Scarborough Subway Completed With No Tax Increases
Why shouldn’t Toronto buy the tunnel boring machines? The company is reported to be exiting business. Then just keep on boring continuously and build more and more kilometres of subways each year. Sell the air rights at all stations and design each one based on local initiatives. You can even build over part of the Allen Expressway. All incomes from these initiatives should be dedicated to subways. The cost of the Bloor-Danforth Subway extension to the Scarborough Town Centre and on to Sheppard can be completed for under $1.6 billion if tendered out and built by the private sector and based on subway costs in major world cities and by a local tunneling expert. With the $1.4 billion Provincial contribution and then by using subway related development fees and air rights' sales at subway stations for the balance the Scarborough Subway can be completed with no increases in property taxes and no revenue tools are required. Kennedy station’s revamp will not cost $400 million - these are bogus and unproven figures.
A major terminal with private sector condos and offices – the developments by the private sector would pay for the subway improvements which would be very exciting and rejuvenate the Kennedy and Eglinton Transit Hub (my Councillor turf that I promoted and for which the business community and I hired Winters and Associates to produce a Master Plan for this intersection as a major Transit Hub and had developers' support to invest heavily in it in the 1980's). Do the same at Warden Subway station which has two huge parking lots and is very ripe for development of office-residential-retail towers to feed the Bloor-Danforth Subway Line with new riders and provide needed funding for “Subway/City Building “initiatives. Now the costs in excess of Ontario Transportation Minister Glenn Murray's committed $1.4 billion funding are more than covered.
The next step is for the City of Toronto to change the Official Plan and Zoning Bylaws and fully develop Scarborough’s Downtown as it was originally intended as a fully City Centre and Transit Hub to enable the private sector to intensify the development of the properties between Kennedy Road to Markham Road and Ellesmere to the 401. This initiative will benefit the local homeowners and all Scarborough residents with new economic opportunities and jobs being provided as well as state of the art subway transit to combat gridlock. Then the Sheppard Subway should be completed to the extended Bloor-Danforth line to create a transit loop at the revitalized Scarborough Transit Hub. Traffic will now flow in two directions and not just to downtown.
The following report was put together by a team of very knowledgeable professionals and interested Scarborough residents who have taken the time to address the transit issues confronting the 650,000 residents of Scarborough who urgently need to be serviced by better transit and their reasons for choosing subways over LRT’s as a better and more affordable means of transit that will last into the next century.
A balanced and workable
new transportation plan
for the City of Toronto
1. Creation of a new Transit Hub around the Scarborough Town Centre with dense development referred to as ‘downtown Scarborough’
2. Extension of the Bloor-Danforth Subway north-eastward to the Scarborough Town Centre and then further east to the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus and eventually to the Toronto Zoo
3. Completion of the Sheppard Subway to connect to the extended Bloor-Danforth Subway at the Scarborough Town Centre
4. Funding for this project from a Private Finance Initiative ‘subway mortgage’ paid by this development
1. Traffic Gridlock – Highway 401, the Don Valley Parkway and major arterial roads such as Kingston Road and eat-west arterials across Scarborough are experiencing increasing traffic gridlock as development grows in the Greater Toronto Area. This proposal will create the rapid transit infrastructure in Scarborough to help to ease this situation.
2. Urban Development – Scarborough would cease to be just a suburb or a bedroom community for commuters heading to downtown Toronto. It would become an urban area in its own right with its downtown creating jobs for its people and reducing the need to commute long distances and therefore reducing traffic gridlock in an area which is currently heavily car-dependent.
3. Employment – this proposal will create new commercial development at the Scarborough Town Centre Transit Hub thus attracting businesses to locate there and create jobs in Scarborough again removing the need for many people to commute to downtown Toronto and other parts of the Greater Toronto Area.
4. Social Improvement – with more employment, social problems associated with unemployment including crime will be reduced.
The proposal calls for the creation of a new ‘downtown’ for Scarborough with construction of new tall condominium towers and increased density around the Scarborough Town Centre. Derelict industrial buildings along Progress Avenue west of the Scarborough Town Centre could be replaced with dense condominium towers for both residential and office space. This would create thousands of jobs in the Scarborough area and create a ‘downtown Scarborough’ which would provide the density to support subway extensions to serve it. Full subway extensions can be supported with the financial help of the developer investors in this project.
As it is nearing the end of its life, it is proposed to eliminate the Scarborough Rapid Transit line and to provide new transit service to the Scarborough Town Centre via an eastern extension of the Bloor-Danforth Subway line running eastward along Eglinton Avenue and then northeasterly along Danforth Road and McCowan Road to Scarborough Centre station. It is also proposed to construct a new further extension planned to the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus at Military Trail, which could ultimately extend to the Toronto Zoo.
It is also planned to complete the Sheppard Subway, as once proposed and approved, to Scarborough Centre station, thus making that station into a subway junction and making the Town Centre (now to be called the Scarborough City Centre) as a transit hub.
The Sheppard and Bloor-Danforth Subways would connect at the Scarborough City Centre, thus completing an ‘outer loop’ of subways to serve eastern Toronto. With an additional extension of the Sheppard Subway west to Downsview, the northwest and eastern suburbs of Toronto, and ultimately the Toronto Zoo, are satisfactorily connected by transit without having to go through downtown Toronto.
Road access would continue as it is now with Highway 401, but it is envisaged that Ellesmere Road, McCowan Road and Progress Avenue could be rebuilt into grand urban boulevards with landscaped medians and wide sidewalks.
Multi-storey parking garages (up to ten storeys) located around the shopping plaza which would replace the current open-air lots which would be developed. These have the advantage of adding more parking, up to 10,000 vehicles, as they are built upward and will provide indoor parking. The space needed for parking would be reduced. Out-of-town commuters could park there and take the subway to other parts of Toronto. All of Scarborough would benefit from this project with improved transit, new retail and employment opportunities and a new safe community to live in.
Construction of the existing Sheppard Subway between Yonge and Don Mills has brought about approximately $1 billion worth of new high-rise development along Sheppard Avenue East near Bayview Avenue. This ‘downtown Scarborough’ development could bring in 20 times that amount for a minimum of $20 billion worth of new residential and commercial development which would provide a permanent new property tax base of approximately an additional $500 million annually. This could provide a permanent fund for continuous subway construction indefinitely.
Estimated Subway Costs
The existing Sheppard Subway, opened in 2002 from Yonge to Don Mills, is 5.5 km in length and cost. $900 million to build which is approximately $170 million per km. Factoring in inflation, over 10 years, subways today would cost about $200 million per km.
A tunnelling expert has estimated that completion of the Sheppard Subway from Don Mills to Scarborough Centre (8.5 km) would cost approximately $1.9 billion; Bloor-Danforth Subway (Kennedy to Scarborough Centre – 6.5 km) would cost $1.3 billion; Bloor-Danforth Subway (Scarborough Centre to U of T Scarborough Campus – 6 km) would cost $1.2 billion, This would be a total of $4.4 billion for all three subway extensions. The annual $500 million of new property tax from the downtown Scarborough development would pay for these subway extensions within ten years. Subway construction should then continue on a permanent basis of 2 km of subway being constructed per year using this new revenue.
Funding for subway construction can be achieved through involving the private sector in a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) which would involve a consortium of private companies putting forward the financing for subway construction and retrieving dividends from operating costs over a period of at least 25 years. It is proposed that all of the tunnels be constructed at once and the stations added afterwards once air rights have been sold.
The PFI system is currently used in the United Kingdom for new subway construction in London and other infrastructure projects. It is a ‘subway mortgage’. While we create a ‘downtown Scarborough’ with intensified high-density development around the Scarborough Town Centre including high-rise commercial and residential buildings, we should dedicate the development fees and new property tax to transit construction.
Utilize Private Finance Initiative (PFI) ‘subway mortgages’ as it is done in Europe and Australia. Banks worldwide fund transit. In a PFI, banks provide all necessary funding up front which is paid back over 25 years at a low interest rate. Canada Pension Plan Investment Board has $150 billion available to invest.
Ontario Teachers Pension Fund Investment Board has another $117 billion to invest. Alternatively, $1 - $2 billion per year of $8 billion annual collection of gas tax in Ontario, to help pay off PFI subway mortgages.
Once subway tunnel construction has begun, sell the air rights over the proposed stations for development and dedicate new development fees and property taxes from this to the subway construction and maintenance. NO new taxes or tolls on existing roads or highways.
Loan Amount: $1 Billion Interest Rate: 2 – 3% Amortization: 25 Years.
Based on the above information, the monthly payments incurred will be $4.2 – 4.7 million per month or $50.4 – 56.4 million per year. These numbers are substantially more affordable to the taxpayers living within the GTHA and the loans will be paid for using tolls on new road proposals, proportionate revenue sharing from the $8 billion per year gas tax, and other cost saving measures by provincial and municipal governments. Dedicated funding for PFI-funded transit is available from major sources around the world. City Council just needs to open the tenders and the bids will come from many countries.
Subway vs. L.R.T. - 1985 ‘ Network 2011’ TTC Study
In 1985, a TTC study was done to determine whether rapid transit along Sheppard should be subway or LRT and full subway was recommended, resulting in construction of the first leg of the subway from Yonge to Don Mills being constructed by 2002. Here is an excerpt from that study:
As per the Network 2011 plan, full subway technology for use along the Sheppard alignment is recommended. The projected 2011 A.M. peak hour peak demand along Sheppard Avenue is 15,400 persons per hour. Four types of rapid transit technology were examined to serve the "demand in the corridor: Busway; LRT at grade, partially grade-separated, or fully grade-separated; elevated medium rail transit (MRT); and subway. The choice of technology is related to many factors including demand levels, annualized costs (capital plus operating), service, and social, environmental and land use impacts. Because of the right-of-way width restrictions for a busway or streetcar LRT in the median of Sheppard Avenue, by-pass lanes would not be possible and capacity would be 'limited to about 6,400 persons per hour per direction (pphpd). An LRT totally at-grade could theoretically carry 12,000 to 16,000 pphpd, however, the impacts on cross-traffic at such high frequencies would be unacceptable. Thus the only practical LRT would be the "partially grade-separated" option with a minimum of five grade separations assumed at major cross streets. A fully grade-separated LRT option and the elevated MRT technology were examined and, while both technologies could accommodate the forecast passenger demand, the total cost of these options (operating and capital) would be in the range of subway technology and both would have significant environmental, property and traffic impacts compared to the subway option. Therefore, these technologies were not considered appropriate for the Sheppard Avenue alignment. The partially grade separated LRT and the subway option were considered the only technologies that could reasonably be used in this corridor and they were compared in detail:
• Subways operate at approximately 38 kilometres per hour compared to the assumed 27 kilometres per hour for LRT, thereby providing significant travel time savings in the order of 40%.
• A subway has negligible effect on the road system after the initial construction period, while a partially grade-separated LRT system would have unacceptable impacts on the road capacity along Sheppard Avenue.
• Compared to subway, a partially grade-separated LRT would have significant impacts on abutting residential and commercial lands in terms of residential and commercial properties displaced and noise and vibration effects.
In summary, the subway option on Sheppard Avenue is superior to LRT based on total annualized costs, road system impacts, and social, environmental and land use impacts.
The Experience With St. Clair West
LRT is nothing more than a streetcar running down the centre of the street similar to what currently exists on Spadina Avenue and St. Clair Avenue West. It has an average speed of 17 km/h and stops and starts at traffic lights. It creates a barrier down the middle of the street cutting off access to businesses on the other side of the street and creating the need for traffic to make ‘U’ turns. The capacity of LRT is only 50,000 passengers per day and the rails have to be replaced every 30 years. LRT also has to deal with winter weather. In contrast, subways can achieve much higher speeds of more than 50 km/h, last for 100 years and carry up to 200,000 passengers per day (as much as the most congested parts of the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway carry). Subways do not interfere with traffic and are away from the affects of weather by being underground. Commuters will leave their cars for subway if adequate parking is provided at subway stations, while they will not for LRT since it is too slow. Existing streets would remain free-flowing for traffic, unlike with LRT where Sheppard Avenue would be divided. Additionally, Toronto Emergency Services, particularly fire and ambulance complained, about their response time being slowed by the obstruction of the streetcar right-of-way on St. Clair. In the first year of operation, there were six collisions on the route involving streetcars and automobiles making necessary ‘U’ turns. The experience with an LRT on Sheppard Avenue would be similar. The Scarborough RT is already a mini-subway, so it makes sense to convert it to full subway and get the extra ridership capacity.
Subways are considerably more expensive to build than LRT, but this cost is offset by the other benefits by lasting longer and having higher capacity which is available for long-term growth in population.
The new dedicated streetcar right-of-way along St. Clair West, which is what an LRT really is, has caused over 40 businesses along that street to close up or move away due to the barrier in the centre of the street cutting off access from the other side and the reduction in on-street parking. In contrast, the new Sheppard Subway has created nearly $5 billion in new condominium development along Sheppard Avenue near Bayview Avenue and new Leslie Street. This new development and new property tax base and the added capacity for future growth is well worth the extra cost of subway construction which can be easily paid for with a PFI ‘subway mortgage’ being paid off over 25 years with new property tax from the downtown Scarborough development.
Transit Projects Around The World
In European cities such as London and Paris, light rail transit is only built in low density outer lying areas of these cities which feed into an already-extensive subway system, which is also being extended. For example, the Croydon Tramlink in suburban London is an LRT system which has been built in the outer suburb London suburb of Croydon, a part of the city not served by the subway, and it feeds into the extensive London Underground subway system in the inner higher-density areas of the city. Also, this LRT system runs along railway lines with proper stations and does not run down the middle of streets. Therefore, it is faster and more efficient, like a mini commuter rail system. Additionally, London is constructing two new subways in its southeast, the Jubilee Line extension and the East London Line, both with the PFI system using subway mortgages from major UK banks.
In Paris, another 200 km of fully automated subway at a cost of subways $160 million/km is being planned. Metrolinx’s price for the replacement of the Scarborough RT with an LRT is $335 million. Toronto LRT would carry less than 1/5 the number passengers than the Paris subway would carry. Additionally, Barcelona, Spain is constructing subways for $95 million/km. Taipei, Taiwan has constructed 20 new subway lines in the last 10 years at a similar cost. Why is subway construction so much more expensive in Toronto than anywhere else in the world? This leaves the accuracy of the cost figures from Metrolinx in doubt, which may have been inflated to make LRT more attractive.
Calgary has an LRT system, but it, like Croydon, runs on railway lines, away from streets, or down the middle of grade-separated expressways, with proper stations with access bridges, like a mini commuter rail network. Calgary only has ¼ the population of Toronto, so the density is much lower and the needed capacity is far less.
Bloor-Danforth Subway Extension
The Bloor-Danforth subway should be extended eastward along Eglinton Avenue East, Danforth Road and McCowan Road, as approved. It would replace the Scarborough Rapid Transit line as the transit link to the Scarborough Town Centre. Instead of proceeding further north to Sheppard Avenue East, it would connect to the extended Sheppard Subway at the Scarborough Town Centre. The line should then continue east along Progress Avenue to Markham Road and then swing southeasterly to Ellesmere Road near Scarborough Golf Club Road and then continue east along Ellesmere Road to the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus at Military Trail just east of Morningside Avenue. Ultimately, it could be extended northward to the Toronto Zoo and eastward on the surface to the new Pickering Airport. The existing Scarborough Rapid Transit line would remain in operation until the new subway extension is completed, as it runs parallel, and would provide continuous and uninterrupted transit service.
The Scarborough RT technology, promoted by the Davis Government as part of the GO-Urban transit plan in the early 1970’s, is now at the end of its life and needs to be replaced. Its replacement with an eastern extension of the Bloor-Danforth Subway will remove the current need for passengers to change at Kennedy and will help to provide a subway loop in Scarborough connecting to the Scarborough Town Centre. With extensions of the Bloor-Danforth and Sheppard Subways, all of the major shopping centres across the City of Toronto will be connected by subway (Sherway Gardens, Yorkdale Plaza, Eaton Centre, Fairview Mall, Scarborough Town Centre).
The subway extension has the benefit of serving the new ‘downtown Scarborough’ and will keep people on rapid transit. The need to change at Kennedy Road from subway to LRT would mean a loss of 30% of travellers. A continuous subway would prevent this. A continuous journey would be available. It would also being commuters out to Scarborough to work at new jobs in the new downtown Scarborough, reversing some of the rush hour commute.
Sheppard Subway Extension
The Sheppard Subway should also be completed from Don Mills eastward to connect to the Bloor-Danforth Subway extension at the Scarborough Town Centre creating a transit hub in Scarborough. This would be funded by a similar PFI system. The former City of Scarborough in its response to Network 2011, requested Metropolitan Council to establish, as first priority, construction of the entire Sheppard subway line from an extended Spadina Subway to the Scarborough City Centre. The Sheppard subway is unusual in that it was the first “suburban” subway; the previous TTC lines had started from downtown Toronto. However, North York, especially around Yonge and Sheppard, has seen intense high-rise developments in recent years, giving it the nickname of the “new downtown” upon which other surrounding suburban areas were increasingly relying. The case for building the subway line was the existing TTC bus service could not handle the East commuter capacity; full buses drove right past waiting crowds at bus stops. Although some suggested that expanding Sheppard Avenue to allow for dedicated bus lanes would have been much cheaper than a subway, it would be difficult to acquire the necessary right-of-way as Sheppard Avenue ran though a built-up Willowdale community. The then-new Fairview Mall commuter parking garages at Don Mills were also intended to take the pressure off of the crowded Finch station.
Another reason was to alleviate the congested Highway 404–Don Valley Parkway (DVP) route; while Highway 404 was widened by the province in 1999–2007, similar plans to expand the DVP were not approved by city council, and this would result in an inevitable bottleneck. The intention was that downtown-bound drivers would exit Highway 404 at Sheppard Avenue, and take the subway to avoid this choke point.
When the Sheppard line opened in 2002, it was the city’s first new subway line in decades. It is shorter than originally planned, running from Yonge Street (at the former Sheppard station, now renamed Sheppard-Yonge) east to Don Mills Road rather than further west to Downsview station and southeast to Scarborough Centre station. The line would be extended only with additional government funding.
The Sheppard line cost just under $1 billion and took eight years to build. It is the first subway line in Canada whose plain tunnel sections were built entirely by tunnel-boring machine. All stations on the line are in cut-and-cover sections, and just east of Leslie station there is an enclosed bridge over the Don River (east branch). Additionally, the Sheppard line is the only subway line in Toronto not to have any open sections. Yonge Street had to be diverted for several years in order to accommodate the expansion of Sheppard Station; since the completion of the line, the temporary diversion of Yonge is two vacant lots.
Stations are built to eventually take the TTC's standard subway trains of six 23-metre (75 ft) cars, but part of each platform has been blocked off since only four-car trains are needed to carry the amount of traffic the line currently receives.
The line is designed so that it can be extended at both ends, allowing for the construction of the originally planned westward and eastward branches in the future. Extension is not currently a priority, however. The automated system to announce each stop was installed in January 2006. So far, the Sheppard Subway line has been derided as a “subway to nowhere” or a “stubway.” Apart from the Sheppard-Yonge and Don Mills terminals, its stations have received little use, even during rush hour. One significant but often overlooked problem is that the Sheppard line feeds into the already overcrowded Yonge segment of the Yonge–University–Spadina subway line, since the Sheppard line does not have its own train yard and does not continue west to the Spadina segment of the line. Completion of the Sheppard Subway line west to Downsview and east to meet an extended Bloor-Danforth line at the Scarborough Town Centre will alleviate these problems and will spur new growth along Sheppard Avenue East in Scarborough. The suburban subway is also criticized because most of the surrounding population is more affluent and more likely to drive. The Don Mills station at Fairview Mall has also sparked further controversy because the commuter lot requires a fee even if one holds a monthly Metropass transit pass; the parking charge was required in order to prevent the limited garage space from being overwhelmed (the regular mall parking is cordoned off until the shopping centre opens). To put this in perspective, the ridership on the Sheppard Subway is approximately 46,000 per average weekday, similar to a few of the TTC's busiest streetcar and bus routes, though these routes are generally much longer than Sheppard's 5.5 kilometre length. The line’s low ridership is due to its incomplete nature, ending at Don Mills. Ridership on this line would increase dramatically if it was completed to connect with the extended Bloor- Danforth line in Scarborough. Ridership could rise to over 100,000 per average weekday with transit hub in Scarborough.
The new subway, however, has spurred nearly $5 billion of construction of new housing, including several high-rise condominium towers, along its route. Particularly noteworthy are the condominiums around Bayview station, where none had previously existed prior to the 2000’s. In addition, between Leslie and Bessarion stations, a former Canadian Tire warehouse/distribution centre next to Highway 401 (the chain retains a store nearby) was demolished and the land was sold to Concord Adex Investments Limited of Vancouver. Plans are well underway to develop the large multi-condo complex, Concord Park Place, which includes a community park. Concord Adex is also responsible for the CityPlace condo mega-development.
The Daniels Building Company has built a six tower development called NY Towers, Arc Condominiums on the northeast corner of Bayview/Sheppard, and terraced condos just east of their NY Towers. Shane Baghai has also built a multi-tower development in the area. A much larger amount of construction with new property tax base would be available with the new ‘downtown Scarborough’ proposal which could be built in conjunction with the Danforth and Sheppard Subway extensions.
Infill on existing line: Willowdale – between Sheppard-Yonge and Bayview Eastern extension ("Sheppard East")
Victoria Park North
Agincourt – relocated GO Transit railway station
Progress – between Brimley Road and Midland Avenue
Scarborough Centre – existing station on the Scarborough RT
Transit Hubs Throughout The Greater Toronto Area
A network of ‘transit hubs’ could be created using the ‘downtown Scarborough’ model which would be connected by subways, highways and GO train service, spreading employment around the Toronto area and reducing commuting. Densely-developed hubs as new ‘downtowns’ can be created in Scarborough, North York, Etobicoke, Vaughan and Richmond Hill.
Suggested Next Steps for Toronto City Council
The steps which City of Toronto Council needs to take for this project are as follows:
Approve an Official Plan amendment to designate the transit hub around the Scarborough Town Centre for high-density residential and commercial development, including multi-storey parking garages near Scarborough Centre Station
Approve the zoning change to designate the development
Approve the extension of the Bloor-Danforth Subway to the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus replacing the Scarborough RT
Approve the completion of the Sheppard Subway to the Scarborough Town Centre
Set up public consultation meetings to discuss this proposal with the public and interested businesses.
With cooperation of the Provincial Government, create a Private Finance. Initiative inviting companies to bid on funding for the ‘subway mortgage’ to construct the subway tunnels
Once tunnelling has begun, sell the air rights above the proposed stations for development above to pay for construction of the stations
Designate funds from the new property tax from the transit hub development to pay off the PFI ‘subway mortgage’
‘Network 2011’ TTC report 1986 on Subway or LRT for Sheppard
Boro Lukovic – engineer and tunnelling expert on current subway tunnelling costs
UK Department of Transport for PFI details
London Transport reports - Jubilee Line Extension, East London Line, Croydon Tramlink
Globe and Mail article, July 1, 2013 on Paris subway extensions
Aneki Nissan, mortgage broker on subway mortgage details
Alan Fenton report on St. Clair West streetcar right-of-way
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