Finding peace and quiet on the Toronto subway is a difficult task--and that's a good thing. Without people to crowd its platforms, pack its streetcars and stuff its buses, the TTC wouldn't exist, at least not as we know and (mostly) love it today.
There are, however, places on the subway and Scarborough RT where riders are more likely to find themselves alone, or at least part of a very small crowd. (In fact, there's one stop in particular where passengers are almost certain to be alone, save for the fare booth attendant, outside of rush hour.)
Here's a loner's guide to the quietest stations on the TTC.
Despite its picturesque location on the bank of the Humber River, Old Mill is the quietest stop on Bloor-Danforth line and the fifth quietest overall--by a hair. The stop recorded an average weekday ridership of 5,790 in 2013, just 90 people fewer than Summerhill and Leslie stations, both of which both logged 5,880 riders. Old Mill is the only station on the TTC to be half underground, half elevated. A fire on board a garbage collection train in 2000 damaged the east end of the platform and ended the practice of collecting station waste using converted subway cars, including Tokyo Rose, a Japanese-made train that was scrapped in 1990.
Located just a few hundred metres east of Scarborough Centre station, the second busiest on the RT, McCowan handles less than 15 percent of the riders of its neighbour--4,150 people on an average weekday. There's very little point to using McCowan, other than to beat the crowds at the next stop or avoid a very short walk east, since there are no connecting bus routes at street level. Though there are two platforms at McCowan, only one is used by passengers. The other provides access to the maintenance yard at the end of the line.
Another peaceful stop on the Scarborough RT, Midland station drew just 3,020 riders per weekday in 2013. The stop suffers from a problems shared with other stations on the RT: poor location in a mainly industrial area and a lack of bus connections: the 57 Midland route is the only other service that connects to Midland station. Most riders skip this stop and continue to Scarborough Centre or Kennedy, both of which have ridership levels competitive with stations on the Yonge and Bloor-Danforth lines.
Strange and lonely Bessarion is twice as busy as the TTC's quietest rapid transit stop, but that doesn't stop it claiming the title as the least used subway station. In 2013, Bessarion, which would probably have been called Burbank were it on the other side of Sheppard Ave., accounted for just 0.122 of the entire TTC subway/RT ridership. Only 2,550 used it on an average weekday in 2013.
The station was almost scrubbed from the subway map during planning of the Sheppard line in 1998. The cost of building the subway was climbing and some city councillors suggested cancelling the stop, which was to be surrounded by surface parking lots. Only a concerted effort by then-North York councillor David Shiner, who predicted the area would become a hot spot for development, saved Bessarion from elimination.
Almost nobody uses Ellesmere station. Just 1,140 passed through its turnstiles during the average wekday 2013, making it by far the quietest stop on the entire Subway/RT system. In fact, during the week more people pass through Bloor-Yonge station in 4 minutes than use Ellesmere all day. Taking the point further, if the all 146 people who live on Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic one day decided to use the station to get downtown and back, the ridership of the lonely station would spike by 25 percent.
The problem is due in part to Ellesmere's location in the middle of an industrial park. The stop does not have any bus bays and there are only two connecting routes on Ellesmere Rd. The station, which is actually losing riders as the TTC as a whole gets busier, would be eliminated with the Scarborough subway extension.
Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.
by Chris Bateman via blogTO