Queen Street Transit Master Plan

Not that we were “gone”. Though perhaps it’s safe to say we took a small hiatus after the HLRT discussion went “off the rails”, and it was no longer about sound planning and how transit users actually use transit.

But, we’ve learned that there has been an update to the Queen Street Rapid Transit project. On August 4, 2016, The City of Brampton announced the initiation of the Queen Street Transit Master Plan.

Announced in 2012 as part of the “Next Wave” projects, the last update made public was the publication of a Benefits Case document in May 2013.

Read the Benefits Case document

The Benefits Case document discusses the benefits of different technologies on different segments of the route. Namely: BRT and LRT. Part of the consideration is how well it will play with neighbouring transit systems. Mississauga is joining Brampton in developing LRT along Hurontario. This is not likely the case with Vaughan Transit. Integration with their BRT will need to be considered.

To recap — the summary of benefits are as follows:

  1. Bus rapid transit in an exclusive right-of-way between Downtown Brampton and
    Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, results in the most favourable cost-benefit ratio.
  2. The full light rail transit option also provides significant benefits such as higher transit ridership, greater GHG emissions reductions, and more significant land value increases.
  3. The bus rapid transit options provide strongest benefits from the transportation user benefits perspective.
  4. Although the four project options perform similarly in terms of a benefits case ratio, the capital costs vary significantly.
  5. As BRT and LRT offer competing operational advantages, the qualitative aspects of the two modes should also be taken into consideration.
  6. LRT is seen to have better environmental qualities through reduced noise, no local emissions, and reduced energy consumption.
  7. LRT is also perceived to play a greater role in land use shaping by attracting more intensified development.
  8. Given the range of costs and the ability of all options to accommodate projected ridership to 2031, it would be prudent to invest in the corridor on an incremental basis.

Despite Brampton Council’s insistence that Queen St. is “second” priority (see Councillor Bowman’s motion from the October 27, 2015 meeting), the ridership and projected growth along this corridor compared to Hurontario-Main doesn’t necessarily agree with that assertion. Indicators suggest that improved BRT service might work just as well as LRT until 2031. However, time will tell as the Master Plan evaluates the corridor further.

In the meantime, we can also get excited about new bike lanes, as active transportation is also being considered! This is great news for people who want to ride bikes in Brampton to connect between downtown and the Chinguacousy Trail over by the Bramalea City Centre .

All around, good news. We’ll gladly keep everyone posted as we learn more!


GO Transit and the high cost of “free” parking, Part II: Brampton Boogaloo

Good insights from Sean Marshall on the cost and availability of parking in downtown Brampton.

Marshall's Musings

IMG_0610-001GO and VIA Trains meet at Brampton Station

On April 5, Peter Criscione at the Brampton Guardian reported on a matter that arose during the regular meeting of the City of Brampton Planning & Infrastructure Services Committee on April 4. Metrolinx, the regional transit authority that operates GO Transit and UP Express, confirmed the purchase of 1.78 acres in Downtown Brampton, land that will be used for surface parking.

Brampton Station, served by GO Transit and VIA trains, is located in Downtown Brampton, and is adjacent to Brampton Transit’s downtown transit terminal. With local shopping, restaurants, residential areas and employment, it is one of the most walkable stations in GO Transit’s system; it has a Walk Score of 90. (Bramalea GO Station, in comparison, has a Walk Score of 22. The options of getting to Brampton Station without a car are quite good, at least as far as most GO stations go.

View original post 925 more words

LRT: Alternate Routes To Downtown Brampton

Some news to report on the Hurontario LRT. On November 16, 2015, Councillor Bowman requested a discussion at the Planning and Infrastructure Services Committee regarding Next Steps

For reference:

The Committee discussed:

  • Concerns regarding Council’s refusal of the provincially funded Hurontario-Main LRT Route
  • Varying opinions regarding provincial support of alternate routes
  • Availability of future LRT funding
  • Proactively endorsing alternate routes
  • Lobbying for future transit funding
  • Questions regarding anticipated construction start and end dates
  • Local, Regional, and Greater Toronto Area connectivity needs
  • Ability of staff to undertake the studies and prepare the recommendations by the requested deadline During consideration of the subject motion, amendments were proposed that specifed transit connectivity priorities and requirements. Staff noted that they are involved in on-going discussions with Metrolinx regarding LRT and “future-proofing” the end-of-line at Steeles Avenue. Confirmation was given that alternate routes will be researched and staff will report back to Committee by March 31, 2106, with three preferred alternates and an outline of the time needed to complete the studies.

After discussion, a motion was passed instructing:

  1. That the Planning and Infrastructure Services Department reframe its review of the alternative, higher, order public transit routes previously examined, with a view to recommending up to three preferred alternative routes to connect to the Downtown GO station, for Council’s consideration; and
  2. That the three preferred alternatives presented, take into account Brampton’s Strategic Plan, Transportation and Transit Master Pan, Council’s priority of Regional connectivity, both north-south and east-west, long term financial plan, Provincial Policy Statement, Provincial Growth plan, and Brampton’s economic and job growth objectives; and
  3. That a report presenting staff’s best professional recommendations be brought forward for public review and debate on or before March 31, 2016.

Fight Gridlock is concerned by this directive. Depending on the routes brought forward, this could very well fly in the face of sound “A-to-B” transportation planning. Further, this directive could require a complete changing of other plans for the city including the Hurontario-Main Master Plan, Fletcher’s Creek South, Brampton East, Kennedy Rd. South, and Brampton East Industrial  plans to name a few. Evaluating the impacts on these other plans will take time. Also, Brampton staff identified additional concerns with all alternatives from which the “three preferred alternatives” are to be chosen from.

Options For North Of Steeles


The wording of the Motion passed on October 2015 is that “a surface alignment for any LRT on Main Street north of the Etobicoke Creek through Downtown Brampton is permanently removed as an acceptable alignment“. This does not preclude building a tunnel into downtown, which was an idea being considered about 10 years ago when the AcceleRide program (now ZUM) was being drafted.

As was reported to Council on July 8, 2015, a tunnel would result in:

  • Travel time savings of 3 to 3.5 min
  • Less conflicts with vehicular traffic
  • Passes underground through south Main St area

While a tunnel would fulfill the desire for the most direct route, and supports growth and the evolution of Downtown and a future extension further north, it also has drawbacks.

  • The responsibility to pay to construct the tunnel will entirely on Brampton
  • Cost could increase further depending on findings of additional studies required
  • Long construction time (up to 4 to 5.5 years)
  • Additional geotechnical and hydrogeological investigations are required to confirm soil and water table conditions, which may further increase the cost of this option.

At this point, for every other option that follows, the only benefit, albeit a questionable one, is that it “does not pass through south Main St. area”. This is stated here, now, as to not be repeated ad nauseam. What’s important is that each alternative alignment comes with a host of reasons why they are problematic.

Etobicoke Creek Valley Lands

  • Additional cost to build, while increasing travel time to get to the Downtown
  • Not supported by TRCA due to significant impacts on regulatory floodplain (can cross a floodplain, but not travel parallel within it or on top of the Creek itself)
  • TRCA stated these options may negate the majority of options to reduce flooding in Downtown Brampton (flooding solutions trying to increase the flow capacity of the watercourse while presence of LRT would decrease the flow capacity).
  • Significant property impacts including parklands* along the channel realignment and the facilities in Centennial Park
  • Overlap with Queen Street Rapid Transit since HMLRT needs to connect back to Hurontario-Main Street to be extended to the Brampton-Caledon boundary in the future

The regulatory floodplain impacts in particular were considered an unacceptable impact and dropped from further consideration as part of the assessment of alternative alignments north of Steeles Avenue to Downtown Brampton.

*Literally, the track would be passing behind people’s backyards.


  • Additional cost to build, while increasing travel time to get to the Downtown
  • Major property impacts (55-65 properties), especially on Steeles Ave.
  • Accesses on Kennedy Rd restricted to right-in/right-out
  • Overlap/conflict with ZUM on Steeles Ave. and Queen St.

Steeles – McLaughlin – Queen,
Charolais – McLaughlin/McMurchy
– to-
Orangeville Brampton Railway (OBRY)

  • Accesses on McLaughlin Rd. restricted to right-in/right-out
  • Accesses on McMurchy Ave restricted to right-in/right-out
  • Impacts to character of McMurchy Ave (exist. 2 lanes)
  • Significant property impacts
  • Overlap/conflict with ZUM on Steeles Ave. and Queen St.
  • Additional cost to build, while increasing travel time to get to the Downtown
  • Impacts on OBRY freight train operations during day
    Important: CN Rail freight train operations currently impact GO Transit during the day
  • Could be complicated because there are strict federal guidelines on how heavy rail and light rail interact, and, OBRY is run by the Town of Orangeville which may demand compensation if there any impact on their costs to run freight rail service.
  • Would take time to negotiate.

At this point, Fight Gridlock does not have a position on preferred route. Like Council, we await reports back from Brampton city staff with more details analysis. In the meantime, we hope this post reasonable summarizes the challenges the city will face as the best route to connect Brampton South to downtown is determined.

Post HMLRT: What’s Next?

Despite our best efforts, and the efforts of new friends such as OneBramptonBramptonist, and 4CornersBrampton — who through our combined efforts were able to retrieve years of reports and plans, discover that 73% supported the Main St. alignment for LRT, and twice encouraged an overwhelming number of people to appear before Council to express their support — Council instead voted against the Main St. alignment permanently. For the foreseeable future, The LRT will stop at Steeles Ave. in Brampton.

Obviously, this outcome disappoints us. In spite of sound planning practices and evidence, council decided to reject the Metrolinx $400 million offer of superceding the 502 ZUM route with higher order transit into downtown Brampton. We are certain that this will pose significant challenges as alternate routes now need detailed study [PDF], which has not yet begun. Brampton is back to the drawing board, circa 2009. Meanwhile the city’s population and transit ridership continues it’s upward growth.

We are disappointed, but not discouraged. Brampton Council must show leadership on its vision for transit infrastructure for downtown.

The value proposition of any proposal needs to be well understood and articulated. The loss of efficiency needs to have a reasonable compromise for added cost to taxpayers and value for its ridership. We expect that all routes considered are given the same careful consideration and analysis as the Main St surface alignment. Transit building isn’t fast, easy, or simple, and we expect the highest standards from Council. We expect evidence-based planning and good urban planning and transit principals around connectivity and easy transfers.

Brampton: Your council representatives will need your help. Presently, the Queen Street Master Plan is in the procurement stages. It will be years before before the study and Environmental Assessment is complete. The study on electrification of the Kitchener corridor is also underway, but not ready.

GO Transit will soon be launching an Environmental Assessment for a third track between Mount Pleasant and the Etobicoke Creek. This will allow more GO trains through Brampton, building on phase one of all-day, two-way service that we now have. There will be public meetings associated with this EA. Also, a Mobility Hub Study might start soon for the Brampton GO Station and Brampton bus terminal. There are lots of opportunities to enhance the connection between GO Transit, Brampton Transit, cycling, walking, and carpooling.

Fight Gridlock will track these projects, and continue advocating for best practices and fact-based decisions. We’ll be reorganizing the site a little bit to better track them all, and present what we know to the public.

Thank you for your support. Stay tuned.

Showtime (Part 2) – October 27, 2015

Save the date everyone: The final final date for the Hurontario-Main St. LRT Special Meeting is for Tuesday, October 27, 2015

While we wait for that, it’s budget time in the city of Brampton! It seems apropos to talk about funding for the HMLRT. Specifically with respect to operational costs.

There are 3 key things to consider:

  1. Brampton and Mississauga will have a shared responsibility to pay for the operational costs for the LRT line.
  2. Brampton and Mississauga will also save money when their respective bus routes along the LRT corridor are discontinued.
  3. With more passenger capacity, comes more transit revenue.

Here’s how that picture looks in a nice tidy table.

LRT Operational Costs









BCA Final Report DECEMBER, 2014

The report where these numbers are published describes the situation nicely:

“…the LRT system is expected to cost $28.9m per year in 2012 real prices to operate in 2031. However, it will save $22.9m per year in bus operating costs. This results in a net cost increase of $6.0m per year in 2012 real prices in 2031.

The increase in local transit ridership is forecast to produce additional revenue for the local transit agencies worth $7.2m per year in 2012 real prices in 2031. Consequently, marginal revenue is expected to exceed marginal costs. If all the additional revenue is allocated to the LRT system, then the incremental revenue/operating cost ratio would be 1.2:1, improving the revenue:operating ratio for transit in Mississauga and Brampton.”

In short: The additional revenue from increased ridership, and the elimination of ZUM along the LRT corridor, will save money.

But, as this is a shared venture with Mississauga, it’s a fair question to ask how much specifically Brampton will save. If you were able to make it out to the July 8, 2015 Special Council meeting, you might have seen this slide from city staff:

page 19 Brampton Staff Presentation - July 8, 2015













There you have it. Brampton will save $300,000 per year by using LRT instead of ZUM in 2031.

Keep this in mind as Brampton discusses the budget!

Disruption On Main St.

One of the benefits of large construction projects is the opportunity to coordinate other projects. In this way, major infrastructure works can be worked on within the same window, minimizing the amount of time and disruption required to complete them all. Take for example: Water mains.

Fight Gridlock has received confirmation of work proposed by the Region of Peel for replacement of watermain and sanitary sewers directly in the downtown core. This proposal has been in the pre-design stage for about two years. Understanding that the LRT is under consideration, The Region has slowed design progress on these replacements with two intents. First, to ensure that designs for all parties are coordinated, so that unnecessary removals are minimized. Second, to evaluate opportunities for coordinating works and contracts.

To reiterate: The Region of Peel has confirmed that there is significant construction planned within downtown Brampton by numerous parties. The Region of Peel will not just coordinate within itself (water and sanitary sewer) but with other utilities and Metrolinx to pursue opportunities to combine works.

Like it or not, disruption is coming to downtown Brampton. Why not get an LRT out of it?