Some of proposed SmartTrack stations may not result in ridership boost: Metrolinx analysis
This image from a staff report shows six additional GO Transit stations that are being proposed as part of Mayor Tory's SmartTrack plan.
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Thursday, March 16, 2017 6:02PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, March 16, 2017 6:06PM EDT
Some of the new stations proposed as part of Mayor John Tory’s SmartTrack plan may slow down the commute times along existing GO Transit lines and in turn bring about a net reduction in public transit ridership, according to preliminary assessments released by Metrolinx.
Long-delayed reports on the initial business case for six new SmartTrack stations were quietly posted to Metrolinx’s website on Thursday.
The reports, which were completed by third-party consultants, found that proposed stations at Lawrence Avenue East and Finch East would attract some new riders but would bring down GO Transit ridership overall by causing an increase in travel times. The report also found that another station proposed for St. Clair West would only mean an extra few hundred riders overall and would actually result in a loss in fair revenue since the new riders would be paying a lesser fare than existing riders that would stop commuting along the line.
“The station is predicted to result in a loss of fare revenue, as well as an increase in commuting automobile use and a strongly negative net present value,” the report on the St. Clair West station reads.
In the case of the Lawrence Avenue East station, the report said that it would attract about 1,400 riders a day by 2031 but would also cause a 1.8 minute delay for commuters going further afield. That delay, the report warned, could cause 1,895 daily passengers to abandon GO Transit in favour of another method of transportation.
Meanwhile, in the case of the Finch East and St. Clair West stations the report said that the stations would attract 1,777 and 3,630 new daily riders respectively but would prompt almost as many riders at other stations to stop using GO Transit. According to the reports, Finch East station would ultimately bring about a decrease of 89 passengers along the line by 2031 while the station at St. Clair West would in the end only mean an extra 310 passengers on the line.
The reports also estimated that 20 per cent of the lost ridership at all the stations would in turn drive to work in personal vehicles, putting more cars on already traffic-clogged roads.
The report says that in the case of the Finch East station, for example, that could mean an additional 48.1 million kilometres driven by vehicles over the next 60 years.
“The assessment assumes each new rider will save 27 km on a daily basis while each former upstream rider will drive an additional 37 km each day,” the report says.
While the reports raise concerns about the SmartTrack stations located outside of the city core, they paint a rosier picture of the ones planned for downtown Toronto.
The Liberty Village Station proposed for the Kitchener line fairs the best. It would attract 4,945 new riders a day while only losing about 770 for a net gain of 4,175 daily riders on the line. Another station proposed for the Unliver job site, meanwhile, would attract a net 2,352 new riders to the Lakeshore East line.
It should be noted that the reports were based on the new stations having fares that are in line with existing GO Transit fares.
Mayor John Tory has said that he would like the stations to have a fare more closely aligned with what the TTC charges its riders.