Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Rush-hour TTC Jams

For almost the entire time I've lived in Toronto, I've had the benefit of being able to walk to work. I've used the TTC a lot, but apparently not much during rush hour. In the past month, however, I've had do go downtown for 9am on several occasions and find the conditions to be awful.

By the time the train arrives at my Danforth-line home station it is frequently already crammed beyond comfort. It's not just standing-room only. It's more like contortionists only. Then, when you make the change at Yonge -- after slowing making your way upstairs -- you face the same situation on the southbound trains.

Obviously many people know this already, as these trains are collectively filled by tens of thousands of daily commuters. So, this post isn't news to them.

I simply want to make the point that this overloading is one of the biggest factors preventing new riders from joining the system. It also places a limit on the economic development downtown. Transit strategies that keep adding new capacity in the outer areas therefore add to this problem at the same time that they are limited by the bottleneck. Meanwhile, the TTC and our governments don't seem to think this is a priority problem.

My favourite solution, a downtown relief subway line from Pape to Dundas West via Union Station, is not likely affordable anytime soon. (Although, I would argue that it seems a better investment for the city than the York University extension.)

There are other, smaller things that can help. Among these I'd include better and better-integrated GO Train service for the outer 416, alternative routes like the proposed Don Mills Bus Rapid Transit, and generally better-planned and less stingy surface routes like the Queen Streetcar. For more informed discussion of these and related issues I refer you to Steve Munro's blog.

In the meantime, daily commuters have my sympathies.


At 4:33 PM, Blogger Werner Patels said...

Using public transit in Toronto has been a nightmare for the last ten years. It used to be quite good and reliable in the late 80s and early 90s, but then growth really started to hit TO, and after that, it was downhill from there.

That "contortionist" description is quite apt.

Unfortunately, as is the case with all municipal politicians and city planners, they all look at the short term only, but never at the long term. Toronto's public transit infrastructure is suitable for the Toronto of 20 and 30 years ago.

I was happy to hear about the recent plans for light rails and such, but as I said it, and as a city official said it a day after me, these measures come 30 years too late.


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