Exploring the city in less time – The latest in Ontario Line benefits are now online

An updated business case issued by Metrolinx today offers more details about how the Ontario Line will improve transit and strengthen communities across the city. The document takes a deeper dive into how the project will cut commute times for transit users and drivers alike thanks to more detailed plans and designs that give an even better understanding of the project’s benefits.

The people of Toronto can be confident that major transit relief is on the way after Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario reached two major milestones for the Ontario Line project today.

First, shortlisted bidders have been invited to respond to two requests for proposals for major packages of work on the project. One package includes building the stations and tunnels for the southern part of the line from Exhibition Station to just west of the Don River, and another includes delivering the trains as well as the systems, operations and maintenance requirements for the whole line.

At the same time, Metrolinx has released the Preliminary Design Business Case for the project – you can find a link to the summary, just below – which shows that every $1 spent on the project will result in $1.05 in benefits to the region.

The updated analysis provides a clearer picture of how the Ontario Line will benefit riders, communities and the region as a whole thanks to feedback received through consultations and additional planning and design work that have taken place since the release of the Initial Business Case last year.

Fans cheer during a soccer game.
Soccer fans going to BMO Field will find the Ontario Line reduces travel time by as much as 40 minutes, depending on which starting point brings them to Exhibition Station. (Mike Winterburn)

With all this progress on making the Ontario Line vision a reality, now is a good time to think more about what life will be like once the line is in service.

The business case outlines a vision for a new subway line with fast, frequent service on trains that will reach a top speed of 80 km/h. Automated train technology will ensure that an emission-free, electric train will arrive safely at each station every 90 seconds during rush hour.

The Ontario Line will also give people easy connections to three GO train lines, Line 1 and Line 2 TTC subway service, the under-construction Eglinton Crosstown LRT, and dozens of the TTC’s streetcar and bus routes.

With 15 stations spread across nearly 16  kilometres, the Ontario Line will bring the subway to more neighbourhoods, opening up the city for people who want to enjoy everything that Toronto has to offer.

Let’s picture Exhibition Station at the west end of the line. Putting a stop here means a range of entertainment options will be a quick subway ride away, benefitting people who live directly along the new line and those who will connect to it at one of its six interchange stations. For example, soccer fans coming from Scarborough on Line 2 will get to their games more directly and with less crowding by avoiding the busy Bloor-Yonge Station as well as an extra transfer at Union Station.

Special events like the CNE, One of a Kind Craft Show, Honda Indy and Royal Agricultural Winter Fair will be far more accessible to more people. Once the Ontario Line is complete, a family going to the CNE from Don Mills will find it takes just 30 minutes to get from the Science Centre, where a new Ontario Line station will be located, all the way to Exhibition Station. Today, that same trip would take about an hour and ten minutes and you would have to take three separate vehicles. For many families, saving that extra time and effort will be the deciding factor in enjoying a fun day at the Ex or downtown.

Moving from GO Exhibition in the opposite direction, the Ontario Line will give Liberty Village residents a new alternative to the crowded King streetcar line.

With another subway route going under the downtown core, getting through the most congested part of the city will not be the same challenge it is today. Suddenly more dining, shopping and entertainment opportunities will be easier for people to get to as more neighbourhoods become accessible by subway.

If you live in Riverside and want to try a new restaurant at Queen and Spadina, your subway trip will be about 15 minutes compared to today’s 34-minute streetcar ride.

Likewise, someone at Cosburn and Pape, heading for a night out on King Street West will find the travel time cut in half, from nearly 42 minutes to just 22 minutes.

Rush-hour travel time savings will be most improved in parts of the city that are not currently served by rapid transit.

Image is a map with time saving estimates outlined.
The estimated travel time savings using the Ontario Line. (Metrolinx image)

Thorncliffe Park, Flemingdon Park, Don Mills, East York, Leslieville and Riverside residents will see major reductions in travel times across the city thanks to the Ontario Line. Imagine the current commute for someone living in one of Thorncliffe Park’s many apartment towers and working near King and Bay. It’s a 40-minute trip at rush hour, which includes waiting at a bus stop, riding across the Don River and down Pape Avenue, waiting again at the Pape subway station, boarding a Line 2 train, waiting yet again at Bloor-Yonge station and finishing the trip on the most overcrowded stretch of Line 1.

Image shows apartment buildings.
Residents of these Throncliffe Park apartments could save 15 minutes each way on Ontario Line commutes to the downtown core. (Mike Winterburn)

Once the Ontario Line is completed, this journey will be much easier.

With a train arriving every 90 seconds during rush hour, the days of worrying about missing your bus will be over – and the wait will be so short that you’ll spend more time brushing your teeth in the morning than you will waiting for an Ontario Line train.

Once on board, you’ll be whisked downtown on an elevated guideway that will be completely separated from traffic, offering picturesque views as you cross over the Don Valley.

Factoring in time spent walking to, from and through the stations, the total door-to-door trip time will be reduced from 40 to 25 minutes. That’s a 15-minute saving on every trip, or an extra half hour each day.

You can choose to use that extra time to sleep in, have an extra coffee before leaving, or get a head start at the office. It all adds up to giving you more time to focus on the things that matter most to you.

Image shows time savings for Ontario Line, as outlined in the story.

The information on travel times is only a small part of the bigger picture of the Ontario Line’s benefits. Here are some of the other key improvements detailed in the business case:

  • Up to 6,000 travellers are expected to shift from Line 1 to the Ontario Line during the busiest hour.
  • There could be up to 22 per cent less crowding at Bloor-Yonge Station and 14 per cent less at Union Station during the busiest hour, equal to 14,000 fewer people passing through those congested interchanges.
  • Up to 28,000 fewer cars are expected on Toronto’s roads each day because of the Ontario Line, which could contribute to a reduction in fuel consumption by 7.2 million litres per year – nearly enough to fill three Olympic-sized swimming pools.
  • More than 255,000 people are expected to live within a 10-minute walk of an Ontario Line station – nearly equal to the population of St. Catharines and Niagara Falls combined.
  • Every dollar spent toward the project will result in $1.05 in benefits for the region thanks to an increase in benefits compared to costs.

You can delve into all the details of the Preliminary Design Business Case by following this link.

Visit Metrolinx.com/OntarioLine to sign up for regular project updates and stay up to date on the project.

Story by Mike Winterburn, Metrolinx senior advisor