First LRT arrives at Crosstown Storage Facility

As 2021 draws near, the components of the Eglinton Crosstown Line are falling into place. CBC has a video of the train actually on a track (in Kingston last year).

The train will no doubt be a feature of the storage facility’s upcoming open house (part of the Doors Open event) on Saturday May 25.

From the Doors Open Site:

Building Description

For the first time ever, public are invited to take a peek behind the doors of the Eglinton Maintenance and Storage Facility (EMSF). It houses the Crosstown Light Rail Vehicles (LRVs) where they are inspected, cleaned and maintained. Construction on the facility began in 2016, and was completed in October 2018. Light rail vehicles began to arrive in January 2019. The facility will initially be home to 76 light rail vehicles, with capacity to store 135 as service levels increase to meet future demand. The main building is built to LEED Silver certification, and includes high energy and water efficiency, green roofs, solar reflective paving, and vehicle charging stations for electric vehicles.

 

Visitor Experience

Join Eglinton Maintenance and Storage Facility on Saturday, May 25th for Doors Open, presented by Metrolinx and Crosslinx Transit Solutions. Come by for a tour of this world class facility, step into a brand new light rail vehicle and check out the evolution of the Crosstown project through an interactive display! UrbanArts has partnered with Crosslinx Transit Solutions to provide interactive programming and entertainment in the main parking lot of the facility. There will be free children’s activities, live music and refreshments for purchase.

 

Photography / Filming

Interior photography permitted, without tripod
Interior filming permitted, without tripod

 

Accessibility Notes

Some uneven ground due to rails.

 

Date: Saturday May 25. 10:00 am – 5:00 pm.

Address: 85 Industry St., Toronto ON, M6M 4L5

Subways, Subways, Subways!

Here in Greater Weston™, a whole other set of politicians cater to our needs. Our MPP on this side of the river (Etobicoke Centre) is Kinga Surma . In her latest flyer, she announces, ‘The government is tunnelling the Eglinton Crosstown’.

She continues,

“Since I have been the MPP for Etobicoke Centre, I made a commitment to all of you that I would fight to tunnel the Eglinton Crosstown to the airport. Since last June, I met with the Premier, the Minister of Transportation and Metrolinx to emphasize the importance of providing Etobicoke residents with fast, reliable public transit; one that did not add to the congestion on Eglinton. We worked together for months to plan and budget a regional transportation system; something the residents of Etobicoke, Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area have been waiting for.

We are tunnelling the Eglinton Crosstown and we are building subways!

I will always fight for the people of Etobicoke Centre.

I want to thank you for your support throughout this process.”

Although Premier Ford has made it clear that tunnelling the westward extension of the Eglinton Crosstown is his preferred option, I can’t recall a government announcement that such a decision has been made.

If this is a done deal, there’s going to be a whole lot of money and time needed – plus some razzle dazzle from the Premier himself. Oh and perhaps the slight formality of an updated environmental assessment, further community consultation and finding the ‘efficiencies’ that will finance this endeavour.

Lastly, if Doug Ford doesn’t win the next Ontario general election in 2022, will appeasing Tory voters along the Eglinton corridor be on the next government’s priority list? It’s doubtful, so let’s not get too excited.

Sadly, transit decisions in this city and province are still made through election campaign napkin planning.

Wasted work on Eglinton West?

The PCs want to take over responsibility for the unbuilt Eglinton West LRT, which would start in Mount Dennis and extend to the airport, and they tabled a bill this week that would make Metrolinx the only agency that could build it.

Metrolinx, of course, is the provincial agency that overbuilt and underconsulted on the UPX line in Weston and Mount Dennis.  Whilt the bill didn’t say so, uploading responsibility to the province is probably the first step toward burying the Eglinton West LRT.

Last week, the city asked the province to explain some very basic things, like where the stations might be, how much it would cost, and why they think it’s a good idea. This week, however, Doug Ford said

What an insult you just gave to all the bright minds at Infrastructure Ontario—some of the smartest people in the world—saying ‘back-of-the-napkin.’ They came up with the plan.

Toronto city planners were  given some of the 11-months of work that’s already done on the above-ground LRT—much of which would be wasted if Doug Ford’s plan to bury the line goes ahead.

Image from the city, via Urban Toronto.The proposed trains would run down a median along Eglinton, stopping at heated stations. Two lanes of automotive traffic would still be possible, due to the width of Eglinton in Etobicoke.

The city has some questions for Doug Ford

I’m no trainspotter, but I’ve lived Toronto for long enough to know that the perfect has long been the enemy of good transit—buses get replaced by imaginary subways, replaced in turn by very real budgets, which force the piecemeal return to buses, and LRTs almost never get built.

So when the Ford Conservative government said that they had some really great plans for the Eglinton LRT, I sighed. Ford wants to put the proposed western section of the LRT underground instead of in dedicated lanes—at (at least) twice the price. His plan would also, not coincidentally, bring a subway to Etobicoke, his old stomping grounds.

Eglinton West map
From Metrolinx

The city has some questions about this ‘plan’, and quite a few of them concern Mount Denizens. But oddly, the questions actually aren’t that interesting. They are very basic. That they have to be asked is interesting.

The city wants to know—I kid you not— “How many stations are proposed and where”?  They would mind finding out a few other pretty fundamental things, like:

  • Will the service levels and fare be comparable to the Eglinton Crosstown LRT?
    • i.e. How much is this going to cost?
  • Has the design taken into account necessary facilities for passenger transfers to and from TTC buses and streetcars?
    • i.e. Have you planned stations at all? At all?
  • Metrolinx has previously recommended an at-grade LRT for the Eglinton West LRT; what new information has Metrolinx considered that supports a tunneled option?
    • i.e. Why are you doing this?

I’m going to take the PCs at their word and believe they actually do want to build transit and not just stall it by proposing money holes they know can never be filled in.

If the PCs were being cynical, I’d be in some ways be happier, though. Cynical plans are still plans–but the PCs don’t seem to have one at all.

It’s  depressing that the Ford administration thinks its napkin sketches are better than maps and blueprints drawn by experts in consultation with communities.

It will takes years for the mess to be sorted out. Again. In the meantime, we’ll still have buses.

Ford drives the gravy train

Doug Ford’s government has announced plans to mess with transit in Toronto. Again.

This time, instead of as well as messing up the Scarborough subway, they’re going to mess up the Eglinton West LRT in Mount Dennis.

In a letter to the city, the province said they would like to bury the Eglinton West Extension, which will go from Mount Dennis to the airport. They also say that this had never been considered before.

This, of course, is nonsense. It’s astonishing nonsense. It’s mental. It boggles my mind to think that:

  1. The province thinks they have a great idea—bury the trains—that nobody has thought of before.
  2. They couldn’t be bothered to google to see that it’s a terrible idea—and had already been considered.

In a subsequent letter, the province said so. (They did not explain, however, how a part-time blogger knew more about transit planning than the Ministry of Transportation.)

Where this leaves us with respect to transit planning is anyone’s guess. But the Globe has a few choice things to say about the letters:

They reveal a provincial blueprint that will result in less new transit, built more slowly and more expensively.

What’s more, they suggest a provincial scheme so ill-considered it could have been developed between courses of a boozy lunch, and so thin it could fit on the back of a cocktail napkin.

What does the province want? Basically, to rip up years of Toronto Transit Commission planning and restart at zero.

 

GO expanding to Woodbine racetrack

The Kitchener GO line will soon have a new stop at the Woodbine racetrack. The stop will be paid for by the owners of Woodbine, and it will replace the Etobicoke North station.

Metrolinx has said that the UP Express eventually may stop at Woodbine station, though no plans were announced this week. This would be great for Weston; the more that commuters use the line, the less likely we are to lose our stop–and that’s a concern because the train will stop at the new Mount Dennis transit hub.

 

 

GO expansion could lead to huge changes

In November, Metrolinx published its plans for improving rail service in the GTA. If they were to go ahead, they would revolutionize train travel in the GTA and greatly change commutes in Weston.

By 2031, if the plans are implemented (that’s a big ‘if’) GO service in Weston will be:

  • Electrified
  • Every 10 minutes
  • Faster, with a 13-minute trip between Weston and Union
  • Less expensive, because it will use electric trains much of the time
  • More accessible, with station improvements.

The plan would also improve Union Station, allowing the UP Express to run four-car trains, and GO to double train capacity.

The GO Expansion Business Case does not say what will happen to the UP Express in Weston. It seems likely, however, that it would be axed. The UPX will also be stopping in Mount Dennis and Bloor, slowing the train en route to the airport.

But improved GO service, would, in some ways, make the GO train even better than the UP Express. It would be as fast, but more frequent in the rush hour. The trains would be larger, and riders may have a better chance of getting a seat. The locomotives would also be electric, instead of diesel, allaying concerns about pollution and noise.

On the downside, it is not clear how long the trains would run every day. I love that the UPX runs late and early. Nor are GO trains as fancy as the UPX, and we’d have to bring your own in-ride magazines. (Has anybody seen an On The UP lately?)

Service would be improved between Union and Bramalea on the Kitchener Line

Metrolinx forecasts that GO ridership in Weston would nearly double, as it would system-wide. Perhaps optimistically, they also say that the increased ridership would pay for the system expansion. Your correspondent has his doubts.

These are the same people who built the UP Express, which was supposed to be a  premium-fare, deluxo trip to the airport for the world-weary traveller willing to pay $29 one-way. It got rolling at exactly the same time as Uber, and ridership was dismal until the province forced Metrolinx to slash fares and let the proles ride. The UPX still loses about $20 million (by my conservative calculation) every year—about $6 for every rider.