Hurontario Light Rail Transit

This week, ongoing subsurface investigation work continues throughout the corridor. The following tweets were sent out by Metrolinx on @HurontarioLRT earlier:

  • Jan 23-27: Partial, temporary lane closures from Pinetree to Sherobee for subsurface utility investigations. Please drive carefully. [1/2]  
  • Drilling also takes place from Fairview to Central Pkwy, Eglinton to Ceremonial, at Skyway, Ray Lawson to Steeles. Have a great week. [2/2]

This work represents an important part of the project that will help determine key requirements for the Request for Proposal (RFP). Local residents and businesses may experience some disruption associated with this work.

 

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Metrolinx now has a Twitter account for the Hurontario Light Rail Transit Project at www.twitter.com/hurontarioLRT 

 

1.  What is an LRT?

A Light Rail Vehicle (LRV) is an electrically operated transit vehicle that carries passengers as part of a Light Rail Transit (LRT) system. The specific LRV for the Hurontario-Main system has not yet been selected and will be tendered as part of a future Vehicle Procurement Strategy for the project. LRVs can operate as a single unit, or can be joined to operate as multiple passenger LRV units.

2.  Light rail transit?

Urban style Light Rail Transit (LRT) is designed to be fully integrated with the surrounding streetscape. At the heart of this approach is a modern styled, low-floor, light rail vehicle (LRV). Low-floor LRVs allow for stops and stations that require very little additional infrastructure. For instance, a stop can be created using only a raised curb and sidewalk. The low floor of the vehicles means that doors are aligned at street-level to allow for step-free boarding so passengers can access directly from the low LRT platform into the vehicle. Because steps are not needed, it is easier to integrate stops and stations with local surroundings, as well as provide better pedestrian connections and fewer barriers to accessibility.

3.  Does this mean it will be a train travelling on rails?

Yes.

4.  Why a preference on rails?

Urban style LRT generally runs in its own dedicated lanes to ensure it is not held up by other traffic and it is given priority to go through signalized intersections. This provides a very reliable service with passengers knowing exactly how long their journey will take. The dedicated LRT lanes can be separated from other traffic lanes by a white line or a curb. In addition, the area between rails on the segregated lanes is filled in, usually with concrete, pressed concrete to resemble cobblestones, or other material such as grass. This provides a level surface and enables the LRT to be blended into the surrounding street.

5.  Is the system electric?

LRT vehicles have higher capacity than bus transit systems, and provide fast, reliable, convenient service by carrying passengers primarily in reserved transit lanes separate from regular traffic. LRT is electrically powered, with no emissions at street level, and offers passengers a smooth, comfortable and quiet ride.

6.  Why not electric buses?

From 2008 – 2011, the cities undertook a Corridor Master Plan Study and Directions Report to research and develop a co-ordinated vision for the corridor that integrated land use, urban design and transportation. This work sought to inform and guide development of the most appropriate rapid transit solution for the corridor.

The Master Plan Study looked at a range of rapid transit technologies including:

  • Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)
  • Light Rail Transit (LRT)
  • Automated Guideway Transit
  • Monorail
  • Subway

From these technologies, BRT and LRT were identified as the most appropriate for the corridor because of their capacity, lower costs, ability to operate exclusively or in mixed traffic and the ease of integration with other systems. BRT and LRT were then investigated further, including looking at whether a mixed option of LRT for part of the corridor and BRT for the remainder was the best solution. The study concluded that an urban style LRT is the best solution to pursue because it would best meet ridership demands, provide a higher level of service and better quality of service to passengers and attract Transit Orientated Development (TOD).

7.  Do you remember the TTC electric trolley buses?

Yes. While a trolley bus allows a bus sized vehicle to operate without emissions and without the track infrastructure it lacks one major element key to LRT operation: rider capacity. A 18.5m (60ft) Trolley bus does not improve on the capacity of a non electric BRT and would still require 24 buses an hour in lieu of 7 light rail vehicle consists to carry the same passenger load.

8.  Will the system travel in the middle lanes of Hurontario street?

Yes, the LRT would operate in its own dedicated rail transit lanes along the majority of the alignment and so will not be held up by other vehicles. This is known as segregation or segregated lanes. This will help to ensure journey time reliability and consistency.

9.  Is the city concerned about passengers running into the road to catch a train and causing accident as they do right now to catch a bus?

The project team has attempted mitigation issues related to individuals running to their LRV by providing controlled crossings at both ends of platforms to allow safe access regardless of the rider’s direction of approach. Many of these types of systems operate in other communities and have addressed passenger safety issues in various ways by the usage of bollards, signage, signals, raised stop platforms in the centre of the street buffered by the rail corridor, etc. In this project, we are ensuring that we are also “protecting for controlled crossings”.

10.  Is the city concerned about drivers filing complaints over damage to their vehicles for driving over rails? (Suspension)

The rail system to be provided uses embedded track which is flush with the roadway. With proper road and rail maintenance this should not be a significant issue.

11.  How will this system challenge detours for road closures due to accidents or construction?

The cities of Mississauga and Brampton will ensure that existing transit corridors and commuter routes are kept open throughout the implementation of the project. Minimal disruption to every commuter’s journey until the final day of construction will be the number one priority for the cities and the project team. Once in operation the system is provided with a series of crossings between tracks that will allow the system to run on one rail in emergency or maintenance situations.

12.  How many LRT vehicles will run on the system and will there be enough for back up in case of break downs and regular maintenance?

The system is being designed based on sufficient additional spare vehicles to provide 5 minute service at peak to deal with vehicle failure and a well planned maintenance program.

13.  Will this system run on road surface level or up high as a mono rail or below like a subway?

The LRT will run along the surface of Hurontario and Main Streets.

14.  Has there been thoughts as how to clear the path of snow?

Yes. Systems around the world operate in many different weather conditions, including extreme cold in places such as Sweden, Norway, Poland, Germany and in North America including Edmonton, Calgary and Minneapolis. There a number of options available to the system operator from dedicated clearance vehicles to provision of plow blades on some LRVs.

15.  Will the current size snow plows fit in the designated lanes for the LRT?

Yes.

16.  Is the LRT an express or Local service?

The LRT is a higher order transit service with stops provided between 600m and 1.2 km apart in general.

LRT along the Hurontario-Main corridor seeks to:

  • Provide a high capacity, high quality, reliable, modern transportation system to connect the cities of Brampton and Mississauga;
  •  Connect with regional rail services (e.g. Go Transit) at Port Credit and Cooksville in Mississauga and in downtown Brampton;
  • Be integrated into the local transit network (MiWay, Züm and other transit services);
  • Help accommodate current and future travel demand;
  • Help to stimulate enhanced streetscapes and transit oriented development along the corridor;
  • Reduce reliance on the private car by offering a viable, attractive alternative; 
  • Help our cities grow and develop in a more sustainable way; 
  • Transition the cities from ‘suburban’ to ‘urban’; and 
  • Improve transit travel time along the corridor.

17.  If it is an express service, will buses continue to provide local service?

As a higher order transit service it will replace most of the buses along the corridor and allow MiWay and Brampton transit to redeploy its existing fleet to other routes and improve service elsewhere. Both transit services have plans to maintain a reduced frequency service either on the corridor or on adjacent routes to support resident who have difficulties making the walk to the nearest LRT stop.

18.  If it is a Local service, will we lose the express service?

The MiExpress, and Brampton Zum services on the Hurontario Corridor will be replaced with the LRT; however, the system creates the opportunity for MiWay and Brampton Transit to redeploy the existing fleet to support existing or create new routes.

19.  If we will still have express service, will it be serviced by buses?

There will be no express bus on this route; however, the system creates the opportunity for MiWay and Brampton Transit to redeploy the existing fleet to support existing or create new routes.

20.  Can emergency vehicles utilize the LRT lanes to move faster thru the city?

For the majority of the alignment emergency vehicles will be able to access the corridor at intersections. Some areas such as bridge crossings may not be available to fire department ladder trucks due to clearance issues.

21.  Will the LRT be operated by drivers or will it be un-manned (like the GTAA airport mono train)

As the system will be crossing roadway intersections with potential for pedestrian and auto conflicts, it will therefore require an operator.

22.  What roads will it use to travel to Square One?

Different alignment options on the east, west and north of the downtown area were developed and assessed using a large number of considerations, including engineering feasibility, city-building potential, stakeholder impact and ability to assist in achieving the DT21 Master Plan Guiding Principles. Following this evaluation, the preferred option for the downtown area in Mississauga for the LRT is Burnhamthorpe Road, Duke of York Boulevard, Rathburn Road and Hurontario Street and widening the bridge to allow for the LRT to cross the 403.

23.  Will it travel into the CCTT (terminal)?

A stop is proposed on the north side of Rathburn at the CCTT.

24.  Will Hurontario be expanded to accommodate the LRT?

Hurontario will be widened through Mineola to the QEW, once north of the QEW there will be local widening only primarily around LRT stops. Designing a rapid transit system that will span two cities and effectively serve the distinctive needs of both is a massive undertaking. Acquisition of some properties and temporary access to others will be required to implement the system. This will result in frontage impacts, as well as modified access for some properties. The Hurontario-Main project team has years of experience in these critical areas of design and will be applying that expertise to the design of the system to minimize property impacts. A preliminary analysis of affected land has been completed and the team is reviewing potential property impacts. The full extent of property requirements will be determined as part of the Detail Design process.

25.  Is there a possibility that Hurontario will lose lanes for vehicles to accommodate the LRT?

Yes, the LRT will take up one lane along Hurontario, leaving up to one or two lanes for traffic depending on the area. However, the Hurontario-Main LRT will provide a substantial increase in people carrying capacity down the corridor through significant increases in transit ridership. Flexible parallel routes and a finer grid of streets in intensification areas will distribute traffic more effectively, with a focus on ensuring that access is maintained via auto, rather than adding more through capacity. The impacts of the project on traffic movements are being fully assessed using industry standard models. The results of this are then being used to minimize impacts on traffic and local access where possible.

26.  We just experienced traffic interruption due to construction on the 403 and 401 bridges for rehabilitation, do you think people will understand more interruption to traffic due to construction for a LRT?

Building a rapid transit system across two cities is a massive undertaking and it can also be very disruptive to commuters at times. To minimize disruption and maximize construction progress requires a significant effort in planning, co-ordination, communicating the impacts and flexibility by the cities and the project team that will be chosen to construct the project. The cities have a deep knowledge of traffic and mobility issues in Mississauga and Brampton and they will work to outline where and when lane closures and route alternatives will take place and how commuters will be kept informed at every stage of construction.

27.  How long might that construction take?

It is too early to put a firm time frame on the LRT project implementation, including operations and maintenance. The first step was the Master Plan Study that resulted in the LRT corridor concept. The LRT has now evolved from a concept into a project as we move through the Preliminary Design/TPAP Phase, which will take approximately three years to complete (2011 – 2014). Assuming prompt and favorable funding decisions, the implementation stage could potentially begin in 2014, with a staged construction process that may last up to five years, although it is likely to be later than this before the first construction activity is seen.

Updates and detail on this project can be found at www.hurontario-main.ca.