By 2029, the TTC expects that subway passengers at Bloor-Yonge Station will benefit from a much less congested station. And, since the station is the keystone to Toronto's entire subway network, that benefits all subway users.
A report to this week's meeting of the Toronto Transit Commission—the TTC's board of directors—outlines the $1.5 billion project to expand stations on both Line 1 Yonge-University and Line 2 Bloor-Danforth at the interchange.
As part of this project, the TTC proposes:
building a second platform in the Line 2 station south of the current platform. The new platform would allow eastbound passengers to exit from or board trains, while the "old" central platform would continue to serve westbound passengers. This project is similar to work several years ago to modify Union [subway] Station.
widening the north- and southbound platforms in the Line 1 station so that passengers can more evenly spread along the platform to speed up boarding and exiting times.
building an alternative station entrance.
adding new elevators, escalators and staircases to improve passenger movements through the stations.
The goal is to eliminate overcrowding on the platforms—especially on the dangerously narrow Line 2 platforms—and to speed up the process of transferring between trains, which unnecessarily adds time to commuter trips.
Metrolinx estimates that opening the new Ontario Line will reduce crowding on the busiest stretch of Line 2 by 22 per cent and eliminate 19 percent of the passengers changing trains at Bloor-Yonge. Nevertheless, steady growth in Toronto and York Region and the Ontario Government's plan to extend Line 1 further northward into Richmond Hill, mean that the station likely will continue to face significant passenger traffic in the foreseeable future.
The TTC plans to expand the station mostly on or under the property at 2 Bloor Street East – currently the Hudson's Bay Centre. The majority of Bloor-Yonge Station will be expanded at 2 Bloor Street East. The City of Toronto leases these lands to Brookfield Properties, the developer that owns the building containing the Bay store and other businesses. (The east half of the property, outlined in the image above in green, is owned by Larco Investments.) The TTC requires amendments to the ground lease as it is expanding its station beyond its current land rights.
The Brookfield portion of the building may also be the subject of a redevelopment proposal, which may allow the TTC to time construction of the expanded station to occur while the building is rebuilt.The board for CreateTO, the City agency managing its real estate portfolio, recently reviewed a report on a proposed long-term lease renegotiation and redevelopment of a City-owned property in Ward 11 – University-Rosedale—likely this site. The report reveals that the development project "would occur in conjunction with a critical transit expansion project. A renegotiated ground lease is a critical requisite for both the TTC project requirements along with the proposed mixed-use redevelopment."
Toronto City Council endorsed the "Bloor-Yonge Capacity Improvement Project" as a priority project under the City’s funding allocation of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Plan - Public Transit Infrastructure Fund in April, 2019. Ontario also committed to endorse the project under the federal program. On August 26, 2019, the Government of Canada announced that it would set aside $0.5 billion for the project. The City and TTC are estimating a total project cost of $1.514 billion, with Canada, Ontario and Toronto funding the total equally. City Council approved its funding share during the 2020 budget process by allocating $500 million in new funding from the City Building Fund. The City’s funding enables the TTC to begin the necessary planning and preparatory work for this project.
According to the staff report, Bloor-Yonge Station must continue to operate during construction of the project. The TTC will build an alternative station entrance before rebuilding the main station entrance, which would allow the station to remain operational. A proposed electrical substation will increase load capacity and support the electrical demands for station. An additional emergency exit allows passengers to quickly get out of the station during a crisis.
The report to the TTC board recommends that the City acquire certain lands to start the early stages of the project – primarily the electrical substation, alternative entrance and emergency exit. A later staff report will describe the lands the City and TTC require for the major elements of the project.
The TTC intends to start these early works in 2022, while waiting until 2024 to begin the major part of the project. It's targeting 2029 for completing the project, which is before Metrolinx has scheduled the Line 1 extension to Richmond Hill to open.
The board considers the staff report about the station expansion plans during its meeting of October 22. You can read the report here (.pdf).
What do you think of the plans? You may add your comments in the space provided on this page, or join the discussion in our dedicated Forum thread.
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