Extending the Yonge line won’t solve any problems for the TTC. Photo by Jason Cook in the Torontoist Flickr pool.
We need to talk about this idea to extend the Yonge line up to Richmond Hill.
The Yonge line is already congested. Anyone who rides the subway regularly is aware of this. The immediate plans to address it are, shall we say, unimpressive. The Yonge Relief Network Study done in 2015 for Metrolinx [PDF] focused on the portion south of Bloor and noted that, at the morning peak, it was 11 per cent over capacity. In March 2016, TTC chair Josh Colle cautioned, “We’re nowhere near being in the position to extend Yonge north. It’s just not feasible right now.”
Echoing Metrolinx, often word for word, York-region politicians argue that SmartTrack/GO-RER, the TTC subway extension to Vaughan, and automatic train control (ATC) will open up the needed capacity on the Yonge line. That’s not true. The Vaughan subway extension on the University-Spadina side is open—have you noticed congestion easing up anywhere? The ridership on SmartTrack, if it’s built, will be very small, wherever it draws from.
Mayor John Tory announced a ten-point plan to fight congestion and delays on the TTC at a press conference just before Toronto Council began its final debates on the 2018 budget.
Through the entire budget process, starting with Tory’s cohort on the TTC Board and continuing through the City Budget and Executive committees, transit has received passing, but certainly not enthusiastic support. The most expensive items in the Operating budget (the one that pays for service and maintenance) were the fare freeze for 2018, the introduction of the two-hour transfer in August 2018, and the extra subsidy required to operate the subway extension to York University and Vaughan.
As for actual service that would carry more riders, the TTC budget contained no provision for any until it reached the Executive committee where a paltry $1 million was added to fix the worst of the worst overcrowded bus routes. A further $3 million was suggested during the press conference, but it is not part of the ten-point plan.
What will Toronto get from Tory’s last-minute recognition that congestion is a big issue for transit riders?
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