A balanced and workable
new transportation plan
for the City of Toronto
Sheppard Subway (Line 4)
North York was initially supposed to receive the Sheppard Subway, while York and Etobicoke were initially to have received abusway. York and Etobicoke were dissatisfied, even though the transit plan stated that a busway was sufficient for the near future. In 1985, Metropolitan Toronto Council approved the construction of the Sheppard Subway from Downsview on the Spadina Line to Scarborough Town Centre.
Leading up to the 1995 provincial election, the governing New Democratic Party proposed provincial funding for four subway/LRT projects for the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). Included in these four proposals were plans to build new subway lines along Eglinton and
Sheppard Avenues. Premier Bob Rae decided to spread the funding throughout Metro Toronto to appease residents of both sides, which would have resulted in two truncated subway lines instead of a single complete line.
Three of these proposals had their municipal funding rejected by metropolitan Toronto city council, causing the cancellation of any provincial funding for the projects and causing current work on the Eglinton line to be terminated immediately.
Funding for the Sheppard line originally was rejected by city council as well. However, after a number of votes on different alterations to the project (including only building the subway to Leslie Street), the proposal to build the Sheppard line tunnels only, without tracks, was passed by a narrow margin. After this vote passed city council, a revote was taken on the entire Sheppard line project to Don Mills, which then passed by the narrowest of margins. Some believed that North York Mayor Mel Lastman’s political clout (he was later elected Mayor of the amalgamated City of Toronto) was crucial to the Sheppard Line proposal being implemented. Downsview Station was added to the Spadina line partially in anticipation of the Sheppard project westward extension.
The Sheppard subway is unusual in that it was the first “suburban” subway; the previous TTC lines had started from downtownToronto. However, North York, especially around Yonge and Sheppard, has seen intense high-rise developments in recent years, giving it the nickname of the “new downtown” upon which other surrounding suburban areas were increasingly relying. The case for building the subway line was the existing TTC bus service could not handle the commuter capacity; full buses drove right past waiting crowds at bus stops. Although some suggested that expanding Sheppard Avenue to allow for dedicated bus lanes would have been much cheaper than a subway, it would be difficult to acquire the necessary right-of-way as Sheppard Avenue ran though a built-up Willowdale community. (By contrast, Eglinton West ran though a vacant corridor intended for the Richview Expressway.) The then-new Fairview Mall commuter parking garages at Don Mills were also intended to take the pressure off of the crowded Finch Station.
Another reason was to alleviate the congested Highway 404–Don Valley Parkway (DVP) route; while Highway 404 was widened by the province in 1999–2007, similar plans to expand the DVP were not approved by city council, and this would result in an inevitable bottleneck. The intention was that downtown-bound drivers would exit Highway 404 at Sheppard Avenue, and take the subway to avoid this choke point.
When the first phase of the Sheppard line opened in 2002, it was the city’s first new subway line in decades. The first phase ran from Yonge Street (at the former Sheppard station, now renamed Sheppard-Yonge) east to Don Mills Road. Future phases would extend it further west to Downsview Station and east to Scarborough Centre Station.
The Sheppard line cost just under $1 billion and took eight years to build. It is the first subway line in Canada whose plain tunnel sections were built entirely by tunnel-boring machine. All stations on the line are in cut-and-cover sections, and just east of Leslie Station there is an enclosed bridge over the Don River (east branch). Additionally, the Sheppard line is the only subway line inToronto not to have any open sections. Yonge Street had to be diverted for several years in order to accommodate the expansion of Sheppard Station; since the completion of the line, the temporary diversion of Yonge are two vacant lots.
One of the ideas proposed for the Sheppard line was platform screen doors. Aligned at the edge of the platforms, platform screen doors would align themselves with the subway-car doors when in station for safety and suicide prevention. The system was dropped on the account of cost.
Stations are built to eventually take the TTC's standard subway trains of six 23-metre (75 ft) cars, but part of each platform has been blocked off since only four-car trains are needed to carry the amount of traffic the line currently receives. The line is designed so that it can be extended at both ends, allowing for the construction of the originally planned westward and eastward branches in the future. Extension is not currently a priority, however.
The short 5.5 km (3.4 mile) Yonge to Don Mills section of the Sheppard line is all that was completed of the 'Network 2011' subway expansion plan. The Toronto Transit Commission adopted a numerical identification system in 2014 and this subway line became Line 4.
The automated system to announce each stop on the new subway was installed in January 2006.
Sheppard Subway video:
View from the back of an eastbound subway train on Toronto's TTC Sheppard Subway between Sheppard-Yonge and Don Mills station.
In January 2016, it was announced that the Downtown Relief Line would be one of the City's top transit priorities and would run along Queen Street from near City Hall to Pape Avenue and Danforth Avenue. The meant that the Downtown Relief Line would take shape as the original Queen Street Subway, though curving north up Pape Avenue instead of along Greenwood Avenue as the original Queen route would have done. East of the Don River, it would curve a bit further south and continue east under Eastern Avenue to Pape Avenue. 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.
Map of the proposed Sheppard Subway route
The line has been derided as a “subway to nowhere” or a “stubway.” Apart from the Sheppard-Yonge and Don Mills terminals, its stations have received little use, even during rush hour. One significant but often overlooked problem is that the Sheppard line feeds into the already overcrowded Yonge segment of the Yonge–University–Spadina subway line, since the Sheppard line does not have its own train yard and does not continue west to the Spadina segment of the line.
The suburban subway is also criticized because most of the surrounding population is more affluent and more likely to drive. Don Mills Station at Fairview Mall has also sparked further controversy because the commuter lot requires a fee even if one holds a monthly Metropass transit pass; the parking charge was required in order to prevent the limited garage space from being overwhelmed (the regular mall parking is cordoned off until the shopping centre opens).
To put this in perspective, the ridership on the Sheppard Subway is approximately 46,000 per average weekday, similar to a few of the TTC's busiest streetcar and bus routes, though these routes are generally much longer than Sheppard's 5.5 kilometre length. During the City of Toronto's 2008 budget crisis, the TTC considered shutting the line down on weekends or entirely.
The new subway, however, has spurred over $5 billion of construction of new housing, including several high-rise condominium towers, along its route as transit-oriented developments. Particularly noteworthy are the condominiums around Bayview Station, where none had previously existed prior to the 2000s. In addition, between Leslie and Bessarion stations, a former Canadian Tirewarehouse/distribution centre next to Highway 401 (the chain retains a store nearby) is being demolished and the land is being sold to Concord Adex Investments Limited of Vancouver. Plans are well underway to develop the large multi-condo complex,Concord Park Place, which includes a community park. Concord Adex is also responsible for the City Place condo mega-development at the vacant Canadian National Railway lands, currently under construction west of the CN Tower.
The Daniels Building Company has built a six tower development called NY Towers, Arc Condominiums on the northeast corner of Bayview/Sheppard, and terraced condos just east of their NY Towers. Shane Baghai has also built a multi-tower development in the area.
Shelved expansion plans
Prior to March 2007, the TTC considered the Sheppard East extension of the Sheppard subway to Scarborough Centre as one of its two top priorities for rapid-transit expansion, along with a northerly extension of the Spadina line. In addition to this eastern extension, the original plans for the Sheppard line included a westward extension to Downsview Station on the Spadina line, with Downsview being completed as a prerequisite. In 2009, this extension was again considered by the TTC to link the line to Wilson Yard. It was immediately dismissed due to cost. David Miller was now Mayor and he wanted to build a Sheppard East light rail line instead of continuing the already-approved Sheppard Subway.
In March 2007, the City of Toronto and the TTC released the 'Transit City' proposal to begin a new round of transit expansion using light rail
(streetcar) technology on dedicated rights-of-way instead of subway technology. The Sheppard East subway extension has been replaced in this plan by a light rail line running from Don Mills Station along Sheppard Avenue East to Meadowvale, where it would meet the northern terminus of an extended Scarborough RT line. Under this proposal, there would be no direct connection between the North York and Scarborough "city centres".
Rob Ford was elected mayor of Toronto in October 2010 with a promise to scrap the 'Transit City' light rail plan and resurrect the plan to complete the Sheppard Subway as originally planned from Downsview to the Scarborough Town Centre. He pledged to get this under way immediately. He also promised to convert the Scarborough Rapid Transit line into an eastern extension of the Bloor-Danforth Subway connecting to the Sheppard Subway line at the Scarborough Town Centre. After John Tory became Mayor in 2014, the future of transit on Sheppard Avenue became unclear, though the light rail line was considered to be the most favoured option over a subway because a subway would add to the already crowded Yonge Subway line.
The following stations were included on the plan for the subway extension:
Infill on existing line
Eastern extension ("Sheppard East")
Eglinton West Subway
The Eglinton West subway was a proposed east-west subway line in Toronto, Canada. It was to start from the existing Eglinton West station on the Toronto Transit Commission's Yonge-University-Spadina line and proceed west to Pearson International Airport. Work began in 1994, but was halted in 1995 when the newly-elected Government of Ontario under Mike Harris cancelled the project. The excavation under Eglinton West intended to be Allen Station was subsequently filled in.
The initial Network 2011 report stated that the proposed rapid transit line would be a busway, and not a subway. The busway would be the most cost-effective alternative since Eglinton West corridor sits in the vacant Richview Expressway corridor, though in the future it could be expanded to a subway if ridership warranted.
Though the cities of Etobicoke and York strongly supported the concept of an Eglinton Rapid Transit line, as did the Region of Peel, they were unsatisfied with the prospect of a busway. There was some political jealousy over the fact that North York had successfully made the Sheppard Subway a priority (though practically, Sheppard Avenue did not have available right-of-way for a busway), and Etobicoke and York argued that their transportation needs had similar importance. On Metro Council, Etobicoke and York formed an alliance that argued that the Eglinton rapid transit line be built as a subway from the start. In 1994, when Premier Bob Rae agreed to support the subway projects, they decided to spread the funding throughout Metro Toronto to appease residents of both sides, which would have resulted in two truncated subway lines instead of a single complete line.
The Eglinton West subway is no longer a priority of the TTC. Its expansion priorities are instead the extension of the Spadina subway to York University and Steeles Avenue, the replacement of the aging Scarborough RT system, the extension of the Sheppard subway to Victoria Park Avenue and Scarborough City Centre, and improvements to major bus and streetcar routes to create a network of "surface rapid transit" routes (including on Eglinton Avenue).
The original, cancelled, Eglinton West subway would only have been built as far as York Centre Station.
Eglinton West-Allen Station
Also known as Lower Eglinton West, this station was only a partial tunnel that was filled in shortly after the line's cancellation. It would have been linked to Eglinton West station on the Yonge-University-Spadina line and the terminus of the Allen Expressway.
A Downtown Relief Subway line was meant to relieve the platform crowding on existing lines, such as at Yonge and Bloor station, and directly serve the central business district.
Former TTC Chair Adam Giambrone serving under former Mayor David Miller had started to support the construction of the Downtown Relief Subway line, saying it will be a necessity after Transit City, due to the growing platform crowding on the downtown sections of the Yonge and Bloor subway lines, but not until sometime from 2018-2020; former Metrolinx Chair Rob MacIsaac recently said that the line is unlikely to be brought forward from its projected 2020 start date. Rob MacIsaac also referred to this as the Queen line, and as such it may not follow the 1985 proposed alignment.
Potential Long-Term Extensions of the Network 2011 Subway System
There were three long-term extensions of the Network 2011 subway plan being considered to be built after the Sheppard East, Eglinton West and Downtown Relief East subway lines were completed. Consideration was given for the Downtown Relief Line to be extended in both directions including a northeastern extension to Eglinton and Don Mills and a western extension to Dundas West and Bloor with a possible branch continuing west along the lakeshore to the Humber River. This would make the Downtown Relief Line into a 'U'-shaped loop. A busway was considered from the Eglinton West line into Mississauga which could ultimately be upgraded to a full subway later on stretching as far west as Square One in Mississauga. A western loop for the Sheppard Subway was considered that would be mostly built on the surface along a hydro corridor. It would swing north from the Spadina line at Downsview and turn west along the Finch Hydro Corridor and continue following the hydro corridor southward through Etobicoke to connect to the Bloor-Danforth line at Kipling. The Sheppard and Bloor-Danforth Lines would form an outer circle of subways around the entire city. The Sheppard, Eglinton and Bloor subways would all have connections to the Airport. There was also a proposal for a northern Spadina-Yonge subway loop along Steeles Avenue.
This entire proposal died after 2002 when it was decided to cancel the Eglinton West Subway in 1995 and stop the Sheppard Subway at Don Mills. Only the Downtown Relief Subway is being given some consideration for the future, to be built after 2020. The remainder of the system was now to materialize as the 'Transit City' streetcar LRT's instead along Finch West and Eglinton, but with no southward loop through Etobicoke.
Mayor Rob Ford, elected in 2010, promised to scrap the entire 'Transit City' light rail plan and return to subway construction across the city, starting with completion of the Sheppard Subway west to Downsview and east to the Scarborough Town Centre as originally planned. Also proposed was an entirely underground Eglinton-Crosstown light rail line from Black Creek Drive to Kennedy Road which would continue northeasterly on the surface replacing the Scarborough RT to McCowan, connecting with the extended Sheppard Subway. This would mean that at least one of the three lines from the original 'Network 2011' plan would eventually be completed as planned.
In February 2012, a 'transit rebellion' by some city councillors brought about the return of parts of the 'Transit City' plan. The original plan for the Eglinton-Crosstown-Scarborough LRT to be built on the surface east of Laird Drive and the Finch West LRT proposal were reinstated by City Council. The future of the revived Sheppard Subway remained to be determined for a while. After a bitter two-day debate, on March 22, 2012, the remainder of the Sheppard Subway died as City Council voted to build the Sheppard East LRT instead.
In October 2012, the General Manager of the TTC recomended that the Downtown Relief Line be made a priority due to overcrowding on the Yonge and Bloor lines. This brought this new Downtown route one major step closer to becoming reality.
Map of proposed Downtown Relief Subway as planned in 1985
The TTC's recent proposed expansion plan includes a light rail transit (LRT or streetcar) line across Eglinton called the Eglinton Crosstown LRT. This line would be built underground between approximately Keele Street and Laird Drive, which would effectively create an Eglinton "subway", but would use LRT vehicles rather than the subway trains. A leaked copy of a Metrolinx report in 2008 indicated the organization wished to revive the Eglinton subway line as opposed to the light rail option; however, in April 2009, the Province and the City agreed on funding to build this as an LRT line. Funding delays announced by the Province in 2010 put this project on hold. Construction of the underground first phase of the Eglinton-Crosstown LRT from Black Creek Drive to Laird Drive soon began and would be completed by 2017. The lien would eventually be extended on the surface west to Pearson International Airport and east to Kennedy Station and ultimately to the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus.
Bloor-Danforth Subway and Scarborough RT Extensions
The 'Network 2011' plan recommended a western extension of the Bloor-Danforth Subway built entirely on the surface from Kipling to Sherway Gardens to serve the shopping centre and to connect to Mississauga Transit there. Eventually, the subway could be extended into Mississauga and continue west to Square One plaza, thus linking both Sherway Gardens and Square One with each other and with downtown Toronto by subway.
Click on the map below to enlarge it
Proposed extended Downtown Relief Line as 'U'-shaped route through downtown Toronto 1986
Proposed 1985 stations
Stations on the proposed Downtown line in Phase 1
South Spadina (or Lower Spadina)
Rogers Centre (formerly known as Skydome)
Stations proposed for an eastward extension
Stations proposed for a westward extension
Three possible alignments were considered for the westward extension. The least expensive would follow the railway right-of-way past the Exhibition and up to the Galt-Weston railway corridor, taking it to Dundas West station. Another alternative would go west of Strachan along the Oakville Sub to Roncesvalles, where it would turn north to connect to the Bloor line at Dundas West. The final alignment considered ran along an elevated guideway on Parkside Drive at the edge of High Park to Keele Station.
Galt-Weston Railway Corridor
Parkdale (Queen West)
Roncesvalles Avenue Alignment
Dundas West Parkside Drive Alignment
The 1985 'Network 2011' Plan
'Network 2011' was a plan for subway expansion adopted by the Toronto Transit Commission in 1985 which recommended construction of three new subway lines between then and the year 2011. This would have included the Sheppard Subway from Downsview to the Scarborough Town Centre, an Eglinton West Subway from Eglinton West station to Pearson InternationalAirport and a Downtown Relief Subway from Pape station on the Bloor-Danforth line southwesterly to the Yonge line at Union Station to relieve Yonge and Bloor Subway crowding. The Downtown Relief Subway would eventually be extended west to become a 'U' shaped line which would then be extended even further to the north on the east side up to Eglinton Avenue and Don Mills Road.
Route of the recommended western extension of the Bloor-Danforth Subway to Sherway Gardens with a future extension into Mississauga
The plan also recommended a surface eastern extension of the Scarborough Rapid Transit line from McCowan to Sheppard Avenue in Malvern east of Markham Road.
Click on the map below for a detailed map of the proposed Network 2011 subway system showing station locations
Route of the recommended extension of the Scarborough Rapid Transit line to Sheppard Avenue in Malvern.
Neither the western extension of the Bloor-Danforth Subway nor the extension of the Scarborough Rapid Transit line to Malvern ever materialized. Rob Ford, elected Mayor of Toronto in October 2010, promised to convert the Scarborough Rapid Transit line into an eastern extension of the Bloor-Danforth Subway line to meet an extended Sheppard Subway line at the Scarborough Town Centre. In 2012, this extension was approved, but along a different alignment, continuing east along Eglinton Avenue East to Danforth Road and then north on Danforth Road and McCowan Road to Sheppard Avenue East. Approvals were given, but funding and construction remain to be seen. In 2016, this was changed to an express subway from Kennedy to Scarborough Town Centre with no stops in between.
Downtown Relief Line
The Downtown Relief Line (also known as the Downtown Rapid Transit/DRT) was originally one of the three routes proposed in the Network 2011 plan which the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) released in 1985. Its main purpose was to relieve the forecast overcrowding on the Yonge line, particularly at Bloor-Yonge station. The Downtown Relief Line disappeared from the transit radar soon after the province delayed approving Metropolitan Toronto's Network 2011 plan. The provincial government was alarmed over the construction cost and political support for the new line vanished instantly. Platform passenger crowding, particularly at Yonge and Bloor, 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. However, platform widenings and the Downtown Relief Subway line could also have eased this growing situation.
A balanced and workable
new transportation plan
for the City of Toronto
In 1972, shortly after the cancellation of construction of the Allen (Spadina) Expressway, the Provincial Government adopted a policy of promoting transit over automobile use. In that year, the Provincial Government and the TTC put together a plan for inexpensive Intermediate Capacity Transit System (ICTS) lines across the Toronto area. These were light rail transit lines utilizing a new technology which involved trains that were smaller than subways. These lines were to built along Finch Avenue, Eglinton Avenue, Jane Street and Don Mills Road. A Downtown 'U' line and a Scarborough-Malvern line were also included. This plan is actually the forerunner to today's 'Transit City' streetcar LRT plan which utilizes the same routes as the 1972 plan. The only route from this ICTS plan which was constructed was the Scarborough Rapid Transit line which runs from Kennedy Station to the Scarborough Town Centre and McCowan. This was completed in 1985 after the Bloor-Danforth Subway line was extended from Warden to Kennedy.
Due to population and traffic growth, rather than constructing the remainder of the ICTS system, the TTC decided to upgrade it to full subways along Sheppard Avenue East, Eglinton Avenue West, Yonge and Spadina northern extensions loop and the Downtown 'U'. This resulted in the adoption of the 'Network 2011' subway plan of 1985 with approval for construction given in 1986. The Yonge and Spadina northern extensions were to be long-term projects and these are being pursued now.
Due to political delaying, all that materialized of this plan was a short section of the Sheppard Subway completed from Yonge to Don Mills in 2002 and the Spadina Subway northern extension is now being built. The Eglinton West Subway was cancelled by the Provincial Government in 1995.
After 2002, with costs being given as a reason, the remainder of the Sheppard line and the Eglinton line (now to go across the entire city as the Eglinton-Crosstown line) were being pursued as streetcar LRT’s instead of subways. Streetcar LRT's were also planned for Finch Avenue West, Jane Street, Don Mills Road and the Scarborough-Malvern route. The original 1972 ICTS plan was to be realized, but with streetcars instead of real LRT trains such as the Scarborough RT, as was orginally recommended.
A change of government in Toronto in 2010 cancelled those streetcar LRT plans and Eglinton-Crosstown and extended Sheppard Subway plans were brought forward again. The 'U' shaped Downtown Relief Subway is still being considered for construction after the year 2020 to relieve crowding on the downtown sections of the Yonge and Bloor Subways.
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