What a Transit City Could Look Like in 2040
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What a Transit City Could Look Like in 2040

A closer look at downtown.

Derek Jensen, a longtime Torontoist reader and commenter, started slowly plotting out his fantasy TTC map in the summer of 2007, while living in Seoul. In the two years since, we’ve featured one fantasy map from U of T architecture professor Dieter Janssen, set in 2030, and another from reader Ryan Felix, set in 2050. Jensen staked out 2040 for his, taking inspiration from not only Felix and Janssen’s maps, but also other fantasy TTC maps, Transit City’s real plans, and other transit systems from around the world, all to create an extraordinarily well-thought out look at the possible geography and logic of Toronto’s future transit system.

Jensen’s map, which can be viewed full-sized here, features nine subway lines (Yonge–Lake Shore, Queen–University–Allen, Bloor–Danforth, Scarborough, Sheppard, Eglinton, Don Valley, Weston, and Jane) with stations everywhere from Pearson Airport to Jane and Finch to the Island Airport, as well as thirty streetcar routes, altogether aiming to provide comprehensive city-wide coverage. “In my map,” explains Jensen, “subway lines radiate from downtown, reaching parts of Toronto that are, today, bothersome to get to by transit but are developed and populated nonetheless. From there, streetcar lines bring people to and from the the subways from residential areas. The subways service places like Malvern, Morningside, Rexdale, Thornhill, Long Branch, and the doorstep of Markham, all very lengthy bus rides today.”
As a result, Jensen figures that three-quarters of the city’s population would be no more than a fifteen minute walk from a streetcar or subway stop: “Overall, going east of Yonge and west of Allen Road is easier, getting downtown from just about anywhere is easier, and getting to the airports is easier.” Adjusted for inflation, it’s also cheaper: stay “local”—a zone with shifting boundaries depending on where you depart from—and you’ll pay only the three-dollar base (students pay two dollars, and kids under four and adults over seventy ride free); ride outside of the local zone, and you’ll pay an extra fare of twenty-five cents per every six kilometres outside of the local zone you travel. “That’s the system they use in Korea’s and Japan’s subways, and I think it makes a lot of sense,” says Jensen. “A rider going five stops shouldn’t be paying the same fare as someone going twenty-five or more, but the rate is low enough that a rider crossing the city shouldn’t feel penalized for going farther.” Trips from airports are exempt: they’re three dollars, flat.

A wider view of the entirety of the TTC streetcar and subway system. Here’s a much larger version.

In addition to broader coverage, Jensen also focussed on creating a system that would relieve the pressure on downtown routes and stops during peak hours—not with one Downtown Relief Line, but with a number of lines and routes working in concert to serve a similar function. As Jensen explains: “three streetcar lines from Sherbourne Station (to Spadina, Bathurst, and Dundas West Stations) grant access to downtown while bypassing Yonge & Bloor and St. George Stations; the Weston and Don Valley lines move people in and out of downtown directly; The 514 (Dupont-Dundas West) runs parallel to Bloor, with subway access from downtown and extra streetcar connections from Bathurst and Dufferin; and by splitting Yonge-University-Spadina into two lines”—Queen–University-Allen and Yonge–Lake Shore—”delays at Osgoode Station no longer interrupt trains at Queen Station, as they do today, and both lines continue on to serve other areas.”
“I’m not saying this is the TTC we should or could have today,” says Jensen, but “it’s definitely meant to be a look at how the system and city could develop over the next thirty years. The Yonge–Lake Shore Line, and Commissioners and Regatta stations on the Don Valley line, for example, imply a staggering amount of development along the lake. And if you note the fare, it’s also a system that’s properly supported by the provincial and federal governments,” which, he notes, is “truly a fantasy.”