Bloor-Yonge Station Expansion Update

At its meeting of December 8, 2021, the TTC Board received a report and presentation about the Bloor-Yonge project. This is a massive undertaking to expand capacity at the major junction of the subway network that is considered critical to future demand growth on the network.

Funding to the tune of $1.5 billion is already committed by the City, the Province of Ontario and the Federal government.

The project will:

  • Add a new, separate eastbound platform on the south side of the existing station similar to the reconfigured Union Station where a northbound-to-Yonge platform was added.
  • Convert the existing centre platform to westbound only.
  • Add and reconfigure vertical access between the concourse east and west of the Line 1 station to Line 2 below.
  • Substantially increase the concourse space.
  • Increase ventillation fan capacity to reflect both the expanded station area and current fire code.
  • Add new entrance connections at 81 Bloor East and link the existing automatic entrance on Yonge north of Bloor to the new platform.
  • Reconfigure the main entrance of the station at 2 Bloor East.

In pre-pandemic times, severe congestion was common particularly, but not only, on the southbound platform. If nothing is done about this, the safety issues this brings will become more severe and train operations will be hampered by the volume of passengers.

Although Automatic Train Control will allow for more frequent service, this also means that passengers can be delivered to the station at a faster rate than today. If stairs, escalators and platforms cannot handle the added demand, the station will be a pinch point on the network. At a political level, the City of Toronto Council is already on record as requiring this expansion (as well as the Relief, now Ontario Line) as pre-requisites for the Line 1 Yonge extension to Richmond Hill.

The issues facing the TTC are summarized early in the presentation deck.

Modification & expansion of the existing Bloor-Yonge Station required to address current issues and future ridership demand as follows:

• Overcrowding of the Line 2 platform due to substandard platform width and congested vertical circulation in the AM and PM peak hour

• Overcrowding of the Line 1 platforms due to poor passenger distribution leading to congestion and queuing at vertical circulation in the AM and PM peak hour

• Overcrowding of Lines 1 and 2 platforms AM and PM peak hour hampering alighting and boarding leading to increase in dwell time for trains

• Projected ridership growth will exacerbate current deficiencies in station performance

• Projected ridership growth will greatly extend recovery time from a missed headway

• Line 1 expansion to Richmond Hill

Presentation deck, p. 3
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TTC eBus Usage Profiles July-December 2021

Updated December 9, 2021 at 6:20 am: A reader noted that of the range of articulated buses used as a comparison sample, one vehicle (9003), has been retired. The stats have been updated by adding 9025 to the range so that both the hybrid and artic samples contain the same number of active vehicles. Charts in the article have been updated as well as the linked PDF versions.

January 9, 2022: The follow-up article containing data for January to December has been updated with charts containing all of December 2021. The charts in this article contain only data for December 1-7.

The TTC is about to award one or more contracts for buses in the coming months including 300 conventional hybrids and 300 battery eBuses.

Although they have been conducting a head-to-head comparison of vehicles from three vendors for some time, they have not published results for each of them separately. Moreover, it is not clear the extent to which this comparison will inform the purchase for two reasons:

  • Vendors may claim that their newer buses are better than the ones the TTC is testing.
  • Some vendors’ products were not in the trial because they did not have a vehicle meeting TTC requirements at the time of the request for proposals.

The TTC eBus fleet consists of 25 buses from each of New Flyer and Proterra, and 10 from BYD. The original plan was for this order to be split equally among the three vendors, but BYD could not deliver their buses on a timely basis, and part of their “share” was divided between the other two vendors.

The TTC CEO’s Report includes stats on bus reliability measured as the mean distance between failures.

There are two major problems with these charts:

  • The values reported are capped, and we have no idea how far above the target lines the month-to-month values actually reach. If one class of buses is substantially more reliable, but this is not shown due to capping, then it is impossible to make a valid comparison.
  • Buses that never leave the garage do not contribute either to accumulated distance nor to breakdown counts. “Problem” buses could be sidelined because the TTC has lots of spares, and the stats for the working buses would make the group as a whole look better than it really is.


In an attempt to get a handle on the actual use of the eBus fleet, I turned to vehicle tracking data. If a bus is regularly in service, it will appear in the tracking data, and it will not be simply sitting in a garage.

For this purpose, I used the trip tracking function on Darwin O’Connor’s TransSee website to find out where the eBuses spent their time for the past six months.

For comparison, I also pulled data for the month of September for 25 hybrid and 25 articulated buses. These buses date from 2018 and 2013 respectively.

From the trip reports, I extracted the vehicle number, date and time of the observation, and recorded the hours in which each bus was “seen”. Although this is vulnerable to missing tracking data (such as during the recent TTC cyber outage), any such effect is across the board and does not affect comparisons between vehicle types.

On a summary basis, each vehicle could be seen in 24 hour every day over the period. The number of observations is a broad indication of how much the bus is used. Also, the total number of buses used within a specific hour, broken down by type, shows the patterns of each fleet’s usage and the proportion of the fleet that was active during each hour.

July 2021

Here are the data for July 2021. Each vertical block separated by yellow lines is one day. The data for each group of buses is colour coded.

A few points are quite obvious here:

  • The Flyer bus fleet was much more utilized than either the Proterra or BYD fleets, and at times over 80% of all Flyer buses were in service (20 out of 25). Proterra never fielded more than 9 of 25, and BYD never got beyond 4 of 10.
  • There is a distinct pattern of double spikes in the usage on weekdays which typically have a higher total number of vehicles. This shows that many (and on some days all) of the eBuses did not stay out through the midday, but returned to their garage. On weekends, usage of Proterra and especially BYD buses was very low.
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