Category Archives for "Urban Transit"

Nov 11

Improvements and Challenges for GTHA Public Transit

By Transport Action Ontario | Latest News , Urban Transit

Transport Action Ontario recently presented a summary update of GTHA public transit improvements and challenges to a Toronto-based seniors group. It presents a useful snapshot of the current status of this vital public service, including:

  • Massive anticipated population increase drives need for more transit
  • Over $100 Billion of rapid transit capital investment since 2010, but more needed
  • Smaller projects underway to improve transit, including priority bus features, fare integration and on-request transit
  • Long-awaited improvements to VIA Rail coming
  • Challenges include operational funding, reliability and escalating cost of construction
  • Summary of pending public advocacy areas

The update can be viewed below.

Jun 16

GO Transit – Extension to Bowmanville takes next steps

By Transport Action Ontario | Latest News , Urban Transit

The Ontario government has awarded a contract to Bowmanville Construction Partners (BCP), a general partnership between Ledcor CMI and Dragados Canada, to advance the planning to extend GO’s Lakeshore East rail service from Oshawa to Bowmanville (18.7 km extension). In 2022, Ontario had pledged $730M for this project. The planned service level is all-day two-way.

Due to substantial changes in the project since it was originally conceived in 2011, an amended Environmental Project Report (EPR) was required, and was unveiled at a public meeting in June, 2023. The project highlights were:

  • New alignment. Immediately east of Oshawa station, the extension will turn sharply north to cross Highway 401 and the General Motors spur line, using two new bridges, to connect to the CP Belleville Sub at Thornton Corners.
  • Construction of one or two new GO tracks in the CP corridor immediately south of CP’s single track. About 9 km of the GO line will be double tracked, allowing for ample opportunities for east-bound and west-bound GO trains to pass each other
  • Install wayside power at Bowmanville station so two trains can be stored overnight

The project has a couple of interesting features:

(a) Four new stations (Thornton Corners, Ritson, Courtice and Bowmanville) are planned, but are not part of the extension project. The Province is pursuing station construction to be delivered through its Transit Oriented Communities program, and active discussions are underway with local developers.

(b) Based on the drawings in the EPR, there are no planned connections between the CP and GO tracks. While this has the advantage of operational simplicity (neither operator affects the other), it greatly reduces flexibility during any incident such as a stalled train. Transport Action Ontario has recommended that “jump frog switches” be installed between the CP and GO tracks.

Jun 14

Hamilton LRT Project likely to choose Alliance Contracting Model

By Transport Action Ontario | Latest News , Urban Transit

In 2021, both Ontario and the Federal Government jointly committed $3.4 billion for the construction of the 14 km Hamilton LRT, to run from Eastgate Square through downtown Hamilton to McMaster University. The project also includes investment in public infrastructure, including roads and utilities through this older part of the City.

Metrolinx has now recommended that this project be contracted using an “alliance model” rather than the traditional Design-Build-Finance-Maintain approach. An alliance contract forces owner and contractor to work together to resolve unanticipated problems, share in any cost escalation and complete the project. This revised approach is likely due to the probable complexities of the Hamilton project (running through old Hamilton) and the poor experience with DBFM projects for the Ottawa LRT Phase 1 and Eglinton Crosstown LRT.

This is the second alliance contract that Metrolinx is engaged in – the first being Union Station revamp which also is a project that likely has many unanticipated changes.

Although the jury is still out, Transport Action Ontario is hopeful that alliances may provide a better model than DBFMs for complex transit projects.

May 31

Progress is Steady on Yonge Subway North Extension

By Transport Action Ontario | Latest News , Urban Transit

Metrolinx continues to advance this $4 to 6 billion, 8km project to extend the Yonge Subway northward into York Region.  The activities over the past 2 years provide interesting insights into major transit project management and execution. 

As readers recall from our last posting (June, 2021), there was extensive controversy and resident anger about the chosen route in the northern segment through Markham/Thornhill (“green route”).  Residents were concerned that this ran under dozens of residential properties.  In mid-2021, Transport Action Ontario (TAO) suggested an alternate route (“yellow route”) using cut and cover under the vacant Langstaff lands.  This was much more popular with the community.  Metrolinx studied the yellow route extensively, and finally concluded in early 2022 that it was technically feasible, but not preferred due to higher cost, complex construction, technical constraints (tighter curves, steeper inclines, slower train speeds), and impacts to future development.

Possibly in an attempt to placate local residents, Metrolinx announced that a 40 – 50 meter deep station at Royal Orchard Blvd would be added to the project, with station costs borne by the Province’s Transit Oriented Communities program.

In February, 2022, York Region Council approved the green route. The amended Environmental Project Report was completed by Metrolinx one month later.

In September, 2022, a contract was awarded to complete early upgrades to Finch Station to accommodate the extension (electrical and fire connections).  Construction is underway.  Work is also underway for advance utilities relocations along Yonge St.  Agreement has also been reached with CN for use of their corridor for the at-grade portion of the extension.

The procurement plan for the project will involve two major contracts:

  • Advance Tunneling contract, planned as a Design-Build-Finance.  The RFQ was released in April, 2023. Release of the RFP is planned for late 2023 with contract award in 2024.  Excavation for the launch shaft is expected in late 2024, and arrival of the tunnel boring machines in late 2025.  Two twin bore tunnels are planned.
  • Stations, Rail and Systems contract, likely to be a Progressive Design-Build.  Timing TBD.

Metrolinx is also engaged in corridor protection.  Under the Build Transit Faster Act, lands in the corridor have been designated as Transit Corridor Lands (TCLs).  Both TCLs and lands within a prescribed distance (eg 30 meters) must obtain a Corridor Development Permit prior to construction (eg pool, building, shed).  This restriction is registered on title in the Land Registry Office.  To date, there have apparently been no issues with designations or permits.

Metrolinx is also negotiating with property owners for temporary or permanent property acquisition.  In some cases, only subsurface acquisition will be required. No information is publicly available on how this is working out.

Finally, workshops are being held with municipal staff on station design.  No information is yet available to the public on this topic.

In conclusion, following resolution of the controversial routing issue, progress on this project appears to have been steady.  TAO looks forward to a continued smooth path. 

Apr 16

Advocacy Summary for April, 2022 – April, 2023

By Transport Action Ontario | Events , Highways and Bridges , Intercity Rail and Bus , Latest News , Northern Ontario , Southwestern Ontario , Uncategorized , Urban Transit

Transport Action Ontario’s annual general meeting (AGM) was held in Toronto on April 15, 2023 in a hybrid format. The meeting followed a pro-forma agenda, including Treasurer’s report and election of officers and directors for the upcoming year.

The major part of the meeting was devoted to the President’s report, which summarized the extensive advocacy work undertaken by the organization all across the Province over the past 12 months. In total, work was conducted on about 30 items, with some successes and good progress on others.

For members and subscribers who were unable to attend the AGM, the President’s Report is attached as a FYI.

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