The Bloor-Yonge Platform Experiment (Updated)

Updated November 27 at 10:00 am:

A section has been added at the end of this post with photographs of Bloor-Yonge station showing the crowd control measures.

During the AM peak, the TTC is experimenting with crowd control measures at Bloor Station, southbound with the intention of getting more trains down the line and increasing its peak capacity.

Media reports last week did not fully describe what is happening, and for the benefit of those who do not use the station in the morning rush, here is a short description.

  • The existing station before the change:
    • The southbound platform is double-width thanks to an enlargement of the station many years ago during construction of a new office tower.  There is the original platform plus a passageway of almost equal width separated from the main part of the platform by pillars, and at the north end, a wall with several openings.
    • To the west of the southbound platform is the concourse linking the Yonge and Bloor lines, and two sets of stairs and escalators down to the BD level (Yonge Station).  The set closer to the Yonge subway platform tends to be the more heavily used.
    • Passengers coming from the BD line would tend to congregate at the north end of the Bloor Station platform because (a) that’s where they came from the BD subway, and (b) many passengers want to go to the north end exits at College, Queen and King stations.
    • Yonge trains arriving southbound tended to be most crowded at the north end with passengers intending to transfer to the BD line.
  • Following the change:
    • In the west mezzanine, riders coming up the stairway closest to the Bloor Station platform meet a temporary set of barriers directing them into the passage along the wall side of the platform.  They do not actually get on the platform and cannot board trains until they are over two car-lengths down the platform.  If they really want a north end car, they must double back at that point.
    • Riders coming up the far stairway have the option of joining the flow into the southbound passageway, or swinging to the north either to leave via the station exit, or attempt an end-run onto the north end of the platform.
    • Riders leaving southbound trains are directed to walk north on the main part of the platform and then into the concourse.  This divides the traffic from Yonge-to-Bloor transferees who use the main part of the platform from the Bloor-to-Yonge transferees who use the passageway.
    • TTC staff are positioned at critical locations to ensure that people actually follow the correct path so that ideal flows are maintained.
    • TTC staff are at each of the train door positions to ensure passengers can first get out of the trains, and then to regulate boarding so that when the train is ready to leave (full or with another train nearby) passengers don’t rush the doors and try to jam on at the last moment.

For the first few days, it took time for passengers to get used to the new arrangements, and many are still seeing this setup for the first time.  From talks with TTC staff at the station, I learned that the confusion is falling off, and I saw few problems myself.

Although the “doormen” were the feature most talked-about when this scheme was announced, the primary benefit comes from the separation of flow using the platform and adjacent passageway.  Forcing the passengers from BD to move down to the southern part of the platform also makes for much better distribution of train loads.  Indeed, it was odd to see trains leaving Bloor southbound with comparatively empty cars at the north end, but with nobody left behind on the platform.

During the height of the peak, starting at about 8 am, there are four “gap trains” originating from Davisville southbound that are slotted into the service where they will fit.  These run express to Bloor and arrive empty.  They require no offloading time, and can empty the platform of waiting passengers quickly.  If one of these arrives every 4th train or so, any backlog of waiting passengers is scooped up and the platform does not get a chance to become badly crowded unless there is a delay in service.

The dwell time, measured as door opening to door closing, for trains ranges from roughly 30 to 45 seconds with the majority being under 40.  The TTC has been able to push more service through Bloor Station during the 8-to-9 am period.  On a 2’20″ scheduled headway, one would expect 25-26 trains, but they have managed as high as 29.  This is very close to the design minimum of 2’00″ for the Yonge subway’s signal system.  Every extra train, especially the empty ones, represents up to 1,200 more passengers on the line.  In practice, none of the extras left completely filled because waiting to load up would have delayed trains behind them.  This situation will vary especially on days when there is a gap in service, and holding the gap train at Bloor is operationally feasible.

The TTC has not yet decided on whether to continue the experiment indefinitely, or to suspend it pending review after the trial period, although comment I have heard were very favourable.

It will be important to see this in operation once we have real winter weather and the inevitable jump in ridership comes with the first snowfall.

A note about staffing:

This operation is quite labour intensive, necessarily, but the marginal costs are low.

The “doormen” are all staff who are on “modified duties” due to illness or injury which prevents them from working their normal jobs.  They are paid and assigned, as needed, to a variety of functions, often as extra fare collectors.  In a pinch, if the TTC was short of staff as “doormen”, some could be dropped at the south end of Bloor Station where passenger congestion is rarely an issue.

The Special Constables are those normally assigned to Bloor-Yonge Station.

The large contingent of supervisors will be cut back next week as clearly this many people are not needed to manage the operation.

There will be an ongoing cost for a small number of resident staff for part of their work day.  However, this is considerably cheaper than the capital and maintenance costs associated with implementing some sort of barrier system that would be in place and working all the time.

Moreover, having staff provides the ability to cajole riders into the desired behaviour in a way technology never can.  Some people whose mind is set on getting from “A” to “B” via their accustomed route may grumble, but if met by friendly staff (a description I would apply to those I have seen working at Bloor), they will usually co-operate.

This is a work in progress, and it bears watching as an example of the TTC trying to improve the quality of its service and maintain a good relationship with its riders.

Photos of Bloor-Yonge Station

On the morning of November 27, I dropped by Bloor-Yonge to photograph the operation before the height of the peak period in order to get some clear views of the layout.

When I started photographing, I was immediately challenged by a Supervisor who asked what I was doing, and I replied rather testily that I didn’t neet a permit for “personal use” photography according to TTC Bylaw 1.  Another photographer was also in the station and he had the same experience.  My apologies to the Supervisor with whom I was rather short as it was early and I had not yet had breakfast.  Conversations with many other TTC staff were quite congenial, probably because most of them had seen me the day before chatting with various TTC officials.  However, it is annoying that the provisions of the bylaw are not clearly understood, and I know amateur photographers are still hassled about this.

The West Concourse

This is the area with two sets of stairs and escalators linking the Yonge Station on the Bloor line below to Bloor Station.

IMG_0637c 

This view is taken with the west escalator immediately to the left looking east toward the southbound platform.  In the immediate foreground is the east escalator.  Passengers coming up the escalators are directed to the right and later into a passageway dedicated for shifting riders to the south end of the southbound platform (see below).

IMG_0639c

This shows the west concourse closer to the southbound platform including the temporary barriers to send transferring passengers down the side passageway.

IMG_0647c

This view looks south in the west concourse showing the barrier and in the distance the passageway taking transfer passengers from BD to the southern part of the platform.  Note that when a gap train is coming into the station, it will be empty, and there is no need to segregate the flows.  Before the gap train arrives, staff will open the barrier so that BD passengers can walk directly to the north end of the southbound platform.

IMG_0645c

This view looks from the southbound platform into the west concourse showing how passengers leaving southbound trains are directed to the north end of the concourse and around the area where BD transfer passengers stream up from Yonge Station.

Southbound Platform

IMG_0640c

This view looks north showing the side passage through which BD transfer passengers flow onto the platform as well as the main part of the platform.  Here, a train is loading, but we are between arrivals on the BD line (also it was early in the peak period) and the side passage is clear.

IMG_0641c

In this view, transfer passengers from BD are arriving to a platform that has just been cleared by a southbound train.  These passengers will mainly continue south, assisted by gentle encouragement from TTC staff, but some will double back to stand where they can board the northernmost cars of the next train.

IMG_0642c

This view shows the side passage with BD passengers arriving and moving toward the south end of the platform.

IMG_0643c

This view is the southbound platform, just to the left of the previous photo.  The TTC staff will cut off passenger flow into the train when it is about to be despatched.  The decision on when to send a train out is balanced between the load it already has and whether the next train is immediately north of the station.  This can be seen easily by checking the “Next Train” displays on the video monitors.

IMG_0644c

Again, the southbound platform after the train has picked up all waiting passengers.  In this case, the demand at the station has not built up to the point where the train is full and it isn’t necessary for the “platform attendants” to hold back passengers for the next train.

Finally, I must say that Amex’s Station Domination campaign does nothing for the look of Bloor-Yonge Station.  Why do we spend a fortune on the appearance of stations only to have them turned into, effectively, walls for corporate grafitti?  The design of this campaign is so visually busy (not to mention unattractive) that the real signage, including the name of the station, is hard to find.  Anyone watching for a yellow station might completely miss it.

I don’t have an Amex card and don’t plan to get one especially if this is what passes in their mind for a contribution to a major public space.

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47 Responses to The Bloor-Yonge Platform Experiment (Updated)

  1. David Cavlovic says:

    Here’s an absolutely crazy idea–I’m sure I have no credibility because, hey, I’m not a transit expert, just a loony transit fan, but here goes: Why not beef-up service on 6 BAY to, say, a bus every 30 seconds or so and encourage people to get off at Bay stn. rather than Bloor-Yonge Stn. When you consider how long it takes anyway to actually get on a train at Bloor-Yonge and proceed south, you might as well travel along Bay and get to your destination just as well. I can’t help but think that if the line had remained streetcar, that would actually be a preferred option for travellers. As it is, the potential of reserved bus lanes on Bay is totally wasted.

    Another alternative would be to do the same sort of bus-shuttling on Yonge St. proper between Rosedale Stn. and downtown, just like the old 27 DOWNTOWN route, but of course now a very sparsely served 97 YONGE rush-hour service.

    Good Lord, without a DRL, and no real hope of seeing one in my lifetime, SOMETHING has to be done to alleviate the problem of Yonge south of Bloor, which will reach as point of no return when the subway opens to Barrie … I mean Richmond Hill.

    I KNOW!!! Maybe they can build an LRT along Yonge St, from, say Union Stn. to, oh, near Wilson/York Mills. That would eliminate the crouding on the subway!!!!!

    Steve: The capacity of one subway train, even moderately loaded, is 800. Design load (for sustained conditions) is 1,000 on average, with a peak of 1,200. The capacity of a bus is maybe 60 if they are friendly. One train carries the equivalent of at least 13 buses. As for a 30-second headway of buses, aside from the fact that you might as well close Bay Street to operate this, a round trip to Front, even with very serious transit priority, would take far more operators than are used to manage the platform space at Bloor-Yonge. Moreover, a 30-second headway implies 120 buses or 7,200 people per hour all trying to use the one exit onto the west side of Bay Street. It ain’t gonna happen.

  2. Longbranch Mike says:

    Having walked through Bloor-Yonge along the southbound platform several times this week, it seems to be a good idea that’s working. It’s made my walk through the station (to the southbound platform exit up to Hayden Street) easier as I do not have to dodge passengers exiting the southbound train.

    It strongly reminds me of the directional flows set up in many London tube stations which has higher passenger flows. The metal waist high flow barriers there are permanent, but I assume London Underground’s done emergency egress analysis so that these barriers aren’t a ‘barrier’ in case of emergency.

    Hopefully if this TTC experiment is successful, similar permanent or semi-permanent (for non-rush hour) barriers could be set up in this, and possibly other, very busy stations, where warranted.

    Furthermore, Bloor-Yonge really needs separate up and down flows for transfers between the Yonge & Bloor lines. Alas this has already been discussed in one of Steve’s other blog topics from previous years.

  3. Kevin Love says:

    The mindset never ceases to amaze me of “Billions for capital spending, pennies for the people who have to run the system.”

    Steve: The TTC isn’t too impressed with that situation either. However, this proves that there’s additional capacity to be had with low tech changes, and saying “we can’t afford it” (whatever “it” may be) is not always the only answer.

  4. Joe Clark says:

    Can somebody please just post some pictures?

    Steve: I plan to photograph the operation on Friday.

  5. Jordan says:

    I usually get on the lead car of the southbound Yonge train at Eglinton at around 7:30. That car, which ends up at the “far” end of the platform at Bloor, is usually pretty empty the whole way down. Not so anymore — it’s crammed with people all the way from Bloor to King. Interesting phenomenon.

  6. Joe says:

    Thanks, Steve. This is far more illuminating than the media coverage which basically implied Tokyo-style subway stuffers were on duty (and probably that electrified cattle prods would be next).

    Steve: I hope to go with a camera tomorrow so that I can add some illustrations to this post.

  7. Mark Dowling says:

    “Indeed, it was odd to see trains leaving Bloor southbound with comparatively empty cars at the north end, but with nobody left behind on the platform.” – well, almost nobody. I had to wait one train this morning at 0815. I board near the south end at the optimal position for King Station-Commerce Court.

    Steve: Yes, there were occasional trains where everyone didn’t get on. But on a cycle of about 10 minutes the platform was completely clear. The intent is not that everyone gets on the train they first see, but that they wait for no more than the next one which should be close behind anyhow.

    When I saw the horde of TTCers giving out leaflets last week, I thought it might be a Rider Efficiency Guide indicating the best place to stand for Union/King/Queen etc. Perish the thought! Merely an instruction to move south and all will be well.

    There is no doubt that this experiment was overstaffed on day one, especially the SCs. It may well be the case that 12 SCs (and some TPS officers yesterday) are Yonge-Bloor’s normal complement. If this is true, please do come see us more often, constables! Every day I pass through between 0800-0815 I might see two or three of you, if any, but no more than that. Instead one had the feeling that an OCAP protest was planned for Yonge and Bloor and one should have had 680 News on the radio that morning.

    The fact that the barriers stretch well past the newspaper stand but then the SCs and workers permit people to “round the corner” and head back towards cars 4-5-6 is indicative that the barriers should be adjusted at that point to not go so far down platform but should point in towards the track at the point where no SB passengers should go. At King the optimal boarding for Scotia Plaza Exit is at least car 4.

    The irony is that from a safety perspective, the Yonge E-W platform in the PM rush is the one which needs passenger flow, as an island platform with only barely enough room for one row of standees against the wall and one line of passage between them and the yellow line. Needless to say not everyone leans against the wall, and often the only way to progress down the platform to the optimal position for my Danforth line stop is to use the Kipling-direction platform if a train is standing or has just left.

  8. Mark Ellwood says:

    Here is a link to a video showing how NOT to do it. It shows the famous “pushers” in Japan spending 72 seconds squeezing people into a subway car. Perhaps a better solution would be to hold some passengers back instead, so that the next train could arrive more quickly. A bottleneck at one spot creates delays all the way back through the system.

    The one advantage to this system is that no one is shown getting off. They they must have exited on the other side.

  9. David Magda says:

    Perhaps they TTC should put signs indicating where the exit is for each station, a la:

    http://www.ttcrider.ca/download.php

    A lot of people get off at Dundas (e.g., Ryerson students), and that’s almost at the front of the southbound train. If people are encouraged to move to where they’ll get out anyway, it can perhaps spread the load a bit and save them some time as well.

    When I used the subway regularly I did this and it often saved hassle. If your door opens right at the stairs / escalator, you’re also at the front of the surge and can get up the stairs quickly instead of being caught in the crowd.

    Steve: Experienced riders, who make up the bulk of the traffic, do this already. We have to be careful of too much sign clutter for an effect that more or less takes care of itself.

  10. M. Briganti says:

    What do you suppose this diagram would look like today with regard to the E-to-S and W-to-S transfer flows at Bloor-Yonge?

    Look how light they were back then.

  11. This just shows that the DRL is too late in coming and the TTC has to make it a priority. At least it has the potential to take a lot of people off the Yonge Line and get them downtown a bit faster.

    Of course, it would also be nice if in the long term that the eastern and western ends of the DRL coninued north after their connection with the Bloor-Danforth line in order to connect with LRT lines running east-west along the top of Toronto. Of course, the number of people who would transfer from one of those LRT lines to the northern ends of the DRL would have to be studied as I am not sure how many people will actually use the lines (although I do hope they will have a lot of demand.)

    Right now we need the DRL going downtown off the Bloor-Danforth line, but the further extensions in the long run may provide more relief for the Yonge Line (especifically) and the Spadina-University Line (somewhat directly.)

  12. Drew says:

    Re: Mark Dowling (above)

    There have been many schemes to improve access, and it sounds like this one is working! Fantastic!

    Regarding a future upgrade, what is being done at Union should be considered for the Yonge platform below.

    Making a barrier, and constructing a new platform for westbound riders to transfer to the North or Southbound platforms, at a location where the station (more or less) permits.

    I imagine this would be more-than sufficient for both platforms, as it would move the depth of the interchange farther south on the Bloor platform, without the incalculable cost (someone likely has) of adding TWIN platforms on either side of Yonge Stn level.

  13. Andrew M says:

    There needs to be a “please move down” campaign at other busy stations in the system. Not with a huge number of staff like Bloor/Yonge, but at least some “please move down” signs plus perhaps one or two staff members at rush hour.

    Spadina is the worst, everyone getting off the streetcar congregates around the east end of the platform, whereas few use the west exit.

    The B-D platforms at Bloor-Yonge are another – few ever stand at the west end of the platform (near the exit to Yonge Street). Wellesley, College and Dundas are also problematic because they have single exits (hopefully this will be fixed soon).

  14. Max says:

    I have found it a good solution… but there needs to be people stationed on the Bloor line at the west stairway directing all the people coming off the Bloor line to the escalator and NOT the stairs. All that yonge traffic is directed to those stairs in particular and you have people walking up slowing down this flow.

  15. Mark Dowling says:

    This morning the SB 0812 came in empty (started from D-ville?) and TTC staffers opened the barriers and actively encouraged Bloor riders to come directly off the escalators and board cars 5-6.

    Steve: Yes, I was there watching. This is a new tactic specific to the gap trains that come express from Davisville. It’s a good example of the need for flexibility in how passengers are directed depending on current conditions that would be difficult to implement with permanent barriers.

  16. Phil Piltch says:

    This was my first time taking the subway since they started this (I usually cycle downtown) – I noted an announcement on the westbound BD train regarding this, go the right for Yonge trains, left to exit the station. I was there just before 7:30, so I didn’t see it when the rush was at peak, but it seemed to be working well. And good to see that this is actually helping get more trains through the station. I exit at Dundas station, so I usually walk to the south end of the platform anyway, even it that means missing the train that is there (I know another one is arriving at most a couple of minutes later), since that put me close to the exit at Dundas and also I was more likely to find space in the car.

    Phil

  17. Ed says:

    On my eastbound Bloor-Danforth train this morning, there was an announcement as we left Bay that “Traffic patterns to southbound Yonge trains have been changed. Please cooperate with TTC staff and follow their directions.” Something like that–it was 7AM after all.

    This reminds me of the good ol’ days when every eastbound train leaving Spadina would announce “Next station is St. George, transfer for trains downtown via University Avenue.” I think these announcements came quite soon after the three-route experiment was discontinued, perhaps immediately after, and lasted until the Spadina line era began, anyway.

    Finch Station would be the next place that traffic control could be instituted, as there are almost as many salmon running counterflow as there are salmon going with the flow. For the life of me, though, I can’t imagine how to make Finch transfer-friendly with its basic physical layout.

  18. joe says:

    Hey Steve.. thanks for this write-up.

    Does anyone know why there is a traffic jump after the first snowfall? Is it people deciding not to drive? Cyclists stopping biking to work for the winter? A combination?

    Thanks,

    Joe

    Steve: Probably more the drivers than the cyclists. The traffic buildup is for long trips at least as much as for short ones, and the long ones were not likely cycling trips to begin with.

  19. Nick says:

    In response to M. Briganti’s post and link to this old passenger volume graphic

    This reminds me of the death of soldiers during Napoleon’s March on Moscow during the War of 1812, seen in Charles Joseph Minard’s graphic popularized by Edward Tufte.

    I’d love to see an up-to-date version of the passenger volumes!

  20. Angus says:

    I’ll be royally pissed off if these people don’t allow me to go where I need to go.

    The only time I use the Yonge Bloor station is to get off the westbound Bloor subway and get up to the street. For some reason this entails changing levels, walking along the crowded Yonge platform to stairs at the end which lead through the Hudson Bay centre and then finally out the door. It’s so complicated, I often wonder if I’m taking the quickest way.

    Steve: You really seem to be taking the long way around. There are three main ways to get out of Bloor/Yonge Station.

    First is through the Bay which is reached directly from the concourses at the north end of Bloor Station. You come up from the lower level, then up again and out into the Bay. From that point, there are several exits depending on where you are going.

    Second is through the Hayden Street entrance at the south end of Bloor Station (your description of walking along the crowded platform implies this is the one you use). That one takes you out into the Xerox Tower, and you can either exit to Hayden Street, the vacant lot that used to be Roy’s Square, or walk back north to Bloor Street.

    Third is through the automatic entrance that links the west end of Yonge Station to Yonge Street right beside the Starbucks that used to be Britnell’s Bookshop (east side, north of Bloor).

    Since I don’t know where you actually want to wind up on the street, I can’t suggest which route is the best.

  21. M. Briganti says:

    This experiment is nothing more than cattle herding. The TTC should instead encourage all eastbound and westbound Bloor passengers to use St. George Station if their destination is Queen, King, or Union. I know some BD morons from the west use Bloor-Yonge for King and Union when the trip via University would be faster.

    To Nick’s comment — I know that transfer moves at Bloor-Yonge were 3x higher in 1969 vs. 1966 (as that was when the TTC did another massive O-D survey). I’m guessing, but I’d say the transfer moves there are now 7-8x higher than they were in 1970. When St. George was a terminal and University trains did not arrive from the north already crowded, it attracted a lot of passengers from the east that would otherwise have used Bloor-Yonge. Now, there’s no advantage to using St. George if you’re an east-ender.

    To Ed’s comment — I don’t recall any announcements ever being made on the trains themselves at the transfer stations during the 60s and 70s.

  22. Rapidtransitman says:

    @ M. Briganti

    In my experience St George YUS – BD transfers are just as crowded at rush hour.

    Another case for directional pedestrian pathways, but given the existing platform space, I can’t envision such a layout either.

    It appears to me that greater passenger transfer volumes at either St George or Bloor/Yonge will be self-limited. Hence the need for the Downtown Relief Line (DRL).

  23. Joel M says:

    Rapidtransitman:

    St. George is crowded, but at least it’s spread out. When switching between the YUS & BD lines, people can use any staircase to get to any destination. At Bloor-Yonge anybody coming east or westbound heading southbound must use only the two staircases on the north-west side, creating a huge logjam. It’s one of the problems of having side platforms at such a busy station.

    Since moving in February St. George has become my transfer station and I’ve found it to be much easier than Bloor-Yonge. I can’t imagine why anybody from the west would switch at Yonge to go Southbound.

    Of course the DRL will help, but considering how empty the south end of the YUS platforms are during the rush hours I think this experiment is clearly worth a shot.

  24. Jonathon says:

    Remember that every other University train starts at St. Clair West station, meaning that upon arrival to St. George, every other (or so) train is only about half full at most, with the majority of the crowding at the south and north ends of the train. So there is still some benefit to that transfer.

    Steve: The TTC plans to shift the short turn to Glencairn, and so these trains will also have load added from Eglinton West Station. The Spadina subway extension plans call for the short turn to move even further north, although some versions of the fleet plan (yes, there’s more than one) don’t take this into account.

  25. M. Briganti says:

    Joel/Rapidtransitman …

    I have a report here somewhere in which Norman Wilson (the Bloor-Danforth-University architect) said that he would have designed Bloor-Yonge in an entirely different manner had he known the TTC was against his wye.

    In his report, he also went on to say that in addition to a different higher volume Bloor-Yonge layout, St. George and Bay would not exist. Instead, he would have designed a single very large transfer station at Bloor and Avenue Rd in place of those two stations. It’s a very interesting read.

  26. Steve, any thoughts as to why the TTC does not bother trying to interline the trains again due to the fact that

    A) Bloor-Yonge is over capacity

    AND

    B) Travel patterns have changed and people use University just as much as they do Yonge (because of the offices and other buildings now adjacent to stops such as Osgoode, St. Andrew and Queens Park)

    At the very least they should do a rider survey to see if the interlined service might be worthwhile to experiment with again. I mean in 1966 NOBODY used university as there was not much down that way, especially south of Queen. Now there are businesses galore as well as numerous theaters served by St. Andrew station. There is also the Opera house directly above Osgoode Station. Practially all of the University of Toronto can be served by Queens Park station and tourists use the Museum. These buildings were not there in 1966 (with the exception of parts of the U of T). Therefore there is much more demand on the line now then there was in 1966. In fact, if memory serves the University line was so underused in 1966 that it was shut down on the evenings and the weekends. Have you ever seen the University line, St. George station especially during rush hour in both the AM and the PM? They are packed. I know you are tired of hearing about it but studying interlining as a way of taking some of the pressure off the Yonge Line might be a good thing. Interlining could be the solution to our problems. I mean if people see they have a transfer-free way of getting downtown they might use it. After all like I said previously, the demand has changed since 1966, so has usage patterns. In that respect the study done in 1966 with regards to interlining are no longer valid as the data has changed substantially.

    Sometimes people have to consider the Occam’s razor theory when dealing with situations like this. It states that the simplest solution is tends to be the right one. Yes I know it caused issues at Bay station with the arrival of trains but honestly the Bloor-Danforth line is a crosstown line designed to bring people into the downtown by avoiding Bloor-Yonge. We have the infrastructure to do so, so why not? I think its so simple its being ignored by the TTC.

    Steve: The problem with interlining is that there is not enough track time on University to run a frequent enough “downtown” service from the BD line to be attractive and still have room left for the Spadina trains. Even with full ATO on both lines, I doubt it could be done.

  27. Neil says:

    I believe this trial has shown that there are gains to be made with social engineering. In other words, headroom via headspace. There are limits though. In the end, dwell time is driven by # of doors and # of people. The DRL would definitely help by reducing the # of people but that # would eventually grow again. It’s been said that the DRL should be built before the RHE (I agree) but what about the Eglinton LRT? It and other transit city lines will be a high capacity feeders into the Yonge line which will make the crowding at Bloor-Yonge a more dynamic situation.

    As it’s currently designed, Bloor-Yonge will always be a choke point. I submit that this situation will have to be addressed eventually.

    This got me thinking about alternatives for station expansion, specifically moving the southbound track to beneath Yonge. This must have been proposed before I thought, and yes it had: http://stevemunro.ca/?p=1427 Steve, thanks for maintaining your site. This is the only place on the web to find this info.

    In the design though, TTC sabotaged this option in favour of supersizing the exisitng station. For the Yonge alignment, TTC went under the BD line because it treated the shopping concourse between 2 Bloor E and 2 Bloor W as sacred ground. Please.

    Here’s my thoughts:
    - branch off the southbound line at Rosedale, cut and cover construction over the BD line.
    - Continue this down Yonge rejoining the subway tunnel north of College. (1.7km) This will also require a new Wellesley southbound platform.
    - At Bloor-Yonge the existing station would be used for eastbound and northbound only.
    - The southbound platforms would be on the new Yonge alignment (both sides) placed just north of Bloor.
    - The westbound platform would be one-side only positioned north of the existing tracks. They would be under and to the west of Yonge.

    Steve: Your proposed location for the westbound platform is both inside an existing building and on the curve and grade from Yonge to Bay Station. A transfer from an eastbound Bloor train to a southbound Yonge train, or conversely from a northbound Yonge train to a westbound Bloor train would require a long walk. I think you need to think through this proposal a bit more.

    Unlike the current scheme, this is standard construction and it can be done without shutting down the existing station. Expensive yes but I believe this crowding situation will need to be addressed eventually.

    Steve: More passengers transferring to Yonge southbound come from the east than the west because some traffic is intercepted at St. George. If the interchange at Pape (or wherever) is properly set up, a good deal of this can be shifted to the DRL. I agree that Eglinton will be a problem eventually if the DRL is not built particularly on the east side and all the way to Eglinton.

    The TTC is wasting a lot of time and effort (and money) looking at a Don Mills LRT than ends at Danforth. I have written about this before and won’t belabour the point. Let’s just say this is an excellent example of how I do not agree with everything that’s in Transit City.

  28. Jonathon says:

    However, that would have completely altered the Spadina subway plans. If the University line ended at Bloor and University instead of curving towards St. George, they would have had a much harder time forcing the line westward to Spadina.

  29. M. Briganti says:

    Jonathan — cause and effect. The line would not have been forced west to Spadina in that case. The Spadina alignment would have been altered (believe it or not, it was originally Christie).

    In Wilson’s report (circa 1960), he mentioned two key design differences at Bloor-Yonge …

    1 – a much wider island platform on the lower level
    2 – a mezzanine/concourse *BETWEEN* the Bloor and Yonge levels with stairways leading into it along the length of both platforms — ie., no “N” or “S” stairways.

  30. Neil says:

    Re: My Scheme

    Yes my west platform goes under a building. A 2 story unremarkable building behind the CIBC tower. But you are right. That curve happens earlier than I thought. It can be seen here. What there is room for though is extending the centre platform on the BD line to the west so the west and east trains are skewed on the same platform. That would favour the W-S transfer and the N-E transfer and would remove the long walks.

    I was on board with the Don Mills LRT meeting the DRL at Eglington. I responded to your post. I proposed that it then turn right into the Eglinton LRT tunnel which will be underused.

    Balancing the load makes sense, but just like the road-network, back-fill will follow. That’s why I say that Bloor-Yonge will need to be improved eventually.

  31. Jonathon says:

    But Christie was the alignment for the Christie-Grace expressway, not Spadina, and it was only to extend as far as Dupont, more or less, to the midtown expressway. I am interested to hear where the subway would have gone from there- up the 400? Straight through to Eglinton? And still, how would a line down Christie get downtown, or would it have simply ended at Bloor? Because that would not have worked in the long term.

  32. Greg Smith says:

    I’m late to this discussion, but wanted to point out how comment threads elsewhere seem to fixate on the supposedly excessive labour cost of the experiment (i.e. the quantity of uniformed bodies present, despite TTC explanations to the effect that these people would be somewhere doing something either way).

    Having seen the general level of disrespect for the way things are “supposed to be” on the TTC, let alone resistance to change, it strikes me as fairly obvious that there would need to be a lot of people in uniform with feet firmly planted (and backed up by special constables) to make this happen. A few headlines have suggested that the whole setup came off as “authoritarian” or somehow Orwellian. I transfer at St. George in the AM, so I didn’t get to see it in action. Did anyone really feel like this was too regimented, or was that just the media looking for an angle?

    I could go for considerably more interventionist, in-person work from the TTC to improve passenger flow in stations. Well-timed announcements in vehicles (e.g. entering Bloor-Yonge — not just about this experiment, as others have observed, but as a matter of course to remind riders about exiting and re-boarding to avoid blocking doors if necessary) would also help. I think there is a lot more room to improve the experience and the efficiency of the current infrastructure while we wait for new capacity… of course, this must not be allowed to work well enough to justify further delays… *rolls eyes*

    Steve: An important part of having people to direct the flow of the crowds is that the TTC staff maintain a friendly “we’re all in this together” sort of attitude. Just smiling can make a huge difference between seeming authoritarian and helpful. Yes, it’s hard at 7:30 in the morning for some of us to smile, but it’s important.

  33. Sean Marshall says:

    Jonathan: “But Christie was the alignment for the Christie-Grace expressway, not Spadina, and it was only to extend as far as Dupont, more or less, to the midtown expressway. I am interested to hear where the subway would have gone from there- up the 400? Straight through to Eglinton? And still, how would a line down Christie get downtown, or would it have simply ended at Bloor?.”

    This is really going off-topic, but the Christie-Clinton Expressway was to be the south end of the 400 Bypass – and would have met the Gardiner near Fort York. This is why the Gardiner is really high off the ground here, as it was planned to allow off and on-ramps for the connection. It would have destroyed what we think of as Little Italy today, as well as West Queen West, and many now very desirable neighbourhoods.

    It would have met the Midtown Expressway near Christie and Dupont, then go west-northwest to connect with what is now Black Creek Drive.

    Spadina was completely separate, as it would have terminated into Spadina Avenue at the end of a trench just north of College Street.

    The cancellation of these expressway plans came about the same time as Streetcars for Toronto won the fight against the TTC’s streetcar abandonment policy.

  34. Jonathon says:

    Off-topic indeed, and I know. That is why I am curious as to how a subway would have gone north of bloor if not via the Spadina expressway. Suggesting Christie indicates that maybe it was planned to go through that expressway, but either way, I am simply wondering about how that plan would have worked.

  35. Robert Wightman says:

    M. Briganti says:
    November 28, 2009 at 12:34 am

    “To Nick’s comment — I know that transfer moves at Bloor-Yonge were 3x higher in 1969 vs. 1966 (as that was when the TTC did another massive O-D survey). I’m guessing, but I’d say the transfer moves there are now 7-8x higher than they were in 1970. When St. George was a terminal and University trains did not arrive from the north already crowded, it attracted a lot of passengers from the east that would otherwise have used Bloor-Yonge. Now, there’s no advantage to using St. George if you’re an east-ender.”

    Aside from the build up in traffic don’t forget that for most of 1966 the wye was in operation, end of February to the end of August I think. If you had a one seat ride to Queen or King via University then many people would take it. Once you were forced to transfer the almost everyone from the east and many from the west would transfer at Yong-Bloor. As someone said there wasn’t much under or along University Avenue back then.

    Steve: Here are the AM Peak riding distributions for 1966 (with the integrated service) and 1969 (with the split service).

    1966 AM Peak
    1969 AM Peak

    In 1966, there were 11,200 passengers travelling west on BD who went downtown. They split 7,047 via the University line and 4,153 via the Yonge line showing a clear preference to avoid the Bloor Yonge transfer point. Eastbound there were 12,578 passengers going south of Bloor, of whom 11,269 went via the University line.

    In 1969, there were 15,965 westbound passengers of whom 9,694 went downtown via Yonge. There were 17,285 eastbound passengers of whom 11,685 went via University.

    In 1966, the “around the horn” travel extended to King for passengers from the east end via University. From the west, this effect extended a few stations further north.

    By 1969, passengers from the east to Union via Yonge out numbered those who travelled via St. George. Passengers from the west bound for Union Station or anywhere on University took that route, but passengers going to King or points north preferred to ride via Yonge.

    Another important factor that has been in play over time is that the balance of development has shifted jobs further north, and the penalty of riding the “wrong” way via Union is greater than it was when the BD line opened in 1966.

    Regarding the movements at Bloor Yonge, in 1966 there were 5,462 transfers off of the BD line to Yonge in the AM peak. By 1969, this was up to 15,294 which is, as noted above, roughly a 3X change although some of this was due to ridership growth. The total riding to stations south of Bloor Street rose from about 24K in 1966 to about 33K in 1969.

    It is physically impossible for the transfer moves today to be 7-8 times higher than in 1970 as this would imply riding considerably in excess of line capacity on both the Yonge and University routes.

  36. M. Briganti says:

    Jonathan … the Spadina subway would have initially terminated at Christie Stn. Later on, the plan was to extend it down to Queen via Grace to meet the (then) future Queen subway.

    The other plan was to run the Bloor subway from Keele to Christie, and from there down to Queen via Grace.

    Had either of these plans materialized, the Bloor-Yonge problem would not exist today. Why? If the Bloor line went down to Queen, all Bloor passengers wouldn’t need to transfer at all. The crosstown ones would have to get off at Christie and take a bus to continue their journey eastbound.

    If the Spadina line was routed via Christie (or even Bathurst, as was suggested later on), the University line would have been left wide open to Bloor passengers.

  37. M. Briganti says:

    Steve, pull up the OD report from 1978 after the Spadina line opened if you still have it — what were the transfer moves at B-Y then? I say 7-8x higher based on observation because …

    1 — tons of people now get off southbound Yonge trains at Bloor and switch to BD (which just didn’t happen in the 60s/70s).

    2 — BD ridership is about 3x higher now than in the 60s (450k vs. 150k)

    Back then each southbound Yonge train almost always cleared the entire platform at Bloor except for a small window around 8:15a or so. So, I think it is possible to get a much larger turnover at B-Y and still be within the capacity limits of both lines.

    The ’69 and ’78 surveys were interesting in that they even tracked if you changed at both St. George and B-Y. If you changed at Spadina, they’d grab your ticket in the tunnel walkway (as the card only had two corners that you could rip off).

    Steve: I don’t have a copy of the 1978 survey. Just for clarity, when I talked about the impossibility of 7X growth, I was talking only about movements onto the southbound platform. Movements off of that platform are important too, not to mention the counterpeak flow over on the northbound side. That doesn’t affect the southbound transfers directly, but would have to be taken into account for any scheme to manage flows at the lower BD level of the station.

  38. I am not an expert when it comes to the Yonge-Bloor station, but would it be possible to add a middle platform for exiting. GO does this with the Lakeshore Line trains – they let people off on one side and on another platform.

    Steve: The TTC has a scheme for an additional platform, but its construction is very expensive and disruptive. The connection down to the Bloor line from this platform is complex because the passageway needs to get under the eastbound track to reach the centre platform.

    For much more information, please read the series of articles about the Yonge Subway Headway Study.

  39. Rob says:

    I have another low-tech solution for Bloor-Yonge Station. The Northbound platform has two stairways that connect it to Yonge Station. The near one descends west and the far one descends east, so they’re not far from each other on the Bloor station level.

    The near one has the down escalator, and is consequently the one people tend to choose to make the Yonge line to Bloor line transfer, even though the far one is only a few metres further.

    However, for people at Yonge Station, the up escaltor is on the far east end of the platform, meaning the majority of transfers going north end up walking up the nearer stairs, forcing themselves in a narrower passage against the downward flow of Yonge line transfers.

    If the two escalators were reversed, more Bloor line passengers making the transfer North would use the escalator, while Yonge line passengers making the transfer would choose to use the far escalator/stairway. This would cause fewer passenger collisions, and also encourage more riders to use the entire length of Yonge station.

    Thoughts?

    Steve: I believe the reason that the easternmost escalator always runs up is that the TTC doesn’t want the heavy northbound to Bloor transfer traffic to be pushed out into a small space at the very far end of the platform. There are better options for passengers arriving at the bottom of the currently “down” escalator, although “better” is a relative term here.

  40. pierre martin says:

    It’s about time! A permanent fence or railing should be built showing the ways in and ways out and ways up and ways down, like any civilized and modern city.

    Our subway system is really embarrassing; look at the signs for directions, they are so hard to understand!

    Now have you seen what is going on downstairs on the Bloor line? Something needs to be done there too before a riot occurs.

    Wake up TTC!
    Thank you

  41. pierre martin says:

    Are we civilized in this city? Do we also need constables to walk from car to car to tell people not to block doorways even though it says it right in their face? Nobody can read English in this city?

  42. Joe says:

    “Our subway system is really embarrassing; look at the signs for directions, they are so hard to understand!”

    Well, to their credit, the sign at Bloor Station will helpfully point you in the right direction to find Roy’s Square.

    Steve: For those who are unfamiliar with the area, Roy’s Square was the laneway behind several small stores on the southeast corner of Yonge and Bloor. These stores have been demolished and Roy’s Square is little more than a walkway through a construction site.

  43. Rob says:

    Steve: I believe the reason that the easternmost escalator always runs up is that the TTC doesn’t want the heavy northbound to Bloor transfer traffic to be pushed out into a small space at the very far end of the platform. There are better options for passengers arriving at the bottom of the currently “down” escalator, although “better” is a relative term here.

    But that just results in the easternmost portion of the platform being mostly empty, since very few people will walk the extra distance to catch the up escalator. If those people were intercepted at the other elevator first, people coming down the easternmost escalator would be better able to file west along the platform, without colliding into the mob of transfer traffic moving in the other direction.

    Steve: They have to take into account situations where there is a delay in service and the area at the bottom of the escalator is completely plugged. A good chunk of this space was eaten up by the elevator installed there a few years back.

  44. David Cavlovic says:

    “Roy’s Square was the laneway behind several small stores on the southeast corner of Yonge and Bloor. These stores have been demolished and Roy’s Square is little more than a walkway through a construction site.”

    Anybody remember WHY it was named Roy’s Square? Why, to honour the great Canadian Roy Rogers! (I know, he’s not Canadian, and that’s my point), who was promoting a chain of fast-food chicken outlets bearing his name in the 70′s. Needless to say, they didn’t last long, and the one on Bloor just west Of Roy’s Square was converted into a Harveys.

  45. Ed says:

    The platform programme will be permanent, according to the Star.

    The half-billion-dollar rebuild of Yonge/Bloor is also mentioned. No mention of the DRL, though.

    Steve: At least TTC management now acknowledge that the big rebuild is a complex and expensive project.

  46. Emily says:

    Steve, just a quick note here..

    (Just so everyone can understand my directions here, I’ll let you all know that I’m legally blind and use a white cane.)

    I avoid Y&B at all costs when I can, except when heading to the CNIB, then I board the train at Kipling, I get on the lead car eastbound, (east end of the platform) that usually lines me up with the up Esclator to the northbound platform on the Yonge line, I then walk (keeping to the Left against the wall, I walk to the south end of the Yonge platform, this lines me up with the up Esclator to the bus platform at Davisville.)

    Coming back home, I walk to just about the north end of the southbound platform at Davisville, (I look for a metal plate on the platform as my landmark) that lines me up with the exit at Yonge, for the Bloor Trains, I hate the Bloor platform at rush hour, I try to move to the west end of the platform, but the crowds sometimes are just too much for me to get through, so I get on where I can, choosing to exit and walk to the east end of the platform at either High Park or Kipling, as both of these stations have my home bus route serving them. (It has horrible service, so I choose which I’m going to get off at, depending on the time, as I have the schedule memorized for both stations.)

    I use my rider efficiency guide extensivly (I’ve worn out 2 copies of it already) to get where I need to go, I also have taught some of it to my blind friends, and it helps us out a lot.

  47. JeffreyM says:

    I’m not sure if this is the right place, but I noticed in this document:

    http://www2.ttc.ca/docs/TYSSE%20Construction%20Information%20Session%20Presentation%20Final%20Update%20120409.pdf

    that there are to be platform doors in all of the new stations on the Spadina extension.

    Steve: The stations have provision for platform doors, but this will require that the YUS fleet be entirely TR trains. The TTC has not yet ordered enough trains to achieve this, although may do so part way through 2010.

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