Waterfront West LRT
|Waterfront West LRT|
|System||Toronto streetcar system|
|Status||Cancelled in 2010, but revived in 2017 by the Waterfront Transit Reset study|
|Operator(s)||Toronto Transit Commission|
The Waterfront West LRT (WWLRT) was a proposed streetcar line in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It was part of the Transit City proposal announced March 16, 2007, to be operated by the Toronto Transit Commission and use existing parts of the Toronto streetcar system.
The line was cancelled by Mayor of Toronto Rob Ford on December 1, 2010 when he announced the cancellation of Transit City. While LRT lines on Sheppard East, Finch West, and Eglinton were revived through a new agreement between the City of Toronto and Metrolinx, the WWLRT was not included. It was included in Metrolinx's regional transportation plan The Big Move under the 15-year horizon.
An October 2015 city report recommended that the project be reconsidered in the context of other Waterfront transit projects. This resulted in the Waterfront Transit Reset study. In November 2017, the study produced a series of recommendations which, if there were all implemented, would result in a Waterfront West route with a strong similarity to the Transit City proposal.
Announced on March 16, 2007, the WWLRT was part of Mayor David Miller's Transit City proposal, to be operated by the Toronto Transit Commission. As the shortest and least expensive Transit City line, it was expected to cost approximately $540 million. The line was to open in four stages and be completed by 2015 as the third of the seven Transit City lines after the Sheppard East LRT and Etobicoke-Finch West LRT (today's Finch West LRT). Unlike the other Transit City lines, this service would share infrastructure and track gauge with the streetcar system; the other LRTs would not be compatible and use larger vehicles on standard gauge tracking.
After taking office in December 2010, Mayor Rob Ford announced cancellation of the line, however this decision was never brought to City Council for approval and the line's status remains in question. Funding had not been secured for this project.
In January 2013, the project was shelved by Toronto city officials.
On October 9, 2015, a city staff report titled Waterfront Transit Reset said that there is a clear need for a “reset” because recent waterfront transit planning has been ad hoc and incremental, resulting in the lack of a comprehensive plan for a transit network to respond to the rapid changes occurring along the waterfront. In the report, the Deputy City Manager recommended that:
- City Council direct City staff, working with the TTC and Waterfront Toronto, to undertake a comprehensive review of waterfront transit initiatives and options, and provide a status update to Executive Committee in Q2 of 2016.
The Waterfront Transit Reset report also said:
- Notwithstanding the fact that both the Waterfront West and Waterfront East LRTs are ranked in the top five unfunded rapid transit proposals in the preliminary analysis of Feeling Congested?", there has been little funding allocated for waterfront transit projects.
On November 13, 2017, a report about the Waterfront Transit Reset was presented to the TTC board. It itemized a number of recommendations to improve streetcar service along the lakeshore between Long Branch and Leslie Street. If the recommendations pertaining to streetcar service between Long Branch and Union Station were implemented, one would effectively have a route with a strong resemblance to the original Waterfront West LRT.
The Waterfront West LRT line would run for 11 km, estimated to account for 21 million trips in 2021. The western terminus of the line would be built at the Long Branch GO Station in Etobicoke. The line would use an exclusive right of way along Lake Shore Boulevard West, and follow the existing right of way used by routes 501 and 508 through Humber loop, and along the Queensway. A new right of way would parallel King Street West east of Roncesvalles Avenue, and follow the rail corridor to the existing Exhibition loop facility. It was designed to operate via the existing Harbourfront streetcar right-of-way from the exhibition loop facility to Union Station, however, now it has been recommended that it operate via a new right-of-way to be constructed under the Gardiner Expressway, and along Bremner Boulevard to a new portal that will allow it to access the Union Station streetcar tunnel. This was because of concerns about operating too many streetcars through complex multi-phase intersections at intersections like Fleet St., Lake Shore Blvd. W, and Bathurst St., and about service reliability and speed.
The TTC has predicted an average daily ridership of over 40,000 on the segment that would serve the developing Liberty Village and CityPlace neighbourhoods, as opposed to approximately 2,200 per peak hour on the western segment of the line.
The TTC indicated that stops would be spaced on average 370 m apart from Long Branch GO Station to Park Lawn Road. This list does not include potential extensions of the Waterfront West LRT. The distances between these stops varies, but they are likely candidates, from west to east to Park Lawn Road:
On Lake Shore Boulevard West
- Browns Line - Long Branch GO Station (connection to Lakeshore West GO train line)
- Thirty Seventh Street
- Long Branch Avenue
- Thirtieth Street
- Twenty Seventh Street
- Twenty Second Street
- Kipling Avenue
- Thirteenth Street
- Islington Avenue
- Third Street
- First Street
- Royal York Road
- Symons Street
- Hillside Avenue
- Mimico Avenue
- Burlington Street
- Legion Road
- Park Lawn Road
Major streets and landmarks
Major streets and landmarks crossing the Waterfront West LRT (from west to east from Park Lawn Road):
Along the Gardiner Expressway and the Lakeshore West GO train line
Waterfront Transit Reset
The Waterfront Transit Reset study resulted in a number of recommendations to improve streetcar service along the lake shore between Long Branch and Union Station. If all recommendations were implemented, one would have the equivalent of the original Waterfront West LRT but with a number of differences in detail. Most of the recommendations could be implemented independently. Here are the recommendations from Long Branch to Bay Street:
- Between Long Branch and Park Lawn, City and TTC staff propose enhancements such as streetcar signal priority, improved TTC-GO connections at Long Branch, streetcar boarding platforms, etc. A dedicated streetcar right of way along this section is not being considered as the projected ridership would not be high enough in 2041 (1,100 people in the peak hour).
- In the Park Lawn area, City and TTC staff propose a new streetcar and bus loop to be built east of Park Lawn Road, north of Lake Shore Boulevard. It would allow more frequent service west to as Park Lawn to serve existing and future developments in the area.
- Between Park Lawn Road and Humber, the City and TTC will design a dedicated streetcar right of way to eliminate running streetcars in mixed traffic. This is considered a high-priority project.
- Between Humber and Exhibition Place, the City, the TTC and Metrolinx are planning a new "Humber Bay Link streetcar line" to be built along Lake Shore Boulevard, branching off The Queensway at Colborne Lodge Drive and running to Exhibition Place. This enhancement would depend on increases in ridership to justify the construction costs. Such a line would increase capacity between south Etobicoke and Swansea to downtown, improve service reliability and provide relief to the existing streetcar routes on Queen Street and King Street. The alternative alignment from the King/Queen/Roncesvalles intersection via the railway and Gardiner Expressway to Exhibition Place were considered but was determined to be technically impractical.
- At Exhibition Place, the TTC seeks funding to design and construct a streetcar connection between Dufferin Gate Loop and Exhibition Loop. The immediate use of this connection would be to link tracks on King Street to those on Queens Quay via Exhibition Place. Later, it would be used by the Humber Bay Link streetcar line. The TTC says this is a "high priority" project and there are benefits even without the Humber Bay Link; however, the TTC report does not describe the benefits.
- From Exhibition to Bay, City and TTC staff propose enhancements such as improved transit signal priority, and improved signage and signals to better delineate the streetcar right of way. This would improve the speed and safety of streetcar service.
- At the Bathurst/Lake Shore/Fleet intersection, the City and the TTC would plan changes affecting streetcar track alignment and road traffic patterns. Changes would include moving streetcar tracks on Bathurst Street to the west side of the road to reduce delays caused by automobile traffic.
- At Union Station, the streetcar loop must be modified to increase capacity.
- Carter, Tristan (25 February 2011). "Jane LRT goes off the rails". Town Crier. Streeter Publications.
- D'Cruz, Andrew (1 December 2010). "Mayor Rob Ford: "Transit City is over"". Toronto Life.
- Tess Kalinowski (28 November 2012). "TTC, Metrolinx finally sign off on LRTs". Toronto Star. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
- "The Big Move". Metrolinx. 2008. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
- "Waterfront Transit "Reset"" (PDF). City of Toronto. October 9, 2015. Retrieved 2015-11-06.
- "Waterfront Transit Update" (PDF). Toronto Transit Commission. November 13, 2017. Retrieved November 13, 2017.
- Mayor Rob Ford: “Transit City is over” Toronto Life December 1, 2010
- Shepard, Tamara (January 10, 2013). "Residents share wishlist for Toronto budget". InsideToronto.com. Retrieved January 11, 2018.
- City Of Toronto. Toronto Transit Commission. WATERFRONT WEST LRT CONNECTION TO UNION STATION: . Toronto: 2008. Print.