- Whitby Transit and Pedestrian Mall
Below is information on the proposed transit and pedestrian mall for Downtown Whitby between Byron Street and Green Street.
A transit and pedestrian mall reallocates road space from cars and traffic to pedestrians, public space and transit vehicles. General traffic is restricted from using the mall. Emergency services and other specific vehicles can use the mall for garbage collection, snow clearing, and deliveries to local businesses.
This allows the business community to expand and use the space. Transit and pedestrian malls have been used in other cities across North America to increase economic activity by encouraging more people to visit the area. Transit and pedestrian malls allow people to use the public space and could include space for restaurant patios and events like markets to create a more active place for people.
In Downtown Whitby, the pedestrian mall would convert the curb lanes into sidewalks and a pedestrian plaza on Dundas Street from Brock Street west to Byron, and from Brock Street east to Green/Perry. Currently the sidewalk is 1.2 to 2.0 m wide. By converting the existing curb lanes to sidewalks, approximately 4 metres (16 feet) can be added to the public realm along both the north and south sides of Dundas Street between Byron and Green/Perry. Brock Street would remain open to all north-south traffic.
Argyle Street in Halifax, NS
Nicollet Transit and Pedestrian Mall
The proposed transit and pedestrian mall would improve the public realm with wider sidewalks for pedestrians and public events in Downtown Whitby, while also improving transit priority and connections across Whitby.
Analysis of 12 months of trip data (February 2019 to January 2020) found:
- 20% of trips begin and end outside Whitby. These longer distance trips could take other regional roads instead of Dundas Street.
- 46% of trips are medium distance trips within Whitby. These medium distance trips can take other regional and local roads within Whitby. Planned road network connections, including Manning to Adelaide at Garrard Road, and the recent Consumers Drive extension to Thornton Road, provide new route choices for drivers.
- 34% of trips begin or end in Downtown Whitby. These local trips can take other local roads within Whitby. Planned road network connections, including the Dunlop Street extension, provide new route choices for drivers.
Planned road network connections
The Town of Whitby and Durham Region have plans to make new connections in the road network. These connections will provide new route choices for drivers over the next 10 to 15 years. These connections were previously proposed by the Town and the Region and will be implemented separately from the BRT project. These connections are not required for the BRT to function but will assist traffic flow throughout Whitby.
Evaluation of Downtown Whitby options
After receiving feedback from the second round of public consultation, the project team looked at other options to maintain transit priority while reducing the impact of the concerns raised. The pedestrian mall was raised as one option that would benefit transit operations and provide opportunities to improve the sidewalks and public realm along Dundas Street. The table below summarize the key differences between three options: business as usual, curbside transit lanes (as recommended at PIC2) and a pedestrian mall (current recommendation).
Downtown Whitby Options
Business as Usual
Pedestrian Mall RECOMMENDED
No potential to improve the public realm
Perception that curbside bus lanes reduce walkability. No potential to improve the public realm.
Potential to reimagine the street, increase pedestrian amenities and provide space for events and activities
No change to on-street parking
31 spaces moved from Dundas Street to local side streets
31 spaces moved from Dundas Street to local side streets
Storefront deliveries impacted (limited hours, service from rear or side streets)
Deliveries allowed using public realm space
Traffic and Moving People
Congestion and delays will continue to increase. Does not increase the people-carrying capacity of Dundas Street.
Removal of parking and vehicle segregation will improve local traffic flows. Some increase to the people-carrying capacity of Dundas Street.
Longer distance trips could take other regional roads. Planned road network connections provide new route choices for medium and local trips.
No improvement in this segment of the corridor. Would result in a gap in the transit priority measures in Whitby, increasing delays and conflicts, and limiting improvements to transit reliability
Some improvement but conflicts with right turns and deliveries is challenging. Would result in curbside transit lanes in central Whitby
High degree of priority for transit users, encouraging greater transit usage. Supports centre-running transit lanes across Whitby improving transit reliability
No impacts to parking or access. No improvement to public realm, traffic congestion or transit operations. Does not increase capacity to move people or encourage increased transit use.
Impacts to parking and deliveries. No improvement to public realm. Some reduction of traffic congestion and some improvement to transit operations. Some increase in the capacity to move people and encourage transit use.
Impacts to parking. Deliveries allowed using public realm space. Improvement to public realm. Changes to traffic patterns. Improvement to transit priority across Whitby. Increases capacity to move people and encourages increased transit use.
In Fall 2019, at Public Information Centre 2, the technically preferred solution was Curbside (4 Lanes). The solution:
- Converted the two curbside general traffic lanes to exclusive transit use,
- Relocated on-street parking from Dundas Street to side streets or municipal parking facilities,
- Did not change or improve the existing sidewalks,
- Had no impact on the adjacent buildings, minimizing impacts to cultural heritage resources and property, and
- Reduced capacity for general traffic and goods movement. Business deliveries would be restricted to either rear access, side street access or off-hour access.
- Lack of improvement to the public realm in Downtown Whitby, particularly the lack of opportunity to widen sidewalks, with concerns for accessibility, pedestrian safety, and walkability,
- Loss of parking along Dundas Street is a major concern to local businesses,
- Restrictions to curbside loading and unloading,
- Reduced road capacity for cars and goods movement, and
- Delays to transit from right-turning traffic and curbside operations (waste removal, deliveries) reduces the overall benefit of transit investments through all of Whitby.
The introduction of PULSE saw an immediate increase in transit ridership, demonstrating that higher order transit will be successful in encouraging more people to choose public transit for more of their trips. While no transit service will suit every trip for every person, the planned improvements will build on existing successes and help reduce the pressure on the corridor to carry more trips. The Durham-Scarborough BRT is not a new project, it builds on the existing Durham Region Transit (DRT) PULSE service and existing bus lanes. This transit service currently connects major destinations and communities across Durham Region and into the City of Toronto.
As Durham Region continues to grow over the next 20 years, dedicated bus lanes are required to maintain reliability of transit services and reduce conflicts and congestion with motor vehicles across the corridor. Today traffic congestion delays all road users but affects transit riders disproportionately.Transit trips are two to three times longer than equivalent car trips. Transit trips are also subject to much greater variability as minor delays become magnified by the very nature how public transit operates and often results in “bus bunching”.
DRT and other transit agencies use various techniques to minimize these delays but cannot eliminate them unless the buses run on dedicated lanes where the impacts of traffic congestion can be removed.
The project is currently in the preliminary design stage. There will be more opportunities for consultation and design refinements before the preliminary design is completed, as well as during the detail design phase prior to construction. Metrolinx will continue to consult with stakeholders, including residents and business owners, to understand their needs and concerns.
When a bus is delayed, more people arrive at the downstream bus stops, increasing the amount of time needed to board those passengers. As the number of people on the bus increases, additional time is also needed for passengers to get to the doors to get off the bus, further increasing the delay. The delayed bus also slows down but the bus behind it does not. The reduced interval, or headway, between buses means that the second bus sees fewer passengers and has fewer delays from crowding on the bus. This variability causes buses to bunch together and requires that transit riders plan extra time into their schedules to account for the potential delays along the corridor.
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