Transit Planning Inquiry

Josephine Archbold
10th floor, West Tower, City Hall
100 Queen Street West
Toronto, ON M5H 2N2

By email to: ac.ot1716199780norot1716199780@cxe1716199780

RE: EX 34.32: Transit Planning Inquiry

Dear Mayor Tory and Members, Executive Committee:

We are writing to express our support for an updated inquiry into Toronto’s planning of major transit infrastructure projects.

We do not take a position on the manner by which such an inquiry is undertaken. How Toronto’s current transit investment plans are reviewed is a matter for City Council to decide. Nor do we wish to spend time debating how past decisions have been made. Our concern is with the present, and with what the future will bring. There is an urgent need for a review of transit investment priorities and for related development planning.

Our concern is simple: Transit capacity in Toronto’s central and midtown area — the corridor served by the Yonge Street subway— is already now overwhelmed in rush hours and at capacity even in off-peak daytime hours. It is often not possible in the morning rush-hour to board trains downtown from Eglinton or from stations south of Eglinton down to Bloor.

With the flood of development applications currently in process or under review at the OMB (under the old pre-Bill 139 rules), the congestion at stations on the Yonge St subway will become dangerously critical. There is a huge mismatch between transit capacity, other infrastructure, and planned development in the Yonge Street corridor. The table below details the facts as we know them. In summary, development projects currently under review that are known to us will add the following:

 WardsNew UnitsNew PeopleRidership
Yonge-Eglinton16, 22, 2521,20035,5007,900
Don Mills/Leaside34, 2613,00023,7004,400
North York23, 24, 3311,60021,0002,400
TOTAL 45,80080,20014,700

These are just the known projects in the above areas now under review. They do not include the effects of other applications along the Eglinton LRT, in the Yonge Street subway corridor north of Bloor, or north of Steeles. Nor do they include developments at or south of Bloor.

The added rush-hour ridership resulting from these projects will put the Yonge subway in crisis. Even with the additional capacity that will result in 2020 from signaling improvements, the Yonge subway ridership will be significantly above capacity from Eglinton to College.

The attached charts make the scale of the problem clear. Right now (2016 data), the Yonge subway is operating above the high end of in-service capacity at Yonge/Bloor and Wellesley. It is at or above the so-called “low in-service capacity” from Eglinton down to Bloor. It is worth noting that this “low in-service capacity” is what goes along with having to wait while several trains go by in order to be able to get on a subway train in the morning rush-hour at or south of Eglinton.

The signaling improvements now being installed will increase the “high” capacity level from its current 28,000 riders an hour to 33,000 riders an hour, effective in 2020. Until recently, this was assumed sufficient to handle expected ridership growth to 2031, when pressure at the Yonge/ Bloor station would be relieved by the south portion of the Downtown Relief Line.

The flood of development applications now at the OMB (to be processed under the old developer-friendly rules) explodes this recent assumption. By 2023, it is likely that ridership will be at or above the “high in-service capacity” of 33,000 riders an hour from Egllinton all the way down to Dundas. By 2028, it is likely that ridership at or south of Eglinton will be 20 percent or more above this “high in-service capacity” north of Bloor, and a frightening 36 percent above at Bloor/Yonge.

It is important to realise the differential effect on commuters of the AM and PM peak hours. While AM peak-hour riders are able to get on the trains at northern stations, in the PM peak hours everyone will face the same issue. This makes the issue a problem for all residents of the Yonge corridor, not just for those between Eglinton and Bloor.

The Yonge subway corridor is nearing a crisis. And City Council must face up to this.

Either the Relief Line investment must be accelerated —and rapidly extended north of Bloor— or the City and the Province must face up to the fact that the existing transit infrastructure is insufficient to meet the pressures imposed by planned development. Either transit must be quickly built, or new development curtailed.

Either way, there is an urgent need for a new appraisal of transit planning in Toronto. We urge City Council to request an updated report from City Planning on the full implications for transit demand in the Yonge corridor of developments now under review, as well as of further development that may be expected in implementing the Provincial Growth Plan for the GTHA.

Respectfully submitted,

Geoff Kettel
Co-Chair, FoNTRA

Cathie Macdonald
Co-Chair, FoNTRA

cc: Other members of Council
Gregg Lintern, Chief Planner
James Perttula, Director, Transit and Transportation Planning

Note: Vertical dimension compressed in order to fit ridership data in chart.

Data sources for tables and charts:

  • Number of units: Summaries provided in Bousfield Inc. planning reports, augmented by subsequent data in City application register
  • Population per unit: City of Toronto parameters for sewer and water main requirements Additional subway ridership to downtown (per person by ward), AM peak ratios: 2011 Transportation for Tomorrow survey data
  • Allocation of additional ridership between 2023 and 2028: arbitrary estimate of speed of development
  • 2016 ridership increments at Yonge subway stations: TTC
  • Yonge-Eglinton 2023 ridership includes arbitrary 1,000 addition from Eglinton LRT Detailed data and calculations available on request.