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.

See The Ghost Subway Station! [Updated]

Trips through the little-used legs of the Wye between Bay, St. George and Museum Stations will be standard operation for six weekends from February 24 to March 31, 2007.  Thank to Tim Bryant for pointing out the change in the planned start date.  The TTC page on this event is here:

www.toronto.ca/ttc/bloor_danforth_weekend_tunnel_construction.htm

This unusual operation is required to permit work on the tunnel west of Upper Bay Station where the Bloor line passes under the Park Plaza Hotel.  This can only be achieved by closing the line for a few days at a time.  Conveniently, the wye is in just the right location to permit a subway “diversion”, not the sort of thing you see every day. Continue reading

The Queen Street Subway Debate

I have been truly astounded that the post on the new streetcar plan has turned into a pitched battle between the pro and anti LRT/subway forces on this blog.  Frankly I am getting a little tired of it because, after all, this is my blog and I happen to believe that LRT is going to rule the day.

This will happen for three reasons:

  • We cannot afford a subway network,
  • We do not need a subway network, and
  • We must not put off transit improvement in the vain hope that someday the tooth fairy will give us the money to build one.

All of the pro and anti subway comments have been edited into this separate thread and I am closing the debate on this issue.  Several comments that were sitting in moderation are included here.

If you want to talk about the streetcar plan, fine, I will continue adding to that thread and commenting on it.  If you want to tell me how the manifest destiny of downtown Toronto is to have a network of new subway lines, please start your own blog. Continue reading

The Plan for New Streetcars

Last week, the TTC adopted a plan for rejuvenation of the streetcar fleet that will see the first new cars on the street by 2011.  It’s taken a long time to get a plan that keeps everyone happy including the financial beagles, but this one seems to be acceptable to all.

Streetcar Fleet Plan January 2007

Note that the version here is a low-res PDF file so that readers don’t have to wait forever for the bigger version to dribble down the line. Continue reading

Sending URLs in Comments

Most comments I receive rarely contain URLs pointing to other sites.  However, spammers just pack their messages with this sort of thing.

If you are going to send me a comment and want to include a link to another site for reference, please omit the prefix “http://” or add a blank, underscore, whatever, in the middle.  I am now trapping out messages with this string embedded to simplify ongoing maintenance of the spam filter.

If I do post your comment, I will restore the correct spelling of the link when I edit it.

Note that your feedback will be delayed until I check the spam bucket for real messages if you don’t follow this helpful hint.

Gridlock in the GTA [Updated]

The St. Lawrence Centre Forum is hosting a panel on this subject on Wednesday, February 28 from 7:30 to 9:30 pm.  Admission is free on a first-come, first-served basis.

http://forum.stlc.com/forum.php

The panel will include:

  • Rob MacIsaac, Chair of the GTTA
  • Adam Giambrone, Chair of the TTC and member of City Council
  • Gary McNeil, Managing Director and CEO of GO Transit
  • Natalie Helferty, Planning Ecologist, York Region Environmental Alliance

Jumping The Queue [Updated]

The new 29 Dufferin service described below was approved without debate at the TTC meeting on January 31.  Like some who have commented on this post, I look forward to the creative writing in the six-month review of the trial service.  It’s good to know that influential members of Council can get service to a location with zero demand while people are freezing in the cold from inadequate service.  Maybe the Councillor will champion significant additional funding for TTC operations in this year’s budget.  We shall see.

Here’s the original post: 

Last September, at the urging of Deputy Mayor Pantalone, the TTC approved the extension of the 29 Dufferin bus through the CNE to serve the new BMO Field soccer stadium.  This will not just be a special event service, but an all-day operation.  Every second bus will run south from Dufferin Loop, across the top of the CNE grounds via Saskatchewan Road and Manitoba Drive (past the existing streetcar loop) to a loop just north of Princes’ Gate. 

It should be noted that the Dufferin bus will not pass much closer to the new stadium than the existing streetcar service, and Ontario Place will still be a healthy hike from any transit service.

This wouldn’t be news to anyone except for one thing:  the estimated annual cost will be $350K, but this will be offset by reallocating service from the existing Dufferin route or from other parts of the system.  One or two additional buses will be required at all times of the day, and as we well know, there’s nothing to spare elsewhere in the system.

Try telling this to the residents of northeastern Scarborough who, after a deputation at the TTC last year, were told that the earliest they could get more service, or in some cases any service, would be September 2007 when Mayor Miller’s 100 new buses will start rolling into town.

I suppose that if we built the soccer stadium in Scarborough, we would already be extending the RT to serve it day and night whether anyone was actually there or not.

I have no problem with serving special events at the CNE grounds, regardless of where they are located or what market they serve.  When we start taking service away from the existing system during peak periods for a new full-time service, a line has been crossed.

The list of routes where service is inadequate but where improvement is thwarted by a combination of fleet size, available operators, and the pig-headedness of the City Budget process, is very, very long.  When one Councillor gets service reallocated to serve his pet project, that’s an abuse of the transit system.

This proposal should be scrapped.