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TTC: Sheppard Subway Extension (Proposed)

Rainforest

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Extend the Finch LRT eastwards to Yonge, have it turn down Yonge and run at-grade to stimulate pedestrianization of the corridor, and then enter a tunnel portal near Sheppard and turn left to continue east through the Line 4 tunnel (now converted either with catenary for existing vehicles or new bi-mode catenary/third rail LRVs) until a portal near Victoria Park to bring it back to at-grade street operation until STC. Would pass Agincourt Mall which is slated for a big redevelopment, Agincourt GO which will be on the RER network, and obviously STC which is a growing city hub as well.

A number of problems with that:

1) That stretch of Yonge is already full of pedestrians (maybe less so these days due to covid, but in pre-covid times, lots of pedestrian activity). Moreover, it has many highrises facing Yonge. Their numerous residents will protest loudly if you try to rip their street for several years in order to install LRT tracks. They don't need LRT, they have 3 subway stations 1 km apart.

2) Even if the LRT tracks get to Sheppard, how will you thread them into the tunnel? A portal in the middle of Yonge would hit the middle of the existing Sheppard Line platforms. You would have to rebuild much of the existing underground structure to make the things align.

Those two problems can be overcome if you run the LRT down Beecroft instead of down Yonge. The Beecroft & Finch corner is close enough to the Finch station so that the riders can transfer there if they wish, and a portal at Beecroft & Sheppard hits the Sheppard tail tracks but is clear of the station box.

But other problems remain:

3) Finch LRT is low-floor, and that's as incompatible as it gets with the Sheppard Line's high-floor platforms. The Sheppard conversion will be very expensive.

4) The resulting Finch West / Sheppard East crosstown route, running mostly on surface, won't be that much faster than local bus routes. Useful for some trips, but the riders will not go from, say, Sheppard West up to Finch, or from Finch East down to Sheppard, in order to reach the new crosstown. They will just take a bus straight to Yonge. Then, no reason making extra efforts linking Finch West with Sheppard East.

I'd much prefer keeping Finch and Sheppard as two separate routes. First, turning Finch into a crosstown LRT. Almost entirely on surface and not spectacularly fast, but that's OK because it will be 100% compatible with the existing bus travel patterns. People who take Finch W and Finch E buses today won't lose anything, they will have same service, only more reliable and somewhat faster. And, the construction won't involve much hurdles.

And then in 15-20 years, deal with Sheppard somehow. The demand change patterns will be known better by then, and we can decide if it should be extended as the high-capacity subway, or converted to a mid-capacity system similar to Ontario Line, or converted to high-floor LRT and extended on surface. In the latter case, no need to stick to the low-floor vehicles selected for Finch and make the conversion extra hard.
 

slapped_chicken

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I think it would be a lot more cost-effective to develop south-central Richmond Hill into a new downtown like Vaughan's, since all the rail infrastructure you would need for that already exists. It would be much cheaper to either leave Line 4 with its current technology or convert it to a Crosstown-style LRT.

It does make sense. There will be a Line 1 connection, plus Viva provides local rapid transit to the north, east and west. The GO station there can serve as a peak hour relief towards downtown but besides that it has little impact as a commuter rail system, as it isn't all-day, frequent, and is a single line extending only a short distance beyond RH. There is a large potential for a E-W regional transit project along the 407 corridor (and it would be cheaper/easier than Line 4 doing this E-W commuter role, even with a lighter technology).

However I'm skeptical of RHC to develop into a large CBD. VMC is growing like a vertical suburb. There are only a few small proposals for commercial development, and the high density development is overwhelmingly residential (more so than NYCC or Y-E). RHC is a bit more centrally located, but still quite to the north. It may develop in the same way as VMC; becoming a large, transit-friendly, walkable and dense residential neighbourhood, but not a massive employment centre for the GTA, albeit an important centre for York. NYCC is already the largest CBD by employment in the GTA outside of downtown and is centrally located; it may have failed to be a real contender to downtown but it's more successful than any other rising CBD in the GTA. This is why I see a bit more hope for this area.

I'd much prefer keeping Finch and Sheppard as two separate routes. First, turning Finch into a crosstown LRT. Almost entirely on surface and not spectacularly fast, but that's OK because it will be 100% compatible with the existing bus travel patterns. People who take Finch W and Finch E buses today won't lose anything, they will have same service, only more reliable and somewhat faster. And, the construction won't involve much hurdles.

I did always like the Finch crosstown idea. There are some challenges to a Finch Crosstown if we choose to extend Sheppard as a local LRT/subway:

  • Extending Sheppard to the west (west of Downsview), it can potentially compete for ridership with the Finch LRT
  • Extending Finch to the east, and eventually extending Sheppard to the east as local rapid transit, can result in the lines competing for each other's ridership as both will be serving local stops and a similar demographic (local commuters within the 416, many of them downtown-bound commuters transferring to OL or Line 1)
  • Joining the two lines to have Finch going west and then using the sheppard corridor to go east will require the costly reconstruction of the stations on the Sheppard line; a north south route would also have to be built between Sheppard and Finch (and it can't be on Yonge), as mentioned before.
If we take a regional metro option for Sheppard (or otherwise, an LRT/subway with lower station density and faster travel times) it could complement a local Finch crosstown instead of competing with it. It would have an increased appeal for dense commercial development in addition to a residential boom, if Line 4 were to extend into some kind of uptown commuter line.

If we go with local subway/LRT we have the benefits of a more walkable sheppard corridor with shorter station spacing. NYCC would see a residential boom similar to what Yonge-Eglinton is experiencing with their Crosstown. Notice that despite Yonge-Eglinton having better rapid transit connections than NYCC in the next 2 years, it still has inferior commercial development to NYCC, thanks to the 401 in proximity of NYCC (not saying that this is good choice of accessibility, lol)

This all depends on whether we want to see NYCC be a larger vertical suburb than it is now with some additional commercial development, or if the goal is to turn NYCC into a truly large downtown #2 with high density commercial/residential/other uses. Both options enhance the walkability and how transit-friendly the district is and would make it an attractive place to live regardless.
 

asher__jo

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This is why I am leaning towards a reconfig of Line 4 to operate as a cheaper, nimble hybrid subway-commuter line
I think there's a lot of good that making any Sheppard extension more commuter/express. This could serve something of the same purpose that SkyTrain does with further stop distance than a traditional subway (which allows for much higher average train speeds).
 

Rainforest

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How/where would the Sheppard line go above ground, though, and what routes would it follow to the west/east?

I think the options for above ground are mostly in the 401 corridor, and using that corridor makes sense for the outer sections only. We don't want to lose the density opportunities in the middle.

In the west, I'd suggest going mostly underground until Allen Rd; the West Don crossing may be on a bridge though because the valley is very deep. After connecting to Line 1 Sheppard West station, the line can turn south and continue at the surface level from Sheppard to Wilson. There is still unused space on the west side of Allen Rd to add a pair of tracks on surface, as well as to expand the Downsview subway yard, or build a new yard for the mid capacity (Ontario Line type) rolling stock.

Then the line would continue underground under Wilson till the Weston Rd / Albion Rd interchange. After that, the line can switch to the 401 / 409 corridor running at/above ground. If Pearson is the destination, then it can run there above ground entirely. If we want the whole line or a branch to continue into Brampton, then it will need to go underground again at some point.

In the east, the line would continue under Sheppard until at least the Agincourt GO station. Then it needs to connect to SSE either at McCowan & Sheppard or at Scarborough Centre, and then serve the Centennial College Progress campus; that section of the route is up to debate.

East of the Centennial campus, the line would switch to the 401 corridor at/above ground. Maybe, not even divert to serve UTSC directly, but instead have a station over 401 & Morningside connecting to the LRT that will run on Morningside and serve UTSC. And then it can continue in the 401 corridor all the way to Pickering GO Stn.
 

afransen

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For eastwards, you could likely have it surface after the 404 in the median of Sheppard and continue either in the median or on the north side to Agincourt GO, then use the rail ROW and the plaza on NW corner of Brimley and Sheppard to turn south down Brimley then curve into STC along old SRT row through McCowan then to Ellesmere (alternately could follow rail corridor and similarly turn down McCowan). Follow Ellesmere to UTSC and on to the 401, where it could probably be run at grade or maybe trenched with some property acquisition to Pickering GO/Pickering Town Centre, if it makes sense to go so far. About 24 km east (14 km if you stop at UTSC).

For West, would likely make sense to continue underground and surface west of Brentwood Ave on the north side of Sheppard, bridge across the valley, run elevated on Sheppard until Sheppard West, then up to Downsview Park skip over to Keele and turn south down Keele to Wilson, west on Wilson to Sheridan Mall. Continue down Wilson onto Walsh, then cross the Humber to Rexdale Blvd. Turn down the ROW to meet up with Etobicoke North GO, and continue on to either Renforth (connect with Eglinton Crosstown and Mississauga Transitway) or whatever transit hub GTAA and Metrolinx land on. That would be 22 km west and provide good connection with Kitchener (to Brampton, etc.), Stouffville, Lakeshore East and Barrie. Mississauga Transitway could eventually be upgraded/replaced with an extension to MCC (another 8 km) or to Erindale GO (another 12 km) to connect with the Milton line.

Crazy 46 km extension, but would provide a very useful cross-town link. It would be mostly above grade. Probably on the order of $12B -$15B as a light metro. If it is the same technology as Ontario Line, it opens some interesting possibilities if OL is extended the 6km to Sheppard
 

JSF-1

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Random thing I found doing some digging for a slightly related project of mine. Apparently the idea of rapid trainsit running alongside the 401 to Durham isn't all that new. According to this map, during the Network 2011 days there was a plan (or idea at least) of a GO line (or regional equivalent) running between Durham and STC via the 401 and Kingston Road corridors.
subway-5111-01.gif
 

Coolstar

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Random thing I found doing some digging for a slightly related project of mine. Apparently the idea of rapid trainsit running alongside the 401 to Durham isn't all that new. According to this map, during the Network 2011 days there was a plan (or idea at least) of a GO line (or regional equivalent) running between Durham and STC via the 401 and Kingston Road corridors.View attachment 270651
Even earlier than that, one of the GO-ALRT lines would've used the Finch Hydro Corridor as well as the 401 corridor and would've provided headways as low as 2 minutes using fully automated trains.

1600631129395.png
 

Steve X

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Random thing I found doing some digging for a slightly related project of mine. Apparently the idea of rapid trainsit running alongside the 401 to Durham isn't all that new. According to this map, during the Network 2011 days there was a plan (or idea at least) of a GO line (or regional equivalent) running between Durham and STC via the 401 and Kingston Road corridors.View attachment 270651
Just keep in mind that the 401 collector/express system doesn't extend past Neilson at the time this map is published
 

slapped_chicken

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Ah how I wish that ALRT idea had come to fruition.

I think the options for above ground are mostly in the 401 corridor, and using that corridor makes sense for the outer sections only. We don't want to lose the density opportunities in the middle.

In the west, I'd suggest going mostly underground until Allen Rd; the West Don crossing may be on a bridge though because the valley is very deep. After connecting to Line 1 Sheppard West station, the line can turn south and continue at the surface level from Sheppard to Wilson.

Within Toronto there is a lot of opportunity to densify corridors like Sheppard or Wilson. Outside of Toronto it would likely be more oriented to commuters, and at some point one would expect density to find a place around those outer stations. Considering the branches to the west, if there is a branch to DT Brampton, we would have to choose a route that does not compete with the Kitchener RER (which I am not sure of a route). A Mississauga branch could follow highway corridors from YYZ all the way to Square One and potentially beyond. In the east, if we intend to extend the line beyond Pickering, it would compete with the Lakeshore RER so it may be worthwhile to use the hydro corridor or something north. Would also set it up to have a branch to the "Pickering Airport" when it gets built in the year 2076 ๐Ÿ˜
 

Rainforest

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Within Toronto there is a lot of opportunity to densify corridors like Sheppard or Wilson. Outside of Toronto it would likely be more oriented to commuters, and at some point one would expect density to find a place around those outer stations. Considering the branches to the west, if there is a branch to DT Brampton, we would have to choose a route that does not compete with the Kitchener RER (which I am not sure of a route). A Mississauga branch could follow highway corridors from YYZ all the way to Square One and potentially beyond. In the east, if we intend to extend the line beyond Pickering, it would compete with the Lakeshore RER so it may be worthwhile to use the hydro corridor or something north. Would also set it up to have a branch to the "Pickering Airport" when it gets built in the year 2076 ๐Ÿ˜

In the east, I didn't even think of goind beyond Pickering. But if the Pickering Airport happens, maybe the line could end there. Otherwise I wouldn't even consider crossing the 416 eastern border, but there is some value in connecting the Sheppard Line to Lakeshore East and that maybe easier to do at Pickering Stn than at Rouge Hill.

Multiple options exist in the west. The simplest option is to connect to the Kitchener RER at Etobicoke North, and then terminate the Sheppard line at Pearson without adding any branches. If the line goes to Brampton, then it can still be a single route, first going to Pearson and then making a sharp turn right and continuing north-west along Bramalea or Dixie, connecting to the Steeles, Queen, Williams, Bovaird local routes. The latter option certainly won't be cheap and I am not sure how many decades will pass before such a route becomes viable.

Not sure about the Mississauga branch; an Eglintion LRT extension into Mississauga seems more likely.
 

afransen

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I think there's more merit to continuing into Mississauga to connect with Milton line. Brampton would already be connected with Kitchener Line. Just funnel routes into Brampton, Bramalea and Malton GO and provide frequent service to connect at Etobicoke North, since Kitchener line will be getting frequent service. It is pretty redundant run a different technology to Brampton on a different ROW. Maybe GO Expansion gets done with the same technology and the branch just uses the Kitchener line?

If you're extending the Eglinton LRT to Mississauga, might as well extend this line if both lines would be extending from Renforth/Pearson.
 

slapped_chicken

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Yes, the more I think about it, the Brampton branch would compete a bit too much with Kitchener line and it is probably simpler to have no Brampton branch at all, requiring Line 4 commuters to transfer to the Kitchener RER to go further. Seems sensible; would work for a while until Kitchener RER becomes overloaded, which I highly doubt will happen in 100 years lol... Also, about technology, I'm guessing GO is going to use new trains just as wide as the current (whereas our hypothetical Line 4 is using narrower trains more akin to light metro), so probably couldn't track share without magic

Ooops, I forgot about Line 5. The extension to Square one may be redundant since Line 5 is eventually going to link Mississauga centre to the airport as well. However if we decide to extend it further west into the GTA (beyond sauga) it would be a sensible stop along the line. It would offer real, high capacity rapid transit that is completely grade separated and fast to Mississauga centre, and while it's not the direct link to downtown (*sad milton train noises*), hopefully the transfer situation at YYZ is beautiful enough to make it feasible to go north/east on Line 4 then switch to KI line/UP line to get DT in under 45 minutes.

Side question, is UP getting replaced by the Kitchener RER? I would love to see it stay, and have the corridor see 7.5 minute or less headways between downtown and YYZ, oh boi, that would basically be relief line west resurrected right there ๐Ÿฅด
 

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