Filling the Finch Station Lot

Astroboyboy123 posted this interesting time lapse video last week on YouTube of commuters arriving at one of the Finch Subway station’s parking lots in the morning. The video starts around 7AM and within 1 hour and 40 minutes, the long and massive parking is completely filled up with cars, most of which are single occupants. Watching the cars quickly filling up the space, and occupants then walking to the subway is surprisingly and strangely engrossing.

Thanks to askrobot at Urban Toronto Forum for posting this and bringing it to may attention.

29 comments

  1. If there can be HOV lanes for traffic, why couldn’t there be preferential parking for car pooling groups? Two or more in a car and you’re into the lot. Single motorist is out of luck or pays a premium rate.

  2. It’s funny, because I can confidently say that if they got rid of the double fare at Steeles, you would see at the very least 25% of these single passenger cars taking transit instead (since most come from York Region anyways).

    It’s a shame, really. I know plenty of people who just don’t take the bus down to Finch simply because they don’t want to pay $5.75 one way.

  3. Great video – agreed that the dual fare structure north of the ‘city of Toronto’ causes some interesting economic behaviour. Funny to see the drivers who have trouble parking their cars straight.

  4. I like the way the video seems to accelerate at the end, as the volume of cars coming in increases.

    The HOV parking idea is an excellent one.

  5. Parking is free for Metropass holders at the Finch lots, so if you have one, then yes, it’s cheaper to park than to take double fare. (If no Metropass, then you’re out $6.)

    I have seen the double-fare story before… in particular, stats suggesting that the drop-off in transit ridership doesn’t start right in York Region, but actually 500 or 600 metres north of Steeles. Not sure if it’s because of how frequent the Steeles bus is compared to YRT service or if it’s the double fare. I suspect a little of both.

  6. RE: David Toronto

    “If there can be HOV lanes for traffic, why couldn’t there be preferential parking for car pooling groups? Two or more in a car and you’re into the lot. Single motorist is out of luck or pays a premium rate.”

    That has to be the dumbest idea I’ve heard in a long time… so let me get this straight… you want to discourage the people who are reducing air pollution the most per person by taking transit in favour of people who are causing less per person if they just kept on driving to work???

    Increase parking = more cars off the road and we all breathe easier.

  7. I remember Kipling Station having reserved spaces for registered carpoolers – I wonder if they still have it, or if Finch Station has them. It’s not a bad idea, as some people may drive to a TTC or GO park and ride as they live too far from convenient transit.

    On the other hand, while the TTC isn’t too bad for this, some GO stations were designed purely with the car owner in mind, putting transit connections a distant second, and walk-up traffic bringing up the rear in priority. The old incarnation of Bramalea Station, or Cooksville or Meadowvale, has this problem.

    I wonder if it’s the double fare that makes people drive to the subway, or if it’s poor local transit access, or people just not wanting to take a bus and rather drive from their own house. I suspect that the last two reasons has more to do with it.

  8. @MER1978
    ——–
    What I was saying is that if more car pooling took place, the number of cars using the lot would drop significantly as would the collective carbon footprint.

    Granted, it doesn’t match the transit in carbon footprint but it isn’t always convenient for every person to take the transit.

    Allowing for this, and given the incentive for car pooling, there would be fewer frustrations in getting parking and–maybe,just maybe–ridership from the station might rise.

    I hope this clears things up for you and that you can see it in this light.

  9. RE: David Toronto

    “What I was saying is that if more car pooling took place, the number of cars using the lot would drop significantly as would the collective carbon footprint.”

    That logic only really works if you think that somehow having a big lot without any restrictions serves as a reason people might use for buying a car.

    In general car pooling is a nice idea… but as one of the most spread out cities on the planet… 99.9% of the time it just isn’t a viable option… and personally I think there are other things that could use the focus wasted on car pooling.

    “Allowing for this, and given the incentive for car pooling, there would be fewer frustrations in getting parking and–maybe,just maybe–ridership from the station might rise.”

    Toronto’s subway system is INSANELY packed during rush hour… ridership isn’t really a problem.

  10. In my opinion the TTC should end free standard metropass parking, but could instead leverage the Metropass Express sticker ($32/month) as a parking pass, an easy way to charge a premium with little administrative overhead but still retain a price incentive over non-metropass holders.

    That’s $384/year extra revenue per metropass parker or about $1.50 per business day, or more if metropassers stop taking the car and spaces are freed up for non-metropassers who are charged more.

    Also, that $384 will be eligible for the tax credit so they will pay $328.40 net of the year-end refund.

  11. Great video!

    That parking lot is over half a kilometer long, but did you realize that only half the parking there is depicted? There’s a whole other lot, about the same size, on the western side of Yonge too.

    The only problem with HOV parking is the same as with HOV lanes. It penalizes carpoolers who have already dropped off their other passengers along the way. Just because you see a vehicle with a single occupant, you can’t assume they spent the whole trip alone.

    Still, maybe the merits outweigh that. Anybody have numbers?

  12. Great video!
    Particularly noticable was the jerk who parked on an angle taking more than his alloted space.
    There’s one in every crowd!

  13. Well let’s assume for a moment you don’t buy a Metropass so it’s $6.00 to park at Finch. Even still, to bus to and from York Region using cash fare is not just a one time $5.75. It’s both ways. So metropass or not, driving is much cheaper (in terms of immediate cost anyways) since it’s almost half the total cost of a round trip commute by bus.

    I do agree that it’s not just the double fare that is keeping people from riding the bus down to the subway stations, but it plays a major role. There is not a very good excuse for a lot of people living near major routes to just take their bus to a Viva station and taking the rapid transit to Finch or Don Mills or even Downsview. Viva services all three, and they are very frequent during peak hours.

    As for HOV parking, that concept is already in use at Canada’s Wonderland with their Seasons Pass parking. It’s not rewarding car-poolers or anything, but the idea is that they do in fact separate a part near the front of the lot for those who meet certain requirements.

    I don’t agree that by increasing parking you will reduce the number of cars on the road. It does the exact opposite. All you’re doing there is promoting MORE car use simply because there is always going to be that space to drive to the lot. Prime example is GO transit parking. Everyone knows that most of those lots are almost always full at early hours (no different than TTC parking), so a lot of people bike or take transit to the stations instead. If more parking spots existed, more cars would flock to the stations instead.

    It’s all really simple, and yet the people in charge don’t seem to get it.

  14. Some random comments:

    1. I like the idea on HOV parking. The net effect would be positive, I think.

    2. Parking may be free for metropass holders, but it fills up pretty darn fast, especially if you don’t want to walk for forever. (The times on that video look a bit off.)

    3. No, the TTC buses on Yonge from Steeles and south aren’t really much better than YRT anymore, what with all the VIVAs and whatnot converging on Yonge St., all by highway 7. It’s just the double fare.

    (And nutty double-pass system, not that that helps so much. Weekly only, and you have to buy it on the right day, and they have to not run out, or else you pay a ticket or two and instantly the weekly pass no longer makes any sense.)

    4. As long as there’s going to be a double fare, they could take the load off by arranging for parking at the double fare boundary. Right now lots of people park illegally in the Centrepoint parking lot (you knew it as Towne & Country, Shawn) on Yonge just south of Steeles, so that they can get on the TTC bus and avoid the double fare that way. There are other locations where this happens, too, but Centrepoint is the most obvious.

    Well, that part of Centrepoint’s parking lot is otherwise mostly empty — and it’s going to stay that way until the TTC either builds a subway station at Yonge & Steeles, or definitively announces that they’re not ever going to. (Same with the other remaining large-sized, underused land packages on the Yonge corridor, like the Roy Foss et al lots. But that’s another story.)

    Arranging for some not-illegal parking at the double-fare boundary (Steeles) would at least take a whole bunch of the cars off part of the 7-to-Finch segment of Yonge that’s absolutely choked with buses as well as car traffic.

    Things are going to get a lot worse before they get any better on that stretch of Yonge. It’s impossible to believe that the subway will get extended at all, or that the double-fare will fall away, any time over the next decade or two. Some parking at the Steeles bottleneck, instead of bringing people the 2 km south to Finch, would ease at least a bit of the congestion out there. (And, while they’re at it, better entrench Yonge-Steeles as a transit hub for the theoretical future one-day subway there.)

    Which, hey, would be something.

  15. The movement of the video has an almost symphonic quality to it, with the intensity building is it goes on. It’d be fun to see someone put it to a piece of music.

  16. Even still, to bus to and from York Region using cash fare is not just a one time $5.75. It’s both ways. So metropass or not, driving is much cheaper (in terms of immediate cost anyways) since it’s almost half the total cost of a round trip commute by bus.

    Raffi, the VIVA and other YRT buses coming in from anywhere that the double fare feels like a double fare are $2.40 per ticket (or $3.00 cash). Round trip is $4.80 (or $6.00) a day.

    Parking is a bit more expensive than the bus.

  17. Asher, I was thinking the same thing.

    Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee might have been an appropriate choice.

  18. Disparishun, I’m not sure you understood my point. The whole idea of going to park at Finch is to take the subway down, and that in itself is an additional $2.75 cash fare, whether or not you took the YRT.

    My point is that if you relied solely on YRT/Viva to get to Finch, and then you subway it, you’ll be left with a $11.50 round trip if you pay cash fare.

    That’s why it’s cheaper to park.

  19. RE Raffi:

    “I don’t agree that by increasing parking you will reduce the number of cars on the road. It does the exact opposite. All you’re doing there is promoting MORE car use simply because there is always going to be that space to drive to the lot.”

    Again… unless you think that park + ride lots actually encourage someone to buy a car they wouldn’t otherwise have bought… making transit more convenient absolutely reduces car use.

    I have parked at that lot a number of times when going downtown and taken the subway precisely because of that convenience… what would have happened if the lot didn’t exist… or was always full at the times I wanted to use it… uhhhh I would drive all the way downtown and all of the way back.

    “Prime example is GO transit parking. Everyone knows that most of those lots are almost always full at early hours (no different than TTC parking), so a lot of people bike or take transit to the stations instead. If more parking spots existed, more cars would flock to the stations instead.”

    “It’s all really simple, and yet the people in charge don’t seem to get it.”

    Yeah I really don’t think it’s that simple… it’s very easy for you to say that people could bike or take transit… and some probably could… but there are a lot of people who don’t live near frequent feeder transit lines… and not everyone thinks all roads in the city are bicyclist friendly.

  20. MER1978:

    “unless you think that park + ride lots actually encourage someone to buy a car they wouldn’t otherwise have bought… making transit more convenient absolutely reduces car use.”

    Fact of the matter is, since most of the people who park at that parking lot (myself included) are residents of York Region, it is very safe to assume that the user already owns and operates a car. That said, if they can be given an alternative method of getting to the subway station that isn’t a hassle, then they would and should use that alternative method. It is the same mentality that corporate offices use: Reduce the number of parking spots, increase the number of car-poolers and transit riders.

    “it’s very easy for you to say that people could bike or take transit… and some probably could… but there are a lot of people who don’t live near frequent feeder transit lines”

    Right, but that huge chunk of people who DO live near rapid transit lines (or at least along major streets that lead to those lines) should have the incentive to take transit instead. By adding more parking spots you are taking away one incentive for people to take the transit system that is already there and ready for them.

    I’m not saying this is the solution for everyone. That is the prime reason why my initial comment in this article stated that you would see 25% of those single occupant cars use transit instead of taking the bus. There are those who _need_ to use the car, and there are more of those who don’t _need_ to use the car. The second group is the group that should be targeted, and then all of a sudden you wouldn’t even need the extra parking spots to begin with.

  21. RE: Raffi

    “Right, but that huge chunk of people who DO live near rapid transit lines (or at least along major streets that lead to those lines) should have the incentive to take transit instead.”

    Well unless you could somehow make the parking only available for people who live more than X kms from the lot… honestly I don’t know where this debate is going.

    “By adding more parking spots you are taking away one incentive for people to take the transit system that is already there and ready for them.”

    Do you really think there are that many cars in the lot driven by people who live quite close and have super convenient feeder transportation? I doubt it.

  22. Disparishun, I’m not sure you understood my point. The whole idea of going to park at Finch is to take the subway down, and that in itself is an additional $2.75 cash fare, whether or not you took the YRT.

    My point is that if you relied solely on YRT/Viva to get to Finch, and then you subway it, you’ll be left with a $11.50 round trip if you pay cash fare.

    Nope, don’t understand your point.

    We’re talking about people taking the subway from southern York Region to Finch. They can get there either by car, and park at Finch; or by VIVA. Of the two methods, VIVA’s a bit cheaper.

    If you’re talking people either taking VIVA/TTC, or driving all the way in, then you’re not talking $6 Finch parking. You’re talking $++ downtown parking. VIVA/TTC is a bunch cheaper.

  23. … erm, going from southern York Region to Finch, then taking the subway, I meant!

  24. The TTC park-and-ride lots should be sold to condo developers. A couple of large condos on each of them would probably house about the same number of people as the parking lots that they replace. (At Finch, the power lines would have to be buried first). Thus, even if the park-and-ride isn’t replaced with a new underground lot, the ridership will be replaced and 3000 fewer houses will be built in Vaughan.

  25. I personally find the column differences to be interesting. As the video goes on it’s clear that the column nearest the road is filling up the most quickly and it goes down in increments.

  26. Koyaanisqatsi anyone?

    Koyaanisqatsi is a time-lapse 1980’s movie scored to minimalist music without dialogue. (WARNING: The movie has no plot, like this video. It’s intention is just to provoke thought and emotion.)

    I loved the video; it was a good insight on how people make decisions. Honestly, for me, I wouldn’t care which row I parked in after the electric transmission lines, just so long as I was consistent every day (so I know roughly where my car is always).

    Personally, I hate commutes, period. I’ve lived in Houston, Dallas, and Austin, Texas, USA. Road rules and transit sucks, for the most part. Some buses and light rail and no subways. I’d love to live, work, and play without a car.

    What about a “private” public transportation? Check this out: http://www.unimodal.net/

  27. It’s very interesting to see this video. If only we could give preferred treatment to people who had 2 or more passengers, like a discount, or better parking, we could make even better use of this space.

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