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Fantasy map fuses the TTC and GO Transit

Posted by Derek Flack / January 31, 2014

Metro RailTTC fantasy maps tend to be, as their designation suggests, wildly unrealistic visions of transit expansion in Toronto. Typically showing sprawling grids of new subway and LRT infrastructure, one's first reaction in seeing them is less hope than it is mild despair at just how far we have to go when it comes to building a comprehensive transit network across the GTA. That's not necessarily the case with this recent effort from Matthew Canaran of Hogtown Commons. Designed using Jonathan English's CityRail concept, the map envisions an electrified GO Transit network that's merged with the TTC to achieve much wider coverage than what each system currently offers.

Canaran is quick to point out that this is an idealized vision for the entire Golden Horseshoe, not just Toronto -- an important distinction given the pressure suburban commuting puts on our transportation network. You'll also note that there's no Finch West LRT on the map, but the designer confirms that this was an intentional omission. "In designing this map, I decided that any LRT lines that weren't already under construction would be axed, and costs would be diverted to electrifying GO... it's not going to pay for itself."

It's an intriguing idea. Is it any more realistic than some of the other fantasy maps we've seen? Maybe. But it still underscores what a long way we have to go. Read more on the CityRail proposal here, and check out a full size version of the map here.



Chris / January 31, 2014 at 08:46 am
This really is what our city should be.
BrianSYYZ / January 31, 2014 at 08:59 am
No downtown relief lines for the TTC?
Csil / January 31, 2014 at 09:08 am
This really looks like a modern north american city!
MikeSafari / January 31, 2014 at 09:18 am
The fact that the lines through Peel don't join up disheartens me. Either that or the author forgot about the Highway 10 LRT that's heading our way (eventually).
barryg / January 31, 2014 at 09:32 am
Holy hell, someone gets it. Subways to the suburbs are a terrible way to spend money. 10/15min all day two-way surface rail would be significantly cheaper and provide better and faster service into downtown.
Cynthia / January 31, 2014 at 09:40 am
I would extend the Sheppard line west to at least Sheppard West.
tbear / January 31, 2014 at 09:48 am
Incredible. Street traffic would diminish significantly. Toronto it's time to start making some serious changes.
RobFord / January 31, 2014 at 09:53 am
What's efficient this public transit WITHOUT subways, subways, subways?! Not in my town folks. This will just tear up roads.
thislittlepiggie / January 31, 2014 at 09:53 am
+1 Downtown Relief Line. Built along King St, joining Dundas West to Broadview? Something like that would make the congestion in the core a LOT better.

Otherwise, a great vision; much more practical to have surface rail than subways to the 'burbs.
Europe / January 31, 2014 at 10:00 am
Heyyyy... It actually looks like one of my cities. Dream the dream guys... Keep on keepin on.
king / January 31, 2014 at 10:08 am
Wishful thinking @ buffalo line!!!
Inaki / January 31, 2014 at 10:10 am
making and sharing fantasy maps of the TTC, a great GTA past-time
Mark replying to a comment from BrianSYYZ / January 31, 2014 at 10:13 am
I thought the same thing!
Ravi / January 31, 2014 at 10:19 am
Looks great, kinda of like transit friendly LA or ATL.
Stephen / January 31, 2014 at 10:24 am
This is exactly how the transit map of Toronto should look, but my only grevence is with these outrageously stupid LRT's. If anything, this winter should solidify in everyone's mind how awful LRT's actually are. I would love for the LRT's to work because they seem to be great in Europe, but Toronto's weather and its population do not require more LRT's. We need a subway system that will cost close to 10 billion but will last for decades.
BillyO / January 31, 2014 at 10:25 am
This or the CityRail concept plus a DRL is all we need.
Stephen replying to a comment from RobFord / January 31, 2014 at 10:27 am
From a Canadian traveler who has just returned from some of the greatest countries in Europe, I could not agree with you more! Subways, subways, subways. Yea it'll cost alot, but you get what you pay for. With all the services and repairs to the LRT lines, Toronto's LRT's costs will eventually surpass the subways total costs. FORD MORE YEARS!
The Doctor replying to a comment from Stephen / January 31, 2014 at 10:39 am
Honestly? What european cities have expansive subway networks? London and Paris. There's some underground in Berlin, Rome has two metro lines that don't enter the city, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Helsinki have mixed overground-underground light rail, I call bullshit. You have no idea what you're talking about and you're never going to find the money to pay for subways. London, New York and Paris were able to build expansive underground systems because labour was virtually free and there was no other major infrastructure to get in the way. They are also geographically confined cities with tight urban corridors. Labourers in modern Toronto cost a small fortune (and rightfully so), we have expansive underground infrastructure that we don't necessarily know the exact location of, and we have a dispersed population that is nowhere near as constrained as, for example, New York. Unless you want to live in a Manhattan style apartment city where 1200sqft costs you $4500/month, get over your subway dreams. LRTs are brilliant technologies that can run underground where necessary but do not cost anywhere near as much to build or maintain as heavy rail. Enough of this subway bullshit. Most of you subway advocates wouldn't even be able to tell the difference between the two vehicles anyway.
Dave / January 31, 2014 at 10:47 am
I'd vote for the mayor that tables a realistic plan to make something like this happen. It's, in all likelihood, less expensive and more impactful than many of the other plans being tossed around. What is required is visionary leadership at the city, who is not afraid to lead the charge.
the lemur replying to a comment from Stephen / January 31, 2014 at 10:51 am
There are cities in Europe (and elsewhere) that have winter weather that is equal to or worse than ours and their LRTs work fine. In fact LRT often works better than buses in snowy conditions.

The whole 'LRT won't work because, hello, we have winter' argument is feeble quibbling. Minneapolis, Calgary, Edmonton, Denver, Oslo, Helsinki prove otherwise.

The argument that people won't wait outside in winter for an LRT is BS as well. They don't seem to have a problem with waiting for a bus in those conditions, plus there are always factors such as, oh I don't know, checking the schedule and showing up at the stop on time? Dressing appropriately? Waiting indoors somewhere nearby?

'With all the services and repairs to the LRT lines, Toronto's LRT's costs will eventually surpass the subways total costs'

You truly have no idea what the cost of running and maintaining a subway (or entirely underground LRT, if that's what it turns out to be) is, do you? What do you think is involved with tunnel maintenance? How long do you think subway rails last (hint: not 100 years) vs LRT rails?
Mike / January 31, 2014 at 10:53 am
Seriously, why isn't it like this? Probably because it makes too much sense
the lemur replying to a comment from The Doctor / January 31, 2014 at 10:59 am
Madrid has a pretty extensive subway network (10 lines), augmented by 3 lines of LRT (marked as ML on the map):

London and Paris added LRT (long after they had removed their street railways) because there were areas not properly served by the subway but which did not warrant subway-type capacity. That is exactly what is at issue with replacing the SRT - even if that becomes a full subway, there will huge overcapacity (as with Sheppard) and there will be almost no need to put it underground either.

dan / January 31, 2014 at 12:08 pm
I never understood why the they seem to be so keen on making it quick and easy to come in from the suburbs only to pour into a downtown system that is the opposite? bottleneck? DVP? And from what I've observed over the years: a large number of people from those areas are more interested in driving their cars anyway. Even if they did choose to transit its like "lets bring more people into what is already congested and poorly planned." Maybe I'm misinformed, but it really feels like they are basing themselves off of some sort or simple economic growth chart instead of looking at whats really happening/needed in the city.
the lemur replying to a comment from dan / January 31, 2014 at 12:19 pm
It's often not even a growth chart or any figures or facts.

Suburbanite: We deserve a subway because we do!

City: Actually, if you had the ridership/density to support a subway, that would be overburdening the existing network downtown, which is overcapacity. We should alleviate that first.

Suburbanite: Downtown already has enough subways!

City: Your situation warrants LRT capacity, not subway.

Suburbanite: If it's an LRT people won't take it! We deserve a subway!

City: What if we built an LRT nonetheless?

Suburbanite: I won't take it! I'll keep driving! I never take transit anyway!
Christina / January 31, 2014 at 12:40 pm
This looks like london subway.
It is so much easier like this, so should be done
balls / January 31, 2014 at 12:50 pm
that line to buffalo is a joke lmao
Materloo replying to a comment from balls / January 31, 2014 at 01:22 pm
I'd prefer to call it an idealistic vision.
dan replying to a comment from the lemur / January 31, 2014 at 07:17 pm
truth be told!
Theo / January 31, 2014 at 10:51 pm
I still don't understand why people in Toronto don't consider the street car lines on St. Clair and Spadina as LRT. The cars may not be as long, but most cities in the world get by with labeling such urban transit as a subway or LRT. This is especially true with the new streetcars coming in.

As to going to Buffalo? I am not sure how that would work. I used to live in Buffalo and they only have one line, it is hard to fathom that they go for more, or that this would be viable in any practical way.
Jason / February 1, 2014 at 09:51 am
Soo.. if it now costs $3 to ride the TTC in its current state, and this map shows a system thats 3-4 times the size, does it follow that it would cost somewhere between $9 and $12 to ride this one?? I know fare vs size or usefulness of a transit system aren't going to correlate, but it always got me how the Toronto subway is only a fraction of the size (and usefulness) of NYC's, yet costs *more* to ride.
Matt / February 2, 2014 at 01:06 am
Historically there has been an alternative light rail system which linked Halton and Peel Counties with the City of Toronto. Remnants of the trail are now but a local memory and flattened terrain hiking through the small remnants of non urbanized bush-lands along the once popular route. I frequented three original stops along that route with school friends and play-mates. Easily reached by bicycle and hiking trails to the local fishing holes olng the Credit River. One of the original station platforms was still standing and had been dragged from the treeline onto someone's back property to be used as a garden shed back then. The building was no more than eight feet by four to my recollection of some twenty-plus years ago. Nothing more than a lean-to shack on raised log foundation with a wooden plank "floor" open along one side to keep patrons and luggage out of the worst of the rain. Much like contemporary bus shelters except constructed of crude timbers with a tin roof nailed in place overhead. This rail system was used to transport Toronto residents out of the heat of the city to the bucolic settings available along the beautiful Credit River Valley where many rented tiny summer "cottages". Many people regularly rode the radial railway as commuters back in the day. That's how my grandmother traveled into Toronto to purchase her wedding dress at Eaton's. Parisian made of delicate pink silk. A story fondly recollected and told often enough to have stuck all these years. This was a trip long in the planning and even longer in the scrimping and saving for in the 1920's.
I heard that the Streetcar Museum south of the village of Rockwood Ontario has the only known remaining platform on display of this once popular transit system. I don't know if there's truth in that or not.
The tracks ran on a narrower/lighter guage than the TTC streetcars or typical freight rail systems. Making this the GTA's first light rail transit system? This ultimately was the undoing of this transit system as it didn't conform to the more larger standard and was phased out. Or so I've been told.
A lot of what I've just posted above is hearsay and second hand knowledge passed down from family and friends and neighbours. I grew up in the countryside not far from the area directly serviced by the system I just mentioned. Below I've posted two links on Wikipedia regarding the historic rail systems and the transit museum.
What's old and gone from memory is a "new" concept again. It worked back then and it will again given the opportunity. Wouldn't it be nice to slow down , relax and enjoy the trip along a scenic river valley and through once furtile farmland dotted by quaint little villages on a modern radial railway as once was? It's predominantly urban sprawl now with little countryside left to enjoy, but the commute would still be better and far more earth and future friendly.
Excuse me now my eyes are tired from staring at celebrity twerk-jerks on a Fordapaloser scale of meltdown. My cellphone tells me I have texts eagerly awaiting reply and an email or two to read, while it seems my microwave is beeping impatiently for me to get my cup of instant gratification out of it's warming belly...what was that I was saying about slowing down and relaxing? Enjoy the links.
Peter Browne / February 2, 2014 at 08:30 pm
Extend the Lakeshore line from Buffalo to Rochester and back to Toronto - add a train bridge from Rochester to the Billy Bishop City Centre (Island) Airport then along the shore to Union
Tushar / February 4, 2014 at 09:30 pm
LMAO! This is so sad. Our fantasy of Toronto is having a transportation that we should already have.
James Powell / March 20, 2014 at 09:39 pm
The Hydro railways...ah, yes. They were full streetcar systems, often built to light railway standards, and rather heavier than the average streetcar system was _at that time_. At that time, the typical electric streetcar was perhaps, a Peter Witt, or a converted horse car. Think of how much a horse can x5 that (on rails), and that's what the streetcars used to be...or see "Not a One Horse Town". HCR is indeed one of the last bits of the Hydro railways. I am not sure that the Rockwood platform is original, it might well be like grandfather's axe now anyway. As regards gauge, I seem to think most of the Hydro railways were 4 8 1/2" gauge, whereas for historic reasons, Toronto Street Railways, and the other components of the TTC have always been at 4' 10". (exactly WHY is open to a couple of bits of conjecture, but, the normally given reason is that the standard horse drawn waggon in Ontario was gauged to 4' 10" edge to edge, so they could run in the tracks in the 1870-1910 period). I'd rather see electric GO on a more rigorous schedule than foolishly spending money replacing surface lines with subsurface. While electrifying GO will take time, if a start was made, then it eventually reaches a point where it makes sense to finish the entire job. I think overhead is a better idea than 3rd rail, but again, there are technical and asthetic arguments in each case.

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