Toronto Transit Commission Rapid Transit network
The Toronto Transit Commission's Rapid Transit network consists of three heavy rail subway lines and one light rail line that serve the City of Toronto. Also called the Subway and RT network, it is the largest in Canada in terms of stations. The first rapid transit line was established in 1954 under Yonge Street and was the first subway to be built in the country.
Amid an increase in traffic congestion, the Rapid Transit Department was created by the TTC in 1944 to study various solutions. In 1946, a plan was proposed to the citizens of Toronto who voted largely in favour of a subway. The proposed line would follow the current alignment from Union Station to Eglinton Avenue. Construction began on September 8, 1949 with a ceremony at Yonge and Wellington Streets. The new Yonge subway line opened on March 30, 1954.
Following a further increase in traffic congestion and the success of the Yonge Line, the TTC proposed a subway under Bloor Street and Danforth Avenue between Keele Street and Woodbine Avenue. A subway under University Avenue would connect with this line and the Yonge line. The University subway opened on February 28, 1963 as an extension of the Yonge Line from Union Station to St. George Station at Bloor Street and Queen's Park Circle. The Bloor-Danforth Line opened on February 26, 1966. Construction of extensions of the line into Toronto's suburban municipalities soon commenced. The extension westward to Islington Avenue in Etobicoke and eastward to Warden Avenue in Scarborough opened on May 11, 1968.
Short extensions were made to the network in the 1970s and 1980s. The Yonge Line was extended northward in 1973 to York Mills Road and then to Finch Avenue a year later. The Bloor-Danforth Line was extended to Kennedy Road in the east and Kipling Avenue in the west.
In the 1960s, the idea to build a subway in the centre of the proposed Spadina Expressway arose. The Spadina Expressway was part of a network of expressways proposed by the City of Toronto that would link to growing development outside the city's boarders. After years of planning and debate, as well as the cancellation of the Spadina Expressway (ending now at Eglinton Avenue), the subway line was approved in 1973. The Spadina Line extended the Yonge-University Line from St. George Station to Wilson Avenue.
In 1975, The TTC looked at linking the eventual terminus of the Bloor-Danforth Line at Kennedy Road to the proposed city center development that would be anchored by the newly-constructed Scarborough Town Centre. Their report suggested that streetcars on a private-right-of-way could meet the projected demand of the line, as well as form the basis for a network that could eventually connect much of Scarborough to the subway. The Provincial Government convinced Scarborough councilors to instead adopt their newly developed Intermediate Capacity Transit System (ICTS). The line, named the Scarborough RT, opened on March 24, 1985.
A plan, known as Network 2011, was proposed by the TTC in 1985. It would effectively double the Rapid Transit network in the city over 26 years. The plan included an Eglinton West subway, a Sheppard subway, a Downtown (Yonge) Relief subway, and Eglinton West busway. In 1988, a one-stop extension of the Spadina Line to Sheppard Avenue, to meet the planned Sheppard subway, was approved. It opened on March 30, 1996. By 1993, it was decided to proceed with a scaled-back Eglinton subway and scaled-back Sheppard subway. Construction of both lines began in 1994. After a change in government however, the Eglinton Line was cancelled in 1995. The Sheppard Line was allowed to continue and opened on November 22, 2002.
Plans for an extension of the Spadina Line to York University, which came about in the 1980s, were revived in 2000 when the City of Vaughan proposed a subway link to a new development. The proposed extension would run from Downsview Station past York University and end at Jane Street and Highway 7. By 2008, the federal government, Government of Ontario, York Region, and Toronto had all agreed to fund the project.
Construction began in July 2008 with utilities relocation. The official start of tunnel boring was marked with a ceremony on June 17, 2011 at the Sheppard West Station launch site. Tunneling was complete in November 2013. The Spadina Line extension opened on December 17, 2017. To mark the occasion, service on the TTC was free for the day.
See TTC fleet roster.
The TTC uses a very unique track gauge of 4 ft 10⅞ in (1,495 mm), 60 mm (2⅜ inches) wider than the usual standard of 1,435 mm (4 ft 8½ in). Streetcars and Subways use this gauge, while the Scarborough RT uses a standard gauge as it was not designed to be run on other system trackage.
The TTC Subway network has a number of features that have been hidden from public view. Perhaps the most famous is Lower Bay station, which exists below the standard Bay station. This is part of the ‘wye’ that is used to connect the Bloor-Danforth to the Yonge-University-Spadina subway lines.
Another station sometimes called Lower Queen is located under Queen station. Passengers unknowingly pass though part of the station which has been modernized and is used to connect both northbound and southbound subway platforms. In this area is a red wall with a door, behind that door lies the bulk of the remainder of the station. Lower Queen was designed to be an underground streetcar station, and while no track has been laid, a properly sized trench was dug and has been roughed out in the concrete. A popular misconception is there is a sister Lower Osgoode station. This is not true, however, work was done to make space in the event such a station ever need to be built.
There are other “Lost” areas of the subway. One is the old Vincent yard, which can be seen in the area outside between Dundas West and Keele stations. The yard was capable of storing 8 full-length cars. Part of its primary purpose was storing additional cars that could not be handled at Davisville Yard, so when the Spadina lined opened (and Wilson Yard opened with it) Vincent yard was no longer needed. Its last job was to hold retired Gloucester cars. It is no longer active or usable, as the rails inside the yard have been warped from being unused.
|Line 1 Yonge-University-Spadina|
|Line 2 Bloor-Danforth|
|Line 3 Scarborough RT|
|Line 4 Sheppard|
|Line 5 Eglinton Crosstown||(Opening 2021.)|
- Filey, Mike. The TTC Story, The First Seventy-Five Years. Toronto: Dundurn Press Limited, 1996. Print.
- Ride the TTC for Free on December 17. Government of Ontario.