Quick Relief - June 2018

The single most pressing problem facing commuters travelling to jobs in the core is overcrowding at the St George and Yonge/Bloor interchange stations and the two legs of Line 1 south of Bloor. The Downtown Relief Line proposal (DRL) is seen by many as the only solution to this problem.  While funding for preliminary study has been approved there is no current funding committed for a 12 to 15year project estimated to cost in excess of $14 billion[1].

During the SRRA team’s research on “The Impact of Transit on Regional Growth,” solving this problem was identified as a significant obstacle to continued growth, not only the downtown core but the Region at large. “Quick Relief” is a project conceived by SRRA as part of its overall research exploring what can be done to improve the lives of commuters with assets that transit agencies across the Region already have.

The project allows commuters on Line 2 to transfer at no cost to an enhanced service on Stouville and Kitchener GO corridors. Quick Relief would introduce service in the east between Kennedy GO station, the Danforth GO/Main Street Subway stations and Union Station. In the west, Quick Relief would connect Dundas West Station to Union Station. Service levels would be increased at peak hour to 5 to 7minute intervals.

 

The Benefits 

  • Quick Relief can be operational within 16 to 24 months,

  • It provides timely relief to travelers on Line 2 who transfer to Line 1 at St George and Yonge/Bloor and passengers travelling on Line 1 south of Bloor

  • It creates more space for passengers on Line 2 between Dundas West and Main Stations.

  • No new rolling stock or major track additions are required because Quick Relief employs existing surplus GO rolling stock and utilizes existing tracks.

  • The capital cost of Quick Relief is no more than $150 million the same amount currently planned for preliminary engineering for the DRL.

  • The projected net new revenues generated by Quick Relief exceed operating costs, a key component to consider when implementing the project.

  • Quick Relief accelerates the delivery of two day, all day service planned for the Stouffville and Kitchener GO lines.

  • Quick Relief saves between 20 minutes and an hour a day for commuters in Scarborough and Etobicoke.

 

The Challenge

Quick Relief would require a fresh look at how new services like this are funded. It serves as a test case for how to integrate seamlessly the fares and operations of two separate agencies. The GO lines are operated by Metrolinx and Lines 1 and 2 by the TTC. But from the vantage point of the consumer the cost to exchange between the two operators currently prohibits all but a few from taking advantage of either the service on Line 2 or the UPX and GO services.

The ridership figures researched in “The Impact of Transit on Regional Growth” by UTTRI (the University of Toronto Transportation Research Institute) indicate the importance of level fares between both services. If the fare a commuter pays is the same for both services, ridership on both the TTC and GO Trains will increase dramatically and passengers will enjoy a significant time reduction in the daily commute.

 
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The Consumer Win

Once implemented, passengers paying a TTC fare can transfer from the TTC to Quick Relief, effectively making the service part of the TTC offering. Passengers on the GO service can also transfer to the TTC without paying additional fares. The increased use of both services generates revenue that will exceed the cost of providing the service.

Quick Relief would provide service between 5 to 7-minutes intervals during peak hours, which is when the TTC’s Lines 1 and 2 are at capacity. The Quick Relief service does not need to operate beyond extended peak hours. During off-peak hours new passengers attracted to transit by Quick Relief could still travel by transit on Lines 1 and 2 when they are not at capacity.

Transit engineers and other experts with whom we have consulted suggest that the time to implement such a service, once approved, is between 12 months and 18 months, with a capital cost of between $50 million and $150 million, depending on how one accounts for investment in station enhancements. These stations will be improved as part of the implementation of Regional Express Rail (RER).

The service would be more convenient for Scarborough commuters heading downtown and all passengers west of Dundas West. Some riders would immediately save at least 20 minutes a day some as much as an hour in commute times for very little public investment. The relief of Line 2 would  encourage more ridership (and thus revenue) from new customers on Line 2 and on the current commuter GO service.

 

 

Station Improvements

Stations Improvements - Dundas West

The intersection of the rail corridor and Line 2 at Dundas West was originally extremely well thought out by TTC planners in the 1950s. Passengers using the station must currently exit at the western end of the platform and walk a considerable distance to connect with the rail corridor. However, the Eastern end of the platform is under the rail corridor. The capital cost to connect the eastern end of the platform to the rail corridors in order to provide a more convenient transfer for all services, including UPX, is currently part of the capital plan of Metrolinx.

Stations Improvements - Main Station

Much has been said about the distance from the TTC Main Station and the Danforth GO Station, but upon closer examination the 290 meters is not a major distance if the transfer is convenient, sheltered from the weather and a pleasant and safe experience. Comparable distances exist in the network today. At Spadina Station the link between Lines 1 and 2 is 160 meters. Passengers travelling from Union Station in the underground walk 450 meters to reach King Street; the transfer at Black Creek station from the YRT bus terminal to the TTC bus exchange is 270 meters.

The cost of connecting these two stations is part of the RER capital plan. Moreover, significant opportunity exists to engage local stakeholders and development interests to design and potentially fund a connection.

Stations Improvements - Kennedy and Danforth Stations

These stations will be completely redesigned for RER service to accommodate a new transfer hub between the TTC and RER.

Other Stations

There is also the consideration of additional stations at Gerrard St., East Harbor and Liberty Village as part of RER which will stimulate accelerated development in these nodes and more commuter benefit, ridership and revenue.

 

 

[1] Two years ago, the estimated of cost for the first phase was $3.2 Billion. In 2016 that estimate was revised to $6.8 billion and when funded at some point in the future the cost is expected to exceed $8 billion in current dollars. Phase 2 is similarly challenged with its current estimate exceeding $6 billion.