East Bayfront LRT
|East Bayfront LRT|
|System||Toronto streetcar system|
|Operator(s)||Toronto Transit Commission|
|Line length||1.7 kilometres (1.1 mi)|
|Track gauge||4 ft 10 7⁄8 in (1,495 mm) - TTC Gauge|
East Bayfront LRT is a streetcar line proposed for Queens Quay East from Bay Street to Parliament Street to connect Union Station to the East Bayfront area of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It will complement the existing 509 Harbourfront service which connects Union Station to Queens Quay west of Bay Street.
The line would start in the underground loop at Union Station, and proceed underground to Queens Quay. The line would then turn east and emerge from the tunnel 250 metres east of Yonge Street at Freeland Street. Both the eastbound and westbound tracks would be in a dedicated right of way along the south side of Queens Quay so as to reduce the need for rail vehicles to stop for road traffic, as there are fewer street intersections on the south side of Queens Quay than on its north side. The line would end in a temporary loop at Small Street, just west of Parliament Street.
- Building a new eastbound passenger platform at Union Station: $112 million
- Extension of Bay Street tunnel to Freeland Street: $156 million
- Surface infrastructure: $66 million
- Rolling stock: $36 million
- Queens Quay revitalization: $150 million
The underground streetcar loop at Union Station does not have the capacity to accommodate the extra light rail vehicles needed to service the new line. Thus, a new eastbound platform must be added.
A sewer at Queens Quay and Bay Street will make it hard to build an eastern portal to bring the tracks to the surface.
One of the issues which has delayed progress of constructing the line is the proposed redevelopment of the waterfront properties between Jarvis Street and Parliament Street, which lie south of Queens Quay. The plans called for two access streets, which would cross the proposed light rail line at signalized intersections. However, the developer has designed a third street into the plan, likely due to the expected traffic volumes from the development, which would require an additional signalized intersection with the light rail line. Some councillors have stated this will negatively affect service along the proposed route, possibly adding as much as an extra three minutes travel to a line that would only require ten minutes to traverse.
George Brown College’s campus in the East Bayfront has opened and there are development plans for several apartment and condominium complexes on Queens Quay East and, in future years, in the West Don Lands. Thus, there will be roughly 20,000 residential units in the area, plus 8,000 jobs and 3,500 students.
According to transit advocate Steve Munro, developers in the area, particularly for commercial properties, are concerned that without good transit, a better connection to the core area than the Sherbourne and Bay buses, developments are not marketable.
A bus service running in the former streetcar's dedicated right of way has been considered as an alternate service. The challenge for such a service to the eastern waterfront is the connection at Union Station for transferring passengers. There is limited sidewalk space for both pedestrians and transit stops along Bay Street. Buses will have to compete with other traffic through the Bay Street underpass and the mixed traffic south to Queens Quay.
On April 5, 2006, the first Public Forum for the Environmental Assessment for the Eastern Waterfront transit proposals was held. 
On August 29, 2014, The Globe and Mail reported that senior Toronto officials had gone over the head of City Council, and made an appeal for funding for the line right to more senior levels of government. TTC General Manager Andy Byford, and City Manager Joe Pennachetti had made their proposal to their opposite numbers in the Provincial bureaucracy. According to the Globe and Mail they had not yet approached Provincial and Federal politicians.
In September 2015, the TTC Budget Committee passed the following motion regarding the Capital Budget:
- Request TTC staff, working with the City of Toronto Manager, and Waterfront Toronto, to prioritize the East Bayfront LRT project, and to report back to the TTC’s Budget Committee on how to expedite the work, starting with the planning and engineering work.
In May 2016, condominium developers expressed concern about a lack of activity on the East Bayfront LRT project. Sam Crignano, president of Cityzen, a developer with three projects along the eastern waterfront, said that having two or three bus lines in the area won’t be enough to handle the future influx of new residents and employees. Niall Haggart, executive vice-president of the Daniels Corp., urged action on the LRT project. Daniels has started a $700-million mixed-use development which will add about 7,300 people to the area by day and 2,500 at night. The Toronto Star reported that the project had been stalled because of a lack of funding and piecemeal transportation planning.
At the eastern end of the East Bayfront line, just east of Parliament Street, there would be a temporary streetcar loop. The intent is to replace this loop with an easterly extension along Commissioners Street into the Port Lands area and north along Cherry Street into the Lower Don Lands. Thus, there would eventually be a connection between the East Bayfront line and the Cherry Street streetcar line. To reach Commissioners Street, a new Cherry Street would be built roughly in line with the existing Cherry Street north of Lake Shore Boulevard to allow streetcars to cross the Keating Channel on a new bridge and run south via New Cherry Street to the Ship Channel.
- Luke Simcoe (October 28, 2015). "Toronto hits the 'reset' button on waterfront transit planning". Metro News. Retrieved 2015-10-31.
- Robert Mackenzie (2010-04-10). "QUEENS QUAY TRANSIT PROJECT: WILL HELP RENEW TORONTO'S WATERFRONT". Transit Toronto.
Transit is a key component — or quay component — of the plan. Two lanes of streetcar tracks will separate the pedestrian and cycling area from the roadway. Since these tracks will line the southern side of the traffic portion of Queens Quay, streetcars will cross fewer side streets and stop only at intersections, with signals prioritizing streetcars over other vehicles. And streetcars will also start to serve eastern harbour — the area between Bay and Parliament Streets.
- Steve Munro (March 2, 2015). "TTC 2015-2024 Capital Budget: System Expansion Projects". Retrieved 2015-11-06.
- Steve Munro (October 14, 2015). "A "Reset" For Waterfront Transit Plans?". Retrieved 2015-11-01.
- Adrian Morrow (2012-05-25). "A tiny perfect streetcar line is being laid along Cherry Street". Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2012-07-19.
- Steve Munro (September 17, 2015). "TTC Budget 2016: Confused Priorities Make For A Confusing Budget (Part I)". Retrieved 2015-09-17.
- Steve Munro (2013-02-08). "Waterfront East Update: February 2013 (Updated)". Archived from the original on 2015-03-04.
When a transit line to the eastern waterfront was first proposed, the cost estimate was considerably lower than today. Waterfront Toronto has only $90-million left in the account for this project because some of the originally intended funds have been redirected to the Queens Quay West project now underway.
- Steve Munro (April 6, 2006). "East Waterfront Update". Retrieved 2015-11-01.
- Emily Jackson (2012-02-14). "Toronto LRT transit plan stalling on Queens Quay East". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on 2013-03-22.
But the LRT project meant to connect Union Station with the burgeoning lakefront community to its east seems to have gone off the rails just a year and a half after the government gave it a stamp of approval.
- Oliver Moore, David Hains (2014-08-29). "Toronto bureaucrats bypass politicians to make waterfront transit pitch". Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on 2014-08-29. Retrieved 2014-08-29.
Two of Toronto’s top bureaucrats are pushing for a new light-rail line right across the city’s waterfront, taking to higher levels of government their pitch for a route expected to cost hundreds of millions.
- Sarah Sweet (2014-08-29). "Bureaucrats Take the Fight for Waterfront LRT Straight to Higher Levels of Government". Torontoist. Archived from the original on 2014-08-29.
The route they’re championing would involve the East Bayfront LRT—mentioned in the last provincial budget but by no means a done deal—and the Waterfront West LRT, part of former mayor David Miller’s now-defunct Transit City plan. It would create an east-west transit option that could relieve congestion on the Gardiner Expressway and Lake Shore Boulevard and provide an easier way for those in Liberty Village to get downtown.
- Ben Spurr, Staff Reporter (23 May 2016). "Amid development boom, Queens Quay East LRT running late". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2016-05-23.