Toronto Ontario Line 3 | ?m | ?s


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Apr 22, 2007
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To join the Downtown Relief Line Facebook advocacy group:
To wit:

The Metrolinx Transit green paper is online

It does mention an E-W downtown subway. Comments are, as always, invited.
I'm considering starting a Downtown Relief Line Facebook group. I know it's only Facebook, but anything to generate some discussion about such a line in this city can only be a good thing. I'm sure many GTA'ers have no idea that we almost got another crosstown subway line 20 years ago. Basically, I'm tired of something so obvious not being on any agenda. Not that this will get it on the agenda, but it's probably a start (especially with Toronto's Facebook numbers).

If the group attained a few thousand members, I'd then send some stuff to local politicians and media and hopefully get some discussion going.

I'd only want to do this though if I could get some of you to help (particularly unimaginative) and put together a decent looking page that might have a hope in hell of getting noticed. Of course, there'd be links to Urban Toronto too as I wouldn't want too much discussion about the DRL to leave this forum either.

I'd need some possible route maps (TTC style) for starters.

Anyone game?

I don't mind putting it together using varioius maps people have used on this forum (and hopefully some new ones) and by taking some quotes from your Transit Toronto article (if that's cool). Of course it would be fully referenced and linked. Regardless, I'll make you and a few others on here Admins.
Okay cool. I actually have a rather better, more detailed, and more attributed article on the thing than my Transit Toronto one.
Unimaginative2 and allabootmatt, please check your Facebooks as you've been invited to the group. I've created a bare-bones page and will make you both Admins as soon as you approve the request. Being admins, you'll be able to add content as you see fit.

Let's not invite people to the group or advertise it at all until we get some decent content and maps up. Once we have an appropriate looking page, we'll start getting people to join.

If anyone else on here wants to help put this group page together, please speak up!

Pro-DRL arguments would be welcomed again too (even though we have many already in various threads).
I'd like to see a DRL website to help profile the concept to people who are not on Facebook. Consider some spin as well... I'd suggest perhaps renaming the proposal something like "Six Boroughs Line" (bringing faster travel times to all six boroughs).

I'd be willing to spend time on such a campaign, I just don't have the financial means these days to do so.
If we get good numbers (and interest) via Facebook, then I think a proper website would be the next logical step. Facebook is free though (and very popular in these parts) so it just seems like a good "first step."

WRT to the name...DRL isn't perfect by any means, but it already has a bit of "cachet" in urban circles and Toronto doesn't really have "boroughs" anyway. I'll leave it as it is for now, but I'm quite open to a name-change at some point.
I wrote a quick blurp about who we are and what we hope to gain. Feel free to criticize or suggest amendments...

We are an advocacy group started by members of the Urban Toronto Forum ( who hope to put the Downtown Relief Line back on Greater Toronto's transportation agenda.

We fail to understand why a relatively cheap subway line that offers so much "bang for the buck" and would improve transit in all of Toronto's pre-amalgamated cities (plus the inner-905) is being ignored by the powers that be at City Hall.

We aren't against Transit City, but feel it is too much of a "one size fits all" plan that doesn't help to address overcrowding on existing subway lines (and in fact could contribute to more of it). Moreover, it leaves a huge void called "downtown Toronto" that has been suffering for a generation of unreliable east-west travel through the core.

We therefore advocate that the Downtown Relief Line be returned to the agenda in an effort to:

1. Provide reliable east-west downtown transit south of Bloor, which is currently unreliable due to streetcars and buses having to operate in mixed-traffic
2. Relieve crowding on both the Y-U-S and the B-D subway lines (particularly at Yonge-Bloor Station)
3. Better serve emerging and rapidly growing downtown neighbourhoods (Liberty Village, City Place, St. Lawrence, Portlands, etc.)
4. Allow the TTC's subway system to better handle suburban extensions as the "relief" provided to existing lines will allow them to be expanded further.

We are of the belief that if the Downtown Relief Line were on the City's agenda, it would have been funded in MoveOntario2020. However, with Metrolinx looking at the big picture and with TransitCity still in a conceptual phase, we don't think it's too late to get the Downtown Relief Line back on Toronto's transportation agenda.

Ideally, I'd like about 10 pro-points, so please list any you may have here!
The text of allabootmatt's letter is found in the "Pitching DRL to the Mayor. Seriously" thread, found here:

Here's the letter:

To: Mayor David Miller
From: Matthew Campbell
CC: Councillors Pam McConnell, Kyle Rae, Paula Fletcher, Case Ootes, John Parker, Shelley Carroll, Denzil Minnan-Wong, Gord Perks, Frank Di Giorgio, Frances Nunziata, Girogio Mammoliti, Rob Ford, Adam Giambrone, Adam Vaughan, Joe Pantalone, Cesar Palacio. Suzan Hall.
Re: ‘Relief Line’ Subway Proposal

Introduction: Many transit-watchers in Toronto have been consistently surprised that, in considering new subway route alignments, the TTC and Toronto City Council have habitually ignored the potential of extant railway corridors that traverse the city in favour of expensive, tunneled suburban projects such as the York/Vaughan and Sheppard subways. Focusing subway expansion on such rail corridors, and related routes, could utterly transform the shape of rail transit in the city with a significantly greater return on investment than that of presently-planned extensions. A project similar to that outlined below was approved by the TTC in the 1980s as the ‘Downtown Relief Line’ scheme, but has since disappeared from all discussions of transit planning; it was not even considered in the Commission’s 2001 Rapid Transit Expansion Study. This was a grave error, and the concept deserves serious and urgent consideration.

The Concept: Essentially the Relief Line concept involves using existing surface railway corridors to add subway services heading Northeast and Northwest from Union Station, using the Toronto Terminals Railway (TTR) mainline alignment in the Downtown area and the Kingston rail subdivision to the West. These rail corridors, both of which are wide enough to accommodate added tracks for subway services, pass directly through the following areas of the city, many of them targeted for intensive redevelopment:

1. The Rogers Centre/Cityplace zone, currently undergoing redevelopment which will add tens of thousands of new residents.
2. The Exhibition/Liberty zone, similarly undergoing intensive redevelopment.
3. The Parkdale zone, which is rapidly densifying.
4. Dundas West subway, already a connection point with GO Transit.
5. The Junction zone, a revitalized residential area undergoing significant development.
6. The Weston zone, a populous area tremendously underserved by transit.
7. The Rexdale zone, one of the city’s most deprived and dense areas and similarly underserved by transit
8. The Airport zone, as the Weston sub passes within about 2 kilometers of Pearson International, which is why it is the planned alignment for the stalled Blue22 service.
1. The St. Lawrence zone, an obviously popular area.
2. The Distillery/East Bayfront zone, an area targeted for massive redevelopment under waterfront revitalization plans.
3. The West Donlands/Portlands zone, similarly targeted for redevelopment.

Beyond the Don River, the existing Kingston railway sub is too narrow to accommodate TTC tracks. However, the TTC’s initial Downtown Relief Line plan envisioned cut-and-cover tunnels and surface alignments from the Don toward the Northeast, crossing the Danforth at Pape and continuing into the former borough of East York and beyond roughly parallel to Don Mills Road. Such an alignment today would allow service to the Flemingdon and Thorncliffe Park areas as well as eventual interchange with the Sheppard Line.

Advantages: A subway along the alignments discussed above has several enormous advantages over any currently planned project.
1. Cost and return on investment: For much of the proposed route, the cost of this plan would be extremely small relative to potential, and to proposals like the $1.5Bn York/Vaughan extension. Within the TTR and Weston railways, the only cost to the TTC would be the laying of track, basic stations, and rolling stock, since the land for the alignment already exists and no tunneling would be required. East of the Don, cut-and-cover rather than bored-tunnel construction could allow a major extension at relatively low cost; Vancouver’s 19-kilometer Canada Line is being constructed cut-and-cover for about $2Bn.
2. Creative Financing Opportunities: Since so many points on the proposed alignment are targeted for substantial redevelopment, there would exist enormous potential for tax-increment financing against projected increases in property-tax revenues.
3. Rail service to some of the city’s densest unserved areas (see map): The alignment would bring true rapid-transit to the densest parts of the city, both Downtown and in the Northeast and Northwest, which currently lack it. Streetcar services in much of the central city appear to be inadequate to cope with population growth (as in the Liberty area, for example) while areas like Rexdale, Flemingdon Park, and Thorncliffe Park, some of the densest in the city, presently have no rail transit whatsoever.
4. Relief of pressure on Yonge and Bloor-Danforth Lines: By providing an alternate route to Union Station and other Downtown areas from the Northeast and Northwest, the proposal would relieve significant pressure on both main subway lines as well as the Yonge-Bloor interchange, which would make possible a number or other TTC goals which are currently impractical, including a Yonge extension to Steeles and beyond or a new North-South line at the top of the city.
5. Meaningful, accessible service to Pearson Airport: Unlike the indefinitely stalled Blue22 proposal, a TTC service along the Weston rail alignment would bring true rapid transit to the airport, accessible for the price of a TTC fare and with intermediate stops for trips not beginning or ending at Union. Additionally an express service, perhaps stopping only at Dundas West (like Blue22) would be possible if additional track space could be obtained.
6. Service to the ‘905’: Both the Eastern and Western portions of this concept could be extended well into the 905 suburbs at relatively little cost, especially at the Western end. This would be accomplished without added stress on the Yonge line, since both would provide a one-seat ride to Downtown Toronto.
7. Rail service along the Don Mills corridor: This transect is currently the subject of an Environmental Assessment for light-rail transit, as it contains some of the city’s busiest bus routes and major employment nodes. True rapid transit would serve the area much more effectively.
8. Relief and rationalization of streetcar service: All four of the main East-West streetcar lines (King, Queen, Dundas, and College) are overloaded at peak times, and none operates on a street consistently wide enough for exclusive transit rights-of-way, making significant improvements in speed, reliability and capacity unlikely. The proposed alignment would allow the streetcar lines to operate as they do best, in serving local and short-distance traffic, while shifting longer commuter trips, especially to the city centre, to the higher-capacity subways.

Conclusion: Revisiting some form of the long-forgotten Relief Line plan makes excellent sense in a context of limited resources for subway expansion. The emphasis of transit planning in Toronto must be on value for money. The TTC and City Council would be seriously remiss, given this fact, in failing to consider a plan which would deliver city-wide advantages several times greater than those of any currently proposed subway expansion at relatively low cost. It is not an overstatement of suggest that implementation of the plan described here would utterly transform Toronto’s rapid-transit system from its present skeletal form into a true, interconnected network. As such it deserves immediate further study and priority over other planned rapid-transit expansions. Toronto’s present lack of an overarching, ambitious vision for the future of transit is generally blamed on lack of funds; but the project proposed here offers visionary potential at an affordable price.