The company behind Toronto's subway internet wants to do way more than just help you surf


The Bloor-Yonge subway station handles more than 200,000 passengers on a weekday, making it the busiest stop in Toronto. Any delay — and there are many — leads to a crush of people and a generally uncomfortable commute.

Such overcrowding is unlikely to abate anytime soon, but an office located directly above the station may hold the key to eventually addressing it. There, as would-be passengers below wait and possibly contemplate a move to a quieter city (say, Peterborough), a big screen records the number of devices that have logged on to the station’s Wi-Fi network.

That data has value to BAI Communications Canada, which built and operates cellular and Wi-Fi networks across the Toronto Transit Commission’s underground system of subway stations. In May, the TTC and BAI signed a $420,000 contract (plus a combined monthly operating fee of around $35,000) to provide overcrowding notifications and count passengers, services the transit agency said it expects to start in November and January, respectively.