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Relief coming for TTC riders on overcrowded Yonge subway line, but it might not last: Metrolinx report
June 24, 2015
By Richard Warnica

Commuters on Toronto’s overcrowded Yonge subway line should see some relief in the near future as projects - including the York-Spadina subway extension and automatic train control - come online, according to a new Metrolinx study.

However, if the region doesn’t move forward with a long-considered plan for a downtown relief subway line, those gains will effectively disappear by 2031, the study concludes."

The new report, set to be presented to the Metrolinx board this week, looks at various ideas for providing long-term relief in the Yonge corridor. The most effective option, the report concludes, would be a mostly underground subway line that travels south from Sheppard Avenue to Danforth before curling in toward Union Station.

A fixed link along that route would reduce peak morning traffic on the Yonge line by more than a third by 2031, according to the study, while providing a 22-minute direct ride from Don Mills to Union Station - but it wouldn’t be cheap.

The so-called “long relief line” would require extensive tunneling and as many as 14 new stations, at an estimated cost of $7.8 billion. The hefty price tag would be mitigated somewhat by the fact that, with so many riders using the new line, the city might no longer have to renovate the outdated Bloor-Yonge station.

‘There’s no need to panic that we’re going to run out of capacity in the next five years. We’re in pretty decent shape’

A cheaper option, currently being considered by the City of Toronto, would see the relief line travel from Union up to Danforth. That option would reduce peak hour morning ridership on the Yonge line by 6,000, just over half the reduction pegged for the long line, while taking another 6,100 off the Bloor-Danforth line, about the same as the longer option.

The “short relief line” would cost an estimated $3.5 billion, according to the Metrolinx study. It would also leave open the option of later extending the line north when more money became available.

The Metrolinx Yonge Relief Network Study was launched in 2013. Its terms of reference were radically rejigged last year, though, when the province announced plans to rapidly improve regional express rail on the GO Train network.

The report released Tuesday builds those improvements in to its long-term assumptions. If those and other scheduled projects go ahead as planned, crowding on the Yonge corridor will be manageable in the medium term, according to Leslie Woo, Metrolinx’s chief planning officer.

“There’s no need to panic that we’re going to run out of capacity in the next five years,” she said. “We’re in pretty decent shape in the next 10 to 15 years, provided that the investments that are currently committed stay on track.”