AECOM pedestrian-traffic design services reduce travel time, ease congestion

AECOM Technology Corp., a provider of professional technical and management support services for government and commercial clients around the world, and Legion America, Inc., have provided pedestrian-traffic design and simulation services to the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) to increase efficiency and reduce travel times at the Bloor-Yonge station in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

The city’s busiest station, Bloor-Yonge, serves approximately 400,000 people a day and is a key subway transfer point. The transfers occur at the north end of the station; congestion and inefficient loading and unloading of trains can result in increased “dwell time” — the amount of time a train is stopped in a station. TTC passenger demand projections for the design year 2031 indicated that demand will increase at the station. To manage this increase, 30-second dwell times will be required to accommodate shorter headways and more trains.

“The passenger simulation model was very useful in understanding the passenger dynamics of the Bloor-Yonge station,” said Charles Wheeler, director of program management for the TTC’s Transit Expansion Department. “It helped us understand both existing and future conditions in this busy interchange station.”

In the first phase of the project, AECOM and Legion developed train dwell time models to ascertain the likelihood of achieving the target dwell time under various train boarding and alighting scenarios. The team also estimated and analyzed likely areas of congestion and problems at the station in 2031.

“This was a unique opportunity to use Legion pedestrian simulation to assess boarding and alighting, as well as platform distribution,” said Luke Bridle, an architect for AECOM’s transportation business line. “The visual nature of the outputs and quantifiable results helped drive and validate the conceptual design for the station.”

During the second phase, the team recommended interim operational strategies to ease congestion and reduce dwell times. One of the recommendations was then implemented by the TTC as a pilot program, which in turn enabled the TTC to run three additional trains during the morning peak hour.

“Combining AECOM’s leading engineering, planning, and design abilities with Legion’s sophisticated pedestrian simulation software allows clients to make informed, cost-saving decisions early in the design process,” said Tom Waldron, director for AECOM’s transit and rail market sector, North America. “It provides clients with very effective solutions and alternatives for both new and existing facilities.”

In the third phase of the project, the team developed and evaluated several possible station design configurations that could potentially improve passenger flow and congestion based on pedestrian densities, transfer times, dwell times, cost and constructability.

“This is a great example of AECOM partnering with a technology company to offer solutions that add value for our clients’ projects and assets,” said Jim Walsh, AECOM senior vice president and chief technology officer. “We are continuously evaluating technology solutions across all of our capabilities to ensure technical excellence and maintain global market leadership.”

The Bloor-Yonge station capacity study was completed in October 2010.