Scarborough Subway Extension Transportation Project Assessment Process
Open House - May 10, 2017
This concise Highlights Report has been prepared to provide the City of Toronto and Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) with a snapshot of the feedback captured at the public meeting held on May 10, 2017.
On May 10 2017, the City of Toronto, City Planning Division (Transportation Planning) and the TTC hosted a public meeting on the Scarborough Subway Extension. The meeting was held at the Scarborough Civic Centre, located at 150 Borough Drive, Toronto. The public meeting was held at the same time as a public meeting on the Scarborough Centre Transportation Master Plan Environmental Assessment.
The public meeting provided an overview of the Scarborough Subway Extension (SSE), including project updates from the last public meeting (i.e. Bus Terminal refinement), a description of Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP), a list of potential impacts and proposed mitigation measures, and next steps.
The meeting featured a series of panels to provide information on the Project. Participants could move freely between display panels and speak with Project staff from the City and TTC.
At 7 p.m., following an introduction by the meeting’s facilitator, Avril Fisken (AECOM), a presentation of the project elements, including impacts and mitigation, was given by Mike Logan (Program Manager, Transit Implementation Unit, City of Toronto) and Anoushka Martil (AECOM).Participants had the opportunity to ask questions of clarification as well as provide feedback.
Approximately 103 individuals signed into the public meeting, including Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker (Ward 38). Councillor Chin Lee (Ward 41) and Councillor Norm Kelly (Ward 40) were represented by staff from their offices.
Highlights of Participant Feedback
Questions of Clarification
The Question and Answer session following the overview presentation is summarized below. Questions are noted with a “Q”, comments with “C” and answers with “A.” Answers were provided by City and TTC staff, unless noted otherwise.
Q1: Congestion is already getting worse at Triton and Town Centre Court. What will the new SSE mean for congestion, especially along McCowan Road?
A1: The Scarborough Centre Transportation Master Plan (SCTMP) will identify how best to address these issues and what future street network will work best. The TMP is contemplating a number of road links that will be introduced in the Centre to improve connections, enhance active transportation, and reduce congestion, as shown on some of the display boards here tonight.
During construction of the subway, it will be important to share ideas and concerns with City and TTC staff to minimize impacts. A stakeholder group, including representatives from local condo groups, will be developed to listen to and discuss ideas regarding minimizing impacts. With construction a few years away from now, we have time to discuss how to do things in a way that will minimize impacts, especially along McCowan Road.
Q2: When will the SSE construction start and when will it be operational? Are there any plans to connect the Scarborough Town Centre to Sheppard Avenue?
A2: Construction is anticipated to begin in 2020 and operation will begin during the second quarter of 2026. There are no plans today for a connection to Sheppard Avenue but there is nothing precluding a future northerly extension to Sheppard Avenue.
Q3: What is the motivation for choosing only one stop for the subway extension; can stations be added in the future? Is it correct to assume that it was a cost issue?
A3: In the Initial Business Case for the SSE, we compared the benefits and costs of the McCowan Express concept against the three-stop concept. It was found the Express concept has greater value for money than the three-stop extension concept.
Q4: Why are the stations so far apart in Scarborough but not elsewhere in the City? Do we not count? There are 700,000 people in Scarborough, why do we not have the proper Council representation?
A4: (Answer provided by Councillor De Baeremaeker) The political answer is that I would prefer a four-stop subway, but unfortunately more stops mean more money is needed from the rest of Toronto Council. So far, we have not been able to do that. Scarborough representation is about the same as the rest of the City with 10 votes in Council. This is about one quarter of the seats on Council and Scarborough makes up about one quarter of the City’s population. Unfortunately, downtown Council members do not want to give more money to create more stops in Scarborough.
Q5: Do you have a sense of how residents and animals living on McCowan Road are going to be affected due to boring and construction? How will noise and vibration impact us?
A5: Noise and vibration levels during operations are all predicted to be below the thresholds for sensitive receptors such as single family dwellings. The Noise and Vibration reports will be posted online. Regarding tunnelling during construction, we have done several projects within the City without noise and vibration complaints; however, for the Eglinton Crosstown Project, there were some complaints. During the construction of the SSE Project, people should expect to experience some noise and vibration two weeks before and two weeks after the tunnel boring machine passes through the area.
Q6: It seems to me the only reason the one-stop subway extension was chosen was to service the mall and the Oxford lobbyists. Why not build the subway station at Lawrence where the hospital is located? Which is more important, the hospital or the mall?
A6: Scarborough Centre is not a mall; it is a large area of downtown Scarborough and a subway station was first recommended in this location by the City in 1968. The business case analysis indicated that the construction of a station at Lawrence would be very expensive due to the topography. This is one reason why the express subway to Scarborough Centre was preferred over the three-stop concept.
Q7: How much would building a station at Lawrence cost?
A7: The express subway cost is about $3.2 billion and the three-stop subway would be about $4.6 billion. While I cannot provide an exact cost for the station at Lawrence alone, $1.4 billion more would be required to implement the 3-stop subway.
Q8: What was the rationale behind dropping the Bellamy alignment, given the connection to the GO Lakeshore Line which would provide Scarborough with access to Oshawa and Hamilton without having to transfer at Union Station?
A8: The Bellamy corridor was not considered once the 3-stop subway concept was eliminated and the express subway concept was advanced.. Originally, the Bellamy corridor, with an additional station at the Eglinton GO Station was considered. . However, a connection to Regional Express Rail (RER) will be available at Kennedy Station, so there would be less benefit for a second station further east at Bellamy.
Q9: Why are we not getting a twin tunnelling option to expedite the construction of this Project?
A9: Twin tunnelling would not expedite construction of this Project and would create larger property and surface impacts with more cut and cover.
Q10: Why can’t we drill north and south and meet in the middle to make the process faster?
A10: The critical path of the Project is the construction of the station at Scarborough Centre, as it is a very large and complex station. The tunnel construction starts at the beginning of the Project but will be finished before the station is complete. This station is deeper than the other TTC stations (and recent experience shows they take four to five years to complete), so this station, complete with systems, will take longer (approximately six years).
Q11: Earlier you said a comparison of options was completed and the end result identified greater value for money with the express subway option (which also includes the 18-stop LRT along Eglinton East). My understanding is that a complete analysis of options has never been done; City Council turned down the option of doing a seven-stop LRT with the one-stop subway comparison. It is misleading to say a comparison of options was completed, as the comparison only included the one-stop versus three-stop subway options.
A11: Correct, the comparison of options referred to subway options only, which is consistent with the direction provided by City Council. Regarding the comparison of subway options, when staff reported that the express subway and Eglinton East LRT could be completed for approximately the same cost as the three-stop subway, it was accurate. Council directed City staff to complete a business case of the entire Scarborough Transit network, which we anticipate completed in early 2018.
Q12: Younger people and lower-income families are moving away from the downtown core into Scarborough, and have a much longer commute time and poorer quality of life. What do we need to do to get the subway that Scarborough needs? What are Councillors doing to advocate for those of us on the outskirts of the City that are being forgotten?
A12: (Answer provided by Councillor De Baeremaeker) I agree with everything you said. Nineteen out of the 20 elected officials of Scarborough support a subway extension with more stops. Unfortunately, we have failed collectively to convince other City Councillors downtown and in North York. There is an urban / suburban divide. We may need to collectively advocate more in North York and downtown to ask Councillors to help Scarborough.
Q13: Are you able to provide an updated cost estimate for the Triton Bus Terminal concept? I also saw a potential impacts and mitigation measures display board that mentioned that the SSE would increase capacity – could you discuss increased ridership numbers?
A13: The updated cost estimate of the Triton Bus Terminal concept will be presented to City Council as part of the next report submission in 2018.
The ridership estimate / station usage statistic is 7400 people in the peak direction during the peak hour in 2031. These estimates are based on a number of assumptions such as employment and population growth and are used in the analysis when recommending a transit project. One of the rationales for building the subway extension is to encourage growth in Scarborough Centre which will affect the population.
Q14: I am concerned that four stops on the SRT will be eliminated with the construction of the Triton Bus Terminal and people will have to take buses or drive instead of using rapid transit. How many bus lines currently serve Scarborough Town Centre and how many will be needed when the SRT closes? Also, what are the projected uses of the Bus Terminal itself?
A14: There are currently 15 bus lines serving Scarborough Centre and the existing bus terminal (14 plus Wheel Trans). With the Triton Bus Terminal, the routes will be adjusted. As there will not be a rapid transit connection at Ellesmere, the buses will go to Scarborough Centre and some express services will be added. In total, there will be 19 bus lines serving Scarborough Centre when the new subway opens.
Q15: Has a two-stop subway extension ever been considered as a compromise? One extra stop would go a long way.
A15: No, a comparison of a two-stop subway has not been completed. It is important to remember that the SSE is part of a network. The purpose of the SSE itself is to provide a rapid transit connection to the Scarborough Centre to replace the SRT. Other transit and mobility priorities are served by other projects including SmartTrack and the Eglinton East LRT. It is not merely one stop; it is part of a larger network.
Q16: Is it true that the cost to add each additional station is $0.6 billion?
A16: We do not have the details of the cost per station. Any station construction costs would also include tunnelling between stations.
Q17: Once you reach Scarborough Centre, what will you do with the tunnel boring machine? Why don’t you tunnel across Highway 401 to link to the Sheppard LRT?
A17: Under the procurement strategy for this Project it is intended that the tunnel boring machine be part of the whole contract which means the contractor will have or will buy a tunnel boring machine. What the contractor chooses to do with the tunnel boring machine is their decision.
Q18: Will it be a P3 (Public Private Partnership) project for construction – meaning the private sector is brought in to build the Project? The cost of construction is ten times higher than it used to be because it is being done by private companies. Has anyone compared the cost between a private company doing the work versus the TTC?
A18: That statement is not necessarily correct. Construction work has always been done by private contractors, but the contracting strategy varies. In this case the intent is to combine all infrastructure and systems into one contract rather than split into multiple contracts like the TYSSE was. This way, all control is within the contractor’s hands to create smoother management of construction processes without handover issues.
Q19: SmartTrack service is 8.3 minutes between trains and a SmartTrack station at Lawrence Station is many years away. To think that SmartTrack is equivalent to TTC’s rapid transit is misleading. What are the plans for SmartTrack as it is a Metrolinx project?
A19: Station designs for SmartTrack are underway with public consultation planned in the coming months. As for the Lawrence SmartTrack station, we will ensure there is excellent connection with bus services. The City is working closely with Metrolinx and has committed to covering costs of additional stations, which gives the City a greater role in planning the station design. The timelines for SmartTrack are approximately the same as the SSE and we could have a station by 2025. Fare integration improvement is an issue we are working through with Metrolinx to improve the relationship between TTC and GO fares. We will be reporting back to Council in the fall of 2017 and spring of 2018 regarding fare integration and SmartTrack station designs progress.
Q20: Lawrence is a busy bus line. Are there any provisions for a roughed in station box at Lawrence in the SSE plans? How much does a station box cost? Why not make the Lawrence East Station a subway station and move money from SmartTrack which nobody wants.
A20: There are no funding provisions for a rough-in at Lawrence. If a station was to be approved in the future once the line is operational, the line would have to be shut down for several years while it was built. To rough-in a station would be approximately 60% of the cost of Lawrence Station.