If you live in Toronto and only give serious thought to one thing today, it should be to this interactive transit map created by Metro.
The map shows all existing, planned, and proposed transit lines in the city, and then overlays population densities, commuting patterns, household income, and so on. It’s a super valuable map that I think reveals a lot about how we should be focusing our energies to get Toronto moving.
So what sorts of things does it tell us? I’ll give 2 examples.
If you look at commuting patterns across the Bloor-Danforth subway line, you’ll see that Runnymede station in the west is where people switch over from taking transit to driving. People west of that station tend to drive. Naturally, it also happens to coincide with where population densities start to fall off.
By contrast, if you look at the east side of the city along the Danforth and beyond, the entire stretch more or less relies on transit to get around. Part of this likely has to do with income levels, but it’s also because of the availability of the Gardiner Expressway. There’s no equivalent in the east end. Dylan Reid of Spacing Magazine believes this makes a case for some sort of road pricing along the Gardiner, and I would agree.
As a second example, look at the population densities along the proposed Downtown Relief Line, Finch LRT, and John Tory’s SmartTrack line. Outside of the core, the population densities are relatively low along the proposed SmartTrack line – which is never a good thing for rapid transit.
There’s also no Sherbourne station on the SmartTrack line, which happens to have the highest population density across the entire Relief Line – 22,131 people per square kilometre! That’s more than any other stop along the Yonge-University subway line except for Wellesley station.
I’ve written about this a lot before, but I think we need to do a better job of matching up transit investment with expected customer demand. Too often we let politics get in the way of rationale decision making. Maybe it’s time we did something like set minimum population densities. If you want a subway line in your area, you have to first bring the people.
What else does this map tell you?