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Streetcar lanes being studied for Don Mills

(Posted Date: Wednesday, March 21, 2007)

Transit route from Sheppard line to downtown considered by city By Kris Scheuer

The city is considering putting in a streetcar on Don Mills Rd. to ease traffic heading to the downtown core.

Transit-only lanes for buses and streetcars are one option the city and TTC are considering as part of a Don Mills Road Transit Improvements study.

The idea is to take transit riders from the Don Mills station, which is the last stop along the Sheppard subway line, and transport them via a dedicated bus or streetcar route downtown, says Rod McPhail, director of transportation and planning for the city.

A possibility is to have the bus or streetcar connect them to the Bloor-Danforth subway line by stopping at either Castle Frank, Pape or Broadview subway stations.

However, several communities along the Don Valley corridor, such as Flemingdon Park, Thorncliffe Park and Leaside, aren’t situated next to a subway station.

McPhail said the city is looking into several options. Part of the same discussion is whether to extend Redway Rd., which runs off Laird Dr., so that it connects with Bayview Ave.

“The Redway extension is one alternative,” he said. “It would be looking at extending Redway for transit only.”

They are also looking at having the same transit vehicle continue from Danforth south to either King St. or as far as Lake Ontario, he said.

Currently, the city has no lanes that are dedicated for buses only, though there are a couple of streets that have dedicated streetcar lanes.

Nonetheless, nothing has been decided, McPhail stressed, and won’t be without proper public input.

The city consulted the public in various meetings starting last April. More consultation with the community is expected in June or in the fall before an environmental assessment is done. Ultimately, city council will decide the fate of Don Mills’ future transit system.

Joe Mihevc, the TTC vice chair, said the city is eyeing dedicated bus and streetcar lanes in several other places in the city as well, including Scarborough and along Lakeshore Blvd.

Mihevc is familiar with dedicated transit lanes as he is also a city councillor in the St. Paul’s ward where the newest streetcar right-of-way was implemented along St. Clair Ave.

“That is the benefit of the St. Clair right-of-way: as people see it and hear about it and experience it … they say, ‘Holy smokes! I want that in my neighbourhood’,” Mihevc said.

The public process along St. Clair was far from easy, with people lined up in support and in opposition to the right-of-way.

But “people realize it’s a winnable fight because I won it in my neighbourhood,” said Mihevc.