Line 3 Scarborough

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Line 3 Scarborough
TTC - Line 3 - Scarborough RT line.svg
TTC UTDC ICTS Mark I 3012.jpg
A Scarborough ICTS Mark I train in its original 1985–2015 livery leaving Lawrence East Station, bound for McCowan
Type Rapid transit
System Toronto rapid transit
Locale Toronto, Ontario
Termini Kennedy
Stations 6[1]
Daily ridership 40,010 (avg. weekday)[1]
Opened March 22, 1985
Owner Toronto Transit Commission
Operator(s) Toronto Transit Commission
Depot(s) McCowan Yard
Rolling stock ICTS Mark I
Line length 6.4 km (4.0 mi)[2]
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
Electrification Third rail, linear induction
Route map
McCowan Yard
Scarborough Centre
GO Transit logo.svg Stouffville line GO logo.png to Lincolnville
Lawrence East
Kennedy TTC/GO TTC - Line 2 - Bloor-Danforth line.svg TTC - Line 5.svg GO Transit logo.svg Stouffville line GO logo.png

Line 3 Scarborough,[3] formerly and still commonly known as the Scarborough RT, is a rapid transit line on the Toronto rapid transit system in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is owned and operated by the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), which refers to the line as route 3 (formerly route 603).[4] The line has six stations[3] and is 6.4 km (4.0 mi) in length situated almost entirely above ground. It connects with Line 2 Bloor–Danforth at Kennedy and terminates at McCowan via Scarborough Centre.

Rather than the standard and relatively larger subway cars used by the other lines of the Toronto subway system, the Scarborough line rolling stock consists of a smaller, fully automated, medium-capacity rail transport system using Intermediate Capacity Transit System Mark I vehicles built by the Urban Transportation Development Corporation (UTDC) and powered by linear induction motors, identical to vehicles used by the Vancouver SkyTrain and the Detroit People Mover. The line uses standard gauge tracks, unlike the rest of the Toronto subway and the Toronto streetcar system which use a unique, wider gauge.

The line has been virtually unchanged since its opening in 1985 and has two of the least used stations in the system. Its revitalization and expansion plan, whether to convert the line into using modern light rail vehicles or to close the line and extend Line 2 Bloor–Danforth further into Scarborough, has been debated for over a decade by the municipal government of Toronto. In September 2013, the Government of Ontario, under Premier Kathleen Wynne, announced it would fund the extension of Line 2 to Scarborough Centre along a new alignment, which will result in the eventual closure of the Scarborough line.[5][6]


The logo for the SRT when it opened in 1985 until 2015 when it began to be replaced by the Line 3 logo.
The original streetcar platform can be seen at Kennedy Station. This image also clearly shows the pusher plate for the linear motor between the rails, and the two inductive communications wires on either side of the plate.

In 1972, the provincial government announced the GO-Urban plan to build an intermediate capacity transit system across suburban Toronto using the experimental Krauss-Maffei Transurban.[7] The system failed to come to fruition, and the TTC began building the line for CLRV streetcars, 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 used to have an operational loop to turn streetcars. This proved too sharp for safe operation of the ICTS cars, which did not have a reason to turn around, and the loop was replaced by a Spanish solution-like crossover.[8] Ontario wanted to develop and promote its new technology, which had been 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 line opened in March 1985 as the Scarborough RT. Three years after it opened, the TTC renovated its southwestern terminus at Kennedy Station, because the looped turnaround track, designed for uni-directional 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, with one side for boarding and another side for alighting, though the boarding side is also used for alighting during off-peak hours and weekends.

From when the line opened in 1985 until 2015 it was known as the "Scarborough RT" or "SRT". The "RT" in Scarborough RT stood for "rapid transit". Locals have often referred to the line as SRT or the RT for short.[9] The name Scarborough Line is used on the official TTC website and 2014 TTC Ride Guide.[10][11] In October 2013, the TTC announced plans to give the lines official numbers to help riders and visitors to navigate the system. The line is numbered as Line 3, as it is the third rapid transit line to open in the system. New signage was installed in March 2014, and it is expected that it will be rolled out to all TTC rapid transit stations.[12][13][14] In 2015, the name was simplified to "Line 3 Scarborough" and the trains are being repainted to a new blue finish displaying the number 3, a diagram of the Scarborough line, and the TTC logo only, thereby removing the "RT" logo.

With the line approaching the end of its useful life,[15] the TTC reduced the frequency of service effective mid-September 2012.

In 2015, the TTC started work on the cars to keep them operational until the line is replaced by another mode of rail technology. This includes a new outer livery that is almost entirely blue to emphasize the line's colour code, followed by interior upgrades.[16]

Rolling stock[edit]

The abandoned loop at Kennedy Station, which became a dead-end tail track in 1988.

The trains operated were developed by the Urban Transportation Development Corporation (UTDC), then an Ontario Crown corporation but later became a division of Bombardier Transportation. The business proposal initially bore little fruit — a proposed pilot project in Hamilton was cancelled after meeting widespread public opposition, and the technology was used initially only by the Scarborough line, Vancouver's SkyTrain, and the Detroit People Mover. With expansion of the SkyTrain and sales to Ankara, Turkey; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport AirTrain, and Yongin EverLine in Yongin near Seoul, South Korea,[17] redesigned, 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 alternating flat magnets reacting with the distinctive di-magnetic aluminum 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, repelling against the wide aluminum plate in the centre of the track.[18] This micro-lifting prevents the truck wheels from making a solid electrical contact with the track. Instead of using the conventional method, in which motive power is supplied by a single third rail, with return current travelling 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 linear induction motors also allow the cars to climb steeper grades then would be possible with traditional subway technology since wheel slip is not an issue. This is an important consideration when trying to build a rail transit system into a built-up urban environment, such as Toronto.

The trains are also able to be operated exclusively by computers, using Standard Elektrik Lorenz's "SelTrac IS" system (now owned and delivered by Thales Canada Transportation Solutions), doing away with the need for a human operator. However, due to union opposition and public perception, operators were retained. (Other systems took full advantage of the automated operation and Vancouver's SkyTrain has been automated since 1985 with no mishaps.) The Scarborough line trains have only one operator, unlike the other TTC subway lines, which carry both a guard, who operates the train's doors, and an operator, who drives the train. In practice, the Scarborough line trains drive themselves; the operator monitors their operations and controls the doors. The transit workers' union has firmly opposed driverless trains.[19] One feature, which was not implemented at the time of Scarborough line's opening, is the automated next stop announcement system, which was introduced in January 2008 (which means operators are no longer required to call out stops manually), and uses the voice-over of TTC employee, Susan Bigioni as with all other subway lines.


The train on its elevated tracks between Scarborough Centre and McCowan

The line follows a roughly upside down L-shaped (or gamma-shaped (Γ)) route: first northward from Kennedy Station, parallelling the Canadian National Railway/GO Transit's Stouffville line tracks, between Kennedy Road and Midland Avenue, 4 km (2.5 mi) to Ellesmere Road; then eastward between Ellesmere and Progress Avenue, through Scarborough City Centre to McCowan Road. The Scarborough line's ICTS trains 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 with new trains. Basic maintenance is performed in this yard; for more extensive work the cars are taken to the subway's Greenwood Yard by truck, given the train's different track gauge. 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 Station to cross under the CN tracks. After that, it is elevated towards McCowan station. Two stations, Kennedy and Scarborough Centre, are wheelchair accessible.

From 2 am to 6 am, when the Scarborough line 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 station, it does not pass near any of the rapid transit stations, though other night bus services pass near stations. Bus service is extended on Sundays because the rapid transit lines start at 8 a.m. (beginning Jan. 3 2016) instead the usual 6 a.m. start. Service frequency is 30 minutes.

The frequency for this line is 4–5 minutes during peak periods and 5–6 minutes during off-peak periods.


In 2006, a study was completed on the prospects of the Scarborough line.[20][21] It recommended upgrading the line to handle larger ART Mark II vehicles, at a cost of $190 million (2006 dollars) with an eight-month service suspension for the upgrade and to purchase $170 million of new rolling stock; the TTC Board approved the recommended plan to upgrade the SRT on August 30, 2006.[22] Later the TTC cancelled the plan for modernizing the SRT.[23] Extending Line 2 Bloor–Danforth, either along the current route or along a different alignment directly to Scarborough Centre, was not considered cost-effective or justifiable.

The TTC and the City of Toronto completed an environmental assessment in 2010 to convert the line to light rail transit and extend it to Malvern from its current eastern terminus, McCowan, with potential new intermediate stations at Bellamy Road, Centennial College and Sheppard Avenue with a possible additional station at Brimley Road between the existing Midland and Scarborough Centre stations.[24]

After initially planning to include the line with the proposed Eglinton Crosstown LRT line and create a single line called the "Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown line", Metrolinx proceeded with plans to convert the line to light rail and extend it to Sheppard Avenue with a single new intermediate station at Centennial College. The existing line would have closed after the 2015 Pan American Games and be completed in 2020. In January 2013, Infrastructure Ontario issued a request for qualifications to shortlist companies to construct both this line and the Eglinton Crosstown line.[25]

In June 2013, Toronto City Council again debated to have the Scarborough line replaced with an extension of the Bloor–Danforth line north to Sheppard Avenue along a different right of way. Metrolinx issued a letter to Toronto City Council indicating it would cease work on the Scarborough portion of the line, because its position strayed from the original LRT agreement.[26] The subway alternative would cost between $500 million and $1 billion more than converting the Scarborough line to use the same rolling stock as the Eglinton Crosstown line be so it could be a continuation of that line. The Globe and Mail reported that Scarborough councillors had argued that providing Scarborough residents with light rail, not heavy rail treated them as "second class citizens".

Here is a comparison of characteristics between the LRT and subway proposals to replace the Scarborough line:[27][28][29]

Characteristic LRT Proposal Subway Extension
Vehicle Flexity Freedom T1 subway car or Toronto Rocket
Number of stations[29] 7 3
Length of line[29] 9.9 km (6.2 mi) 7.6 km (4.7 mi)
Average speed[29] 36 kilometres per hour (22 mph) 40 kilometres per hour (25 mph)
Ridership per peak hour in a peak direction[29] 8,000 at least 9,500
Total projected annual ridership as of 2013[27] 31 million 36 million
Residents within walking distance of a stop[29] 47,000 14,000 - 20,000
Transfer issues at Kennedy Station[29] One level above subway No need to transfer
Problems during construction[28] SRT shut down; riders must use buses 5-year construction will disrupt traffic on streets near subway
Building costs[29] $1.48 billion $3.56 billion
Operating and maintenance costs Paid by province[29] Paid by TTC;[29] up to $40 million per year[28]

Two competing subway plans were proposed to replace the Scarborough line. TTC Chair Karen Stintz proposed to extend the Bloor–Danforth subway line to the east before turning north with three new stations at Lawrence Avenue and McCowan Road, at Scarborough Town Centre and then at Sheppard Avenue East and McCowan Road, where it would connect to the Sheppard East LRT. Transportation Minister Glen Murray made an alternative proposal to extend Line 2 along the route of the current Scarborough line but terminating at Scarborough Town Centre. Under the Murray plan, there would be only two stations and there would be no direct connection with the Sheppard LRT. The Murray plan would have required the relocation of Kennedy Station as a new northbound curve from the existing Kennedy Station would have been too tight for subway trains. The Murray plan would also have required the complete shutdown of the line during construction something that the Stintz plan avoided.[5]

On October 8, 2013, Toronto City Council voted 24–20 to replace the Scarborough line with a three-station extension of the Bloor–Danforth subway line. Council chose the Stintz plan for the extension.[30]

The subway extension is estimated to cost $3.56 billion.[31] Here is how a portion of that cost is expected to be financed:

  • Provincial Government: $1.48 billion
  • Federal Government: $660 million
  • 1.6% property tax levy: $745 million
  • Increase in development charges: $165 million

The city will borrow money to pay its portion of the subway extension costs. The increases in property tax and development charges are to pay off this debt over a 30-year period.[30]

In December 2014, Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker, one of the city's deputy mayors, proposed a fourth stop along the Scarborough subway extension, at Danforth Road and Eglinton Avenue to reduce the station spacing between Kennedy Station and the next stop from about 4 km (2.5 mi) to 2 km (1.2 mi). At that time he was told the extra station would add $100 million to $150 million to the cost of the extension.[32]

In July 2015, Jennifer Keesmaat, Toronto’s chief planner, questioned the accuracy of a 2013 city staff report that estimated ridership at 14,000 riders per peak-hour instead of the earlier 9,500 per peak-hour put forward by the TTC. She said the process was “rushed.” City Council based its decision to choose a subway extension over an LRT conversion based on the higher number. The accepted minimum threshold for a subway is 15,000. Also, both the city and TTC have said the proposed nearby SmartTrack line and the subway extension risk competing for the same riders.[33]

In November 2015, transportation consultant and University of Toronto professor emeritus, Richard Soberman, argued that it would be vastly cheaper and faster to buy new SRT vehicles than to replace the SRT with an extension of the Bloor-Danforth subway northeast from Kennedy Station. He felt the cost savings would be great enough to overcome difficulties such as the incompatibility of Mark II cars on the existing line and the extra cost of building a fully separated right-of-way to the Sheppard East LRT.[23]

Line number[edit]

Internally, the rapid transit lines were numbered, but in October 2013, the TTC announced plans to give the lines official numbers to help riders and visitors to navigate the system. The Scarborough line is numbered as Line 3.[12] When the line is closed and becomes part of Line 2 Bloor–Danforth, the TTC network would no longer have a Line 3 or its corresponding colour for an indefinite length and may be reused in the foreseeable future. Other lines (Line 4 Sheppard and Line 5 Eglinton Crosstown LRT) would not be renumbered.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Toronto Transit Commission Subway ridership, 2011-2012" (PDF). Toronto Transit Commission. November 21, 2012. Retrieved March 10, 2013. 
  2. ^ "2011 TTC Operating Statistics". Toronto Transit Commission. Retrieved March 10, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "Subway". Schedules & Maps. Toronto Transit Commission. Retrieved January 2015. Line 3 Scarborough has six stations 
  4. ^ Toronto Transit Commission, Scheduled Service Summary, Board Period Commencing Sunday, July 21, 1991
  5. ^ a b "Scarborough subway to be built with shortened route, Ontario announces". The Globe and Mail. 4 September 2013. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ "GO-Urban's bright future fades suddenly", Toronto Star, 14 November 1974
  8. ^ Transit Toronto - Why was the Kennedy RT station renovated so soon after it was built?
  9. ^ TTC Subway/RT
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ a b TTC considers numbering subway lines | CityNews
  13. ^ TTC tests new numerical signage system | CTV Toronto News
  14. ^ "New TTC Signage at Eglinton Station". 
  15. ^ "Chief Executive Officer's Report - November 2012 Update" (PDF). Toronto Transit Commission. November 21, 2012. Retrieved March 10, 2013. 
  16. ^ "This is what the TTC's revamped SRT cars look like". BlogTO. Retrieved 10 March 2015. 
  17. ^
  18. ^ Ion Boldea, S. A. Nasar (2001). Linear motion electromagnetic devices. 
  19. ^ Bruser, David (2006-11-17). "TTC eyes driverless subway". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2007-12-08. 
  20. ^ "Scarborough RT Strategic Plan" (PDF). 2006-08-30. Retrieved 2012-03-09. 
  21. ^ "Scarborough RT Strategic Plan – Study Report - Final Report - August 2006" (PDF). August 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 25, 2008. Retrieved 2013-08-05. 
  22. ^ "Minutes of the Previous Meeting - Board Meeting Minutes - Meeting No. 1873 - Wednesday, August 30, 2006". 2006-09-20. Retrieved 2015-12-01. 
  23. ^ a b Tess Kalinowski, Transportation reporter (November 15, 2015). "Skip the Scarborough subway and modernize the SRT, says transit expert". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2015-11-20. 
  24. ^ "Extension of the Scarborough Rapid Transit & Kennedy Station Improvements". City of Toronto. May 29, 2012. Archived from the original on October 6, 2012. Retrieved March 10, 2013. 
  25. ^ "Request for Qualifications Issued for the Eglinton Crosstown LRT and Scarborough LRT Lines". January 22, 2013. Retrieved March 10, 2013. 
  26. ^ Oliver Moore (2 July 2013). "Metrolinx to Toronto: Subway is yours". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 3 July 2013. 
  27. ^ a b "Scarborough councillors seek subway line instead of LRT". Toronto Star. Retrieved 6 May 2013. 
  28. ^ a b c "Not in service". TheGrid. Retrieved 16 October 2013. 
  29. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Jennifer Pagliaro, City Hall reporter (August 7, 2015). "Scarborough subway debate suffers from lack of facts, community groups say". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2015-11-19. 
  30. ^ a b "Scarborough subway confirmed by Toronto council)". The Toronto Star. The Toronto Star. Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  31. ^ Pagliaro, Jennifer. "Real costs of Scarborough subway, cancelled LRT to resurface at council". The Toronto Star. The Toronto Star. Retrieved 24 July 2015. 
  32. ^ Daniel Dale (December 13, 2014). "Deputy Mayor Glenn De Baeremaeker wants to change Scarborough subway plan". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2015-11-20. 
  33. ^ Jennifer Pagliaro City Hall reporter (July 17, 2015). "Chief planner says rushed Scarborough subway analysis was ‘problematic’". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2015-11-20. 

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