Launch of a connected region

Photo of Holey, the tunnel boring machine for the Spadina subway extension

Friday was a momentous day for anyone who dreams of when it will be easier to get around the GTA. On Friday, we took the first concrete step towards a true regional transit system. This was the day when “Holey”, the massive tunnel boring machine, was officially launched to build a subway connection between Toronto and York Region. On Friday the clock started ticking to the day in 2015, when, without needing to transfer, we’ll be able to buy one ticket, sit in comfort, and travel in and around the GTA to anywhere the subway goes. A momentous day, indeed.

I’m talking of course about the official start of tunnelling for the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension. This new service, when it’s finished in late 2015, will extend the Spadina Subway by 8.5 kilometres from Downsview Station, via six new stations, to a new terminus at the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre development area on Highway 7. Vaughan’s new subway station will also link to the Viva rapidways along Highway 7, up Yonge Street and across Davis Drive in Newmarket.

It’s impossible to overstate the important role subway extensions play in connecting GTA regions, and how this first of two north-south subway extensions will change the way people take transit in the GTA. Until now, each municipality or Region has had its own separate rapid transit system, divided by geographic boundaries. In an area like the GTA, where so many people live in one municipality and work in another, having one connected rapid transit system will make life more convenient, more predictable, and much, much easier.

So Friday’s launch was a very big deal.

The subway, which is going to cost about $2.6 billion, is being paid for by the federal government, the provincial government through Metrolinx, The Regional Municipality of York, and the City of Toronto. A joint Toronto-York project team is collaborating to complete the project, and the engineering logistics of how the subway will actually connect to the Viva rapidways in Vaughan is a whole story unto itself, which I’ll write about soon.

We know from research that people love the idea of being able to commute by public transit, if they’re offered a fast, convenient and reliable alternative to driving. So extending subway lines will make a lot of people very happy.

“Holey” will soon be joined by her tunnel boring machine partner “Moley” to tunnel northwest from the Sheppard West launch site toward the Finch West site at Keele. Their twin cousins “Yorkie” and “Torkie”, will soon begin tunnelling southeast from their Steeles West launch site toward York University. We’ll be cheering them on, and judging by the excitement of the onlookers and circling helicopters at Friday’s launch, we know people all across the GTA will be cheering too.

Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension project: www.spadina.ttc.ca 
Subways in York Region: www.vivanext.com/subways 
The Missing Link – business case describing why a Yonge Subway extension should be considered a top priority: http://bit.ly/lFtNaC

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One Response to “Launch of a connected region”

  1. Michael says:

    Hi Dale,

    This article brings up a couple of questions:

    1. Quote: “On Friday the clock started ticking to the day in 2015, when, without needing to transfer, we’ll be able to buy one ticket, sit in comfort, and travel in and around the GTA to anywhere the subway goes.” How will transfers from VIVA Purple (presuming once the subway opens Orange will dissappear and Purple will run Highway 7 end to end without the current diverson to York University) be handled? Will riders have to purchase a subway ticket or will they be able to seamlessly board the subway from VIVA Purple?

    2. Quote: “It’s impossible to overstate the important role subway extensions play in connecting GTA regions, and how this first of two north-south subway extensions will change the way people take transit in the GTA.”

    a) I’ve read media reports quoting Regional Councillors (I believe it was Vito Spatafora who sits on the Region’s Transportation comittee) that over 75% of the YRT/VIVAs load flows through Richmond Hill Centre, so there is obviously interest in the Yonge Street subway extension as well. In this blog posting we know the Spadina extension is fully funded. How are things going with the more important Yonge Street extension? Where are York Region, Toronto, the province and federal governments in this process? Is this extension funded yet?

    b) Traffic continues to be worsen south of Richmond Hill Centre on Yonge Street for the VIVA Blue, VIVA Blue A, VIVA Pink, Route 99 and otehrs that use Yonge Street from Finch Station. Years ago there was designs by VIVA to put in rapidways between Richmond Hill Centre and Finch Station. But these rapidways, if I remember correctly, were shelved after complaints from businesses on that stretch of Yonge Street as well as when the subway extension idea was floated. Are there plans to relieve congestion in this area for transit users specifically? A suggestion would be, if the rapidway for that area is off the table, would be to extend the current right hand diamond lane that originates near Finch Station northward past Clark Avenue to Richmond Hill Centre. I find this lane to be quite convenient at times after 5:00 P.M. when taking transit from Finch.

    Thanks in advance for your replies.

    DaleA: Hi Michael,

    Thanks for your interest, your suggestion and questions.

    1) Fare integration is an important part of a seamless rapid transit network in the GTA, and Metrolinx is working on establishing payment solutions between transit systems, so that riders can have the convenience of paying one fare. Once PRESTO is available on all transit systems, riders will have the convenience of tapping their card as they board transit to automatically pay any additional fares.

    2. a) and b) We’re glad you asked about the Yonge Street corridor. The extension of Yonge Subway from Finch Station to Highway 7 in Richmond Hill does not have funding from senior levels of government yet, but discussions are ongoing. We’ve completed the environmental assessment for this corridor, and our conceptual design is almost complete, so once funding comes through we’re ready to move forward. Thanks for the suggestion about using the diamond lane as an alternative way to decrease travel time – we welcome suggestions and ideas for reducing congestion along this and other corridors.

    For more information about the Yonge Subway extension, be sure to check out the links above, and sign up to receive announcements and public meeting invitations at http://www.vivanext.com/456.

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