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Metrolinx promises Downtown Relief Line by 2028

Posted by Chris Bateman / November 29, 2012

toronto downtown relief lineMetrolinx plans to break ground on a relief valve for the overcrowded Yonge subway line in the next 15 years, the transit agency's CEO Bruce McCuaig told the Toronto Board of Trade in a keynote speech this afternoon. The next phase of a $34-billion provincial project dubbed the "Big Move" will also see the Yonge line extended beyond Finch into Richmond Hill.

The elephant in the room, as always, is funding. McCuaig encouraged GTA municipalities and the province to "start the conversation" on ways to pay for the new projects, which also include bus rapid transit lines on Dundas West into Mississauga and Halton, and an LRT on Hurontario-Main from Port Credit to downtown Brampton, but offered no little solid advice on how Metrolinx plans to pay for the work.

"There's an expectation there's going to be use of both what are normally considered to be provincial funding tools and municipal funding tools," McCuaig told the media. "What those tools are, the spread between them, and the rates, we'll have to see when we come up with our final advice in June."

"It's important to provide more capacity, not just for the downtown area but more broadly in the region so we can support other projects. It's as important to bring suburban people ... as it is to move people within downtown Toronto."toronto downtown relief lineWhen the TTC release its own plan for the relief line, city manager Joe Pennachetti proffered several fees, taxes, and tolls as a way of bridging the gaping funding gap. The items that promised to generate the most cash were a 1 cent a kilometre highway toll ( $1.5 billion), a 1 per cent personal income tax ($1.4 billion), or a 1 per cent sales tax ($1.3 billion). Including the broader GTA in these fees would be a good way to kick-start the fund raising.

Specifics on the line could still be some way off. Brad Ross at the TTC confirmed moving the project forward ties in with the Commission's own idea for the connector line most recently discussed in October. "We will work closely with Metrolinx," he said. "There is a financing strategy that Metrolinx is undertaking, the City of Toronto is doing public consultations on funding mechanisms for public transit ... obviously a DRL would require several billion dollars so the funding needs to be in place."

"The first thing we need to do is step back from the lines on a map that we're sometimes so quick on drawing and just think about what's the best project," McCuaig continued, mentioning that a Queen/King to Pape route or an alignment that uses existing rail corridors is on the table.

The whopping $34 billion funding target for the DRL and all of Metrolinx's other transit projects is positively eye-watering, but it's certainly achievable. A report on just how they plan to get that money is due on June 1st 2013 and a firm decision will (ideally) be made soon after. They'll need to hurry up if they're to keep to the 15 year time frame.

Does this announcement make you anymore hopeful for the DRL? Is this a sign Metrolinx, the TTC, Toronto, and the province are getting serious about finding funding? Sound off.

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Images: Metrolinx and TTC.



Josh / November 29, 2012 at 03:39 pm
2045 with delays...
hoob15 replying to a comment from Josh / November 29, 2012 at 03:46 pm
2045? ya that's being optimistic lol
my question is how they can set a date when the main issue of funding still hasn't been resolved yet.
Blair / November 29, 2012 at 03:48 pm
"Metrolinx plans to break ground on a relief valve for the overcrowded Yonge subway line in the next 15 years."

Correction, they plan to have it completed in 15 years. Not started.

Rafa / November 29, 2012 at 03:54 pm
Nice - will be retired by the meantime, I gotta put up with an overcrowded system
Chris Bateman / November 29, 2012 at 03:55 pm
Surely the statement is still true, though. Unless they break ground after they finish.
Is this 2030 or 1930? / November 29, 2012 at 03:55 pm
So...a city of 8 million people will still have 2 subway lines. Right. Is there any other city of this magnitude anywhere else in the world with such a large amount of insufficient subways? Anyone? Didn't think so.
John / November 29, 2012 at 03:56 pm
I like the DRL plan and fully support pushing this through. However, if we do it, we should do it right the first time. This is the cheapest form of construction as each additional separately funded "phase" has built-in financial and political costs. The risk of intertia is too great. Do it and do it all at once.

Also, on the same point, there should be a couple of more stops on each branch. For example, on the "western" branch, it should be Spadina, Bathurst, Liberty Village (or Strachan), Dufferin, etc. Stations are expensive - but they are the whole point of generating ridership sufficient to sustain the operation of the subway line. Cheaping out by skipping necessary stops is just shooting ourselves in the collective and proverbial foot.
Rob K / November 29, 2012 at 03:58 pm
The purpose of Metrolinx is to bring together a number of different transit systems under one umbrella. I hate announcements like this because they are just futile, and, as pointed out above, the timelines are best guesses and overly optimistic. When the province created this body it should have absorbed every GTA transit system, including GO, under its scope. To go a step further, it should have been given the tools to raise revenue to pay for these projects that wouldn't be bogged down in discussion (items like tolls, congestion taxes, etc.) and delayed.
Al replying to a comment from Is this 2030 or 1930? / November 29, 2012 at 04:00 pm
L.A. has two subways and several LRTs.
Al replying to a comment from Al / November 29, 2012 at 04:05 pm
I should point out that Toronto actually has three lines including the Sheppard stubway. Plus, YUS is more like two lines.
Confused / November 29, 2012 at 04:08 pm
15 years to build 13 km of track? That is 0.86 km per year. Or 2.4 meters of tunnel per day. I bet a bunch of us could do better with simple shovels. Seriously though - why does it take so long. And how come countries in the so called developing world are able to complete such systems in a fraction of time.
aband1d / November 29, 2012 at 04:12 pm
Hah, and by then the cities population will be so off the charts THAT system won't be able to handle the volume!
Ace McNugget / November 29, 2012 at 04:14 pm
yay one more downtown line, and what looks like about 35 for the suburbs.
Jane / November 29, 2012 at 04:18 pm
I find the split between GO and TTC insane. Imagine if they were all 1 network. Poof look there is the DRL.

I really wonder what things would be like the if the GO lines were re-imagined as part of the TTC, with more service and more stops.

I think the divide between the two is worse for everyone.

If there is a rationale for this (beside politics) I'd like to hear it.
j-rock / November 29, 2012 at 04:19 pm
While any news of transit expansion is welcome, what they are proposing is needed now. In fact, it was needed 10 years ago. This will only be effective if the population of Toronto doesn't increase at all, and that's certainly not going to happen. 2028 sounds like a long time from now, but I guess looking back the same amount of time puts us in the mid-90s, which doesn't actually feel all that long ago.
rodolfo / November 29, 2012 at 04:22 pm
"The Mexican capital is operating a new 25.1-kilometer (15.5-mile) Metro line that cost nearly $1.7 billion...";CategoryId=14091
Val / November 29, 2012 at 04:30 pm
So funny how far behind toronto is when it comes to infrastructure and looking article like this should have been printed 15 years ago.
Rob replying to a comment from Confused / November 29, 2012 at 04:37 pm
Very good questions..would like someone to address this.

The Bloor Danforth line took about 8 years for 26km. One could argue that in the 50's, there wasn't as much "stuff" to work around (or under, or through) as the City wasn't as developed. One could also argue that there was less of a premium placed on worker safety - I believe 10 men died in the process.

But you can't deny that technology now is also much more advanced. Still, you raise a valid point.

The answer is probably as simple as "red tape".
Jacob / November 29, 2012 at 04:50 pm
2028, eh?

That's 16 years full of opportunities for human wrecking balls like Ford to sabotage the whole thing.

Something like this needs to be set in stone, with zero ability to sabotage it.
Douglas / November 29, 2012 at 05:05 pm

The City needs to make Laws that make Developers give money to infrastructure if they are creating residents in an area that originally did not... or if the increase is quite large. For example, the Mirvish plan on King, they are adding hundreds of people to an area that did not have that many residents. They should be forced to give money to Metrolinx to help fund infrastructure.

There are so many condo's and Developers that they probably would not even care that much. Demand is high now, so capitalize on it.
Ryan / November 29, 2012 at 05:13 pm
Bangkok has a very undeveloped subway (a lot of it is raised like in Chicago) and it has a larger population than Toronto. Bangalore also doesn't have much of a subway. There are only 2 subway systems in Africa, I believe. So, Mr/Ms 2030, Toronto's not the worst.
hendrix / November 29, 2012 at 05:14 pm
I hope people are willing to pay for this... I am... But every time somebody talks about money people get scared off of possible tools, like tolls. Ugh. Damnit, I'd accept a 1% income tax increase to get this stuff done.
Rob replying to a comment from Ryan / November 29, 2012 at 05:16 pm
Glad to see we're aspiring to be just slightly better than 3rd world countries.
Dicked Faceasshole / November 29, 2012 at 05:55 pm
I want more yellow lines.
nippleholic replying to a comment from Is this 2030 or 1930? / November 29, 2012 at 07:16 pm
Rome currently also only has two lines (a third is under construction).
Lee Zamparo replying to a comment from John / November 29, 2012 at 08:39 pm
"Do it and do it all at once."

Not a good idea. There aren't enough workers to get it all done at once. There would be *massive* decades long disruptions, much worse than what we currently undergo with Union, Weston, YUS -> Vaughan extension. There would be a big spike in materials prices, as Metrolinx would compete with condo developers (and everyone else) for concrete, steel, workers, etc.

Plus, the whole thing would have to be planned and carried out by Metrolinx in 15 years. It's taken them 3 to come up with a plan for how to pay for it, and that's assuming they don't ask for an extension as we approach June 2013.
Franco / November 29, 2012 at 09:08 pm
When it comes to transit, Toronto can't make a single sane decision.
Bubba / November 29, 2012 at 09:19 pm
never gonna happen, when the provincial election happens all the funding for this will get cut and I wouldn't be surprised if the ongoing ttc expansions gets canceled also.
Anon replying to a comment from Is this 2030 or 1930? / November 29, 2012 at 09:42 pm
Los Angeles
Is this 2030 or 1930? / November 29, 2012 at 10:15 pm
2 answers for LA. Great, so the closest we're modelling this city on is 1970's America. Thought so. Nevermind the fact that LA has a downtown core half the size of TO's even though LA's overall population is twice the size of TO's. Screw 1970's America, this should be a 21st century tech hub on par with Europe. Even Stockholm and Munich has a better system than us!
Aaron / November 30, 2012 at 07:54 am
YES!! Another transit plan! It's been almost a month since there's been a new transit plan!
Jay / November 30, 2012 at 08:37 am
More proof the elite at city hall think of the people in the suburbs as second class citizens in Toronto. I guess the 675,000 people in east end don't count again.

And 15 years to build this short bit if subway??? There is no way it should take that long.
McRib / November 30, 2012 at 08:57 am
Metrolinx is part of city hall?

Jay, you are a parody of an idiot, right?
Todd / November 30, 2012 at 09:36 am
Elevated trains need to be on the table too. Cheaper than putting it underground... conceivably, a N/S line could be built right on top of the DVP.
Me / November 30, 2012 at 09:49 am
" I guess the 675,000 people in east end don't count again."

Of course not, it's Scarborough and they're all drug dealing Gangbangers.
Sarah / November 30, 2012 at 11:52 am
Better late than never. But the proposed DRL isn't ambitious enough. It should go up close or even better PAST the northern borders of the city on both ends, should stop in a few more places on the current route (Bathurst, somewhere else between Yonge and Bayview/River). Plus the big move should be pushing for at least another route or three in Toronto.... Kinda like... gasp... TRANSIT CITY. Yes, I said it.
Simon Tarses replying to a comment from Sarah / November 30, 2012 at 02:17 pm
Sorry Sarah, but a DRL should be exactly that; a DOWNTOWN RELIEF LINE. Not a line that goes past the northern borders on both sides. The LRT lines can candle the rest-the job of the DRL should be to relieve pressure on the YUS and the BDL. Besides, the YUS is already being extended to Vaughn anyway.

Agree with you about what the LRT lines should be-in fact, as I've already said, we should have a line down Victoria Park, Finch (all the way to Old Finch and Morningside if possible) and one line down Pharmacy, to revitalize that area (or, we could build another streetcar line down Pharmacy and get rid of the bus.)
Simon Tarses replying to a comment from Is this 2030 or 1930? / November 30, 2012 at 02:19 pm
If you love LA and the other city so much, why don't you move to either of them?
Sarah / November 30, 2012 at 02:21 pm
I just took another look at one of the transit city maps. If this DRL as shown was extended in the west end north of Bloor essentially following Jane St. to York University and beyond, and on the east end extended north of Eglinton up Don Mills into Thornhill and beyond AND we also prioritized a Lakeshore LRT, hooking the Lakeshore LRT up to the DRL in the west and east end and extending Eglinton to the airport we'd be in decent shape public transit-wise. Just saying.
Sarah / November 30, 2012 at 02:40 pm
I don't agree with you Simon. The entire YUS line is overcrowded. Overcrowding downtown is caused not just by trips starting from downtown, but those starting from uptown. It will relive the downtown part of the YUS line even more if the downtown relief line is extended further north. It doesn't at all hurt that goal. Read the various transportation plans. I have. Also, I don't like thinking that pits downtown against other parts of the city. We are a region. We need to think regionally. I should also add the plan is for the DRL in the east end to go as far north as Eglinton. Why not do at least the same in the east. Plus, Jane and Don Mills are two of the priority n-s transit corridors long identified by planners so why not take advantage of this push and try to do more. Bold plans are better. We usually get less than what we ask for so why not go big?
Simon Tarses replying to a comment from Sarah / November 30, 2012 at 04:53 pm
We don't need any more big subways, to be frank, and the DRL should really be it. As it is, it's going to be disruptive to neighborhoods anyway, what with all of the building of emergency exits that will be needed. It'd rather have an LRT line through part of downtown, but at least it will be built, and it will take pressure off of the BDL and the YUS-which is more important that just extending it all the way to nowhere as usual.
Aaron / November 30, 2012 at 07:16 pm
Of this year's 47 transit plans (and there's still a month to go!), this is definitely one of my favourites. There are many different types of dots, some really BIG letters, and the yellow goes really well with the green.

It will be fun to see all the new transit plans that are sure to come our way over the coming decades. I'm really looking forward to 2035 as that will be the 50th anniversary of the first DRL plan. Oh boy! I bet they make a super-cool fantasy map for that one!
Kelly / December 3, 2012 at 09:56 am
Great, so we have to wait at best 15 years. What do we do till then?!
Alex / December 3, 2012 at 02:23 pm
Yeah, right. Until the money is committed I have no faith in the project. Even if Metrolinx submits their report on time in June 2013 I still don't have faith the feds, province, or city will be brave enough to commit to the funding models provided. Chances are we'll either have a minority Tory or Lib govt in parliament. The Libs and NDP might come together to commit, but the Libs are so shaky right now I just don't see them being willing enough to lose all the support that short-sighted fools that oppose this represent. Whoever is mayor then will be worrying about the upcoming election in 2014 and won't be willing to risk losing support in it by proposing unpopular tolls/taxes.

GO is not a DRL. Due to track congestion and sharing with CN it could never run often enough. Some of the lines only run a few times in the morning rush hour and the evening rush hour, and that's it. GO will never be a DRL, sorry.
Skye replying to a comment from Ryan / December 3, 2012 at 03:19 pm
Agreed. Chicago doesn't even HAVE a subway, just the El trains. While the system is extensive, the trains arrive less frequently than our subways (about every 10 minutes). Not to mention: those elevated platforms are horrendously cold on a windy January Chicago day.
Harry Who replying to a comment from Is this 2030 or 1930? / December 4, 2012 at 01:40 pm
If all you can do is bitch about how Toronto has a subway smaller than New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Stockholm and Munich, then why the frack don't you get your ass out of Toronto and move to these cities to live?
AerialFlyer replying to a comment from Harry Who / December 5, 2012 at 10:18 am
Telling folks to get out of Toronto because they think we don't have a sufficient transit system(*compared to most first world cities our size) is like telling a child "Well Jimmy.. if you like this family, why don't you just get a NEW one".
You'd want to work things out right?
Harry Who / December 5, 2012 at 07:58 pm
Sorry for my vitriol, guys. I have sex on average twice per year and sometimes my anxiety gets the best of me. Look at me, I'm telling people to leave Canada because they think one city's subway could be better! Time to throw these Frito-Lays in the trash, delete Skyrim, learn to shave, and do some situps.
Marc / December 6, 2012 at 11:15 am
It still won't happen. There will be all talk and "studies". Besides, some are saying that a lot of our money is going to foreign aid and other places like the US and EU countries, which is why they continue to have bailouts (they are broke) and we have nothing much here to show from our taxes.
The REAL Harry Who replying to a comment from Harry Who / March 2, 2013 at 03:18 pm
I had no idea somebody else's sex life was relevant to a conversation about public transit. I guess that you couldn't counter what was said, so you had to insult somebody's virginity instead. Looks like you're the one with the sex problems.
cassandra replying to a comment from Ace McNugget / March 9, 2013 at 12:38 am
tell it!
cassandra replying to a comment from Kelly / March 9, 2013 at 12:39 am
come to Thailand and watch the show from here!

LOVE T.O. - it's my home forever, but I'm not coming back until they at least break ground on a DRL.
Sil / March 21, 2013 at 04:58 pm
Can't understand these delays. These plans should be already approved. Build at least one end for now anything is better than politicians talking
Pattaya From Bangkok / April 29, 2013 at 06:23 am
It's impressive that you are getting ideas from this article as well as from our dialogue made at this time.
Dan replying to a comment from Al / June 24, 2013 at 04:53 pm
No, LA has six metro rail systems and 2 metro transitways. Just saying.
Other Cities: Montreal