TTC showcases preferred route for a subway to York

York University’s dream of a subway moved one stop closer to becoming reality this week. On Tuesday, May 17, members of the York community had an opportunity to attend a Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) Open House at the Keele campus.

Right: Visitors to the TTC Open House had a chance to view the preferred route for the Spadina Subway extension

The well-attended event, held in the Central Square Bear Pit, was designed to show off the preferred route for a subway extension from Downsview station to York and get feedback from the York community on the alignment of the route. Hosted by the TTC, the event was the first of two public open houses. The second, held yesterday at a local high-school, was followed by a workshop.

As part of the second phase of the environmental assessment and public consultations on the Spadina Subway extension, visitors to the open house had a chance to view, in detail, “Route 1” which is the study team’s preferred route for the extension. There were extensive maps showing options for station placement and the alignment of the subway from Keele and Finch through York University and the surrounding community.

Left: The preferred route

For members of the York community who could not make the open houses or the workshop, there is still an opportunity to provide a comments on the preferred route alignment and station placement. The TTC has developed an informative presentation and Web-based comment form which can be found on the TTC Web site. Click on the Spadina Subway Extension icon to view the presentation and the feedback form.

Throughout the environmental assessment, the message came through loud and clear to representatives from the TTC and the City of Toronto that a subway is desperately needed to connect the rapidly expanding York Region with the City of Toronto.  At just 6.4kms in length, the subway extension is estimated to cost $1.4 billion to construct. Demand is high for the extension and officials at the TTC have factored in 3,000 parking spots at the proposed Steeles West station – almost one third of the TTC’s current parking inventory. 

According to Thomas Middlebrook, chief engineer with the TTC’s engineering department, the selection of the Route 1 as the preferred route for the extension has received approval from visitors to the open house. Interest was keen in the exact alignment of the subway and the positioning of the stations. “Station placement is the area that is most important to people,” said Middlebrook. “Some of the alignments now being developed within the preferred route highlight subway tunnels running underneath Keele Street which would have far less impact on private homeowners.”

The process of developing a preferred alignment is a bit like “threading a needle,” said Middlebrook. “There are a myriad of alignments that could go through the area, we are now considering the curves in the line and where the stations will be placed. There will be four stations on the line and they are Sheppard West, Finch West, York University and Steeles West Stations.”

For York University, there were several options for station placement, including a Sentinel station or a station located within the Commons near Vari Hall. “The University strongly prefers a station in the Commons. The TTC did an orgin/destination study and found the common area location was the best selection for the York University subway station,” said Middlebrook.

Right: Four possible alignments for the Spadina Subway extension have been developed for public comment. Pictured right is the south section and below, the north section which runs through York University.

Within the preferred route, the TTC has highlighted four alignments. The alignments show where the tunnels would go. The orange route is the farthest south the expansion could go. The other alignments start at an existing TTC tunnel.

All of the comments collected from the open houses and workshop will be analyzed. Middlebrook hopes to return to the community in late September for phase three of the consultation which would showcase the alignment and allow for the public to comment on the nitty-gritty details such as design and placement of the stations.

“This extension would open up the north of the city and it is desperately needed,” said Middlebrook. “The Steeles West station would be possibly the largest transit hub in Canada. It will house 35 bus bays. Our Downsview station has 12 bus bays. The new Steeles West station would be over three times the size of Downsview, which many consider to be huge. Between GO Transit, York Region Transit, VIVA and the YRC, the Steeles West station would be a vital and enormous transit hub. This is a major terminal with 3,000 parking spots. Currently the TTC’s entire inventory of parking spots is 11,000, that shows just how huge and how necessary this expansion is for the community.”

The expansion would also serve a vital role in off-loading traffic from the Yonge line. “The Yonge line is very congested,” said Middlebrook. “If we can off-load it and get passengers on the Spadina line, it would balance the system and provide better service for commuters.”  Once funding is approved for the Spadina Subway extension, Middlebrook indicated it would take just seven years to complete.

“It is being proven through these studies, that this isn’t just the subway to York University anymore, it is the subway to York Region. The study is showing that it is a gateway to York Region. Thirty-five bus bays will make the Steeles West station probably the largest bus terminal in Canada. That is a complete change from what we thought and I think one of the most significant findings of this study.” said Ted Spence, senior policy advisor and executive director of York University’s Office of Institutional Research & Analysis. “The University is very pleased that the three routes through the Common are under consideration.”

For more information about the Spadina Subway extension, click here