A balanced and workable
new transportation plan
for the City of Toronto
Display boards at the Canadian National Exhibition in 1959 showing the plans for the Bloor-Danforth Subway. It is being promoted as the Bloor-Danforth-University Subway because it would include the Lower Bay loop to the University Subway. The Bloor-University loop through Lower Bay station was used initially, but later closed as unnecessary. The line then became just the Bloor-Danforth Subway.
Rush hour platform crowding on the Bloor-Danforth Subway line at Yonge station today
The automated audible announcements for the Bloor-Danforth Line were installed in January 2008. However, while the automated announcements on TTC buses and streetcars are both audible and visible, it is not until the new subway trains that enter service will provide audible and visible automated stop announcements in 2010.
The TTC estimates that automatic train control on the Bloor-Danforth Line could be installed by 2020.
The line has its western terminus near Kipling Avenue and Bloor Street West. Going east for twelve kilometres along Bloor, it meets the Yonge-University-Spadina line at Spadina, St. George, and Yonge stations. Two kilometres further on Bloor East, crossing the Prince Edward Viaduct, it continues just north of Danforth Avenue for six more kilometres before turning northeast for the final five kilometres, ending at Kennedy station (near Kennedy Road and Eglinton Avenue), which is also the southern terminus of the Scarborough RT.
Most of the line is underground, with exceptions noted below; most of the tunnel is cut-and-cover, but some is bored. The line generally does not run under Bloor Street or Danforth Avenue themselves, but is offset to the north: in some areas it runs under parks and parking lots behind the businesses on the north side of the street, while other sections run under side streets. All stations except Chester connect to surface TTC bus and/or streetcar routes either by transfer or fare-paid terminal. Other surface and train connections are noted below.
Sections of the line that are not underground are the track between Kipling station and just west of Islington station, a short section between Islington station and Royal York station crossing a bridge over Mimico Creek, from Old Mill station to west of Jane station (this is an interesting case, as the portal at Old Mill station is located at roughly the middle of the platform: the western half of the station is underground, while the eastern half is on the Humber River viaduct), east of Runnymede station to west of High Park station, east of Keele station to west of Dundas West station, east of Sherbourne station to west of Castle Frank station(although the bridge is covered, and so appears to be a tunnel from the inside, merely with an unusual shape), east of Castle Frank station to west of Broadview station (spanning the Don Valley on the Prince Edward Viaduct), and east of Main Street station to east of Warden station (Both Victoria Park and Warden stations are above ground, although they are enclosed).
Most of the stations have similar designs, which are mainly utilitarian. This design consisted of two colours for the tiles: one colour for the main wall tiles and another colour for the trim tiles near the ceiling of the stations. They follow a regular pattern with few exceptions. The exceptions included the old termini of Islington and Warden stations (1968–1980), which both have a tricolour design, as well as the current (since 1980) termini of Kipling and Kennedy stations, which resembled the second version of Union subway station (after the original yellow and red vitrolite) and until the second version's luxalon was removed from the trackside walls.
Platform passenger crowding, particularly at Bloor and Yonge, is becoming a problem, with passengers often having to wait for two or three trains to pass in order to just get on. This could have been relieved by construction of the shelved Queen Street Subway which would have run parallel to the Bloor-Danforth Line. However, platform widenings and a proposed Downtown Relief Subway line are planned to ease this growing situation.
Click on the map below to enlarge it
View a show of pictures of the Bloor-Danforth Subway line
As of 2010 there are no plans to extend this subway in either direction, various plans have been considered in the past.
The TTC's Rapid Transit Expansion Study (RTES) identified the extension of this line as a low priority. This has been replaced by a planned Dundas LRT run by Mississauga Transit going from Kipling to Hurontario Street, linking to the planned Hurontario LRT as part of the MoveOntario 2020 transit plan.
The disused Lower Bay station being used for a movie set in New York
The Prince Edward Viaduct today carrying both Bloor Street and the Bloor-Danforth Subway over the Don Valley
The Bloor Subway line soon after opening in the late 1960's
A balanced and workable
new transportation plan
for the City of Toronto
The surface section of the Bloor-Danforth Subway approaching Warden in 1968
Before the subway was built, the TTC operated streetcars from Jane Street in the west to Luttrell Avenue (west of Victoria Park Avenue) in the east, using paired PCC streetcars or multiple units (MUs) from 1950 to the subway line opening in 1966.
The original Bloor-Danforth line was opened in 1966, running alongside Bloor Street and Danforth Avenue from Keele station in the west to Woodbine station in the east. Construction was already in progress to extend the Bloor-Danforth line in both directions, and these extensions opened simultaneously on May 11, 1968, to Islington Station in the west and Warden Station in the east. Until its abolition in 1973, the five stations from Old Mill and Victoria Park outward then formed an anomaly in the TTC'szone fare system, being treated as part of the central Zone 1.
In the original 1966 transportation plan, subways under both Bloor Street and Queen Street were included. Plans for a Queen line were abandoned in 1974 and are now being considered for revival after 2020 as a Downtown Relief Subway line to ease crowding on the downtown sections of the Yonge and Bloor lines.
In 1980, the line was extended once again, this time to the current termini of Kipling station in the west end and Kennedy stationin the east.
Bloor-Danforth Express Subway Extension to Scarborough Town Centre
In January 2016, the City of Toronto announced that the plans for the Bloor-Danforth Subway extension would be changed from a three-stop extension to McCowan Avenue and Sheppard Avenue to a one-stop express subway from Kennedy Station to the Scarborough Town Centre. The money saved from eliminating the other stations would build a 17-stop LRT to provide more rail transit to eastern Scarborough and connect five underserved priority neighbourhoods all within the same $3.56-billion price tag. The new LRT would be an eastern extension of the Eglinton-Crosstown line, known as Crosstown East, which would continue east along Eglinton Avenue from Kennedy Station to Kingston Road and then along Kingston Road to Morningside Avenue and then north on Morningside Avenue to the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus at Ellesmere Road. This was a revival of the Scarborough-Malvern route from David Miller's 2007 'Transit City' plan, but as an extension of the Eglinton Crosstown route instead of being a separate line. The elimination of the regular subway stations going north would be compensated by a local station stops on the proposed 'Smarttrack' line which would run parallel to the new subway just west of it where the Scarborough RT was.
After the Scarborough subway extension became one of the most polarizing issues at council in recent memory — with former mayor Rob Ford and Scarborough-area politicians arguing residents “deserve” a subway over a seven-stop, $1.48-billion LRT that was fully-funded by the province — council members from both sides agrees that the new plan was a 'vast improvement' because it gave Scarborough more transit, despite local people opposing the imposition of LRT's.
The new proposal cut out stops at Lawrence East and Sheppard Avenue. Senior sources said that by removing them, and the need to tunnel north from Scarborough Town Centre to Sheppard Avenue, the city could save more than $1 billion. It would be possible to continue the subway north in the future if the need and the funding were available.
The savings would be used towards a different LRT — one that was modified from a line first put forward in the early iterations of former mayor David Miller’s light rail plan called Transit City. That 12-kilometre LRT would be an extension of the Eglinton Crosstown line then already under construction — dubbed Crosstown East.
It would connect to both Eglinton and Guildwood GO stations while travelling through the Eglinton East, Kennedy Park, Morningside, Scarborough Village and West Hill communities identified by the city as “neighbourhood improvement areas” — typically low-income areas that lacked resources and city funding.
On July 13, 2016, some councillors tried to get the subway extension into Scarborough changed back to an LRT due to escalating projected costs. However, Council reaffirmed its support for the express subway extension by a vote of 27-16. Council also asked staff to look at completing the Sheppard Subway east to meet the extended Bloor-Danforth line and west to Downsview and extending the Bloor-Danforth line west to Sherway Gardens. This would effectively complete the subway network previously proposed.
An amendment to the subway extension plan into Scarborough was introduced in October 2016 to have the route turn west from McCowan Road when it reaches the Scarborough Town Centre and end in a field at Brimley Road at the western end of the shopping plaza.
The Bloor-Danforth Subway line is the main east-west subway line and it has 31 stations and is 26.2 kilometres (16.3 mi) in length. It opened on February 25, 1966, and extensions at both ends were completed in 1968 and again in 1980. The Toronto Transit Commission adopted a numerical identification system in 2014 and this subway line became Line 2.
The Bloor-Danforth line was originally intended to stretch from Islington to Warden, but it was extended further to Kipling and Kennedy in 1980. The Scarborough RT line acts as a further eastern extension to Midland beyond the Scarborough Town Centre. Further western and eastern extensions of the Bloor-Danforth Subway and/or the Scarborough RT have been approved.
The 300 Bloor-Danforth bus provides late night service when the subway is not in operation. This service operates frequently along Bloor and Danforth between East/West Mall and Warden. Some trips extend to Pearson Airport, providing late night service in the place of the 192 Airport Rocket. Service is provided east of Warden and Danforth via the 302 Danforth Rd-McCowan bus. On Sundays, these routes operate through the early morning hours, because the subway starts at 9:00 a.m. instead of the usual 6:00 a.m.
There was much debate in the 1950s over where the second Toronto subway line would run. There were many advocates for it to run under Queen Street West and Queen Street East, while others supported Bloor Street and Danforth Avenue. Due to the large amount of growth in that area, and the prophetically available rail deck under the Prince Edward Viaduct, the second option was constructed. The Prince Edward Viaduct, opened in 1918, carries Bloor Street across the Don Valley. Even at that time, it was built with a lower deck for a future subway under Bloor Street. This was completed with the Bloor-Danforth subway line in 1966.
The original downtown subway loop in 1966 which operated through the Lower Bay station
View a video of the unused Lower Bay subway station
Scarborough RT (Line 3)
Rather than the long subway passenger cars used by the Toronto Transit Commission’s three other rapid-transit lines, it usesUTDC ICTS Mark I vehicles powered by linear induction motors. They are essentially the same as the original fleet of theVancouver SkyTrain and that of the Detroit People Mover, although unlike these other operators, the TTC has opted to run them semi-automatically with a driver on board.
The line has six stations and is 6.4 km (4.0 mi) in length. It is operated by the Toronto Transit Commission and administered as part of its subway system, although the Scarborough RT differs technologically from the city’s other three lines in a number of respects. RT simply stands for "rapid transit", as the name "subway" seemed inappropriate for a line with only a small section underground. Internally, the TTC uses the name "rapid transit" to refer to all four lines. The term is sometimes used for streetcar lines as well. The line’s tracks are of standard gauge, unlike those of the rest of Toronto’s streetcar and subway lines.
An elevated stretch of the Scarborough RT at the Scarborough Town Centre
Possible extension of the Bloor-Danforth Subway to replace the Scarborough RT with a further extension to Sheppard Avenue in Malvern as desired by some Scarborough politicians.
After the election of Mayor Rob Ford in 2010, the idea of extending the Bloor-Danforth Subway gained traction. Finally, in 2012, City Council and the Provincial Government approved a plan to extend the Bloor-Danforth line (the extension was known as the Scarborough Subway) north to Sheppard Avenue. However, it would not follow the route fo the Scarborough Rt. Instead, it would continue east along Eglinton Avenue East to Danforth Road and then swing north under Danforth Road and McCowan Road to Sheppard Avenue East. It would connect to the Scarborough General Hospital and the Scarborough Town Centre. The Scarborough RT would be closed down. Approvals were given, but funding and construction were years away.
Lower Bay Station
Below the main platform for Bay Station is an abandoned platform, which was used for only six months in 1966 when the TTC experimentally ran trains whose routes included portions of both the Yonge-University and Bloor-Danforth lines. This abandoned platform is sometimes referred to as Lower Bay by the general public or Bay Lower by the TTC.
The platform was in service from February to September 1966 as part of an ‘interlining’ experiment, in which the TTC ran trains along three routes, with one matching the subsequent Bloor-Danforth line, and the other two combining parts of the Bloor-Danforth line with the Yonge-University line. The experiment was deemed a failure, largely because delays anywhere quickly cascaded to affect the entire system. Also, as the stations had not been laid out effectively for cross-platform interchange, trains travelling west from St. George and east from Bay alternated between the two levels, leading passengers to wait on the stairs in-between the levels, since they were unable to tell which platform would receive the next train.
With every station served by at least two routes (Bloor-Yonge Station) was served by all three routes, with the Yonge-University-Danforth route passing through it twice, once on each level), passengers could travel between any two stations without changing trains; though for some station combinations, such as travel between a station north of Bloor and one on the Bloor-Danforth route, transferring at Bloor-Yonge Station resulted in a more direct path. The TTC found that when the extra time waiting for a train from the correct route was considered, the time savings were not significant.
Interlining was discontinued because of the confusion and delays, although it has been argued that it was politically motivated and that the experiment was sabotaged by the TTC, perhaps even designed to fail from the start. Much of the infrastructure for interlining is still present on the system, and most older stations still have signs informing passengers of each train’s next destination, although they no longer change. While St. George and Bloor-Yonge Stations remained operating upper and lower platforms for the two crossing subway lines, Bay Station would be served by only the Bloor-Danforth line. Lower Bay was closed to the public.
Lower Bay is now used to train new operators, to move trains between the two current lines, for platform-surface experiments, and to allow filming in the subway without disrupting public service. The station has been modified several times to make it look like a "common" North American subway station, and the TTC once had an elaborate pre-built set for converting it to a New York subway station. The set was used for the filming of the movie Don't Say a Word. The TTC asked the production company if they could donate the set. The set remained up for about three weeks as a selling point for other movies but was then torn down due to safety concerns. Other notable movies shot at Lower Bay include Johnny Mnemonic, Bulletproof Monk and Mimic. The station was also featured in the music video "Never Again," which was performed by the band The Midway State, a band local to Toronto.
The tracks connecting Lower Bay are still in existence and are used if subway trains or equipment must be moved between lines. The station platform can be reached through normally-locked service doors on the upper level, and at one end of the upper platform of the station.
The station itself is not open to public access. Since its closure, entrance to the station has been bricked off, and the only access is through a pair of fire doors on Upper Bay's platform. The platform is considered a "Holy Grail" for Urban Exploration, however the TTC has since installed security cameras on the platform.
During structural repairs to the tunnel roof between Bay and St. George stations, trains were bypassed to Museum station via the interlining tracks on Saturdays and Sundays from February 24 to March 11, 2007. As a result, riders could see Lower Bay through the train windows as they rode between Bloor-Yonge and Museum stations.
The TTC opened Lower Bay to the public for Doors Open Toronto on May 26, 2007. According to TTC Chair Adam Giambrone's introduction leaflet, this event was the first time since 1966 that the station's platform was open to the public. There were large line-ups, as a limited number of people were allowed on the platform at any one time. Two trains were parked on the tracks, a video screen displayed movies or commercials shot in Bay Lower, and movie posters were hung around the platform. The station was opened again for the event on May 24, 2008.
The Scarborough RT at Scarborough Centre station
Lower Bay station opened in 1966 for a downtown circular subway loop, but no longer used
The Prince Edward Viaduct soon after it opened in 1918 carrying Bloor Street over the Don Valley with a second below it for a future subway, showing planning foresight
Possible extension of the Bloor-Danforth Subway into Mississauga
The Scarborough Subway
In October 2005, a number of Toronto politicians began a campaign to expand the line northeastward as an alternative for theScarborough RT, which is heavily used and under constant repair, and to study the viability of this alternative, known as the Scarborough Subway. As of August 2006, this campaign was ended, when Scarborough councillors agreed to support plans to refurbish the existing RT and pursue other RT and LRT options for Scarborough. At this point an independent Scarborough subway, connecting the civic centre with downtown Toronto, has yet to be examined.
Late at night when the Scarborough RT is not operating, the 302 Danforth Rd-McCowan Blue Night bus serves the same area. The 302 originates at Danforth and Warden, where it connects with the 300 Bloor-Danforth that travels to the west. From Warden, the 302 travels east along Danforth to McCowan, then north along McCowan to Steeles. With the exception of McCowan RT station, it does not pass near any of the subway or RT stations, though other night bus services pass near stations. Bus service is extended on Sundays because the subway and RT start at 9:00 a.m. instead the usual 6:00 a.m. start.
A transportation plan report in March 1974 recommended that rapid transit be improved in Scarborough instead of construction of the eastern extension of the Gardiner Expressway, known as the Scarborough Expressway. The expressway was shelved and plans to build the transit line came forward a connection between the end of the Bloor-Danforth Subway and the Scarborough Town Centre.
In the early 1980s, the TTC had proposed to extend the Bloor–Danforth line by using streetcars operating in a private right-of-way, but the ICTS system was used instead because the Province of Ontario agreed to pay a large portion of the costs. This change was made after construction had commenced. At Kennedy Station, there are clues revealing that it was originally built for streetcar operation; it is possible to see old low-level streetcar platforms protruding under the current high-level platforms, and Kennedy Station originally had a loop to turn streetcars. This proved too sharp for safe operation of SRT cars, and the loop was abandoned for regular usage and replaced by a crossover. Ontario wanted to develop and promote its new technology, which was originally designed for a proposed urban GO Transit service known as GO ALRT. Changes to federal railway regulations had made the new system unnecessary for GO, and so the government hoped to sell it to other transit services in order to recoup its investment.
The Scarborough RT opened in March 1985. Only three years after it opened, the TTC had to renovate its south-western terminus at Kennedy Station, because the looped turnaround track, originally designed for streetcars under the earlier plan and not needed for the bi-directional ICTS trains, was causing derailments; it was replaced with a single terminal track and the station was thus quasi-Spanish solution.
The 'Network 2011' Subway expansion plan proposed an eastern extension of the Scarborough RT from McCowan curving past Markham Road to Malvern on Sheppard Avenue. This has still not yet been built but remains in the TTC plans.
Largely because of the relatively high cost of the ICTS technology for the service it provides, the line has seen no extensions since it opened. Many transit advocates believe that it would have been wiser either to build it using streetcars, as was originally planned, to allow for lower costs and more flexibility in route options or simply to extend the underground Bloor-Danforth line further into Scarborough.
The trains operated were developed by the Urban Transportation Development Corporation (UTDC), then an Ontario Crown corporation but now a division of Bombardier. The business proposal initially bore little fruit – a proposed pilot project in Hamiltonwas cancelled after meeting widespread public opposition, and the technology was used initially only by the Scarborough RT,Vancouver’s SkyTrain, and the Detroit People Mover. With expansion of the SkyTrain and sales to Ankara, Kuala Lumpur, New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport AirTrain, and Seoul, a newer version, sold under the name "ART" (advanced rapid transit), has become a success for Bombardier.
One unusual feature of the ICTS cars is that they are driven by linear induction motors: instead of using conventional motors to turn the wheels, they push themselves along the route using magnets and a distinctive metal plate that runs down the centre of the tracks. This system requires very few moving parts, and therefore leads to lower maintenance costs.
When the car motors are accelerating, they actually lift the car off the track an extremely small distance, repealing against the wide aluminum plate in the centre of the track. This micro-lifting prevents the truck wheels from making a solid electrical contact with the track. Instead of using the conventional method where motive power is supplied by a single third rail, with return current traveling through the running rails, a separate positive and negative power rail are provided on one side of the track. With respect to the accelerating trucks and the micro-lifting, the truck wheels have a somewhat larger flange than normal in order to keep the car inline on the track during the micro-lifting.
The trains are also able to be operated exclusively by computers, doing away with the need for a human operator. The public, however, was not ready for driverless trains when the Scarborough RT opened, particularly in light of frequent software glitches early in its operation, so operators were retained (other systems, including Vancouver’s SkyTrain, took full advantage of the automated operation). The Scarborough RT trains have only one operator, unlike TTC subway trains which carry both a guard, who operates the train’s doors, and an operator, who drives. In practice, the Scarborough RT trains drive themselves; the operator monitors their operations and controls the doors. The transit workers' union has firmly opposed driverless trains. One feature, which was not there at the Scarborough RT's opening, is the automated stop announcement system, which was introduced in January 2008.
The line follows a roughly L-shaped route: first northward from Kennedy Station, parallelling the Canadian National Railway tracks, between Kennedy Road and Midland Avenue, 4 km to Ellesmere Road; then eastward between Ellesmere and Progress Avenue, through Scarborough Town Centre to McCowan Road. The Scarborough RT’s ICTS trains, which are not shared with any of the TTC’s other lines, have their own small yard east of McCowan Station. This yard is large enough to store the existing fleet but would have to be expanded or replaced if the TTC were to expand the line’s capacity by buying new trains. Basic maintenance is performed in this yard, but for more major work, the cars are taken to the subway’s Greenwood Yard, which must be done by truck, because differences in track gauge make it impossible for the Scarborough RT’s track to be connected with the rest of the subway and streetcar systems.
The north-south section of the route, where it follows the CN tracks, is at ground level; the shorter east-west section (except for the ground-level yard) is elevated, as is the Kennedy terminus. The line dives briefly underground just north of Ellesmere Stationto cross under the CN tracks. Two stations, Kennedy and Scarborough Centre, are wheelchair accessible. There have been proposals to add a station at Brimley Road due to the increased number of residential developments in the area of Brimley and Ellesmere Roads.
View a video of a trip along the Scarborough RT from Midland to Kennedy
As of 2009, the TTC is assessing an extension of the SRT from McCowan to Malvern Town Centre. They have also made a motion that the current study should include the addition of a station where the existing line crosses Brimley Road.
In 2006, a study was completed on the prospects of this line. It recommended upgrading the line to handle larger ART Mark II vehicles, at a cost of $360 millon (2006 dollars). Extending the Bloor–Danforth line (either along the current Scarborough RT route, or along a different alignment directly to Scarborough Centre) was not considered cost-effective or justifiable.
On June 15, 2007, the Ontario government had released MoveOntario 2020, a plan that would fund 52 different transit projects throughout Toronto and Hamilton for the cost of $17.5 billion, including the Scarborough RT extension to Sheppard Avenue, which would meet the proposed Sheppard East LRT line, also to be funded by MoveOntario 2020.
On April 1, 2009, the Ontario government will help fund a plan to expand the Scarborough RT east towards either Markham Road, or further northeast to the Malvern Town Centre and to replace its existing vehicles along that line. The expansion and its upgrades should be completed by 2015.
In September 2009, Scarborough Community Council recommended, with Toronto City Council officially passing on to the TTC andMetrolinx, a proposal to replace the RT's ICTS technology with the LRT technology of Transit City. This would have all surface and elevated RT systems in Scarborough use interchangeable technology, and ironically return the RT to its originally-planned system. Efforts are underway to have the replacement completed by the summer of 2015, in time for the Pan Am Games.
The Scarborough RT has long been maligned for many reasons. Because it uses different vehicles and a different track gauge from the rest of the TTC's rail network, it cannot be easily integrated or extended. Because the line was built to handle Mark I vehicles, subway trains would not be able to handle its tight curves even if the track were replaced with the TTC's gauge. The TTC's fleet of Mark I vehicles is aging and demand has exceeded the capacity of the TTC's Mark I fleet, but these vehicles are no longer produced by Bombardier, leaving the TTC with the expensive prospect of either retrofitting the line for Mark II vehicles (such as those used in Vancouver) or streetcars, or paying Bombardier to restart the production of Mark I vehicles. Most critics of the line point to the fact that the demand is not such that it requires 'Rapid Transit'. The TTC itself estimates potential demand at no more than 10,000 passengers/hour/direction, which could be served by streetcars running in a grade-separated right of way in 2015. The Toronto Transit Commission adopted a numerical identification system in 2014 and the Bloor-Danforth subway line became Line 2 and the Scarborough Rapid Transit line became Line 3.
Bloor-Danforth Subway Extension to McCowan and Sheppard
If the Scarborough Subway extension of the Bloor-Danforth line was built, the Scarborough RT would be closed down forever, but this remains to be seen. Some politicians still favour retaining the Scarborough RT and converting it into an LRT as an eastern extension of the Eglitnon-Crosstown LRT, being built along Eglinton Avenue.
In April 2013, Councillor Karen Stintz, Chair of the TTC, announced that she wanted to look at extending the Bloor-Danforth Subway eastward to McCowan to replace the Scarborough RT line, instead of replacing it with an extension of the proposed Eglinton-Crosstown LRT, by then under construction. She was responding to the pro-subway lobby in Scarborough. By September 2013, Council voted to extend the Bloor-Danforth Subway along Danforth Road and McCowan Road north to Sheppard Avenue with three station stops. This was met with Federal and Provincial funding approval, and planning and construction would take ten years to complete.
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