The Province of Ontario recently finished the environmental assessment study for a future transitway — a bus-only roadway — paralleling Highway 407 through York Region.
The province doesn’t intend to open the first 23-kilometre-long section of roadway until more than 10 years in the future — in 2023. Nevertheless, staff from the Region of York, City of Vaughan and Towns of Markham and Richmond Hill want the province to alter parts of the bus rapid transit scheme. During the 35-day period for comments from members of the public and other governments, the local municipalities had plenty to say about the plan.
The first phase of the transitway stretches from Highway 400 in Vaughan to Kennedy Road in Markham and include seven stops:
- Jane Station, on the south side of Highway 407 at Jane Street, where passengers can connect with trains operating along the future extension of the Spadina branch of the TTC’s 1 Yonge - University - Spadina subway. The province would build a maintenance and storage facility for the buses that will operate along the transitway just west of Jane Station.
- Concord Station, on the north side of Highway 407 and south side of Highway 7, east of Keele Street, where passengers can connect with trains operating along GO Transit’s 61 Barrie line.
- Bathurst Station on the north side of Highway 407 and south side of Highway 7, east of Bathurst Street.
- Yonge / Richmond Hill Centre Station on the north side of Highways 407 and 7, east of Yonge Street, where passengers can connect with trains operating along the future extension of the Yonge branch of the TTC’s 1 Yonge - University - Spadina subway, and trains operating along GO Transit’s 61 Richmond Hill line. Passengers would also have access to York Region Transit and Viva buses at the Richmond Hill Centre Terminal.
- Leslie Station on the south side of Highway 407, west of Leslie Street.
- Woodbine / Rodick Station on the south side of Highway 407, between Woodbine Avenue and Rodick Road.
- Kennedy / Markham Centre Station on the north side of Highway 407 at Unionville GO Station, where passengers can connec with trains operating along GO Transit’s 71 Stouffville line.
yorkregion.com reports that City of Vaughan staff are worried about the project’s potential negative impact on businesses and residents in the Concord West area, including the loss of greenspace and community access to the Bartley Smith Greenway.
While the Province is designing the system so it can convert it to light rail transit in the future, the Town of Markham suggested that the government build an LRT now, not later. They also hope the province would move the Leslie Station to the north side of Highway 7, closer to businesses.
Markham also wants to make sure the design of the Yonge / Richmond Hill Centre Station allows residents in Langstaff, on the south side of Highway 407, to be able to connect with the new line. Markham expects about 30,000 people will live in Langstaff by the time the line is open.
The Region of York is reserving its comments until the project is closer to the final design phase.
The province intends the buses operating along the transitway to handle from 70,000 to 80,000 weekday trips by 2031, including about 14,000 boardings during morning rush hour. It expects that 80 percent of the passengers will exit the buses at Richmond Hill Center to board GO trains, YRT / Viva buses or the extended 1 Yonge - University - Spadina subway.
Buses operating along the line will carry passengers between Markham Centre and the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre in just 18 minutes.
No funding is in place as yet, but the province has included the scheme in 25-year transit plan.
The Minister of the Environment has 35 days to rule on the assessment and any objections. The province would have to renew environmental studies every five years, but starting now allows the province to protect property and plan.
Eventually, the transitway will extend the entire length of Highway 407 between Burlington and Clarington.
You can learn more about the project here.