Eglinton West LRT

Open House - November 15, 2017

Highlights Report

This concise Highlights Report has been prepared to provide the City of Toronto and their partners Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) and Metrolinx with a snapshot of the feedback captured at the public meeting held on Wednesday, November 15, 2017.

Introduction
On Wednesday, November 15, 2017, the City of Toronto together with their partners TTC and Metrolinx hosted a public meeting on the Eglinton West LRT. The meeting was held at York Humber High School, located at 100 Emmett Avenue, York.

The public meeting provided an overview of the Eglinton West LRT, including preliminary findings regarding preferred stop locations, Stage 1, 2 and 3 findings regarding potential grade separation locations and information on additional studies including Martin Grove and Eglinton West Functional Planning Study, the Airport Segment Feasibility Study, and upcoming Traffic Optimization and Corridor Planning work.

The meetings featured a series of 22 display panels, two roll maps and a large welcome map to provide information on the Eglinton West LRT. Participants could move freely between display panels and map displays and speak with Project Team members from the City, TTC and Metrolinx as well as the consultant team.

At 7:00 p.m., following an introduction by the meeting’s facilitator, Avril Fisken (AECOM), a presentation of the project elements, including introductory information, preliminary study results and next steps, was given by Mike Logan (City of Toronto) and Maria Doyle (City of Toronto). Immediately following the presentation, participants had the opportunity to ask questions of clarification as well as

Approximately 30 individuals signed into the public meeting, no Councillors were present.

Highlights of Participant Feedback
The information below provides an overview of the Question and Answer session that followed the presentation. Questions are noted with a “Q”, comments with a “C” and answers with “A”. Answers were provided by City, TTC and Metrolinx staff, unless noted otherwise.

Questions of Clarification

Q1: Parts of the corridor have surrounding low employment areas. The proposed LRT route does not meet with the mandate to service all areas equally. I would like to see a plan for what the Project Team is going to do in order to service all areas equally if local bus routes are removed when the LRT is built. What if the LRT requires maintenance? Is there room for maintenance included in the design plans?

A1: An LRT stop at East Mall is not proposed because the 111 East Mall bus would continue to service this area and then service the corner of Eglinton and Martin Grove as well. Regarding maintenance, replacement buses would run on curb lanes on an emergency / as-needed basis. LRT vehicles are not currently planned for operation between 1:00am-6:00am.

Q2: Will the 32 Eglinton bus continue to run once the LRT is running?

A2: Buses will continue to run in the evening. If the LRT is built, current parallel bus service would not be required during the operational hours of the LRT.

Q3: Will cyclists still be able to ride bikes along Eglinton with the LRT in place? Will the configuration of the Eglinton West LRT be similar to St. Clair?

A3: Based on the 2010 EA, there are no plans to remove existing multi-use paths. As part of the planning study, we will examine if additional bike lanes will be required with the addition of the LRT. I would not compare the Eglinton West LRT to St. Clair for multiple reasons. Eglinton West has a much wider right-of-way than St. Clair, with substantially less intersections and entry points as St. Clair (ex: laneways and entrances to businesses).

Q4: Will all LRT stations be fully accessible?

A4: Yes, all LRT stops will be built to meet accessibility standards.

Questions and Comments during the Grade Separation Analysis Discussion Session

Mike Logan (City of Toronto) discussed each of the grade separation locations with the group participants using the presentation slides.

Q1: If current traffic lanes on Eglinton are reduced, will traffic volumes increase?

A1: There are no lane reductions with the introduction of the LRT.  The analysis assumed a standard left turn just like you see on the Queensway today crossing the streetcar Right-of-Way. Eglinton Avenue would become a wider roadway and the LRT would have its own right-of-way in the centre of the roadway. Traffic volumes are project to increase through time, but this is not due to the LRT.

Q2: One would assume an above-grade LRT would make the intersections a lot better, with less traffic and it would be a safer option for pedestrians. Did the analysis calculate how many lives would be saved with an above-grade LRT?

A2: Safety is a perceived benefit of grade separating. As part of the Strategic Value analysis, pedestrian safety, in terms of intersection crossings was included under the ‘Experience’ criteria.  

Q3: Does the cost in the cost/benefit analysis include the cost of elevators and accessible features that are needed for the above or below-grade LRT?

A3: Yes, costs used in the cost/benefit analysis include the cost of all accessible features such as elevators.

C1: I attended the first public meeting on Monday, November 13 but did not speak during the question and answer period. This project is not about people who drive cars, it is about moving people efficiently and quickly along the Eglinton corridor. Underground promises by politicians just delays the project and developers will just continue to build along Eglinton, adding more cars to the road instead of adding much-needed transit. Please build this at-grade LRT and build it as fast as possible.

Q4: When will aesthetics of the corridor be finalized? Right now, it does not look like the LRT will be aesthetically pleasing.

A4: The aesthetics will be considered as part of the upcoming corridor planning study. This work will include a streetscape and public realm plan to address the overall look and layout of the LRT corridor and public realm. Images shown in the presentation and on the display panels are conceptual only, and will be finalized during future phases of the study.

Q5: Is the Project Team planning on implementing grade separations?

A5: No, based on the preliminary studies conducted to date, an at-grade LRT is preferred in all six proposed grade-separation locations. All feedback received during this round of consultation will be included in the report to Council in December. We will be making recommendations to Council based on our analysis conducted to date and the feedback we have received.

Q6: In order to increase ridership, the LRT needs to be fast and always working. The Project Team should try to eliminate any potential negative interactions between the LRT and traffic wherever possible, no matter the cost. For a grade-separated system, there could be issues with accessibility if an elevator was out of service. In Chicago they have ramps to allow people to access stations without escalators or elevators. Has the Project Team considered ramps?

A6: The designs for the stops were based on the Metrolinx Design Excellence standards and the AODA-compliance standards, which include the use of elevators. Ramps were not considered as part of these designs. If ramps were to be introduced, we might expect greater impacts to private property and the public realm near the stop locations.

C2: Look at the above-ground transit in the Bronx and Queens, it is not an attractive system. We want nice streets that look inviting to everyone. Having huge structures above-grade will not look good.

Q7: Can you clarify that the at-grade option is the preferred option for all LRT stops?

A7: Yes, based on our analysis, an at-grade LRT is preferred for all stop locations in the Toronto segment.

Q8: Will the Project Team study safety issues?

A8: Accessibility and safety are both captured in the strategic analysis. Safety is captured in the ‘Healthy Communities’ criteria as the safety of transit riders and their experience at the station itself was studied. For example, below-grade systems are not as safe as at-grade systems because LRT stops would be unmanned. An at-grade LRT would be the safest option from a transit riders experience due to visibility and passive surveillance of the platform location. Regarding accessibility, a multi-modal access plan will be completed as part of the upcoming planning study to make it as easy as possible for everyone to access all stops.

Q9: For the stop locations that have potential grade separations to the north of the roadway, would the LRT continue along the north of the road after the stop, or come back to the centre?

A9: We looked at each of the potential grade separations in isolation. That means, if a grade separated stop was examined at the north of the roadway, the LRT line would move back to the centre of the roadway at-grade after the stop.  If we had identified that multiple adajcent grade separations were preferred, we would have had to go back and see if there were any benefits to be gained by linking stops along the LRT alignment. Our analysis, has shown that grade separations are not preferred for any of the six proposed locations and the preferred option is for an at-grade LRT running in the centre of Eglinton Avenue West.

Q10: The north side alignments versus the centre alignments are confusing. Can this be clarified?

A10: If the LRT remains as an at-grade system as per the 2010 EA-approved alignment, the LRT would travel down the centre of the right-of-way. If a grade separation were introduced at a location where a stop was identified to the north of the roadway, the LRT alignment would go from being aligned to the north of Eglinton, and back to being aligned in the centre of Eglinton Ave.

Q11: Did the Project Team consider bringing the LRT back into the centre from the north side, at-grade?  What did your traffic analysis consider?

A11: The first traffic analysis scenario ran the 2010 EA-approved at-grade LRT alignment. Then, the following scenarios were run with each of the six grade separated options, in isolation, in comparison to the fully at-grade 2010 EA-approved option to provide an accurate analysis.

Q12: Do you have to widen the existing roadway and the existing bridges to make room for the LRT? Will property acquisition be required?

A12: Eglinton Avenue is unique because it was part of the planned Richview expressway leaving a legacy of large empty spaces next to the road. For an at-grade LRT, the roadway or asphalt itself would require widening to accommodate the dedicated lanes. However, we have sufficient land in the rights-of-way and along the corridor to implement the LRT without sacrificing sidewalk or the multi-use path.  In all cases, grade separated options would require additional land takings over the at-grade option.

A good comparison for how the centre of the right-of-way/ dedicated lane configuration would look and operate is the western section of the Queen St. Streetcar line – between Roncesvalles and the Humber Loop along The Queensway.

Q13: Will there be enough room for the LRT to pass over the bridge over the Humber River?

A13:  At this time we feel there is sufficient space of the LRT over the Humber Bridge, however this is something we would have to study in more detail during the next phase of work, once the project concept is confirmed.

Q14: I take the 32 Eglinton bus regularly. With the at-grade LRT in place, how much time would I be saving from Mt. Dennis to Commerce Boulevard compared to taking the bus?

A14: During next phase of work, more detailed modelling will be done to provide these kind of answers. The original work was done in 2010 as part of the EA and once the project concept is confirmed we can move forward on doing more detailed modelling of the corridor.

Q15: Was future development considered in the analysis? There is planned development for a senior’s home at Kipling and Eglinton and expansion planned for Plant World at Royal York and Eglinton. These new developments create an increase in traffic volume. Does the modelling take additional traffic caused by future developments into account?

A15: The modelling does include consideration for future growth. Ridership modelling and traffic projections will be updated for the full line during the next phase of the study, once the project concept is confirmed. This work will include future population and employment projections across the region. It assumes growth across the region and takes how people choose to move around the area into consideration.

Q16: Would the cost/benefit analysis change during the next phase of the study? There seems to be an error in the ‘value of time’ calculation as many people in the study area have a much higher value of time than $18.00 per hour.

A16: (Metrolinx) Regarding the cost/benefit analysis, the answer is yes, it may change as the population and employment growth statistics are updated. Although the cost/benefit may change, significant changes regarding benefits are not expected. We are confident in the numbers we have presented in our reports and in the presentation.

Regarding the value of time calculation, you are correct in saying that many people in the study area have a value of time much higher than $18 an hour, but there are also many people who have a much lower value of time. The monetized value represents the average value within the study area. The average value of time is tied to the survey data conducted by Statistics Canada. You are correct that we are assuming that the trends we have seen in the past will continue in the future, but all modelling must include assumptions.

Q17: How many bus stops are lost if the LRT is implemented and the regular bus service is no longer running?

A17: All stops shown on the map are existing TTC bus stops. We have identified four stops as not preferred: Rangoon, East Mall, Renforth and Russell/Eden Valley. The East Mall stop is currently served by the East Mall bus, approximately 90 people per day currently use the Rangoon stop and the Renforth stop has a number of buses that connect to the Mississauga Transitway, creating redundancy. The Russell/Eden Valley stop has a very low current usage and limited growth potential or development opportunities. The TTC is looking into making changes to the current bus routings to ensure they maintain service in this area, and are looking at the existing Royal York bus route that could be modified to provide service between Royal York and Islington.

Q18: Has a Dixon Road alignment been considered?

A18: A Dixon Road alignment has not been considered as part of this work on the Eglinton LRT. One of the key connections the Eglinton West LRT provides is the Mississauga Transitway, which would connect to Toronto Pearson International Airport’s future Regional Transit Centre (RTC), and would not be served by a Dixon alignment.

Q19: The Martin Grove and Eglinton intersection is currently a very busy area. Along with the planned stop at this location, could the City also develop a traffic calming strategy and a traffic redirection strategy to reduce increased traffic volumes?

A19: Yes, this is a great observation. Please refer to the Martin Grove and Eglinton Area Study. We think there are other solutions in this area to help with traffic congestion. The main issue is that the half interchange lane that merges onto Eglinton from the planned Richview Expressway causes a backlog in traffic. The Martin Grove study is being conducted because we know problems in this area must be solved today. By solving this today, we can introduce an LRT that provides solutions for everyone. We will be looking at solutions for this area in the coming months with members of the community.

As well, once the project concept is confirmed, we will be conducting further traffic work which includes the completion of a traffic diversion report, left turn analysis and traffic optimization study for the corridor.

Focused Discussions: Martin Grove Area / Airport Study / Stop Locations / Corridor Planning Vision

  • Clarify left-turn options
  • Keep the green space along Eglinton
  • Add protected cycling lanes along the corridor
  • Provide opportunities for retail and services along Eglinton and pedestrian-oriented storefronts to reduce the need to drive
  • Create more walking and cycling connections across Eglinton so that local neighbourhoods can access the LRT
  • Create a “living street”
  • Will the current bus service be removed with the introduction of the LRT?
  • How will the people in the apartment buildings on Emmet Avenue be served by transit?
  • How will the hospital be served by transit?
  • Why isn’t there a stop proposed for Westpark health complex?
  • Parking near LRT stops will be required
  • Make the LRT the fastest transit option to encourage and increase ridership
  • Consider running the LRT on Dixon Road instead of Eglinton Avenue
  • Where would the LRT connect from Mt. Dennis?
  • The at-grade LRT option is the most aesthetically pleasing
  • The LRT should be the fastest mode of transportation to encourage and increase ridership
  • Build the LRT as soon as possible
  • Support for the at-grade LRT
  • The at-grade LRT is clear and simple
  • Grade separation configurations would take up too much room

The meeting was adjourned at 9:00 p.m.

Next Steps

City Staff will prepare a report to City Council in December 2017 with recommended grade separations and stop locations.