How can we possibly afford to build this?
The cost of building subways may be great, but there are numerous benefits that bring the cost down to a level that is much more reasonable. In fact, the economic benefits from the existence of a subway line outweigh the initial cost of construction dramatically. Given how much must be spent to upgrade capacity on the Yonge subway, it really becomes a question of how can we not afford to build this subway? For more specific information, see the "Obstacles to Construction" page and the "General Benefits of Subway Construction" page.
Why are you proposing subway? Isn't Light Rail a cheaper alternative?
While it's true that light rail is cheaper than subway, exactly how much cheaper is often overestimated based upon the costs of light rail construction in other cities. Much like how subway construction in Toronto is more expensive than many other cities, light rail construction is also more expensive, and the projected costs have gone significantly higher than initially estimated. Originally, the Sheppard, Finch, Malvern, and Eglinton lines combined for an estimate of $55 million/km. Since then, the costs have gone up to $107 million/km. With less than 1/3 of its construction underground, Eglinton is estimated at $139 million/km. The Sheppard and Finch lines, which run entirely above ground, work out to between $68 and $71 million/km. If we use this number for the above ground segment of Eglinton, it means that it's likely that the underground LRT tunnel costs approximately $300 million/km, which is not substantially cheaper than subway construction.
Beyond that, the Downtown Relief Line will receive such high ridership, it would be too much for the capacity of LRT. LRT is a useful technology for certain situations, such as providing transit in the suburbs where above ground space is available to create a right-of-way, and ridership is high, but not massive. Finch Avenue is a great example of where an LRT would be perfectly suited for, and that is why it's part of the Transit City plan.
For the DRL, LRT is not a reasonable option and heavy rail is the only choice that makes sense.
The transit in my neighbourhood is terrible. Why should we be building a subway downtown instead of improving suburban transit?
As someone who lives in the suburbs on a bus route with no greater frequency than once every twenty minutes, I understand this line of thinking. Unfortunately for those in the suburbs, transit must balance the need to provide adequate transit to all areas of a region with the need to remain cost-effective. While having subways to every corner of the city would be nice, subways are very expensive and thus must be placed where proper planning dictates it.
The Downtown Relief Line not only makes sense from a planning perspective, running through dense neighbourhoods that are conducive to high transit use, but also will improve transit to those in the suburbs who commute downtown. Even if the subway is not near you, if you head downtown in your daily commute, there is a good chance you can use the line and thus save time on your commute. Even if you can't use the line, the net effect of others using the line will make your commute easier either through less crowded trains if you take the Yonge line, or less traffic on the road if you're a driver.
I read that the Spadina Extension will take 30 million cars off the road every year. Why would the DRL take so many less?
It isn't that the DRL will take fewer cars off the road, it is simply that politicians are often disingenuous when quoting these figures. It is predicted that the first stage of construction, Eglinton to Spadina, will take between 4600 and 5000 cars off the roads in the peak hour. For comparison, this is between 75-80% of the capacity of the Don Valley Parkway. It should be noted that although this seems low, other estimates are often vastly overstated. For example, it has been stated that the Spadina extension is expected to take 30 million cars off the road annually74, which works out to over 80,000 car trips per day, if you simply divide evenly. Knowing that weekdays generate much greater ridership, the implication would thus be that every weekday likely over 100,000 cars would be pulled off the road as a result of the extension, or 50,000 round trips. Given that the total boardings and alightings for an entire weekday is estimated to be 102,2007, or slightly more than 25,000 round trips (two boardings and two alightings per person), the estimate of 30 million cars off the road annually is completely unfounded. For the sake of comparison, in the AM peak, significantly more boardings and alightings (69,512) are projected for the Downtown Relief Line compared to the Spadina extension (27,550). The Downtown Relief Line will undoubtedly result in a significant reduction in vehicles and in turn a better transportation system for the region.
Rocco Rossi has proposed as part of his mayoral campaign using integrated GO service as an alternative to the DRL125. Why not support this plan?
There is no doubt that integration of GO and TTC services is an important step towards better regional transit, and is an idea I fully support. However trying to use the GO trains to provide service as a Downtown Relief Line simply isn't feasible. For one, train frequencies would have to be increased dramatically from their current levels of once every 15 minutes99 to a level of at least once every 3 minutes in order to convince people to switch trains at Main station. If trains are not run frequently enough, then it makes more sense to go to Yonge where a train is guaranteed to come within 3 minutes.
Secondly, the connection at Main Station to the Danforth GO Station is not direct. The TTC station is 300 metres north of the GO station144, which may seem insignificant, but is twice the distance of the connection between the Bloor and Spadina lines at Spadina station136, where transfers are seen at a much lower rate than where there is a direct connection at St. George3. While these distances are within a reasonable distance for a walking transfer, it is unlikely many people would use it when an interchange with a direct transfer is available. That walking transfer adds to the time traveled, as does exiting at Union. Disembarking a GO Train at Union Station often takes a good deal of time longer than leaving a subway train, on account of the much larger vehicles.
Third, having a transfer point at Main station is much further east than the proposed DRL would be, meaning it would intercept fewer riders than a Downtown Relief Line would.
Finally, this does not serve any of the neighbourhoods that the Downtown Relief Line would serve, simply bypassing many important trip generators on their way to Union Station. Though I fully approve of Rossi's plan to integrate fares to allow transfers between the TTC and GO Transit, this plan is not a solution to the need for the Downtown Relief Line as he proposes.
Why did you choose to run the subway along Dixon Road?
Much of this plan has been proposed before, with minor variations to account for the locations of new developments and trip generators. A unique aspect to the plan is the choice to use Dixon Road to run to the airport.
One reason this is unique is not many plans extend this far north or west. Given that the eastern section of the Downtown Relief Line is the most critical, few plans are ambitious enough to plan a line this large, and most often will end at Bloor in the west.
Running up the rail corridor, the neighbourhood of Weston is clearly one of the most deserving of a subway station, having high density, an urban retail strip, and a connection to the GO train. Accepting that the line should head at least to Weston, which would be one of the busiest stops west of Lansdowne, it simply becomes a choice of routing from there.
The Weston Community Coalition a few years ago released a brochure stating the value of a subway through Weston, which continues to follow the rail corridor to the airport. The benefit to this is cheaper construction if there is room in the corridor, as well as a closer connection to the Woodbine Racetrack, though because the grandstand is on the north side of the property and the rail corridor on the south, more than a kilometre away, a shuttle would still be required.
Dixon can still be constructed relatively cheaply, east of Highway 27 making use of cut-and-cover construction, as traffic could still continue at a limited capacity during construction due to the 6-lane width of the road, and elevated west of Highway 27 due to the lack of residences to take issue with the aesthetic element of elevated tracks. The benefits to Dixon are much greater than the rail corridor. At Islington and Kipling, densities are over 100 ppj/ha, which are the densities suggested in terms of supporting a subway, and are rare to find in the suburbs. This is significantly higher than the rail corridor, which runs through low-density industry. Dixon would also reach the Toronto Congress Centre, several businesses near Attwell, a major collection of hotels around Carlingview, and would still be a short shuttle trip to Woodbine.
Additionally, Dixon would require less track. While the rail route would require approximately 9.5 km of track, part of which on the western end would need to be tunnelled anyway, Dixon requires only 8 km, making for a shorter trip to and from the airport. With shorter trip times, higher densities, and more trip generators, the decision to use Dixon Road to get to the airport becomes obvious.