Two stations on new York subway extension among the least used on the TTC network

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One year after the six-stop Spadina subway extension opened, some of its stations are bustling, but two are among the least used on the entire TTC network.

The $3.2-billion extension of the TTC’s Line 1 went into service on Dec. 17, 2017. The extension, which has two stops in Vaughan in York Region, took the subway outside Toronto’s borders for the first time.

The Highway 407 station on the TTC’s Line 1 is one of the least-used subway stations on the network. The average daily usage of the TTC’s 75 stations is just over 34,000.
The Highway 407 station on the TTC’s Line 1 is one of the least-used subway stations on the network. The average daily usage of the TTC’s 75 stations is just over 34,000.  (Richard Lautens / Toronto Star)

Numbers collected by the TTC between October and November show the best performing station on the extension is York University, which has about 34,100 combined boardings and disembarkings every day.

That’s followed by Finch West, with 17,700, and Pioneer Village, which also serves the York campus, with 17,300. Vaughan Metropolitan Centre station at the end of the line has a daily usage of 14,800.

But two of the extension’s new stops have performed much worse. Highway 407 station is used by just 3,400 people a day, and Downsview Park by just 2,500.

Highway 407 and Downsview Park are both near the very bottom of the list, and are less-well used than most stops on the lower-capacity Scarborough RT.

TTC spokesperson Susan Sperling said that the agency is “pleased” with extension’s numbers however, because they already represent 94 per cent of the stations’ projected “mature state” ridership.

“Based on past experience with Line 4 (Sheppard), we expected that we would achieve 75 per cent of our projection in the first year, with projections fully realized approximately two to three years after opening,” she said.

Transit blogger Steve Munro said it’s no surprise York University is a major transit destination and the two stations that serve the campus are well trafficked. There are fewer obvious trip generators around the less busy stops, however.

Highway 407 station, which sits in a field to the southeast of an intersection between two provincial highways, “is only ever going to be an interchange station for bus service,” Munro predicted.

The stop is currently served by connections to GO Transit and York Region Transit bus routes. But in a decision that has angered students, next month GO will stop running buses directly to York campus, and will reroute them to Highway 407 station instead. That’s expected to boost the use of the TTC stop.

The immediate area around Downsview Park station is a federally owned urban park and is relatively underdeveloped, although there have long been plans to bring more employment and residential uses to the area.

Toronto’s secondary plan for Downsview suggests that there could eventually be 42,000 more residents and jobs near the stop, but they’ve yet to materialize.

According to Munro, it might have been wise to omit Downsview Park station from the extension, at least initially. The TTC could have left space for the stop and built it later once sufficient development occurred around the site.

The transit agency took that approach with North York Centre station, an “infill” stop that was completed in 1987, 13 years after the Yonge subway extension was built.

“The advantage basically being, you don’t have to actually build the station until there’s something there to serve,” Munro said.

Although Downsview Park and Highway 407 stations see few riders, those who do use the stops are grateful they were built.

Toronto’s subway system just grew. Check out this timeline of the TTC’s growth since 1954.

Standing on the near empty southbound platform at Highway 407 Friday afternoon, Sherry Marksman, 45, said the extension has dramatically reduced the time it takes her to commute between her packing job at a warehouse north of Highway 401 and her home in the St. Clair neighbourhood of Toronto.

Before it opened?

“Oh my goodness, chaos,” she said. She used to have to transfer between a bus and the subway at Sheppard West station, a trip that took 90 minutes. Now it takes about 25.

“Right now it’s 3:36 p.m. I guarantee you I’ll be home by about five to four, I’ll be in my house,” she said.

Downsview Park station and Highway 407 station are underused stations even on a Saturday afternoon, not long before Christmas.
Downsview Park station and Highway 407 station are underused stations even on a Saturday afternoon, not long before Christmas.  (Richard Lautens/Toronto Star)

The six cavernous stops each cost between $125 million and $404 million to build (subway tunnels are included in some of the costs). They’ve been praised for their architectural ambition, but also criticized for supposedly being overbuilt.

At a speech to the Toronto Region Board of Trade last month, Ontario Transportation Minister Jeff Yurek depicted the stations as an example of government waste, saying they looked like they had been built to resemble “Taj Mahals, as opposed to being functional as they were required.”

“To me, to our government, that’s a serious problem,” said Yurek, the Ontario PC MPP for Elgin-Middlesex-London. The extension was opened under the previous Liberal government.

The entire extension went well over budget. It was initially supposed to end near York University and cost only $1.5 billion, but delays and the decision to extend it to Vaughan centre dramatically increased the cost. The project was paid for by the City of Toronto, York Region, and the provincial and federal governments.

When the extension opened the TTC estimated it would cost the agency $25 million a year to operate. The TTC predicted the new stops would attract 1.2 million net new customers to the network each year, a fraction of the more than 530 million who used the transit agency in 2017.

Ben Spurr is a Toronto-based reporter covering transportation. Reach him by email at bspurr@thestar.ca or follow him on Twitter: @BenSpurr

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Baby, It’s Cold Outside pulled from some Canadian radio stations

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Baby, It’s Cold Outside is getting a chilly response from Canadian radio stations.

At least three of the country’s biggest radio operators — Bell Media, Rogers and CBC — say they’ve decided to pull the controversial holiday favourite out of their rotations this year.

That comes as the duet, written back in 1944, faces renewed scrutiny over what some say are inappropriate lyrics in the wake of the #MeToo movement.

Earlier this week, Cleveland radio station WDOK-FM announced it stopped playing the song in response to listener feedback. Some took issue over lyrics where one singer is trying to persuade the other to stay inside, with exchanges that include, « What’s in this drink? » and « Baby, don’t hold out. »

Bell Media spokesperson Scott Henderson said the company, which runs two 24-hour Christmas stations in Vancouver and Ottawa, didn’t include the Christmas tune on its playlists this year. But it also told stations it doesn’t plan to reintroduce the song in the future.

CBC public affairs head Chuck Thompson said, « CBC Music will be pulling the song from its rotation as of midnight and has no plans to play it going forward. »

Rogers runs a number of all-Christmas music stations, including 98.1 CHFI-FM in Toronto and 98.5 6.7 CIOC-FM in Victoria.

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Internet maintenant accessible dans toutes les stations de la ligne orange

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La Société de transport de Montréal (STM) en a fait l’annonce sur son site web vendredi. « La station Montmorency est maintenant branchée au réseau mobile », écrit-elle.

Cette station, située au bout de la ligne orange, à Laval, était la dernière où les usagers ne pouvaient pas accéder au web à partir de leur appareil mobile. Elle devient ainsi la 47e station connectée sur 68.

Outre celles des lignes orange et jaune, toutes les stations entre Lionel-Groulx et Beaudry, sur la ligne verte, et entre Snowdon et Jean-Talon, sur la ligne bleue, sont reliées à Internet, précise la STM.

Les travaux sur la ligne bleue devraient aussi être terminés d’ici la fin de l’année, promet la Société de transport, qui s’attaquera ensuite aux extrémités de la ligne verte – à l’est, d’abord – « de façon à ce que l’ensemble du métro de Montréal soit branché en 2020 ».

Dans les faits, cependant, ce sont bel et bien les entreprises de télécommunication Bell, Rogers, Telus et Vidéotron qui procèdent à l’installation des équipements nécessaires – un investissement de 50 millions de dollars annoncé en 2013.

Ces travaux se déroulent lorsque le métro est fermé, à raison de seulement 2,5 heures par nuit. « La portée, l’échéancier et le budget du projet sont respectés » jusqu’à maintenant, assure la STM.

Le projet est mis en oeuvre depuis 2014. Cette année-là, cinq stations de métro ont été équipées de manière à permettre aux usagers d’accéder à Internet sur leurs appareils mobiles.

Depuis, les travaux se sont poursuivis à un rythme beaucoup plus rapide, si bien que la moitié des stations sont branchées depuis le mois d’octobre 2017.

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Woman suffers serious injuries after concrete falls on her at Union Station’s GO terminal

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A woman in her 20s sustained serious injuries after she was hit by concrete that fell from the ceiling at Union Station’s GO terminal, Thursday afternoon. She was taken to hospital.

Toronto paramedics received a called at 5:21 p.m., about a woman walking inside the Bay St. West Teamway by platform seven-eight who was injured by falling concrete. The Teamway is a tunnel which passengers enter to get to their platform.

Suffering from serious injuries, a woman hit by falling concrete at Union GO terminal was transported to hospital.
Suffering from serious injuries, a woman hit by falling concrete at Union GO terminal was transported to hospital.  (Ed Tubb / Toronto Star)

The woman was hit by a piece of concrete of about a foot in diameter, which fell from the ceiling. There were large stains of blood left on the platform.

Four special constable officers were on the scene treating the woman along with two security guards.

Metrolinx says the area where the incident took place is closed for investigation.

Passengers can access the Bay East Teamway and the York GO Concourse, which is also accessible through the Union Station.

“The City of Toronto is bringing in an engineer to assess the structure itself and we’ll have to refer all questions to the city for now,” said Metrolinx.

Marjan Asadullah is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @marjanasadullah

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Thanksgiving Monday marks 2018’s last day for Trent-Severn lock stations – Peterborough

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Thanksgiving Monday marks the final operational day of the season for all 44 locks along the Trent-Severn Waterway located between Trenton and Port Severn.

Martin Carfrae, who brought his family from Germany, was lucky to catch a glimpse of the action.


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Boating traffic up on Trent-Severn Waterway in 2018

“I was wondering whether they were closed today, but I’m so happy that they weren’t closed today and the girl at the tourist bureau said get down there right away and you won’t miss it,” said Carfrae.

Come Tuesday, the locks won’t be staffed.

“At which point you don’t get our help if something happens,” said lockmaster Ed Donald. “You have to be cognizant of that, aware, take extra precautions, and some of the life rings that are in strategic locations are left out over the winter but many of the tubs and the chambers and around the railings of the locks do get pulled in for the winter.”

Donald, who has been working the waterway since 1989, says the Trent Severn Waterway is the second-largest watershed in the world and it contributes enormously to the economy along the waterway system.

WATCH: Parks Canada rebuilding earth dams along Trent Severn Waterway







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Peterborough County OPP reminding drivers to be vigilant during Thanksgiving long weekend

“If we didn’t have this beautiful gem in the middle of Ontario, 386 km long going through all these towns and villages, then most would not survive,” said Donald.

While operations may be shutting down, it still takes a month to winterize and prepare for the 2019 season.

“Travel our lakes and rivers by snowmobile or four-wheeler as long as it’s deemed safe and there’s plenty of ice, and you’re not in any areas where there’s any currents involved,” Donald said, “then we would love you to continue to enjoy our system in the winter months, as well.”

The Trent-Severn Waterway will open up again on the May 24 long weekend, 2019.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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