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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why is a new rapid transit system needed in Scarborough?
Since its start in 1985, the Scarborough RT has provided over 30 years of service. It has been operating beyond capacity for over a decade and relatively simple system enhancements – such as replacing and adding RT vehicles – are not possible because the existing vehicles are outdated and no longer available for purchase. A new system is needed soon to replace the aging Scarborough RT, and to continue to provide high quality transit that benefits users within Scarborough and across Toronto.
What is being done now to manage the aging Scarborough RT? Will it still operate throughout the time it takes to plan and construct a new subway?
Yes. Many of the potential subway corridors being evaluated would not interfere with the operation of the SRT. If one of these options is selected, there will be some extensive work done to the SRT line – most notably a complete rebuild of the existing vehicles - to allow for continuous SRT service until the new subway extension is open.
Why a subway extension?
While upgrades to the current system and building new light-rail transit have both been considered over the years, City Council decided in 2013 that extending the Bloor-Danforth line would best serve the transit needs of Scarborough.
A subway extension will allow for potential growth well beyond the current 2031 forecast year; it will also eliminate the need to transfer at Kennedy Station, allowing for a seamless journey by transit users and best support growth and development of Scarborough Centre into a vibrant urban node.
Where will the new Scarborough Subway Extension run?
The final route has to be confirmed by Council. However, the subway extension will run from Kennedy Station express to Scarborough Centre. The preferred corridor follows McCowan – which is to be confirmed through the evaluation of costs. This recommendation is based on a variety of criteria. We used input from the public at every stage of the study – from the selection of the evaluation criteria to the application of those criteria in the selection of a preferred route.
Why is the McCowan alignment preferred?
McCowan is emerging as the preferred alignment because its station location does a good job of serving both sides of McCowan Road with a single station, offers the fastest connection between Scarborough Centre and Kennedy Station and allows the SRT to continue operating throughout construction of the subway extension.
What is involved in planning for the Scarborough Subway Extension?
The City and the TTC are working together to plan the Scarborough Subway Extension. Input from local residents and transit users is essential in our planning.
The planning work that will lead to the completion of an environmental assessment under the Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP) has already begun. This work will recommend a preferred route and station location in Scarborough Centre for the Scarborough Subway Extension. The study will identify any potential negative impacts and benefits to the natural environment or the community.
The Terms of Reference and Public Consultation Plan for this project were finalized based on public input. They outline the framework for completing the study, including the approach for generating and evaluating alternatives and for engaging stakeholders throughout the study process.
The area of Scarborough that the new line is planned to run through has a high residential population. How will our neighbourhoods change?
The City's Official Plan outlines a vision for building Toronto as an attractive place to live and work. Through major projects like the Scarborough Subway Extension, we want to improve the quality of life for residents, to strengthen and enhance healthy neighbourhoods.
The planning process for the Scarborough Subway Extension will look at ways to enhance these neighbourhoods in Scarborough, and minimize and address any potential negative impacts from construction and operation of the subway. Input from the public, including residents along possible subway routes, will help the City identify opportunities to do this.
How did you evaluate options?
In the "Feeling Congested?" exercise, the City identified a set of high level principles to guide decisions on transit projects. Transit should be developed to Serve People, Strengthen Places, and Support Prosperity. The evaluation of projects like the Scarborough Subway Extension should flow from these principles.
Specific criteria have been used throughout the Scarborough Subway Extension Project Assessment, based on the "Feeling Congested?" framework. These were developed and presented to the public in Phase 1 of the study. Comments from stakeholders and the public were used to finalize these criteria and they are being applied to corridor, alignment and station options. View the evaluation criteria
How will we select the best subway alignment?
The potential corridors and potential station locations within each corridor were presented to the public in Phase 1 of the study. As the Scarborough Transit plan changed to an Express Subway option, new corridors were evaluated. The options were assessed using the project's evaluation criteria. Specific alignment options and a station location have already been developed within the corridors that best meet the project's objectives. A preferred subway alignment with station location has been identified – the McCowan Corridor.
Isn't there the opportunity for an at-grade subway? Wouldn't this be cheaper?
While building a subway on the surface is much cheaper than tunnelling, the only opportunity for building any part of the subway on the ground surface is in the existing SRT corridor. Due to configuration of the corridor including the orientation of Kennedy Station and the need to tunnel underneath the existing GO transit corridor, only about 1.4 km of the route would be on the surface. The cost savings of this segment would be outweighed by increased costs associated with a longer alignment overall and the need to launch and extract the tunnel boring machine.
Why are you recommending an express subway instead of the 3-stop subway previously supported by Council?
The primary purpose of the Scarborough Subway Extension is to provide a good rapid transit connection between Scarborough Centre and the rest of the rapid transit network, as articulated in the Chief Planner's January 2016 report to Executive Committee.
While the Lawrence East and Sheppard East stations on the previous 3-stop subway extension would provide some additional benefit, the cost of these stations is very high. The express subway extension offers more value for money than the 3-stop subway extension, while achieving the strategic objective of serving Scarborough Centre.
Full details on the express subway, and how it compared against the original 3-stop subway can be found in our Initial Business Case.
Would it be possible to "rough in" the Lawrence East station, or build it later? How much would that cost?
It would be technically possible to build a station later, but this would require shutting down the subway extension for a lengthy period of time while the construction was taking place. It would be possible to ‘rough-in’ a station – i.e. build a concrete box around the tracks in a manner that would not require shutting down this section of the line if the station were added in the future. This would cost in the range of 2/3 of the full construction costs.
A Lawrence SmartTrack Station, approximately 2km east, will help to serve the Lawrence corridor, reducing the need to have a Lawrence subway station.
Why are the latest cost estimates so much more than previous ones?
As design of large projects proceed, more detail is understood and cost estimates become more accurate. The 2013 cost estimates for the 3-stop subway extension were made without any design, and were reported as subject to +/- 30% due to this uncertainty.
Current estimates for the original 3-stop subway and express extension are based on approximately 5% detailed design, which has identified several constraints that increase the estimated cost. These include requirements for larger bus terminals, challenging topography requiring very deep stations, high water tables and mitigation required to avoid impacts to the Highland Creek system.
Will there be commuter parking provided?
Parking is outside the scope of the Scarborough Subway Extension Project Assessment. Toronto Parking Authority has advised that it is typically very difficult to achieve a positive return on investment in commuter parking facilities. However, given the planned density for Scarborough Centre, there may be an opportunity to provide commuter parking facilities integrated with transit-oriented development and/or in partnership with private landowners near the future station. Discussion with TPA about these opportunities is ongoing.
What is the Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP)?
All large-scale projects require an Environmental Assessment (EA) and approval by the Provincial Government. In light of the urgent need for public transit in the Greater Toronto Area, the Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP) provides a streamlined process for transit projects to satisfy the requirements of the Environmental Assessment Act. This process enables the necessary studies to be completed within a shorter timeframe, while still protecting the environment. The TPAP is a final project review which assesses potential environmental impacts of the project and proposes mitigation strategies. Its completion is required before the City may proceed with construction of the subway.
When the TPAP is complete be the end of 2017, we will have determined the new subway route, the preferred station location, the construction methods and any required steps to maximize benefits and mitigate potential negative impacts.
When do you expect to proceed to TPAP?
A third-party expert has been engaged to review costing and alignment work. We anticipate reporting on the results of this work to Executive Committee in 2017. Once this work is complete, we anticipate commencing TPAP in mid 2017 and completing TPAP by 2017.
How can I provide input?
We know there is a lot of interest in the outcomes of this study and that a range of perspectives and opinions exist. We are committed to engaging the public in a way that’s transparent, collaborative, inclusive and authentic. We invite feedback at every stage of the process – both in person and online.
- Send comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org