Crowding at Bloor Yonge Station

I received the following note from James McArthur:

I  was just curious to hear your take on the need to significantly expand the capacity of Bloor/Yonge Stn. particularly because of the bottlenecks in the mezzanine and stair/escalator areas (these are really bad even outside rush hour).

I saw that Adam Giambrone mentioned renovating the lower level (for aethetic reasons I gather), but has any consideration been given to this problem?  How can you solve it w/o spending hundred’s of millions?ill the TTC even try?   Can the system carry more riders if they don’t?

Steve:  Years ago, the TTC had a plan for expanding the capacity of Bloor Yonge that was breathtaking in its scope.  Fortunately, the only part they actually built was the widened platforms on the upper level and the removal of the central pillars.  The whole scheme involved moving the Yonge line tracks further apart and adding a centre platform.  Vertical access was a real problem, not to mention construction at the north end where the station is physically inside of the Bay.

The scheme also involved new platforms outside of the existing tracks on the Bloor level.  Access between all of the platforms was complex, and construction issues, were very, very difficult.  The station sits in an old stream bed and much work would have to be done by hand in a pressurized environment. 

Oh yes — the station would close for at least six months.  Trains would run through without stopping and bus shuttles would take people from Rosedale to Wellesley.

Adding capacity to the Bloor line’s platform is very difficult because the station is inside of the Bay building including some of the structural columns that hold it up.  This is a major issue in any move to increase capacity on the Yonge line through resignalling.  If the Bloor line cannot take passengers away as fast as the Yonge line delivers them, then congestion will be worse than it is today.

Headways, as we have discussed here before, are constrained on the Bloor line by turnaround times at terminals.  Even if we had more platforms, escalators and stairways, we would not be able to have more trains.

The real issue with Bloor-Yonge is the number of people coming through it who could be taken to the core via an alternate route be that GO Transit or a “downtown relief line” of some flavour.  It may be cheaper and provide better service in a network sense to look at new capacity into the core rather than trying to pack more people through the Bloor-Yonge interchange.

8 thoughts on “Crowding at Bloor Yonge Station

  1. And this is why the Sheppard Subway pisses me off. If someone had the foresight to figure this out, and do a line from Union to Don Mills and Sheppard, let’s say, instead of throwing more people on to the Yonge line….

    Hindsight is 20/20 to be sure, but Science Centre station wouldn’t be the worst thing to have ever happened. There’s no chance now that the Don Mills subway or something equivalent would ever happen, which is a shame, but they need to figure this out.


  2. Didn’t they predict this would happen when the wye closed?

    How about this for a crazy solution:

    Unhook the Spadina line from University at some point between Spadina and Dupont and send that into the core on new tracks (down Spadina Av. turning east at Queen and ending at Queen & Yonge) with intermediate stops at Spadina-Bloor, Spadina-College, Spadina-Queen and Osgoode. Then, put the wye back into operation. This was the original plan in the 60s with the Christie route.

    Sounds crazy doesn’t it?


  3. Isn’t it the case that the TTC’s ambitious plan to address capacity concerns at Bloor-Yonge was a direct result of the loss of the Downtown Relief Line as a priority under the provincial government in the late 1980s.

    Steve:  It was also due to the projected huge overcrowding on the Yonge line caused by the projected ridership on the Sheppard Subway tha would funnel over 10K per hour into the Yonge line who previously went downtown via other means, or who should have been on GO.  Yes, the DRT would have gotten around this, but the political tradeoff was to kill the DRT (a nasty supporter of core intensification) for the Sheppard line (supporting decentralized growth).  We all know how effective that tradeoff really was.


  4. Steve, the Yonge University line will be always be the most crowded line whether the TTC build relief lines or not. Look at the Tokyo Yamanote Line. There are 29 stations on the line and 27 of them connect to other rail services. Some of these rail service goes to the same places as the Yamanote Line. It is also located in the center of Tokyo. This is the same with the Yonge University line (perhaps one day a loop line?). Traffic from York, Peel Region all funnel through that line.

    Certainly relief line(s) would be very useful from a network stand point. I do not understand why the TTC has such a love for third rail technology. In Japan, metros and the Shinkasen are run with overhead pantographs. This way, it does not have to run a seperate grade to traffic. When it intersects a road, all it need is a rail road crossing. It is much cheaper than a tunnel, a bridge or a guideway. Of course if it crosses something like the 401, it will need a tunnel or a guideway. Using this method, building metros will not cost $200 million per km. The stations would be cheaper as well since it can be located on ground level.

    If I have it my way, there should be a variety of technologies used in transporting people within the GTA. For example, the Blue 22 project should use ICTS due to low cost. For people coming from Barrie or Waterloo, we should use Shinkasen technology. The GO Bi Level cars are too slow. The Finch Hydro Corridor should use metro technologies with overhead wire pickup. Even if Toronto gets 5 new metro lines built, it will be slow travelling from Etobicoke to Scarborough if the stations are too close together. More metros are not the solution to everything.


  5. Something needs to be done about the lower level of Bloor-Yonge station – the upper level is not that congested because it is so wide, but the lower level is very narrow in places. I suggest building a second platform on the south side of the existing tracks, and converting the centre platform to a westbound platform like what will be done to Union Station. Expanding the Bloor platforms of Bloor-Yonge station would be expensive and complicated, but it would still be MUCH cheaper than building a downtown relief line.

    Steve: There are serious problems with conflicts between the structure of the Bay which is immediately south of the eastbound track and the installation of a second (eastbound) platform. Vertical connection of this platform to the existing station would also be tricky. I remember seeing a proposed model of this station (including all of the extra platforms) and building something like this was not going to be a simple task.


  6. Steve

    I take Yonge and Danforth subways to arrive King/Bay – I only occasionally get 504 and never in the morning as it makes me late. The other day there was some kind of blockage with was a stalled queue of people right up the stairs/stopped escalators to the Yonge NB retail area. When the escalators are working congestion of people slow to walk away from the termini leads to pileups. I think it is already dangerous on the BD platform, especially when service is interrupted. Dissuading passengers from peak use of Bloor as a transfer point to/from downtown is to my mind necessary now even if a BD platform 2 was greenlighted today.

    To do that the E-W streetcars and the Bay bus must become realistic alternatives (traffic again) so Bay, Broadview, etc. start taking off some load. Is there any realisation in TTC that they are fitting a gallon into a pint glass and that in the long term they are riding their luck?


  7. Could it be that the reason why the TTC is planning on terminating the proposed Don Mills LRT line at Pape/Danforth is because they will be building a DRT subway down to Front St? I’m guessing such a line would be less expensive to build on a $/KM basis than the proposed Spadina/York U extension, given that part of it could be elevated along the CN tracks. Bottom line is that Mark Dowling is right, there are only so many riders you can squeeze through Yonge/Bloor and right now, that station is way over-capacity during the morning rush. We need to deal with this before someone falls to track level and gets killed.


  8. Toronto’s Yonge-University-Spadina Line is exactly like Tokyo’s Ginza Line plus they both share the same colour. When the Ginza Line got crowded, they built the Marunouchi Line, so why can’t TTC revive the Downtown Line before the Yonge Line gets overcrowded ( which is happening ). Even if the Downtown Line was built, the Yonge Line will still be crowded since Yonge Street has been Toronto’s backbone street. I also think platform screen doors should be added only at the top 10 busiest stations and the rest added later.


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