The Future of Subways in Toronto

Sat, 26 Nov 2005, 16:37

There's been a lot of talk lately about improvements to Toronto's subway system. The leading contender is extending the Spadina line out to York University. But there's also growing support to replace the Scarborough Rapid Transit line to the Scarborough Town Centre with a subway line. But these proposals ignore one awkward fact about the existing subway system: The current lines are already running at or near capacity. Where's the sense in extending the existing lines if they can't handle the additional load?

1970 road and transit plan
Plan for subways and expressways in 1970.

Before proceeding, let's take a quick look at the plan in place in the late 1960's. At that time, there were plans for extending the Yonge line up to Finch, as well as a line up the new Spadina Expressway, then under construction. In addition, there was the very sensible plan to build a subway line under Queen Street downtown. The Yonge extension and the Spadina line were built, but the Queen Street line was unceremoniously dropped. (The proposed expressways were also dropped, with almost universal applause.)

Today, as in the 1960's, the downtown is the main destination for most commuters riding the subways. But for at least the past decade, the lines have been very crowded, especially during "rush hour". The trains are now even crowded at 6AM with commuters trying (vainly) to beat the rush. Before extending subway lines further out into the suburbs, we desparately need to improve the subway system within the downtown core.

Which brings us back to the planned Queen Street subway. It made sense in the 1960's. It makes even more sense today. Let's see what a Queen Street line might look like:

1970 road and transit plan
A much needed new subway for in Toronto. (Blue: existing subways; Red: proposed.)

Let's start in the north-west of the city. Overall, this is an area with very heavy vehicle traffic. In the early 1990's, there was a plan for a new subway along Eglinton Avenue West in recognition of the population densities in that area. Improved transit would provide a big boost to the neigborhoods of Rexdale and Weston. The line could even potentially serve the airport.

The new line would cross Bloor Street at Dundas West station, providing western commuters with an alternative route downtown, taking pressure off the Bloor Street line. Running straight downtown, this line would serve not only the existing buildings, but also new planned developments in the central business district.

Moving north-eastward, the line could serve apartment dwellers and businesses along Pape Avenue, Thorncliffe Park, Flemingdon Park, Don Mills, and possibly even the "Peanut" (Don Mills Road, between Sheppard and Finch).

Some might argue that this would cost a fortune. Well, sure it would. But such a measure is definitely needed, especially when you consider the number of people expected to live in Toronto over the next few decades. Such a line would provide a big boost to areas with currently under-utilized potential. The line could well pay for itself over time from the potential additional property tax base and development fees.

The very fact that Toronto is not in the process of continual subway construction, as are several (smaller) European cities, should be an embarassment to all levels of government in this country. Without steady investment in the building of transit infra-structure, this city can never realize its full potential. We need more subways now!

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the city

Update - Fall 2005

Fri, 11 Nov 2005, 17:49

Well, I haven't been blogging much lately. While I was stuck at home waiting for lithotripsy, I did make frequent entries to the Sudoku blog, but nothing much apart from that. These days, though, there's lots going on. In federal politics, the opposition leaders are itching for an election. But as usual, like some strange mating ritual, none of them want to be seen as the one pulling the trigger. In the area of religion, there are interesting developments in Dover, Pennsylvania, and in the state of Kansas. All of these things are worthy of comment.

Closer to home, we're doing what has to be done every Fall. I just spent a couple of hours raking and mulching leaves. Being low on leaf mulch, I filled eight clear plastic bags, and put them in our back yard to decompose further. Most others put their leaves out on the street to be collected and composted by the city.

photo of pile of leaves
One of our leaf piles.

photo of big pile of yard waste bags
One neighbor's yard waste.

photo of squirrel carrying a leaf
Black squirrel carrying a leaf up a tree.

Dealing with the fallen leaves is just one of the drawbacks of living in a neighborhood with so many trees. But that's a small price to pay.


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the city

Sudoku #56

Category: Sudoku
Fri, 11 Nov 2005, 10:14

In #55, I commented about the 2001st puzzle posted to my Sudoku Puzzles. I said that it was perhaps time to slow down a bit. Well, two and a half months later, I just posted the 32,900th puzzle!

A few things changed since August. To make things easier, I decided to post puzzles in PDF form only, and put 100 puzzles in each PDF. After all, the best way to solve these silly puzzles is with pencil and paper. Since I can produce about 200 advanced puzzles a day, or several thousand standard puzzles a day, it's not much trouble to create and upload so many puzzles.

Where will it end? Will I reach 50,000 puzzles? or 100,000 puzzles? Who knows? I first thought 2000 puzzles was a lot. With 32,900 puzzles, no one in their right mind can expect to solve them all!


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