A Question of Station Capacity (Update 1)

Update 1:  December 28, 5:15 pm:

I have received a note pointing out that a second entrance program is in progress for various stations regardless of the building code requirement for a “trigger” condition (the addition of substantial load to the demand in the station).

The reports in question are from 2004 and 2005.  The 2005 report deals with College, Wellesley, Museum and Castle Frank.  The work at Castle Frank is underway now.  Museum was to get a second exit through the vent shaft at the south end of the station, but this work was put on hold because it was to be funded as part of the condo project on the Planetarium site that was cancalled.

Original post follows with amendments:

“James” sent in a comment in the Richmond Hill subway thread that deserves to start a discussion of its own.


Perhaps this comment belongs back in your thread on Bloor-Yonge renovations….

But since that seems to be the dominant line of discussion here….

Your arguments are persuasive on the need to build a DRL (something I already supported); but further, to build it prior to either a major Yonge line extension, or a massive Bloor-Yonge overhaul.

However, I think everyone can accept that Bloor-Yonge, as it is today, requires more space, and improved passenger flows just to cope with existing traffic; and it will likely need that even if a DRL is built. Though, one hopes a less drastic solution might be feasible.

Which brings me to the Steve question of the day. Given the need for capacity/flow improvements and for the renovation for aesthetic and state-of-good-repair reasons of the Yonge portion of Bloor-Yonge…. What if any improvements could the TTC make to this station that would be of moderate expense, and less disruption, in the immediate future?

This post deals primarily with the south end of the Yonge line, but the topic is a generic one for both existing and future stations:  providing the ability for passengers to move around within the stations.  Stations exist to move people, not just trains.

Bloor-Yonge Station

Roughly speaking, the capacity at Bloor-Yonge can be divided into four main areas:

  • Platform capacity on the Yonge line (Bloor Station)
  • Platform capacity on the Bloor line (Yonge Station)
  • Interchange capacity between the two stations
  • Entrance/exit capacity from the complex

Bloor Station

Any discussion of Bloor Station requires that readers be familiar with the underground layout of the station relative to streets and buildings.  Originally, this station included a transferway to streetcars allowing passengers to move from street level to the subway in a fare paid area.  On the surface, this was in the wider section of Bloor Street in front of what is now the Bay, and at platform level, the connection was south of the point where the centre pillars stop at the north end of the station.

Originally, Bloor Station was like any other, but the southern two-thirds was rebuilt in the 1980s when a development above the station (the one containing the south exit) went up.  The area from Hayden Street to the north limit of Bloor Street was opened, and the station was rebuilt with new outer walls and beams carrying the roof clear across the platforms and tracks.  A short section at the south end, as well as the northern third of the station lie under or within structures that could not be removed.

The north end of the station, including the thick walls separating the platform from the Yonge Station mezzanine, is physically inside of the Bay’s building which was built around the existing subway tunnel.  Widening the station at this point to accommodate a centre platform requires removal of these walls as well as the row of pillars.  The north end of the station structure is roughly a block north of Bloor Street, and the tunnel is threaded between pre-existing building foundations.

Yonge Station

Yonge Station lies diagonally under the Bay building on a line from the west entrance location (beside Starbucks, the old Albert Britnell bookshop on the east side of Yonge) to Park Road and Bloor (the southeast corner of the Bay).  The curve as you enter the station eastbound takes trains from an east-west alignment it follows from Bay Station west to the diagonal alignment at Yonge, and the curve at the east end of Yonge Station takes you back to an east-west alignment under Bloor itself.

Any consideration of expanding platform capacity at Yonge is constrained by the structure of the Bay.  When additional outside platforms were proposed for this station, this would have required taking space from the parking garage, and some structural pillars would have been unavoidably within the platform space.

The Interchange

Connection between the two levels of the station and any new platforms, especially from a new centre platform on the upper level, is very difficult.  From the platform itself, stairs and escalators down are limited in width by the available platform space, with the only mitigation being that this would be an “offloading” platform where there would be no crowds waiting to board trains.  However, it is quite conceivable, especially if headways are shortened to 105 seconds, for two trains to offload onto the same platform at once.

Because the Bloor subway structure is in the way, there can be no connections down other than elevators at the north end of the centre platform.

Everyone who now flows through the north mezzanine to Yonge Station would now be routed through a passageway that needs to go down two levels to get under the Bloor subway and connect with its existing centre and a future north (westbound) platform.  This passageway would be the controlling factor in passenger movement from the Yonge line to the Bloor line, assuming that the centre platform would be only for offloading.  Although much of the existing mezzanine, stairs and escalators would now be available only for Bloor-to-Yonge movements, a much more constrained path with less capacity would be used for Yonge-to-Bloor movements.

Frankly, I don’t think that the TTC has ever looked at how the station would operate under heavy load, and particularly in conditions where one or more escalators was out of service for repairs.

Station Entrances

When the south entrance to Bloor Station was rebuilt to link into the concourse of the Xerox building, and when the new west entrance to Yonge Station was added, TTC staff claimed that these would divert a considerable proportion of existing pedestrian flows away from the main entrance through the Bay.

I use both of those entrances regularly, and they are quiet spots.  The west entrance isn’t even manned.  It suffers from being at the far end of the platform where only those who know it exists and where it goes will make use of it, and its lower escalator is often out of service thanks to the same groundwater that will complicate any construction in the area.  (Structurally, the Bay sits on an underground bridge to avoid this problem.)  While these exits give alternative ways out of the station (a fire code requirement), they do not make a substantial contribution to station capacity.  Indeed, the one potentially useful part of the west entrance, a PATH connection, was deleted from the final design to reduce costs.

St. George Station

St. George suffers from the same platform capacity problems we see at other busy centre platform locations like Yonge and Union because of narrow platforms between stairwells and the platform edge.

Physically, the station lies between Bedford Road and St. George Street, and it is constrained by some existing buildings, notably OISE, that did not exist when the station was built.

Unlike Bloor-Yonge, it has the relative advantage that the two platforms are oriented in the same direction, but this does bring its own problems for navigation.  If new “outside” platforms are dedicated to one function, it is self-evident that this cannot be the same on both levels as transfer traffic wants to move from an “unloading” platform to a “loading” one.  Moreover, someone getting off a southbound University train might want to go to either an eastbound or westbound platform on the Bloor line, but the westbound platform would only be accessible from the existing centre University level platform, not from a new southbound platform outside of the existing station.

Assuming that new platforms are structurally possible, the dedication of each platform to a specific function may be counterproductive.

Other Yonge Stations from Wellesley to King [Revised]

If the capacity of the Yonge line is substantially increased, then there will be additional load on these stations.  Wellesley and College share a common problem with a single exit to street level containing a narrow stairway and escalator.  If the escalator is out of service, the only link is the single stairway.

A second exit is planned for the north end of Wellesley at Dundonald Street (first street to the north).

College Station lies roughly between Wood Street (one north of Carlton) and the south end of the Eaton’s College Street building.  The new condo to be built on the northeast corner at Gerrard is too far south to act as a second entrance.  A second entrance is to be built on the east side of Yonge in the parkette opposite the south end of Eaton’s College Street.

It is intended that both of these exits will be fully functional, not simply exit-only structures.

Dundas Station also has only a single exit on each platform.  The southbound side connects with malls on both the north and south side of Dundas west of Yonge and includes one narrow stairway to the north sidewalk.  The northbound side has exits to Dundas Square and through the AMC building.  A second exit should be provided further north, but I believe that Gould Street (the corner that will anchor the new Ryerson University entrance) may be too far north to connect with the station.

Queen Station has two entrances.  At the main entrance, connections from the southbound platform into the nearby stores have been in place since the station opened.  On the northbound side, street entrances have been replaced by connections into new developments.  The “Albert Street” entrance is a bit of a misnomer these days as Albert Street no longer comes out to Yonge.  Originally, this entrance only included the stairs to the east side of Yonge south of Shuter, but now it includes a connection (under what was once Albert Street) to the Eaton Centre.

King Station originally had only one set of exits from the northbound platform, and the Melinda Street exit (the single escalator) was the only secondary exist southbound.  The new south exit was built to connect with Commerce Court.  The north exits are tight, like those at College, and can be badly backed up when an escalator is out of service.

There are two threads you have probably noticed through all of this.  One is the need for second exits, a fire code requirement that would have required a much different design had it been in place in the 1950s when these stations were built.  If the TTC engages in work that expands the demand on a station (an example is Spadina for the streetcar loop), then it must bring the station up to current fire code.  Less clear is whether addition of route capacity through shortened headways triggers the same requirement.  This could be a hidden co-requisite of increasing the Yonge line’s capacity.

The second thread is a basic question of capacity and safety.  The TTC never seems to look at how its stations will work when escalators are closed for repairs even though this can have a large effect on pedestrian movements and capacity.  For an organization that claims to have a “safety first” motto, this is a glaring omission. 

Moreover, as the system evolves to become accessible to a wider community, all the low-floor vehicles in the world are worth bugger-all if subway and LRT stations are inaccessible.  This is not just a question of providing escalators and elevators, but of actually making them work reliably.  That’s another thread, however.  The point here is that stations must not be designed with single points of failure where their capacity, safety and accessibility can be compromised because an escalator is waiting for a spare part.

I will close off this item here with the hope that this will start a thread on station design and capacity both as they relate to the existing system and its problems, as well as to future additions.

25 thoughts on “A Question of Station Capacity (Update 1)

  1. What an excellent post and I think James should present his info to the TTC very soon.

    Steve: Just for clarity, only the indented part of the post at the top is from James. The rest is mine.

    Given the number of TTC folks who read this blog, I think they will get the message fairly soon!


  2. I had been in discussion with someone a year or two ago about St.George. The argument I ended up presenting was that, considering platform expansion might not be possible, that it would be far more effective to reconfigure the tunnels – hang on, let me finish. Yes, it is very complicated and even requires a temporary reinstatement of service of Bay Lower (which, at the time such was done, would not go to Museum, but to St.George) for construction staging purposes. The key advantage to this is that all the construction would be happening between stations (Bay-St.George-Museum and St.George-Spadina) instead of at stations themselves, and would increase both capacity and network flexibility by making St.George a “Llionell-Groulx of Toronto” to minimize transfer traffic between levels, and making the wye omni-directional (for example, trains coming from Bay would be able to proceed to Dupont in the new setup, which today is impossible. Not necessarily suggesting such a service should be run, but is a convenient side-effect of the reconfiguration to expand capacity). While passengers using Bay Lower would notice, there would otherwise be no construction at station platforms/mezzanines and no service disruptions noticeable to passengers except maybe some speed restrictions around St.George.

    Steve: Karl — I am trying to get my head around what you are describing, but cannot figure out what would connect to what. It sounds like open heart surgery with the plumbing rearranged.

    Can you provide more details? What would connect to what?


  3. Notwithstanding the impact of ATO on Yonge-U-S line operations, there’ll also be a large number of new passengers on the Yonge line once the new Transit City LRTs open. Yes transit’ll be more accessible, meaning more ridership, but as Steve shows the Yonge line between Bloor and King is woefully poorly designed to serve heavy loads, not to mention increased capacity.

    Adding additional GO Train service at Union, possible TTC-GO fare integration, and other factors such as very high gas prices also really need to be analyzed for their impact on this part of the Yonge line.

    TTC and Metrolinx really need to do the cost-benefit analysis of all possible solutions to these factors, as well as the cost and impact of not implementing solutions, which never seems to be explained to the politicians making the financial decisions.


  4. @ Steve:

    I will close off this item here with the hope that this will start a thread on station design and capacity both as they relate to the existing system and its problems, as well as to future additions.


    Steve’s arguement really calls for the TTC to initiate a systematic review of passenger movement capacity at busy stations, like the Yonge line between Bloor & King, as well as Dundas West, and Dufferin.

    How well is the current passenger transfer flow working at Sheppard station betwee the Yonge and Sheppard Lines? The few times I’ve transfered there, it seemed like an awkward design that could easily be overwhelmed by additional passenger volumes. The Yonge line platform is extremely narrow beside the elevator to the Sheppard line is, and there are only 2 sets of stairs/escalators from the middle of the Yonge line platform. Essentially this seems like a reuse of the Bloor/Yonge line transfer design, a cheap, not very well thought out solution.

    For Dundas West, can the Crossways Centre issue be reopened, to provide a 2nd exit, close to the Milton GO Train line station. The city should have the powers to expropriate access to the east end of Dundas West station, in the greater good of better transit access and intermodal transfers.

    As well, such a new entrance/exit would distribute some walk-in passengers away from the congested Dundas West current sole entrance, which should improve streetcar times to access & exit the loop.

    In addition, a traffic light could be installed just north of the loop on Dundas to stop traffic and let the streetcars enter/exit the loop, as well as provide a crosswalk across Dundas for the many people who currently dangerously jaywalk to the Crossways Centre.

    Dufferin station is another with large passenger loads, inadequate bus loading/unloading areas. I understand Dufferin station’s undergoing a modernization effort, so will not comment further.

    Steve: The plans for Dufferin Station are online (warning: 19MB pdf).

    The station layout will be reorganized and will gain a secondary exit one block west of Dufferin to comply with fire code. The bus interchange will be improved with better shelter for passengers, and the station will be made accessible.


  5. As part of the Union Station Second Platform project is the TTC planning to somehow reconfigure the existing platform at Union Station? I find that is a very badly designed platform – the platform is too narrow, the stairwells are too narrow, it is just not suited to the huge crowds that are always there. That said, I am not sure if it is even possible to do anything to it to make it more comfortable for passengers.

    Steve: Yes. Once the northbound to Yonge traffic is shifted over onto the new platform (south of the existing Yonge track), the existing connections between the mezzanine and the platform will be gradually replaced and shifted south so that there is more room between them and the University track’s platform edge.

    The TTC’s project site for Union Station refers to drawings, but does not actually link to them. You can see an illustration on the city’s website.


  6. Steve … Karl is talking about twisting the platform arrangement so that eastbound and southbound are on the upper level while northbound and westbound are on the lower level. IMPOSSIBLE !!!

    There was a study around 1984 to add outer platforms to St. George on both levels. St. George is also constrained like B-Y by building foundations and the plan was quickly shelved (primarily because a mezzanine could not be added between levels — no room!). The study sits at the Metro Hall Urban Affairs library.

    I’ve heard Karl’s crazy argument before — it was impossible to build in the 1960s, and even more impossible to build NOW.

    Anyone who understands that design knows why double-deck platforms were used and why the Y at University Av. wasn’t built like the Y that leads to Greenwood yards.

    Everyone keeps pointing to Montreal as an example. Montreal’s system was not designed for integrated service. Ours was designed to support both equally well, and the existing configuration was built correctly, both in terms of station capacity and track design.


  7. M. Briganti said:


    I for one hate this word when we talk about “what can be done” with regards to Transit.

    Can you move the tracks as Karl suggested?

    And the cost?
    Lets just say that a subway crush loaded with $100 bills would likely not cover it.

    Anything is possible, especially with today’s technology. The question then comes down to cost. Is it worth the cost to change St.George? No. Yonge and Bloor? No. Spadina even? No. But none of it is impossible.

    Steve: Sorry, but some things really are impossible. The whole point about the discussion of the DRL and station capacity turns on the issue that with enough money, we could achieve anything we want at Bloor-Yonge. Whether this is the best use of the money, whether we get the best transit system as a result, these are other questions.

    What I hate about the 1988 Bloor-Yonge report is that it bulls ahead talking about how the work would be done purely as an exercise in construction and engineering while ignoring the impact on passengers and operations.


  8. Mimmo is correct about the eastbound-southbound/westbound-northbound configuration being what I’m suggesting, but I don’t think it is impossible, only new platforms are impossible.

    I found the old discussion I was thinking about and so I can go into some detail. I realized when I re-read it though, that reinstating Bay Lower for service actually would not be necessary. Sorry for earlier confusion.

    Align westbound (north track) and northbound (south track) on the upper level of St.George, and align eastbound (north track) and southbound (south track) on the lower level of St.George.

    Four Main Components:
    1. Bay Upper North Track to St.George Upper North Track.
    From the west side of Bay Upper, a new switch on the north track would take trains under Cumberland and slope up to join the north track into St.George Upper west of Avenue Road. Crossing the building on the west side of Avenue Road at Cumberland is complicated, but past that is just parking lots.

    Fortunately, the geometry of the crossover east of St.George Upper is not straight, and allows the new track to connect to the existing track into St.George Upper after the crossover has begun. This is importand as it can readily allow northbound trains from Museum to use the south track of St.George Upper without interfering with westbound trains from Bay Upper on the new track. The St.George Upper north track already connects to both lines and the existing track between Bay Upper and St.George Lower is to remain.

    Steve: You may remember that the subway diversion earlier this year was required to permit tunnel repairs under the Park Plaza Hotel which is immediately above the north side of the subway. When the Bay to St. George segment (the north leg of the wye) tracks were built, the hotel’s addition did not exist. What you want to do is, at least, extremely difficult.

    2. St.George Lower South Track to Museum West Track
    Immediately east of the track to Museum from the St.George Upper south track, a new switch from St.George Lower’s south track would connect to the “middle track” into Museum’s west track (this is the same track that connects Bay Lower’s north track to Museum’s west track).

    Because this new tunnel is “sandwiched” between two existing tunnels above it, there shouldn’t be any property impacts.

    Steve: You may run into curve radius problems here. Again, very difficult construction because you would be building under existing buildings including the Intercontinental Hotel that didn’t exist when the wye was built.

    3. YUS Spadina Southbound Track to St.George Lower South Track
    This involves “reversing the slope” on the connection between BD Spadina’s eastbound track and St.George Upper’s south track. The curve to YUS Spadina complicates the configuration due to requirement the slope start on part of the curve. For a weekend, trains may need to terminate at St.George for University service and Spadina for Spadina Line service to allow some 50 hours of special work during which the curve would be unusable. The crossovers for such an operation are existing. This may have to be the final phase of construction depending on how much change is required and the associated temporary structure that would allow service to resume during the week.

    A new switch west of St.George Upper would allow the northbound trains to get to YUS Spadina’s northbound track before the southbound train’s slope interferes.

    4. BD Spadina Eastbound Track to Bay Upper South Track via St.George Lower North Track
    Appropriate structural modifications to tunnel walls to allow new openings need to be made. Add new switches at the east end of BD Spadina the west end of St.George Lower. The existing westbound track would become a siding that could store disabled trains. The area above this stretch is mostly parking lots, so property impacts should be manageable.

    A single crossover is also needed from the north track to the south track in an easbound direction between the new switches to Museum from St.George Lower (south track) and to St.George Upper from Bay Upper (north track), at a point where the tracks are closest together.


    I’d say that that, if such could be accomplished (which is unclear without drawings), would do a lot more for St.George than additional platforms ever could.

    Steve: The absence of comments to points 3 and 4 is not because I don’t have any, but because I just throw up my hands in disbelief.

    As I have said before, we can undertake expensive, complex construction projects to provide additional capacity at a few locations, or we can use the same money to avoid the congestion in the first place by providing alternative ways for people to travel.


  9. I know interlining was considered to be ineffective when it was first attempted but has it ever been considered recently as a way to divert people past yonge and bloor and into downtown? I mean University along with the rest of the downtown core is much more developed then it was back then and is no longer considered a University Ave V.S. Yonge Street thing. This should be attempted for another six months in order to see its effectiveness in this day and age. It might help relieve some of the pressure on Bloor-Yonge given that people travel and do business in the downtown core now, not just along yonge street.

    Steve: There are a few problems with this. First, the old integrated service did not have to deal with the Spadina Subway. Demand in that corridor requires much of the track time south of the wye, and this does not leave a lot of room for trains merging in from BD. This means that the trains to downtown won’t run very frequently (likely one in three at best) and people won’t wait for them. There would also be inbalances in service levels on the two branches of the BD subway that would probably not be viable simply from the point of serving demand. These problems are completely separate from any capabilities of ATC or of the TTC’s ability to manage this type of operation.


  10. A few thoughts.

    When I indirectly started this thread (by way of a comment/question to Steve)….

    One thing I was interested in was what CAN be done at Bloor-Yonge at a moderate cost, and whether it would be worthwhile.

    I’m not sure how many of you saw the preliminary concept plan for the station modernization at Bloor-Yonge. It was issued awhile back in some report or another….. This was before the issue of mega-sizing the station was back on the table.

    The proposal I saw showed One mezzanine, I think the west one, extended further to accommodate one additional set of stairs/escalator between the Bloor Line platform and the mezzanine.

    It also showed a second elevator (definitely the west side) connecting the 2 levels.

    Otherwise, as far as I could tell, it was just a redecoration project.

    I thought at the time the proposal was inadequate to address capacity at the station, and have been therefore intrigued by the follow up suggestions of a much larger expansion and reno….(even if it may turn out to be impractical).

    Any thoughts?


    On the subject of second exits. I was aware of the report from awhile back that proposed conceptual locations for Castlefrank, Musuem, Wellesley and College, (there has also been one dealing with Pape and Chester). How the Pape was has been screwed up in the reno plan….could be the subject of an extended tirade; but I will spare you all by simply saying, its poorly located, and exit-only, in the last proposal I saw)

    Can anyone shed light on why the TTC started its second exit program at Castlefrank? A station with no serious capacity issues, and which was not undergoing any complementary renovation work such as elevators?

    Surely Wellesley, which is much busier, much more cramped. and for which a good second exit location was proposed (on Dundonald), should have gone first!

    The College one I forgive them for delaying, because the proposed second exit location, was to put it charitably, daft! (in the park located 1/2 block east of Yonge, completely cut off from everything!

    Steve: This is a good example of how the TTC can screw up a perfectly good idea. If all you want is an emergency exit, it can be anywhere. However, if you want capacity that people will use, it must be located somewhere that encourages passenger flow. According to the report they were more worried about location of conflicting utilities than with the utility of the exit.


    I am completely baffled about what to do with St. George.


    The lower Yonge line stations, beyond second exits, could really use more room room in the connections to their primary mezzanines.

    My initial thought had been to double the depth (width) the of the connections, adding stairwells to the escalators and vice versa)

    However, Steve’s thoughtful treatise on Bloor-Yonge put me on to the idea there might be a few foundations in the way.

    But, surely it should be possible to just a third connection, of comparable width to each of the existing mezzanines as this would fall with the same ROW alignment for the stations/tunnels and there shouldn’t, I would hope, be anything in the way. (this applies to Wellesley, College and King). Though, obviously, this entails enlarging the mezzanines to meet the new connection.

    Dundas, I am told by folks at Ryerson will get a second exit, near Gould, if at all possible. The biggest issue they have is each platform needs its own connection, as there is no room for mezzanine, due to the shallow depth of the station.

    Queen is another tough one. As it needs more capacity going under the tracks….between the 2 platforms, I’m not at all sure what’s possible in that regard.

    Phew! I’m done for the moment. Now back to reading!


  11. My home station, Christie, has only one exit, and I haven’t heard of any plans to add a second entrace/exit to it– and there was a huge fire there in ’76 that burned in the centre part of the station, blocking the only exit.

    I’d like to see how they add a 2nd exit to Old Mill.

    Steve: Swan boats may be required!


  12. Hello Steve,
    The only way to add capacity to Yonge would be to construct a new deep station under Yonge street itself where the subway would have to veer off the open cut right of way east of Yonge, somewhere between Summerhill and Rosedale. Unfortunately, we would have to eliminate it (Rosedale) entirely for my idea to work. This would cost some green and upset some affluent individuals living there too. The costs compared to trying to engineer three new platforms into the existing structures would be just as costly and disruptive to all of us. By veering off and diping under Yonge, we can then go under the Bloor line and then we can construct a new station with a single super wide platform, it would have to be deeper than any stations on our present system, bored by TBM’S. This should prevent any disruptions on top of Yonge street itself. We can continue under Yonge to a new wellesely station, college station, then we can connect to the regular tracks. This might disrupt Yonge street south of Bloor but that part of Yonge can be revitalized since it is decaying ever so slowly… by building new stations with better exits, wider platforms, we can solve the capacity problems and improve our Yonge line and that part of the street itself, for the 21st century. Has anyone ever considered this option Steve? Is there Room under Yonge to do this? This would probably cost a billion dollars, including the new stations south of Bloor. The street would change dramatically but for the better, it is filled with Cash stores, dollar stores, shady bars, questionable coffee shops, etc…

    Steve: There is a variation on this discussed in the 1988 report with a new line veering west from Rosedale Station. The problem we now face is that any new line must get under recently-built residences on Yonge Street (I am not sure how deep they go). Also, it’s not just a question of tunneling down Yonge, but of building connections up into the existing Yonge Station in a location where there is a lot of groundwater and construction will be very difficult.

    From an operational point of view, this repeats the problem of all plans that focus on Bloor-Yonge: we spend a lot of money and for our troubles have only succeeded in concentrating more traffic in on critical location rather than adding a net new path (the DRL) to the network as a whole.


  13. On second/emergency exits:

    Many stations have obvious locations. Christie for example. The station extends under Christie street but the current exit is only on the east side of the street. It’s so plainly obvious that a second exit could go on the west side.

    Where it might get tricky is on the SRT where stations are much shorter.

    Old Mill is actually not that hard, the second exit would have to be below the platform in the park. Not useful for passenger flow however.

    What I’d like to see is what they do for stations where the concourse already extends to nearly the entire platform length. North York Centre, for example, has a single concourse level.

    Steve: Designs like North York Centre may not actually meet fire code unless there are doors in the passageways linking the two exits, and these doors can be guaranteed to be shut during a fire — propped open for the convenience of riders isn’t an option unless there is an electric latch that can be triggered remotely to close the door.

    The code requires that there be two independent pathways from the platform to the surface so that a fire in one route cannot block use of the other by smoke in the common elements. This is a particular issue for the University Avenue stations where a common mezzanine is shared by multiple exits from platform level.


  14. If you take into account all the money that would need to be spent in order to retrofit what is essentially the majority of the original Yonge Line, as well as the central parts of the Bloor-Danforth Line, would it not be CHEAPER and EASIER to build a Relief Line??

    Steve: That is exactly the point I am making, but I want to be sure that all of the costs of not building the DRL are clearly understood. Otherwise we get a situation where we are forever playing catch-up, and we have unbudgetted projects interfering with capital planning.


  15. I do not believe that there is an “inexpensive” way to alleviate the crowding problems at Bloor Yonge. Adding a second exit at most stations is one thing but to remove load bearing walls and move track while maintaining service is impossible. The obvious solution is to divert the passenger around that area, thus the necessity for the Downtown Relief Line. In order for this to work it has to go quite far north, preferably in the Don Mills Leslie corridor, to intercept traffic from reaching Yonge. The Yonge Line must NOT be extended north of Steeles but for the same monies or less a rapid, frequent GO service must be built. One could also argue for the same service on the Brantford line instead of the Spadina Subway extension to Vaughan but that is almost a done deal.

    Stations that need help:

    Dundas West needs a connection to Georgetown GO line, you could also connect to Milton line but it already has one at Kipling. This would provide the second exit and a much better connection between GO and the Subway.

    Summerhill looks like a ripe spot to put a TTC GO interchange in but look where you are adding riders: one stop north of the already over crowded Bloor Yonge. You do not want this station unless you have seriously reduce the loads on Yonge St. by building other lines. The North Toronto Sub looks wonderful until you analyze what it does the loading on Yonge University.

    Union Station desperately needs its rebuilding but with all the increase in GO service will it still have the capacity to handle the increase, especially if we dump 3 or 4 LRT lines into it as well. They might want to look at putting in a downtown LRT subway loop to help distribute these passengers. I don’t know what the origin destination demand studies look like but I bet the TTC doesn’t either and it should be looked into before the block themselves in. Because of this the DRL should probably NOT go into Union unless there is another way of getting passengers north besides the subway. Remember that Union Station was built as an intercity passenger station for a city of 250 000 people, not the main downtown transit – commuter hub for a conurbation of 5 million.

    St. George is almost the perfect design for an interchange station. It needs wider platforms and it would have helped if eastbound Bloor and southbound University were on the one level with northbound University and westbound Bloor on another. This would have allowed across platform connections for the major traffic flow. I believe that this is what Karl wanted. Unfortunately the cost and disruption required to do this probably means that it can’t happen.

    Perhaps we can learn from these past mistakes and make sure that future interchange stations do not suffer from the same problems.


  16. David/Steve said …

    “would it not be CHEAPER and EASIER to build a Relief Line??

    Steve: That is exactly the point I am making”

    Yes, but aren’t you both forgetting that any DRL would have to include expensive and difficult-to-build interchange stations at Pape, Queen & Osgoode, or Pape & Union? The cost of those two or three interchanges alone will exceed the retrofitting costs at Bloor-Yonge by a long shot.

    Steve: But in the process we would get a new line into downtown. At Pape, if we build the Don Mills LRT it will already require this sort of connection, and so the cost is a wash if you assume that line would actually be built. If we never build anything in the Don Mills corridor, then, yes, this is a net new cost, but I am trying to coax out enough info so that we can price out various alternative strategies and see how much each one costs.

    To Robert’s comment wrt St. George … don’t you and Karl understand the concept of a grade separated junction? Both lines have to be on separate levels before they diverge! You want to take the lower Bloor eastbound track, which is just below the upper southbound track and bring it up to the where the northbound platform is on the upper level? How do you propose the TTC accomplishes this NOW without crossing another track? Do you have any idea what exists above those tunnels? — they’re not exactly in a farmer’s field … or maybe the tracks slip into another dimension?

    Sorry for the sarcasm here but some of these ideas are truly absurd.


  17. It hadn’t occurred to me before that a happy by-product of a DRL would be reno’d existing stations… but upon reflection this grabs me more and more. At a western terminus we would see an expanded and rebuilt Dundas West, with a connection the the DRL, a new eastern exit AND a new connection to the GO Train: everyone’s happy. (And put a Starbucks in where that shady McDonalds is now…) At the east end, the Pape retrofit could (hopefully) be halted and rethought to that it makes sense, and accomodates the DRL and perhaps a TC LRT. If the DRL dipped down towards Union… well, I seem to recall that current structural things impede the construction of 2 outside platforms at Union, which means we’ll have one weird station on our hands. (A train going one way opens doors on one side, and a train going the other opens all its doors?) I’d love to see them find a way to get all the doors open. But I think a better alignment would be down Queen or King, and thus take a little pressure off of Union altogether.

    Would Old Mill, with its minor usage, really require a 2nd exit for fire code purposes? As was suggested by someone else, if it’s only an emergency exit, it could be a stairwell that dumps people in the park below, much like the exits between St Clair West and Eglinton West on the Spadina Line.

    As for Christie, weren’t the original plans for a second exit at the western end of Christie Pits?

    Steve: One of the Serafin paintings I have shows “Willowvale Station” (the original name for Christie) with an entrance on both the east and west side of Christie, but nothing further west. (The full set of paintings is on Transit Toronto’s site.)

    As for Union, there is already a new south platform under construction, and if memory serves things are rather tight to the north. Once upon a time, the TTC had a scheme for four-tracking Union and operating both the Yonge and University lines stub-ended at that point. This would have destroyed any incentive for around-the-horn travel, but it did produce diagrams of what could be done. The platforms had major problems with tight clearances beside stair and escalator wells because fitting them all in was challenging.


  18. Steve, we need the DRL sooner rather than later, if we run it up to Don Mills / Eglinton from say Yonge / Queen (phase 1), this would eliminate the expensive work needed on Yonge / Bloor and in the meantime, run 8 trains on 15 minute head ways during rush hour from the west into Union to satisfy the westerners until phase 2 is completed.

    We need this line and it should go under Queen. The only way to run under Queen from Carlaw would be to construct it like Bloor Danforth, take a pair of houses on each side street, along a ROW and expropriate without disrupting Queen itself and then a bridge over the DVP, not a tunnel following the Shuter street ROW or the first street north of Queen from Broadview, then we can go under Richmond the rest of the way.

    I am glad you support this line more so now than before.

    Steve: The first through street parallel to Queen east of the Don River is Dundas. I am always mildly annoyed when I receive a comment that suggests the person making it has not actually visited the affected area. I live at Broadview & Danforth and know this territory (Queen East) quite well.

    As I have pointed out elsewhere, the only reason the line has a hairpin turn south to west in recent incarnations is that it had to come down to Eastern to reach a potential yard location. Earlier versions followed the railway corridor. This has its own problems, but it provides a more direct route.

    There are alternative ways to get into downtown depending on the street chosen. If south of Queen (say Richmond or Adelaide), the Don River crossing gets interesting because both of them become part of the Eastern Avenue interchange with the DVP east of Parliament. A flyover along the same route would also pass through the West Don Lands housing development where no provision has been made for such a line.

    Running parallel to Queen like the BD subway would take you through some difficult territory including new or recently renovated buildings.

    My guess is that a route further south would be required. The tricky part there is how to connect it with the existing system because there is no space (let along capacity) to add more pedestrian activity at Union.


  19. With regards to Bloor-Yonge subway station:

    Steve Says:
    “Connection between the two levels of the station and any new platforms, especially from a new centre platform on the upper level, is very difficult. From the platform itself, stairs and escalators down are limited in width by the available platform space, with the only mitigation being that this would be an “offloading” platform where there would be no crowds waiting to board trains. However, it is quite conceivable, especially if headways are shortened to 105 seconds, for two trains to offload onto the same platform at once.”

    “Originally, Bloor Station was like any other, but the southern two-thirds was rebuilt in the 1980s when a development above the station (the one containing the south exit) went up.”

    As I recall, in the 80’s when the southern two-thirds of Bloor-Yonge platform on the Yonge line was rebuilt,… they built a temporary platform in the tunnel just north of the existing platform. I’m wondering if they can extend the current platform north into the tunnel again so that the entire platform can fit two subway trains? One for off-loading,.. then proceed to next half of the double length platform for on-boarding. Would this require the train to actually be on this double length subway platform for an entire headway? Since Bloor-Yonge station on the Yonge Line is the biggest bottleneck of the system would this double length platform actually allow them to shorten the headway further?

    Steve: No, there was no second platform in the tunnel north of the station for the simple reason that there is no place to put it. Building foundations are about 4 feet behind the subway walls according to the 1988 report on station expansion.


  20. @Mimmo: I explained in detail how it might be done. I don’t think you understand that the Uni wye could have worked much better if it were designed to work in a manner that would function both in integrated and non-integrated service models if a design like I described above had been employed instead of what we actually got.

    If starting from scratch, the best design probably would have had Museum, St. George, and Bay all have 3 tracks each (two incoming tracks and one outgoing track apiece), but that boat has long sailed.

    There have been many comments previously on this blog about the problems from the get-go revolving around the wye, and that maybe it was sabotaged from the get-go as a result. The design selected does lend itself quite well to the sabotage theory because the design is indeed quite flawed due to separation by line instead of by direction as I described above. Failing to comprehend how the current form of St.George handicaps the system regardless of whether or not service is integrated is your problem… not ours.

    I wrote out the details about how a tunnel re-configuration might be done for illustrative purposes, not because I support such a project (I’m a DRL supporter)… that and I dig (pardon the pun) this kind of engineering. The main point of the argument there though, was that reconfiguring tunnels, which would not affect passengers using a station, is a safer (for passengers using target station(s)) and better option than renovating the station itself, especially considering the space for additional platforms is not avialable.

    Most of the work I described stays within the existing tunnels except for the Cumberland track, and the where surface disruption might be necessary Mimmo, I know what’s above those areas, I checked, it’s mostly parking. If you don’t understand how a train crosses from one track to the other without conflicts, re-read it, that detail was included.

    Steve: I am leaving this comment intact with the gentle reminder that we need to discuss issues, not personalities. I think the issue of playing cat’s cradle with the wye has been done to death, and I will not publish any more comments in that vein.


  21. Is there any reason to consider looping the DRL unidirectionally through the southern end of the existing YUS to eliminate the need for a transfer?

    The line could potentially approach downtown via Shuter St, passing under Eaton’s Centre, Nathan Phillips Square, and immediately north of Osgoode Hall before turning south. Alternatively, perhaps the approach could be via Gerrard.

    Steve: There are many problems with your scheme. First off, Gerrard doesn’t connect with the Yonge or University lines, and it ends (facing right at the door of Mt. Sinai Hospital) at University Avenue. Shuter ends at Yonge Street, and the old street further west is Albert, a bit to the south. In any event, that path ends at the west side of Nathan Phillips Square. Going under everything that is along the way would be quite a challenge and the line would have to be very deep.

    As for a loop, there is no track time free on the YUS to accommodate more trains, and through service would require curves between your new E-W line and the existing subway structure in areas that have buildings on top of them now.


  22. I don’t understand why there is a requirement for a secondary exit in the event of fire.

    If the train is on fire you exit through to track level.

    Why if the station is on fire is this solution not suitable (not that it is anywhere close to ideal)?

    Steve: There is also a distance requirement in a fire that someone can get away from the fire scene in less than “x” metres (or “y” minutes). Going through the tunnel involves many hazards including poor lighting, tripping, smoke (from the fire), electrocution, and the presence of another train blocking the path, just for starters. I won’t even start to talk about problems involving people who have mobility issues.

    When Union Station Loop was built, the TTC tried to get away with claiming that Queen’s Quay Station was the “secondary exit”. When someone actually walked the tunnel, the time to get out to the street was roughly three times the maximum in the standard. There is an emergency exit in the middle of the loop (opening into a small glassed-in building beside the southbound bus stop on Bay).


  23. Would there be any way to run an LRT down Bay Street from the Bay station to add more access to downtown from the BD line, possibly at the level of (but crossways-to) the current subway station, and moving the platform for BD down to the ghost platform? There would be nowhere at either end to turn, but two-ender trains are not an unknown phenomenon. Even if it only went as far as Queen, it might take some stress of Yonge.

    Steve: Relocating the Bloor trains to the lower platform at Bay would require that the tunnels between St. George and Bay be rebuilt to connect through at the lower level. This would require working under existing buildings, not to mention closing the BD subway while the work was in progress.

    Also, given the way that gradients work on the curves south into Museum, this could also require closing the existing north-to-east and south-to-west curves linking the Bloor and University subways. This is the main access to Greenwood Shops from the Yonge line.

    Any LRT line on Bay has to compete with the psychology that unless the subway is expected to be totally plugged up, people will assume there is room for them at St. George or Bloor/Yonge to make the connection there. This could limit the period when the LRT line draws significant loads away from the Yonge line.

    The primary beneficiaries of this scheme would be riders from the Danforth side of the line as anyone from the west would be more likely to change eastbound at St. George.


  24. Well, you’ve quashed an old fantasy, but with eminently sound reasoning — as always. Thanks for taking the time.


  25. Great Blog! Why is work on Castle Frank still ongoing? Seems likes its been over 3 yrs since work started on the second door.


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