Fantasy line

Is this the TTC we’ve been hoping for?

By: Teal Johannson-Knox
Image courtesy Stephen Michalowicz

Transit remains a hot topic at the Toronto city council with the Toronto Transit Commission, the City of Toronto and anyone else who has set foot onto a platform to ride the Rocket. The subway extension the Ford brothers have been advocating, or the addition of light rail transit (LRT) to the city’s transit web has become a game of tug-of-war.

Whether you live in North York, Etobicoke, or the end of the line on the Scarborough RT, you likely have your own opinion on what the future of the TTC should be. The commission prides itself on moving people.

We can all admit we have dreamt of how nice it would be if the subway could drop us off at our doorsteps. Alright, maybe that’s just me. Nonetheless, the TTC is always under fire. Despite what council negotiates, some Torontonians dare to envision the subway in a new way. You could call it transit porn: Fantasy maps of subway lines extending to all parts of the city.

Stephen Michalowicz of Torontoist created a website compiling a series of speculative maps and blue prints exploring alternative transit proposals. Based on past city maps, Michalowicz created a fantasy TTC map of his own. The map (photo on the right) includes a Downtown Relief Line to decrease the amount of commuter congestion.

At first glance, you may recognize this TTC map, but taking a closer look will reveal it extends to the far reaches of the city.

“This stuff is essentially map porn, which as a self-described nerd, is right up my alley,” notes Michalowicz. He decided to create his own version of the subway map.

“I was living in Etobicoke at the time, so a good chunk of my stations are positioned to improve my own getting around,” Michalowicz says. “The rest of the stations, with the exceptions of those on the Spadina extension and the Scarborough RT/subway, are just placed at or near major intersections, or spots I’d like to be able to get to more easily – like the Toronto Zoo and Pearson Airport.”

Michalowicz named a lot of stations after intersections, “where one or both street names were already in use elsewhere after nearby parks and smaller roads.”
As a TTC rider, Michalowicz thinks there are some ways the TTC can be improved. “At the top of my list would be the TTC’s ridiculously outdated fare collection system. Nobody uses fare boxes anymore. A fully integrated open payment system is long overdue.”

Michalowicz thinks the city lacks light rail transit, as some councillors have been fighting for. “There are far too many streets in Toronto like Finch, Eglinton, Sheppard, Dufferin, etc. where buses just aren’t cutting it anymore,” Michalowicz contends.

“The rebirth of Transit City is a good start, but the Municipal, Provincial, and Federal governments need to be doing more to help transform the TTC into a modern, comprehensive, and interconnected transit system. Commute times are already at an all-time high, and gridlock is quickly becoming a drain on Toronto’s economy.”

Brad Ross, TTC spokesperson, notes that expansion is underway in a number of areas: “The Spadina subway is being extended from Downsview Station, north to York Region. An LRT line is being built on Eglinton Ave. The Scarborough Rapid Transit line is being rebuilt. A Finch West LRT is being constructed, as is a Sheppard East LRT.”

Michalowicz said one big change must be made. “. . . Toronto desperately needs a rail link to Pearson airport.”

However, for the TTC, making changes to transit is no easy task.

“Cost is the biggest factor for the TTC,” Ross explains. “There [are] capital costs for construction, and there [are] operating costs when one adds new routes. Putting those two aside, I imagine there’s public concern over the disruption of construction when building a subway or LRT line. There are many and varied opinions.”

Click to zoom

As the city continues to grow, the transit system will have plenty of new issues with which to deal. Regardless, it’s nice to dream of taking the subway anywhere.

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