A balanced and workable
new transportation plan
for the City of Toronto

It was later discovered that it would be difficult to run the 'Smarttrack' along Eglinton Avenue West due to the former Richview Expressway corridor being developed, as there would now be little room for it. Therefore, the 'Smarttrack' route would now stop at Mount Dennis at the southern end of Black Creek Drive. A future extension to the west would have to be light rail built along Eglinton Avenue.

Revival of the Queen Street Subway and LRT lines

In 2016, it was announced that the Bloor-Danforth Subway extension would now be an express line from Kennedy to the Scarborough Town Centre with no stops in between. It would also stop there and not continue to Sheppard Avenue as previously planned. The money saved from not building the stations would now be used to construct a 17-stop extension of the Eglinton-Crosstown LRT to continue east along Eglinton Avenue to Kingston Road, then turning along Kingston Road to Morningside Avenue and finally turning north along Morningside Avenue to the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus. This would be a revival of the Scarborough-Malvern line from the 2007 Transit City plan, but as an extension of the Crosstown line instead of being a separate route. Construction of the Finch West LRT was scheduled to begin in 2017 and stretch from the Spadina Subway extension to Highway 27. 

City staff also recommended that the new Downtown Relief Subway follow the original Queen Street Subway route along Queen Street from City Hall, but then turn north on Pape Avenue to connect to the Bloor-Danforth Subway at Danforth Avenue, instead of further east along Greenwood Avenue as the original Queen Street Subway plan had recommended. Construction would be at least a decade away. 

Currently, the City of Toronto and the Province of Ontario have no plans to expand roads in the city, but have plans for massive transit expansion and bike lane and trail expansion. 

Plans

On July 11, 2012, City of Toronto Council rejected the One City plan as too costly, leaving the City with only four LRT lines and the Spadina Subway extension for the future. 

Subway Construction Revival

In October 2012, Andy Byford, the new General Manager of the TTC recommended that the Downtown Relief subway line be the next priority for subway construction. Mayor Rob Ford took his advice and debate began on building this ‘U’-shaped line from Eglinton and Don Mills south to King or Queen Streets and then west to High Park, then swinging north to join the Bloor line. This would then be followed by a northern extension of the Yonge subway line into York Region. TTC Commissioners also asked staff to study replacing the Scarborough RT with a Bloor-Danforth Subway extension to McCowan and an extension of the Sheppard Subway also to McCowan.

Current Plans - 'Smarttrack'

In October 2014, John Tory was elected Mayor of the City of Toronto with a priority policy of improving traffic flow including synchronizing traffic signals, speeding up construction and towing away vehicles which block traffic lanes during rush hours. However, the centrepiece of his policy was 'Smarttrack' which was a high speed above-ground rail, similar to those existing in London, U.K., using existing rail lines with frequent local stops like a subway. His plan was to run it along the Stouffville GO rail line south from Markham, through Scarborough, and then west along the Lakeshore GO rail line, through Union Station in downtown Toronto, and then northwest along the Kitchener GO rail line to Eglinton Avenue, and then west along the former Richview Expressway corridor. parallel to Eglinton Avenue across Etobicoke. to Pearson International Airport. It would run across the entire city with more than 20 stops and take seven years to build.  After his election, he immediately began negotiations with the Federal and Provincial Governments for funding of the project.

416-264-6939

New Transit-Only Plans - Subways and Light Rail Transit

A new Official Plan was adopted in 1980, which contained a clause stating that construction of new expressways was no longer supported by Metropolitan Toronto. The proposed expressways from the 1966 Plan were all deleted. This new 1980 Plan shifted the emphasis from a balanced form of transportation to one based solely on public transit. No new major roads would be planned and Toronto would now only have public transit plans. The Queen Street Subway was deleted in favour of the development of suburban transit development, and the Crosstown Expressway was deleted. The Spadina Expressway would stop permanently atEglinton Avenue West; the Highway 400 Extension was shrunk down to an arterial road, known as Black Creek Drive, and theScarborough and Richview Expressways became undefined transportation corridors. Many new GO commuter rail lines were added and light rail transit was built in Scarborough from the east end of the Bloor-Danforth subway line. 

A plan for an extensive expansion of the subway system was adopted in 1985 called 'Network 2011' which called for new subways along Sheppard Avenue East, Eglinton Avenue West and a Downtown Relief line along Front Street through Union Station. All that materialized of this was a short section of the Sheppard Subway line from Yonge to Don Mills completed by 2002. The remainder of this proposed system was cancelled due to alleged high costs. The Downtown Relief line remains considered for construction after the year 2020.​

Long Term Transit Plan
 
In February, 2016, Toronto's Chief Planner came up with a long-term transit plan for the city which was basically a revival of David Miller's 2007 'Transit City' plan with light rail everywhere including Jane Street, Lake Shore Boulevard West, Eglinton Avenue West and now a new one on Steeles Avenue East. It was to be built within the next 15 years. Funding it would be an issue.

Transit Rebellion

In February 2012, a rebellion by some councillors, particularly those in Downtown Toronto, led by TTC Chair Councillor Karen Stintz against Mayor Ford’s new ‘Transportation City’ transit plan of underground transit called for a special meeting of Toronto Council to discuss transit. They brought forward two options to spend the $8.4 billion allocated by the Province for transit – on the new plan for a continuation of the Sheppard Subway and a completely underground Eglinton-Crosstown-Scarborough LRT or to bring back the 2009 ‘Transit City’ ground-level LRT plan, still championed by particularly downtown councillors.

Councillors slammed the brakes on Mayor Ford’s $8.4 billion transit plan and voted to revive most of the Transit City plan the mayor derailed on his first day in office. Led by Stintz, councillors voted 25 to 18 during a special council meeting on transit for three light rail lines from the former Transit City plan including the Eglinton Crosstown LRT (which would be at street-level in Scarborough), the Finch West LRT and the Scarborough RT converted to an LRT.

The fate of transit on Sheppard remained up in the air despite the vote. Councillors also approved creating an expert panel on Sheppard transit that would be tasked with determining “the most effective means of delivering rapid transit to the greater number of riders with the funds currently allocated.” This meant that the extension of the Sheppard Subway would require further study, but was still an option.

Mayor Ford tried unsuccessfully to get councillors to put the vote off by referring the item to the city manager for a one month review by an expert fact-finding panel. Councillors rejected that option in a 24 to 19 vote. The Mayor vowed that he would continue to lobby the Province to stick to the subway and underground transit plan as agreed.

After a bitter two-day debate, on March 22, 2012, City Council accepted the recommendations of the expert panel on Sheppard and endorsed construction of the Sheppard LRT. This signalled the end of further subway construction in Toronto, apart from the Spadina Subway extension already under construction. This left disgruntled and angry subway supporters particularly in Scarborough and North York feeling angry and betrayed. Mayor Ford vowed to continue to fight on for subways.

The argument put forward by most councillors was that there were $8.4 billion of Provincial funding available and councillors wanted to get the most amount of transit across the city built with this money. Toronto’s transit future now lay with light rail transit (LRT) along major arterial roads as the revived ‘Transit City’ plan became official policy, endorsed by Council. The Sheppard East, Finch West and Eglinton-Crosstown-Scarborough (construction already started) light rail transit lines would now go ahead.

One City Plan

Mayor Ford tried unsuccessfully to get councillors to put the vote off by referring the item to the city manager for a one month review by an expert fact-finding panel. Councillors rejected that option in a 24 to 19 vote. The Mayor vowed that he would continue to lobby the Province to stick to the subway and underground transit plan as agreed.The argument put forward by most councillors was that there were $8.4 billion of Provincial funding available and councillors wanted to get the most amount of transit across the city built with this money. Toronto’s transit future now lay with light rail transit (LRT) along major arterial roads as the revived ‘Transit City’ plan became official policy, endorsed by Council. The Sheppard East, Finch West and Eglinton-Crosstown-Scarborough (construction already started) light rail transit lines would now go ahead. 

Mayor Ford tried unsuccessfully to get councillors to put the vote off by referring the item to the city manager for a one month review by an expert fact-finding panel. Councillors rejected that option in a 24 to 19 vote. The Mayor vowed that he would continue to lobby the Province to stick to the subway and underground transit plan as agreed.The argument put forward by most councillors was that there were $8.4 billion of Provincial funding available and councillors wanted to get the most amount of transit across the city built with this money. Toronto’s transit future now lay with light rail transit (LRT) along major arterial roads as the revived ‘Transit City’ plan became official policy, endorsed by Council. The Sheppard East, Finch West and Eglinton-Crosstown-Scarborough (construction already started) light rail transit lines would now go ahead. 
On June 26, 2012, TTC Chair Karen Stintz and Vice-Chair Glenn De Baeremaeker introduced a new 30-year $30 billion plan for transit expansion in the City of Toronto which included 175 kilometres of new lines, including six subway lines, 10 LRTs and five bus and streetcar routes across the city. The plan would be paid for by an extra $180 per year charged on top of property tax paid by every homeowner in Toronto.

The plan was called ‘OneCity’ and a staff study of the plan was asked for in July, 2012. Councillors would then have until October to take the plan to their constituents before considering approval. The plan included all of the origina light rail routes of the ‘Transit City’ plan but also included two elements in Mayor Rob Ford’s election platform: A Sheppard West subway extension linking the Yonge line with the Spadina subway, and the extension of the Bloor-Danforth subway along the Scarborough Rapid Transit (SRT) route.

The timeline was critical because the provincial cabinet had not yet signed off on converting the SRT to light rail transit and the new plan depended on being able to leverage the then upcoming property reassessment process. It was hoped to start collecting the revenue in 2013. The funding proposal would involve getting the province to approve a regulatory change that would allow the city to capture 40 per cent of the higher property values from the following year’s reassessment. That would amount to $45 per average household annually, accumulating to $180 a year on average, which would remain on property tax bills. It would mean $272 million a year in new tax revenue for the city. The $272 million would form the city’s third of an annual $1 billion transit investment, with the province and Ottawa kicking in a standard one-third each.

The plan was being proposed as the provincial agency Metrolinx rallied support for a regional transit investment strategy to raise about $40 billion. That was the cost of implementing the rest of the ‘Big Move’ regional transit plan for the wider Greater Toronto Region.

The province had already committed to the first $11 billion of that plan, including $8.4 billion for four lines in Toronto: LRT on Finch West, Sheppard East and Eglinton, and the conversion of the Scarborough Rapid Transit (SRT) into LRT extending from the Eglinton line.

Queen’s Park gave Metrolinx until June 2013 to figure out how to raise the rest of the money. But with the Liberals then in a minority government and close to the next election by the time the strategy would be published, there were fears that no party would be willing to commit to new taxes.

The first funds from the Stintz-De Baeremaeker plan would go toward converting the Scarborough Rapid Transit (SRT) route into a subway line, at a cost of about $2.3 billion. The project would have a head start from the $1.8 billion the province had already committed. Although a subway would be routed somewhat differently from the SRT, it would have the advantage of not shutting down the SRT for four years — unlike the current plan at that time, which called for putting SRT riders on buses for that period, while the new LRT was built.

The second priority in the new OneCity vision would be an east waterfront LRT, at a cost of about $300 million. Waterfront Toronto had allocated $90 million toward transit on the lakefront east of Yonge St., and developers there had been bracing for a temporary transit solution such as bus rapid transit.

All of the lines in the OneCity plan had been approved at one time or another, and in some cases the environmental assessments have been done for years. OneCity rebranded some of the routes such as a downtown relief subway line, which had been renamed the “Don Mills Express” line. It also aligned with some regional transit projects, including the air-rail link, which the councillors say could be converted to public transit by adding three more stops. A second set of tracks to GO’s Stouffville line would allow for a Scarborough Express above-ground subway or train that would deliver riders from Steeles Avenue to Union Station.

One City's Proposed Lines


  • Six subway lines, 72 km, $18 billion


Replace the Scarborough RT with a subway from Kennedy Station to Sheppard and McCowan; extend the Yonge subway to Steeles Ave.; build a Sheppard West subway to Downsview Station; build a Don Mills Express subway line from Eglinton to Queen St.; upgrade the Bloor-Yonge subway station; build a Scarborough Express line from Steeles Ave. to Union Station; build an Etobicoke Express Line from the airport to Union Station using the air-rail link.


  • 10 LRTs, 73.5 km, $9.5 billion


Extension of the Sheppard East line to Meadowvale, the zoo, and Malvern; build a Scarborough Malvern LRT; extend the Eglinton LRT to the airport; extend the Finch West LRT to Humber College and the airport; build a Jane LRT from Steeles to Bloor; Waterfront West LRT from Union Station to Long Branch; a Finch West LRT from Keele to Yonge St. and a Don Mills LRT from Steeles to Eglinton


  • Five bus and streetcar lines, 25.7 km, $1.2 billion


Waterfront East streetcar line from Union Station to Parliament St., Ellesmere bus rapid transit from Scarborough Centre to Sheppard and Kingston Rd.; Kingston BRT from Victoria Park Station to Eglinton and Kingston Rd.; extend the St. Clair streetcar from Keele to Jane; a Wilson BRT from Wilson Station to Keele St.

Soon after the ‘One City’ plan was announced, the Provincial Minister of Transportation announced that the Province would not fund it or permit new taxes for it. They remained committed to building the four LRT lines already approved and would not alter their plans. City councillors, on the other hand, still wanted to pass the ‘One City’ plan and try to convince the Province to support it. Mayor Rob Ford, however, was very opposed to the plan and insisted on continuing his support for a subway plan only, which was endorsed by a large percentage of Toronto’s population, particularly in the suburbs. The ‘One City’ plan contained both subways and LRT, as well as express rail, meant to please everyone, but it did not, mainly due to the cost.

A further new Official Plan was adopted in 1994, and the undefined transportation corridors along the former Scarborough and Richview Expressways were deleted, finally bringing those routes to an end. An expansive transit plan was adopted. This was the last Official Plan for the then Metropolitan Toronto. 

After amalgamation into the new City of Toronto, a new Official Plan was adopted in 2002 with a policy of 'Building A Transit City' explicitly meaning discouraging automobile use and encouraging transit, cycling and walking.  A network of streetcar LRT's replaced the subway expansion approved in the 1980's with surface  routes along Sheppard Avenue East, Finch Avenue West,Eglinton Avenue, Jane Street, Don Mills Road, Morningside Avenue and replacing the Scarborough RT line extended to Malvern. The plan also called for intensification of the city allowing for one million more people to live in the city by 2030. All that materialized of this LRT plan was the first lines built along Spadina, Harbourfront and St. Clair West, completed between 1995 and 2009 and built before this plan was finalized. Provincial funding cutbacks also reduced the number of lines by delaying the Jane and Don Mills LRT lines and the Eglinton line west of Jane Street. 
 
An LRT line along Sheppard East was due to be the next one to be built and construction was started in 2010, but after a poor experience with the St. Clair West route which went way over budget and caused businesses to move, a revolt against the Sheppard LRT line by local residents and businesses occurred, causing construction to be halted and the entire 'Transit City' plan to be scrapped. The people on Sheppard wanted the original full subway proposed in 1985. 

The election of Mayor Rob Ford in 2010 brought about a new transit plan for Toronto. This one honoured the wishes of the people who fought the Sheppard East LRT plan. The new plan was part of a proposed new balanced transportation plan, based on this 'Get Toronto Moving' plan called 'Transportation City'. The transit part of this plan was announced in 2011, with the roads and bicycle trails to follow later. The transit plan resurrected the full Sheppard Subway from the 1985 plan between Downsview and the Scarborough Town Centre and proposed an underground LRT, which would be a mini-subway, under Eglinton Avenue running from Black Creek Drive in the west to Kennedy in the east, continuing north-east as a surface replacement of the Scarborough RT line to McCowan. The northern extension of the Spadina subway line to Vaughan was now under construction and a northern extension of the Yonge subway line to Richmond Hill was proposed also. A plan for roads, the first since 1966, and bicycles also along the lines of this 'Get Toronto Moving' plan was yet to be put together. A new Official Plan for the city was also promised.


Synopsis

The City of Toronto (formerly Metropolitan Toronto) has had several transportation plans over the years, which have either been partly implemented or never implemented due to changing political circumstances.


1966: The Metropolitan Toronto Transportation Plan 

The plan: A mix of transit and roads that included the controversial Spadina Expressway, Scarborough, Crosstown and Richview Expressways and the Highway 400 Extension and Yonge Subway extension, Bloor-Danforth Subway extensions, Spadina Subway and Queen-Greenwood Subway.
The demise: Jane Jacobs led a protest against the Spadina Expressway, ultimately convincing Premier Bill Davis to cancel the remaining construction in June 1971. By 1972, the provincial government called for an entirely new transit plan in an effort to reduce the use of cars. The Scarborough Expressway was shelved and the Highway 400 Extension was later built as Black Creek Drive.

1973: The Intermediate Capacity Transit System Plan 

The plan: Using rail technology known as intermediate capacity transit — similar to light rail transit, but with more capacity — to connect the city. It was to run east-west along Finch and Eglinton Aves. and form a big, wide U through downtown.
The demise: One small part of the plan, now known as the Scarborough RT, went ahead. But it was largely abandoned after a 1970’s report on transit that determined higher capacity transit such as subways was needed. The Queen-Greenwood Subway line was cancelled in 1974.

1985: The Network 2011 plan 

The plan: A combination of a downtown relief line and subway lines for Sheppard and Eglinton West, the latter including a new development with GO transit and bus terminals.
The demise: Premier Mike Harris’s government cancelled the Eglinton West subway, even though work had already begun. The Sheppard subway went ahead, the downtown relief line was “put on hold” — to this day.

2007: The Transit City plan 

The plan: Light rail transit routes across Toronto, including a transit corridor on Finch Ave. W. and lines along Don Mills Rd., Jane St. and Eglinton Ave.
The demise: “Transit City is over,” were Mayor Rob Ford’s words in December 2010, his first day in office. He called for a new transit plan with only underground rail lines. Despite Ford’s proclamation, city council still approved four key components of the plan: the Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown LRT, the conversion of the Scarborough RT to LRT, LRT on Sheppard East and on Finch West.

2012: The OneCity plan 

The plan:
 A $30-billion, 175-kilometre city-wide transit expansion that would include six subway lines, 10 LRTs and five bus and streetcar routes.
The demise: Some councillors felt parts of OneCity came too late. Others thought TTC chair Karen Stintz faltered when she backed down on her idea to hike property taxes to pay for a third of the pricey expansion.

1966 Metropolitan Toronto Transportation Plan - Highways and Subways

The first draft transportation plan for the Toronto area, showing new highways and rapid transit, was drawn up in 1943. However, serious planning for the Toronto area took place after the creation of Metropolitan Toronto in 1953, resulting in a Draft Official Plan in 1959, which showed new expressways and subways. This was refined into a second Draft Official Plan in 1964, and finally adopted as the Official Plan in 1966.

See map above at the top of the page.

The 1966 Official Plan called for a balanced transportation system of roads and transit. It included making the arterial road system continuous by filling in missing links and the construction of a grid system of expressways to take through traffic off local streets. It also included new subways in the higher density areas, mostly in the central city, and lakeshore commuter rail. The expressway system included the Provincial Highways, run by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, which included Highways 400, 401, 27 (later 427) and the Queen Elizabeth Way. It was later expanded to include Highways 409, 404, 407, 410 and 403. Municipal Expressways included the Frederick G. Gardiner Expressway, the Don Valley Parkway and the Spadina Expressway. Plans called for the Spadina Expressway (renamed William R. Allen Expressway in 1969) to be extended south into downtown Toronto, the Frederick G. Gardiner Expressway to be extended through the east end of the City and across Scarborough to join Highway 401 (the extension was referred to as the Scarborough Expressway). These would be followed by the Highway 400 Extension south to the Gardiner Expressway, and the Crosstown Expressway and the Richview Expressway across the middle of the city. Extensions of the Yonge and Bloor subways were planned and Queen and Spadina subways were planned also. A lakeshore commuter rail line, known as GO transit, was also introduced. 

Details of the expressway and transit proposals in the 1966 Official Plan can be found on the Spadina Expressway, Scarborough Expressway, Crosstown Expressway and Queen Street Subway links on this site.

After construction was scheduled and begun, a huge protest against the further extension of the Spadina (William R. Allen) Expressway, led by urban sociologist Jane Jacobs, resulted in the Province intervening and cancelling further construction of the expressway in 1971. This led to the downfall of the 1966 transportation plan. A Transportation Plan Review was set up in 1972 and presented its recommendations for a revised plan in 1975. Metropolitan Toronto then tried to proceed with construction of the Scarborough Expressway (F.G. Gardiner Expressway extension), but this met with similar opposition. The Gardiner extension (Scarborough Expressway) was shelved by the city in 1974, though lands for it continued to be held. 

Revisions had been made to the 1966 plan in 1973 to remove the remainder of the Spadina (Allen) and Crosstown Expressways and to realign some of the remaining ones. The subway system was to be extended further. Work had begun on a more transit-oriented plan for the future which would be the policy up to the present day.

1972 GO Urban Plan

In 1972, the Provincial Government adopted a plan for intermediate capacity transit lines across Toronto called GO Urban, the forerunner to today's Transit City streetcar LRT plan, in an effort to reduce automobile use in the city.