Toronto subway

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For the font, see Toronto Subway (typeface).
Toronto subway
Locale Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Transit type Rapid transit
Number of lines 4 (plus 1 under construction)
Number of stations 69[1] (plus 28 under construction)
Daily ridership 1,006,300 (avg. weekday,
Q3 2015)[2]
Annual ridership 324,738,500 (2014)[3]
Website TTC
Began operation March 30, 1954
Operator(s) Toronto Transit Commission (TTC)
Number of vehicles 706 heavy rail and light metro cars, and work cars
Train length 4 and 6 car train sets
Headway 2 min 21 s–5 min 30 s (Line 1, 2 and 4), 6 min 45 s (Line 3)[4]
System length 68.3 km (42.4 mi)[1]
27.6 km (17.1 mi) (under construction)[5]
7.6 km (4.7 mi) (approved)[6]
Track gauge 4 ft 10 78 in (1,495 mm) (Line 1, 2 and 4), 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge (Line 3 and 5)
Electrification 600 V DC Third rail (Line 1, 2 and 4), linear induction (Line 3), Overhead 750 V DC (Line 5)

The Toronto subway is a rapid transit system in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, operated by the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). It is a mixed system consisting of three heavy rail lines operating predominantly underground and one light metro line, collectively encompassing 69 stations and 68.3 kilometres (42.4 mi) of track.[1] Since 1954, when the TTC opened Canada's first underground rail line then known as the Yonge subway, under Yonge Street between Union Station and Eglinton Avenue with 12 stations, the system expanded to become Canada's largest in terms of stations and second-busiest after the Montreal Metro. It accommodated an average of 1,066,100 passenger trips each weekday during the fourth quarter of 2015.[7]

The first line, now known as Yonge-University (Line 1), is the longest and busiest in the system. The second line, Bloor-Danforth (Line 2), opened in 1966, runs parallel to Bloor Street and Danforth Avenue. The Scarborough RT (Line 3), an above-ground medium-capacity rail line serving the city's eponymous suburban district, opened in 1985. The most recently built subway line, Sheppard (Line 4), opened in 2002. An 8.6-kilometre (5.3 mi), six-station extension of Line 1 north to Vaughan is under construction and scheduled to open for December 2017.[5] A fifth line, Eglinton Crosstown, a 25-station, 19-kilometre (12 mi) light rail line, is under construction and scheduled to open in 2021.[8]

System map[edit]

Subway 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
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.[9] 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.[10]

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.[11][12] The vote was overwhelmingly in favour, and Toronto City Council approved construction four months later.[9]

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.[9] After 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.[9]

Because 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 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).[13] The route was an instant success. The 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 of 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 had been 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 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.


A subway entrance sign in Downtown Toronto, iconic until 2002 when the logo was abandoned for the original TTC logo

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, 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.[14] This incident occurred at Wellesley Station and caused delays on the subway system.[14][15]

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 audible and visible automatic stop announcements.[16][17]

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, as a result of 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, "Please stand clear of the doors".

Platform markers[18]

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, 40 trains on the Bloor-Danforth line, 6 trains on the Scarborough RT line, and 4 trains on the Sheppard 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[4] Rush hour frequency[4]
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 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 subway 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 woukd add 30 new temporary cleaners 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.[19][20]

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. 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 the Sheppard line 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.[21][22]

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 the Sheppard subway line: "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."[23]

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.

Lower Bay[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.[24] 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.

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.[25] Commuters have to view a video advertisement to gain access to the Internet.[26] It is expected that all of the 69 subway stations will have service by 2017.[27]

From early December 2015 to late January 2016, users of TConnect were required to authenticate themselves using a Twitter account, whose Canadian operations sponsored the TCONNECT Wi-Fi network.[28] Currently, users of the network only need to sign-in to allow automatic Wi-Fi connection for 30 days.

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

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 Toronto Transit Commission owns a fleet of 678 subway cars. The two models currently in use on the system are the new Toronto Rocket trains on Line 1 Yonge–University and Line 4 Sheppard, while the T1 trains, which operate on Line 2 Bloor–Danforth.[29] Line 3 Scarborough uses 28 S-series trains built by the Urban Transportation Development Corporation (UTDC) in Millhaven, Ontario similar in design to former trains found on the Vancouver SkyTrain. The Mark I models are the original vehicles of the SRT and have been in service for over 30 years. Because of the trains' age, they have been refurbished for operation until the extension of Line 2 Bloor-Danforth is built.

The final H4 subway cars were retired on January 27, 2012.[30] 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


A rare platform accessible signal tree as seen at Islington Station

Fixed block signalling has been used throughout the system since the inception of TTC subway in 1954 except for the Scarborough RT, which uses automatic train control (ATC), meaning it could be operated autonomously.[31][32] Along with automatic signalling, used to prevent rear-end train collision, interlocking signals are used to prevent collisions from conflicting movements on rail crossings.

In 2007, Metrolinx announced that it would give the TTC $424 million to upgrade the signalling system of the Yonge-University line to ATC. In 2008, the TTC announced that the project would be completed in 2012, but it later revised this to 2020.[31]


The subway system (lines 1, 2 and 4) are built to the unique gauge of 4 ft 10 78 in (1,495 mm) which is the same gauge used on the Toronto streetcar system. This gauge is 2 38 in (60 mm) wider than the usual 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) 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, but the idea was ultimately dropped in favour of dedicated rapid-transit trains. A number of ex-streetcar vehicles were used as work trains for the subway, taking advantage of the common gauge.[33]

The Scarborough RT (line 3) uses standard-gauge tracks making it impossible for any track connection between it and subway line 2. Thus, 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.

Line 5 Eglinton (Eglinton Crosstown line), Finch West and Sheppard East LRT lines will be constructed to 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge. The projects are receiving a large part of their funding from the Ontario provincial transit authority Metrolinx and, to ensure a better price for purchasing vehicles, it wants to have a degree of commonality with other similar projects within Ontario.[34]


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]

These 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 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))[35]
  • 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.[36]
  • 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.[37]
  • 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.)[37]
  • Passenger intercoms: Located on subway platforms and near/in elevators in stations - For use to inform station collector of security/life safety issues[36]
  • 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.[36] 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 a Toronto Rocket 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.[38]

Previously, subway operators trained using a mockup of an H6 car.

Future expansion[edit]

A representation of the Toronto rapid transit network, including some of the approved and proposed projects, as it will likely appear in 2023.

Under construction[edit]

The extension of the west branch of Line 1 Yonge–University north to Vaughan, Ontario in the Regional Municipality of York, was announced by the Government of Ontario in its 2006 budget. It is funded jointly by the federal government, Metrolinx, the City of Toronto, and the Regional Municipality of York.[5][39] Construction work began in 2010 and was scheduled to open in 2015,[39] but the opening was revised to fall 2016[5] and then to December 2017.[40] The extension is approximately 8.6 kilometres (5.3 mi) long and has a revised cost of almost C$3.2 billion.[41] The six stations under construction are Downsview Park, Finch West, York University, Pioneer Village, Highway 407, and Vaughan Metropolitan Centre.

A fifth route, Line 5 Eglinton is under construction along Eglinton Avenue as a light rail line that will operate both underground and at-grade between Kennedy and the future Mount Dennis station. It is planned to have 25 stations; 15 of these will be underground while the remaining ten will be at-grade stops accessed at the road's median. It is under construction with a planned opening set in 2021.


The City of Toronto considers two other light rail lines to be constructed in the north of the city. In April 2015, the Ontario government announced that the Finch West LRT will be constructed between 2016 and 2021, while the Sheppard East LRT will start after the construction of the former.[42] When complete, the Finch West line 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. Sheppard East line 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.[43]

On October 8, 2013, Toronto City Council conducted a debate on whether to replace Line 3 Scarborough with a light rail line or a subway extension. In 2014, the city council voted to extend Line 2 Bloor-Danforth to Scarborough City Centre, which will eventually lead to the closure of Line 3. Construction is being planned by Metrolinx.[6][44]

A subway line along Queen Street has been discussed since 1911. In 1985, as part of the TTC's Network 2011 plan,[45] it was proposed to construct a 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.[46] Since 2008, Metrolinx chair Rob MacIsaac expressed the intent of constructing the Relief Line in 2020 to prevent overcrowding along Line 1.[47] Toronto City Council also expressed support for this plan.[48] Alignment options and possible stations are being studied.

The MoveOntario 2020 plan proposes to extend Line 1 along Yonge Street further 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 few 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.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d "2013 TTC Operating Statistics". Toronto Transit Commission. Retrieved 2015-01-14. 
  2. ^ "Public Transportation Ridership Report - Third Quarter, 2014" (PDF). American Public Transportation Association. November 30, 2015. p. 36. Retrieved 2016-02-07. 
  3. ^ "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. 
  4. ^ a b c "Service Summary January 6 to March 30, 2013" (PDF). Toronto Transit Commission. December 13, 2012. Retrieved 2013-02-10. 
  5. ^ a b c d "2011 Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension Overview". Toronto Transit Commission. Retrieved 2013-02-10. 
  6. ^ a b "Toronto Transit Commission Report No. ?? - Scarborough_Subway_Extension_Update" (PDF). Toronto Transit Commission. June 24, 2014. p. 1. Retrieved 2014-10-30. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ Tess Kalinowski (September 24, 2015). "Eglinton Crosstown to open a year later than expected". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2015-09-24. 
  9. ^ a b c d James Bow, "A History of the Original Yonge Subway", December 8, 2009
  10. ^ James Bow, "Early Subway Proposals", November 10, 2006
  11. ^ "The Toronto Subway Referendum" (editorial), Toronto Daily Star, December 1, 1945, p. 6
  12. ^ "Rapid Transit for Toronto" (TTC advertisement), Toronto Daily Star, December 12, 1945, p. 26
  13. ^ "Traffic authorities from all over world see subway opened", Toronto Daily Star, March 30, 1954, p. 3.
  14. ^ a b Brown-Bowers, Amy; Teotonio, Isabel (February 7, 2006). "Baby born on subway platform". Toronto Star. pp. A1. Retrieved 2007-06-21. 
  15. ^ Connor, Kevin (February 7, 2006). "Baby, what a ride! Child born on subway platform". Toronto Sun. Retrieved 2007-07-21. [dead link]
  16. ^ "Ontario Transit Services Expected To Announce All Transit Stops". Ontario Human Rights Commission. October 15, 2007. Retrieved 2008-03-01. 
  17. ^ 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. 
  18. ^ "Rocket Talk: What Are Those Subway Symbols For? | news". Torontoist. August 26, 2010. Retrieved 2012-11-07. 
  19. ^ "No TTC stations meet cleanliness standard". CBC. July 12, 2010. Retrieved 2014-07-24. 
  20. ^ "Subway Station Appearance Improvement Update" (PDF). Toronto Transit Commission. July 14, 2010. Retrieved 2012-03-31. 
  21. ^ McIlveen, Eli (December 17, 2006). "Art on the TTC". Transit Toronto. Retrieved 2007-07-21. 
  22. ^ Bow, James (April 18, 2007). "Subway Art by Serafin". Transit Toronto. Retrieved 2007-07-21. 
  23. ^ Sell, Shawn (September 2, 2004). "10 great places to stop for subway art". USA Today. 
  24. ^ Bow, James (July 19, 2014) [first published September 1, 2004]. "Lower Bay's New York Makeover". Transit Toronto. Retrieved 2014-04-07. 
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ "Wi-fi Now Available At". TCONNECT. Retrieved January 2015. Each of the 65 underground stations will have wireless and Wi-Fi service by 2017.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  28. ^
  29. ^ Kalinowski, Tess (March 4, 2011). "So what happened to those TTC improvements?". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2012-03-31. 
  30. ^ Tapper, Josh (January 27, 2012). "Long-running subway car takes final journey". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2012-03-31. 
  31. ^ a b Kalinowski, Tess. "TTC signal solution promises subway relief someday — but for now, it's more delays". Toronto Star. Retrieved 29 November 2015. 
  32. ^ Royson, James. "Driverless Toronto needs driverless trains: James". Toronto Star. Retrieved 29 November 2015. 
  33. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions About Toronto's Streetcars". Transit Toronto. Retrieved 2014-05-04. 
  34. ^ "Transit City measures up to international standard". Toronto Star. January 6, 2010. Retrieved 2014-10-04. 
  35. ^ "TTC and Toronto EMS place more paramedics in Toronto's subway system". Toronto Transit Commission. March 20, 2009. Retrieved 2012-03-31. 
  36. ^ a b c "Security features". Toronto Transit Commission. 
  37. ^ a b "What to do in an emergency". Toronto Transit Commission. 
  38. ^ "Procurement Authorization - Wilson Carhouse Expansion - Toronto Rocket - Contract C1-34" (PDF). Toronto Transit Commission. July 10, 2008. Retrieved 2012-03-31. 
  39. ^ a b Kalinoswski, Tess (June 16, 2007). "A $17,5B transit promise". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2007-06-17. 
  40. ^ "Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension – Schedule and Budget Change" (PDF). Toronto Transit Commission. 2015-03-26. Retrieved 2015-03-23. 
  41. ^ "Toronto-York Spadina subway extension $400M over budget". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 15 January 2016. Retrieved 2016-06-04. 
  42. ^ 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. 
  43. ^ 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. 
  44. ^ "A Scarborough Subway: Do the Numbers Add Up?". The Globe and Mail. July 4, 2014. p. 1. Retrieved 2014-11-05. 
  45. ^ "Network 2011 – To think of what could have been". Transit Toronto. November 10, 2006. Retrieved 2008-09-16. 
  46. ^ English, Jonathan (November 10, 2006). "The Downtown Relief Line Proposal". Transit Toronto. Retrieved 2008-09-16. 
  47. ^ Hertz, Barry (September 4, 2008). "New subway line still a way's off, Metrolinx head says". National Post. Retrieved 2008-09-16. 
  48. ^ Vincent, Donovan (January 29, 2009). "City favours relief line over subway". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2009-01-29. 


External links[edit]