Metrolinx has released a business case study into four options for completing the link from Mount Dennis to Pearson and has outlined them in this report. The gist seems to be that there’s a weak case in terms of return on investment but that some options are better than others. Incidentally all options seem to be better than the business case for the Scarborough Subway!
Steve Munro is a Toronto blogger who knows more about transit than just about anyone in the city. He has examined the Metrolinx report and has commented on each of the options. Read that here.
Whatever happens, it will probably be another 10 years (and a couple of changes of government) before this project gets under way.
As time ticks away, 2021 and the opening of the Eglinton Crosstown Line is becoming closer to reality, Metrolinx has released this video of a test run of a new Bombardier-built LRT vehicle leaving the Eglinton Maintenance and Storage facility. The train is shown taking a short jaunt eastwards along Eglinton and across Black Creek Drive.
The short story: everybody is on board for a more prosperous, better-connected Mount Dennis. Alex Bozikovic wrote in the Globe:
Spread new growth across the neighbourhood. Focus on jobs and mix up jobs with some housing. Bring lots of people to live near transit. It sounds simple, but would require some changes to the city’s usual planning approach.
Interestingly, many locals are on board with this agenda. Mike Mattos, who heads the Mount Dennis Community Association, says the group largely welcomes the ULI proposals and, in places, development. “We need more people in the area,” he told me. “We don’t think the retail strip is going to survive with the current population. And we need more of the right kinds of jobs.” With all that, and some inventive policy, this could become a more prosperous place without becoming any less interesting.
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.
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
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’.
“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.
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.
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.
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.