Yonge Subway Extension Additional Information Report (Updated)

[My apologies for the temporary absence of this item.  I have been updating it.]

A supplementary report on ridership projections and other impacts on the Yonge Subway is now available on the TTC’s report website.

While I do not agree with all of the report’s conclusions, this is a refreshing attempt to look at the growth and development of the transit system on a wholistic, networked basis, rather than as a single line.

The TTC persisted in using subway train capacities that do not match their own service design criteria, ignoring current over capacity problems and downplaying future growth.  This has changed between the December and January staff reports, and with that change come important new concerns about current and future available capacity. 

At this point we have no idea of the feasibility of the proposed Bloor-Yonge platform reconstruction project.  The TTC alternately treats this as something for the indefinite future or as a co-requisite of the extension’s construction, depending on which report one reads.  Cost, constructability and operational impact during the conversion are all unknowns.

I remain seriously concerned that the TTC is playing a dangerous game with capacity of the subway system and views the downtown relief line as a far-distant, last resort fix.  This will push more and more passengers into a single route and make the system even more vulnerable to delays and disruptions than it is today.

Today’s TTC meeting produced the expected result, the endorsement by the Commission of the project, but it is still subject to a long list of caveats.  The definitive list is in the recommendations of the Toronto Executive Committee from January 5, 2009 (item EX28.1).

However, after presentations by me, Karl Junkin and David Fisher, there was considerable debate.  Vice-Chair Mihevc wound up as the sole dissenting vote in the approval motion, but it was clear that the complexity of the issues related to the future of the Yonge Subway is now grasped by the Commission. 

Well, almost all of them.  Commissioner Perruzza seems to think that York Region should be free to build whatever it wants, connect it to Toronto’s system, and let us worry about how to deal with the aftereffects.  Unfortunately, nobody has stepped forward, certainly not from York, offering to actually pay for it.

How Many People Will Fit On a Train?

Today’s supplementary report (at page 5) quotes the previous Rapid Transit Expansion Study (2001) citing a capacity per train of 1,200 in even older documents.  The RTES goes on to acknowledge that the TTC had adopted a lower standard of 1,100 in recognition of the limitations of passenger handling when the space per person reaches the theoretical maximum.  In fact, as I noted above, the TTC’s current loading standard is 1,000 per train.  This has s significant impact on discussions of line capacity and demand.

Current service runs at 25.5 trains/hour, for a loading standard of 25,500 passengers.  Depending on which report one reads, the actual current demand at Wellesley southbound in the AM peak is roughly 28-30,000 per hour and service is already overcrowded.  Any regular rider knows this.

The new Toronto Rocket trains will increase the capacity by about 10 percent to 1,100 per train.  However, with a projected future demand of up to 42,000, this still requires 38 trains/hour or a headway of 95 seconds.  This is below the 105-second lower limit that even the TTC thinks is feasible.

Additional capacity could be provided by a seventh car, but this would have pervasive effects at carhouses, on signal systems and on platform doors should the TTC opt to install them before the seventh car is added to an existing fleet.  The extra car would be shorter and this would change the standard spacing of train doors along the platform.  Co-existence of 6-car and 7-car trains on the same line would be challenging.

If train capacity could be expanded to 1,200 with a 7th car, the 42,000 per hour demand would still require 35 trains/hour or a 103-second headway.  This would push the line right to its new theoretical limit with no room to spare for surge loads or absorbing minor delays.

It is troubling that this analysis appears now in the January report, but did not show up in the original December staff presentation.

How Has Demand Changed on the Yonge Line?

The supplementary report includes charts of ridership on both the Yonge subway and on GO’s northern routes.  Although the subway has recovered from its lower demand in the 1990s, its share of the market for trips into the core remains low at 46.2%, well below the 54.1% achieved in 1987.  The reason for this is that the market is bigger, and GO has taken all of the growth.

A chart of GO’s ridership is a bit confusing because it ends in 1999 when GO’s modal split was 16%.  In the text of the report, however, we learm that it has grown to 19% by 2006.

The TTC’s own fleet plan projects future growth at 1.35% per year on the Yonge line, and projections of new demand in decades to come show that over 4/5 of the additional demand will originate within the 416.  The remainder will come into the city from the 905 on the Richmond Hill extension.  10% comes from Transit City routes feeding additional riders into the subway.  70% comes from population and employment growth plus other, unspecified network improvements.  Only 20% comes from the Richmond Hill extension.

20%?  This is truly odd.  The forecast growth in riding south of bloor ranges from 7-12,000 in the peak hour. This means that the Richmond Hill extension is expected to contribute somewhere between 1,400  and 2,400 passengers to the peak load (the total contribution will be higher because some riders are bound for stops north of Wellesley).

The growth projections are in stark contrast to claims by some that stagnant employement would limit the room for growth in demand to the core (and therefore for new lines).  If that is so, why is GO Transit planning to double capacity for its operations at Union Station?

In December, TTC staff claimed that peak hour demand on Yonge would be reduced by 2,300 riders shifted to the Spadina Subway extension.  In the January report, it turns out that this diversion is for the peak period, and that the peak hour only accounts for 1,300.  This is a trivial diversion of demand, probably within the margin of error of the demand model.

Also in December, TTC staff claimed that the current headway on the Yonge line (141 seconds) would be adequate to handle opening day demand in 2017.  This is utter rubbish.  The current headway is not handling the 2009 demand, let alone growth over 8 years or new riders attracted by the extension.

Again, the contrast between the December and January reports is troubling.

What is the Relationship Between GO and TTC Ridership?

This is a complex question, one that has been systematically ignored in decades of planning.  The issue is complicated by the fact that GO has a completely separate fare system and doesn’t really want much to do with trips internal to the 416.  However, as GO plans major service expansion, this artificial segregation of routes no longer makes sense.

By 2017, we will have TTC subway service roughly every 4 minutes at Richmond Hill Centre providing a trip to Union in about 40 minutes (possibly less depending on train speed).  Meanwhile, nearby, GO will be running at least 6 trains per hour taking 35 minutes or so to get to Union (less if they figure out how to speed up the line).  Depending on where you start and where you’re going, either service may be the more attractive.  Metrolinx projections suggest that GO riders will outnumber TTC by over 2:1, but this presumes very frequent GO service.

An important issue in all of this is the question of fares and fare integration.  GO charges more than the TTC, although there will be the question of access costs to Richmond Hill Centre.  Will GO subsidise YRT and VIVA passengers?  What will the TTC’s “Zone 2” fare be for riders north of Steeles (their own financial and demand projections assume a second fare)?

On a more regional note, with many frequent, all-day rail services, will riders’ perception of GO evolve into that of a “regional rapid transit network” rather than a commuter operation?

The TTC January report acknowledges the role of GO and notes that improvement of GO service is an important co-requisite of the subway extension.  This is another important change — the acknowledgement that GO exists and will play a major role in regional travel.

The Downtown Relief Line

The TTC notes the Metrolinx projections that substantial load will be diverted from the Yonge/Bloor interchange by the Downtown Relief Line, but suggests that these projections may be optimistic.  If the TTC has a better model, it is long overdue that differences between TTC and Metrolinx projections be resolved.  We cannot have one agency publishing plans whose projections are dismissed, when it suits them, by another.

As I have already written, the DRL itself may not appropriately end at the Danforth Subway but could extend north to Eglinton.  Much of the south end of the Don Mills LRT will require some form of dedicated infrastructure.  The TTC still claims that they might cook up some form of surface alignment, but this ignores severe problems of neighbourhood impact, not to mention questions about how all of the transferring passengers would be handled.  A junction of a Don Mills LRT, DRL and Danforth Subway at Pape Station is unthinkable.

If the DRL continues north to Eglinton, it will become a major route into the core for riders in the Don Mills corridor and on the eastern part of the Eglinton LRT.

The TTC regards the DRL as a complete waste of money because it diverts riders at considerable cost, riders who would be on the system anyhow.  This is another specious argument.  Any new line attracts riders because it brings more people in range of faster transit.  Moreover, this line relieves congestion on Yonge and avoids very large capital and operating costs to increase that line’s capacity.  That relief has a value both in terms of more attractive trips for riders and in keeping the Yonge line well below its maximum theoretical capacity.

Bloor-Yonge Station

As previously reported, the TTC hangs all its hopes for additional capacity on the combined effects of:

  • TR trains (about 10% additional internal capacity)
  • 7-car trains (another 10%)
  • Shorter headways (105 vs 141 seconds, about 35%)
  • Bloor-Yonge changes to handle the combined added capacity and pedestrian traffic

A consulting company will be retained soon to perform a detailed analysis of the Bloor-Yonge project including evaluation of a 6-platform configuration with additional capacity on the BD subway.  This is discussed in some detail elsewhere on this site with the original 1988 TTC study of the scheme.

The report is due in the fall of 2009.  What will happen if the BY project proves far more complex than anticipated?  How will the line actually operate during the period when half of the existing platform capacity has been removed but the new centra platform on the Yonge line has not been added?  What is the operational effect of concentrating so much traffic through one node on the system?  How will the BD subway (regardless of the number of platforms) absorb PM peak traffic arriving at BY and at St. George at a rate much higher than today?

If the BY project is infeasible either due to cost or problematic construction, the TTC’s plan falls apart.  Without that station project, they cannot substantially add to demand on the Yonge line, and they must find another way to handle future growth in riding.

The professional approach appears to be that everyone will cross their fingers and toes in hopes that somehow the station can be rebuilt and all of the other problems will just go away.

How Fast Will the Trains Run?

Reports about the coming automatic train control system state that they will permit a 10% reduction in trip times and hence fleet requirements.  Some of these reports have been rather vague, if not downright inaccurate, about how this would be done.  Today I confirmed that what is actually intended is to run the YUS in “high rate”, or its equivalent for the TR trains.

For those with very, very long memories, the H (and T) series of cars have two performance settings, low rate and high rate.  The BD line ran in high rate for a time, and the trips were quite sprightly.  Faster acceleration.  Hills?  What hills?  Indeed, the occasional lucky rider would find a high rate train on Yonge where the trip from Eglinton to Finch would be cut from roughly 12 to 9-10 minutes.  (The effect is less pronounced where stations are closer together.) 

However, the H-1 cars had very serious hunting problems at 45 mph.  At this speed, the trucks would sway violently, and operation at high rate was considered unsafe.  Over the years, a series of excuses, including questions of track maintenance costs and a desire to maximize the car orders going to Thunder Bay, left both subway routes operating in low rate.  One issue with moving to high rate is that timing signals must be reset to allow for the faster speed profile of the trains.

With the move to ATC, speed control is a question of software configuration within the train control system, and the concept of signal blocks and timing for those blocks disappear.  Enter high rate operation and a saving of many trains.  Note that running faster trains does not add to line capacity, only closer headways do that.  If you run the same number of trains at higher average speeds, the headways get shorter and the capacity goes up.  If you save on equipment by running fewer, faster trains on the same headway as before, the capacity is unchanged.

Planning a Network

The supplementary report states in several places that network planning is essential to addressing complex questions of system growth such as these.  Indeed, the report notes that the new streamlined approval process creates problems because it is project focussed and does not allow for detailed evaluation of alternative schemes and network effects.  We need to know which option we want to build before we start the EA because we won’t have time for discussions later.

This is foolish, and already we have seen both in some Transit City projects and in the just-announced Metrolinx Weston Corridor study a process to involve communities and discuss options before the EA even formally starts.  In effect, we have put back part of the old, onerous EA process that was ditched in the name of efficiency.

The TTC and by extension City Council is coming to appreciate the need for network planning.  That was supposed to be Metrolinx’ job, but unfortunately, they were more interested in building an “end state” 2031 plan that is at best a guideline, not a definitive network.  Metrolinx is also paranoid and argumentative about any suggestions that their plan might change even though their own plan states that it is an example of what might be done, not cast in stone. 

The real challenge for Metrolinx (and through them Queen’s Park) will come with the hard reality of budgets.  They have a $50-billion plan, but only $11-billion or so in the bank.  It’s easy to draw lines on maps when you don’t have to pay for them, and your only concern is that every part of the GTAH gets something to keep it happy.

Sadly, the underlying planning by Metrolinx gives little guidance on how we get from today’s network and demand to the wonderful new world where Metrolinx logos will be more common that Tim’s, Starbucks and the Second Cup put together. 

This is a time for thorough, public debate about the scope of transit improvements needed in the GTAH.  The TTC, prodded by criticism including my own, has at least recast their own subway plans with a broader view of issues and the options we must consider.

27 thoughts on “Yonge Subway Extension Additional Information Report (Updated)

  1. The ridership numbers for the downtown streetcar lines are screaming “RELIEVE ME!” As is the Don Mills bus… I wonder what an ideal solution would be…


  2. Once again, the TTC strikes me as the most parochial and stubborn organization operating within our city. Technological upgrades to expand existing capacity seem like a piecemeal joke to me, but the idea that a DRL lies behind the priority list of a capacity upgrade to Bloor-Yonge station is especially troubling. Considering that 180,000 souls pass through one of only two effective transfer points on the entire system, and that this station is practically entombed under the massive concrete foundations of the Hudson’s Bay Centre, I fear that such an expansion will cost a lot of money and a lot of riders (how do you fit 180,000 people through narrow plywood hoardings for 5 years?).

    A DRL would not only effectively relieve this significant choke point, but would provide additional service to communities south of Bloor that are struggling to get by on overcrowded streetcars and all of the additional riders to the north that will be funneled in by Transit City.


  3. I’m somewhat perplexed on how you can build a centre platform at Bloor station without closing the station – and perhaps the entire line, for many months. I’d think that you would need the Pape-Queen link in place before doing so.

    Steve: The scheme, as I understand it, is this:

    In bite-size chunks (don’t know how big a bite is), you cut away the existing platform to the depth of the new platform. As you take out each bite, you replace it with a temporary platform. Yes, that sounds like a lot of work to accomplish during a normal shutdown.

    Next, or possibly roughly in parallel with the platform work, you install new running rails (and power rails?) under the new temporary platform.

    Finally, you wave your magic wand, and probably over a weekend (a good time to be out of town), you whisk away the temporary platform, connect up the new tracks and start using the now considerably narrower platform.

    In theory you are doing this on both northbound and southbound sides at once, but I am willing to bet they could only manage the work for one side at a time.

    Now you have lost half the platform space (that we built at great expense several years ago), and you start construction of the new centre platform and its connections to the BD line. I won’t even mention the proposed work down at that level.

    Finally, you open the new platform and (imagine a lot of sparkly fairy dust and suitable sound effects here) you are back to having almost as much platform space as you started with, but completely different circulation patterns.

    This scheme is a total crock as far as I am concerned, but we will spend lots of money getting a professional opinion from consultants who will report in the fall. The really big problem is the northern third of the station that is physically inside the Bay’s mall and parking garage.


  4. Indeed–Steve, perhaps you can better explain this, but why is the DRL only considered as a function of Yonge line capacity? The potential to bring rapid transit to new areas (ie, a huge added benefit compared to looking for ever more ways to shove passengers down the gullet of the Yonge line) is totally absent from the discussion. This seems extremely strange. It’s almost as though the TTC sees its mandate to serve Yonge Street, not the city as a whole.

    Steve: Yes, this is a huge problem with the way they are doing comparative analysis. They completely ignore the benefits of network diversity and service to new rapid transit territories.


  5. I happened by the meeting last night at the last minute and sat and heard the TTC staffers give the same line about how a DRL is, at most, a long-term, last-resort option.

    I tried to ask about issues such as putting all our eggs into one basket – the lower Yonge Subway – when it would be a single point of failure. Of course, that night, there were signal problems on the Yonge line that were acknowledged here. While new ATO signalling might be more reliable and allow for tighter train spacing, you can’t do much about dwell times, mechanical problems, passenger assistance alarms, plan Bs, and injuries at track level (the latter two could be mitigated by installing expensive screen doors and ventilation systems, which I bet could be pushed for 10 years from now before even considering a DRL).

    It isn’t rocket science to realize that there at least needs to be some redundancy built into the system especially when there’s clear and present risks of overloads and the occasional failure. That is a fundamental concept in network design. After all, why have spare buses?

    The Yonge Line is already near or at practical peak loads, and that unlike the manufacturing sector, our financial sector is not crashing (instead it is growing by picking up scraps from the US mess) and that population continues to grow. It would cost $450 million to again rip up Bloor-Yonge, or just under 25% of the cost to build the DRL via Queen Street (instead of the cheaper rail corridor considered in the 1980s). What a colossal waste of money, and a 4-5 year headache at worst pinchpoint in the system.

    Finally, the DRL is only seen as a reliver to Lower Yonge (though a significant one, at a 40% relief factor), and there doesn’t seem to be enough recognition of its other benefits.

    I look forward to your full analysis. Good luck with the deputation.


  6. Amazing. The DRL is a no-brainer. I assume the TTC is pushing back the DRL, because they intend to build it as a full metro line, and are not willing to look at other options?

    Steve: Probable demand on the DRL, especially if it goes north to Eglinton, outstrips anything we would reasonably try to operate with LRT. As mentioned in other threads, the TTC approaches the “value” of the DRL as if it contributes nothing to the system and only redistributes load that would be on Yonge otherwise. They ignore the relative costs and the network flexibility a DRL would provide for travellers.


  7. I was thinking about this issue as I was heading home in a crush-loaded northbound train just before 7 pm last night. The TTC seems to want to approach this strictly as an engineering problem: figure out what has to be done to keep the system from collapsing due to overcrowding, at the minimum cost.

    That’s great, but there are a couple of arguments for taking a more expansive view. One is a matter of customer service — transit will be more attractive and more viable as the best way to commute if it isn’t running right at capacity. The other is a question of timing: there’s such a long lead time on any capacity improvements that it seems prudent to build in some extra capacity to cover the construction period of the next capacity boost. I’m not saying everyone should get a seat in rush hour — that’s just not cost-effective — but sometimes it’s beneficial to aim above the bare minimum.

    I’m glad to see rough costs listed for each idea, but I do have one minor quibble: given how expensive subway stations apparently are, it seems like the subway costs should be given as a route cost per km and a station cost per stop. Otherwise, there’s an assumption on how widely stations are spaced that’s buried within the overall per km cost estimate.


  8. “I remain seriously concerned that the TTC is playing a dangerous game with capacity of the subway system”

    I’m also getting worried that the TTC and the city are playing with fire by talking out of both sides of their mouth on the cost issue. At the public meeting at North Toronto Memorial Community Centre last night, the presentation kept referring back to the $2.4 billion estimate as the “cost” of the subway, even while mentioning the $450 million to improve Bloor station plus all the other ancillary costs.

    Now what’ll happen if some PR-seeking senior gov’t just picks up the phone one day and says, “here’s 2.4 billion – go build your subway and don’t come back to us asking for any more loot”?


  9. I can’t imagine how much worse it can get when Transit City is implemented. I don’t think the TTC even understands there own numbers because if they did they would realize that the Yonge line will be overloaded. I know this is there plan of “relieving” the capacity issues on the subway line but since these new streetcar lines aren’t going straight into the downtown core (all except Waterfront West LRT) there is no way the can avoid the inevitable: An overloaded Yonge line, unless:

    1) they make a expansion to the Bloor-Yonge station which in my opinion is short term solution or

    2) the DRL

    But my guess is that they will go for the less expensive, short term solution.


  10. I am all for the DRL under three conditions.

    1. In the east it should go no further then Don Mills/Eglinton. Two LRT lines converging into a subway seems to justify this, but yet I am still not so sure. If anyone can convince me I am all ears.

    2. The DRL must go under King Street, not Queen.

    And lastly the DRL must connect to Jane Station in the west. To connect the DRL with two subway and three LRT lines. I think this can work easily.

    I won’t be a broken record about the Yonge Street extension.

    Steve: Jane would be a huge challenge because there is no easy route through Swansea from the lake up to Jane Station. You would be going through the middle of High Park. Dundas West is much easier as a connection point.


  11. How does our crowding levels compare to other cities? I’ve always wondered. Vancouver has half our population base, but only two SRT-like lines, and no real subways (yet). How are crowding levels over there, on their skytrain and on their buses. How about Chicago, and New York? Is our system unusually overcrowded, is it comparatively under crowded, or are we just having the same problems that everyone else does. Do they deal with these problems differently then we do?


  12. After attending last night’s Yonge subway extension meeting at the Yonge-Eglinton community centre, I noticed that the DRL was a last priority on the TTC to relieve the Yonge subway ridership. It was noted that the DRL can relieve up to 40% of the ridership south of Bloor.

    However, when Charles Wheeler was asked by many people at the meeting why the TTC is saying that the DRL is a last resort, his response was that it does not make financial sense. He mentioned that since there is a tight bucket of funds, it makes more financial sense to fix up or use existing infrastructure to the fullest before embarking on a new line with projected ridership. I found this amusing and complete nonsense. He was adamant that fixing Bloor-Yonge, ATC and new trains would fix the problems of capacity.

    I think this is one heck of a disaster in the making. I predict that if both Spadina and Yonge extensions are built, the reliability of this line will get worse to the point where the TTC may run parallel Yonge shuttles as a remedy before they build the DRL. Time will tell, but at the meeting, people mentioned that problems of reliability happen almost everyday now. My personal experience is that it has gotten significantly worse since 2005 (opening of VIVA) and all the new riders from York Region.

    The wisdom or lack there of by the TTC is astonishing. I’m shocked that they’re willing to spend $1B to improve B-Y capacity and buy more trains to reduce headways, but are unwilling to spend $2B to truly relieve congestion, but also serve new neighbourhoods and improve the downtown transportation system. Something that has been ignored for decades.


  13. To add a little bit i don’t think it’s only the TTC that doesn’t want to relieve congestion in Toronto but it’s the whole city of Toronto itself. The Toronto Viaduct would be great in relieving congestion in Toronto, especially in the downtown core. I understand it would include a transit element to it as well (I can’t remember which line it would be).

    David Miller seems to just approve any proposal the TTC proposes so he could say that he was and is a transit advocate for the city. I don’t think he really cares to alleviate congestion in Toronto and the TTC seems to follow his example. Unless we get a mayor that really cares about congestion relief, i think the DRL we be a “last resort” for the TTC for a long time.

    Steve: I think that you are putting the blame, such as it is, in totally the wrong place. The “Toronto Viaduct”, a scheme to build a highway across the outer harbour as a bypas for traffic going from southern Etobicoke to the Beach or points east, is one of the most outlandish ideas I have seen proposed. A transit element? Don’t make me laugh.

    There is a fundamental issue here: the vast majority of people coming downtown do so on transit, and this number will continue to rise. There is no place to put more cars even if we had roads for them. Meanwhile, if someone wants to get past downtown, they can damn well drive up to the 401 or 407 and go around it.


  14. I think that a DRL should be built under Queen Street and run from Don Mills Station down to Greenwood (because the yard is there).

    Instead of bringing it up to the Bloor line at Dundas West or Jane, run it under Dufferin all the way up to the Wilson Yard…

    Then, extend the Shepperd Subway west to the Wilson Yard, and run the DRL up to Don Mills Station – you’d get a central Toronto ring line.

    Another option I’ve always thought would make sense is running the DRL along Queen and out to Long Branch – that would spur some dense development in southern Etobicoke and along the waterfront… From there you could run an express GO service that bypasses all of the GO stations within the City of Toronto…


  15. Steve,

    I’ve been wondering for a while, but what impact do you think the Eglinton LRT will have on transfers at Yonge/Bloor? Certainly, some of the North/South-to-East/West and East/West-to-North/South transfers will start to happen at Eglinton Station rather than further south? Will this relieve transfer congestion to any noticeable degree at Yonge/Bloor?

    Steve: Possibly some trips that are bound for locations north of Bloor may migrate off of the BD line onto the Eglinton line and therefore not pass through Bloor-Yonge. Some downtown-bound travellers may opt to use Eglinton for the east-west leg of their journey. However, riding on the system as a whole will grow, and I suspect this will offset any effect.

    The heart of the issue is the total capacity south of Bloor on various north-south routes, and ridership is growing. If this capacity is overcommitted, station operations will be difficult even if some transfer traffic is diverted elsewhere.


  16. @Matthew Kemp

    To your second point, I would advocate strongly for a “DRL” all the way to Don Mills station at Sheppard. It’s a shame that the Sheppard subway was planned as a rapid transit line connecting two rapid transit lines and was then built as a stubway.

    Let’s avoid that fate for the DRL. Don Mills & Eglinton seems to me like a forced fit for a transit hub. Building the line to Sheppard would enhance Don Mills as a hub, which ought to include an LRT north into the heart of Markham.

    That would also provide a credible chance to change the moniker from “DRL” to the “Don Mills” line or perhaps the “McGinty Express” (if that will get the $$ flowing.) I think the name DRL is hard to swallow for voters in Etobicoke, Scarborough, and even (ironically) North York.


  17. Nick, I can tell you some experiences of the CTA “El” system.

    First of all the design of the cars is that of a long SRT train. This has presented problems with boarding and unboarding. The doors themselves are about a foot more narrow then the SRT from memory. Crowding is a huge problem even before the gas spike. Ten car train sets on the Red line, running every couple of minutes was and isn’t enough. Now the talks of seatless trains to cram the caddle in are real, and here. The Red line trains run every 4-6 minutes in the am rush and 3-8 minutes during the pm rush.

    Please have a look of this timetable to get an understanding.

    I am in Chicago twice a year to visit freinds who migrated from Toronto. Maybe next time I will take some pictures and share it with you and your readers Steve.


  18. At least the DRL is starting coming up as an option. With enough reminders, maybe it will start to get more traction with the planners as the trustworthy solution.


  19. Steve Said:If the TTC has a better model, it is long overdue that differences between TTC and Metrolinx projections be resolved.

    Steve, do you mean something like this?

    That was for 2011 at 13,800ppdph… meaning 17,500ppdph in 2031 is a reasonable rate of growth for a 20-year difference in projections. By the TTC’s growth rates, going from 13800 to 17500 would take 18 years. So the TTC does have their own model, from 20 years ago, and it is on the same page as Metrolinx. So the idea of Metrolinx projections being “optimistic” is not supported, they match the TTC’s previous work on this issue.

    Steve: Yes, I think that the TTC chooses to distance itself from Metrolinx figures when it suits their argument. The flagrant example was the claim that no additional service would be needed by 2017 even though the line is over capacity today. The TTC made a point of downplaying new riders from anywhere, including York Region, to support that position only a month ago.


  20. The Transit City plans show the Don Mills line not terminating on the B-D… so passengers then head west and then south on the YUS! Surely it would be better to extend the Don Mills line all the way to Union (and maybe link directly to the Waterfront West line?)

    Steve: I agree that there should not be a break at Danforth that just puts more riders on the BD line and forces a double transfer for those going to the core. However, I do believe that the Don Mills subway has to end somewhere, and believe that this should be at Eglinton where it could also intercept riders who might otherwise travel west to the Yonge line on the Eglinton LRT.


  21. Paul Says:
    “I think this is one heck of a disaster in the making. I predict that if both Spadina and Yonge extensions are built, the reliability of this line will get worse to the point where the TTC may run parallel Yonge shuttles as a remedy before they build the DRL.”

    Humm,… the TTC already does that NOW. The Yonge Subway line is already so congested during peak time that midtown subway riders are often left on the platform as they can’t get on subways already packed with sardines. So the TTC was forced to convert one of it’s midtown to downtown express route from charging extra fare to standard fare to help relieve the congestion,… but how many passengers can one little bus route carry compared to a subway?

    Paul Says:
    “Time will tell, but at the meeting, people mentioned that problems of reliability happen almost everyday now. My personal experience is that it has gotten significantly worse since 2005 (opening of VIVA) and all the new riders from York Region.”

    During peak time (6am to 9am), on Yonge between Steeles Avenue and Finch Subway station there are 370 buses per hour. Half are TTC buses, the other half are York Region’s YRT and Viva (GO buses are a small minority),… so let’s say 160 buses per hour along this stretch of Yonge are York Region YRT & Viva, but that’s both way (northbound and southbound). Thus, it’s about 80 buses per hour from York Region (YRT & Viva) going to Finch Station. I don’t have the split between the 40 foot (about 55 passenger) YRT bus vs the 60 foot (about 72 passenger) extra long Viva buses. But that’ll work out to between 4400 to 5760 riders per hour being dump by York Region YRT & Viva at Finch station on the Yonge subway line.

    Now considering that Yonge Subway is already at full capacity and servicing 30,000 riders per hour at peak. And the Spadina Subway line is operating at about 2/3 capacity servicing 20,000 riders per hour at peak,… why don’t York Region use the under-utilized Downsview station on the Spadina subway line??? Downsview station is only 4km west and 2 km south of Finch station. Downsview station also has a Regional bus terminal that can service York Region’s YRT and Viva buses. If all the York Region buses went to Downsview Station instead of Finch, that would balance the Yonge-University-Spadina line,… and reduce all the delays on the Yonge line that domino to through the entire line.

    If YRT and Viva doesn’t voluntarily switch from Finch station to Downsview station,… Can’t Toronto city council enforce the Toronto Act to force them to???

    Sure it inconvenience some 905er, but last time I checked they don’t pay Toronto property taxes that support TTC! Getting to Downsview Station, YRT and Viva buses can avoid the congested Yonge Street corridor and go along Hwy7, Centre Street, Clark Avenue then south on Dufferin Street to Downsview Station. If they need to get to Yonge and Eglinton or somewhere midtown along Yonge then they can take a TTC bus from the Spadina line. The vast majority are going to Bloor and south of Bloor anyways. Along the Spadina line, it’s much better to transfer to the Bloor-Danforth line at St.George than Bloor-Yonge station. St.George has is less crowded and once you get off train only need to go down stairs. Going into downtown core is better along Spadina-University line since there’s a much higher density of job/destinations on both sides of University than along the Yonge line in the downtown core.

    Right now Toronto TTC Yonge Subway riders get 2nd class treatment while 905ers get 1st class treatment by the TTC!


  22. Nick Boragina: Wikipedia gives the following figures (I’ve rounded track lengths to the nearest 1 and ridership to the nearest 1000):

    New York Subway: average weekday ridership 5,042,000 / 369 km = roughly 13,664 passengers/km
    Chicago El: 620,000 / 171 = roughly 3,625 passengers/km
    Washington Metro: 796,000 / 171 = roughly 4,168 passengers/km
    Montreal Metro: 835,000 / 65 = roughly 12,846 passengers/km
    Vancouver Skytrain: 271,000 /50 = roughly 5,420 passengers/km
    Toronto Subway & RT: 1,246,000 / 68 = roughly 18,323 passengers/km

    So in conclusion, the Toronto system is substantially more crowded than New York or Montreal and *far* more crowded than anything else on the continent.

    Steve: The ratio of passengers to track mileage is not entirely a fair comparison because it doesn’t address the density of demand. In other words, looked at both in time and in space, how concentrated is the demand at the peak point? How many peak points are there? What proportion of traffic rides in the peak hour? All the same it’s as good a back of the envelope number as many I have seen.


  23. I think the DRL is clearly necessary for long term health of the system, though I don’t think it needs to go further west than University Avenue, since the Spadina subway is not on track to be overloaded, and doesn’t need relief as far as I am aware. BD passengers can go south from St. George on the less-utilized side of the line, and if they need to go further west, the streetcar lines from Dundas West, Bathurst and Spadina provide fairly reasonable access to those areas that a DRL West would serve. Eventually, the Dundas West alignment makes sense, especially if there was a King alignment replacing the King streetcar.

    However, I would want to see the DRL reach up to Don Mills station, in lieu of building the LRT line north from Eg. I’m not sure Eglinton passengers will see the transfer as obvious, depending on travel time from there into Eglinton Station, but given the forced transfer at Don Mills from the Sheppard East line, it would be a very obvious alternative for downtown trips. This would then connect the DRL to two LRT lines, and replace a third, plus it connects to directly to YRT and what’s left of the 25 bus, plus a _lot_ of high density housing right there. It makes the obvious downtown connection from Sheppard East a one connection run, instead of two, and preserves even more capacity for the northward expansion, and perhaps even mitigates some significant chunk of the need for the SRT extension.

    What this ends up looking like is a split of downtown traffic from the north between Spadina, Yonge, and Don Mills, from the northwest, north, and northeast. The Sheppard line loses a major chunk of its Don Mills-based ridership, but the condo boom at Bayview/Leslie/Bessarion probably counters that to a significant degree. No six car trains anytime soon, but probably not plummeting ridership numbers either.

    (In a pipe dream under this plan, Sheppard eventually extends west to Downsview to provide a vastly better connection from the northwest, including YRT/GO, into North York, Scarborough and the Don Mills corridor. I know the Sheppard West numbers aren’t right for heavy rail, but it’d be a really nice tweak to the network to add a northern crosstown route that cuts a bus route out of the middle, and hopefully siphons load from BD)


  24. Woo, high-rate operation!

    I suppose that with all the timed lights on the system today, it would take more than just moving the brake point signs to implement. Unlike when high rate went away sometime around 1980.

    I’m not sure I agree with the statement that “The [increased speed] effect is less pronounced where stations are closer together.” The trains get up to speed a lot quicker. With high-rate, the last car of a train was *flying* out of the station, which doesn’t happen with low-rate. I particularly think that high-rate would speed up operation on the south-of-Bloor section with its gradients and closely-spaced stops.

    Steve: This is true, but moreso in the offpeak when trains are not slowed up by being close together.


  25. Nicholas Fitzpatrick Says:

    “I’m somewhat perplexed on how you can build a centre platform at Bloor station without closing the station – and perhaps the entire line, for many months. I’d think that you would need the Pape-Queen link in place before doing so.”

    Steve says:

    “Finally, you open the new platform and (imagine a lot of sparkly fairy dust and suitable sound effects here) you are back to having almost as much platform space as you started with, but completely different circulation patterns.

    This scheme is a total crock as far as I am concerned, but we will spend lots of money getting a professional opinion from consultants who will report in the fall. The really big problem is the northern third of the station that is physically inside the Bay’s mall and parking garage.”

    Currently between the southbound train and northbound train, there’s about 4 feet running along the centre of the station,… giving an extra 4ft x 500ft = 2,000 sq feet of potential platform space,… but this will be used up big time. Even if they take about 8-9 feet from each of the existing side platforms,… this will give the new centre platform a 20-22 feet width,… which will match Union Station’s ultra narrow centre platform (6.9 meters or 22.6 ft), which will allow access on both sides of stairs, escalators, elevators, etc,.. But let’s say they only use one side access,.. then maybe platform can be around 16 feet wide.

    But the main challenge will be fitting all the exits this centre platform will need. This centre platform will be for off loading only. South end will need stairs, up escalator and elevator to south exit. In the middle, it’ll need stairs, down escalator and elevator to service new eastbound side platform. At north end, it’ll need stairs, down escalator and elevator to service new westbound side platform. Also north end will also need stairs, up escalator and elevator (can probably uses same elevator as for servicing westbound side platform) to service main entrance in Hudson Bay centre. Remember, the upper Yonge station intersect the lower Bloor-Danforth station at a “T” type interchange, the north end of the centre platform will need to extend north into the current tunnels. This centre platform will need at least 4 sets of stairs, at least 4 sets of escalators and at least 3 elevators. Will this centre platform even have room for people to walk???

    Anyways,… maybe somebody at Toronto city council is actually thinking that this Bloor-Yonge subway renovation at $450-500 million,… or maybe even at $1 BILLION won’t be worth it! And DRL or whatever they want to call it now might be a better alternative,… After adding so many “conditions” to the $2.4 Billion Yonge Subway extension that the price doubles to about $5 Billion,… looks like Toronto city council is adding another “condition”,.. the DRL! Wow, this $2.4 Billion Yonge Subway extension might end up coming in at around $10 BILLION! (Pape-Queen DRL is about $2.1 Billion,… but they’re talking western DRL as well as Eastern DRL!)

    Steve: The issue is not only the impact of the Richmond Hill subway, but of anticipated growth that will occur whether we extend the Yonge line or not. There simply isn’t room to hold all of these passengers on the existing network, and the Richmond Hill line only makes things worse.

    [Quotation from the National Post snipped here. Note that the article was written before Council took its decision.]


  26. I was once a strong supporter of the Eglinton Sky Train vs the Eglinton LRT. This was based on the fact that it would have taken a long time to get from Kennedy to Yonge if the LRT plan was implemented. I now change my mind I support the LRT crosstown because if it connects to the DRL it would give resident of Scarborough a shorter trip downtown.

    Ps some food for thought. Toronto should also think of extending the line north west to Pearson Airport after it passes through Dundas West Station. By doing this they can get rid of that dumb “Blue 22 Plan” which I think is a joke because it will cost 22 dollars to ride, it is disconnected from the rest of the system, and they want to use refurbished cars that would run on old diesel engine. Wow Toronto thinks they are a “world class city”. I laugh. Having the DRL go to the airport would also dismiss the purpose of having the Eglinton LRT line going to the Airport.

    Steve: An important note about the Eglinton LRT is that roughly between Don Mills and Weston or Jane, the speed would be identical to a Skytrain/RT system because the stops would likely be identical for the underground sections regardless of technology. Taking the Eglinton line to the airport does not preclude a connection from the rail corridor. Remember that the idea is that the airport will be a hub and could include connections to the Finch West and Eglinton/Mississauga LRT lines. It’s not just about getting to the airport, but of linking routes in the network together. That can never happen with a dedicated premium fare service.


  27. Yonge St. was opened by Govenor Simcoe in the 1790’s. It stands as Ontario’s most important transportation corridor from that day to this.

    In 1954, when TTC opened Yonge Subway they tapped into this 0ntario tradition making Yonge line a success far beyond their expectations. As usage of Yonge line approached its maximum capacity they have tried various schemes to divert riders away from it with limited and without lasting success. The University line carries “subway loads” of people only in rush hours, while beyond St. George station the Spadina line carries from a seated bus load to a taxi load of passengers per car. The TTC each time has considered the solution to this problem, was to extend the Spadina line but each time it fails, so they extend the line again. Hundreds of millions, now billions, of dollars go to prop up Toronto’s proverbial ‘white elephant’.

    When Yonge subway first opened, it served a metropolitan population of about 1.3 million. Now it understandably struggles to serve a metropolitan population of 5.1 million, which continues to grow. The TTC and many planners fail to recognize that the vast majority of north/south riders for various reasons want to use Yonge St. and no attempts to persuade/coerce them to use other routes will have significant or lasting success.

    There may be however a solution to this interminable problem , by simply upgrading the Yonge line to meet present and future demand. This could be done at considerable, but not outlandish cost. The Yonge line receives an express component. South of Rosedale Station, a new line breaks off the current line to tunnel under Yonge St. to Bloor-Yonge Express Station parallel to existing Bloor-Yonge Station. From there it tunnels deeper into the ground with no Wellesley station to tunnel under existing Yonge line where it comes under Yonge St above College St. Then a College Express station may/may not be added. Yonge Express line continues south with no station at Dundas down to Queen Express Station, then to King Express Station, then to Union Express Station. From there it may extend west under Front St. to a terminus station at Rodgers Centre/Skydome.

    The Yonge Express line wiuld provide engineering challenges but would expropriate very little property. The stations would be fitted with facilities to meet 21st century demand. Express stations would have wider and longer platforms 550-600 feet. to serve longer trains. The closeness of Queen Express and King Express stations with longer platforms could be alleviated by extending Queen Express Station platform further north and King Express Station platform further south.

    The Yonge Express line could be operated in two ways. Trains coming south from Steeles Station turning into the Express line south of Rosedale Station or shuttle trains could run from Bloor-Yonge Express to Union Express/Skydome stations. The latter operation may prove very useful during major sports events at Skydome. Incidentally one other thing should be added to this upgrade by extending Yonge line north from Finch Station to new Steeles Station, tunneling under Yonge St. with no Cummer/Drewry Station to north of Otonabee then turn slightly west under front of Centrepoint parking lot to minimize construction disruption of building Steeles Station, and utilize low density comercial property on west side of Yonge north of Steeles which would then be ready for major redevelopment. Altogether the cost could run around $2 billion and could be completed in 4 years if it received significant political willingness.

    Overall Yonge Subway never was and never will [be] a neighborhood subway. It remains the major trunk line for all southcentral Ontario.

    Steve: I am not going to address the express proposal here because we have done that thread to death in previous posts. My main argument is with the premise that you cannot divert riding. The University line does its job well in the rush hour when that’s all that matters. Unfortunately, the Spadina line was built to the middle of a field rather than under Bathurst or Dufferin where it might have gained some solid ridership because making Yorkdale and the Spadina Expressway viable was more important to politicians of the day than putting the subway someplace useful.

    A DRL East line ending at Danforth would be very underutilized outside of the peak, but if it goes further north, many passengers will be comfortably on the “Don Mills” trains with a direct ride to downtown who now are forced to change at Pape Station. As for Danforth line riders, they will have the option of a transfer (which they have to make somewhere anyhow) to a line they can actually find space on rather than squeezing through Bloor-Yonge.

    At the risk of sounding just a bit peeved and dismissive, I am getting tired of proposals for express tracks added to the existing Yonge line. I have already published drawings for proposed split station operations at Bloor Station from the 1988 study, and some of the proposed express alignments merrily assume that subways can go through existing buildings.


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