Sunday, March 11, 2007

Inter-lining Toronto's two main subway lines would have never worked out, I realized today. For a brief period in 1966, passengers boarding trains on the newly-minted Bloor-Danforth subway line, running from Keele to Woodbine, could travel downtown without changing trains. An eastbound train travelled south from St. George to Museum whereas westbound trains did the same via Bay station. Inter-lining, intended to be an experiment, was ended within a matter of months by combination of customer surveys and aggravation caused by the exacerbated delays on the single, entangled line. The result, of course, was that local historians and subway fans now have an Atlantis in the abandoned Lower Bay station.

Lower Bay has been accessible only for movie shoots, training and via a harrowing trek in the tunnel from Museum. Construction of a highrise building at Bloor and Bedford has necessitated construction on the tunnel between St. George and Bay stations, preventing that stretch of tunnel from being used on Saturdays and Sundays. Eastbound trains travel to Museum via Bay station, though they do not stop.

Inter-lining adds a touch of novelty and brings to the surface the hidden, messy innards of our subway system. The current experiment also brings to surface the history of Lower Bay in a way that I never thought I would experience. Time is not wasted by inter-lining because the wait of the interchange occurs at the station where a passenger boards the train. If anything, it is more convenient to not have to board trains. The TTC is aware of the inconvenience to passengers of transferring, whether on the surface or underneath.

Nonetheless, the very uncertainty that makes the current state of the subway system on weekends exciting also precludes interlining from being viable. Awareness of where a train is going adds an element of inconvenience for regulars, but an element of sheer bewilderment for infrequent riders and tourists. Moreover, if changing trains at St. George or Yonge-Bloor is considered undesirable, so too is a longer wait for a train at Ossington or Victoria Park. Sometimes I just want to sit and sit soon.

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