OK - as usual the TTC is giving us a project that will deliver less than promised and cost more. I've updated this post based on the fact that the proposed line has now been shortened. I didn't realize this until I went through the material a bit more carefully:
The original proposal calls for the Sheppard East line to be 13.6 km long. The maps now provided (at the EA consultation and online) have the line going from the Don Mills terminus to Morningside. This is only 12 km long.
I've adjusted the stop spacing listed in the text below - all three posts. Obviously, this will reduce the speed on this s-LRT (slow LRT) even further.
As we wait to find out if there will be a TTC strike tomorrow, I'd thought I'd wrap up some last thoughts on the Sheppard LRT.
Here are my conclusions:
This line will end up with a cost of about $1.1 billion for the 12 km - from the Eastern end of teh Sheppard subway to Morningside. I expect the option to be recommended for the Don Mills interchange will be LRT under the 404. Additional cost items include:
- a service/storage depot for the streetcars - say $100 million
- grade crossing elimination at the GO line - say $150 million
- the 404 tunnel (as above) - say $150 million
- street-scaping (which is or isn't included in the $550 million - $40 million
- 10% for underestimation on the general line construction costs - $50 million
(I'd note that if there are indeed multiple rapid transit projects ongoing, particular engineering and skilled trades will be in short supply. This is going to add to the price.)
Add this up, we get: $1.045 billion
- negigibly faster transit service (most of the benefit is washed by the longer stop spacing and service). [Note - if the Don Mills interchange forces people to trudge down to subway level - most people will actually have longer trips overall.]
- new street-scaping - which could be done without the streetcar line
- four year construction period (2009 - 2013).
- potential traffic impacts. If the TTC sticks with the 5-minute headway, there should be minimal disruption to the N-S arteries that cross the route
- any option for the Don Mills interchange will help with the 404/Sheppard congestion.
- trucks might have a problem with the U-turns
A chunk of the route is a city designated 'avenue'. In the 'avenue' concept, the city provides 'high order transit' - and this will turn the streets into a lush, tree-lined, walkable avenues.
I don't really buy this for Sheppard - and in general. The staff at last Tuesday's consultation were unable to tell me where this concept had worked. There are many cities with trams - but the trams go in and out of already built-up areas.
No doubt there are some lots on Sheppard E. that can be redeveloped. However, it's not true that there are vast sections.
My take is that the growth projections were picked to justify the LRT - i.e. "buses can't handle it and it's not enough to do a subway or RT". My A++!
WHAT COULD BE DONE
Sheppard could easily handle 3000 peak passengers (current is 1900) with a few adjustments:
1. Add 'scoot' transit priority - in Montreal, buses get a 10% speed improvement (and hence capacity) - $8 million
2. Add articulated buses for 50% of the schedule - gives a 25% capacity increase - $18 million
This pushes capacity to 2740 per hour - without any dedicated bus lanes. With a dedicated bus lane over the 404 (which would cost $$) , we'd be at 3000/hr peak direction easily - and speed would improve without taking away local services.