Dundas Subway Station

Concept: 3 out of 5
Execution: 3 out of 5
Yeah, but: It needs an expansion.

The Long Version: Dundas subway station is one of the classics. It feeds the Toronto Eaton Centre, Ryerson University (nee Polytechnic Institute), and an extremely popular stretch of Yonge street. It's part of the original subway line, and has been in use for 55 years. It's unusual, if not unique, in that it's not possible to switch train platforms without leaving the fare-paid area. However, should you find yourself on the wrong platform, grab a transfer from the nearby machines before you switch sides, and explain nicely to the collector and they'll (probably) let you in. Both of the surface routes - the popular 505 Dundas Streetcar and the wallflower 97 Yonge bus - need a transfer from from somewhere else, so get one before you get there.

Of course, the whole point of a subway station is to get somewhere else, and that's something that Dundas Station takes very seriously. There are six different ways to get out of the station. One to the southeast corner, opening into Dundas Square - the photo at the top. There's another exit to the new Toronto Life Square building. There are two exits to the Toronto Eaton Centre, one from the platform level and one from the underpass. Another exit leads to the Atrium On Bay on the north-west corner, and there's a street level exit on that corner as well.

But the array of options isn't always a blessing. It makes the station extremely confusing for the uninitiated, and makes for different streams of people trying to get to different places when the trains let their passengers out. The station simply isn't big enough to handle the rush-hour crowds, and rush-hour seems to take up half the day. Unfortunately this is a common problem for the subway system, and there's no cheap or easy way out of it. A second exit at the North end of the platform, emerging somewhere around Edward or Gould streets, might relieve some of the pressure but it isn't where most people want to go. It would make my commute easier, but that's about it.

Dundas station was the first to introduce the next-train arrival information display. It's an interesting idea, but if you can see it, you're already stuck waiting for the next train and there's no way it's going to arrive any faster. If this was shown outside if the fare-paid area, then maybe it would provide some options. Perhaps next time.

By a quirk of geography, I almost always arrive and depart from the Southbound platform. The few times that I go north I usually cross the street on the surface instead of taking the underpass. If it rains, I'll go in through the Atrium entrance instead of the narrow street-entrance stairs. Lots of options. All told it's a fun subway station to use - as long as it's not rush hour.


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