By: Junisha Dama
At the Toronto Transit Commission board meeting on Thursday afternoon, members discussed strategies to address overcrowding on the Line 1 subway.
A report by the TTC revealed statistics about overcrowding on the Yonge Street portion of Line 1 during rush hour that have been described as “historical maximums”. There are 28,000 to 30,000 passengers per hour during the morning rush hour, south of Bloor Station.
The report states that Line 1 between Finch and Union Station is the busiest section of any transit line that’s part of the TTC network. This section alone carries 450,000 customer trips per day.
The report also states that the subway is now near capacity for 90 minutes every morning.
At the board meeting, members of the TTC discussed implementing short-term solutions such as automatic train control (ATC) where trains will run more frequently and closer together automatically.
If the change in system is complete by 2019, the TTC says that it will be able to accommodate 3,000 more passengers per hour during peak hours.
“The measures that the TTC plans to take are not enough to relieve crowding on the subway,” said Shelagh Pizey-Allen, executive director of TTC Riders, a not-for-profit organization that advocates concerns of TTC riders.
Other possible solutions include fare changes, which means passengers would be paying different fares at different hours, and potentially adding another platform at Bloor-Yonge Station.
“That’s not something everyone can afford. For the poorer residents who don’t have excess funds on their Presto cards, it’s just not possible,” said Michael Rosenberg, a member of the public during the meeting. “There are also a lot of people who don’t speak English and some who aren’t intellectually gifted. For them, it’s hard to keep track of how much to pay where and at what time.”
However, the TTC does not plan to study the overcrowding problem on Line 1 anytime soon and may publish a detailed report on the problem early next year.
“We know that we need to fund the Relief Line Project as soon as possible to solve the issue,” sais Pizey-Allen. “We also need express bus routes and designated bus lanes to reduce crowding on the subway.”
To educate and provide some relief to passengers, TTC Riders distributed free Overcrowding Relief Kits at King Station between 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. The kit included breathe mints, a TTC-themed crossword puzzle and step-by-step instructions on how to contact Mayor John Tory and Premiere Kathleen Wynne to get them to fund the Relief Line.
TTC Chair, Councillor Josh Colle pointed out that the TTC had issued a report with plans to add more express bus routes across the city.
For the advocacy group TTC Riders, the completion of the Relief Line by 2031 seems to be the perfect solution.
Any funding plan for the Relief Line has not been finalized.