The TTC’s Downtown Rapid Transit Expansion Study (2012) concluded that transit services to and from the downtown core are reaching the limits of their practical peak capacity and, with continuing growth and development in the Greater Toronto Area, the need for improvements to existing transit service is clear.

To address these deficiencies, and to manage growth, the TTC is:

  • Increasing the capacity of the Yonge Subway line through the acquisition of new, larger Toronto Rocket trains, and implementing an Automatic Train Control system. These improvements are expected to increase line capacity by 35%.
  • Increasing the capacity of the downtown streetcar network through the acquisition of new, larger articulated streetcars.

In addition, there are also significant planned improvements to GO Rail services consistent with Metrolinx’s Regional Transportation Plan. 

Even with the currently-planned GO and TTC improvements, the Yonge Subway line and much of the GO Rail network is forecast to be at (or over) capacity for trips into the downtown Toronto area during the peak periods in 2031. The most-serious capacity issues are related to long- and medium-distance trips from the east and north. The study notes that:

  • Within the downtown core, south of College Street from Bathurst to Parliament, the existing residential population of 71,000 is projected to increase by 83% to 130,000 by 2031.
  • During the same period, employment is expected to grow from the current 315,000 to 404,000 (28% increase) by 2031.
  • In addition, the City’s plans call for significant growth in areas immediately adjacent to the downtown core, notably in the Waterfront and the “shoulder” areas east and west of the downtown.
  • Significant growth is also forecast in the remainder of the city and in the Greater Toronto Area. This is expected to further increase travel demand coming into and out of the downtown core.
  • In total, future transit demand into the downtown core is expected to increase by 55% from 155,000 to 236,000 morning peak-period trips.

While planning policies contained in the City’s Official Plan aimed at encouraging closer live-work relationships and promoting travel demand management strategies can assist in managing the impacts of the forecast group in travel to the downtown core, the significant deficiencies in transit capacity will ultimately require capital investment for transit infrastructure improvements.