- Aug 2, 2007
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In the 1940s, when planning began in earnest for the current subway system, Metro didn’t even exist yet. But what was about to become Metro had a population not quite twice that of what Mississauga alone has today. I imagine there were people back then, too, who were wondering why anyone would want to build a subway along the edge of civilization at Bloor Street, particularly when there wasn’t much beyond the river at either end.
Actually, the east-west line was initially envisioned to run on Queen Street. However, planners saw that the Bloor Street streetcar was becoming increasingly congested, as well as the city expanding rapidly north, that they realized that a Bloor-Danforth subway would be a better option, let alone the burgeoning suburbs of Bloor West and along the Danforth. Bloor Street was hardly the "edge of civilization" by the late 1950s when the E-W line was being planned in its earnest.
And this is where utter ignorance of the suburbanite population comes in when it comes to subway construction. We're skipping steps. This is why staged implementation of rapid transit works and why Transit City makes so much sense.
This is NOT how rapid transit should progress:
Car based neighbourhood -> Local Bus Service -> Subway
There's far too much risk moving from a bus service to a subway and for the heavy investment to fail. There's no proof that high bus ridership will equal high subway ridership, especially when the capacities and characteristics of the two modes are so different.
This IS how rapid transit should progress
Local Bus -> Enhanced Bus -> Light Rail -> Subway
The same investment can be spread along many different corridors, and as intensification and ridership increases on all of them, you can build subways where you actually need them. This is why Yonge was built, this is why B-D was built. This is why these two lines are successful. The latter two lines, Spadina and Sheppard, are both that did not follow the logical progression of rapid transit expansion, and thus, are in most minds, failures... until 40 years later when development and ridership will finally catch up. During those 40 years, that same money could have been spread along a huge network of express bus, streetcar, and LRT routes to benefit so many more people.
Remember: The Spadina Subway is STILL significantly under capacity. This is 30 years after it opened. This is why there still is the St Clair West short turn in the morning rush hour. Even when the Spadina Extension opens, they will continue to short turn every other train in rush hour at Downsview.