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.

28 thoughts on “Expanding Bloor-Yonge Station

  1. There was also a study years ago about expanding St. George with outer platforms, and the biggest problem there was no mezzanine between the BD and University levels (making eastbound-northbound and westbound-southbound transfers impossible using the outer platforms). I think it turned out there wasn’t space for one or both of them anyway.

    These stations were never designed as major interchanges, so the best solution is to divert passengers using GO (like Steve said), or some other kind of downtown subway line connecting up with Bloor (under Bay or Church). I really don’t how much you can practically divert using GO.

    Even if the platforms could be easily widened, the trains just can’t handle any more — the stop times at these stations are way too long already. This is the major flaw in having an east-west line cross a north-south line just north of downtown. In other cities, all lines go downtown.


  2. I don’t think that expanding GO service is a viable option to reduce subway crowding in the downtown area, including crowding at Bloor-Yonge station. Any improvement to GO service other than improving connections to the B-D is likely to increase overcrowding at Union Station (both the GO station and the subway station) and on the YUS subway. This is because connections between north-south lines and the Bloor-Danforth line are poor (only the Georgetown line has one), and it would be expensive to connect the Richmond Hill line to Castle Frank subway station due to the valley. Such improvements might help reduce overcrowding in the outer portions of the system, but it will not reduce overcrowding downtown. Some of those passengers will be headed to Bloor-Yonge anyway.

    Improved GO service is unlikely to be attractive to residents of the inner suburbs due to the inconvenient location of the tracks. Most lines used by GO pass through industrial areas in Toronto, which are away from major trip generators and poorly served by bus routes. South of Highway 7, the Richmond Hill line is well east of Yonge Street and most major trip generators. This is why Yonge Street north of Finch is crowded with buses. (East York Town Centre is a possible exception, but there is currently no station there.) The Bradford line passes well east of York University, so it is not very convenient. There are some areas in the inner suburbs that could benefit from improved GO service, however; GO could be made more attractive in Scarborough, where service is already good, by improving TTC feeder bus service. Improving GO service in more distant suburbs, like Mississauga, Brampton, Richmond Hill and Markham might be viable, however.

    Personally, I think that expanding the platforms of Bloor-Yonge subway station is necessary because alternate routes such as GO are inconvenient for most residents of the inner suburbs. The alternative is to build alternate short-haul routes to downtown which bypass Bloor-Yonge; however, a downtown relief line, even an LRT, would have to be in tunnel south of Bloor/Danforth for it to be attractive, which would be more expensive than expanding Bloor-Yonge.

    Steve: Just to be clear: I do not propose that GO replace the subway, but feel that many who might use GO are on the subway today either because GO is not frequent enough where they live, or they want the option of offpeak travel. GO will never replace the subway, but it’s cheaper to divert people onto GO where there are opportunities than to try to build more subway capacity.

    The issue at Bloor-Yonge is not the expense, but the physical constraints surrounding the station. Adding more platform space plus the interconnections needed to make it work is possible, in theory, but a very complex and expensive task. If we’re going to spend money on tunnels, better we spend it on something like a tunnel for the south end of the Don Mills line.


  3. It seems to me that any GO-based attempt to reduce demand at Y-B will always end up being rather ineffective. I won’t hold my breath for the type of frequent and reliable GO train service that will entice enough people to use it instead of taking the subway. And even if GO service was vastly improved, the issue of having to pay an additional fare would keep most potential riders away anyway.

    I pass through Kennedy station every day, where there is a nice big GO station that offers a short, express trip down to Union. A train arrives every morning at exactly 8am, and you would think that many people would take advantage of this service instead of taking two packed subways (with an almost impossible transfer) to get downtown. But they don’t. The number of people who take GO from Kennedy is a drop in the bucket, and I bet the number one reason is to avoid paying another fare. Think about it – there are several thousand people streaming through Kennedy at 8am, many of them heading straight downtown. Why else would they not take the GO train? Even if they have to double-back up Yonge to King or Queen, it would still be much faster, and the northbound trip up Yonge much more tolerable.

    I can only think of two ways to address the issue of overcrowding at Y-B. Either expand the platforms, or build the downtown relief line that was proposed as part of Network 2011. The DRL doesn’t have to be full subway – an extension of the Don Mills LRT line south would do just fine, as long as they double service south of Danforth to make it a feasible alternative for intercepting riders on Danforth that would otherwise head to Yonge.

    Steve: Your observations about the Kennedy Station GO transfer echo what I see myself enroute through that station. Some people have a fetish for building interchanges wherever two lines cross without considering the actual travel patterns. As you point out, it’s far better to just stay on the GO train to Union and, if need be, double back in the counterpeak direction.

    As for the fares, that doesn’t affect people for whom the Union Station area is their destination, and if they want to go further afield, they are paying two fares already. All the same, we need to better integrate things so that there is less disincentive to taking a GO+TTC trip.


  4. One of the easist ways to move people off the Y-U-S and on to GO would be the Eglinton LRT. Connect in the east with the Richmond Hill line and in the west with the Georgetown and Bradford lines and you’ve a mid-town feeder to the GO lines. Sadly this is what Oriole should’ve been on the Sheppard line, a way to move traffic from the subway to the GO train. But the TTC Leslie-GO Oriole stations are not exactly conducive to transfering and neither is the TTC-GO pricing model!

    Here are some example ideas. Currently passengers in Leaside are forced to travel to Yonge on buses (or take one the “extra fare downtow express” buses), if they could get on a GO train non-stop to downtown (for that same extra fare?) that would be an attractive alternative. The same goes for the Eglinton West area. Adding a GO Station at Eglinton and St. Clair on the Bradford line with interchange with TTC local service would also be an asset. Extend St. Clair to connect with the other west-end GO lines would also allow for more relief, especially with all the new housing being built in the stockyards area.

    It’s not that we’ve got an east-west problem, we’ve got one in the 180 degrees or so that radiate from downtown problem!

    In the long run there are many ways to reduce pressure on the Yonge subway that are cheaper than trying to rebuild Bloor-Yonge. We just need to think outside the tunnel.


  5. Steve says:

    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, or 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.

    While this is the most logical approach to the problem, logic does not always fit into the decision making. From the point of view of people travelling in buses on Yonge St. to the Finch station, it makes immense sense to extend the Yonge Subway North. It shortens THEIR trip and it gets all those interfering buses off THEIR road. The fact that it overloads the system to the South is irrelevant. The logical fix is to increase GO service on the Richmond Hill line. Unfortunately it is CN’s main transcontinental line and I do not think that they will allow a lot more trains with out a substantial up grade, like triple tracking; however, if you run 12 car trains on a 15 minute headway then you can divert 9000 people per hour off the Yonge Subway.

    The most cost effective solution would probably be to do this upgrade and then branch off the Bala Sub on a separate right of way to Newmarket and join the Newmarket Sub. I do not have a topographical map of the area so I do not know the construction problems involved but it would get passengers downtown more effectively and faster than the current GO trains on the Newmarket Sub. It would divert more people from the Yonge Subway, but would make a transfer connection to Yonge via the Sheppard line for those who do not want to go downtown.

    I don’t think that the powers that be can get it into their heads that you can use a GO type service to relieve crowding on the subway because the subway crowding is not THEIR problem and they would not think of creating a service where there is not a current right of way. There is still a problem with this service through the Don Valley in that it is single track and circuitous. There is room to double track most, if not all, of this line. It takes less time to get to Union from the Maple GO station than from Richmond Hill because for this part the Newmarket Sub is essentially a straight line while the Bala Sub is very crooked.

    I am not saying that this is the only, or best, solution but I hope that it will get people thinking out side of the normal options. Maybe we really did need GO ALRT, my $0.02 worth.

    Steve: I wonder how long it will take the GTTA to actually talk about this sort of problem and look at the situation from an overall network view ignoring jurisdictional boundaries?


  6. Actually, I guess there is a third option. How about trying out full interlining during rush-hours only? Lower Bay would remain closed, which means Bay station would provide decreased eastbound and westbound service during rush hours. Not a big deal in my mind, since Yonge station is so close anyway.

    I guess the catch would be that the Spadina subway would have to terminate at Spadina station, which would necessitate making it accessible. However, that’s still much cheaper than trying to expand platforms at Y-B or building relief lines. Plus, the argument that separating the Spadina subway from University would create a forced transfer is negated by the fact that there is currently a forced transfer at Y-B for a very large percentage of riders (I bet way more riders transfer at Y-B and St George than travel southbound from Spadina station). Add the moving walkway back at Spadina and the long walk to transfer disappears too.

    The TTC would also have to manage the interlining properly, not like they did back in 1966, by allowing trains to proceed on a first come first served basis.

    The more I think about this, the more I think they should try it. Mimmo is right – most major cities have lines that all head downtown without requiring a transfer. Interlining would accomplish that here without a big price tag.

    Steve: You are asking close to 20,000 people to transfer in the peak hour at (a) one of the most congested points on the subway, (b) a very inconvenient walking transfer location and (c) to every second inbound train (Kipling to Downtown) that shows up in a station you would load from one end.

    We have to accept the fact that once the Spadina line was linked in with University, any hope of interlining was out of the question.


  7. Thanks for the clarification of where the station is physically, even though I pass through it five days a week it’s hard to visualise.

    Steve: That whole wye interchange is quite complex. During the diversion, I had to remember where all of the tunnels were, exactly, relative to buildings that are more recent than the subway to explain to people why things were done as they were.


  8. While I certainly support beefing up GO Service, only the Richmond Hill line strikes me as being likely to divert any number of passengers off of Yonge or out of Bloor/Yonge as a station.

    Even if rush hour GO service on this line were doubled, and all day service added (from Steve’s blog to McGuinty’s ears), you still end up with a very crowded station, even at current ridership levels.

    Add to that the growth this station is likely to experience in use resulting from downtown residential construction (particularly in Yorkville) and the resurgence of downtown office construction (3 new towers likely bringing 10,000 office jobs with them) and you have recipe for unsafe and unmanagable operation at Yonge/Bloor.

    Further diversion is certainly possible, say via the Eglinton LRT proposal, but this is years away, and even then, with the expected net growth to ridership such a proposal would generate, you might expect that for each rider diverted from Bloor/Yonge you add a new one to replace them.

    It seems to me that the TTC needs to consider, fairly urgently, either taking the issues of expanding Bloor/Yonge seriously…(for all its complications and expense) OR, you need to see a downtown relief line (assume Pape to Union) either as subway or underground LRT, so you can siphon off some of that crowd.

    As of the present, they just don’t seem to have noticed that the only place left for more riders at Bloor/Yonge….is under the train.

    Steve: I will not belabour the issue of the complexity and difficulty of expanding capacity at Bloor Yonge. One additional point here: the TTC’s proposal to add a platform on the Yonge line between the two tracks would not add to the total platform space, only separate the boarding and alighting passengers onto two separate platforms (e.g. board in the middle, alight on the sides. Obviously the tracks have to move further apart and that eats up the extra platform width that was added. Another huge problem is that there is an underground stream right in the middle of the site (2 Bloor East actually sits on an underground bridge).

    The TTC plans to expand capacity by reducing the headway at least on the Yonge line with automatic train control and a new signal system. This will work fine in the morning rush, but I wouldn’t want to see the afternoon peak with a 110 second Yonge headway feeding into an unimproved 140 second headway (even if it is bidirectional) down on the Bloor line’s congested platform.

    Development at Bloor and Yonge will not contribute substantially to station congestion, I believe, because unlike office workers, condo dwellers (especially those in areas like Bloor/Bay/Yorkville) do not all rush off for an 8:30 start at work. There is actually a far worse situation developing on King West where the streetcar service does not come close to dealing with the growing population.


  9. two points:

    1) Many of those new condo dwellers will likely work downtown as well so the impact won’t be that bad but…

    2) The platform at Yonge on the Bloor line IS too small as it is and if the system is going to grow along with the city that platform, as part of the busiest subway nexus, will have to be enlarged anyway. The schematic above makes perfect sense but it should include a new westbound platform as well. The fact that it lies under existing buildings shouldn’t be insurmountable.

    Steve: Some engineers think nothing is insurmountable, merely a challenge to their ego. However, small problems such a building foundations, the need to demolish a chunk of the shopping mall in 2 Bloor East, and the proximity of a major Bell Canada switching centre on Asquith Avenue make life extremely difficult.

    Oh, and at the risk of beating a hopefully not dead horse – LRT on the Pearson-Union-Scarborough rail ROW plus the Eg LRT would alleviate Yonge/Bloor stress AND it could be up and running in a couple years or so.

    ps. howzabout a real map (or link) of Yonge/Bloor for us directionally challenged?

    Steve: I can send you to Google maps, but it won’t show the tunnels. The Uptown Cinema is still intact in the satellite photo.


  10. Now I would never advocate Spadina North as a suitable transfer point, and forgive me for asking, but why is it impossible to do interlining with the existence of the Bill Davis subway?

    Steve: We need to send every other BD train downtown from the east and the west to make the service worth waiting for. The BD line runs 25.7 trains per hour, and if half from each go down University, this gives us 25.7 trains per hour there as well. However, the Spadina line in its own right (north of St. George) probably needs at least 20 per hour at peak. This means a combined service of about 45 trains per hour from Museum south or one every 80 seconds. Even the most fervent advocates of automated train control don’t claim we can get near that sort of headway, especially if you actually want to stop the trains now and then to let people on an off.

    I won’t go into all of the other operation problems something like this would involve even if it were totally under computer control.


  11. Thanks Steve, I’ve seen the Google view. I was thinking of a schematic showing the stations and tracks in relation to the surface roads and buildings. Saw one somewhere once.

    >Improved GO service is unlikely to be attractive to residents of the inner suburbs due to the inconvenient location of the tracks. Most lines used by GO pass through industrial areas in Toronto, which are away from major trip generators and poorly served by bus routes.

    Begging to differ with you on this point, Andrew. The GO ROW that sweeps down from the NW to Union and then up to Scarborough in the NE passes through densely populated multi-use neighbourhoods and crosses such major routes as King, Queen, Dundas, College,Bloor-Danforth, Eglinton, St.Clair – basically all the major routes as well as the future Portlands.

    But…it shouldn’t be enhanced GO that is the solution but LRT on that ROW. Didn’t we just have a big pro-LRT plan released a few weeks ago? Why are so many comments reverting to GO or subway as the only options? My understanding is that LRT is the middle ground “Goldilocks” option. Put it on the GO ROW and you’d really diversify trip route options and strengthen the entire system. I daresay we’d be good for 50 years and with not too much expense.


  12. Adding additional platforms to an interchange between two lines running perpendicular to each other probably requires both lines to have three platforms rather than two.

    Think of Bloor station on the Yonge line, with a centre platform added. A train arrives and opens its doors on both sides. The intension was that people getting on would board from one side (the side platforms) and people leaving would board from another (the centre platforms).

    So you have a lot of people now standing on the centre platform. Where do they go? Exits are limited, since the amount of common space between the Yonge line centre platform and the Bloor line centre platform amounts to basically a postage stamp. More connections are possible with the mezzanine level upstairs, but getting back down to the Bloor Danforth subway line is a cumbersome process, unless…

    If you add side platforms to Yonge station on the Bloor-Danforth line, then exits become possible, simply by cutting into the walls on the eastbound and westbound platforms. And already, this begins to dictate how the flow of passengers in Yonge station is to follow.

    In both lines, passengers wishing to board trains, in whatever direction, board from one of the side platforms. Passengers departing from trains are dumped onto the centre platform, regardless of the line, and then proceed to stairs taking them to the correct side platform on the alternate line.

    Of course, it would probably be cheaper to try and reduce the pressure on the Yonge line with more GO Transit service and some downtown relief.


  13. Here’s an off-the-wall, pie-in-the-sky idea (and I hope you’ll forgive this engineeringly-challenged daydream), but how about a northbound-only subway tunnel, splitting off from the Yonge line at, roughly, Isabella and, either via hand-tunnelling or whatever method, swings northeast, to aim itself at Bloor and Park Avenue. Build a station here with platforms on either side of the tracks. The tunnel then continues north, under Park and Church streets, to rejoin the Yonge line near the Ellis Portal.

    Then extend the centre platform of Yonge Station on the Bloor line, and the former northbound platform area of the Yonge line immediately above it (adding side platforms along the Bloor line), east to meet the new northbound-only station. Connect the new northbound tracks to the Yonge line, run trains, fill in the original northbound train-bed and, voila, huge centre platform.

    I wonder how much more would cost much more than the $1 billion (in today’s dollars) called for in the original plan to give just Bloor station a centre platform.

    Steve: Your proposal requires going through the foundations of several fairly new buildings and would probably require demolition of some nice old houses near the Park Rd. and Church intersection. A daydream yes. As I said in another reply, we have to stop trying to “fix” Bloor-Yonge Station and concentrate on redistributing demand in the network.

    Don’t forget that a bigger station, even it were possible, does not contribute to line capacity. If we do increase capacity, there are serious issues with pedestrian volumes at other stations.

    Strange how this discussion has brought out the same gung-ho we-can-build-anything thinking so typical of subway advocates. I wasn’t expecting such a torrent, and am close to cutting off the debate because it’s becoming repetitive.


  14. >Steve: Some engineers think nothing is insurmountable, merely a challenge to their ego.

    We’re not talkin’ the English Channel Tunnel here.

    >However, small problems such a building foundations, the need to demolish a chunk of the shopping mall in 2 Bloor East, and the proximity of a major Bell Canada switching centre on Asquith Avenue make life extremely difficult.

    The subway is beneath the mall so it is access that would take space from the mall? Certainly a deal could be struck for the greater good. That’s more of a dealmaking challenge than engineering.

    And it’s a problem that Bell’s switching centre is “nearby”? What, some electrical equipment can’t be shifted?

    Gotta break some eggs to…

    Steve: The problems are raised by the TTC’s own report on the subject.

    The Bell Asquith switching station serves all of north central downtown (the Walnut exchange, or all numbers starting with “92” and “96” for starters). Moving it is not just a question of electronics but miles and miles of wire. The difficulty is that its foundations are so close to the tunnel north of Bloor Station that the widening required there (you cannot instantly move to widely-spaced tracks at the platform itself) cannot be built simply by exposing the tunnel and knocking out the existing wall.

    As for the mall, I will leave it to you to tell the folks at 2 Bloor East that we’re going to tear up their recently refurbished building.

    The greater good is served by looking at ways to reduce demand at the interchange rather than spending huge sums on construction.


  15. For ATC and tighter headways to have an effect, the trains won’t be able to stop at B-Y as long as they currently do. What the TTC should also try to do is encourage more people from the west to use St. George instead of B-Y, or squeeze in a direct service downtown from the west only (in place of the current St. Clair W. short-turns, and only during the busiest 1/2 hour AM/PM peaks).

    Passengers from the east won’t use the wye — they never liked it because it always meant a longer trip.

    If we can get more passengers from the west out of B-Y, that might help without having to spend megabucks on station rebuilds.


  16. The TTC once tried to encourage people to transfer to an alternate southbound route downtown by using Bay St (circa 1990 I think?). I believe there were something like 32 trolley coaches operating on Bay in the peaks, and service was supposed to be faster through the creation of the “Urban Clearway” (I think some dented signs are still on some of the poles). Nowadays, the service on Bay is nowhere near that level, and about half the buses in the AM only go to Edward St. One TTC official once proclaimed something along the lines of “why have good service on Bay when people can hop over to Yonge St. on one foot and take the subway?” Granted, taking the Bay bus all the way down to King is a longer ride compared to taking the subway, but it could still be promoted as an alternate route from the midtown area with some enforcement of the bus lane and improved service.

    Steve: When the service was more frequent than today, a lot of it did turn at Edward Street. Most of the demand was only going to the area between Wellesley and Gerrard. The Bay bus is a shadow of its former self, and the service cutbacks create a self-fulfilling prophecy — when the service isn’t worth waiting for, a walk to the subway is no penalty. Moreover, in the mid-1990s, the era of service cuts, the subway was not exactly packed.


  17. Not to beat a dead horse here, but the GO Richmond Hill line — beefed up, all day, every 10 minutes, with an intermodal stop added at the Danforth to transfer to the B-D line — would shift what I have to believe is a substantial amount of traffic off the Yonge line.

    Has anyone ever put a serious proposal forward to do that? I mean, beyond our musings here, has this really been looked at? It’d be a pretty huge shift.

    Even beyond what would have to be done to the line itself, there’s Langstaff station on the Thornhill-Richmond Hill border which would have to beefed up and, well, unified, and ditto Oriole, as true intermodal stations. Even beyond the vague pedestrian walkways which are eternally on the horizon at both stations.

    Similarly, YRT/VIVA service would need to be retooled. Right now, within that corridor, it’s basically a system for shuttling people to Finch station.

    But I have to think that, with all the will to build new subway lines and so forth, this — which amounts to an express train on the Yonge line — could mobilize tremendous political support of the type that would bring the necessary funding. Where does it start, though?


  18. Steve, with your comments recently about “reducing demand at the interchange” and your support for the Don Mills LRT ending at Pape rather than further west, and without an extension into downtown, one would almost think you were about to start stumping for a new subway line from Pape to the King/Queen area!

    Which is kind of ironic, given a concept like that was originally supposed to be the final nail in the coffin of the streetcar (though if one builds the subways to complement, rather than parallel the streetcars, there would be nothing to replace … i.e. diagonal line with stations Pape, Gerrard Square, Queen/Broadview, King/Parliament, etc.).

    Though personally, I don’t understand how stations such as Yonge, St. George, and Bay can be safely operated with those kind of narrow platform widths. I was watching a documentary on the tube recently, where London Underground staff were having a cow, because someone was insisting on standing on a narrow piece of platform in a construction zone, that was intended only for people to walk through, rather than to be occupied by people waiting around – there concern was that the platform was too narrow to have lots of people standing around with trains coming; and I swear the platform looked the same width as some of those platforms on Bloor Street. I’d have thought that those platforms would have to be wider for safety reasons, or there would have to be inside doors placed along the platform similiar to what is done on some subway lines in other cities.

    Steve: I never agreed with the idea that a “downtown relief line” should be a full blown subway or that it would replace the streetcar system. They have two completely separate purposes. Indeed, one scheme for a “DRT LRT” was to have it run into downtown via Queen Street.

    My objection is not to tunnels, but to “heavy rapid transit” (aka “subways”) being used in corridors that do not require it. The advantage of LRT is that it can run on the surface where there is room.

    But, yes, the irony of the DRT’s original intent is not lost on me.


  19. From the Transit Toronto website’s article, “Subway Art by Serafin”

    This link shows the schematic/design as originally built (hosted by ImageShack).

    Steve: Thank you for pointing out this link which at least shows where the station is, if not the many buildings that grew up around it over the years. I own the Serafin paintings having rescued them from one of the TTC’s housecleaning efforts years ago, and this particular image is my desktop wallpaper.


  20. There was one point mentioned above that I think should be expanded on. If we funnel more people on GO into Union, isn’t it going to become too crowded there?

    I used the service daily at rush hour a few years ago and it took a long time just to get from the train platforms down to the concourse and then there was another long wait from the concourse down to the subway station.

    I know that a renovation project for both the GO concourse and Union subway station is in progress, but is that capable of accommodating the planned growth for GO and what is suggested here?

    Steve: Work now in progress will provide both a second platform for northbound-to-Yonge traffic at Union, rationalize the number of stairs, escalators, etc that occupy space on the existing platform, and open up a new pathway so that people transferring to the subway are not taking the same route as those going to the bank towers.

    Later this week, I expect to see a presentation by GO Transit on their plans for Union Station and will comment once I have up to date info on that subject.


  21. “Steve: Some engineers think nothing is insurmountable, merely a challenge to their ego.”

    “A reply: We’re not talkin’ the English Channel Tunnel here.”

    Actually it would be easier if we were talking about the Channel Tunnel. From what I recall, few if any structures existed in it’s path (most of the tunnel being underwater). The channel itself is mostly hard chalk, not the underground streams, clay and silt Toronto sits upon. Not to mention the utilities like the Asquith switching station. Clearly cut and cover isn’t an option (digging up the floor at 2 Bloor E.) and tunneling around the existing structures would be an engineering dream (or nightmare). Anyone that’s watched the Discovery Channel programs on the Chunnel and Boston’s Big Dig should have an appreciation of the complexity we are looking at here.

    Reducing the demand put on Bloor-Yonge station is clearly easier than engineering improvements into the existing station.


  22. Leo Gonzalez said about Kennedy station and GO Transit:

    “A train arrives every morning at exactly 8am, and you would think that many people would take advantage of this service instead of taking two packed subways (with an almost impossible transfer) to get downtown. But they don’t.” … “I bet the number one reason is to avoid paying another fare.”

    Perhaps there should be some serious consideration for interchangable fares for transfer points such as this. If I have taken a bus to Kennedy station, why would I want to travel to Yonge & Dundas via 16 jerky starts and stops in two crowded subways, when I could hop on a GO train to Union, with only one smooth stop, then do the subway thing for 3 stops up to Dundas? Because it cost an ADDITIONAL $3.70!

    In Dallas, DART is responsible for the bus and LRT system (and the HOV lanes on expressways) and is also co-responsible for Trinity Rail Express along with “the T” (in Fort Worth). TRE is a GO-like heavy rail commuter line (it even uses some former GO locomotives and rolling stock) and is NO EXTRA COST to the transit user.

    Your DART fare allows you to transfer to a TRE train and travel within the DART fare zone and transfer back to another DART route. The same applies within Fort Worth. Only if you want to take TRE across the fare boundary do you pay extra.

    Now, such a full fare integration might create a capacity problem on GO, so what if it were treated as an express service and only cost an extra 50 cents per trip?

    One of the reasons behind the creation of GO in the first place was to reduce the need and the cost of increasing highway capacity. Perhaps we should extend this to subway capacity where appropriate.


  23. Disparishun said

    “Not to beat a dead horse here, but the GO Richmond Hill line — beefed up, all day, every 10 minutes, with an intermodal stop added at the Danforth to transfer to the B-D line — would shift what I have to believe is a substantial amount of traffic off the Yonge line.”

    I would love to see this interchange. There is a large vertical displacement along with a large horizontal displacement. The cost would probably pay for half of the expanded GO line.

    Steve: You obviously have not read about the Trebuchet Transit scheme.


  24. Quick Question:

    Just looking at the art rendering of Bloor/Yonge…

    Did the mezzanine level on the west side (SB plaform) actually ever go all the way to Yonge?

    Or was that just never built?

    Steve: No, that part was never built. If you go to the Transit Toronto site and look at the entire series, you will see that most of the station designs from 1957/58 (the date of the paintings) changed quite a bit by the time they were actually built.


  25. For pity’s sake, MGV, the Big Dig has a 5.6 km tunnel and the Chunnel is 51.5 km long – hardly in the same ballpark as knocking back the north wall of the Yonge platform 10 or 15 feet and connecting stairs and escalators/elevators to the levels above. Of course there are challenges but let’s try and be reasonable. And who said anything about “cut and cover”?

    It’s more to the middle of my wish list but the city is growing and it’s not likely Y&B traffic will ever decrease. Yes, upscaling Union station is also necessary, probably moreso than Y&B. But an LRT on the GO ROW should have stations near Union to the east and west, just as the Bloor line has Sherbourne and Bay stations, to offset stress on Union.

    The main point is – It’s not either/or; both Y&B and Union need upgrading as part of a comprehensive system enlargement plan however you see it.

    ps. nice links people.


  26. Expanding Bloor-Yonge with center and outside platforms on both levels (allowing doors to open on both sides) is the only way flow would be improved while minimizing train dwell times — and that is structurally impossible from what I hear.

    The most practical (and cheapest) solution is to simply offer an AM downtown service from the west only during rush hours. That should free up 25% of the load from Bloor-Yonge and eliminate the need for the St. Clair W. short turns — those trains are mostly empty on their way down to St. George anyway.

    This might also interest some people — in the 60s, there were two other route configurations talked about but never tried:

    – one proposal involved discontinuing the crosstown service during rush hours, and discontinuing the downtown service at other times (to make the wye simpler to operate)

    – the other config involved 2 all-day non-overlapping services: KEELE-EGLINTON and ST. GEORGE-WOODBINE

    The TTC rejected both of these.


  27. I just have a question for anyone here or Steve to answer as I am unclear on one particular issue.

    When Transit City was proposed, specifically with the Don Mills Line, why wasn’t that line proposed to go further south down Pape, and eventually turn west along the CN rail yards to terminate at Union?

    There has to be a northbound line (LRT at the very least) that runs parallel to the subway lines south of the BD line.

    Steve: Several considerations went into Transit City, but a vital one was to concentrate on serving areas of the city that really need improved transit service and connectivity overall. If the design focussed on downtown, it would reinforce the historical pattern of serving the central city rather than shifting to suburban improvements. This would reinforce the idea that transit is for downtown (where we already have a good modal split) and cars are for the suburbs.

    Yes we need to look at how to bring more people into downtown by transit, but the goal of “urbanizing” the suburbs with the Avenues plan (increased density, better pedestrian amenities) requires much better transit services. That’s a higher priority than a Downtown Relief Line.

    I’m not saying that Transit City would never include more lines, but this is a ten-year plan to establish a widespread network that is a basis for future expansion.


  28. Can I be pardoned for perceiving a “no can do” theme here.

    The Bloor Station on the Yonge line is already quite spacious and it would be very disruptive to widen with a centre platform. The Yonge station on the Bloor line, conversely, is very cramped but IMHO supplementing it with outer platforms is do-able, especially on the south side.

    Can we please not lump them both together to dismiss as one?

    This is not to rule out routing possibilities but system simplicity has it’s merits.

    Steve: I’m not lumping them together. Pay attention. There is a physical conflict between the location of a new southern platform and the foundations of the Bay, not to mention at the east end of the station where the new platform would probably conflict with buildings on the south side of Bloor.


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