Platform level of Don Mills Station
|System||Toronto subway and RT|
|Daily ridership||50,410 (avg. weekday)|
|Opening||November 22, 2002|
|Owner||Toronto Transit Commission|
|Operator(s)||Toronto Transit Commission|
|Line length||5.5 km (3.4 mi)|
|Track gauge||4 ft 10 7⁄8 in (1,495 mm)|
The Sheppard Line (officially route 4 Sheppard Subway) is the most recently built subway line of the Toronto subway and RT, operated by the Toronto Transit Commission. It has five stations and is 5.5 kilometres (3.4 mi) long. It opened on November 22, 2002.
The entire line runs under or near Sheppard Avenue East. All of its stations, whether by transfer or in the fare-paid area, connect to surface TTC bus routes. All stations have elevators for wheelchair access, and public art; noteworthy examples are the scenic mural at Sheppard–Yonge, the children’s logo at Bayview, and Leslie Station’s hundreds of tiles showing the words “Sheppard & Leslie” handwritten by members of the public.
The 385 Sheppard East Blue Night bus provides late-night service when the subway is not in operation. This service terminates at Sheppard–Yonge Station and follows Sheppard Avenue to Meadowvale.
Sheppard is the only rapid transit line without a yard: cars are stored at Davisville Subway Yard on the Yonge line.
The Sheppard Line was first proposed as part of the Network 2011 transportation plan, that called for a line from Yonge to Victoria Park unveiled in 1985. The plan was approved by Metropolitan Toronto, but funding was delayed by the provincial government of David Peterson's Liberal Party.
In 1993, the now governing New Democratic Party (NDP) under Bob Rae 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 and work was begun on both projects. The NDP was defeated in the 1995 provincial election, and the Progressive Conservatives under Mike Harris were elected. Harris cancelled the Eglinton subway (and filled in the hole near Eglinton West station), but continued work on the Sheppard Line.
Funding for the Sheppard line originally was also rejected by city council. 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 re-vote was taken on the entire Sheppard line project to Don Mills, which then passed by the narrowest of margins. Some[who?] 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's westward extension.
The Sheppard subway was the first “suburban” subway in Toronto; the previous TTC lines had started from downtown Toronto. However, North York, especially around Yonge and Sheppard, has seen dense high-rise developments since the 1980s, known as North York Centre, 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 Avenue west of Mount Dennis 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 motorists would exit Highway 404 at Sheppard Avenue, and take the subway to avoid this choke point.
Completion and opening
When the Sheppard line opened in 2002, it was the city’s first new subway line since the opening of the Bloor–Danforth line in 1966. It is shorter than originally planned, running from Yonge Street (at the former Sheppard station, renamed Sheppard–Yonge when the Sheppard line opened) east to Don Mills Road rather than further west to Downsview Station and southeast to Scarborough Centre Station.
The Sheppard line cost just under C$1 billion and took eight years to build. It is the first subway line in Canada that had plain tunnel sections 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 east branch of the Don River. The Sheppard line is the only subway line in Toronto not to have any open sections. Yonge Street had to be diverted for several years in order to accommodate the expansion of Sheppard Station.
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 take the TTC's standard subway trains of six 23-metre (75 ft) cars eventually, but part of each platform has been blocked off, since only four-car trains are needed to carry the amount of traffic the line receives. The line is designed in a way that it can be extended at both ends, allowing for the construction of the originally planned westward and eastward branches in the future. Likewise, the Sheppard line level of Sheppard–Yonge station is constructed as a roughed-in Spanish solution station to anticipate increased ridership.
The automated system to announce each stop was installed in January 2006.
The Sheppard line has spurred over $1 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 Tire warehouse/distribution centre next to Highway 401 (the chain retains a store nearby, along with Mark's Work Wearhouse, also owned by Canadian Tire) was demolished and the land was being sold to Concord Adex Investments Limited of Vancouver. Construction on the first phase is well underway to develop the area into a large multi-condo complex, Concord Park Place, which includes a community park. There is also development around Swedish furniture chain IKEA in the immediate area; IKEA also runs a complimentary shuttle bus between the store and Leslie station.
The Daniels Building Company has built a six-tower development, called NY Towers, north of the 401 between Bayview and Bessarion; 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.
- 2007-2008 - 45,860 
- 2008-2009 - 45,410 
- 2009-2010 - 47,700 
- 2010-2011 - 49,150 
- 2011-2012 - 50,410 
|This section is outdated. (September 2012)|
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 relatively little use, even during rush hour. The total ridership on the Sheppard subway line 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 (3.4 mi) length. One significant 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. During the City of Toronto's 2008 budget crisis, the TTC considered shutting the line down on weekends or entirely. Jarrett Walker, a transportation consultant and the author of the book Human Transit, says "Sheppard’s technology makes it both expensive to abandon and expensive to extend; that’s the trap."
|This section is outdated. (January 2013)|
Several proposals have been made to extend the line in both directions.
The original proposal for the Sheppard line was for a major subway line running from Downsview Station on the Spadina line to Scarborough Centre Station. Instead, funding was only approved for a truncated line, with several phased expansions.
The TTC considered the eastward extension of the Sheppard line to Scarborough Centre Station as one of its top priorities for rapid-transit expansion, which would see the expansion of rapid transit in Scarborough for the first time since the completion of the Scarborough RT. The eastward extension would include new stations at Consumers Road, Victoria Park Avenue, Warden Avenue, Kennedy Road, Agincourt GO Station, and Progress Avenue, terminating at the existing Scarborough Centre Station on the Scarborough RT line. The expansion proposal also included the possible addition of a station at Willowdale Avenue between Sheppard–Yonge and Bayview stations on the existing portion of the line.
A separate 4.5-kilometre (2.8 mi) westward extension to Downsview Station considered the creation of stations at Senlac Road, Bathurst Street, and Faywood Boulevard. Lower population density made this expansion a much lower priority, as the minimal increase in ridership was insufficient to justify the costs. The approval of the Spadina subway extension into York Region renewed interest in this phase, as a subway connection between Downsview and Sheppard–Yonge stations would significantly lower commuting times for York University students. The tunnel from Sheppard-Yonge to Welbeck Road (east of Senlac) was built for train storage at the time of original construction.
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 technology on dedicated rights-of-way instead of subway technology. Under this plan the Sheppard East subway extension had been replaced by a light rail line running from Don Mills Station along Sheppard Avenue East to Meadowvale Road, where it would meet the northern terminus of an extended Scarborough RT line. Under this proposal, there would be no direct connection between North York Centre and Scarborough City Centre.
As a result of the election of Rob Ford as mayor of Toronto in 2010, the western extension of the Sheppard subway to Downsview Station and the eastern extension to Scarborough Centre were considered a priority again. Ford indicated in a December 2010 interview with The Globe and Mail newspaper that all other transit projects would come second to completing the Sheppard line. Ford stated "I’m just focusing on doing the Sheppard subway underground".
On March 31, 2011, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford announced that the proposed Sheppard East LRT line would be replaced by western and eastern extensions for the Sheppard Subway so that the completed line would run from Downsview Station to Scarborough Centre. The Province of Ontario approved this plan, which is estimated to cost $4.2 billion. The City of Toronto will assume complete financial responsibility for the project, which is proposed to be funded through a public–private partnership, as well as surplus funds from the proposed Eglinton Crosstown line, if there will be any. Massive redevelopment along the route would be needed to generate these funds, as the current population density and projected ridership is too low to support the cost of the expansion by itself.
Metrolinx estimates that the Sheppard West extension to Downsview would be 5.45 km (3.39 mi) long, add two stations, and cost $1.48 billion. The Sheppard East extension would be 8 km (5.0 mi) long, add seven stations, and cost $2.75 billion.
On January 23, 2012, TTC Chair Karen Stintz suggested a plan to extend the line two stops eastwards funded by making the eastern portion of the Eglinton Crosstown line at street level. This motion was defeated by the TTC board. She then got 24 councillors (a majority) to sign a petition calling for a special council meeting for February 8 of that year.
In the meeting, council voted to build the Eglinton project according to the original Transit City plan (partly underground and partly at grade), build an at-grade Finch LRT, and to appoint a panel to recommend whether to pursue the eastward extension of the Sheppard subway or construct the Sheppard East LRT instead. The panel reported back to council on March 31, 2012. At this council meeting, council approved light rail rather than a subway extension for Sheppard. On April 26 of that year, the motion to build the LRT was announced by the Minister of Transportation after being approved unanimously by Metrolinx. The plan still needs to be approved by Ontario's cabinet, though on June 29, 2012, the Board of Directors of Metrolinx unanimously approved the same motion approved by Metrolinx in April.
In October 2013, the TTC announced plans to give the lines official numbers to help riders and visitors to navigate the system. The Sheppard line is numbered as Line 4.
- Toronto subway and RT
- MoveOntario 2020
- Sheppard East LRT
- Transit-oriented development
- List of world's most expensive transport infrastructure
- Toronto Transit Commission Subway ridership, 2011-2012
- "Toronto Transit Commission - History". City of Toronto. Retrieved 2007-11-22.
- Michael Smith. "$2.7 Billion Metro transit plan called affordable." Toronto Star. May 29, 1985. pg. A1
- Royson James. "Deciding which train to take." Toronto Star." March 8, 1994. pg. A15
- "Stop the Sheppard LRT" Business Group Says
- Lewington, Jennifer; Gray, Jeff (July 20, 2007). "Toronto threatens to shut Sheppard subway". The Globe and Mail (Toronto).
- Morrow, Adrian. "Lessons from Toronto's Sheppard suwbay line". Retrieved 23 March 2013.
- Kalinowski, Tess; Rider, David (2 December 2010). "‘War on the car is over': Ford moves transit underground". The Star (Toronto).
- "Search". The Globe and Mail (Toronto). December 21, 2010.
- "Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s transit plan wins provincial approval" By John Lorinc and Adrian Morrow, The Globe and Mail, 30 March 2011
- "Funding questions linger after new transit plan announced" By Natalie Alcoba, National Post. March 31, 2011
- "Metrolinx / Toronto Transit Plan" Metrolinx. April 28, 2011
- Granatstein, Rob. "Rob Ford's Sheppard hole: Granatstein". Toronto Sun. Retrieved 4 April 2011.
- Kalinowski, Tess (February 9, 2012). "Special transit meeting: Mayor Rob Ford dismisses council’s vote against his subway plan". Toronto Star. Retrieved 9 Feb 2012.
- Kalinowski, Tess; Rider, David (March 22, 2012). "Rob Ford's subway dream dead as Toronto council votes 24-19 for LRT". Toronto Star (Toronto).
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sheppard line.|
- Transit Toronto – The Sheppard subway
- Rapid Transit Expansion Study (Toronto Transit Commission, 2001). (PDF, 2.6 MB)