Sheppard East LRT

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Sheppard East LRT
TTC - Line 7.svg
TypeLight rail transit
SystemToronto subway
LocaleToronto, Ontario
TerminiDon Mills
Operator(s)Toronto Transit Commission
Rolling stockFlexity Freedom
Line length13 km (8.1 mi)[2]
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Electrification750 V DC overhead
Route map

Don Mills
TTC - Line 4 - Sheppard line.svg
Victoria Park
Bay Mills
Highland Creek
Bendale Branch
Stouffville line
GO Transit logo.svg GO Stouffville logo.svg
Highland Creek
Markham Branch
White Haven
Highland Creek
Malvern Branch
Maintenance facility

The Sheppard East LRT is a proposed light rail line in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It was announced as part of the Transit City proposal in 2007.

The Sheppard East LRT will add 13 kilometres of new transit along Sheppard Avenue from Don Mills subway station to east of Morningside Avenue and would be operated by the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). The project will include a new train yard at Conlins Road. Metrolinx had originally budgeted $944.5 million from 2009 through 2014 for the design and construction of the line[3] with an in service date of 2013.[4] In May 2010 Metrolinx revised the opening date as mid-2014,[5] before Mayor Rob Ford cancelled the project at the end of the year. By 2016, it was reported that the line was deferred indefinitely and possibly being replaced by a competing proposal of extending Line 4 Sheppard.[6][7]


On March 16, 2007, the Sheppard East LRT was first proposed as part of Mayor David Miller's Transit City proposal.

In May 2009, funding was approved by the provincial and federal governments.[8] The line was to open from Don Mills station to Meadowvale Road in 2013.[9]

On December 21, 2009, construction for the line began at Agincourt GO Station.[10] Detailed engineering had been initiated for the grade separation of Sheppard Avenue East and the GO Transit tracks east of Kennedy Road.

Following the municipal election in December 2010, Mayor Rob Ford cancelled Transit City along with the Sheppard East LRT and Finch West LRT. However, in March 2012, Toronto city council re-instated these two lines at a special city council meeting.

In June 2012, the province of Ontario announced that construction of the Sheppard East LRT would not resume until 2017 or finish until 2021.[11]

By December 2012, the underpass construction needed for the Sheppard LRT at Agincourt GO Station was completed to enhance traffic flow as well as enhance the safety and reliability of GO Transit.[1]

On April 27, 2015, Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca announced that construction of the Sheppard East LRT would not start until at least 2021, the expected completion year for the Finch West LRT. According to the minister, the delay in starting the Sheppard East LRT is due to limits in the province's capacity to do infrastructure work on multiple projects at the same time.[12]

In July 2016, a Toronto Star article reported that the Sheppard LRT has been deferred indefinitely.[7] Funding for the line was withdrawn and reallocated to the Finch West LRT in 2017 with political interest in possibly reverting the project back to a subway extension of Line 4 Sheppard.[6]

In January 2018, the TTC anticipates the line to open somewhere between 2028 and 2032.[13]

Route layout[edit]

The Sheppard East LRT line is to run for 13 km (8.1 mi) from Don Mills station at Don Mills Road in North York along Sheppard Avenue East to east of Morningside Avenue in Scarborough. The line will run in a 1.1 km (0.68 mi) tunnel between Don Mills and Consumers Road, and 11.9 km (7.4 mi) along the surface of Sheppard Avenue from Consumers Road to Morningside Avenue. The surface portion will operate in a dedicated lane in the centre of the street.[1]

At Don Mills, the LRT and Line 4 Sheppard subway would use the same platform level, so that riders can simply walk down the platform and board the other vehicle.[14][15] In addition to the underground stop at Don Mills, Metrolinx says there will be up to 26 surface stops along the route.[1]

Proposed stops[16]
Stop Type Notes
Don Mills Underground Connection to TTC - Line 4 - Sheppard line.svg Sheppard and proposed Don Mills LRT
Consumers Road At Grade
Victoria Park Avenue
Pharmacy Avenue
Palmdale Drive
Warden Avenue
Bay Mills Boulevard
Birchmount Road
Allanford Road
Kennedy Road
Agincourt GO Station Connection to the GO Transit logo.svg GO Stouffville logo.svg Stouffville line
Midland Avenue
Brimley Road
Brownspring Road
McCowan Road
White Haven
Shorting Road
Massie Street
Markham Road
Progress Avenue
Washburn Way
Burrows Hall
Neilson Road
Murison Boulevard
Brenyon Way
Morningside Avenue Connection to proposed Scarborough Malvern LRT

Potential extensions[edit]

These proposed segments were not part of Transit City.

West to Finch station[edit]

This proposal would extended to the Sheppard East LRT north to Finch Avenue from Don Mills, then west on Finch Avenue East to Finch station. From there it would continue along Finch Avenue West as the Finch West LRT line. This alignment would provide a seamless crosstown line across northern Toronto.

East to Durham Region[edit]

This proposal would have extended the Sheppard East LRT east into Durham Region from the planned eastern terminus at Meadowvale Road. This extension would cross the Toronto/Durham Region border and continue to an undisclosed location within Durham Region.

Transfer with Line 4 Sheppard[edit]

The TTC investigated several options for the transfer at or near Don Mills Road with the existing Line 4 Sheppard subway. The main obstacle is Highway 404 which the LRT may have tunnelled under, and the fact that the subway is located 18 metres (59 ft) below grade.[14]

Original options[edit]

  1. Surface LRT Connection: Hwy 404 bridge expanded to maintain existing traffic lanes and incorporate two lanes for LRT in the centre. Traffic lanes reduced near Don Mills Road to allow LRT stop on surface, in the centre of Sheppard - a wide centre platform would include stairs and elevators connecting to the mezzanine level of the subway station.
  2. Underground LRT Connection 1: Tunnel under Highway 404 beginning west of Consumers Road and connecting to the mezzanine/concourse level of the subway (one level below the surface, one level above the subway.)
  3. Underground LRT Connection 2: Tunnel under Highway 404 beginning west of Consumers Road and "butting up" against the east end of the subway platform (two levels below the surface.)
  4. Subway Extension 1: Extend the subway to Consumers Road area and build an LRT connection there.
  5. Subway Extension 2: Shallow subway extension to Consumers Road with LRT station in the middle of Sheppard Avenue and a direct passage to the subway below.

Recommended options[edit]

Option 3 – Underground LRT Connection 2[edit]

Option 3 proposed building an underground connection to the subway platform level at Don Mills. The subway platform would be extended east, with LRT tracks built on either side, allowing for a level transfer.

For customers east of Victoria Park and destined to the subway, Option 3 has the same pros as Option 5, but at a lower cost, and the tunnel construction would be designed to allow for a future subway extension. But it has the cons of separation between subway and LRT still under policy discussion; separation between vehicles could be 100 to 125 metres (328 to 410 ft).

Option 5 – Subway Extension 2[edit]

Option 5 proposed building a shallow subway extension to Consumers Road and connecting with the Sheppard East LRT at a surface-level LRT station. The LRT station would be built in the middle of Sheppard Avenue (east of Consumers Road), with direct passageways to the Line 4 station below.

Option 5 avoids the need for travellers from the business park to travel one stop, then transfer to the subway as per Option 3; given that, it is seen as a more effective catalyst for more dense, transit-oriented development in the area of the station. This option, however, is much more expensive than Option 3 and requires more detailed design work to determine if a "shallow" subway extension is achievable. More work is required to determine the depth needed to avoid the settlement near the Highway 404 bridge and to avoid the large, 6-metre-deep (20 ft) sanitary sewer near Consumers Road.


The TTC decided on option 3.

Delay and restoration of the project[edit]

In April 2011, Mayor Rob Ford and the province of Ontario announced a transit plan that included the subway extensions and cancelled the Sheppard East LRT. Despite the inclusion of the extensions, no public funding was allocated for construction and work on the LRT was to be abandoned at significant cost.[17] Instead of building the previously-funded LRT, Mayor Ford proposed soliciting private financing for a subway extension; however, no specific plans for raising the funding were announced,[18] and Gordon Chong, head of the TTC agency tasked with analyzing the new subway plans, suggested that the project would not be feasible without a detailed funding plan including new taxes and levies. Lack of confidence in Mayor Ford's subway proposal eventually led council, under the guidance of TTC chair Karen Stintz, to appoint an expert panel to review the options for rapid transit on Sheppard East and to present a preferred alternative.[19] On March 21, 2012, city council received the report, authored by Professor Eric Miller, which strongly recommended proceeding with the original LRT plan. On March 22, after over a day and a half of debate, city council formally endorsed a return to the LRT plan for Sheppard east.[20] In June 2012, the province of Ontario announced that construction of the Sheppard east LRT would not resume until 2017 or finish until 2021.[11]

On April 27, 2015, the Government of Ontario and the City of Toronto announced that work on the Finch LRT will begin in 2016. Work on the Sheppard East LRT may start once the work on the Finch LRT has been completed, sometime in the early to mid 2020s.[21] In July 2016, a Toronto Star article said the Sheppard LRT has been deferred indefinitely. That same month Toronto City Council voted to approve a one stop extension on Line 2 (Bloor–Danforth Line) from Kennedy Station North East to Scarborough Center. This same vote reopened to consideration the possibility of extending the Sheppard Subway east into Scarborough. Therefore the Sheppard East LRT will not be built until a final decision is made on the Sheppard Subway extension.[7]

Economic benefits[edit]

There has been an ongoing discussion as to economic benefits of Toronto's different rapid transit choices, including the benefits of building an LRT along Sheppard.[22] Tess Kalinowski, writing in the Toronto Star, reported on the views of Andre Sorensen, who compared the likely economic stimilus of building an LRT along Sheppard, with the likely economic benefits of building mayor John Tory's Smart Track surface subway, or building the 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) extension of the TTC's heavy rail system from Kennedy Station to Sheppard. Sorenson, a University of Toronto Scarborough professor of Human Geography, had recently published a paper on this topic. Sorenson's team concluded that not only would the $1 billion CAD provide more economic stimulus per dollar than the other two more expensive routes, but that it would provide more economic benefits in absolute terms. Sorenson also asserted that, in addition to being cheaper, and providing more economic benefits, the Sheppard LRT could be completed years earlier than the other two routes, and that, unlike the other two routes, its entire capital cost would be funded by the Province of Ontario, not by the City of Toronto.


Metrolinx has projected that the LRT will see 3,000 riders per hour in the peak direction by 2031.[1] A Toronto Star report has estimated annual operating and maintenance costs to be $38.1 million in 2025, before deducting fare revenue and costs saved by eliminating parallel bus service.[23]

According to the TTC, the six bus routes that serve Sheppard Ave between Don Mills and Morningside average 35,800 riders per weekday.[24] The TTC is forecasting 17 million annual riders on the Sheppard East LRT upon completion.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Sheppard East Light Rail Transit Project - Fact Sheet" (PDF). Metrolinx. May 2015. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  2. ^ "Metrolinx Etobicoke-Finch West LRT Environmental Project Report Executive Summary" (PDF). Retrieved 4 November 2014.
  3. ^ Lambert, Kim; John Howe (28 November 2008). "2009/10 and Five-Year Capital Plan" (PDF). Metrolinx. Retrieved 29 November 2008.
  4. ^ Howe, John (13 July 2009). "Provincial Framework for New Transit Project Implementation" (PDF). Metrolinx. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  5. ^ Collins, Jack (19 May 2010). "Achieving 5 in 10 - A Revised Plan for the Big 5 Transit Projects" (PDF). Metrolinx. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  6. ^ a b "Federal funding shuffle casts doubt on Sheppard LRT". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  7. ^ a b c Ben Spurr (20 July 2016). "Metrolinx threatens legal action over late delivery of light rail vehicles". Toronto Star. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  8. ^ Ferguson, Rob; Kalinowski, Tess (15 May 2009). "Toronto gets nearly $1B for new LRT line". The Star. Retrieved 23 May 2010.
  9. ^ "Ontario Moves Forward With Sheppard Transit Line". 9 May 2015.
  10. ^ "Transit City Light Rail Plan: Status Update for February 2009" (PDF). Toronto Transit Commission. 2 February 2009. Retrieved 15 February 2009.
  11. ^ a b "Delay to Sheppard East LRT raises hopes of possible subway line". Scarborough Mirror. 24 August 2012. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
  12. ^ Tess Kalinowski, Transportation reporter (27 April 2015). "Finch LRT to be complete in 2021, before Sheppard breaks ground". Toronto Star. Retrieved 27 April 2015.
  13. ^ "2018–2022 TTC Corporate Plan" (PDF). p. 113. Retrieved 29 January 2018.
  14. ^ a b "Sheppard East LRT connection at Don Mills Station" (PDF). Toronto Transit Commission. 28 May 2009. Retrieved 30 June 2015.
  15. ^ Tess Kalinowski Transportation reporter (25 April 2012). "Q&A: What you need to know about the Sheppard LRT". Toronto Star. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  16. ^ "Sheppard East LRT: Stops and interchanges".
  17. ^ "Toronto must pay at least $49M to cancel LRT plan". CBC News. 1 April 2011. Retrieved 2 April 2011.
  18. ^ Alcoba, Natalie. "Q&A: Digging into transit plan". National Post. Retrieved 2 April 2011.
  19. ^ Granatstein, Rob. "Rob Ford's Sheppard hole: Granatstein". Toronto Sun. Retrieved 4 April 2011.
  20. ^ "Mayor Rob Ford loses Toronto subway vote". CBC News. 22 March 2012.
  21. ^ Toronto Star, Finch to be complete in 2021 ..., last accessed May 2, 2015
  22. ^ Tess Kalinowksi (11 March 2015). "Scarborough LRT would attract more development than subway: Study". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on 12 March 2015. The study looked at the prospects for redevelopment along LRT routes on Eglinton-Morningside and Malvern, as well as Sheppard. Combined, they had 18.4 hectares per kilometre that could be available for redevelopment. That was more than the 12 hectares per kilometre on SmartTrack and 11.1 hectares per kilometre on the McCowan subway route, which is supposed to replace the aging Scarborough RT.
  23. ^ Ben Spurr & Jennifer Pagliaro (31 October 2016). "Report outlines steep costs of running new Toronto transit lines". Toronto Star. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  24. ^ Tess Kalinowski Transportation reporter (18 May 2015). "Could the Finch LRT reshape the Sheppard transit debate?". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 19 May 2015. Source: TTC

External links[edit]