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  #1  
Old Posted Nov 25, 2017, 4:22 AM
Docere Docere is online now
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The $3 billion subway line and other white elephants

Sad to see my city get this attention but it is deserved. The Scarborough subway "extension" is ridiculous.

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How much should one subway station cost? The city of Toronto has an answer. The plan to extend transit in the Toronto suburb of Scarborough winds back at least a decade: at one time the plan was a seven-stop light-rail line; later a three-stop subway. Today, Scarborough is preparing to replace its six-stop automated train with just one single, solitary subway station, for a mere C$3bn (£1.8bn).

Is that a wise investment? Time will tell, but in a recently unearthed 2013 assessment the transport agency Metrolinx calls it “not a worthwhile use of money”. Many voters in Scarborough feel differently, and Toronto’s mayor, John Tory, has no plans to change course.

But if Toronto may be about to purchase the most expensive single subway stop in history, it wouldn’t be alone in sinking good money into bad projects. White elephants are everywhere.
https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2...P=share_btn_fb
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  #2  
Old Posted Nov 25, 2017, 4:58 AM
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So $3 billion for a subway station, and not a single penny for actual subway, tunnels, rails, vehicles and all that. Right...

It's $3 billion to fully replace a transit line that carried over 46k people per weekday in 2012, the vast majority of whom used that one station (Scarborough Centre).

In comparison, the initial phase of Eglinton Crosstown LRT will cost $4 billion, for Eglinton between Mount Dennis and Kennedy, a corridor that had maybe 60k riders per weekday in 2012 (the full length of 32 Eglinton West and 34 Eglinton East from Renforth to Kennedy, carried 78k riders per weekday total).

In terms of dollars spent per rider, Eglinton Crosstown LRT is almost identical to the subway extension to Scarborough Centre.

I probably would have preferred replacing Scarborough RT with an extended LRT into Malvern, or maybe something involving GO Transit, but let's stick with the facts.
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  #3  
Old Posted Nov 25, 2017, 6:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doady View Post
So $3 billion for a subway station, and not a single penny for actual subway, tunnels, rails, vehicles and all that. Right...

It's $3 billion to fully replace a transit line that carried over 46k people per weekday in 2012, the vast majority of whom used that one station (Scarborough Centre).

Either way it's just about the most idiotic transit plan ever conceived in Toronto. Replacing the SRT by extending the BD line into Scarborough is all well and good, but doing so as a single stop, double bored-tunnel subway (ie. the most expensive method of construction possible) through a lower-density environment when a parallel surface ROW already exists is just stupid.

At the cost of this thing, they could instead rebuild the track along the length of the SRT (including the elevated sections), retrofit Kennedy Station and rebuild the rest, and probably still have money left over to extend it into Malvern. And then all the people between Kennedy and Scarborough Town Centre wouldn't also lose their local subway service and key bus connections either.
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Old Posted Nov 25, 2017, 6:03 AM
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Yeah, tracks, tunnels etc...to serve one subway station. Of course it's not literally "just" for the station but the basic point still stands.
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  #5  
Old Posted Nov 25, 2017, 1:51 PM
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the Oculus takes the cake. it's like calatrava had an unbuilt airport terminal design for the capital of Uzbekistan sitting around the office and decided, for some godforsaken reason, that it would look great in lower manhattan.
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  #6  
Old Posted Nov 25, 2017, 3:01 PM
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The City of Toronto will continue to be defined by 'have' (the central city) and the 'have nots' (the rest of the city) if all the urban investment goes to the central city. We elected Rob Ford because the periphery is suburban and is dictated by issues important to the auto centric people who live there.

If we're ever to make amalgamation a success and end the political divide we need to make investments like this subway to Scarborough. Obviously all most people see is the $3 billion price tag for 1 subway stop but what gets lost is the big picture. Places like Scarborough and Etobicoke will never become urbanized if we don't spend the money to bring them into the fold.

The Scarborough RT (Rapid Transit) sucks! Population density eventually develops along first rate transit. Building it is the first step. And for all those who will bring up the Sheppard Line the argument doesn't hold. The Sheppard Line was a subway to nowhere and it still goes nowhere. The subway extension to Scarborough isn't to nowhere, but the eastern end of our 'city' that is home to 700,000 people.

It will take decades for us to stitch this city together and end the eternal political bickering between the dense pro transit core and the relatively sparse auto centric periphery but it does need to happen. $3 billion isn't alot of money in a $150 billion/year economy (City of Toronto only) and in 30-40 years from now people will be thankful that we bit the bullet. I live downtown but the narrowly focused people who live downtown need to stop being so selfish/self absorbed. A great core surrounded by miles and miles of suburban crap forever? No thanks.
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Last edited by isaidso; Nov 25, 2017 at 3:19 PM.
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  #7  
Old Posted Nov 25, 2017, 4:48 PM
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What I don't understand is why only one station. I guess it's to reduce costs, but though I've never taken the RT, I struggle to see how replacing a line with multiple stations to one with one is an improvement. It'll be 4.75 km as the crow flies between Kennedy and STC...that's a big gap in coverage.
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  #8  
Old Posted Nov 25, 2017, 4:58 PM
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What is wrong with the SRT? Why is it being replaced?
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  #9  
Old Posted Nov 25, 2017, 5:01 PM
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Originally Posted by dc_denizen View Post
the Oculus takes the cake. it's like calatrava had an unbuilt airport terminal design for the capital of Uzbekistan sitting around the office and decided, for some godforsaken reason, that it would look great in lower manhattan.

Yup. The Oculus - a $4 billion leaky mall built like a mouse maze masquerading as a transit HUB. The temporary PANYNJ PATH station built in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 was a 100 times more functional than the Oculus and probably had higher capacity too. But at $3 billion for one stop is even crazier than the $1.6 billion price tag to extend PATH a single spot. A big part of transit investment is the redevelopment potential, weather we want to admit it or not, these are economic development projects as much as projects to move existing residents from one area to another. At $3 billion, zoning should be changed to generate many multiples of that on construction activity to help justify and to have ridership growth.
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  #10  
Old Posted Nov 25, 2017, 5:50 PM
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I'm afraid I have to call out San Francisco's new, about-to-open TransBay (Salesforce) Transit Center in this category. The original idea was to extend the CalTrain Commuter rail line--which actually connects SF and San Jose--a mile or two (not sure of the exact distance) from its station/terminal at 4th & Townsend Sts to the site of the Depression era TransBay Bus Terminal and to replace that structure with a fancy new combined bus/train/subway terminal that would also be the terminal, eventually, for California HSR.

The result is a beautiful building with bus facilities and what looks as if it's going to be a wonderful park on top:










https://www.google.com/search?q=SF+T...r4m515IcpItgM:

But here's the thing: The total cost was originally estimated at $4.5 billion. Approximately $2.3 billion has been spent putting up the building. The rest is needed to tunnel the trains from their present station to 1st & Mission Sts, the new Terminal location.

The location of the old terminal is the lower red dot here while the new one is the upper red dot. There is already an LRV line (partially above ground in dedicated ROW and partially below ground) connecting them and new construction is extending "downtown" in the direction of the old terminal:


https://www.google.com/search?q=SF+r...sLUILNfMX0BwM:

So what we presently have and will have for the foreseeable future is the world's grandest bus station (with park on top) for $2.3 billion.
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  #11  
Old Posted Nov 25, 2017, 7:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by isaidso View Post
The City of Toronto will continue to be defined by 'have' (the central city) and the 'have nots' (the rest of the city) if all the urban investment goes to the central city. We elected Rob Ford because the periphery is suburban and is dictated by issues important to the auto centric people who live there.

If we're ever to make amalgamation a success and end the political divide we need to make investments like this subway to Scarborough. Obviously all most people see is the $3 billion price tag for 1 subway stop but what gets lost is the big picture. Places like Scarborough and Etobicoke will never become urbanized if we don't spend the money to bring them into the fold.

The Scarborough RT (Rapid Transit) sucks! Population density eventually develops along first rate transit. Building it is the first step. And for all those who will bring up the Sheppard Line the argument doesn't hold. The Sheppard Line was a subway to nowhere and it still goes nowhere. The subway extension to Scarborough isn't to nowhere, but the eastern end of our 'city' that is home to 700,000 people.

It will take decades for us to stitch this city together and end the eternal political bickering between the dense pro transit core and the relatively sparse auto centric periphery but it does need to happen. $3 billion isn't alot of money in a $150 billion/year economy (City of Toronto only) and in 30-40 years from now people will be thankful that we bit the bullet. I live downtown but the narrowly focused people who live downtown need to stop being so selfish/self absorbed. A great core surrounded by miles and miles of suburban crap forever? No thanks.
Transit should be invested where it is most needed. Scarborough subway should never have been a priority over Downtown Relief Like.

You talk about uniting suburbs and the city, but what about 905? Mississauga Transitway just finished construction but Eglinton Crosstown LRT will not even connect to it. The population of the GTA is mostly west of Yonge, but the rapid transit system will be focused mostly east of Yonge, with Eglinton Crosstown, Scarborough subway and DRL.

If you want to urbanize suburbs, I don't think this Scarborough subway is the best way. Sheppard subway extension would have been better for that goal. Or LRT along Lawrence East and Wilson Ave. Follow the Avenues Plan. Subway station at Scarbrough Centre not as much urbanization.
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  #12  
Old Posted Nov 25, 2017, 8:22 PM
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Originally Posted by MonkeyRonin View Post
Either way it's just about the most idiotic transit plan ever conceived in Toronto. Replacing the SRT by extending the BD line into Scarborough is all well and good, but doing so as a single stop, double bored-tunnel subway (ie. the most expensive method of construction possible) through a lower-density environment when a parallel surface ROW already exists is just stupid.

At the cost of this thing, they could instead rebuild the track along the length of the SRT (including the elevated sections), retrofit Kennedy Station and rebuild the rest, and probably still have money left over to extend it into Malvern. And then all the people between Kennedy and Scarborough Town Centre wouldn't also lose their local subway service and key bus connections either.
Well, yeah that basically what I said. Rebuilt and extend Scarborough RT.

But Scarborough RT should never have been built in the first place. They built it literally right GO Stouffville Line. Scarborough RT was ignoring existing transit in the first place.

Toronto too TTC-centric, and TTC too Toronto-centric. That's the problem. If you build LRT to Malvern, why not build LRT to Meadowvale? I think Scarborough Centre and Malvern would be best served by GO Regional Express Rail.

But there are advantages to subway extension too even at $3 billion. I found ridership numbers, the station had averaged 27,550 users per weekday in 2011-2012, busier than most of the stations of the Bloor-Danforth line, and most users transferred to that line. I think people are overreacting a bit.
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Old Posted Nov 25, 2017, 11:42 PM
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That San Francisco proposal is beautiful! Sorry to hear it's not working on as planned.
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  #14  
Old Posted Nov 26, 2017, 12:18 AM
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That San Francisco proposal is beautiful! Sorry to hear it's not working on as planned.
What I posted above is not a proposal--it's built. They are planting the trees on top now and the whole thing will open in a few months but without trains in the lowest floor where the platforms for them are finished. But it was planned as a 2-phase project with building the terminal building as phase 1, tunneling the trains into the building as phase 2. They sold all the land in that part of town to fund phase 1 and on it was built the high rises surrounding the terminal including the Salesforce Tower supertall. But no one has yet figured out how to fund the train tunnel. So the terminal, when it opens, will offer only bus service (and a nice park plus some retail).
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Old Posted Nov 26, 2017, 12:23 AM
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Originally Posted by isaidso View Post
The subway extension to Scarborough isn't to nowhere, but the eastern end of our 'city' that is home to 700,000 people.
Scarborough is huge. How does having ONE subway stop help serve "700,000 people"?
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Old Posted Nov 26, 2017, 1:34 AM
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So what we presently have and will have for the foreseeable future is the world's grandest bus station (with park on top) for $2.3 billion.
Didn't they make the station to accommodate both Caltrain and the new High Speed Rail, the later which is presently in construction? Seems like it would be shortsighted to build a new transit terminal and not make provisions for two rail lines, especially given the centralized location of the new terminal in downtown. Expensive now, because they are paying for it all upfront.
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Old Posted Nov 26, 2017, 7:51 AM
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Originally Posted by kgbnsf View Post
Didn't they make the station to accommodate both Caltrain and the new High Speed Rail, the later which is presently in construction? Seems like it would be shortsighted to build a new transit terminal and not make provisions for two rail lines, especially given the centralized location of the new terminal in downtown. Expensive now, because they are paying for it all upfront.
The intent is for both CalTrain and HSR to come into the terminal although the present plan is both lines will share the same tracks between San Jose and San Francisco. Originally, HSR was to have its own tracks within the CalTrain ROW however that was blocked by lawsuits launched by residents and towns of the Peninsula along that ROW.

Actually, since the CalTrain tracks exist, all that needs to be done for HSR besides the downtown SF tunnel into the station is eliminating some grade crossings and electrification of the line which has begun. But, again, that tunnel is the stumbling block because it will cost over $2 billion and none of those funds are in hand.
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Old Posted Nov 26, 2017, 2:30 PM
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$1.8bn US for a subway station? NYC's like "hold my beer!" (the 7 train extension to Hudson Yards cost a whopping $20bn US)
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Old Posted Nov 26, 2017, 2:59 PM
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$1.8bn US for a subway station? NYC's like "hold my beer!" (the 7 train extension to Hudson Yards cost a whopping $20bn US)
It’s more like $2.4B US for a one stop subway extension. NYC is worse but as you know, it’s not an example worth following

The thing is, the Scarborough Subway Expansion is only expected to serve about 30,000 users a day... At one station where most Scarborough residents will inevitably have to transfer to a (not necessarily short) bus ride to get home since Scarborough is huge. An LRT route to Kennedy could have brought fast transit closer to more people and be cheaper to build, allowing for funds to be used on another important project or network improvements.

I’m a big fan of rapid transit and it’s benefits, but digging twin-bored tunnels under bungalows to build a mega-station at the SCC is simply idiotic. I don’t even think that includes the cost of dismantling the Scarborough RT. It’s purely a political/PR move to shut people from Scarborough up and give them what they’ve wanted for years, even though their suburban area would be more appropriate for LRT, or at least elevated rapid transit. And since the Spadina extension is going to the Vaughan Nowhere Centre, I’m guessing officials believe they have no choice but to give Scarborough the same thing...

I wonder how well those allocated $3B could have funded the Relief Life faster?
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Old Posted Nov 26, 2017, 3:05 PM
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If subway construction was in the hands of the private sector versus a public benefits corporation such as the MTA, we'd see those costs dramatically lower.
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