Toronto rapid transit

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Toronto rapid transit
Locale Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Transit type Rapid transit
Number of lines 4 (plus 1 under construction and 1 approved)
Number of stations 69[1] plus 31 under construction and 22 approved:
6 under construction, Line 1 Yonge–University[2]
25 under construction, Line 5 Eglinton Crosstown
3 approved, Line 2 Bloor–Danforth[3]
19 approved, Line 7 Finch West LRT
Daily ridership 1,093,300 (avg. weekday,
Q4 2014)[4]
Annual ridership 324,738,500 (2014)[4]
Website TTC
Began operation March 30, 1954
Operator(s) Toronto Transit Commission (TTC)
Number of vehicles 706 subway and RT cars;
62 work cars
Train length 4 and 6 car trains
Headway 2mins 21secs (min-subway)
5mins 30secs (max-subway),
6mins 45secs (RT)[5]
System length 68.3 km (42.4 mi)[1]
27.6 km (17.1 mi) (under construction)[2]
7.6 km (4.7 mi) (approved)[3]
Track gauge 4 ft 10 78 in (1,495 mm) (Subway)
1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
(RT - standard gauge)
Electrification Third rail 600 V DC (Subway)
Third rail, linear induction (RT)

Toronto rapid transit is the system of underground and elevated railway lines in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, operated by the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). It was the country's first completed subway system: the first line was built under Yonge Street, which opened in 1954 with 12 stations. Since then, the system has expanded to become Canada's largest (in terms of stations) and second busiest rapid transit rail network with an average of 1,093,300 passenger trips each weekday (as of Q4 2014), after the Montreal Metro.[4]

The rapid transit system encompasses four lines and 69 stations on 68.3 kilometres (42.4 mi) of route.[1] An 8.6-kilometre (5.3 mi), six-station extension of Line 1 Yonge–University north to Vaughan is under construction and scheduled to open for December 2017.[2] A 7.6-kilometre (4.7 mi), three-station extension of Line 2 Bloor–Danforth northeast into Scarborough—replacing the current six-station, 6.4-kilometre (4.0 mi) Scarborough RT intermediate rail line—is approved and scheduled to open in 2023.[3] The Eglinton Crosstown, a 25-station, 19-kilometre (12 mi) light rail transit (LRT) line, is under construction and scheduled to open in Fall 2021. In addition, the Finch West LRT, with 19 stations on 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) of track, will be constructed between 2016 and 2021.[6]

System map[edit]

Rapid transit system map
A map of the Toronto Subway/RT network.
TTC - Line 1 - Yonge-University-Spadina line.svg Yonge–University
Between Finch and Downsview via Union
TTC - Line 2 - Bloor-Danforth line.svg Bloor–Danforth
Between Kipling and Kennedy
TTC - Line 3 - Scarborough RT line.svg Scarborough (RT)
Between Kennedy and McCowan
TTC - Line 4 - Sheppard line.svg Sheppard
Between Sheppard–Yonge and Don Mills


Early proposals[edit]

The first serious proposal for a subway system in Toronto was made in the early part of the 20th century, with a series of proposals to bury the streetcar line on Yonge. A number of proposals emerged between 1909 and 1912, but the public rejected subways in a plebiscite in 1912, and discussions ended for a time.[7] In 1931, City Controller Hacker proposed a north-south subway running from Avenue Road and St. Clair Avenue south to Front and York Streets, making a wide loop via Front, Scott, Victoria and Gerrard.[8]

Yonge route[edit]

Subway excavations in front of Union Station (left) on Front Street in 1950

During World War II, workers travelling from their homes in "northern Toronto" (which would now be considered the downtown core) to the industrial areas to the east and west of the downtown area on Yonge seriously strained the existing road and streetcar networks. There was concern that the expected post-war boom in car ownership would choke the city with traffic.


The TTC formed a Rapid Transit Department and studied various solutions between 1942 and 1945. A plan was put to the voters on January 1, 1946. The plan had two parts. First, it featured a "rapid transit subway" operated with subway trains from Eglinton Avenue as far as College Street. The line would continue directly under Yonge and Front Streets to Union Station.

Second would be a "surface car subway", diverting streetcar services off Queen and Dundas Street. This would run mostly along Queen Street, with each end angling north to reach Dundas Street west of Trinity Park and Gerrard Street at Pape Avenue. The route would run directly under Queen Street from University Avenue to Church Street, with the rest off-street.[9][10]

The vote was overwhelmingly in favour, and Toronto City Council approved construction four months later.[7]


The plebiscite contained the condition that the federal government would subsidize 20% of the project. The federal Minister of Reconstruction, C.D. Howe, promised federal support in an October 3, 1945 letter. However, the funding fell through over a disagreement about the details of the employment arrangements. A scaled down proposal, about 20% smaller, was agreed to in its place. The work along Queen Street was abandoned temporarily, and the original $42.3 million ($560 million in 2012) was reduced to $28.9 million ($383 million in 2012) plus $3.5 million ($46.4 million in 2012) for rolling stock.[7] Due to a two-year delay due to postwar labour shortages, construction on the new subway did not start until September 8, 1949. A total of 1.7 million cubic yards (1.3 million cubic metres) of material was removed and some 14,000 tons (12,700 metric tons) of reinforcing steel and 1.4 million bags of cement were put into place.[7]

Since the system was envisioned as an expansion of the existing streetcar network, the current subway system retains one feature unique to the Toronto system. The streetcar system was installed on dirt roads used by wagon traffic. In order to allow the wagons to continue using the same roads, and to reduce wear and tear on the dirt portions, the streetcar rails were designed to allow the wagon wheels to run within the rails, and the gauge was therefore made 4 ft 10 78 in (1,495 mm), slightly wider than typical wagon wheels.

Service on the Yonge route would be handled by new rolling stock, and the TTC was particularly interested in the Chicago PCC cars, which had been adapted from existing streetcars. However, the United States was in the midst of the Korean War at the time, which had caused a substantial increase in metal prices, thus making the PCC cars too expensive. Instead, in November 1951, an order was placed with the Gloucester Railway Carriage and Wagon Company in England for 104 cars for $7,800,000 including spare parts.


Ontario Premier Leslie Frost and Toronto Mayor Allan A. Lamport officially opened the 7.4-kilometre (4.6 mi) long Yonge subway on March 30, 1954. Trains operated at average speeds of 20 miles per hour (32 km/h).[11] The route was an instant success. The original plan to operate two-car trains during off-peak hours was abandoned in favour of four-car trains, and six-car trains were standard during most periods, with some eight-car trains used during peak periods.


The TTC intended the subway to use streetcar-derived trains, like this former Chicago 'L' train preserved at the Halton County Radial Railway
The Gloucester (G-series) trains were chosen to be the system's first rolling stock

In 1963, an extension was added to curve north from Union Station, below University Avenue and Queen's Park to near Bloor Street, where it turned west to terminate at St. George and Bloor Street.

The Bloor–Danforth line opened in 1966 along Bloor Street and Danforth Avenue from Keele Street to Woodbine Avenue, and was extended in 1968 to run from Islington Avenue to Warden Station at Warden and St. Clair Avenues. For six months, the subway was operated as a single system, with trains from Eglinton Station running through to either Keele or Woodbine, while other trains connected the latter two points; after this the two lines were permanently segregated, leaving Lower Bay Station abandoned.

The routing of the line across the Don Valley was possible because a decision made more than forty years earlier. When the Prince Edward Viaduct was built in 1918, its designer insisted on providing for twin decks below the roadway to allow for future rail traffic. As a result, the subway is able to cross the Don Valley to Danforth Avenue on the east side.

The Yonge-University line was extended north 8.7 km (5.4 mi) from Eglinton Avenue to Finch Avenue and Yonge in 1973 and 1974.

A further 9.9 km (6.2 mi) was added to the Yonge-University line in 1978 when it was extended from St. George and Bloor, running north and northwest to Eglinton Avenue and William R. Allen Road, then north along the median of the Allen Road to Wilson Avenue. This extension was originally proposed as part of the Spadina Expressway, but when the expressway portion south of Eglinton Avenue was cancelled after massive protests, the subway was still built following the original route through Cedarvale Ravine. Hence, it is called the Spadina subway line, though it follows Spadina Road for less than 2 km (1.2 mi).

In October 1976, arson caused the destruction of four subway cars and damage to Christie Station, resulting in the closure of the Bloor-Danforth line for three days, and the bypassing of Christie Station for some time afterwards for repairs. Extensions were added in 1980 at both ends of the Bloor-Danforth line. These extensions each added a single station, much needed bus bays to connect to surface routes, and room on the eastern end to connect to Line 3 Scarborough.

Spanning six stations over 6.8 km (4.2 mi) of track, the Scarborough RT is an intermediate-capacity line built almost entirely above ground, which has no direct track connections to the other lines and uses a separate fleet of Intermediate Capacity Transit System (ICTS) trains based on dramatically different technology (similar to the those on the Vancouver SkyTrain). Nevertheless, its operating practices are the same as those of the three subway lines: the route is fully isolated from road traffic and pedestrians, the stations are fully covered, and the trains are boarded through many doors from high platforms within a fare-paid zone set off by a barrier. The TTC therefore includes it with the other rapid transit lines for mapping and administrative purposes.


An older-style TTC sign at a downtown subway station

An additional 2 km (1.2 mi) was added to the north end of the Spadina section of the Yonge-University line, adding one station (Downsview), with bus bays for connections to surface routes. At the time, a newly elected provincial Progressive Conservative government cancelled its share of funding that would have extended this route northward to York University and Steeles Avenue. This extension is under construction, and funding has been committed by governments (see Future expansion).

In August 1995, the TTC suffered the deadliest subway accident in Canadian history, known as the Russell Hill accident, on the Yonge-University line south of St. Clair West Station. Three women died and 100 other people were injured, a few of them seriously. This led to a major reorganization at the TTC, since contributing to maintaining a "state of good repair" (i.e., an increased emphasis on safety and maintenance of existing TTC capital/services) and less so on expansion.

The subway's newest line, Line 4 Sheppard, opened in 2002. It was the only one of three subway projects backed in the mid-1990s by the Government of Ontario under Premier Bob Rae to be completed. It runs 5.5 km (3.4 mi) east, underneath Sheppard Avenue from Sheppard Station on the Yonge line (now renamed Sheppard–Yonge), to Don Mills Station at Sheppard and Don Mills Road. The Sheppard line has fewer users than the other two subway lines, and shorter trains are run.

A child was born on a TTC subway station platform for the first time in the subway's history on February 6, 2006.[12] This incident occurred at Wellesley Station and caused delays on the subway system.[12][13]

An automated voice system was added to announce each station, which replaced the need for the train operator to announce each stop which has since been installed throughout the entire subway and RT system. Station announcements by the operators began on January 8, 1995, under pressure from advocacy groups for the visually impaired. However, announcements were sporadic until the TTC began to enforce the policy in around 2005. Automated announcements were implemented under further pressure from the advocacy groups. The TTC's new Toronto Rocket subway trains provide both audible and visible automatic stop announcements.[14][15]

Operations and procedures[edit]

A T1 subway car stationary at Warden

Like most subways in North America, the Toronto subway/RT trains collect their electric power from a third rail mounted alongside the tracks. 'Shoes' mounted on the trucks are located on both sides of each coach for the required contact. Power is supplied at 600 V DC. Scarborough RT trains cannot switch directions except at the ends of the line as there are no crossovers between the two termini. In contrast, the subway system was built in multiple segments, thereby providing multiple crossovers. Current service patterns do not generally provide regular short turn service; however, the extra crossovers are used during emergencies where service is suspended in certain areas. The only exception is during the morning rush hour when some northbound trains short-turn at St. Clair West Station or, in rarer cases, Glencairn Station.

Safety procedures have progressed over time, usually in response to a mishap. One such incident was in March 1963, when there was an electrical short in a subway car's motor. The driver decided to continue operating the train, despite visible smoke in the affected car, until the train reached Union Station. This decision resulted in the destruction of six subway cars and extensive damage to the tunnel and signal lines west of Union Station. Following this incident, safety procedures involving electrical malfunctions and/or fire in subway trains, were revised to improve safety and reduce the likelihood of a similar incident occurring.

The TTC's Union subway station connects with Union Station, Toronto's main railway station, which serves GO Transit's commuter trains, Via, Amtrak, and Ontario Northland. GO trains stop at or near several other subway stations. GO buses connect with the TTC at a number of stations.

A train guard is responsible for opening and closing the subway car doors, and making sure no one is trapped in a door as the train leaves a station. From the subway's inception in 1954 to 1991, a transit worker notified patrons that the subway car doors were closing with two short blasts from a whistle. In 1991, due to lawsuits,[citation needed] electronic chimes, using a descending three-note arpeggio (either G-E-C [C major, root position], or between one or two semitones lower (F♯-D♯-B [B major, root position] or F-D-B♭ [B♭ major, root position])) and a flashing pair of orange lights above the doorway, added for the hearing impaired, were tested and gradually introduced system-wide during the 1990s. The Toronto Rocket trains use the same door chimes and flashing orange lights as the older trains do, and also plays the additional voice announcement at the end of the closing door chimes.

Platform markers[16]

Circular Red Disk (All Trains) This marker is typically mounted on the station platform wall to assist the operator to position the train in the station. When the train is stopped with the marker located between the front of the train and the first set of doors, the train is properly spotted (that is, aligned) in the station.

Circular Green Disk (Bloor–Danforth line) This marker is typically mounted on the station platform wall and applies to H-type and T-1 trains. When the guard’s window is aligned with this marker, under normal operating conditions, the guard knows that the train is properly spotted on the platform and it is safe to open the doors.

Circular Orange Disk (Bloor–Danforth line) This marker is typically mounted on the station platform wall to assist the guard on H-type and T-1 trains to observe the platform (for passenger safety) for the required distance, under normal operating conditions, as the train is moving to exit the station.

Green Triangle (Yonge–University and Sheppard lines: Guarding from the Trailing Car) This marker is typically mounted on the station platform wall to assist the guard, who is positioned in the trailing car. When the guard’s window is aligned with this marker, the train is properly spotted on the platform, and it is safe to open the doors.

Orange Triangle (Yonge–University and Sheppard lines: Guarding from the Trailing Car) This marker is typically mounted on the station platform wall to assist the guard positioned in the trailing car to observe the platform for the required distance as the train is moving to exit the station.

Service frequency

During rush hour, up to 50 trains are on the Yonge-University line simultaneously, and 40 trains on the Bloor-Danforth line. During non-rush hour periods, there are approximately 27 trains on the Yonge-University line at any one time.

On weekdays and Saturday, subway service runs from approximately 6:00 am to 1:30 am; Sunday service begins at 9:00 am. Start times on holidays may vary.

Line Stations Length[1] Off-peak frequency[5] Rush hour frequency[5]
TTC - Line 1 - Yonge-University-Spadina line.svg Yonge–University 32 30.2 kilometres (18.8 mi) 4–5 minutes 2–3 minutes
TTC - Line 2 - Bloor-Danforth line.svg Bloor–Danforth 31 26.2 kilometres (16.3 mi) 4–5 minutes 2–3 minutes
TTC - Line 3 - Scarborough RT line.svg Scarborough RT 6 6.4 kilometres (4.0 mi) 5–6 minutes 4–5 minutes
TTC - Line 4 - Sheppard line.svg Sheppard 5 5.5 kilometres (3.4 mi) 5–6 minutes 5–6 minutes

Stations and features[edit]

Most stations are named for the nearest major arterial road crossed by the line in question. A few are named for major landmarks, such as shopping centres or transportation hubs, served by the station. The University Avenue section of the Yonge–University line, in particular, is named entirely for landmarks (public institutions and major churches).

All trains, except for short turns, stop at every station along their route and run the entire length of their line from terminus to terminus.


A growing number of Toronto's rapid transit stations are accessible to wheelchair users in general and riders with accessibility issues. Upgrade plans to stations call for all stations to have barrier free, and elevator access by 2020.


The May 2010 TTC cleanliness audit of subway stations found that none of them meet the transit agency's highest standard for cleanliness and general state of repair. Only 21 stations scored in the 70–80% range in the TTC's cleanliness scale, a range described as "Ordinary Tidiness", while 45 fell in the 60–70% range achieving what the commission describes as "Casual Inattentiveness". The May audit was the third in a series of comprehensive assessments that began in 2009. The Commission announced a "Cleaning Blitz" that will see 30 new temporary cleaners added for the latter part of 2010 to address major issues and has other action plans that include more full-time cleaners, and new and more effective ways at addressing station cleanliness.[17][18]

Public art[edit]

Hockey Knights in Canada at College Station

Over time, Toronto's transit system has become a hidden art gallery, home to more than two dozen pieces scattered along the subway and streetcar routes.

One of the most memorable art pieces in the subway system is Charles Pachter’s "Hockey Knights in Canada", added to College Station in 1985. The two-part installation, just steps from Maple Leaf Gardens, depicts the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs squaring off from opposite sides of the subway tracks, with the Canadiens on the northbound side and the Leafs on the southbound side. The name of the artwork is a pun derived from Hockey Night in Canada.

The Spadina Line features many art installations. Spadina Station on that line features a tilework mural with approximately 10,000 circular tiles and another mural called Barren Ground Caribou by Joyce Wieland. St. Clair West Station features an enamel mural called Tempo by Gordon Rayner. Unusually, Eglinton West Station features an artwork called Summertime Streetcar by Gerald Zeldin, which consists of two enamel murals depicting PCC streetcars facing each other, although these streetcars had never served this station. Dupont Station features A Spadina Summer Under All Seasons, an installation from the 1970s. Using thousands of pieces of glass, artist James Sutherland built colourful mosaics of flowers directly into the station’s tiling. Two giant flowers face each other across the tracks, reaching upward into a mezzanine level lined with smaller flower mosaics.

A Spadina Summer Under All Seasons at Dupont Station

The artwork at Dupont Station was the most extensive in the Toronto transit system until Line 4 Sheppard opened in 2002. The Sheppard–Yonge Station features Immersion Land, a mosaic composed of 1.5 million one-inch tiles, created by Toronto artist Stacey Spiegel. The installation was developed from a digitized and pixelated blend of 150 photographs depicting lush landscapes, country homes, and rural scenes from Yonge Street as it stretches towards North Bay.

Each Sheppard line station has an artistic feature. The most notable of these is Leslie, a station that approaches the expanse of Dupont and Sheppard-Yonge’s installations. Five years before the station opened, artist Micah Lexier began collecting writing samples from the public of the words “Sheppard” and “Leslie”. Over 3,000 of these samples were used in the installation, and the words were silk-screened onto tiles. In total, 17,000 of these tiles are on the walls of the station, each featuring the handwritten contribution of a community member. The installation was dubbed Ampersand in recognition of the “&” symbol – the only consistent element of each tile.

Yorkdale Station used to have a sculpture called "Arc-en-Ciel" (French for "Rainbow"), in which neon lights in various colours flashed in the appropriate direction when a train passed by. However, it stopped working soon after it was installed. Because the TTC had not budgeted for its maintenance, and at the artist's request, it has since been removed.

A "clock" near escalators at mezzanine level at Bayview Station

At Bayview Station, shadows of common objects such as apples and ladders silk screened to the linoleum and walls framed by patches of coloured tile gives it a kind of surreal look called Trompe-l'œil. Panya Clark Espinal is the artist who designed the art in the Bayview Station.[19][20]

At Bessarion, images of the backs of people's heads have been silk-screened onto wall tiles that highlight the platform walls.

At Don Mills, metallic inlays of shells in the floor of the platform make it appear underwater, while in the concourse, tile patterns representing geological strata make it appear underground (which it is).

USA Today said of Toronto's Sheppard Subway: "Despite the remarkable engineering feats of this metro, known as Sheppard Subway, [it is] the art covering walls, ceilings, and platforms of all five stations that stands out. Each station is 'a total art experience where artists have created imaginative environments, uniquely expressing themes of community, location, and heritage' through panoramic landscapes and ceramic wall murals."[21]

Columns in Museum Station

Osgoode and St. Patrick subway stations will be renovated to provide transit riders with a visual experience linking them to the major cultural institutions in the area, such as the Royal Ontario Museum, Gardiner Museum, Textile Museum of Canada, Art Gallery of Ontario, OCAD University and the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. Renovation began at Museum Station in June 2007 and completed on April 8, 2008.

At that station, there are columns that resemble Egyptian god Osiris, First Nations house posts, Doric columns found in the Parthenon, China's Forbidden City columns, and Toltec warriors, to mimic the nearby institution the station serves.

Inactive stations[edit]

Map of the interlined subway system in 1966

The TTC has one closed subway station platform: the lower level of Bay Station. This subway station was briefly used for interlining between two of Toronto's lines in 1966, producing an effect similar to the "branching" lines of metro systems in some other cities. Interlining worked in that one would not have to switch trains to go from one line to another.

The experiment, which lasted six months, proved to be impractical. A problem could hold up much of the system. The interlining trial worked by having one group of trains travelling south from Eglinton. After leaving Museum, they would turn east into Lower Bay, continuing east to Woodbine. They then travelled west to Keele via upper Bay and lower St. George, afterwards returning east to upper St. George, where they would switch south onto the University line, and return to Eglinton, producing a wye pattern. The other group of trains would also start at Eglinton, but at the Bloor junction, they would turn west to Keele via upper St. George, reversing east to Woodbine via lower St. George and upper Bay, and returning to the University line via lower Bay.

At Bay, the problem was caused because trains going to Woodbine from Eglinton would arrive in Lower Bay, and trains from Keele would arrive in Upper Bay. Since trains alternated, passengers entering the station did not know where to find their train. The same problem was encountered at St. George, where trains to Keele from Eglinton would arrive in Upper St. George, and trains from Woodbine arrived in Lower St. George (opposite to that of Bay). The problem was not encountered for trains headed for Eglinton, as they would always arrive at Lower Bay and Upper St. George (due to track layout), and Museum did not have the same problems, because it had a single level. Track layout was the cause for the issues at St. George and Bay because both levels had sets of tracks headed for their corresponding terminal. (At St. George, westbound tracks on both levels went to Keele. Bay & Woodbine had the same issue, but with east-bound tracks.) It was impossible to make both trains headed for the same terminal arrive on the same level (as in the New York City Subway's Queensboro Plaza Station), because at the University line junction on both sides (west and east), both tracks on the same level went in the same direction.

Lower Bay seen during the Doors Open event. The TTC rarely grants public access to the area.

Chaos ensued as passengers at St. George did not know which platform their next train might end up on, causing people to wait on the stairs. Switching trains also did not significantly lengthen a commute, since at the point of departure one would have to wait anyhow for an interlined train heading to the desired destination.

Today, Lower Bay is best known for its use in movie shoots and special events. The station has been modified several times to make it look like a "common" American subway station, and the TTC owns a pre-built set to disguise it as a New York City Subway station.[22] While open, the setup of staircases between Upper and Lower Bay resembled that of St. George. The stairs to Lower Bay have been walled up, but are still fairly obvious in that they were walled up using green tiles, in contrast to the white tiles of the rest of the station.

The tracks through Lower Bay still exist and are used from time to time to move equipment between lines. The junctions are just north of Museum Station northbound and just west of Bloor–Yonge Station. A second double-track connection links junctions just east of Spadina (Bloor–Danforth line) and just north (physically west) of St. George on the Yonge–University Line.

A lesser known station is Lower Queen. In the plan that produced the original section of the Yonge subway, the TTC planned to build a second subway under Queen Street that would have been used not by dedicated rapid-transit trains but instead by regular streetcars in order to speed up their east-west passage through the downtown section. When the federal government refused to provide funding for the subway project, the TTC deferred the Queen subway, and by the time it came to revisit the east-west question, changing traffic patterns made the route under Bloor Street more sensible. The original Yonge subway's Queen Station, however, had been built with a roughed-in streetcar station on a lower level, ready for the second line if it should ever be built. Many people unknowingly pass through this second station every day, as the tunnel that goes under the station so that riders can move between northbound and southbound platforms is a portion of this underground station, with most of the excess infrastructure walled off. The access to the lower space is from the passageway between the platforms.

The TTC also planned a similar platform under Osgoode Station for the Queen line, but all that was done was the relocation of utility lines to allow for future construction.

In the 1990s, the TTC began digging a platform under the existing Eglinton West Station for the Eglinton subway project, but it was filled in again when the Government of Ontario under the then-new premier Mike Harris cancelled the line in 1995. However, following an announcement that the Eglinton Crosstown line would be constructed as part of the Transit City proposal, the TTC dug the same hole again in mid-2013.[23]

Wireless Internet access[edit]

On December 13, 2013, wireless Internet access was launched at Bloor–Yonge and St. George stations. The ad-supported Wi-Fi service (called "TConnect") is provided by BAI Canada, who have agreed to pay $25 million to the TTC over a 20-year period for the exclusive rights to provide the service. TTC/BAI Canada plan to offer TCONNECT at all underground stations.[24] Commuters have to view a video advertisement to gain access to the Internet.[25] It is expected that all of the 69 subway and RT stations will have service by 2017.[26]

Rolling stock[edit]

Davisville Yard is home of some of the TTC's fleet of subway cars.
The Toronto Rocket, TTC's newest subway train

The TTC has a fleet of 678 subway cars, each line operates using its own dedicated rolling stock (one type of car per line):

The final H4 subway cars were retired on January 27, 2012.[28] The last H5 subway service run took place on June 14, 2013 and the H6's were retired the following year, with the final run on June 20, 2014.

All Toronto subway cars were manufactured by Bombardier Transportation or one of its predecessors (Montreal Locomotive Works, Hawker Siddeley, and UTDC), except the TTC's original G-series cars, which were manufactured by the Gloucester Railway Carriage and Wagon Company. All cars starting with the Hawker Siddeley H-series in 1965 have been built in Bombardier's Thunder Bay, Ontario plant.

The Line 3, Scarborough RT fleet consists of 28 ICTS Mark I vehicles built by UTDC in Millhaven, Ontario similar in design to those found on the Vancouver SkyTrain. The Mark I models are the original vehicles of the SRT and have been in service for over 25 years.


A rare platform accessible signal tree as seen at Islington Station

Light-based signals provide instructions to train drivers. Using block signals and interlocking signals, the system has been relatively unchanged since it was first installed on the Yonge Line in the 1950s.

Since 2008, the TTC has been planning to upgrade its signal system within the next 15 years as it prepares to switch to automatic train operation.[29]

The Scarborough RT uses ATC to control vehicle movement and does not have traditional wayside signals. In the event that the computer that controls the trains fails to operate normally, in-cab signalling can be used as a backup. This allows for the operator to take control of the vehicle and operate it based on information displayed from within the cab of the vehicle. In the event of a total computer failure, the vehicles can be operated the absolute block technique (verification by a controller or supervisory personnel that train movement is safe to the next point and at a speed where the train will be able to stop safely using line of sight observation). This option is usually exercised only to get the train to the next station to offload passengers when it is expected that the delay could be lengthy. The SRT also differs from the subway in that it uses axle block counters to confirm train location instead of a track circuit.



Track gauge
By transport mode
Tram · Rapid transit
Miniature · Scale model
By size (list)
Graphic list of track gauges

  Fifteen inch 381 mm (15 in)

  Two foot,
600 mm
597 mm
600 mm
603 mm
610 mm
(1 ft 11 12 in)
(1 ft 11 58 in)
(1 ft 11 34 in)
(2 ft)
  750 mm,
Two foot six inch,
800 mm
750 mm
760 mm
762 mm
800 mm
(2 ft 5 12 in)
(2 ft 5 1516 in)
(2 ft 6 in)
(2 ft 7 12 in)
  Swedish three foot,
900 mm,
Three foot
891 mm
900 mm
914 mm
(2 ft11 332 in)
(2 ft 11 716)
(3 ft)
  Metre 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in)
  Three foot six inch,
Cape, CAP, Kyōki
1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)
  Four foot six inch 1,372 mm (4 ft 6 in)

  Standard 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)

Five foot
1,520 mm
1,524 mm
(4 ft 11 2732 in)
(5 ft)
  Irish 1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in)
  Iberian 1,668 mm (5 ft 5 2132 in)
  Indian 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in)
  Six foot 1,829 mm (6 ft)
  Brunel 2,140 mm (7 ft 14 in)
Change of gauge
Break-of-gauge · Dual gauge ·
Conversion (list· Bogie exchange · Variable gauge
By location
North America · South America · Europe
World map, rail gauge by region
Front view of the Toronto Rocket

The tracks of Toronto's streetcars and subways (apart from the Scarborough RT) are built to the unique gauge of 4 ft 10 78 in (1,495 mm), 2 38 in (60 mm) wider than the usual standard of 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in). One popular anachronistic belief[by whom?] is that the City of Toronto feared that the Toronto Railway Company, which held the franchise to run streetcars before the TTC was created, would allow Canadian Pacific Railway to operate steam locomotives through city streets. (In fact, this gauge was established in 1861, ten years before Canada's adoption of standard gauge and long before the TRC, the TTC, or the CPR existed.[citation needed]) The more probable[weasel words] reason is that early tracks were used to pull wagons smoothly in the days before paved roads, and that they fit a different gauge. Due to the cost of converting all the tracks and vehicles (and the lack of any real benefit in doing so), the unique gauge has remained to this day.

The practical consequence of the choice of gauge was that standard gauge equipment would need separate tracks to be laid for it to be used on city streets, or for the TTC-gauge track to be converted to standard gauge.

When designs were made for a subway system in the 1940s, some involved using streetcars in tunnels or having some subway routes run partially in tunnels and partially on city streets, so using same gauge would be advantageous. A number of ex-streetcar vehicles were used as work trains for the subway, taking advantage of the common gauge.[30] The use of standard-gauge tracks on the Scarborough RT makes it impossible for there to be any track connection between it and the other lines, and so when its ICTS vehicles need anything more than basic service (which can be carried out in the RT's own McCowan Yard), they are carried by truck to the Greenwood Subway Yard.

Track features[edit]

Further information: Toronto rapid transit trackage


The subway and RT have four active yards that provide storage, maintenance and cleaning for the rolling stock.

Facilities Year opened Services
Davisville Subway Yard 1954 services the Yonge-University and Sheppard lines
Greenwood Subway Yard 1966 services the Bloor-Danforth line
Wilson Subway Yard 1977 services the Yonge-University line
McCowan RT Yard 1985 services the Scarborough RT line
Vincent Subway Yard 1966 inactive (closed in 1978)


Mind the gap sign in the Toronto subway

Emergency responders[edit]

While generally a safe system, occasionally emergencies occur. The following organizations provide emergency response:

  • Toronto Police Service and Toronto Police Transit Patrol Unit
    • respond to more serious crime and life safety related calls
  • Toronto Paramedic Services
    • Respond to all medical emergencies
    • A trial program began in 2008 with Toronto EMS and has since been expanded and made permanent with EMS personnel on at several stations during the rush hour (Spadina and Yonge & Bloor - morning rush (7am - 10am)) and (Union and Eglinton - evening rush (2pm - 6pm))[31]
  • Toronto Fire Services
    • respond in tiered response to medical related calls
    • respond to fire and smoke related emergencies

Emergency devices for passenger use[edit]

There are also several safety systems for use by passengers in emergencies:

  • Emergency Alarms (formerly Passenger Assistance Alarms): Located throughout all subway and RT trains — When the yellow strip is pressed, an audible alarm is activated within the car, a notification is sent to the train crew and the Transit Control Centre, which in turn dispatches a tiered response. An orange light is activated on the outside of the car with the alarm for emergency personnel to see where the problem is.[32]
  • Emergency power cut devices: Marked by a blue light, located at both ends of each subway and RT platform — For use to cut DC traction power in the event a person falls or is observed at track level or any emergency where train movement into the station would be dangerous. These devices cut power in both directions for approximately one station each way. [33]
  • Emergency stopping mechanisms (PGEV — Passenger/Guard Emergency Valve): Located at each end of each subway/RT car (with exception of the Toronto Rocket trains) — Will activate the emergency brakes of the vehicle stopping it in its current location (for use in extreme emergencies I.e. persons trapped in doors as train departs station, doors opening in the tunnel, derailments etc.)[33]
  • Passenger intercoms: Located on subway platforms and near/in elevators in stations - For use to inform station collector of security/life safety issues[32]
  • Automated external defibrillators (AEDs): Located in several subway stations near the collector booth(s) - for use in the event someone suffers cardiac arrest
  • Fire extinguishers: Located on subway/RT platforms - not specifically for use by customers but available if necessary
  • Public telephones: Located in various locations in all stations, and at the Designated Waiting Area's on each subway platform. Emergency calls can be made to 911 toll free.[32] Phones located at the DWA's also include a "Crisis Link" button that connect callers - free of charge - to a 24-hour crisis line in the event that they are contemplating self-harm.


Subway operators begin their training at Hillcrest with a virtual reality mockup of an H6 car. The simulator consists of the operator cab with full functions, a door and partial interior of a subway car. The simulator is housed in a simulated subway tunnel. Construction of a new subway training centre is underway at the Wilson Complex, as part of the Toronto Rocket subway car programme.[34]

Future expansion[edit]

A representation of the TTC subway/LRT network as it will likely appear in 2023. Line 1 Yonge–University extends northwestward into Vaughan, and Line 2 Bloor–Danforth extends further northeastward into Scarborough (replacing the Scarborough RT). Also, the 25-station Eglinton Crosstown line LRT will be operational, and the 19-stop Finch West LRT will extend westward from the Finch West subway station. This map only includes projects that have been approved, funded, or are under construction.

Approved projects[edit]

Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension[edit]

The extension of the University branch of Line 1 Yonge–University north to the City of Vaughan in the Regional Municipality of York, was announced by the Government of Ontario in its 2006 budget. It is funded jointly by the governments of Canada, Ontario, Toronto, and the Regional Municipality of York.[2][35]

Construction work began in 2010 and was scheduled to open in 2015,[35] but the opening was revised to fall 2016[2] and then to December 2017.[36] The extension will be approximately 8.6 kilometres (5.3 mi) long when completed, with an estimated cost of C$2.6 billion.[2] The six proposed stations are provisionally named Downsview Park, Finch West, York University, Pioneer Village, Highway 407, and Vaughan Metropolitan Centre.

Eglinton Crosstown LRT[edit]

Main article: Eglinton Crosstown

The fifth line in the TTC's rail transit network will be a partially underground LRT line running along Eglinton Avenue. It is planned to have 25 stations; 15 of these will be underground, the remaining ten will be at-grade stops accessed in the road's median. It is under construction. Provincial agency Metrolinx is taking the project lead on design and implementation. Due to delays, the estimated opening is 2023.

Scarborough Subway Extension[edit]

Main article: Line 2 Bloor-Danforth

On October 8, 2013, Toronto City Council finished a debate on whether to replace Line 3 Scarborough (Scarborough RT) with an LRT or a subway extension. In 2014, the city council voted to extend Line 2 Bloor-Danforth to replace the Scarborough RT in 2023 or later.[37][3] The extension would run northeast from Kennedy station to Sheppard Avenue via McCowan Road. It would have three new stations located at Lawrence Avenue and McCowan Road, at Scarborough Town Centre and then at Sheppard Avenue East and McCowan Road where it would connect to Line 6 Sheppard East LRT. The subway extension is estimated to cost between $2.5 billion and $3 billion.[38]

Finch West LRT[edit]

Main article: Finch West LRT

In April 2015, the Ontario government announced that the Finch West LRT will be constructed between 2016 and 2021.[39] When complete, it will have 18 surface stations and one underground connection to Line 1 Yonge–University on 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) of track, and will run west from the future Finch West subway station to Humber College in north Etobicoke.

Proposed projects[edit]

Sheppard East LRT[edit]

Main article: Sheppard East LRT

In April 2015, the Ontario government announced that construction on the Sheppard East LRT will start after completion of the Finch West LRT in 2021,[39] a deferral from a previously announced in-service date of 2018.[40] When built, the Sheppard East LRT would be 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) long with 25 surface stations and one underground connection at Don Mills Station to Line 4 Sheppard. It would run east from Don Mills subway station to Morningside Avenue in Scarborough.

Downtown Relief Line[edit]

An east-west line through downtown along Queen Street, the Queen line, has been discussed since 1911. In 1985 as part of the TTC's Network 2011 plan,[41] it was proposed to construct a Downtown Relief Line from Pape Station to a station at the intersection of Spadina Avenue and Front Street passing under Pape Avenue, Eastern Avenue, and through Union Station.[42] Later extensions were proposed for the Bloor–Danforth subway in the west, and to the intersection of Eglinton Avenue East and Don Mills Road in the east.[42] Since 2008, Metrolinx chair Rob MacIsaac has spoken of starting construction of the Downtown Relief Line or "Queen Line" in 2020.[43] Toronto council has also expressed support for this plan.[44]

Yonge subway extension[edit]

The MoveOntario 2020 plan proposes to extend the Yonge Street branch of the Yonge-University line north to Richmond Hill. York Region Transit had proposed to build a busway in the middle of Yonge Street from Finch Station, the existing terminus of the subway, north to their Richmond Hill Centre transit terminal in Richmond Hill, a major hub for VIVA express bus service. However, the region shifted its focus onto a subway extension instead of an intermediate busway as of 2008, and was lobbying for its construction as soon as 2009. This did not happen. Demand on the existing subway is at the point, in which there is not enough spare capacity for this extension south of Lawrence Avenue, however a new signal system promoted by the TTC will allow headways to be reduced from 150 seconds to as little as 90, provided costly modifications are carried out at Bloor-Yonge Station, the busiest hub in the system. The current plan calls for station stops at Drewry/Cummer, Steeles Avenue, Clark Avenue, Royal Orchard Boulevard, Langstaff Road and Highway 7 (Richmond Hill Centre). An underground bus terminal will be built at Steeles Avenue primarily for the TTC, and the existing terminal at Richmond Hill Centre will be maintained. Langstaff Station will mainly serve a massive parking lot to be built in the adjacent hydro corridor, similar to Finch, and the remaining stations will have on-street connections to buses.

Cancelled projects[edit]

The Eglinton West line, a subway line under Eglinton Avenue West, was planned under the Network 2011 plan and began construction in 1995. However, it was cancelled under new Ontario premier Mike Harris due to changes in transit expansion priorities. According to MoveOntario 2020, an extension plan for Line 3 Scarborough outlined a northeast extension from McCowan to the Malvern neighbourhood.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who took office in December 2010, announced his decision to stop all developments on a light rail transit outlined in the Transit City plan and focus on underground rapid transit expansion. In March 2011, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and the mayor jointly announced the start of two other expansion plans: constructing an Eglinton Crosstown LRT line entirely underground along Eglinton Avenue, which would connect to a renovated Scarborough RT line; and the extension of Line 4 Sheppard east from Don Mills Station to Scarborough Centre Station, and west from Sheppard–Yonge Station to Downsview Station. He also suggested that rather than the proposed Finch West LRT, a subway line should be built under Finch Avenue. Toronto City Council overturned these, and the LRT lines along Sheppard Avenue, Eglinton Avenue, and Finch Avenue, as envisioned in the Transit City plan, would be constructed instead.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d "2013 TTC Operating Statistics". Toronto Transit Commission. Retrieved 2015-01-14. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "2011 Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension Overview". Toronto Transit Commission. Retrieved 2013-02-10. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Toronto Transit Commission Report No. ?? - Scarborough_Subway_Extension_Update" (PDF). Toronto Transit Commission. June 24, 2014. p. 1. Retrieved 2014-10-30. 
  4. ^ a b c "Public Transportation Ridership Report - Fourth Quarter & End-of-Year 2014, 2014" (PDF). American Public Transportation Association. March 3, 2015. p. 34. Retrieved 2015-04-13. 
  5. ^ a b c "Service Summary January 6 to March 30, 2013" (PDF). Toronto Transit Commission. December 13, 2012. Retrieved 2013-02-10. 
  6. ^ Fox, C. (2015-04-27). "Construction on Finch West LRT to begin in 2016 but Sheppard East LRT on hold". CP24. Retrieved 2015-04-27. 
  7. ^ a b c d James Bow, "A History of the Original Yonge Subway", December 8, 2009
  8. ^ James Bow, "Early Subway Proposals", November 10, 2006
  9. ^ "The Toronto Subway Referendum" (editorial), Toronto Daily Star, December 1, 1945, p. 6
  10. ^ "Rapid Transit for Toronto" (TTC advertisement), Toronto Daily Star, December 12, 1945, p. 26
  11. ^ "Traffic authorities from all over world see subway opened", Toronto Daily Star, March 30, 1954, p. 3.
  12. ^ a b Brown-Bowers, Amy; Teotonio, Isabel (February 7, 2006). "Baby born on subway platform". Toronto Star. pp. A1. Retrieved 2007-06-21. 
  13. ^ Connor, Kevin (February 7, 2006). "Baby, what a ride! Child born on subway platform". Toronto Sun. Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2007-07-21. 
  14. ^ "Ontario Transit Services Expected To Announce All Transit Stops". Ontario Human Rights Commission. October 15, 2007. Retrieved 2008-03-01. 
  15. ^ Ku, Christina (June 3, 2007). "Our lady of the stations: Meet the calm-voiced woman behind the TTC's automated subway announcements". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2007-07-18. 
  16. ^ "Rocket Talk: What Are Those Subway Symbols For? | news". Torontoist. August 26, 2010. Retrieved 2012-11-07. 
  17. ^ "No TTC stations meet cleanliness standard". CBC. July 12, 2010. Retrieved 2014-07-24. 
  18. ^ "Subway Station Appearance Improvement Update" (PDF). Toronto Transit Commission. July 14, 2010. Retrieved 2012-03-31. 
  19. ^ McIlveen, Eli (December 17, 2006). "Art on the TTC". Transit Toronto. Retrieved 2007-07-21. 
  20. ^ Bow, James (April 18, 2007). "Subway Art by Serafin". Transit Toronto. Retrieved 2007-07-21. 
  21. ^ Sell, Shawn (September 2, 2004). "10 great places to stop for subway art". USA Today. 
  22. ^ Bow, James (July 19, 2014) [first published September 1, 2004]. "Lower Bay's New York Makeover". Transit Toronto. Retrieved 2014-04-07. 
  23. ^ "Toronto Transit Commission Eglinton Crosstown LRT". CPTDB Wiki. Retrieved September 17, 2015. 
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^ "Wi-fi Now Available At". TCONNECT. Retrieved January 2015. Each of the 65 underground stations will have wireless and Wi-Fi service by 2017. 
  27. ^ Kalinowski, Tess (March 4, 2011). "So what happened to those TTC improvements?". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2012-03-31. 
  28. ^ Tapper, Josh (January 27, 2012). "Long-running subway car takes final journey". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2012-03-31. 
  29. ^ "Yonge Subway Extension – Recommended Concept/Project Issues" (PDF). Toronto Transit Commission. December 17, 2008. Retrieved 2012-03-31. 
  30. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions About Toronto's Streetcars". Transit Toronto. Retrieved 2014-05-04. 
  31. ^ "TTC and Toronto EMS place more paramedics in Toronto's subway system". Toronto Transit Commission. March 20, 2009. Retrieved 2012-03-31. 
  32. ^ a b c "Security features". Toronto Transit Commission. 
  33. ^ a b "What to do in an emergency". Toronto Transit Commission. 
  34. ^ "Procurement Authorization - Wilson Carhouse Expansion - Toronto Rocket - Contract C1-34" (PDF). Toronto Transit Commission. July 10, 2008. Retrieved 2012-03-31. 
  35. ^ a b Kalinoswski, Tess (June 16, 2007). "A $17,5B transit promise". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2007-06-17. 
  36. ^ "Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension – Schedule and Budget Change" (PDF). Toronto Transit Commission. 2015-03-26. Retrieved 2015-03-23. 
  37. ^ "A Scarborough Subway: Do the Numbers Add Up?". The Globe and Mail. July 4, 2014. p. 1. Retrieved 2014-11-05. 
  38. ^ "Scarborough subway confirmed by Toronto council". Toronto Star. October 8, 2013. 
  39. ^ a b Fox, C. (2015-04-27). "Construction on Finch West LRT to begin in 2016 but Sheppard East LRT on hold". CP24. Retrieved 2015-04-27. 
  40. ^ Toronto Transit Commission (2012-05-30). "LRT Projects in Toronto - Project Delivery" (PDF). p. 7. Retrieved 2015-05-12. Sheppard East LRT: Proceed with Infrastructure Ontario delivery; Anticipate award of contract by late 2014; Projected in-service date 2018. 
  41. ^ "Network 2011 – To think of what could have been". Transit Toronto. November 10, 2006. Retrieved 2008-09-16. 
  42. ^ a b English, Jonathan (November 10, 2006). "The Downtown Relief Line Proposal". Transit Toronto. Retrieved 2008-09-16. 
  43. ^ Hertz, Barry (September 4, 2008). "New subway line still a way's off, Metrolinx head says". National Post. Retrieved 2008-09-16. 
  44. ^ Vincent, Donovan (January 29, 2009). "City favours relief line over subway". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2009-01-29. 


External links[edit]