BONIS CONDO home owners and residences will benefit tremendously from Light Rail Transit (LRT) on Sheppard Avenue East – from Don Mills Subway Station to Meadowvale Road. LRT makes public transit more efficiency and enjoyable from BONIS CONDO to the East along Sheppard Avenue and to the West – Don Mill Subway Station. Not only does Toronto Transit City Light Rail Plan make overall environment greener most likely it will increases the value of all BONIS CONDO units. Pre-construction activities have begun in 2009. The specific LRT construction schedule is being confirmed for 2010.
Sheppard Avenue East Light Rail Transit (LTR)
Connection at Don Mills Subway Station
The Sheppard Avenue East Light Rail Transit (LRT) will provide a fast, reliable, and comfortable way to travel on Sheppard Avenue between Don Mills Subway Station and Meadowvale Road. The LRT is planned to enter a tunnel just west of Consumers Road, travel under Highway 404 and connect directly to the subway level at Don Mills Station. The modern electrically-powered light rail vehicles will operate in dedicated transit lanes, separated from traffic.
What key benefits will this project bring to the City and Scarborough in particular?
Like everywhere across Toronto, there will be considerable growth in the Sheppard corridor in the future. By separating transit from general traffic, this project can provide a fast, reliable - i.e. predictable - ride for customers. More people will find transit attractive, so we are taking a major step towards ‘Building a Transit City”. Toronto’s Official Plan is premised on such an approach to making transit a more attractive travel option as the City grows.
The City’s Official Plan (OP) designates certain sections of the city as ‘Avenues’ where they plan to develop a more urban and pedestrian friendly street environment – this includes the section on Sheppard Ave from Victoria Park to McCowan. Light Rail Transit (LRT) will help create development in this area that is more dense, varied and transit-oriented.
The Toronto Transit Commission and the City of Toronto will construct an LRT line from Don Mills Subway Station to Meadowvale Road which will improve transit operations on Sheppard Avenue East significantly.
• The LRT will operate in reserved lanes in the middle of Sheppard Avenue East between
Consumers Road and Meadowvale Road.
• West of Consumers, the LRT is planned to operate in a tunnel under Highway 404, and
connect directly to the subway level at Don Mills Station.
• The associated road works include a major widening of Sheppard Avenue between
Pharmacy Avenue and Meadowvale Road to incorporate the LRT, two traffic lanes in each direction, separate left turn lanes, and new bicycle lanes.
• The project will include a grade-separation of Sheppard Avenue under the Agincourt GO line.
LRT Connection between Consumers Rd. and Don Mills Station
The Sheppard East LRT will enter a tunnel just west of Consumers Road,
travel under Highway 404 and ‘butt up’ against the east end of the subway platform. This
would allow transferring customers to walk from the subway to the LRT along a single
continuous platform without having to change levels.
The purpose of the project
The TTC and the City of Toronto want to identify the best way to provide high quality transit service in the Sheppard Avenue East corridor, from Don Mills Subway Station, to Morningside and potentially as far east as Meadowvale Road, in a manner whichis affordable. It makes transit a much more attractive travel option relative to the private auto; and it supports the City’s growth objectives of a better variety and density of transit-oriented developments.
The projected annual ridership of the route
In 2021, it is expected that the Sheppard East LRT will carry 17 million riders a year. Based on further, detailed forecasting (premised on development levels as far into the foreseeable future as possible - 2031) we can expect to be carrying 3000 people per hour in a single direction on the busiest point on the line.
There are two basic criteria that are generally required for a facility to be called “LRT”: electrically powered rail vehicles with power supplied from overhead wires – which allows them to operate on a city street – and operation of these vehicles in a dedicated right-of-way. The vehicles can be operated individually, or attached together and operated in ‘trains’. This right-of-way can take many forms – from lanes in the middle of the street, to hydro corridors or abandoned railway corridors
In addition to the above, all-door loading (not just front doors) is characteristic of modern LRT lines in North America and there is normally a much greater distance between stops, relative to a typical bus route.
LRT preferred over a subway extension
The design of a transit service is based on the number of people it is expected to carry per hour in a single direction at the ‘peak point’, the busiest spot on the line. City planning forecasts for the Sheppard Avenue corridor into the foreseeable future show a peak point demand in the order of 3000 people per hour. This demand can easily be accommodated by LRT, particularly given that the new light rail vehicles being designed for the TTC will be about twice the size of a standard Toronto streetcar, and can be easily ‘coupled’ to operate as two-car trains, if single vehicles operation is getting too frequent to avoid vehicles catching up and ‘bunching’. A peak point demand of 3000 per hour is well below what would be required to justify the much higher cost of a subway.
Preliminary cost estimates of a surface LRT - such as that proposed on Sheppard Avenue, including vehicles, is estimated to cost roughly $40 million per kilometre. In comparison, recent estimates for the extension of the Spadina/University subway, from Downsview station to Steeles Avenue, are over $200 million per kilometre (including vehicles).
LRT preferred over buses
LRT is more comfortable for riders, quieter, has no emissions on the street, and is far superior in carrying capacity in a constrained environment such as an arterial roadway. Buses in dedicated lanes, sometimes called BRT, or bus rapid transit, cannot easily accommodate 3000 people – the peak hour demand projected on Sheppard Avenue - unless the bus ROW includes by-pass lanes at intersections to allow some buses to operate “express” and pass “local buses” stopped to serve customers. To illustrate the problem, it would require 40 articulated buses per hour to accommodate a peak hourly demand of 3000 people. That is a bus every 1 ½ minutes. Even with dedicated lanes, buses operating this close together would catch up to one another and ‘bunching’ would result if some of them don’t operate express. Given that there are a variety of important objectives for Sheppard Avenue – in addition to high quality transit – such as a comfortable walking environment, attractive streetscaping, bike lanes, etc., there is not sufficient width available to allow for the construction of a by-pass lane to be added to the transit right of way.
Speed of LRT vs Buses
In terms of reduced travel times, in the p.m. rush hour, the bus service on Sheppard Avenue is scheduled to operate at an average speed of about 17kph. For purposes of comparison, the average speed of TTC subways is in the order of 30kph. It is expected that the LRT will travel at speeds of about 22km-25km depending on the number of stops in the final design.
Therefore the travel time savings on Sheppard using an LRT are projected to be considerably faster than bus service in the p.m. peak period, when there is the greatest interference from traffic. Keep in mind that those are today's figures - the average speed of a bus in mixed traffic would be expected to decrease as the city grows; given that the LRT is to operate in separate lanes, it will be protected from increasing traffic congestion.
The LRT run in the middle of the street
In designing dedicated transit lanes, any crossings by other traffic must have a traffic signal to ensure everyone knows who has the right-of-way. On Sheppard Avenue, or any roadway where there are very frequent un-signalized intersections and driveways, the side of the road option is not feasible because they would all have to be signalized.
The Sheppard LRT connect to the existing transit network (SRT)
SRT is a separate study looking at optional alignments – that study will determine the location of and design of the interface between the two lines. The SRT (Scarborough Rapid Transit) study website is also located at www.toronto.ca/involved.
At a minimum, it must extend far enough east to intersect with the Scarborough Malvern LRT line. At present, that line is proposed on Morningside, but that EA study will evaluate Neilson as a potential alternative. In any event, the Sheppard East LRT EA study is evaluating going as far east as Meadowvale
Traffic, Parking and Other
East of Pharmacy, Sheppard has two through traffic lanes in each direction and the road will be widened to maintain these lanes. However, there are some existing right turn lanes that may be removed to allow more space for a better pedestrian/cycling environment and better urban design. West of Pharmacy, where there are three through lanes in each direction, we expect a reduction to only two through lanes, consistent with the section to the east. However, our designs to date do not include a reduction to the number of lanes on Sheppard in the vicinity of the Hwy 404 overpass.
Left turns across the right-of-way will only be permitted where there is a traffic signal. Between traffic signals, there will be no left turns permitted from Sheppard into un-signalized intersections or driveways, or from those locations, onto Sheppard. However, there will be separate left turn lanes provided at the signalized intersections and motorists will be able to make “U” turns from these lanes; a motorist on Sheppard who now makes a left turn into a midblock driveway could, with the LRT in place, simply go past the driveway, to the next signalized intersection, and make a “U” turn to return to his/her destination.
Noise or vibration from the LRT
There will be very little noise – the greatest problem with noise on light rail lines is created at locations where the vehicle must operate through a loop to turn around. This creates ‘wheel squeal”. The vehicles on Sheppard are planned to be ‘double-ended” – ie. have an operators’ cab at both ends so it can be operated in either direction. It will reverse direction at each end of the line, similar to the operation of a subway, and therefore will not need loops. TTC will design the trackbed to dampen vibration and ensure it is kept at an acceptable level; as part of the EA study, TTC will be undertaking a vibration assessment.
Cost and Timelines
At the very earliest, pre-construction coordinated activities such as watermain work could start in Fall of 2009. The specific LRT construction schedule is being confirmed and is anticipated for 2010.