Stakeholder Advisory Group Meeting #1 - Minutes

Date of Meeting: June 9, 2016
Start Time: 6:30 p.m.
Project Name: Eglinton West LRT
Location: St. Demetrius Church Hall
Regarding: Stakeholder Advisory Group Meeting #1
Minutes Prepared By: Tiffany Dionne, AECOM

Overview

On Thursday, June 9, Metrolinx and the City of Toronto hosted a stakeholder meeting to discuss the SmartTrack - Eglinton LRT Western Extension. This project was initiated after a feasibility review of the SmartTrack Western Corridor concluded that heavy rail would come at a high cost, have negative community impacts, and attract comparatively lower ridership to an LRT. In March 2016, Toronto City Council endorsed removing the heavy rail option for the Western Corridor in favour of further studying of the Eglinton West LRT by reviewing the Environmental Assessment to optimize the design. This was the first stakeholder meeting.

Attending

SAG Member

  • Glen Agar Residents Association (GARA) - Janice Charles
  • Glen Agar Residents Association (GARA) - George Chilakos
  • Our Place Initiative - Lynn Kennedy
  • Toronto Airport Worker Council - Monica Avero
  • TTCRiders - Mike Oliver
  • West Park Healthcare Centre - David Garlin

Staff

  • City of Toronto - Nish Bala
  • City of Toronto –Michael Hain
  • City of Toronto – Maria Doyle
  • City of Toronto – Stella Gustavson
  • Metrolinx - Marcus Bowman
  • Metrolinx - Becca Nagorsky

Key Issues

  1. Understanding the operation and design of LRT and how it impacts the local community in terms of aesthetics and traffic.
  2. Ensuring that the LRT will serve the local population, low income residents and major economic centres such as the airport.
  3. Potential costs for construction, costs for the different alternatives and grade separations, and differences in operational costs.

Summary of Discussion

Michael Hain, Planner, Transit Implementation Unit, City Planning Division offered a brief introduction to the session on behalf of the City of Toronto. Becca Nagorsky, Senior Advisor, Project Planning, Metrolinx presented an overview of the Eglinton West LRT project. Following the presentation, stakeholders were invited to ask questions to the team. The following questions or comments are included, and are organized by theme: Questions are noted with a “Q”, comments with a “C” and answers with “A”. 

Alignment/Design

Q1: What is a grade separation?

A1: A grade separation is where the travel path or intersection is above or below street level.

Q2: Why are you considering grade separations at Jane and Scarlett?
A2: The Jane and Scarlett area has sensitive environmental conditions and features, such as the Humber River and Eglinton Flats, where grade separations would be beneficial to overcome the barriers that these features present.

Q3: What about Islington and Royal York – why was there not detailed work done to review these intersections?
A3: There are no constraints at Islington or Royal York, like those at Jane or Scarlett, that require special consideration. Further traffic studies will be done at all intersections along the corridor as the study moves forward.

Q4: How do left-hand turns work if the LRT runs in dedicated lanes?
A4: Left-hand turns would be permitted at some intersections and could be facilitated through signalling, in other situations it may be necessary to utilize U-turns for traffic that wishes to go left.

Q5: Can you supply a visualization of the proposed left-turns?

A5: This will be considered for future meetings.

Q6: If grade separations are done, would it enable left turns at Kipling and Martin Grove?
A6: Yes, if there were grade-separations used at Kipling or Martin Grove it would allow for normal left turn traffic.

Q7: What would it look like? Can there be consideration for trees, places to gather, public squares etc. in the design?
A7: There is a possibility that a study, similar to Eglinton Connects could be done to look at the corridor and the community as a whole, in concert with this study.

Q8: In a suburban setting like this, how far would someone walk to an LRT stop?
A8: Typical stop spacing for higher-order transit such as LRT is between 500 to 800 metres or about a 10 to 15 minute walk. This will vary based on the land use and the travel options.

Operations

Q1: How do people pay?

A1: Payment will be by smartcard or by pre-purchase of tickets at the LRT stations – similar to the Viva System.

Q2: What is a Traction Power Substation? How large is it? How frequent along the route and where is it placed?
A2: The Traction Power Substation supplies power to the overheard system for the LRT. They are typically 8-20 metres in size and spaced about every 1.5 km along the route. They are normally placed beside the roadway and can be designed to minimize visual impact with fencing, landscaping or placement into existing buildings.

Q3: What is special track work?
A3: These would be tracks that allow the LRT to turn or change service and would be located where needed. This sort of track exists all over the city and is not high profile. An example would be along any of the current streetcar routes in the City.

Q4: What is the difference in operating costs between at-grade and underground LRT?
A4: While there are some cost benefits with underground LRT – since the system would not be subject to weather conditions, this cost benefit is lost when you consider that there is a significantly higher cost to construction of the system, stations would require more infrastructure and the cost of maintenance of the stations would be higher.

Q5: Is there more potential to gain riders if the system is buried versus above ground?
A5: The gain in potential rider is approximately the same if it is at grade or underground.

Q6: What would the fare be? How would the integrated fares work?
A6: The operational details are still to be determined, but the assumption is that it would be based on a TTC fare. Currently there is a study to look at how Metrolinx and TTC fares wouldbe integrated and they are looking at several different structures.

Q7: What would the hours of operation be?
A7: Operation details are still to be determined but the assumption is that the hours of service would probably be similar to the current subway system

Q8: How long would it take to travel from Yonge Street to Royal York on the LRT?
A8: Our models estimate that the trip from Yonge to Royal York would be approximately 22 minutes

Q9: If you limited stops would you still need local buses?

A9: The intent is to not require a duplication of services

Q10: Can you link the LRT up to Humber College?

A10: A connection to Humber College is part of the Finch LRT project, currently underway.

Q11: How will TTC manage the increased southbound passengers to the subway system?

A11: This will probably affect the bus services that connect to the LRT, with a larger number of the northern riders – travelling south to Eglinton transferring to the LRT.

Service Model

Q1: The City has aligned itself with the Rockefeller Institute which has said that the City will be low to very low income in the future. The 'Airport' as an employer – at 60,000 people – does not seem like such a large employer – why are we providing for them? Where are the 'predicted' economic clusters and how does the LRT seek to address this increasingly low-income community?
A1: The service is expected to help service the airport area, with over 250,000 people area-wide, and is the second largest employer in the GTHA next to the downtown. It is currently underserviced by transit. The GTAA also has plans for helping connect to the LRT and facilitate travel for both employees and travellers.

Q2: What is the overall vision for the LRT given the growth of the low-income population? How are we going to help/work for this group?
A2: Offering good transit gives people of all income groups better options for travel in the City, but it especially important for lower income groups who may not have access to other travel options.

Q3: Want to make sure that the local community is being served if they are the ones which have to tolerate the construction disruptions.
A3: Our plan is to make sure that this service works for the local community as well as the region. 

Q4: We have heard that Metrolinx was supporting a fare-by-mode – how does this address social equity?
A4: Fare integration is currently under review by Metrolinx and the City. 

Q5: You should develop a business case that looks at the service model in order to serve the people market that you are targeting. 
A5: We are currently in the process of developing a business case that takes into consideration the market that we project will be served. As well, for special markets, such as the Airport area, we are working closely with the GTAA to identify their needs and try and plan this with this in mind.

Data and Modelling

Q1: How do you rely on the modelling data given the expected 'explosive growth'?
A1: The model is calibrated using data taken from the Transportation Tomorrow Survey (TTS). The land use projections are based on historic trends observed in data from the Census, the Toronto Employment Survey, and other sources. 

Q2: How do you project time for the service if you do not know the number of stops?
A2: The travel time is an estimate based on the number or projected stops on the route. We are currently working with an estimated 14 stops plus 3 at the airport to predict travel time.

Q3: How do you determine the wait time? The travel time?
A3: The dwell (wait) time at each stop is approximately 10 seconds. Headways, time between trains is approximate 3 minutes in comparison to the 15 minutes for GO RER. The travel time from Yonge Street to Renforth is estimate to be 36.5 minutes.

Q4: Why don’t we know more about the airport workers and their travel patterns if these are the people we are targeting? Transit service is not keeping up with travel patterns – people do not work just 9-5.
A4: As part of the study we are working closely with the GTAA to identify their needs and try and plan this with this in mind. As well, this is still early in the planning process so service planning has not been undertaken.

Future Development

Q1: Has there been any consideration for adding a parking garage at the 427/401 as an access point – similar to those found along the GO lines?
A1: The LRT project has not incorporated plans for a parking facility at the 427/401 and is focused on more sustainable forms of transportation, such as good connections to local buses.

Q2: Has there been consideration for making Mt Dennis Station a mobility hub?
A2: Mt Dennis is considered a mobility hub. The plans include a 15 bay bus terminal and a passenger pick up and drop off area, a new GO Transit Station, a connection to UPX, the Maintenance and Storage facility, new mixed-use development on the southwest corner Black Creek Drive and Eglinton Avenue West as well as an economically vibrant and pedestrian-friendly Black Creek Business Area with more amenities, more economic activity, and an enhanced image.

Q3: Has there been consideration for making Weston Station a mobility hub?
A3: While Weston Station is nearby, the opportunities for making it into a mobility 'hub' are limited as it does not have the same opportunities for connections to other transit.

Construction Costs and Impacts

Q1: At other meetings people wanted the LRT buried and were willing to pay in property taxes – what is the difference in the costs for construction?
A1: It is estimated that fully at-grade LRT would cost $1.4 to $1.8 billion based on the approved EA of 17 stops versus a fully buried system with only 6 stops costing $2.0 to $3.0 billion.

Q2: If the LRT is completely buried, is the construction less or more disruptive?
A2: Construction of an underground LRT can be by different methods depending on the situation. The disruption would be dependent on the method of construction. In other words, methods for below ground infrastructure like 'cut-and-cover' are much more disruptive that typical at-grade construction. Whereas tunnelling or mining can be less disruptive along a route, but more disruptive where the machinery is inserted into the ground.

Q3: What happens to traffic when a road is 'shut-down' during construction? There needs to be a clear plan since right now traffic flows onto Eglinton when the 401 is stopped.
A3: When traffic is diverted due to construction, it organically moves to other streets and roadways to avoid the closures. Due to the nature of Eglinton, as a bypass when traffic is stopped on the 401, we will need to look into how traffic will work and what the alternate routes may be.

Q4: What will it cost to construct the grade separations at Jane and Scarlett?
A4: It will cost an estimated $1.5 to $1.8 billion to build the LRT with the targeted grade separations only at Jane and Scarlett.

Q5: How much will it cost to construct? Is this LRT funded? Where will funding come from?
A5a: It is estimated that the LRT will $1.4 to $1.8 billion to build based on the approved EA of 17 stops.
A5b: The project is currently unfunded.
A5c: This is still to be determined, but the funding could come from the different levels of government as well as any potential Public-Private Partnerships (P3s).

 

Consultation

Q1: Can there be more 'pre-consultation' to discuss the design concept and alignments with the local population before final decisions are made?
A1: This session is just the first in the planned public or stakeholder consultations that would be held as part of this project. Further sessions will be held as work progresses and we have more information to share.

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