Toronto's transit agency is moving to add service on the crowded Yonge line during the rush-hour crush, with more than 10 per cent additional capacity expected this month.
The move comes as transit continues to be one of the hottest political issues on the mayoral campaign, with all the candidates promising multibillion-dollar ways to improve the system. The TTC's changes this month won't eliminate the need for a longer-term solution but will improve life for commuters in the short run.
The improvement will include both additional trains and operational changes to speed up service.
TTC spokesman Brad Ross explained in recent weeks that there are about 22 southbound trains per hour through Bloor-Yonge station during the peak morning rush. But that's not nearly enough to handle the demand. Passengers farther north on the line report regularly having to wait as more than one train goes by before they can get on.
By the time trains arrive at Bloor-Yonge, crowding is severe. Watching three or four trains go by is not uncommon. The TTC has set up crowd-flow measures to try to facilitate efficient use of the whole platform at the station, but the basic shortage of capacity is glaring.
That won't disappear with the additional service coming this month. But customers might be expected to notice a difference.
"Right now we're at around, just over 20" trains per peak hour, Mr. Ross said in an interview late last month. "We're doing some work to try to and get us through to 25, this fall. From 22 to about 25."
He noted that each train can carry 1,300 people in a crush load, or perhaps 100 to 150 fewer people more comfortably. This means the three extra trains will, in total, be moving about 4,000 people.
The next big shift will be the move to automatic train control on the Yonge-University-Spadina line. This will not involve driverless trains – as the name would seem to suggest – but will allow them to run closer together in the tunnel. According to the TTC, this change will allow them to run 30 trains per hour during the peak period, boosting capacity another 20 per cent. This system is not scheduled to be in place until 2020.