With all of this discussion surrounding Smart Track, let’s not forget that the Yonge Street subway line needs some form of relief from rush-hour subway congestion. Metrolinx, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), and Toronto City Council have been discussing and studying the Yonge Relief Line (more commonly known as the Downtown Relief Line) since 2012. Both TTC and Metrolinx have put the Relief Line on their next phase of development plans. Yet, not much has been said about the project since Metronlinx’s last board meeting in June, where the Yonge Relief Network Study was presented.
The study went through numerous options for the Yonge Relief Line, but ultimately concluded that a short or long-term relief line would ease “significant demand from Yonge subway and (the) Bloor-Danforth subway.”
When the city began studying the need for a relief line, it concluded that the Yonge subway line will be completely overcapacity by 2031. The stretch between Dundas to Summerhill station is already well over capacity today.
At the board meeting, Metrolinx was directed to return and discuss the Yonge Relief Line with city council and the TTC to find out how it would work with the Smart Track plan, despite the fact that the Smart Track has already indicated it will integrate the relief line into its system. They were also asked to study whether or not the relief line is feasible. An updated study is expected to be presented to the board in the upcoming months. With the Federal Liberals promise of $6.2 Billion in funding for the relief line, it is beginning to look a lot more feasibly.
But, is the Yonge Relief Line a priority for Toronto? Mayor Tory just returned from his trip to England where he discussed transit and business with his London counterparts. He announced Monday that he believes the big vision of London needs to exist in Toronto, and he wants city council to approve a list of priority items to tackle — a priority plan to guide city council’s actions over the next few months. It’s a safe assumption the Smart Track will be on the top of the list, but with the head of TTC, Andy Byford, and Chief Planner, Jennifer Keesmaat, both asserting that the Relief Line is Toronto’s top transit priority, will city council say the same?
Let’s hope so. The Yonge Relief Line has been on Toronto’s transit plans since 1910 and without it our subway system will eventually become so congested that people will stop using it.
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