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The need for underground transit systems in large cities is amplified by an increasing growth of urban populations worldwide. In 2014, urban populations accounted for 54% of the global population, a number which is expected to continue to increase over the next 15 years (World Health Organization, 2016). Additionally, growing knowledge regarding the impact that greenhouse gas emissions have on the natural environment encourages urban planners to seek alternative modes of transportation to that of automobiles (Urban Transportation Council, 2007). Many benefits of subway systems exist, including reduced travel times, reduction of automobile traffic, higher traffic safety, and reduced environmental pollution (Girnau & Blennemann, 1989, Mackett & Edwards, 1998; Mass Transit, 2002). Davidson (1989) compares subway systems to underground parking, praising them when remarking that “they do not corrupt the landscape; they reduce pollution and surface congestion.” Girnau & Blennemann (1989) suggest that an additional benefit to subway systems is their ability to ensure coordination of urban planning and public transit.
The International Travel Associates’ Working Group on Costs-Benefits of Underground Urban Public Transportation (1987) highlight that mobility is essential to human activity, and that the industrial revolution sparked the beginning of technological advancements regarding transportation. Furthermore, the aforementioned working group produced two comments regarding “subsurface transportation”, which are as follows; 1) Urban public transportation needs improvement and promotion because of its advantages in comparison with car traffic, e.g. effective use of energy, and environmental protection; and, 2) In densely populated and built-up areas the subsurface is, in many cases, the only available space in which to build a new public transport system with high speed and a high degree of safety. It has been largely accepted that subway systems are essential to any metropolitan area’s commitment to environmental stewardship and greenhouse gas emissions reductions (Urban Transportation Council, 2007). Research conducted in Sao Paulo, Brazil, found a notable increase in the amount of air pollution within the city on days in which the underground subway system was not running, as a result of increased automobile use (Silva et al., 2012).
Figure 1 shown under "Study Area" depicts the chosen study area, the city of Toronto. The Toronto Transit Commission (referred to henceforth as the TTC) is currently working on an extension of the Spadina subway line, which is projected to be completed by 2017 (Toronto Transit Commission, 2016). A research gap exists regarding what subsequent improvements could be made to the Toronto subway system. A page on a Toronto-based blog entitled The Intrepid (Michalowicz, 2009) displays multiple “TTC Fantasy Maps” created by Torontonians, which indicate numerous fictitious subway lines that Torontonians have expressed a need for. The page indicates that even following the completion of the Spadina subway line expansion, city dwellers will feel that the system needs improvement, based on the large amount of fictitious lines on the maps that will remain unsatisfied.
The task of planning locations and routes for the construction of new subway lines requires the use of GIS applications as it is spatially distributed problem. The location of subway lines is largely determined by the spatial distribution of the population of the place in question, as well as other spatial factors such as points of interest, existing public transportation, and proximity to bodies of water (Burda & Haines, 2011), which will be detailed below.
Purpose of Research
This research project aims to identify the most beneficial location for the construction of a new subway line connected to the current Toronto Transit Commission subway system.
1. Identify factors or variables important in deciding where a new subway line should be.
2. Develop a GIS-based model for siting a new subway line in Toronto.
3. Apply the GIS model to examine which proposed TTC subway line is the most beneficial.
4. Evaluate the strengths and limitations of the aforementioned GIS-based model.