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TTC: Yonge North Subway Extension (Finch-Richmond Hill) (Unfunded/Planned)

Rapparee

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I’m the first to admit that I’m not a transportation engineer nor an urban planner. But I just can’t see how a subway extension to Richmond Hill makes any sense. An extension to Steeles seems to make a lot of sense for both Toronto and for York. There is nowhere near the population density to support a subway north of there, not until Richmond Hill Centre, maybe, one day, if all things go as planned up there. The other thing, and this bugs me about the debate around TTC expansion from surburban politicians and the Province, is that subways are not commuter rail. Richmond Hill is just too far. The distance and the surburban form scream GO train not subway. Demands for subways from the mayor of Markham and the like are political hubris and don’t seem like good, value for (extraordinary) money transportation planning.

Can someone convince me that both from both capital and long term operating expense standpoints that fixing all that needs to be fixed on the Richmond Hill line to provide 10-15 minute service would not still be massively cheaper than building a subway a low density surburb?
 

jys

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I’m the first to admit that I’m not a transportation engineer nor an urban planner. But I just can’t see how a subway extension to Richmond Hill makes any sense. An extension to Steeles seems to make a lot of sense for both Toronto and for York. There is nowhere near the population density to support a subway north of there, not until Richmond Hill Centre, maybe, one day, if all things go as planned up there. The other thing, and this bugs me about the debate around TTC expansion from surburban politicians and the Province, is that subways are not commuter rail. Richmond Hill is just too far. The distance and the surburban form scream GO train not subway. Demands for subways from the mayor of Markham and the like are political hubris and don’t seem like good, value for (extraordinary) money transportation planning.

Can someone convince me that both from both capital and long term operating expense standpoints that fixing all that needs to be fixed on the Richmond Hill line to provide 10-15 minute service would not still be massively cheaper than building a subway a low density surburb?
I am also not an expert, but I would guess that it's less about serving the communities along the extension than about network connectivity. Currently, a lot of people pass Richmond Hill Centre from north and east via the VIVA services on Yonge and Highway 7 to get to the TTC Subway. All the aforementioned VIVA buses must go down Yonge Street to reach Finch Station. As far as I know, there are no bus lanes on Yonge Street between Highway 7 and Finch, so these buses must operate in mixed traffic, which significantly decreases their average speed as well as reliability. Therefore, extending the subway to Richmond Hill Centre would solve all said problems. Given the issue that I just described, this extension may even work well as a direct one-stop extension because like you said the density en route is quite low.
 

Leo_Chan

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I’m the first to admit that I’m not a transportation engineer nor an urban planner. But I just can’t see how a subway extension to Richmond Hill makes any sense. An extension to Steeles seems to make a lot of sense for both Toronto and for York. There is nowhere near the population density to support a subway north of there, not until Richmond Hill Centre, maybe, one day, if all things go as planned up there. The other thing, and this bugs me about the debate around TTC expansion from surburban politicians and the Province, is that subways are not commuter rail. Richmond Hill is just too far. The distance and the surburban form scream GO train not subway. Demands for subways from the mayor of Markham and the like are political hubris and don’t seem like good, value for (extraordinary) money transportation planning.

Can someone convince me that both from both capital and long term operating expense standpoints that fixing all that needs to be fixed on the Richmond Hill line to provide 10-15 minute service would not still be massively cheaper than building a subway a low density surburb?
I know this is my biased opinion, but still read what I have to say.

There is some evidence that shows an extension of the Yonge Line to Highway 7 is beneficial. There are some maps online that show a gap in the network at Yonge between Highway 7 and Finch (or Steeles if it use extended by 2 stops only).

I fully support Richmond Hill Line RER, but the fact is that it is hard to add stations south of Lawrence and flood protection and double tracking is necessary.

On the other hand, extending the subway north is quite trivial and having a major interchange station at Highway 7 is much friendlier than on st Steeles.

Another thing to keep in mind is how YRT/Viva structured it’s Viva Rapidway BRTs. Viva Blue, Purple, and Orange all funnel to RHC and people who want to continue south have to transfer to Viva Blue, and then to the subway at Finch. If all the routes terminated at Finch (or Steeles) then that would more that double the number of buses on Yonge, assuming they don’t reduce Viva Blue’s south of RHC service.

I think that if the subway isn’t built to Highway 7, then Viva should rethink their rapid transit network to better connect with GO transit and have more North-South routes that connect with the TTC at Steeles Ave (bus transfers), Finch/Steeles Station (Line 1), VMC (Line 1), Don Mills Station (Line 4), Humber College (Line 6), and STC (Line 2).

At the end of the day, the justification of the YNSE is from a network perspective and not a Toronto-only view.
 

Neutrino

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Can we please stop repeating that density doesn't justify line X? Because the TTC subway ridership is driven by bus routes. Line 1 runs through some low density areas as well (and had substantial ridership in previous years before much of the current high density development in certain areas). Now, that doesn't mean we waste money. But the density argument doesn't always hold. Just a pet peeve of mine.
 

TJ O'Pootertoot

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Everything they are doing in terms of developing the Portlands, the West Donlands, naturalizing the mouth etc. is going to help compared to what's there today butthere's also, you know, climate change. We're already at a point where there are certain things you can expect during any major rainfall - some Union Station flooding, DVP flooding at the bottom and/or around Lawrence. None of that stuff is trending towards the better. What we're talking about are mitigation measures.

In as much as it relates to this thread, nothing's going to happen that makes the RH GO line a viable replacement for the subway.
 

WislaHD

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In as much as it relates to this thread, nothing's going to happen that makes the RH GO line a viable replacement for the subway.
Unless of course, we replaced it with a Richmond Hill bound Relief Line.

But I think we should be pursuing both, because it maximises connectivity, coverage, network redundancy and relief to the Yonge line.
 

lead82

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We should be pursuing both options, and surface RER is a much better alternative in general then extending the subway into the suburbs. Subways are meant for short inner-city distances not city-new suburb commuting.
 

WislaHD

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We should be pursuing both options, and surface RER is a much better alternative in general then extending the subway into the suburbs. Subways are meant for short inner-city distances not city-new suburb commuting.
A train is a train, regardless of what terms we give it.

A subway can run at speeds comparable to RER if given wide stop-spacing and a long straight rail corridor.
 

44 North

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The CLRV could do 110km/h, I think the Toronto Rocket is like 80km/h, and some S Bahn has up to 140km/h. Really though I think in five years no one will be using the term RER here. It's too tied to one party. Not that I don't think a couple GO lines will see electrification, I just don't think the vision as proposed pre-2014 election will be seen through. Even if they stayed in power indefinitely historically it wouldn't have materialized. Some lines might become electric high-floor, some low-floor, some private, some public GO, some new stations. But dubious that it would've been a simple binary RER or not situation.
 

micheal_can

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I’m the first to admit that I’m not a transportation engineer nor an urban planner. But I just can’t see how a subway extension to Richmond Hill makes any sense. An extension to Steeles seems to make a lot of sense for both Toronto and for York. There is nowhere near the population density to support a subway north of there, not until Richmond Hill Centre, maybe, one day, if all things go as planned up there. The other thing, and this bugs me about the debate around TTC expansion from surburban politicians and the Province, is that subways are not commuter rail. Richmond Hill is just too far. The distance and the surburban form scream GO train not subway. Demands for subways from the mayor of Markham and the like are political hubris and don’t seem like good, value for (extraordinary) money transportation planning.

Can someone convince me that both from both capital and long term operating expense standpoints that fixing all that needs to be fixed on the Richmond Hill line to provide 10-15 minute service would not still be massively cheaper than building a subway a low density surburb?

1) Think of it another way, all the buses going to Finch from York would go to Richmond Hill station. This would mean that all of the traffic at Finch will not be there.

2) Also, even though the area is mainly single homes, there is nothing stopping new condos to be built in the area.

3) Yonge St is one of the busiest in the area. The further North the Subway is; to a point, the less overall traffic on the road.

4) VIVA eventually will become an LRT. The RH station will cause that to happen shortly after opening, as people will see getting downtown slightly easier.
 

Leo_Chan

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I want to ask whether Yonge Street will be widened to 6 lanes between Langstaff Road and Clark Avenue regardless of the subway being built? I’m not saying that this is a replacement for the subway, but HOV/bus lanes for local service.

I ask this because one of the reasons for cancelling the Yonge Rapidway between Highway 7 and Finch was because of the property and houses that would need to be bought to widen the roadway. The other reason is the subway actually being proposed.

Also, let’s say the subway only gets extended to Steeles, however unlikely, in the short term, would the proposed underground bus terminal be modified to include a median bus ramp to street level on Yonge Street north or Steeles, or would buses be forced to take Henderson via Doncaster or Hilda vs Clark to get to the median ramps to the underground bus terminal at Steeles Station? Or just have on-street stops, which seems unlikely unless the whole underground bus terminal with median street ramps gets cancelled.
 

TJ O'Pootertoot

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I’m the first to admit that I’m not a transportation engineer nor an urban planner. But I just can’t see how a subway extension to Richmond Hill makes any sense. An extension to Steeles seems to make a lot of sense for both Toronto and for York. There is nowhere near the population density to support a subway north of there, not until Richmond Hill Centre, maybe, one day, if all things go as planned up there.

This thread just goes in circles and circles.
In short:
-there are already massive development proposals at Steeles.
-there are already condo proposals along Yonge north of Steeles.
-VMC already has enough development in the pipe to hit its 2031 targets
-they have begun the site clearing at Yonge/7 (on the Markham side) and there is no reason to expect development there would be at a slower pace than Jane/7 once a subway is announced

But, as always, I enjoy how nicely this argument sits alongside the current mainstream argument against the subway: building it will mean enough ridership to overwhelm the TTC system to literal overload, putting lives in danger and preventing Toronto riders from even getting on the trains south of Sheppard.

We can quibble about how and when to do the DRL and how far north it should go etc. but to suggest there isn't logic - once you've accepted Steeles - in going from Steeles to Highway 7 is non-sensical. For a couple more KM you get a direct connection to a point where provincial policy requires major intensification, where a major E-W BRT already runs, where another BRT is planned (admittedly, after 2041 now!) and where Metrolinx has designated an Anchor Mobility Hub and where all the planning to realize these goals is already in place.

I've said before and I'll say it a million times: if you looked at a map without municipal borders you would never argue for stopping the line Steeles. It only "makes sense" because we all know Steeles is where the border is.

The other thing, and this bugs me about the debate around TTC expansion from surburban politicians and the Province, is that subways are not commuter rail. Richmond Hill is just too far.

It's going about 200m into Richmond Hill.
I'd like to know why Steeles makes sense but suddenly Highway 7 is definitely "commuter rail" territory. Says who? And in what context? What if someone from Highway 7 wants to go to Sheppard? How does commuter rail help them? What if someone living at Yonge/Eg works up at 404/7? And, again, what's the difference between someone commuting from 7 to downtown and someone going from Steeles to downtown?

This whole notion of local vs. commuter is, as far as I'm concerned, as outdated as the argument of suburbs vs. the city. It's all the same. The subway already serves a "commuter rail" function, by your definition, since 1000s of people from north of Steeles use it every day anyway. And they're not all necessarily going downtown. Aside from property taxes, what's the difference in transportation terms between someone who lives 500m north of Steeles and someone who lives 500m south?

The distance and the surburban form scream GO train not subway. Demands for subways from the mayor of Markham and the like are political hubris and don’t seem like good, value for (extraordinary) money transportation planning.

No - they're fundamental provincial policy and have been for over a decade. The mayor of Markham is doing what he was told to do by the province of Ontario which, as we have all been reminded, is very much in charge of municipalities.

In the meantime, when Finch Station was planned, there wasn't even "suburban form" to scream about; mostly just farms. That's how you get good value and plan a region. Or how we used to.

And if they're not good value, why is the DRL necessary to handle all the ridership it will generate? It can't be both poor value and a major generator of new ridership.

I ask this because one of the reasons for cancelling the Yonge Rapidway between Highway 7 and Finch was because of the property and houses that would need to be bought to widen the roadway. The other reason is the subway actually being proposed.

It's both but they're the same thing.
People were concerned about the expropriations but York Region was LITERALLY set to approve them the day the subway was announced (via Move2020) by McGuinty. That announcement is the entire reason the expropriations were deferred. The expropriations are not a reason it was postponed anymore than they lead to delays in Newmarket or Vaughan.

Anyway, in theory anything can happen but there has been no official stance by anyone - including Toronto - that would start the expansion but stop it at Steeles. It basically remains a fantasy thread thing for people who like the idea, so long as it doesn't go "too far," outside Toronto so I really think pondering all the detailed hypotheticals is a waste of time; and not something that YRT/TTC are wasting time on with the work they're doing now.
 
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Sandpit

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I am also not an expert, but I would guess that it's less about serving the communities along the extension than about network connectivity.

I'd say it's about taking cars off the road and increases property values. It seems that the Yonge extension's biggest supporters are people who don't regularly take transit.

Really though I think in five years no one will be using the term RER here. It's too tied to one party.

It's also too tied to one city (Paris) and too boring.
 

44 North

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1) Think of it another way, all the buses going to Finch from York would go to Richmond Hill station. This would mean that all of the traffic at Finch will not be there.

2) Also, even though the area is mainly single homes, there is nothing stopping new condos to be built in the area.

3) Yonge St is one of the busiest in the area. The further North the Subway is; to a point, the less overall traffic on the road.

4) VIVA eventually will become an LRT. The RH station will cause that to happen shortly after opening, as people will see getting downtown slightly easier.

But nothing in YR's transit plans show that. In fact it's the exact opposite - they're banking on Yonge going well beyond Hwy 7 to Major Mack then possibly looping over to meet U/S. It's in their updated master plan. Even years ago Vaughan was pushing Mlinx to get Line 1 up to Vaughan Mills. They want this done relatively soon, and in my view it's within reason they'll bundle aspects of this grandeur as an 11th hour amendment to YNSE. The train storage will already be near 16th. Actually seems doubly likely seeing who's in power at the Prov level: a party with big support in YR that's vaguely pro-subway but yet hasn't shown just WTH their grand subway vision is. Food for thought.

Reasons like this I think an alternative that offers what YR wants (an inverted U subway through their territory), but one less insane. Just have a transfer at Finch or Steeles to another subway scaled more appropriately, either owned by the Prov, private consortium, or York Region. A 60s platform-platform transfer is a minor inconvenience that only marginally affects mode choice. Still an automated high capacity subway line, but nowhere near as crazy as shady bozos calling for almost 25km of deep tunneling and 150m long stations across the outer suburbs. Win-win.
 

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