The Dwindling Capacity of the Yonge Subway

Yesterday’s launch by York Region of their Yonge Subway Now website brought to the fore the question of just how much room remains on the Yonge Subway for additional riders. Over many years, claims about capabilities of new subway technologies together with changing projections for future demand have left Toronto in a position where its subway is badly overloaded with little relief in sight.

This article traces the evolution of those claims and the reality of what can actually be provided to show that building a Relief Line is not a project for a future decade but one that must begin now.

The origins of this problem can be traced back two decades to the ridership plummet brought on by the mid-1990s recession when the TTC lost roughly 20% of its demand. The Yonge line, which had been packed full in the late 1980s, suddenly had room to spare and the idea of northern extensions took root then. An eastern relief line had been on the books for years as a Queen Street subway swinging north to Thorncliffe Park and Don Mills, but it was beaten out through a combination of suburban political pressure and an overt distaste for the line in TTC management. Gary Webster, former Chief General Manager, said on more than one occasion, in effect, why build a new line when you can fit the riders on the one we already have.

The TTC expected to implement a new signal system eventally allowing them to operate much more frequent service and hence greater capacity, and that was pretty much the end of the debate. Issues such as station capacity (notably at Bloor-Yonge where a billion-dollar project would add transfer capacity between the Yonge and Bloor lines) were treated as marginal considerations, not as a central, necessary part of any capacity growth.

The DRL was also hijacked for a time by Queen’s Park’s love for new technology with a proposal for the Scarborough RT/ICTS technology that would have placed an elevated structure on Front Street directly in front of Union Station. Historic sensitivity was never their strong suit.

The subway signalling system became part of the expansion dreams in 2008 when the TTC authorized the first steps in replacing the aging technology on the original 1954 Yonge line. It was a period of great uncertainty and cutbacks in funding on many fronts including transit, and the TTC feared it would not get funding for a simple “state of good repair” signal project. This became a project as much about enabling growth in subway capacity as one of badly needed maintenance, and it perpetuated the idea that lots of room would be available with the new system.

2.47 The ability to improve capacity on the line has in the past been limited by the current train control system, which can only handle the turn-around of 25 trains per hour. As part of the Metrolinx Quick Wins package of rapid transit initiatives in 2008, the Yonge subway line capacity improvements were funded in order to quickly achieve customer and system improvements. The Quick Wins investment of $293 million provided funding to the TTC for the installation of Automatic Train Operation (ATO) and a one-third funding contribution towards the acquisition of higher-capacity subway trains – ‘Rocket’ trains. [Metrolinx Yonge North Benefits Case Analysis, p 17]

Anyone who has been following the signalling project knows that $293m is small change for everything the TTC needs to install. This was only an early stage in a complex project, not a full scale solution to provision of better service.

Various capacities have been claimed for a subway line, and the Metrolinx BCA actually says that 1,320 for a train is a reasonable number. The report attempts to skate around crowding problems by overstating the design capacity and effectively committing the TTC to running packed trains.

4.27 Demand levels forecast on the line are higher than the subway planning capacity estimates (38,000 passengers per hour per direction at 180 passengers per subway car). However, it is acknowledged that maximum allowable capacity is likely to be higher. Assuming 220 passengers per subway car, the forecast level of demand is below the allowable capacity for all options after ATO and Rocket train roll out.

4.28 The majority of demand on the line will come from transit users who will transfer from other services (bus or GO), but it is estimated that 1,909 new transit trips (i.e. modal transfer from auto) will be generated in the AM peak period for Option 1. [p 35]

There is a compound problem of an assumed headway that the TTC now feels is unachievable, and the use of a load factor high enough to guarantee substantial crowding and loading delays.

The TTC designs service on a lower basis, although for the Yonge line they have no choice but to overload the cars because they cannot run more trains.

  • The scheduled service on Yonge is a train every 141 seconds, or 25.53 trains/hour. At the design capacity of 1,100 per train, this is a capacity of about 28k passengers/hour.
  • They are actually carrying about 31k/hour at peak, and this works out to 1,347/train, roughly the level the report suggests is reasonable. Anyone who rides the subway knows what this looks like, and the problems it brings with crowding and delays at major stations. This is a crowding level that is acceptable only in an emergency, not as a matter of daily operation.
  • The problem is made even worse by the fact that the TTC rarely achieves its scheduled service level because of crowding and long dwell times. This is compounded by door problems and medical emergencies flowing from the overcrowded trains.

In some of the earlier studies of the new signal system, and in the Yonge North BCA, the TTC and Metrolinx have stated a target headway of 105 seconds, equivalent to a capacity of 38k at 1,100/train. However, the TTC has since reduced the target service to 110 seconds, or 36k, based on constraints that would prevent actual achievement of the shorter headway. Even 110 seconds will be challenging given the way TTC terminals operate today.

The chart below is taken from the July 2016 CEO’s Report showing the actual throughput of trains southbound at Bloor Station in the AM peak.


The following chart shows the ups and downs of demand and capacity changes projected by Metrolinx. This material was originally in the Technical Summary of the Yonge Relief Network Study and reproduced in a Metrolinx Board presentation in June 2015. It shows:

  • The existing demand of 31k/hour which exceeds the design capacity of 28k/hour,
  • The projected growth in demand to 2031,
  • The projected diversion of riders to the Vaughan subway (TYSSE) and GO/RER,
  • The projected riding for the “base case” in the Network Relief study, and
  • The marginal increase in demand caused by extending the subway to Richmond Hill.


The GO/RER diversion is affected by at least three factors:

  • Improvement of service from Richmond Hill to Union on GO from every 30 to every 15 minutes,
  • Improvement of service on the Stouffville corridor to 21 trains over the am peak,
  • A fare differential between GO and the subway that limits the attractiveness of GO as an alternative.

The service improvement to Richmond Hill is already in GO’s plans, but the service for Stouffville is now proposed as 4 trains/hour from Unionville and 3 trains/hour from Lincolnville. Without seeing the details, it is difficult to say how the effect of GO/RER would raise or lower the diverted passenger count, but it is important to note the importance of this effect in creating headroom for projected new riders.

The technical report includes an option dubbed “RER Plus” that would have provided even more frequent service, notably to Richmond Hill, which was dropped from consideration because it had minimal effect on ridership. The exact details should be explored because it implies that there is a finite new demand that may have been sated (in the model) by the 15 minute headway in the “base case”. Moreover, the limited growth with RER could be a function of fare levels in the model, a factor which the SmartTrack and Scarborough Subway studies show affects where trips are assigned. Would the GO network do a better job of “relief” if its fares were comparable to those paid for subway travel?

The projected demand on the Yonge North extension is quite substantial, and much larger than numbers for either the Vaughan or Scarborough subways. Most of this demand comes from existing transit trips that simply feed into a subway station further north than they do today. In the chart below, “Option 1” in blue is a line built in a single project all the way to Richmond Hill as opposed to variations on an interim operation to Steeles, “Option 2”. The cumulative load southbound at NY Centre Station is 26.7k/hour, almost the entire design capacity of the subway before planned improvements through new signalling and automatic control. This does not leave a lot for riders from Sheppard southward.

(The figure below is taken from the Yonge North BCA.)


There is a big problem with this chart in that it conflicts with demand projections in the Conceptual Design Study [45MB pdf].


Projected ridership at Richmond Hill Centre Station increased 25 percent relative to the TPAP

The projected transit ridership – developed during the TPAP – was updated during the Conceptual Design Study to reflect revised 2031 land use projections from York Region and the City of Toronto. Results suggest that more people (about a 25% increase) will board the subway at Richmond Hill Centre Station during the morning peak hour in 2031 than previously projected during the TPAP. The resultant increase reflects the implications of new secondary plans and development applications received since the completion of the TPAP in 2009. Based on current analysis, it is projected that ridership volumes in the Yonge corridor will warrant a subway within the next 10 years (i.e. before the year 2021). The minimum ridership required to warrant a subway is approximately 10,000 passengers during the peak hour. Within the next 10 years, over 12,000 peak hour passengers are expected to board or depart at RHC station alone. By 2031, ridership at RHC is expected to increase to 14,000 peak hour passengers. [p ii]

Additional demand, not included in the studies, is expected to arise from increased residential density within Toronto south of Steeles. [Conceptual Study p 2]

The options for subway relief show substantially reduced demand at Bloor-Yonge station both for on-train loads and for transfer movements.


The 32,300 riders under “do nothing” are the same riders as in the “YRNS Base Case” above and they represent 89% of the future subway capacity before the effect of a Richmond Hill extension. The projected peak hour demand at North York Centre station of 27,626 implies either that there will be comparatively few riders boarding south from there to Bloor, or that there is very substantial turnover at major intermediate destinations to free up capacity for “in town” riders. Such turnover, however, would come at the cost of additional dwell time as one set of passengers leaves and another boards.

Although the modelling was done, according to the reports, with the Crosstown LRT included, we do not know how many riders it contributes and especially what the difference will be between existing bus feeder loads and the LRT line at Eglinton Station. The developing land use pattern at Yonge-Eglinton is at a higher level than originally planned, and this too needs to be factored into the model. What is missing is a recognition that subway congestion analysis is not only a matter for south of Bloor, but for the entire line north to Finch.

The study looks at accumulated demand, not at the operational side of the subway including a basic question: how frequent would trains have to be (or how low must demand be kept) to preserve an environment where the line does not bog down at stations and lose capacity through an inability to run its scheduled service. Moreover, there are capacity issues not just at Bloor but at stations further south on Yonge where clearing the platform between more frequent trains would be difficult.

On the Bloor line in the PM peak, transfer traffic will arrive at Bloor-Yonge northbound faster than it does today, and today’s rate already strains the lower level station. Overcoming this constraint would not be easy, and the construction project alone would bring substantial disruption for years.

The cost of expanding capacity in existing stations has never been included as a cost of the “do nothing” option even while the pricetag for a DRL usually brings much hand-wringing over affordability.

The Yonge Relief Network Study is quite clear: the “long” version of the DRL will be needed and alternatives to it will provide only superficial, short-term relief.

8.2 Analysis of the base case indicated that the development of RER provides significant relief to Line 1 prior to 2031. Of the anticipated growth in ridership of 6,600 passengers in the peak hour, RER will abstract 4,200. However, by 2031 it is anticipated that ridership on Line 1 will be approaching its theoretical capacity and further transit development will be required.

8.3 The overarching conclusion of the YRNS is that a new rapid transit option will be required post 2031 to abstract growing demand on Line 1 and accommodate future growth. [p 49]

8.11 This analysis should determine a preferred project concept for Line 1 relief that builds upon the surface and tunnelled options included in the YRNS evaluation. Phasing of potential subway components is a critical consideration for this work. Based on the YRNS evaluation, it is likely that a short subway option may provide relief post 2031, with an extension to Line 4 at Don Mills providing longer term relief and a complete transit network.

8.12 The development of this project should consider key factors influencing crowding on Line 1 in determining a timeline for implementation and project development:
• Rate of population and employment growth
• Impact of fare integration on RER’s abstraction from Line 1
• Impact of new transit projects above those included in the YRNS base case
• Crowding impacts at Bloor-Yonge Station [p 50]

Future demand growth will be a critical issue in the analysis given that the Yonge line is projected to be effectively “full” by 2031. Except for a recent levelling-off of demand (which itself could be a factor of capacity constraints and unattractive service), an annual growth rate of 2% is not out of the question especially with strong growth of office space in the core area. Only a slight change in that rate would eat through any residual capacity very quickly.

There is a major problem underlying this debate with competing ridership projections and service plans. From York Region’s point of view, any model showing that there is room for growth from a subway extension is ideal. From Toronto’s point of view, subway capacity is already overcommitted even with expected improvements. From the TTC’s point of view, there is an inconsistency in presentation of options, particularly the cost and effect of “do nothing” for the existing downtown network. A consolidated, consistent view of the issues is long overdue.

Toronto talks boldly about investing in its future, but this ideal is short-changed when it comes to transit capacity. Subway relief will not be simple or inexpensive, but this is an investment that must be made.

17 thoughts on “The Dwindling Capacity of the Yonge Subway

  1. There is no mention of adding a 7th car to the trains – has that idea disappeared?

    Back in the 1980’s, as a school exercise, we considered doubling the length of every train and extending the length of the Y-B station while leaving all others the same. The subway train would pull up to each station for the first half of the train, then the second half. Except at Y-B, the double length platform would allow for all loadings to be done at one. Back then, the use at Y-B was so much higher than elsewhere that this actually helped the capacity quite a bit.

    Modifying this concept, I suggest that 7 or 8 car trains could be used. Simple math says that 7 or 8 car trains will increase capacity by 16% to 33%. Again, the Y-B station would have to be lengthened. Looking at Y-E station, it appears that extending a station length is not that big of a deal. A few other key stations could also be extended as their demands increase (i.e. Union, St. George, Y-E). Actually, with ATC and exact stopping of trains, and considering the distance from the first set of doors to the last, I figure every station would have to be extended about 10′ to accommodate the full 7 car train.

    Whether 7 or 8 cars, if all stations are not extended, the operation would be that north of Bloor, the first six (or so) cars would stop, while the last 1 or 2 would have doors remain closed. South of Bloor, it switches. With walk-through trains, it makes it quite a bit easier as the full train length is accessible in case of emergency. I have not seen dimensions for pocket tracks or storage yards, but I imagine they were designed somewhat longer than a 6 car train due to variable stopping. Again, with ATC, the train can be positioned accurately and a longer train will likely fit.

    Steve: There was a scheme for a 7th, short car as part of the TR consists, possibly in the next order of cars where the 7 car trains would go to YUS and the 6 car trains would move to BD displacing the T1s. I can think of a few problems, however.

    Much of the subway, especially the yards and carhouses, is built around a 450 foot train length. If the trains were longer, they simply would not fit. This has nothing to do with stopping patterns. Also, the cascade of fleets sounds nice but for the difference in fleet sizes between the two lines.


  2. I have a crazy (and probably unworkable, but I’d be interested in hearing why) idea. My understanding is that from at least Eglinton to Bloor the subway doesn’t actually run under Yonge street. Could you bore a tunnel actually under Yonge street for express trains from Eglinton and curving to connect with the B-D line at Bay lower station rather than Yonge-Bloor, and then have the train keep heading downtown with one more stop at Union or somewhere nearby in the financial district? So, trains coming from north of Eglinton would only make two more stops afterwards, at Bay and Union. Local trains would start at Eglinton and run all the way to Vaughan. This would seem to relieve both the capacity constraints on the line overall, and at Yonge-Bloor station, plus provide people coming from Eglinton and further north a faster commute. The overall tunnel distance doesn’t seem that much more than the one stop Scarborough extension and I think the line would be far more useful to more people.

    Steve: There are a few problems with your scheme.

    First, all of your service coming into downtown has to originate on the line north of Eglinton before you split off into express and local services. That limits the capacity of the combined services to what you can run there.

    When the line reaches Eglinton, there is a gradual curve off of Yonge to the west-of-Yonge location of Eglinton Station. Changing this to an actual junction would be complex, and would require grade separation because of service frequencies. The Eglinton LRT tunnel is about to be directly in the path you would need to take. The subway crosses from west of Yonge to east of Yonge north of St. Clair Station, and so you would have to go under the existing structure there.

    A curve into Bay Station (lower level) would be extremely difficult to build because it would be under many buildings that have gone up since the subway was built. Finally, the University subway has no capacity to accept additional trains that would merge in at Museum, and there is no capacity at Union for a terminal operation in addition to the “through” service.


  3. I’ve been disgruntled with many mobility issues here for a time, yet I’ve tried to be propositional on many things. Some are less workable maybe, but our EA and political processes tend to consult on ‘any type of subway as long as it’s here’, so different options, including things done now, just don’t get picked up on.

    One thing from the 6km proposal for Scarborough, is that’s the distance Parkdale to core, but also, maybe we should build another subway tunnel where there’s clear demand/overload, and other cities have express subways. And being a shitizen, one can be ignorant of the many reasons as to why not, including using the very wide Gatineau Hydro corridor for transit.

    So there’s almost a bit of room south of Davisville for an extra track/tunnel, as a start point, still tending to prefer Richmond Hill GO boosts for long-haul relief. And while clearly a set of issues to have two trains using a single tunnel for any portion, maybe that’s what a set of signals is for. So expand the system going south, and emerge at Rosedale, and from there, avoid the core to swing over to Church St., which is both near to Yonge and the myriad of heavy destinations, but also relatively unencumbered, and wider than Yonge. There’d be ZERO connection to Bloor – go through to Ryerson/College, and turn on to Queen St. at the empty land of the Metropolitan United Church (with some bonussing to them), and then to the existing City Hall Station.

    Steve: I have already addressed the idea of a split line south of Eglinton in a previous reply to a comment. It’s not a question of signals but of how many trains will fit even with an ideal system. That idea is and always has been a non-starter because so much demand originates north of Eglinton. If the demand were more heavily leaning to south of Eglinton, then we could talk about a separate track for the expresses from RH and the existing track for the locals, but that’s not how the line actually behaves. For the same reason, a DRL that ends at Danforth does not have as much benefit as one that heads further north and intercepts more demand coming west to Yonge.

    A smaller tweak would be repainting Yonge St., or portions thereof, for a Jarvis-style express busway, but only rush-hours and reversible. Maybe have larger buses; maybe just south of St. Clair and maybe instead of Yonge, maybe Mount Pleasant and Jarvis should be tweaked, and have express buses there, at the same fare as normal TTC.

    If we did a numbers count of those using the subway corridors of Yonge and B/D, those #s would be some orders of magnitude over those in cars, on foot, and on bike. It’s beyond time to actually be prioritizing the transit demand on-street given the crowding, and as a sign of respect and concern for the merchants who might well lose parking spaces, in the off-peak hours, consider having the busway as a delivery zone, and with brutal ticketing and towings.


  4. “The DRL was also hijacked for a time by Queen’s Park’s love for new technology with a proposal for the Scarborough RT/ICTS technology that would have placed an elevated structure on Front Street directly in front of Union Station. Historic sensitivity was never their strong suit.”

    If there is room for elevated, then why should we not build elevated transit Downtown? Why is elevated okay for Scarborough but NOT for Downtown? For historic sensitivity? And Scarborough has no history?

    Steve: The only elevated in Scarborough is the east west leg of the RT from Midland to McCowan. Part of the land is industrial, and the rest was almost empty when the line was built. By the way, the LRT line proposed before the SRT would have gone through STC at grade, but Scarborough Council was tricked into accepting an elevated (to which there were objections) on the grounds that at grade operation would limit access between the north and south sides of the site. That was hogwash, but it avoided the need to have the el approved as part of a conversion from LRT to ICTS technology.

    Lies were told to Scarborough to get the ICTS line accepted then, and they are told now by the subway advocates.


  5. Wouldn’t extending the Sheppard line at least to Downsview relieve some of the pressure on Yonge? It would get people to the U of T and points west quicker.

    Steve: No it wouldn’t. The extra travel time, including transfers to make the dogleg journey would discourage many riders. And the project would be yet another billion dollars diverted to a pet project (the Pasternak Relief Line) from the Don Mills Relief Line we really need.


  6. For Sidney’s Sheppard line to relieve Yonge, it would have to be interlined. That way people from Don Mills would stay on the train to Downsview and then down the University leg, as opposed to transferring and surely not getting at seat. From Don Mills, alternate trains would go to Vaughan and to Union (and back up to Finch).


  7. How about “northern” relief?

    Finish the Stubway (Sheppard Line) west to Downsview (Sheppard West) as a one stop (Bathurst North) extension.

    Probably only a tiny incremental diversion of ridership (which the Crosstown may accommodate), but some folks will prefer to crossover to the University Line or transfer at Spadina (need those fitbit steps) or St. George and avoid Yonge/Bloor completely.

    Going with the single stop at Bathurst North would be an easy compromise between cost, system access/redundancy, added ridership from the Bathurst buses and Yonge to Spadina transfer speed.

    The ECLRT with 3 intermediate (Forest Hill, Chaplin, Avenue) stops will be a slower transfer, and riders from the outer end (Don Mills) of the Sheppard line may skip the Yonge trains as the Spadina transfer would be less crowded.

    And in the long term, once the DRL gets to Don Mills, riders from downtown and Scarborough that have York U or Humber College (take the Finch West LRT) can stay off the Yonge line.


  8. Steve says

    “Moreover, the limited growth with RER could be a function of fare levels in the model, a factor which the SmartTrack and Scarborough Subway studies show affects where trips are assigned. Would the GO network do a better job of “relief” if its fares were comparable to those paid for subway travel?”

    Hmmmm…. Now, wasn’t there just a noticeable increase in passenger use (i.e. doubled, plus a bit) when UPX – otherwise known as GO-Transit-to-the-Airport (GOTchA?) – slashed their ticket prices to less than half for “regular” folks (not the non-discounted/employee pass users) this past March?

    Hmmmm. … Wonder what the break point is for getting more passengers on a “regular” GO Transit/RER route in terms of lowering the fare. How far could GO Transit fares be lowered to increase ridership without overloading the trains while still maintaining reasonable fare return to the Agency and also creating diversionary relief to the Yonge Line?

    I realize – as Steve has pointed out numerous times – that GO is constrained with regards to the number of actual trains that can travel along the various route tracks, given capacity issues at Union Station, train length, shared tracks with CP/CN, etc. But, as a retailer, if you choose to cut your prices slightly to encourage more people to purchase more so that, at the end of the day, your overall income is increased, why wouldn’t you figure out where that break point is? Maybe because you feel you “don’t have to”….

    Carrot? Or stick(-it-to-them)?

    Steve: There is also the City’s proposed rebalancing of GO fares so that the “flat” component goes down, and the “distance” component goes up resulting in less inequity for short haul riders at the expense of slightly higher fares for the long hauls.


  9. I think you might have got Lincolnville & Unionville switched around when talking about service improvements to the Stouffville line. It would make more sense if Lincolnville at the end of the line gets 3 trains/hr and Unionville in Markham gets 4 trains/hr.

    Steve: Oops sorry, you are correct. Lincolnville gets 3, and Unionville gets 4 as per this map. I have corrected the article. Thanks for the catch.


  10. Also, the cascade of fleets sounds nice but for the difference in fleet sizes between the two lines.

    Some of this would be addressed by presumed ridership growth, no? Both increased service on Line 2, especially after it’s converted to ATC as well, and the potential SSE needs. But also, it seems like it should be viable to run a handful of 6 car trains with mostly 7 car trains on Line 1. It didn’t seem disastrous when the line operated a mix of T1s and TRs. Presumably ATC can handle slightly different train sizes.

    It’s funny though, that with a new yard likely coming, Line 2 is actually better positioned to get longer trains in the future.

    Steve: Another issue with 7 car trains mixed in with 6 is that the door spacing would be different on the two types of equipment, and this complicated the TTC’s scheme (which appears to be dormant, if not abandoned) of implementing platform doors.

    The BD line today has a round trip time of 106 minutes, and the extension to STC would likely add about 20 minutes for a total of 126. If the line were operated at a 110 second headway over its full length with no turnbacks, this would require 69 trains plus spares compared to the 76 train TR fleet as it will be when deliveries are complete. That’s a bit on the tight side, but a 2 minute headway (compared to 2’21” today) would require only 63 trains leaving a 20% spare factor. Turning 50% of the service at Kennedy would reduce the number of trains required, but it will be interesting to see if the TTC actually builds a capability for this into the line, or omits it as a political decision to commit to “full” service to STC.


  11. Steve wrote:

    Another issue with 7 car trains mixed in with 6 is that the door spacing would be different on the two types of equipment,…

    I keep meaning to take a tape measure with me one day to see if this would be the case or not. Drawings I have looked at of the TR trains, assuming they are drawn to scale, appear to have the same centre-to-centre distance between doors on the same car as with the doors of an adjacent car. Even if not exactly the same, a small variance can be easily dealt with using platform doors slightly wider (10-30 cm) than the on-board doors.

    If the spacing does not vary by too much, the only issue will be the actual length of the 7th “mini” car: it will not likely be 50 feet, but would have to be a multiple of door spacing. The make or break issue would then be just how far off of a 50-foot length the car would have to be. Too short, and the car would not be practical to manufacture. Too long is limited by whether the front-most and rear-most doors are still within the station – the operator’s cabs can extend beyond the station as block boundaries will be irrelevant under ATC.

    I could be wrong, but nobody has come forward with a “here are the dimensions” response, so it’s likely I will measure this myself before I hear it from someone else. This is not rocket science and a simple measurement would determine if the ability to run mixed length trains is a dead issue or not.

    Steve: I think the controlling factor will be the length of tracks within carhouses and yards, as well as certain pocket tracks, that may be tight or impossible for a 500-foot long train.


  12. If it is possible to run 500′ long trains and I have my doubts have been in some of the passing sidings and looking at trains in the yards, it would probably be better to order the next set of trains as 7 car trains just over 71 feet long. This would give even door spacing. You probably could keep the number of doors at 4 per side per car by getting rid on a longitudinal seat. This would give 2 longitudinal seat on each side of the door instead of 2 on one side and 3 on the other. This is really the only sane way to run 7 car trains. Order new equipment for Yonge and send the other stuff to Bloor Danforth.

    But I don’t think it will ever happen.


  13. Platform doors actually increases the dispatch and ongoing reliability of trainsets. Train door failures are very hard to detect, so unless the TTC is in the business of replacing door opening assemblies on a regular basis, it will happen.

    What platform doors do is to prevent people from interfering with the closing. They are timed to close first, usually 1000 to 2000ms before the train doors close. This means as soon as the platform doors close, people will clear that area. Being stuck between closed platform and train doors is not pleasant. Less interference means more reliable door operation.

    The next generation of MOVIA is in the design phase already. With technologies from the CSeries, it will have even thinner walls. Shaving an inch of wall thickness will mean higher interior volume. Thinner walls could easily add another 50 standing passenger capacity to one trainset without any upgrades to the track or signal system.


  14. Steve, I think it is well past time that we bite the bullet and simply acknowledge the need for a phase 1 build of a DRL, at least as far north to support the Crosstown, and the Lawrence Bus. I am not convinced that the requirement is there yet to get to Sheppard, and while I believe it will be in the future, the need to get moving on the portion of the line, to Eglinton is critical today.

    However even in this scenario, I would not support the construction of the Yonge line as far north as Richmond Hill. I believe the city and region should be focused on subway as a last, not first resort in terms of building a transit system, and to support density. York Region should instead be linked with a combination of LRT and BRT to other transit, including the north end of the Yonge Line.

    There are serious limitations in the space available north of the CN main, however, there is room in the road allowance to provide alternatives to a point south of there where GO has exclusive control of the ROW. Core bound traffic, should be thus served by a hugely improved combination of Rail/Bus services, without adding to the Yonge subway line. The reality that the GTA is in effect getting ready to add 3 million people should not be lost, a 50% increase in the population should mean a much greater than 50% increase in transit usage and capacity, because there is no practical way to do this on road. However, the travel, will not be so focused to make simply extending subway make sense.


  15. Is there not a way of increasing the average speed of the trains in this modern day? If you increased the average speed by 10% would that not be a 10% increase in capacity? The average speed could be achieved by faster acceleration and braking as smoothly as possible.

    Steve: Average speed has nothing to do with line capacity which is equal to (Capacity of train) times (Trains per hour). Going faster (leaving aside how this would be done) only means you would use fewer trains, but you would not carry more people.

    Once upon a time, TTC operated in “high rate” on the BD line, and this provided a faster trip. However, the major benefits come on the part of the line with wider station spacing where operation at higher speed actually occurs for a goodly chunk of time (e.g. east of Woodbine Station). Some locations are speed controlled because of grades and curves, and so the only benefit would be getting to the maximum permitted speed faster, and only a small time saving would occur. There are technical issues about higher speeds including higher power consumption, greater wear and tear on cars and track, and the need to reset the signal system to allow for faster operation (this will be much simplified by the change to automatic train control).

    Only when headways can be shortened (again thanks to ATC) both with better terminal operations/design and with shorter dwell times at major stations will the trains/hour value go up, and with that the capacity of the subway lines.


  16. Steve said

    “Only when headways can be shortened (again thanks to ATC) both with better terminal operations/design and with shorter dwell times at major stations will the trains/hour value go up, and with that the capacity of the subway lines.”

    What they save in headway and dwell times comes at the expense of passenger safety. ATO and ATC although touted by its designers and purchasers, is not as reliable as one might be told. To introduce these systems they have to remove pre existing safety redundancy’s, such as wayside signals, train trips/stops and Speed Control systems. The latter came as result of the Russell Hill accident. All train movement and spacing would be completely controlled by software, and virtual barriers. There will be no way to physically stop two trains from running onto each other if the systems fail.

    One only has to look at Washington MATA train accident near Fort Totten station on June 22nd 2009. The NTSB pretty much laid full blame for the accident on their ATC system, which killed 9 people including the operator. Subsequently with ATO/ATC the TTC wants to implement one man train operation (OPTO), which again could be seen as unsafe, as the current guarding duties by the second person on the train were a result of the Morrison inquiry (young man dragged by a subway train into the tunnel and killed). Their plan to eliminate this is to have the operator perform two duties by attempting to watch monitors of the platform from inside the train cab while the train is departing the station, and monitor what is at track level in front of the the train as well. A recipe for disaster in my opinion, as everyone should all know too well, software is almost never completely reliable. How many times has Windows or an Apple OS let you down?


  17. Ok, I understand part of what you’re saying. My argument was based on the assumption that if the trains ran slower thru the tunnels it would create less capacity. I was hoping some relatively cost effective technology by now could increase the average speed, increasing the amount of trains per time. But in the end I’d hafta agree that the curve and congestion at Union decides it all.

    Steve: A major constraint is the loading delays at major transfer points, and this dictates how often a train can cycle through the station. ATC will allow trains to get closer together so that the “next” train enters closely behind its leader, but this is independent of train speed because the operation is at a slow pace anyhow. Another constraint is the geometry at terminals which affects turnaround times. ATC won’t fix this beyond ensuring prompt departures (and that’s assuming the operator is in place and ready to leave). Higher speed is of limited use here because of speed restrictions through turnouts both for train safety and passenger comfort.

    Terminal limitations were acknowledged by the TTC years ago when they had a proposal to loop the Yonge and Spadina subways together via Sheppard (later via Steeles) to eliminate the terminals.


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