Expanding Bloor-Yonge Station

[Comments are now closed on this item.  I am getting tired of repeating myself about the physical possibilities at Bloor/Yonge and the fact that this is not the only place we would need to look at expanding if we substantially increase subway capacity.  There is nothing more to add to this discussion.] 

Several people have left comments or sent emails on the subject of capacity at Bloor-Yonge.  Mark Dowling’s was the latest, and I thought it would be a good place to start a new thread.  (The poor-man’s diagram below has been corrected to match the actual station layout.  Thanks to Miroslav Glavic for pointing out this howler of an error.)

A letter writer to the Star this morning mentions the 1 Bloor East project as a way of expanding Bloor Line capacity – I am concerned about the possible effect of this building on peak crowding. Would it be possible to “stagger” a second platform so that it would be under the 1BE site? I guess the connection to the Yonge line would be tricky but this might be an opportunity we won’t get again.

====================   existing WB track
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX   existing centre platform
====================   existing EB track

On the Bloor line, it is important to understand where the station sits physically.  All of the station is north of the 1 Bloor East site.  The west end of the station is inside the structure of the Hudson’s Bay Building at 2 Bloor East and is roughly under the east side of Yonge Street.  You can tell where it is quite easily from the location of the western exit from Yonge Station which comes up to street level between the Bay and Starbuck’s (formerly Britnell’s Book Shop).

The silver columns at Bloor Station on the Yonge line are directly under Bloor Street.  This used to be the entrance to the stairs up to the Bloor streetcar transferway.   Note that these columns lie south of the mezzanine area and the stairs down to the Bloor Subway.

The east end of Yonge Station lies under Bloor, and the turn into the tunnel is roughly under the intersection of Park Road and Bloor Street at the east end of 2 Bloor East.  The round tunnel runs east under Bloor to Sherbourne where the line turns south and runs parallel to Bloor east of Sherbourne before turning back to the north to cross the Rosedale Valley Road.

Many years ago, the TTC produced a plan for expanding Bloor-Yonge Station including a new eastbound platform as shown here, not to mention a new centre platform on the Yonge line.  Indeed, it was this scheme that was used to justify “phase 1” — the widening of the platforms at Bloor Station.

One big problem with adding such a platform is that you need to connect it with the station “upstairs”.  This is extremely difficult given that much of the structure would be inside of the existing 2 Bloor East building.  Indeed, the TTC’s own plans showed a large column directly conflicting with what would be the new eastbound platform.

The basic point is that 1 Bloor East may be adding more demand at this station, but I doubt that every resident will spill out onto the subway at the same time if only because there wouldn’t be enough elevator capacity for that.  Structurally, the site is completely separate from the Bloor subway line and offers no opportunities for expansion.

As for the Yonge line, the TTC did have a scheme to add a third centre platform, but building it would be extremely complex (again it is inside of existing buildings) and parts of the work would require that the station be closed (yes, closed) for at least half a year.  You don’t just shuffle platform space and track around as an overnight job.

Many capacity issues in transportation (and indeed in other systems) can be approached in two ways:  either we go into panic mode and desperately try to expand at the perceived site of the problem, of we figure out how to reduce demand at that point by directing traffic elsewhere.  As I have written in many other posts, this comes down to improving GO rail service so that the subway isn’t lumbered with all of the long-haul trips and adding capacity into the core to divert traffic off of the Yonge line itself.