being ignored. With the money for the one-stop subway and the Lawrence East SmartTrack/GO station we could be building a 24-stop Scarborough and Eglinton East LRT, bringing a real rapid transit network to seven Priority Neighbourhoods.

Sign our petition for the seven-stop Scarborough LRT

Build the Eglinton East LRT now!

There is $3.56 billion for rapid transit in Scarborough. John Torys’ one-stop subway extension has already claimed most of this money and it would take 10 years before it was up and running. This leaves the Eglinton East LRT without funding and without a clear plan as to when it would be built.  It means most people in Scarborough would continue to be without access to rapid transit for years and years.

But the Eglinton East LRT could be built faster, less expensively and it would serve more people than the one-stop subway extension. So, we say “Build the EELRT now!” Eglinton East LRT to Sheppard East would have at least eighteen-stops, could be built publicly and could be operating by 2022.

Starting at Kennedy station, the Eglinton East LRT to Sheppard East would bring rapid transit to U of T Scarborough and Centennial College Morningside campus as well as six priority neighbourhoods in east Scarborough:

  • Kennedy Park
  • Eglinton East
  • Scarborough Village
  • West Hill
  • Highland Creek
  • Morningside

These neighbourhoods  have suffered from a rapid transit deficit for too long. A city report on the Eglinton East LRT shows these neighbourhoods have a higher than average transit usage but they can only access half  as many jobs as other transit riders in Toronto. We need to bring rapid transit to these neighbourhoods now:

The EELRT would create 1,900 new jobs within walking distance of the stations. And having the TTC  deliver, operate and maintain the line would also mean more stable good jobs for our youth, right here in Scarborough.

The EELRT would provide a quick, convenient connection to downtown and more than seventeen destinations in east Scarborough:

STOP LOCATIONS

  1. Kennedy subway
  2. Midland
  3. Falmouth
  4. Danforth
  5. McCowan
  6. Bellamy/Eglinton GO
  7. Lawrence
  8. Markham
  9. Eglinton/Kingston
  10. Scarborough Golf Club
  11. Guildwood
  12. Celeste
  13. Galloway
  14. Kingston/Morningside
  15. Beath
  16. Ellesmere
  17. U of T Scarborough
  18. Military Trail

If it were extended to Sheppard East it could connect with the  Sheppard East LRT providing a much needed connection to northeast Scarborough.

LRTs create greater opportunities for community renewal, redevelopment and walkability. Tell Mayor Tory and council we shouldn’t have to wait ten years for a one-stop subway. Build the Eglinton East LRT to Sheppard East now!

Build the Eglinton East LRT now!

  

Dear Mayor Tory and Toronto councillors,

**your signature**

   

Mayor Tory and Council don’t keep us in the dark about Scarborough subway costs

JohnReiti/CBC

Torontonians should know the costs of the Scarborough Subway Extension before casting a vote in the October 2018 municipal election.

  

Mayor Tory and Toronto Council

I am asking you to release the upcoming report on Scarborough subway costs before the October 2018 municipal election.

An update on the costs of the Scarborough Subway Extension is slated for September, and the public has a right to this information as soon as it is available. It is undemocratic to withhold it until January 2019.

Candidate's running in the October 2018 municipal election should be able to take a position on the Scarborough Subway Extension knowing the latest cost estimates and the public has a right to the latest information on costs before casting a vote.

Don't keep us in the dark about Scarborough subway costs.

Sincerely,

**your signature**

   


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How do we get the politics out of transit planning?

The politicization of subway planning in Toronto began in 2002 with the $10/ride subsidized Sheppard line to nowhere.  In 2006, then-Finance Minister Greg Sorbara, finagled a secret deal to extend the Spadina subway beyond York University to an industrial field in Vaughan.

Nothing has changed. The appetite for vote-buying vanity projects among politicians is stronger than ever: a prime example of this is that despite global notoriety for being a white elephant, the $3.35-billion, one-stop Bloor/Danforth extension to the Scarborough Town Centre is going forward.

Another example is the Lawrence East and Kirby SmartTrack stations. Last summer, Ben Spurr of the Toronto Star reported Transportation Minister Stephen Del Duca had pressured the Metrolinx board to approve both stations despite the fact that the original business-case analysis showed that they  should not be built. Metrolinx eventually released the business case report publicly and announced it would revisit its analysis.

Don’t hold your breath.

At the December 12, 2017 inaugural Metrolinx Town Hall, the agency’s new CEO Phil Verster gave the government carte blanche for interfering with its decisions, saying: “If an elected official makes a decision different to our [business-case-analysis] advice, that’s not a ‘wow’ moment, that’s democracy.”

If Mayor Tory has his way, construction of the Scarborough subway will begin without anyone knowing if it is  a wise use of public resources. Councillor Josh Matlow has presented Toronto council with multiple opportunities to find out. As it happens, “fiscally-responsible” members will do anything to avoid the facts when a multi-billion-dollar subway is at stake. They voted 13 – 27 against  Matlow’s December 6 city-council motion for a value-for-money analysis comparing the one-stop subway with the shovel-ready seven-stop Scarborough LRT.

Four years ago, a review of Metrolinx’s Big Move conducted by Neptis Foundation found that although the regional transit authority had committed to “issuing a Benefits Case Analysis (BCA) for every project” and using the analyses to prioritize new transit lines, neither Metrolinx nor the city were doing BCAs consistently.

The BCA for the $3.2-billion Spadina subway extension to Vaughan has never been released publicly and the BCA of the Scarborough Subway Extension will not be released until after the next municipal election in October 2018.

The public is growing tired of the lack of transparency and accountability in transit planning.

In 2013, Premier Wynne appointed Anne Golden chair of The Transit Investment Strategy Advisory Panel. The Panel’s report: Making the Move  found the public had: “low trust in transit decision-making” and that there was a need for “evidence-based and transparent” transit planning and to “depoliticize decision making.”

The Panel made many recommendations. Among them was Recommendation #18:

… all projects approved by Metrolinx and elected officials must have up-to-date, publicly-available, business case analyses that validate the investment, taking into account life-cycle capital, operating, maintenance, and financing costs.”

 The report emphasized the analyses should include operation and maintenance costs and their “relationship to fares and whether a new project would be a financial burden to the system or a source of additional revenue.”

Had Toronto Auditor General Beverly Romeo-Beehler included in her 2018 Work Plan STA’s request for a value-for-money analysis of the Scarborough subway, Panel Recommendation #18 would have been fulfilled. Her refusal to do so is telling. She also refused to do this as part of her report on our complaint regarding the summer-2016 TTC Briefing Note.

The Scarborough subway has become so politicized municipal accountability officers are reluctant to hold council itself and city administrators accountable for the quality of stewardship over public funds. Who then will ensure the facts are on hand when the final decision on whether to spend $3.35-billion, or more on a one-stop subway goes before council?

In 2017, Metrolinx produced A Metrolinx Comprehensive Business Case Framework for Evaluating Transit Projects. The new business case framework would provide evidence that a proposed project was a “good use of public funds.” It would include a section on “Context and Options” and demonstrate:

…that a sufficiently broad range of solutions has been considered and the options developed from this long list of solutions have been selected through a transparent and defensible process. These options are evaluated against a base case which considers a “business as usual” scenario. (Page 2)

A consistent framework for objectively assessing transit projects is a step in the right direction. So far city planning has avoided the “business as usual” scenario omitting crucial information that would assist council in making an informed decision.

Contrary to the Metrolinx framework, the initial business case for the one-stop Scarborough Subway does not include a comparison with the Scarborough RT, the line it is intended to replace. Instead, it is compared with the three-stop subway; a project that does not even exist.

An earlier business case conducted by Arup consultants for the city planning  was never released publicly. It only became available after Toronto Star reporter Jennifer Pagliaro obtained a heavily redacted copy through Freedom of Information. Find a more detailed explanation of what is missing in the Arup report here.

It is a similar situation for the Lawrence East SmartTrack station. Mayor Tory is touting it as a replacement for the Lawrence East RT station that will be eliminated with the build out of the Scarborough subway.  A proper evaluation would include a comparison with the Lawrence RT station. Instead GO RER, another incomplete project, is being used as the base case.  

We know that to justify a subway, ridership should be between 9,500 and 14,000 per hour and the projected ridership for the Scarborough subway is 7300, half of what was originally projected. We don’t know if the BCA slated for 2019, will show whether or not the Scarborough subway will be a financial burden on the rest of the TTC or a source of additional revenue. We are still waiting to find out which framework the planning department uses to conduct Business Case Analyses of new transit lines in Toronto.

The 2017 Metrolinx framework is subject to review and approval by the Metrolinx Board.  A Business Case Analysis and Benefits Management  memorandum was tabled at the December 7, 2017 Metrolinx Board meeting.  If adopted, it would also ensure BCAs were released publicly in a timely manner:

In every case, public transparency and accountability will be improved where these business cases are made public in advance of relevant Board decisions.

The original business case for the seven-stop LRT included a comparison with the Scarborough RT. The same should apply to the one-stop Scarborough subway and it should be released publicly, before the 2018 municipal election.

Brenda Thompson – December 13, 2017

 

 

We need a value for money analysis of the one-stop Scarborough Subway Extension now!

Brenda Thompson

Toronto’s Auditor General Beverly Romeo-Beehler presented her report on the TTC Briefing Note to the Audit Committee on Friday, October 27th. The note, distributed selectively, before a crucial council vote in 2016, showed the costs of the seven-stop Scarborough LRT would be almost as high as the $3.2 billion one-stop Scarborough Subway Extension.

The Toronto Auditor General (AG) concluded that the LRT cost estimate of $2.97 billion was within an acceptable range. But there is no explanation as to why a seven-stop LRT would cost almost twice as much as the proposed eighteen-stop Eglinton East LRT to U of T Scarborough, pegged at $1.56 – 1.67 billion.

However the AG did agree that if we were to go back to replacing the Scarborough RT with an LRT, construction could begin in 2018, not 2021 as stated in the TTC Briefing Note.

Unfortunately, the AG’s report took a very narrow focus when in fact the complaint submitted by Scarborough Transit Action and allies asked for a much broader investigation.

The complainants asked for a value-for-money analysis of the one-stop Scarborough Subway Extension.

The Scarborough subway was approved in 2013. It quickly received funding priority without a comparison with other transit projects in the city’s official plan. Millions have been spent on design and planning without any analysis to determine if it would be good value for money. We have no conclusive evidence that the $3+ billion we are poised to invest would actually result in an improvement over the existing SRT or even an LRT.

The AG has a mandate to assist ‘city council in holding itself and city administrators accountable for the quality of stewardship over public funds and for achievement of value for money in city operations.’

The AG report states a value for money analysis ‘may form part of a future audit’.

We need more than a maybe. We need a value for money analysis of the Scarborough Subway Extension now!

The AG’s 2018 Audit Work Plan will go to council on Wednesday December 6th

Read our letter asking Mayor Tory and Council for a value-for-money analysis here

 

Feb 2018 Update – Lawrence East SmartTrack will leave more transit riders on buses

 

Brenda Thompson

SmartTrack is really just Mayor Tory’s plan to piggyback onto GO Regional Express Rail’s all-day, two-way electrification plan by adding new stations in Toronto. SmartTrack, costing $1.3 billion, is supposed to have trains running every six to ten minutes during peak hours and every fifteen minutes off peak.

At first Tory wanted twenty-two stations but now there are just six. Two stations on the Stouffville GO line are in Scarborough: Finch and Lawrence East.

Metrolinx, the provincial agency that runs GO, withheld a study that compared Lawrence East SmartTrack station with existing GO service and gave it a “Low-Performing Ranking”.  The study also looked at charging TTC fares for GO service within Toronto, but this would not alleviate a net ridership loss on the Stouffville Line due to increased travel time the station would add, which would in turn result in increased automobile use.

When Metrolinx board members voted to ignore their own report and approve stations at Lawrence East and Kirby (northwest of the city, with similar dismal projections), Scarborough Transit Action complained to the Provincial Auditor General and requested an investigation.

 

SmartTrack public consultation

Despite a cloud of controversy over Metrolinx’s decision, Tory insists on the Lawrence East SmartTrack station to go with his one-stop subway replacement of the Scarborough RT. The city will produce a business case for it, but it is unlikely to compare the Smart Track plan with existing RT service or the aborted seven-stop Scarborough LRT. An honest comparison would demolish the business case for a Lawrence East SmartTrack station, as ridership is likely to be less than what the RT carries now.

At the public consultation at Scarborough Civic Centre on October 10, city staff claimed Lawrence East station will have enough riders and supported it. But the facts say otherwise. Peak service to downtown from Lawrence East would be only every six to ten minutes, whereas the RT currently runs every three to four minutes to downtown and the Scarborough Town Centre (STC).

Planned platforms at both Finch and Lawrence East stations will be shifted northward to minimize the impact on local residents, but this will extend walking distances by about 250 meters. Finch station buses will go under the GO train overpass, but Lawrence East buses will drop riders off at the Lawrence East overpass; riders will have to walk downstairs or take an elevator to get to the Smart Track/GO station.

Many attendees at the public consultation criticized the Lawrence East station plan. They asked why there is still no announcement of TTC-level fares for SmartTrack riders. Lawrence East ST only goes downtown; it doesn’t go to the STC or other parts of Scarborough like the RT. Walking from a bus stop in the middle of an overpass down to the station below is not very convenient. It should be like the Finch station – or better yet, go back to the plan to replace the Scarborough RT with a seven-stop LRT.

Tory promised that SmartTrack stations would be complete by 2020, but he also promised that the RT would continue to operate until the Scarborough subway extension is completed in 2026. According to Metrolinx, the RT would have to be shut down earlier and riders put on buses to accommodate construction of Lawrence East SmartTrack station.

After surveying riders at the Lawrence East SRT station, STA discovered that just over 85% of respondents are not aware that their station will close, to be replaced with a SmartTrack station. Furthermore, 50% of respondents indicated they are traveling elsewhere in Scarborough from that station; trips that Smart Track will do little to serve.

One good thing: SmartTrack station designs provide access for pedestrians, cyclists and transit riders while limiting parking. This is a step in the right direction. Cars are the problem and building large parking lots around SmartTrack/GO stations won’t help deal with climate change or traffic congestion. At the same time, the city needs to be reminded that more convenient and fast public transit to these stations is also required.

Preliminary station concept schematic – New SmartTrack Stations, Lawrence-Kennedy Station.

 

The Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP) will begin in mid 2018. As with the Scarborough Subway Extension TPAP, this assessment gives free reign to build just about anything, especially if it buys votes. The Minister of Environment and Climate Change is not required to consider concerns raised by the public during public consultations and the city is not required to show whether the project would improve existing transit service. There’s no onus  to prove sufficient ridership, shorter travel times, or more access to existing rapid transit network for under served neighbourhoods. The scope is limited to the natural environment, including climate change, cultural heritage or Aboriginal treaty rights.

Proposed changes to bus service on Lawrence Avenue East

Tory’s plan is to have a two-level bus terminal on Triton Avenue to accommodate the elimination of RT stations and the subsequent re-routing of buses to Scarborough Town Centre when the subway is completed in 2026. The existing thirteen TTC bus bays will increase to twenty-four. As yet, there is no plan to provide bus service from Lawrence to the STC.

Existing Lawrence East bus service:

  • 54A Lawrence East to Starspray Blvd (10 minutes or less, all day every day)
  • 54B Lawrence East to Orton Park
  • 54E Lawrence East to Starspray Blvd Express
  • 354 Lawrence East Blue Night Lawrence East to Starspray Blvd

http://www.ttc.ca/Routes/54/Eastbound.jsp

 

All these buses loop into the existing Lawrence East RT station, allowing riders to go north to the STC or south to Kennedy station.


Scarborough’s New/Old Transit Map  Steve Munro,  03/18/2017

With a one-stop subway, riders traveling west on Lawrence Avenue East will have to transfer to buses.  They must take the 43 Kennedy or the 21 Brimley  bus (during rush hour only) or wait twenty minutes for the 16 McCowan or the 9 Brimley to get to the STC. Service on the 43 Kennedy was cut in 2016 and is already crowded. The 154 Lawrence East  will go to the U of T Scarborough Campus, or the 154 and 254 Lawrence East Express will take them to Kennedy station. Chances are most riders going to Kennedy will stay on the bus all the way rather than get off at the overpass, walk down to the Lawrence East SmartTrack station, pay an additional GO fare (minus $1.50) and wait fifteen minutes to get downtown.

It’s bull-headed of Mayor Tory to push a one-stop subway and one SmartTrack station at Lawrence East as a viable alternative to eliminating five RT stations. The real alternative is to pay one TTC fare to ride the seven-stop Scarborough LRT to the STC – or all the way to Malvern.

Time to let Mayor Tory know the jig is up.

February 14, 2018 UPDATE:

Information obtained by Scarborough Transit Action through Freedom of Information indicated  issues between the city and Metrolinx around the construction of the Lawrence East SmartTrack station could mean the Scarborough RT might have to be shut down for a year and riders put on buses.

However, although a  Metrolinx review of the Lawrence East SmartTrack station approval  is not scheduled for release until March 2018, spokesperson Anne Marie Aikens  told CTV she was confident the Lawrence RT would remain in service during construction.

Read STA’s letter to Metrolinx regarding Lawrence East SmartTrack station here.

Register Metrolinx Town Hall: Monday, February 26 @ 6:00 p.m.

Metrolinx Board Meeting: Thursday, March 8 @ 10:45 a.m.

Send your comments to:

Mayor John Tory
mayor_tory@toronto.ca
416-397-2489

SmartTrack@toronto.ca
www.smarttrack.to

newstations@metrolinx.com
www.metrolinx.com/newstations

By Brenda Thompson