March 6, 2018 | 6:30pm – 8:30pm

Scarborough Civic Centre | 150 Borough Drive

 Meeting Summary

Project Staff

Greg Tokarz, City of Toronto
Mike Logan, City of Toronto
Gary Papas, City of Toronto
Nish Bala, City of Toronto
Jade Hoskins, City of Toronto
Brian Anders, City of Toronto
Ulrica Ho, City of Toronto
Nithya Vijaykumar, City of Toronto
Eric Mann, City of Toronto
Itai Peleg, City of Toronto
Xue Pei, City of Toronto
Dipak Dhrona, City of Toronto
Alan Filipuzzi, City of Toronto
Victor Gottwald, City of Toronto
Scott Haskill, TTC
Manuela Istrate, Metrolinx
Shannon McNeill, Metrolinx
James Francis, Metrolinx
Georgina Collymore, Metrolinx
Azim Ahmed, Metrolinx
Sandy Grigg, Metrolinx
Greg Pereira, Metrolinx
Muyiwa Adebayo, Metrolinx
Michelle Louli, Metrolinx

Project Consultants

Jim Faught, LURA
Shirven Rezvany, Argyle PR
James Jarrett, 4Transit
David Hopper, 4Transit

1. Opening Remarks and Overview

Jim Faught welcomed participants to the second Scarborough Public Meeting for new SmartTrack/GO stations in Toronto. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the Finch-Kennedy and Lawrence-Kennedy SmartTrack stations. Mike Logan provided an overview of the new SmartTrack/GO stations project and presented updated station designs. Shannon McNeill then presented an overview of Metrolinx’s RER program and the Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP). Following this, Shannon presented a summary of the key findings of the environmental studies, which included the following disciplines: natural environment and tree inventory; socio-economic and land use; archaeology and cultural heritage; transportation; noise and vibration; and air quality.

2. Facilitated Discussion Period

Following the presentation, participants were encouraged to ask questions and offer comments. A summary of the discussion period following the presentation is provided below. Questions are noted with Q, responses are noted with A, and comments are noted with C. Responses were provided by staff from the City, Metrolinx and TTC.

C. Finch-Kennedy station is part of my association’s area. We are impacted by the Stouffville corridor. We sent an inquiry on February 11 and have not heard back. There are five places where people cross the track at grade. We are happy to hear some grade separations are planned along the corridor. But there are other places where children cross the track to go to school in our community. Along with safety, we are concerned about noise walls. There is noise from 6 am to 11 pm. There is also a need for additional parking for Agincourt station. Please communicate the progress on all these community issues.

A. There is currently a great deal of ongoing work on these issues. Safety is a valid concern and Metrolinx is working with schools to build more awareness of safety around tracks. Grade separation in the area will help, and we are also studying traffic within the neighbourhood. Noise walls are actively being installed along the Stouffville rail corridor.

C. We are asking for a pedestrian barrier and some traffic help, even in the interim. A crossing guard would be helpful. We need to know that work is being done to address these issues.

C. When the Bloor-Danforth line was built, there was an interchange put in to connect to University. There is existing infrastructure to connect the SmartTrack line with the Yonge line.

A. I believe you are asking about using the WYE connection, which would in theory allow a train to run from Kennedy Station to Bloor-Yonge, then down through Bay and Museum Stations. We also have another WYE connection coming from the west. The TTC has examined these routes in the last few years. Our conclusion was that those lines could not be used effectively without having a significant negative effect on the service run on Line 1 and Line 2. Currently at rush hour we are running service as frequently as possible on Line 1 and Line 2. To divert these trains to run the WYE connections downtown, we would have gaps in service and it would be difficult to fit them in between trains, which, for example, run on Line 1 just over every 2 minutes. The TTC is aware of the infrastructure; it is used for maintenance, but it is not suitable for service and to provide relief for Line 1 and 2.

Q. The recent Metrolinx report on the RER system estimates that the 2031 ridership for the Finch-Kennedy Station is 4,200 and for Lawrence-Kennedy it is 9,200. In 2016, a City report concluded there will be four times as many riders for five minute service than for 15 minute service. We now know that SmartTrack is only 15 minute service, with one-quarter of the potential riders. It is important to know how the ridership numbers of 4,200 and 9,200 are calculated. Are they based on five minute service or 15? For the Scarborough subway, Toronto planning said in 2013 that the Scarborough subway’s estimated ridership is between 9,500 – 14,000 riders. In 2016 they revised the number to 7,500. Toronto has learned its lesson, and Metrolinx must be more transparent in its ridership data if it wants to participate in Toronto transit. The public is interested in public infrastructure decisions based on good information. The following ridership information should be public: all inputs, data and assumptions. Ridership should be expressed in passengers per hour in peak direction. Ridership and fare cost help answer the question if SmartTrack is a viable and affordable transit option.

A. In regards to forecasting ridership, Metrolinx used City of Toronto projections for land use in 2031. Ridership numbers were developed based on these projections. Metrolinx is developing the frequency with regards to the service plan. We look at the area’s residential and employment projection, and determine what proportion will use transit. Finch-Kennedy and Lawrence-Kennedy train service will achieve 15 minutes or better service. The service plan is not finalized but will be improved or refined as the project moves forward.

Post-meeting note: Since the March 6th community meeting, Metrolinx has released a Technical Report regarding GO Expansion New Stations Modelling, dated April 2018, that helps provide a greater understanding of the modelling assumptions and outputs regarding future ridership and service patterns. This report is available at: http://www.metrolinx.com/en/regionalplanning/newstations/2018-04-13%20Stations%20Technical%20BackgrounderFINAL.pdf

C. Our community organization is located within 500 m of the proposed Finch-Kennedy station. To build this, you will have to cut through our building. This will interrupt our services. We are a membership organization and service provider with many events and clients. Further, building a local street where proposed will create traffic problems. Instead, access should be made through Silver Star Boulevard.

A. Metrolinx has sent out property notification letters to potentially affected property owners and the City and Metrolinx would like to work with all property owners to find the best solution. The access points presented tonight are preliminary. Silver Star Boulevard is currently being examined as a potential connection to the station. Metrolinx and the City will be working with you to address any issues.

C. With the recent report in the Toronto Star by Ben Spurr, we know that Minister Del Duca has interfered with ridership numbers. We would like to know if we can trust the ridership numbers. This plan seems like a provincial re-election strategy.

A. Early in the project, Metrolinx prepared an initial business case that looked at ridership estimates. The full business case will be completed soon to determine further refinements. Metrolinx is robust with regards to the approach taken to estimating ridership. Ridership estimates look at residential developments, employment and density targets in the area. When you consider these factors alongside potential modal splits, the ridership numbers emerge. Further, in the model we looked at removing the fare barrier and used an assumption of fare parity in using both TTC and SmartTrack services.

Q. Why did the ridership number change since last year, when Lawrence Avenue East did not seem viable and cost effective a year ago?

A. When Metrolinx developed the Preliminary Design Business Case (PDBC), we developed a strategic case and financial case. There is an increase in cost, but also an increase in transportation user benefits. There is a strategic case to strengthen transit in the neighbourhood because of these potential benefits. There are an estimated 9,200 daily passengers boarding and alighting at this station. The projections are a refinement over the last year that considers system improvements such as level boarding, fare integration and express service.

C. We know that Mayor Tory does not want to provide a cost-benefit analysis between the Scarborough LRT and the Scarborough Subway.  Metrolinx conducted a cost-benefit analysis for these stations but Mayor Tory did not conduct one for the Scarborough Subway.

C. My organization does not agree with using the Lawrence-Kennedy Station as a replacement for the existing Scarborough RT (SRT) station. Very few riders of the SRT know that the SRT is closing, and when they were informed they did not approve of it. We need more consultation opportunities that are accessible to transit riders, and more shared information. Set up a kiosk at Lawrence East Station so people can tell you what they think.

A. The City and Metrolinx are open to all comments and all suggestions to improving outreach. We do our best to go to where transit riders are, and encourage you to give us suggestions.

C. We would all find it helpful if you provided the data on ridership in the presentation. I know the 9,000 figure was based on existing riders and capturing some of the riders from the Kennedy and Agincourt stops. The bulk of the riders would likely be coming from Kennedy and Agincourt, because people that currently use the Lawrence East, Midland and Ellesmere SRT stations have said that this proposed station would have no value to them. These commuters are not trying to get downtown, they are trying to get around in Scarborough. The SmartTrack plans are making this worse for them. It is a good suggestion to speak to these riders; they are upset about the SRT closure.

Q. The closure of the SRT will limit rapid transit for thousands of people. Did SRT ridership factor into the ridership number? Did the SRT serve as the base case for the business case analysis, as is required by Metrolinx methodology?

A. Metrolinx ridership analysis takes into consideration the SRT, the future Scarborough subway extension, connections from TTC buses, and other factors. There is a Transportation Tomorrow Survey (TTS) that examines where people travel: their origin and destination. There are density considerations and traffic zones included in the analysis as well.

Post-meeting note: Since the March 6th community meeting, Metrolinx has released a Technical Report regarding GO Expansion New Stations Modelling, dated April 2018, that helps provide a greater understanding of the modelling assumptions and outputs regarding future ridership and service patterns. This report is available at: http://www.metrolinx.com/en/regionalplanning/newstations/2018-04-13%20Stations%20Technical%20BackgrounderFINAL.pdf

C. The Metrolinx framework says a list of options should be considered, and an option selected through a transparent and defensible processes. These options are evaluated against a base case which is a business as usual scenario. Given that the SRT needs to be replaced, SmartTrack and the subway extension are an option. The base case would be to keep the aging SRT.

A. Metrolinx wants to be able to connect the local population. With the fare barrier removed, riders can connect to Kennedy and other mass transit.

C. The model you are looking at will put more people on more crowded busses for longer periods of time. This is not the kind of connectivity that people are looking for.

C. Why is SmartTrack a better option than the LRT? This plan seems to be built for politicians based on re-election campaigns. It is not fair. We do not seem to have an open debate. This will affect Scarborough for a generation because once this plan is built, that’s it, and we will not be getting anything else. Metrolinx was created to get politics out of transit planning, and instead it seems like it is facilitating politics.

Q. The success of the station hinges on fare integration. But the end fee will likely be more expensive. Why do we trust the ridership numbers given that fares will likely not be integrated, or will be higher than TTC fares?

A. Metrolinx’s ridership model assumes fare integration. Negotiations around fare integration are ongoing and work is progressing. The goal is an integrated fare with no additional cost. This is the principle on which SmartTrack is based.

C. Your organization was created to take politics out of transit planning, yet we hear about political inference and believe that your agency is politically motivated.

A. City of Toronto staff makes recommendations to City Council. City Council makes decisions and City staff execute these decisions. SmartTrack is designed to optimize the GO rail lines to serve the City of Toronto. Metrolinx’s model is regional, and SmartTrack aims to provide local service where it is needed.

Q. Why has Metrolinx come this far with these SmartTrack stations? Why has Metrolinx not recommended against building these stations? Lawrence-Kennedy SmartTrack station projected ridership is only 9,200. The Lawrence East RT station ridership is 16,000. The cost of the Lawrence-Kennedy Station has risen from 23 million to 155 million. Why would you recommend spending more money for less transit than the proposed LRT? Where is Metrolinx’s advice on this?

A. The Scarborough rapid transit network that City staff proposed to City Council in 2016 included the Scarborough subway extension, the SmartTrack stations and the LRT. This plan was endorsed by City Council, and we have direction to execute it. The City provided comment and helped update the business case for the Lawrence-Kennedy station.

Q. When will Metrolinx start speaking truth to power? We are counting on you to be an objective, evidence-based transit agency and we are not seeing that.

Q. What will the integrated fare be? And how much will TTC get?

A. Fare integration is currently being negotiated between the City and Metrolinx. There will be further reporting back to City Council in the coming months about fare.

Q. How much will Toronto taxpayers be subsidizing Metrolinx’s operations for SmartTrack service? How much will Toronto taxpayers be paying TTC to subsidize GO Transit riders who will be using the TTC for free?

A. The details of the operations are not yet worked out. There will be updates on all costs, including service and maintenance costs, coming out soon. Through the Stage Gate approval process, City Council can decide whether or not to continue funding the project. Reports to City Council are posted a week before the committee meetings and there is an opportunity to attend and depute. If you sign up to our mailing list we will inform you when the report is made public.

C. I found out about this meeting because I read the Scarborough Mirror. If you could put up a notification in the Subway system it would be a good idea. Even just at Scarborough Town Centre. There are also a number of people with English as a second language in the area.

A. We acknowledge that the community is diverse and we try to advertise these meetings in various ways to encourage as many people as possible to attend these meetings. We advertised the public meetings dates on TV screens at all TTC subway stations. We also translated the meeting notices into Tamil, Mandarin, Traditional Chinese and French and published these in the Sentharmari, Ming Pao, Sing Tao and L’Express newspapers. We are also able to accommodate people who require translators, as long as sufficient notice is provided.

Q. Will there be an extension of the subway out to the east so Scarborough can have a full system?

A. The City is currently exploring an extension of the Eglinton East LRT to Malvern. Results of the study will be summarized in a report to City Council.

Q. Will a change in government affect the funding status of SmartTrack?

A. From the City of Toronto’s perspective, we have a Stage Gate process where we report to City Council in stages. In principle, the City has agreed to pay the cost of SmartTrack, with the opportunity to change aspects of this.

Q. The project will be built through independent contractors. What measures will be in place to mitigate noise and environmental impacts? Will there be information on how to reach contractors?

A. We are at an early stage of design. The noise and vibration studies are underway. During construction, we plan to establish a community liaison office and phone line for community questions, concerns and comments.

C. From my discussions with community members, transportation was noted as the biggest barrier in Scarborough. Transit is a public good, like healthcare and education, and should be free to transit users. Pay for it through a progressive tax system. This model is being pursued in cities in Germany and Belgium due to the environmental impact of car traffic.

Q. Will there be trains that go through Lawrence-Kennedy SmartTrack Station without stopping to let people on?

A. The service delivery model has not yet been determined. It is being explored to have seven local trains and four express trains within the peak hour. We have not yet determined the service model for the station.

Post-meeting note: Since the March 6th community meeting, Metrolinx has released a Technical Report regarding GO Expansion New Stations Modelling, dated April 2018, that helps provide a greater understanding of the modelling assumptions and outputs regarding future ridership and service patterns. This report is available at: http://www.metrolinx.com/en/regionalplanning/newstations/2018-04-13%20Stations%20Technical%20BackgrounderFINAL.pdf

Q. Information on SmartTrack should be provided in other languages. Many people in Scarborough have a first language other than English.

A. People can get live translation by calling 311. The City also works with local Councillors and community organizations to find out what languages are needed. We translated the SmartTrack public meeting notice into Chinese, Tamil and French, and published them in several cultural newspapers. If anyone needs a translator the City can arrange for one to be provided.

3. Wrap up and Next Steps

Participants were informed of the various ways to give feedback, including project-specific email addresses (newstations@metrolinx.com and SmartTrack@toronto.ca) and project websites (www.metrolinx.com/newstations and smarttrack.to/).

A final public meeting for the new SmartTrack stations will be held on Wednesday, March 21, 2018, from 6:15 pm to 8:30 pm (presentation at 7:30 pm), at Queen Alexandra Middle School, Small Gym, 181 Broadview Avenue.