Lakeshore Local Transit: Sound Plan or Just Another Dream?

Lakeshore Local Express Transit Proposal [ - view it larger - ]

Why pipedream of building new subway lines when you can pursue a more realistic plan, spend a fraction of the cost, and get efficient results?

This is what Matthew Day, candidate for city council, proposes and hopes to see come to fruition. He has a vision for a Lakeshore Local Express transit service that would use existing CN track and GO Transit stations. Building new stations at Kipling and Parklawn/Humber (and considering expansion to include a Roncesvalle stop as well) are part of the plan. Purchasing 5 sets of inexpensive diesel-electric trains, laying just 2km of new track, and forging and fine-tuning a cooperative relationship with GO Transit, VIA Rail, and the TTC are also crucial.

"I like to compare it to a new subway line along the Lakeshore, except it won't cost billions of dollars to build, and can be made to happen very quickly," Day blogs.

I recently had a chance to speak with Matthew Day, who offered some further insight into his Lakeshore transit proposal and how it might affect the citizens in his ward.

Carrying out this plan "would be of massive public benefit," he states. "Crime is here, and it's a function of under-development," adds Day. Citing geographical segregation and aging industry, Day is confident that an express transit system connecting Etobicoke south to Union Station will help spur economic development.

While 24h service and departures every 14minutes at peak, and every 30-minutes during non-peak hours may seem like ambitious targets, Day is confident that it can be done, and at a fraction of the cost of other unattainable proposals (or utopian dreams). A startup cost estimated at less than $100M, and annual projected revenues of $14.5M seem fiscally sound, if these targets are indeed attainable.

He also believes that the resulting 2% (estimated) reduction in commuter traffic on the problem-plagued Gardiner will alleviate some of the congestion and reduce emissions that contribute to pollution. Day went on to add that his ward is the second worst in Toronto for air-quality and it's constituents have higher than average instances of asthma.

When asked how quickly this new transit leg could be up and running, Day optimistically claims that between 6 and 12 months are all that would be required.

While it may seem too good to be true, I do think this proposal has merit. One of the greatest challenges, however, will be getting GO Transit on board. When asked about how the new Lakeshore Local line might affect existing GO ridership and profits, Day admits that it's a hurdle. "GO Transit's main focus is on regular, larger fare passengers," he claims. While this may be true, it doesn't really address the issue of short-trip customers.

Will GO Transit cooperate, knowing that the new line would result in loss of short-trip passengers?

What other issues might arise?

Is this a sound plan or just another transit user's dream?

(map of proposed Lakeshore Local line by Jerrold Litwinenko from public domain source image at wikipedia)

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