Mayor David Miller says the improvements envisioned as part of the Metrolinx "Big Move" plan should reduce risk of major subway problems such as what occurred on the Yonge line.

"What this plan will do, particularly with respects to the Yonge subway line, is update our entire signalling system," he said Friday. "We'll have automatic train control, which will allow us to run trains much closer together."

The TTC restored subway service between Bloor and Lawrence stations after a 46-metre-long bundle of cables fell off a wall near Eglinton station on Thursday afternoon. By 10 p.m., the TTC said the subway wouldn't resume until 6 a.m.

Officials say this is the first time the TTC has ever experienced such a problem and are conducting inspections at other stations to see if other cable bundles are at risk.

Thousands of commuters had to wait hours as shuttle buses struggled to transport them up and down Yonge Street. Others either trudged or otherwise tried to find their own way home.

Adam Giambrone, chair of the Toronto Transit Commission, warned that even the upgrades won't completely prevent problems because the system will rely on the same signals.

"Obviously there are going to be problems from time to time, like there are with the airlines, like there are with bus companies and like there are on the highways," he said Friday. "No system is perfect, and we have to do better at communicating."

Many stranded commuters say they never learned about the disruption until they actually got to Bloor-Yonge or other subway stations.

The TTC will be unveiling a new program to send text messages to people's cellphones and other mobile devices to alert them about such disruptions.

The board of Metrolinx, the provincial transportation agency, has approved in principle the $50-billion, 20-year plan to massively upgrade transit infrastructure in the GTA, with a particular focus on public transit.

The government agency's, $50-billion, 20-year plan includes the following:

  • A region-wide fare card
  • A cycling network
  • A information system for travellers
  • Expansions of Highways 407, 404, 427 and the 410

Aside from new subway lines around Toronto and into York region, the Metrolinx plan calls for a transit link from Pearson airport to Union, Finch and Eglinton subway stations. There is also a call for rapid transit lines across the GTA and improved, faster GO Transit service.

The final version is expected by year's end. There will be public hearings on the plan.

With a report from CTV Toronto's Naomi Parness