TTC Launches Downtown Rapid Transit Expansion Page

The TTC now has a page within the Projects section of their website devoted to the Downtown Rapid Transit Study.

The study’s purpose is:

1. Assess the need for additional rapid transit capacity to serve the downtown core given the capacity improvements already planned by TTC and GO and recognizing forecast land use and ridership scenarios;

2. Assess alternative strategies to accommodate the forecast demand including the costs and benefits associated with various scenarios composed of the following elements:

(a) The construction of new rapid transit lines such as the previously-proposed Downtown Rapid Transit (DRT) line;

(b) Expanded GO Rail capacity (including additional GO stations in the City of Toronto);

(c) Improvements in streetcar services to enhance shorter-distance transit accessibility in the downtown; and

(d) Fare, service and other policy initiatives to increase downtown transit ridership that may be appropriate.

3. If necessary, undertake the appropriate functional design and environmental assessment studies required to obtain approval for the construction of the recommended facilities.

Information about public consultation will appear when available.

This study is important by comparison with many past efforts by both TTC and Metrolinx in its review of transit as an integration of long, medium and short distance trips, each of which has its own requirement for service.  Too many studies look at only one aspect of this larger problem.

45 thoughts on “TTC Launches Downtown Rapid Transit Expansion Page

  1. This sounds like a damned good idea – overdue maybe but … As you have been saying for many years, the problem with EA studies is that they look at that project in isolation and the various EAs either overlap and offer conflicting proposals or totally ignore other aspects.

    I hope they will look at easy to do things faster than the harder-to-do ones, such as the DR and will move ahead on some quite quickly. Improving streetcar service can often be done at small (adding additional ‘turns’ or returning Adelaide and Richmond to street car use faster than now planned), or no, extra cost such as getting the City to ticket illegally parked cars on King, moving to headway management or moving to a time-based transfer. It’s a pity that all these ideas are pouring out from a regime which is on the way out — I hope that they will not be tarnished as “Adam’s Projects” and thus consigned to the trash as soon as he is gone!

    Now, if only they would look at Swan Boats!

    Steve: There is a real marketing opportunity here for Swan Boat Races at the 2015 games!


  2. I hope that they also look at outside influences or market forces that may force/entice/draw passengers towards the current rapid transit or any Downtown Rapid Transit they build. For example, they could ignore forecasts of oil shortages, or they could build now to be ready. After all, any DRT will last years after the current crop of citizens make the decisions to go ahead or not.


  3. I can save them the time …

    (a) probably won’t happen for at least 20 years, if at all
    (b) may help a little
    (c) improvements not possible in mixed traffic — downtown streetcar routes won’t be partially buried in the central section like Eglinton
    (d) a downtown reduced fare zone? … will never happen

    So there you have it.

    Undoubtedly the TTC will argue that we don’t need a DRL. Their new ATC will run trains so close together that the Yonge line will be able to handle 45k per hour … yeah, right.

    The TTC forgets that under actual service conditions even the smallest hiccup would kill that. I remember how it would sometimes take almost 15 minutes to get from Dundas to Bloor-Yonge (northbound) in the late 1980s after 5pm when the trains were allowed to run closer together than they are today. After reaching B-Y the train was mysteriously home free and would just speed up to Rosedale — why? … the unloading time at B-Y. Why did it only happen after 5pm? … the station dwell times due to platform overcrowding at the Yonge line stations south of Bloor. How can the TTC not remember this?

    Steve: I have been trying to beat the same message about the capacity of Yonge line stations into the TTC more or less without effect for some time now. I think there is a bunch of construction jocks who just have wet dreams about tearing Bloor-Yonge apart, and cannot be convinced that would only be the first of many complex pre-requisites for closely-spaced trains. I remember the days when one train would be leaving and one pulling onto the platform at Bloor northbound simultaneously.

    Of course they have also completely ignored the problem of where all those transfer passengers would go, arriving at a faster rate, when they get down to the BD line.

    It will be interesting, once the public participation gets underway, to see whether they can actually think about this whole problem from a fresh perspective.


  4. Part of the problem I suppose is that the people working at the TTC now weren’t working for the organization back then and don’t remember those days.

    The problem with the TTC is that they’ve never been able to break away from the grid concept, and, with the exception of the Spadina line, everything is a straight line under a single road.

    Foolishly, the TTC fought the idea of a Bloor subway that diverted down to Queen at both ends in the central section. Had that been built, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion now, because we would have had the equivalent of two University lines — one from Queen to Bloor at around Christie, and another one at Pape. Better yet, they could have easily routed it under King because the PATH and all those skyscrapers hadn’t been built yet.


  5. With regards to 2b, I wonder if they would consider rebuilding Queen railway station if the DRL gets built as one way of easing the congestion problems at Union.

    M. Briganti said: “(c) improvements not possible in mixed traffic — downtown streetcar routes won’t be partially buried in the central section like Eglinton”

    It’s hard to say if that will pan out. I mean, at the risk of sounding naive, I wouldn’t be surprised if the TTC takes a fresh look at burying some of the downtown streetcar routes once the TBMs are done with the Eglinton line.

    Steve: Two points here. First, between Eglinton and the DRL, “downtown” (as viewed by much of the 905) will have had a potload of money spent on it. Also, there is a question of the longevity of the boring machines. They would at least have to be refurbished. However, their price is very small compared to the cost of building a line. One station costs more than the four boring machines. In other words, we wouldn’t just start tunneling because they were sitting there looking for a hole to dig.


  6. Why such a huge issue over the DRL/DRT?

    the DRL/T should be done both the east and west branches. Not some incomplete garbage like the Sheppard stubway.

    The western half is easier, there are tracks there, you know those train tracks where Blue22 is supposed to go? (it forms Cllr Perks eastern boundary and Cllr Giambrone’s western boundary).

    You know, technically speaking you could combine the Blue22 with the DRL/T.

    You have seen Miguel Syyap’s fantasy map right? the DRL/T goes north of bloor on the west and east branches. Why not after Bloor head towards in a northwest direction? let’s say to Weston and so forth.


  7. Steve said: “In other words, we wouldn’t just start tunneling because they were sitting there looking for a hole to dig.”

    Oh no question about that. I mean, it’s quite probable that practical issues alone would kill the idea before the TTC finalizes the cost for such a project. (Where to place the tunnel portals for example) At the same time, once construction starts on the DRL the question of which streetcar routes would they keep through downtown will probably be the one the TTC would be pondering rather than which one to bury.

    That said, my original suggestion was more targeted at the TTC’s failure to think creatively at times and properly study new usages for the resources they have available to them rather than the viability of the idea itself.


  8. The previously proposed DRT from the 1980s was an ICTS proposal and should not be under any active consideration given that it would:

    a) have insufficient capacity by a wide margin, and;
    b) have far too few stations and vastly excessive and unattractive distances between stations.

    This needs to be a network solution, not a solution that addresses only one problem on one line. There is so much that can be achieved with this if approached with an open mind.


  9. Gonna toss this out there for the heck of it. How about an el for a downtown relief line? Many DRL proposals use the same rail ROW that the Blue 22 is being put on. So run it above ground along that ROW. Then ramp it up a storey for the swing through downtown. It could go through one of the “lesser” downtown streets, such as Richmond. Of course run it to Pearson and forget about separate, business-class trains for the airport.

    Subway would be nice. But an el could be built quicker and cheaper. And wouldn’t it be nice to ride it in our lifetime? Zipping along in the daylight with scenery to look at would be more pleasant than underground too.

    Granted, els are associated with urban dystopia. But with modern design and technology it might work.

    Steve: The operative word is “might”. Any street above which the el ran would be blighted. Decades ago, the proponents of ICTS showed renderings with slim, airy guideways, always seen in profile from a distance, and never at a station. Another real trick will be getting from the Weston rail corridor onto one of those “lesser” streets. There are a lot of houses in the way. Also, you may not have noticed it, but those streets are increasingly residential in nature.


  10. How much room is there left in the railway corridor for use by a Downtown Relief Line? Heavy rail would need a wider right-of-way than a light rail, but if there is no more room after all those other projects (GO, Airport Rail Link, etc.) take their share, that may leave very little space unless they go underground. If they do go underground, they would have to consider how many stations to put underground, since the underground stations would cost more than just tunnels. They may have to consider just using express underground stations to save on the cost.

    Steve: Another issue is the Humber River crossing. If equipment that is compatible with mainline rail is used, then it can share the tracks over the bridge (which is to be widened, but not enough to provide complete separation). If another technology such as LRT is used, things are a bit trickier.

    I think that it is important not to try to shoehorn an airport service into everyone’s pet version of what the Weston corridor should look like. Even I, who might dream of an LRT that went up the corridor to Eglinton and then west via the Eglinton LRT, know that such an implementation has its limitations.

    A related issue is a review of transit to the airport generally. Notwithstanding the love for a DRL West hereabouts, there are many, many people, both workers and air passengers, who do not originate anywhere near the Weston corridor and they deserve transit to the airport too. There is far too much focus on the ARL partly because it was, until yesterday, a special deal, and partly because of our promise to have good airport service for the Pan Am Games.

    Can we finally stop looking at old models and decide if there are other important ways to serve the airport? They might not be ready for 2015, but the GTAH will still be here in 2016. This is one of the more important tasks for Metrolinx to address in The Big Move 2.0.


  11. Here we have a group of people bitching about the underutilization of the Spadina subway, and those same people want to put a subway in the middle of a rail corridor.

    Steve: Your host is not among them as should be evident from my replies to various comments.


  12. Steve said: I think that it is important not to try to shoehorn an airport service into everyone’s pet version of what the Weston corridor should look like. ….such an implementation has its limitations.”

    Such as?

    What Karl said – about not looking at everything in isolation but rather as part of a network.

    And the fact that airport workers and travellers also come from other parts of the GTA and beyond is no reason to rule out a Union-Pearson link. You could use that argument against any transit line anywhere. There are always other areas to be served. But transit isn’t particularly well-suited to serving the 905 as we all well know.

    Steve: Karl, for example, has something of a fetish for MU equipment that will split and make trains on the fly, and he raises this configuration fairly often. I am not convinced that we should saddle the airport service with this sort of operational requirement.

    One huge issue is the question of above-grade versus below-grade connection to the airport for the ARL and for the LRT lines. The current scheme has everything high in the air, and this creates structural and gradient issues for the ARL’s connection track. If the ARL were electrified (one way or another), then underground operation becomes an option. We have spent so much time trying to avoid electrification that the alternatives it permits are almost forgotten.

    If we are going to make the Weston corridor the DRL west, then the travel time from the airport goes up, and I have to ask how it would compete with, say, a route coming in via the Eglinton LRT and then swinging south into the city. The DRL is a separate animal, at least in its initial implementation, and certainly if the technology choice is subway, from an airport link.

    Then we get into the problems of sharing the corridor, station locations, etc. It’s not straightforward for any of the options, and I suspect that Metrolinx will try to keep its head down and simply go forward with what is already proposed.

    I am not ruling out a Union-Pearson link, but trying to make it solve every problem in that corridor brings in other issues. Meanwhile, we still have to deal with the other 80% of the traffic to the airport.


  13. Why is there all this focus on the west end when this particular subject should have a far higher focus on the east end? East is where the real problems are, and have been for quite some time (and it’s ironic since there’s another thread next to this one dedicated to the ARL).


  14. Steve said: “I have to ask how it would compete with, say, a route coming in via the Eglinton LRT and then swinging south into the city.”

    It doesn’t have to compete. It would complement, as it should. Actually, it could form one line by looping at Pearson much as Y-U-S loops at U.

    But again, Karl is correct that the east end deserves every bit as much attention as the west. It’s just that the airport makes the west end sexier. The mirroring rail ROW in the east end should be used as far as possible, perhaps joining to Eglinton at that end as well, forming a really large closed loop.

    Steve: As I have said many times before, the airport is certainly important enough to be served by multiple routes. My point about an Eglinton LRT route is that if we are going to build an LRT in the Weston corridor (with all of the associated problems), then the actual running time as a less-than-express service may be comparable via the south route and the north route. The whole point is to rethink the airport from scratch.

    I agree that the east end deserves more attention, but don’t think the rail corridor (I assume you mean the Bala Subdivision in the Don Valley) is the way to go. Indeed, a DRL may be better off coming through downtown anywhere but the rail corridor.


  15. I don’t want to veer too far into lines-on-a-map territory, but there’s something I’ve been wondering about the DRT East. On the proposed maps I’ve seen, the alignment south from the Danforth always seems to be the same: Two stops on Pape (Gerrard and Queen East) and then no other stops until the line crosses the Don and goes into the downtown segment. Is there any reason why this spacing is more or less taken for granted? It seems really wide to me. Is there just no other logical place for a subway stop in that part of town, or has there been some previous study or something?

    Steve: When all of the previous studies were done, there was nobody living in the waterfront, and the idea that spaces such as the Distillery District, the Don Lands and St. Lawrence would be full of people (let alone all the condos further north and growing fast) who have been pure fantasy. Don’t forget that in the same era, everything south of King west of Simcoe (where Roy Thomson Hall, Metro Hall and many other new buildings) was all railway yards. Yes, right across from the Royal Alex.

    It’s no surprise that a new rapid transit line in the 60s would have been seen as something to get you from Danforth to the core area and little more.


  16. I don’t think, given the levels of service planned for the Weston corridor on GO Transit alone, that given a proper fare integration scheme a DRL West would even be necessary. We are likely to see trains running every few minutes during rush hours and at least every 15 minutes at other times between Dundas West and Union. If it turned out that a large volume of local traffic was being served, then it might become necessary.


  17. The rail corridor would be the worst place to put it. Here’s an interesting old newspaper clipping I came across on the subject of a subway route through downtown …

    Thursday, March 10, 1966


    Mayor Givens and the Board of Control wondered aloud yesterday whether the routing of the $206,000,000 Bloor-Danforth subway line was a big mistake.

    Mayor Givens indicated there was confusion and suppression of information in 1958 when Council selected the east-west route instead of the U-shaped line Metro planners wanted. The U-line would have followed Bloor from Keele to Christie St., south to Queen St. W., east to Pape Ave., north to Danforth Ave., and east to Woodbine.

    The Mayor and controllers agreed that a Queen subway route would have produced more extensive downtown commercial development, including completion much earlier of development of the south side of Queen St. between Bay and York.

    “Now we have to go out and fight for the Queen subway.” Controller Herbert Oriliffe, said.

    45 years later, we’re still fighting.


  18. Speaking as someone who has perused the 1940s drawings for the Queen Subway that was passed by referendum in 1946 in the Archives, I am relieved that they never built it. The Gardiner would have run along Queen instead of Lake Shore as part of that old plan.


  19. Hello Steve, greetings from Calgary,

    What percentage of the folks traveling on the Bloor-Danforth line transfer to go south into the core vs using it as a cross-town route?

    Steve: The question is much more complex than what you have posed. With the expansion of population and jobs outside of the core, there is a very heavy “counterpeak” flow, for example, northbound on the Yonge line from Bloor Station in the AM peak, and a similar, but less strongly peaked southbound to east-west flow in the PM peak. Also, some trips taken on BD do not pass through St. George or Bloor-Yonge.

    More people transfer from westbound to southbound at Yonge Station than at St. George as this is the shorter route for the majority of trips. Eastbound to southbound riders tend to change at St. George.

    I don’t have hard data on this question, an doubt even the TTC does as they have not done a detailed OD survey of subway passengers since the late 1960s. However, what is quite clear is that the peak direction on the Yonge line (and the University line to a lesser extend) south of Bloor sees the capacity of the trains fully used and overtaxed if there is the slightest upset to service (which can usually be counted on). The northbound AM peak service on Yonge is crowded (there are usually standees on some cars at least to Eglinton), but not packed. Finally, there is transfer traffic onto the BD line in the AM peak, but moreso westbound than eastbound.

    Adding any new element(s) to the network will have a complex effect on the routes people choose to take, and some new riding will be induced on both the new elements and on existing ones where a latent demand can now be comfortably handled.

    From the point of view of a relief line, there would be two major effects. An eastern line, especially if it goes all the way up to Eglinton and Don Mills, will not only intercept trips that now travel west on BD to south on Yonge/University, but also some trips that now travel west to the Yonge line from the Don Mills corridor. A western line, presuming that it followed the Weston subdivision, would meet the BD line much further west than the proposed eastern branch, and so the travel shifts would be different.


  20. I just have a comment on the TTC’s goals for the DRL line.

    In point (b), the TTC is looking into the expanded GO Rail capacity. However, in a previous post on Metrolinx, they were looking to offload capacity to the TTC due to capacity issues at Union (e.g. at Main Street station). Given that each transportation authority is looking to offload passengers to each other, would there be enough capacity to serve the citizens of the GTA? It seems to me each system is projecting to be overloaded and is looking for options.

    In my opinion, this is just a fare issue because traveling on the GO within Toronto is expensive, and there are no incentives for people to transfer from GO to TTC (e.g. YRT’s get on the GO for $0.50). There are already 3 GO lines serving East Toronto (Stouffville, Richmond Hill, Lakeshore East). What is needed is the incentive for users to transfer between GO and TTC in Toronto.

    For example, Union to Kennedy. TTC is $3.00. GO is $4.35. How can anyone justify the almost 44% premium they are paying for traveling on the GO within Toronto?


  21. Steve, would the best bang for the buck come from going back to an Eglinton subway (Pearson to Kennedy) and the west end of the Eglinton line does double duty with the DRL becoming a Pearson/Downtown/Don Mills route?

    Steve: No, I have a problem with Eglinton being all subway, especially if you’re going to merge a DRL west onto it. The west end of Eglinton is not expected to generate very high ridership compared with the rest of the line.

    Is it fair to say the current Eglinton LRT budget would fund about half of an Eglinton subway line from Pearson to Kennedy? ($4.6 Billion – 15km of approx 30km)

    Steve: In theory, yes, but why spend money you don’t have to?

    Regarding the bucks and reading the Summit Alliance funding report, do you view the top four items, Road Tolls, Fuel Tax, Parking Levy and (gasp) the Sales Tax as the best ways to generate $4-5 Billion per year?

    Steve: My preference is Sales Tax and Fuel Tax as the top two candidates. They are extremely easy to implement, require no new infrastructure, and can be easily modified. Road Tolls require all of the machinery of tracking vehicles, and will generate lot of work for the technology people and consultants before we see a penny of revenue. Also they will distort demand for tolled and non-tolled roads which could have unwanted side effects on local transit services.

    As for parking levies, a related issue is the fact that a parking space is not a taxable benefit unless it is reserved for you. In areas where transit is or might be an option, this is a hidden subsidy. Conversely, there are challenges in zoning requirements. If a builder is required to provide “X” parking spaces, but will then be taxed on them, they may argue that the parking requirement is excessive (which, in some places, it is).


  22. To answer Robert’s question, I see eastbound BD trains almost completely empty out at Yonge Stn. in the AM peak, so I would say that from the west, almost 90% of BD passengers transfer to YUS in the AM — roughly 45% at St. George, and 45% at B-Y. The number of passengers boarding BD west of St. George and disembarking east of Yonge in the AM peak is extremely low. Steve used to ride eastbound in the morning and I’m sure he can tell you the trains were pretty much empty on his trek to STC.

    Steve: Yes, boarding at Broadview eastbound I had my choice of seats. The stark contrast was to the westbound platform where the service regularly leaves would-be passengers for several trains in a row. This is one element of overcrowding that the DRL east is intended to address. Note that added capacity on the Yonge line, long the TTC’s holy grail of subway projects, will do nothing to relieve overcrowding on the BD line.

    Steve is also quite correct when he states that travels patterns will shift. The last O-D survey was in 1978 (when the Spadina line opened), and while I don’t have it in front of me, that line changed several things …

    – it caused a noticeable reduction in BD traffic from the west (as passengers shifted to E-W bus routes and the Spadina line from N-S routes and the BD line — the new route saved them a transfer at St. George)

    – it significantly increased the number of passengers riding around Union Stn.

    and, of course, it reduced traffic on the Yonge line southbound, which freed up room for westbound Danforth passengers transferring to Yonge southbound. The overall effect everywhere was positive.

    Steve: Another side-effect of the Spadina subway was to restore some demand on the St. Clair car that had diverted south to the BD line in 1966. With a direct ride from St. Clair West Station to downtown, the streetcar became a more attractive route than, say, the Dufferin bus.


  23. Ernie said, “Union to Kennedy. TTC is $3.00. GO is $4.35. How can anyone justify the almost 44% premium they are paying for traveling on the GO within Toronto?”

    Worse yet, many people who could benefit from the choice do not arrive at Kennedy on foot or get dropped off. They must take a bus or the RT to get there, and therefore have already paid the $3.00 TTC fare. If arriving at one of the times in the morning when a GO option is convenient, they must pay the $4.35 in addition to what they have already paid, making it a 145% premium!

    By comparison, in Dallas and Fort Worth, Trinity Rail Express costs riders $1 over their DART (Dallas) or The T (Fort Worth) fare.


  24. Ernie says: For example, Union to Kennedy. TTC is $3.00. GO is $4.35. How can anyone justify the almost 44% premium they are paying for traveling on the GO within Toronto?

    Because it’s quicker.

    Union to Kennedy is 29 mins in the subway (plus interchange time at Bloor-Yonge), compared 19 mins on the GO Train, with no interchange required (and GO passengers generally get seats, which are also more comfy than subway seats).

    Steve: I think you’re being rather generous with your subway estimate. Union to Bloor is 8 minutes, and Bloor to Kennedy is another 25, not allowing for the inevitable backlog of trains waiting to get into the terminal, sometimes backed up to at least Warden Station.

    For passengers travelling in from near Agincourt, Rouge Hill or Etobicoke North, the time savings for GO over TTC are substantial. My understanding is that if you are look at the passenger levels for GO stations in Toronto, they rise in proportion to the distance from Union (and hence amount of time saved).

    There is a large body of people in Toronto who are perfectly willing to pay substantially higher fares if it produces time savings. GO manages to tap into this, and so does TTC with its double-fare express buses.

    Steve: Although the TTC does not recover the huge waste in resources of having a bus tied up on a premium fare service for a few trips a day.


  25. My understanding is that if you are look at the passenger levels for GO stations in Toronto, they rise in proportion to the distance from Union (and hence amount of time saved).

    Within Toronto proper, the amount of parking available at a GO Station rises in proportion to the distance from Union as well, with the exception of Rouge Hill (which has less than Guildwood).

    The combination of GO and TTC fares, for which no discounts are available between the two apart from a TTC transfer validity system, is too high for the vast majority of riders’ tastes. GO’s ridership even within 416 is driven by riders who drive to the GO Station. GO Stations typically have poor TTC connections to make things even more difficult, apart from Union and Kipling stations, which are adequately functional.


  26. Karl Junkin said: “GO Stations typically have poor TTC connections to make things even more difficult, apart from Union and Kipling stations, which are adequately functional.”

    That has made me wonder if the approximately 200m walk to the nearest bus stop at Guildwood station is the reason why it has been passed over as a mobility hub by Metrolinx even though it would be a natural candidate to be one if a bus loop were added. Mind you, I may have missed it in Metrolinx’s plan.


  27. [Various quotes from previous comments have been clipped here.]

    If [a bus] wasn’t used on a premium fare service, it would surely be used on a slower all stops peak time service? It is financially better for TTC to run a bus full of people paying double fare quickly than a bus full of people paying normal fare slowly.

    I personally think TTC should charge the same for all trips of a given length, regardless of speed, like YRT. After all, the subway is normal fare.

    Steve: Actually, what happens is that a premium fare bus carries people from one part of the city to another, handles no local trips, and carries little or no return traffic. The number of riders per hour is likely to be lower than on many local services where the need for service may be greater. Few point-to-point trips in the city lend themselves to express routes due to limitations of the road network.

    There is a proposal to increase the amount of express service on “regular” bus routes as part of the Transit City Bus Plan. However, this is tied up in budgetary debates. I agree with this approach because the intent is to better serve the demand on existing routes.


  28. M Briganti says: “To answer Robert’s question, I see eastbound BD trains almost completely empty out at Yonge Stn. in the AM peak, so I would say that from the west, almost 90% of BD passengers transfer to YUS in the AM — roughly 45% at St. George, and 45% at B-Y. ”

    That simply isn’t so. I’ve ridden the subway to Yonge from Kipling or Islington often enough, over various times through the peak period, from before 7AM to after 9AM.

    It’s true that a huge number of passengers clear out at Yonge and at St. George. But there are plenty of other stations that see significant numbers of passengers getting off. On eastbound trains in the AM peak, Spadina is an obvious one. Ossingon, Dufferin, Dundas West, Runnymede (school crowds), Royal York (schools again).

    Furthermore, as someone who often got on a westbound train at Yonge in the PM peak and early evening, it’s usually a scramble for seats at Yonge; the majority are already occupied by passengers from the east. Some of these may get off at St. George, sure, but others are heading to Spadina, or Dufferin, or….

    It’s true that the highest-usage stations on Bloor-Danforth are fewer than on Yonge-University-Spadina.

    spacing magazine did a station-usage graphic that was quite interesting (and isn’t available on-line). If we eliminate all stations with fewer than 40,000 users, then the subway lines look like this:

    St George

    St Clair
    St Andrew
    Queen’s Park
    St George


    This is more fun than serious, because obviously as we begin to chop stations, usage at adjacent stations would increase.

    By the way, if the criterion is more than 30,000 users, B-D adds Broadview and Spadina. Both major transfer stations.

    Steve: I believe that the distinction is that of the passengers who are still on the trains by the time they reach St. George, almost all of them have left by Yonge Street.


  29. I have a question which is a bit of topic. But lets say if a downtown subway line were to be built; where in the world would the TTC construct another subway yard. Greenwood and Wilson will surely reach capacity by that time (Maybe not Greenwood so much) but we all know with the condos being built sporadically Toronto will definitely have no land for this so I wouldn’t be surprised if some surrounding municipality would deal with the cost of subway expansion (cost of land that is not $).

    Steve: There is a scheme afoot for a new yard up in York Region somewhere, depending on how far the Richmond Hill subway goes. However, that only looks after the Yonge line, not Bloor-Danforth. They could reactivate Keele Yard, although it would need better security against taggers, but that’s not as convenient a location as it was when Lansdowne Division still existed and there were “west end” crews on the BD line.

    Even without a DRL, the TTC has a challenge when it talks about resignalling the BD line and running tighter headways as this means they need more trains. You can only offset the requirement by running the same number of trains at higher speed (e.g. “high rate”), but the benefit is limited to those areas where the station spacing and track layout will support it.

    Fleet planning has not been a strong point at the TTC where I fear that the real goal has been to maximize work for Bombardier in Thunder Bay. Years ago, I proposed returning to high rate operation to save on fleet size, and the reaction was almost as if life as we know it would end.


  30. Vic said: “But lets say if a downtown subway line were to be built; where in the world would the TTC construct another subway yard.”

    Simple. Take a good look at the size of the Science Centre’s north parking lot, compare its size to that of Davisville yard, and remember that subway storage yards don’t have to be above ground.


  31. I think we’re getting sidetracked with the whole subway yard question, but Steve let’s us do that… I’ll take the bait…..

    Science Centre is a problem, 2 reasons:

    First, phase I of any DRL is not likely to reach that far, while I think Steve has made a compelling case for terminating a DRL there in the N/E, I can’t see it happening in a phase I. The key line build is B-D (probably Pape) to a south-downtown Y-U-S station, likely King (but could be Union or Queen); that will be hideously expensive w/o worrying about a leg up to Don Mills & Eg.

    Secondly, on the underground issue, that hill is one big seepage zone (it provides water to the ponds below), I would not even want to begin contemplating the structural headaches or the EA or the cost for that matter.


    My bet goes to the once proposed LRT yard for the east end, the Lever Brothers site, in conjunction with the old Keating Yard.

    Its close to a proposed DRL route, and can accommodate the trains above ground.

    But that’s just my guess.


  32. Steve says: “I believe that the distinction is that of the passengers who are still on the trains by the time they reach St. George, almost all of them have left by Yonge Street.”

    I can agree with that. The exact percentage of through-riders — 10% as Mr Briganti claims, or 5%, or 15% — isn’t that significant.

    I assume that Mr. Briganti is further backing up his position, made in an earlier comment, that the Bloor-Danforth should have run down to Queen St. instead of following Bloor across town.

    The comment that I was responding to — and this time I’ll add another sentence — was:
    “I see eastbound BD trains almost completely empty out at Yonge Stn. in the AM peak, so I would say that from the west, almost 90% of BD passengers transfer to YUS in the AM — roughly 45% at St. George, and 45% at B-Y. The number of passengers boarding BD west of St. George and disembarking east of Yonge in the AM peak is extremely low.”

    This passage seems to imply that 90% of riders coming from the west on Bloor transfer at St. George and Yonge. I don’t know if this is what was meant to be implied, but it would go with M. Briganti’s statement that “Foolishly, the TTC fought the idea of a Bloor subway that diverted down to Queen at both ends in the central section. ”

    There are three other points here.

    1) A further study of the subway station usage numbers in spacing shows that there’s a substantial percentage of B-D riders who do not use any of the central seven stations (Broadview through Spadina). I don’t have the magazine with me, but the station usage of Kennedy-Chester and Bathurst-Kipling is over 100,000 users/day higher than usage Broadview-Spadina. As you have pointed out, Bloor was a very heavily-used carline. There may be a lot of people who would be inconvenienced if M. Briganti’s favourite alignment had been built.

    2) One must be careful of selective bias. If one regularly transfers from B-D trains to southbound Yonge, it’s easy to conclude that 90% of riders get off the B-D train to take the Yonge subway southbound. However, if one regularly transfers to Yonge northbound, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that 70% of riders get off the B-D train to take the Yonge subway northbound (and another 20% get off the train and up the stairs to the street). The reason is that everyone who wants to go south on Yonge will be at the west end of the train; everyone who wants to go north will be at the east end of the train. When I’ve been on the platform at Bloor in the morning, I’d figure a south:north split somewhere between 3:1 and 2:1.

    3) It can be said of through east-west streetcar routes (Carlton, Dundas, Queen, King) that 90% of the riders on the car when it’s approaching University are off by the time the streetcar departs Yonge. Does this make an argument for rerouting the streetcar lines, as M. Briganti seems to think it argues for rerouting (in an alternate history) of the Bloor-Danforth?


  33. Ed — I’ve used the Bloor subway since the day it opened in 1966 and I know it inside out. It has never been a crosstown line.

    The current alignment under Bloor and Danforth would have been the best one if the wye interchange operation had been kept, but it wasn’t. In August, 1966 (the last full month of integrated operation) there were 587 service delays and 951 holds at the Y. The total/cumulative hold/delay time across the whole system was a staggering 99 hours.

    In October, 1966 (the first full month of segregated operation) there were only 45 service delays. The total delay time under segregation? … just 4 hours 22 minutes.

    When the Commission saw these numbers later that fall, they concluded that the straight E-W routing of BD, and the Y, were a mistake — that the line should have gone downtown via Queen (the flying U proposal). While I was a proponent of the Y, I agree that the Bloor-Queen route would have been better for a variety of reasons. Had it been built that way, we wouldn’t even need a DRL now.


  34. Bloor-Danforth is a crosstown line, except for Scarborough (as a little pond gets in the way… they call it Lake Ontario). If it’s not a crosstown line currently, what is it?

    It is worth pointing out that projections from the late 1950s for the Bloor-Danforth route between Greenwood and Ossington were among the considerations in deciding the crosstown versus flying-U debate. The conclusion was that there would ultimately have been a requirement to fill in the central gap along Bloor-Danforth as subway if they went with the flying-U. Facing an inevitable shortage of streetcar fleet at the time, the more convoluted requirements that would have been required for streetcar service with the flying-U would have been overstretching limited resources at the time, and there was no cost-effective solution to that dilemma. That central section of Bloor-Danforth certainly would never get by with buses (not even trolley buses), a reality made crystal clear in a report on alignment evaluations from the late 1950s.

    The flying-U would never have been designed as an end-state configuration, but as an interim state. This made the flying-U’s provisions for protecting future options complex and even wasteful, and was also among the considerations that ultimately favoured a crosstown route.

    If the flying-U had been built, we would be squabbling over which line to “complete” instead of which line to build, and our current network would be much more disjointed than they are today were they arranged around a flying-U network. Network functionality and manageability is, no contest, far better off with a crosstown alignment over a flying-U.

    There is a blessing in disguise element to some degree with the way things played out with the Bloor vs Queen subway history.


  35. Karl — when you look at BD’s ridership pattern, it’s not a crosstown line. It crosses the city geographically, but it serves mostly local trips (west-end or east-end only) and trips downtown via YUS. What other city designs a system where two major subway lines cross each other 1 mile north of downtown, forcing almost everyone to transfer?

    Actually, the Bloor-Danforth-University route won out because it was shorter, less expensive, and because the TTC convinced Metro that the Y would work. When, by the TTC’s ridiculously high standards, the Y “failed” (after 3 schedule rewrites and a completely impromptu on-the-fly switching operation by the controllers at St. George), it pretty much confirmed that the BD route was a mistake.

    It would have been interesting to see if the TTC would have kept streetcars on Bloor or used buses, and what would have happened to the 501, or how the downtown area would have developed differently. For one thing, the College and Dundas streetcars would have fed the “Bloor” line from the west. The Queen car would have fed the line from the east and west.

    As for fracturing the system, I don’t hear the Transit City folks worrying about that on Finch, Sheppard, or Eglinton. Those routes won’t be complete end-to-end either.


  36. At this point then, isn’t the cheapest and shortest sort of “relief”, giving the BD line an “U” of some sort?


  37. M. Briganti – The same could be said about Lakeshore GO; it serves mostly Hatlon/Peel to Union and Scarborough/Durham to Union. Lakeshore GO is still a cross-region line though. By your definition, Yonge is not a crosstown line either; southbound trains in the AM peak empty out substantially at Bloor; more people get off (or on) than stay on travelling through Bloor from north to south. Yonge is still a crosstown line though.

    I think you’re focusing too much on downtown. Why should any city design its subway so that it is grossly impractical to travel anywhere but downtown? Bloor-Danforth avoids us having that problem with its current configuration.

    Bloor-Danforth was shorter and less expensive than the flying-U, but the expense associated with it did have relation to streetcar network impacts; they would have had to keep more of the streetcar network and incur a fair amount of track replacement costs on Bloor, which was near the end of its life at the time, in stark contrast to Queen, which didn’t need track replacement for quite a while yet back then. A lot of concern about how to effectively service the high demands between Greenwood and Ossington in the Bloor-Danforth corridor did factored into it, because obtaining streetcars was becoming increasingly closer to impossible while the fleet continued to age. The late-1950s report evaluating the two did not focus much attention on the functionality of the wye, so that was a very minor factor in deciding the alignment, although the TTC obviously had other reservations about some specifics of the wye to the point that Norman Wilson resigned in protest (this sounds like a StasCan story), as discussed previously.

    What I would put forward as a testament to the success of the Bloor-Danforth line, and confirming that it was the right choice and far from a mistake, is its off-peak ridership. The off-peak ridership of Bloor-Danforth is extremely healthy, and applies to weekends as well. I think you see more crosstown use outside of the peak periods, and that its success in off-peak performance would have been hampered with the flying-U.

    As for Transit City, I don’t know where you’ve been, but there’s been a lot of dissatisfaction among the Transit City boosters about the impacts of the piecemeal approach currently in play. I would have handled it differently… but then, I would have changed a few other things about Transit City, too, as far too many problems have not been resolved.


  38. Sorry Karl — I can’t agree. Most subway lines throughout the world are primarily geared towards getting people in and out of downtown. Look at Chicago and NYC. We’re the odd case. BD’s ridership is healthy because it’s the only E-W line, and it depends a lot on feeder buses.

    The fact that the TTC is using the Y again this weekend, and again later this fall just shows you how political it all was … and is. BART’s Oakland Y is almost identical to ours, and it works, even through trains move through it at a snail’s pace.

    Rob — yes, the DRL would be a U, with the exception that it forces people to transfer.


  39. “Ed — I’ve used the Bloor subway since the day it opened in 1966 and I know it inside out. It has never been a crosstown line.”

    I rode the line on the day it opened as well. So what?

    “Karl — when you look at BD’s ridership pattern, it’s not a crosstown line. It crosses the city geographically, but it serves mostly local trips (west-end or east-end only) and trips downtown via YUS.”

    You’re ignoring the fact that easily 25%-30% of riders transferring at Yonge in the morning peak go northbound . Running these people down to Queen won’t be of any help to them.

    Plus, Dundas and College and Queen’s Park are all very busy stations. A Bloor-Queen-Danforth alignment would have people transferring to go north, instead of south. They would still have to transfer in any case. And with the University line not built, there would be that much more load on the Yonge line.

    I don’t think anyone will go for your “flying U” idea, and anyway that discussion is fifty-plus years out-of-date.


  40. All things considered, I think B-D as it was built was the best decision, as it simplified the network (both surface and underground) in comparison to the flying U. The problem is that in addition to University, an east-end route into downtown should have been built long ago, which would have given many riders that one-seat ride into the core, or at the very least, eased congestion significantly at Bloor-Yonge. Someone mentioned NYC and Chicago, and how most or all lines originate downtown. Well, when I was last in NYC, I stayed in Astoria (Queens) and had to travel over to Brooklyn a number of times. It was a long ride on the subway, because my only option was to go through Manhattan. There was no crosstown option for me, and I found that to be rather inconvenient. My only other option was to take two buses, which I was told would take even longer than my circuitous subway route.

    Here in Toronto, I think it’s great that we have a long, crosstown line. We just need an additional route into downtown from the east end to truly complete our subway network.


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