union station crowding

Construction causes dangerous overcrowding at Toronto's Union Station

Rush hour in downtown Toronto is never a picnic, let's be real, but pedestrian gridlock is becoming more and more common these days late at night after big games and concerts as well.

Nowhere is this more evident than in and around Union Station, which is somehow always under construction, and nearly always filled with people trying to catch or disembark from buses, trains and cabs.

Thousands of such people got stuck in the station's Bay West teamway on Monday night after a Mumford and Sons concert at the nearby Scotiabank Arena

The teamway, which provides access to GO Transit platforms 3 to 13 and the Bay South Concourse, also serves as a throughway of sorts for the many pedestrians who can't all fit onto an adjacent, very narrow tunnel sidewalk.

As people left the sold-out Mumford and Sons show on Monday night, many poured towards the teamway in an effort to catch GO trains and buses back to the 'burbs.

Unfortunately for them (and everyone else who happened to be in the area), a large pair of doors at the end of the teamway were blocked off for no apparent reason, creating a bottleneck of people as pedestrians scrambled to squeeze through one exit.

"If someone fired a pistol into the air, or yelled 'fire!' there would be several dead from being trampled for sure," said one witness of the scene on Reddit. 

"It made me extremely nervous. Again, I've found myself in concert crowds before, but this was something else... At one point no one was moving, we were all just standing."

Metrolinx Spokesperson Ann Marie Aikins later told City News that the inaccesible north side doors should never have been locked and blocked off by gates as they were.

"There's construction ongoing at Union Station and we understand a contractor closed two doors where they should have been kept open," said Aikins. "So that contributed to a bottleneck."

Still, Aikins says, you "can't avoid crowding" when some 25,000 people are all leaving the same venue at once.

Taking all of the construction barriers, crews and other hazards out of Union Station, which has been under construction for more than a decade now, could surely help a bit though.

We'd better hope so, at least — because Canada's busiest transportation hub is only getting busier. Currently, Union Station serves about 65 million passengers per year. That number is expected to double to an average of 130 million by 2031.

Lead photo by

Dwen Noronha

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