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Toronto Transit Commission approves overcrowding relief plans

During its meeting yesterday, Thursday, February 15, the Toronto Transit Commission approved several measures to reduce crowding along the Line 1 Yonge - University subway.

The measures result, in part, from an extraordinary sequence of events that led to dangerous crowding conditions on station platforms Tuesday, January 30. Mayor John Tory responded to those incidents by launching a ten-point action plan Monday, February 12. That day, City Council approved funds of as much as $3 million to help alleviate the overcrowding issues.

The TTC’s board - the commission - also endorsed the mayor’s action plan and proposed exploring several other options to help reduce crowding - especially on the Yonge branch of the line - over the short- and long-terms. (The TTC was already working on some of these solutions before January 30 and the mayor’s proposals.)

They include:

  • operating two extra trains to regular Monday-to-Friday morning rush-hour service along Line 1 and four extra trains to regular evening service along the line. (The TTC added the morning trains February 12);
  • increasing the number of staff at St George and Bloor - Yonge Stations so that the TTC can more readily respond to emergencies;
  • revising emergency protocols so that when one of those two stations becomes crowded, requiring the TTC to direct train operators to by-pass a station, it must also start by-passing the second station to make sure both avoid dangerous levels of crowding.
  • completing a secondary track for trains to enter or exit Wilson Yard to avoid excessive delays. (This work is underway.)
  • upgrading radio and public-address systems to make sure messages are reliable and clear and that passengers can understand the information;
  • investigating possible express bus services on Yonge Street as an alternative to the subway to travel to and from downtown, including transit-priority traffic lanes and other transit-priority tools, such as signals;
  • investigating possible express buses between downtown and stations on the Line 2 Bloor - Danforth subway;
  • investigating ways to improve streetcar service along the 504 King, 505 Dundas and 510 Spadina routes, enhance the terminals at Dundas West, Spadina and Broadview stations and provide alternatives to the subway for travelling to and from downtown - especially during an emergency;
  • exploring the possibility of redesigning Bloor - Yonge Station to add extra elevators, stairs and escalators, or widen the Line 2 platforms to reduce crowding. (Due to the large-scale development surrounding this station, this project may be physically difficult to achieve in the short- or even long-term.);
  • continuing to develop the Relief Line subway proposal to attract passengers from the east end of Line 2 and further reduce congestion at Bloor - Yonge Station.

You can read the staff report to the commission here (.pdf).)