ttc subway

TTC might take radical steps to reduce subway congestion

If you think crowding on the TTC is bad now, it'll be downright scary to consider what the picture might look like in a decade. While the city has committed to building a downtown relief line, even optimistic scenarios peg its earliest arrival at 2031.

That's a big problem according to Councillor Joe Mihevc, who's requested that TTC staff investigate a series of interim relief strategies to deal with crowding and capacity issues on Line 1.

Back in 2012, a report titled Downtown Rapid Transit Expansion Study prepared for the TTC predicted that "future transit demand into the downtown core is expected to increase by 55% from 155,000 to 236,000 morning peak period trips."

While the TTC does have improvements such as Automatic Train Control in the works to help increase capacity, the calls for additional measures are starting to increase.

Last month John Tory implored TTC CEO Any Byford to explore creative solutions to Line 1 crowding including the possibility of "some subway trains start their journey further down the line, allowing for additional capacity in some of our busier stations."

Mihevc has at least a couple more radical strategies in mind, some of which appear to be inspired by the TTC's former Chief Marketing Officer, Bob Brent.

The ward 21 councillor's item on the agenda at the TTC's June 15 board meeting requests that staff consider such relief measures as "dynamic pricing" and having trains stop at alternate stations during peak demand periods.

The former idea has already been tabled as part of a revamp to the fare structure when Presto is fully implemented across the system, but what exactly it would look like has yet to be worked out.

In any case, the idea would be to provide incentive for travel during off-peak periods. There is, however, the very real possibility that customer satisfaction could take a nosedive in the wake of a peak/off-peak fare system, as many transit users are forced to travel during rush hour.

Mihevc's other suggestions include express bus service on Bay St. in a dedicated right of way (ROW), express bus service to downtown from other key areas during the morning rush, and the general expansion of ROWs on light rail and bus routes (like we'll see with the King St. pilot).

The TTC isn't obligated to pursue these ideas, but there's pressure building on the organization to come up with new strategies to relieve the growing pressure on our busiest subway line, which is only slated to get more and more packed in the years ahead.

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