Home > Contemplations > 4 Reasons Why The TTC Subway Extension Should Plan For Cellular Devices

4 Reasons Why The TTC Subway Extension Should Plan For Cellular Devices

Subway train entering TTC Osgoode Station, April 7, 2011 in Toronto.

Some thoughts on the extension to the Yonge-University-Spadina (YUS) Line on the western branch (beginning from Downsview Station) which the TTC is currently building.

OK, this is really one thought:

They should build the new subway extensions to allow for cell use even if they are underground tunnels.

To be clear, what I mean by that, is that they should allow for cell signals to be able to penetrate the underground tunnels – assuming it is feasible – by having shafts/grates above the tunnels to above ground to allow the signals to penetrate. This would mean a special network would not have to be built up below ground (at least for these new tunnels).

TTC Yonge-University-Spadina_extenstion_map via Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Yonge-University-Spadina_extenstion_map.png

Here’s why:

  1. FACT: There are subway lines that run above ground (Eglinton West to Downsview) and they don’t experience “signal problems”. This was long the reason why the TTC claimed they did not want to allow cellular towers to be installed in their tunnels/stations.
  2. FACT: When riding north on the University-Spadina side of the Yonge-University-Spadina (YUS) line as soon as you reach Eglinton West Station (above ground = cell reception) a large percentage of people pull out their phones and – to a lesser extent – tablets.
  3. FACT: They are building new subway tunnels for the new stations from scratch right now. It makes sense to me to make allowances for cellular service from the outset. Even if it is decided later on (I see this as unlikely but I’m biased) that the public doesn’t want to allow cell service on subways, this sentiment may later change. Assuming the last to be true, why would you want to have to make more work to install towers/repeaters underground at a later date if you can make allowances for it now when you’re doing the initial work?
  4. FACT: These new stations will be serving York University and Vaughan. York University, quite obviously, has a younger demographic than the rest of the city and people going to York University are the ones who will be using its stations. The stations more north are also probably going to be serving the younger families in these growing parts of the Greater Toronto Area. These are the people who have had cell phones and mobile devices as a part of their lives for a large percentage if not majority of their memory. These people, probably, do not yearn for “the good old days” of transit when no one used phones and portable devices and it was a mostly quiet ride. This younger generation and the ones that follow them LIKES (or will like) always being connected and desires it.

Don’t make things harder to do than they already are when you have the opportunity to make them easier.

I would also like to propose that people having cellular service will make things safer on the TTC and help to stop people from vandalizing (I guess this makes this the fifth reason). Why do I say this? Simply for the same reason that so many people are reporting TTC employees doing things they shouldn’t be doing with their cell phones. As well, a lot of the people who were caught in the Vancouver riots got caught because everyone downtown that day had a cell phone and were recording/documenting what was going on and posting it online. Therefore, if someone who is going to engage in vandalism knows that their acts may be caught on camera and uploaded immediately to the internet they would, I believe, think twice before they engaged in that behavior.

NOTE: I can’t support any of these facts with “scientific data”, haha. They are based on what I see whenever I ride the subway and the demographic changes that I see occurring every day in the GTA. This is all just my $0.02 and I encourage all y’all to disagree with me in the comments below.


Map above taken from Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Yonge-University-Spadina_extenstion_map.png

  1. J.T.
    September 17, 2011 at 11:04 am

    From a technical standpoint, it is entirely possible to retrofit the ENTIRE 70KM of TTC tunnels and 68 stations with 4G/LTE high-speed cellular service. The service would be installed and paid for by BELL and other major carriers. This is a no-brainer.

    Vancouver already has full 3G cellular service in 16KM of tunnels and 8 underground stations on the Canada Line – it’s airport-to-downtown rapid transit service. It has proven so popular that high speed cellular service will shortly be added to the older Skytrain tunnels and stations downtown and in New Westminster.

    • September 18, 2011 at 11:27 pm

      I totally agree J.T. I hope the TTC gets on this SOON!

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