Museum Station is adjacent to some of the most important destinations in the city, including the Royal Ontario Museum, Gardiner Museum, and part of the University of Toronto. It is also surrounded by dozens of office buildings, condo towers, hotels, shops and restaurants. Within 500 metres of York Mills station, you will find one office building, a golf course, a forest, a handful of small condominium buildings, and estate homes on large lots.
Which station is busier? It would be quite reasonable to assume Museum, but in fact York Mills sees more than three times as many riders per day. York Mills’ 27,260 riders make it one of the busier stations in the system. (Source) This isn’t an altogether fair comparison, since Museum’s is one of the least busy downtown stations (8,220 riders per day) and it shares much of its natural catchment area with other stations. Nevertheless, this clearly shows that surrounding density isn’t the only factor in determining how well used a subway station will be.
Our current planning process places an enormous amount of emphasis on the number of jobs and residents within 500 metres. That’s no doubt very important, and several subway stations are quite busy based entirely on their local walk-in traffic (i.e. North York Centre). It ignores the importance, however, of connecting bus routes. York Mills is well used because the 95 York Mills is a very busy bus route. Perhaps the greatest strengths of the TTC are the excellent connections between bus and subway and the relatively high quality of its suburban bus service. Riders can easily transfer between their local bus service that serves their home directly and faster subway service that allows them to make longer trips in a reasonable time. Good bus connections dramatically extend the catchment area of a subway line. Intense development around a station is good to have, but a station can be very busy without much in its immediate neighbourhood as long as it connects to a busy bus route.