New subway connects York University’s Keele campus with cities of Toronto and Vaughan

Collaboration is essential to making and sustaining meaningful connections. That was the key message on Friday, Dec. 15 during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new York University Station, part of the multi-billion dollar Toronto-York Spadina Subway extension (now part of Line1).

From left: City of Toronto Councillor and TTC Chair Josh Colle, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, Toronto Mayor John Tory and York Regional Chairman and CEO Wayne Emmerson walk along the York University Station subway platform following the inaugural ride from the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre station

The Keele campus is home to two of the six new stations on the extension. The York University and Pioneer Village Subway Stations are part of an 8.6 kilometre expansion of Line 1, which stretches from Sheppard West Station (formerly Downsview Station) northwest underneath York University within the City of Toronto and north to the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre in The Regional Municipality of York. It is the first subway to cross the city of Toronto boundary into York Region and the first extension to be completed in 15 years.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses the crowd gathered for the official opening of the York University Station

Throughout the morning event, federal, provincial, regional and municipal politicians, from Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau to Toronto Mayor John Tory, spoke positively about the powerful collaboration between all levels of government and York University to make the subway a reality. The combined total investment of about $3.2 billion from the Government of Canada, the Government of Ontario, the City of Toronto and York Region in this vital public transportation infrastructure, delivers on meaningful, sustainable and efficient changes that benefit the entire community.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton

“The expression ‘that it takes a village’ to build something so fundamentally important to the GTA community and to York University, specifically, as this subway extension, is apparent by the number of people who advocated for it over so many years to make this happen,” said York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton at the event. “On behalf of York, our sincere appreciation to all our federal, provincial, regional and municipal representatives who collaborated to ensure that this project did not get abandoned. I am particularly pleased that Greg Sorbara gets to witness this opening as Chancellor of York University.”

Central to the success in bringing the subway to York University were efforts by Sorbara, who, in 1985 as a provincial politician, brought the various levels of government to together. With a “roll-up-our-sleeves-and-get-it-done” ethic, Sorbara worked tirelessly for three decades to make a subway to York University a reality and his efforts have the added benefit in that he has constructed a strong foundation for future transit initiatives involving all levels of government.

York University Chancellor Greg Sorbara responds to the accolades and applause from the crowd

This collaboration and the many connections it fostered did not go unnoticed by Canada’s Prime Minister. “This is the first rapid transit line to cross the city of Toronto boundary. This subway extension is an example of the kinds of things we can accomplish when we work together to make a real difference in the lives of Canadians,” said Trudeau, during a media conference in the York University Station. “The Toronto-York Spadina will mean a faster commute, less cars on the road and more money in people’s pockets as they trade their cars for a subway ticket.”

For her part, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne called the opening a great day. “There are a whole lot of people who said ‘yes’ to this project,” said Wynne. She then paid tribute to Sorbara and the late Jim Flaherty, the federal minister of finance from 2006 to 2014, who worked together across party lines to connect the heart of Vaughan with the city of Toronto.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne talks about her first subway ride, which she took at age six with her grandmother. Wynne recalled that she wore white gloves because the trip was so important.

“Students at York University can take the subway to school for the first time, instead of riding one of 2,000 buses that arrive on the Keele campus,” said Wynne. “Transit is about connections that make our lives better.”

Wynne announced that the cost of a fare for transit users who connect to the subway from GO Transit or the UP Express to $1.50 per trip, which she said would save an average transit rider some $720 per year.

“I cannot get enough of these occasions where we come together as partners to build transit,” said Toronto Mayor John Tory, “the reason I am so happy is that you can see what can be done when we work together.”

The opening of the subway is history in the making, said Lenton, noting that it creates new opportunities for the University and the communities it serves through increased access, connectedness and excellence.

York University community members gathered in the Seymour Schulich Building on the Keele campus to watch the ceremony

The new Line 1 connection will benefit many of the University’s community members and it speaks to the University’s focus on sustainability, said Lenton. “Most of our students, faculty and staff commute to campus, so the subway provides a sustainable transportation option that will also reduce our community’s carbon footprint,” she said. “A shorter, more efficient commute will mean more time to learn and innovate in our classrooms and labs, and more time to spend making an impact in our communities.”

The stations, said Lenton, represent a new chapter in the York University story, which offers an opportunity to reflect on the special mission of the University, its history and its future.

York University’s president spoke to those gathered for the opening about the many kinds of connections that the new subway will bring to the University

I look forward to the many opportunities these stations will create for York University to amplify the impact we have on the communities we serve through increased access, connectedness and excellence,” she said. “Thanks to the tremendous vision and perseverance of those who have been advocates of the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension, these stations embody a community-wide collaboration that reflects the sustained efforts of community members, TTC and government officials at every level.”

By Jenny Pitt-Clark, YFile editor


On Dec. 17, York PhD candidate Mark Terry captured his first ride on the new subway. See his video diary of the experience.