relief line

Building the Downtown Relief Line

As you may know, last month City Council voted to move ahead with planning and design work on the Downtown Relief Line.

Throughout my two terms in office, I’ve consistently said that the Relief Line has to be our top transit priority. Each and every day I hear from residents frustrated by the overcrowding and delays on the Yonge line. As a transit user, I’ve also experienced these problems first-hand.

The Downtown Relief Line has now been divided into two projects: the Relief Line South (from Pape Station south to Queen St) and the Relief Line North (from Pape Station to Eglinton or Sheppard Ave).

While planning on the Relief Line to date has focused on the southern piece, I’m pleased to share that the city is now kick-starting planning work on the Relief Line North and will deliver an initial business case in early 2018.

The northern extension of the Relief Line will be a huge win for Ward 25ers who sometimes have to wait for two or three trains before they can get on and get where they need to go. To move this planning forward, I tabled a motion at Executive Committee asking staff to develop a robust community consultation plan, consider naming the new transit line the Don Mills line and look at building the Relief Line North up to the Sheppard line to maximize transit connectivity.

But in the meantime, to deal with the current capacity problems on the Yonge Line, I’ve pushed TTC staff hard on what efforts are underway to improve service and reliability, including the status of the Automatic Train Control (ATC) project. This project involves updating the signalling system so that the speed of and separation between trains will be controlled automatically.

ATC is expected to increase capacity on the Yonge line by 25% by cutting train headways from 2.5 to 2 minutes. In other words, ATC will improve train capacity and shorten wait times.

However, implementation of ATC has been slow going and over budget. That’s why I also moved a motionrequesting that the TTC provide quarterly updates to the Committee on the status of the ATC implementation project and consider all options for acceleration.

Faster, better and more reliable TTC service can’t come soon enough.

Relief Line Study

The Relief Line Study is moving full-speed ahead!

The terms of reference and public consultation plan were approved at City Council last week.

As I mentioned in my last newsletter, this joint city and TTC effort is studying possible station locations and routes for the first phase of the Relief Line. The first phase would take pressure off of the overcrowded Yonge line by providing a subway connection between the Bloor-Danforth line and downtown.

Earlier this year, the city and TTC held a number of public consultations to introduce the study and get feedback on how it should proceed.

As part of the next phase, staff will look at the right transit technology for the line and invite the public to participate in a naming contest for the Relief Line. In early 2015, staff will release a long list of station locations and route alignment options for consideration.

For more information, please see http://www.regionalrelief.ca/city-of-toronto/.

Transit Congestion

Congestion on the Yonge subway line was front and centre at my Transit and Transportation Town Hall earlier this year.

I know it it is hard to constantly watch crowded trains pass by from the platform at York Mills, Lawrence and Eglinton. There is always a delay on my commute to City Hall.

At my Transit and Transportation Town Hall, TTC CEO Andy Byford addressed the issue head on and spoke to four key improvements underway to increase capacity and reliability:

  • Replacing all of the trains on the Yonge line with the new “Rocket” trains, which carry nearly 10% more passengers per train;
  • Upgrading to automatic train control, which will allow trains to run closer together, increasing capacity by up to 25% (this work is the cause of subway shutdowns over the weekend);
  • Physical and low cost improvements to Yonge-Bloor station to reduce dwell times by guiding passengers to and from trains; and,
  • The Spadina subway extension is expected to have an effect on the Yonge line, reducing demand by 5-10%.

Relief Line – The Long Term Solution

These are real and significant improvements, but we also need to think long term, and that is why I have been advocating for the Relief Line (also known as the Downtown Relief Line).

Two studies are underway exploring the options related to the Relief Line.

Metrolinx’s Yonge Relief Network Study is taking a big picture network approach and looking at how to use GO as well as suburban and city transit options to improve connectivity in the larger corridor.

Metrolinx recently hosted two public meetings for residents to provide feedback. There will be more public consultation at various stages in the process.

The city and the TTC are conducting a narrower study exploring route and station location options.

For more information on both the Metrolinx and city/TTC studies, please visit http://www.regionalrelief.ca/.

Transit and Transportation Town Hall

With TTC CEO Andy Byford, Metrolinx CEO Bruce McCuaig and Transportation Services GM Stephen Buckley f  ollowing my Transit and Transportation Town Hall

With TTC CEO Andy Byford, Metrolinx CEO Bruce McCuaig and Transportation Services GM Stephen Buckley following my Transit and Transportation Town Hall

I am pleased to report that my Ward 25 Transit and Transportation Town Hall, which took place last Tuesday at Lawrence Park Community Church, was a big success!

I brought the city’s top transit and transportation officials, TTC CEO Andy Byford, Metrolinx CEO Bruce McCuaig and Transportation Services GM Stephen Buckley, to Ward 25 to answer your questions and address your issues.

It was an interesting, informative and encouraging evening, and we heard about all of the work the city and the province are doing to tackle Toronto’s congestion problem.

I was particularly excited about the discussion surrounding the Yonge relief line – I made it clear that it was his number one priority.

As we learned from the Q&A, there is more to be done, but we are taking action.

Thank you to all who attended and brought excellent questions!

For those who missed the town hall, please see the evening’s presentations from TTC CEO Andy Byford and Metrolinx CEO Bruce McCuaig below: