Yonge–University–Spadina Line

     Yonge–University–Spadina Line
A subway train waits for passengers at Bloor-Yonge station.
Type Rapid transit
System Toronto subway and RT
Locale Toronto, Ontario
Termini Finch
Stations 32[1]
(6 more under construction)[2]
Daily ridership 734,990 (avg. weekday)[1]
Opening March 30, 1954
Owner Toronto Transit Commission
Operator(s) Toronto Transit Commission
Depot(s) Wilson Subway Yard,
Davisville Subway Yard
Rolling stock T1, TR
Line length 30.2 km (18.8 mi)[3]
8.6 km (5.3 mi) under construction[2]
Track gauge
Electrification Third rail

The Yonge–University–Spadina Line (Y–U–S) (officially Route 1 Yonge–University–Spadina Subway)[4] is the oldest and busiest subway line in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is operated by the Toronto Transit Commission, has 32 stations[1] and is 30.2 km (18.8 mi) in length.[3] It opened in 1954; extensions were completed in 1963, 1973, 1974, 1978, and 1996. North York Centre Station opened on an existing section of line in 1987.

The line's name has been changed as it was extended. It was called "the subway" until 1963 (Yonge subway is its retronym), then the "Yonge–University Line" until 1978, when the Spadina section was added. Briefly in 1966, the Yonge–University subway ran in two branches: one west along Bloor to Keele (Yonge–University–Bloor), the other east along Bloor and Danforth to Woodbine (Yonge–University–Danforth).

Although only two stations are on Spadina Road, a larger portion of the line was originally planned to follow the Spadina Expressway. The part of the expressway that was built was renamed William R. Allen Road, but the name of the line was never changed.

It is numbered as "Route 1" (formerly route 602),[5] but its route number is used by the TTC predominantly for internal purposes and is rarely used by the public or on TTC maps.

The subway runs from approximately 6:00 am to 1:30 am Monday to Saturday and 9:00 am to 1:30 am on Sunday. The subway runs every 4–5 minutes, with frequent service (2–3 minutes) during rush hour periods. There is limited service (5 minutes) northbound from St. Clair West Station from 6:00 am to 9:00 am Monday to Friday.

The 320 Yonge Blue Night bus provides late-night service when the subway is not in operation. This service operates frequently along Yonge between Union Station (Front Street) and Steeles Avenue. No bus service follows the University–Spadina line, though other night bus services, such as the 310 Bathurst, pass near some of the stations. Bus service is extended on Sundays to account for the 9:00 am start.


Yonge-University-Spadina Line

On March 30, 1954, after five years of work, the first subway in Canada opened to the public.[6][7] The original Yonge Street subway line went from Union subway station near the namesake railway station north to Eglinton Station. Premier Leslie Frost and Mayor Allan A. Lamport, among other important people, rode the first train that morning, going north from the yards at Davisville Station, and then from Eglinton south along the entire line. The line was then opened to the public, and that day at 2:30 pm, the last streetcar to travel Yonge Street made its final trip.

Nine years later, the University segment of the line opened, continuing the line from Union north to St. George Station.

On March 31, 1973, the line was extended north to York Mills Station,[8] and the next year to Finch Station as part of the North Yonge Extension project, bringing the subway to North York. Stations were also planned for Glencairn (between Eglinton and Lawrence, though another Glencairn Station would be built on the Spadina line), Glen Echo (between Lawrence and York Mills) and Empress (between Sheppard and Finch, later opened as North York Centre Station). In 1978, the Spadina segment of the line was opened, going from the north terminus of the University line to Wilson Station.

In 1987, the North York Centre station was added between Sheppard and Finch Stations.

On August 11, 1995 at 6:02 pm, the Russell Hill subway accident occurred as a southbound subway train heading toward Dupont Station crashed under Russell Hill Drive, killing three passengers.[9] This accident prompted the Toronto Transit Commission to review its practices and put resources into safety.

In 1996, the Spadina expansion was opened, adding one new station, Downsview.

Future expansion

Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension (TYSSE)

Construction has begun on an extension to York University northwest of Downsview Station, and into the city of Vaughan to the proposed Vaughan Metropolitan Centre at Jane Street and Highway 7. Six new stations are planned along the 8.6 km (5.3 mi) route, with 6.2 km (3.9 mi) in the City of Toronto and 2.4 km (1.5 mi) in York Region.[10] Subway service on the extension is estimated to begin by the autumn of 2016.[11]

Approximately 2,900 new parking spaces will be built at three stations along the extension, in order to encourage commuters to use the subway system. Pioneer Village Station will have the most at 1,900 spaces, while Highway 407 Station will have 600 spaces, and Finch West Station will have 400 parking spaces.[12]

The estimated cost of this extension is $2.09 billion in 2006 dollars, which will have escalated to $2.63 billion considering costs at the year of occurrence.[13] The Province of Ontario has deposited $870 million into the Move Ontario Trust. The federal government has committed $697 million, but only released $75 million at the start of its fall election campaign. The City of Toronto and the Regional Municipality of York have committed to fund one-third of total project costs, with Toronto will contributing $526 million and York Region contributing $352 million.[10]

In 2003, a temporary busway was planned between Downsview Station and the campus, but was opposed by the university, which felt it would lessen government willingness to extend the subway. After numerous delays, construction on the York University Busway started on July 25, 2008,[14] with a short section of the busway opened on September 6, 2009[15] and the remainder opened on November 20, 2009.[16]

The first construction contract was awarded on February 27, 2008.[17] Construction has commenced in July 2008 with the relocation of sewers.[18]

The TTC purchased two tunnel boring machines in the fall of 2010 from LOVAT Inc. for $58.4 million to dig tunnels on this extension, and two more boring machines were delivered in the spring of 2011.[19][20] Tunnel boring for the extension began on June 17, 2011.[21]

The extension north of Steeles Avenue has been criticized in the press for several reasons.[22] The TTC had originally intended to extend the subway as far as York University, with a vast bus terminal complex at the future Pioneer Village Station. However, provincial funding hinged on the line crossing the municipal border. The area around the future Vaughan Metropolitan Centre Station is occupied by big-box stores and highways, and lacks the dense development that surrounds most other subway stations. Although a station is planned for the 407 Transitway, most GO Transit buses will terminate at Black Creek Pioneer Village Station, so that commuters do not have to pay an additional TTC fare to reach York University. The TTC announced that it will incorporate a system in which GO Transit users do not have to pay an extra fare to use the subway to arrive at York University Station from the 407 Transitway. In addition, the 407 Transitway station is being built within vacant farmland.

Station name Architect Artist Location/intersection Parking spaces Estimated completion date
Downsview Park AECOM Panya Clark Espinal Downsview and Sheppard
Finch West Stevens Group Architects with Will Alsop Bruce McLean Keele and Finch 400
York University Foster and Partners Jason Bruges Studio York University / Steeles and Keele Late 2016
Pioneer Village Alsop Architects with SGA/IBI Group Architects realities:united (Tim and Yan Edler) York University / Steeles and Murray Ross Pkwy 1 850
Highway 407 Aedas David Pearl Highway 407 and Jane 563
Vaughan Metropolitan Centre Arup Group with Grimshaw Architects Paul Raff Studio Vaughan Metropolitan Centre / Highway 7 and Jane

Yonge extension

Proposals have also been put forward to extend the Yonge Street portion of the line beyond Finch to Steeles and into York Region, most likely ending at the Richmond Hill Centre Terminal of Viva bus rapid transit. On June 15, 2007, the Ontario government announced plans to fund this extension as part of a network of rapid transit growth called MoveOntario 2020.[24]

Although completion of this subway expansion is many years away, a local group in York Region is lobbying for the cancellation of the planned busway along this route,[25] which would be a part of York Region's Viva bus rapid transit.

The Yonge portion of the subway line operates at capacity during the morning rush hour, and could not carry the additional riders attracted to this extension. Once a new signal system is in place, the TTC claims it will be able to increase the frequency of trains from 2 minutes 30 seconds to every 1 minute 45 seconds. As of 2011, there was no proposal to increase capacity of Bloor-Yonge station, already the busiest in the entire network serving over 400,000 passengers each day.

GO Transit's long-term plan also calls for all-day service on its Richmond Hill line that would see express trains running every 15 minutes between its Langstaff Station adjacent to the Richmond Hill Centre terminal, and Union station in downtown Toronto, calling into question the additional need for a subway extension.

Toronto council approved the plan in principle in January 2009, but added caveats indicating that upgrades within Toronto would be needed to support the additional capacity from York Region. The plan, as approved, lists six new stations: Cummer/Drewery, Steeles, Clark, Royal Orchard, Longbridge/Langstaff, and Richmond Hill Centre.[26] TTC has no plans to expand this subway line in the "near future" but have Viva Bus Rapid Transit bus lanes along Yonge Street from Finch Avenue to Highway 7, which would go into full service by 2013.


The line forms a rough U-shape. Its western leg starts at the northern terminus at Downsview Station, at Sheppard Avenue and Allen Road. The line follows the Allen Road, which becomes a short expressway with the subway line travelling in its median for 6 km (3.7 mi). Continuing southeast below the Cedarvale and Nordheimer Ravines, it turns south under a short stretch of Spadina Road.

After sharing the Bloor-Danforth Line's Spadina and St. George stations, it turns south again under Queen's Park, passing to one side of the Ontario Legislature, and running the full length of University Avenue beyond. It turns east onto Front Street to serve Union Station, Toronto's main railway terminus, and then north.

The eastern leg runs straight up Yonge Street for 16 km (9.9 mi), crossing the Bloor–Danforth Line again at Bloor-Yonge and the Sheppard Line at Sheppard–Yonge, before reaching its northern terminus at Finch Station. A roughed-in station exists below Queen Station for the proposed Queen streetcar subway.[27] This section often suffers from severe overcrowding during peak times, especially in the area immediately south of Bloor-Yonge station.[28]

The line is generally underground, but has several surface or elevated sections between Downsview and Eglinton West, and between Bloor and Eglinton; some portions of the section between Bloor and Eglinton were originally open and have since been covered over to permit other uses above the tracks. Sections between Bloor-Yonge and the track short of Summerhill, and between St. Clair and Eglinton remain in their original open state. Between Summerhill and St. Clair, the track was originally in open cut, but has since been covered over. Evidence of this can be seen in the tunnel: there are no columns or walls between tracks, and ballast and drainage ditches are present, something not seen in the rest of the subway system. There are also tree stumps and the stubs of lamp posts in the tunnel. There are also clues outdoors: seemingly useless railings along the sides of a nearby street, which was once on an exposed bridge, and empty lots following the trains' right-of-way marked with signs warning heavy vehicles and equipment to keep off because they might fall through to the columnless tunnel below.

Most of the tunnel was constructed by a cut-and-cover method, but some was bored, as noted below. All stations, whether by transfer or fare-paid terminal, connect to surface TTC bus and/or streetcar routes. Other surface and train connections are noted below.

In late 2010, 16 stations had elevators for wheelchair access. In February 2012, elevator installations were underway at Lawrence West and St. Andrew stations.[29][30]

The preferred alignment and placement for four stations for the extension beyond Downsview Station to serve York University were finalized in September 2005.[31] Six stations are planned: the tentative name for the new terminus in the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre is "Vaughan Centre" based on the precedent set by North York Centre and Scarborough Centre, with intermediate stations called "Highway 407", "Pioneer Village", "York University", "Finch West", and "Downsview Park", with plans to rename Downsview Station "Sheppard West". This extension will likely replace the portion of York Region Transit's Viva Orange bus rapid transit line that covers the Downsview – York University route.


The original design of the oldest stations in the subway system, which are on the Yonge line (from Union to Eglinton), are mainly utilitarian and characterized by vitreous marble wall tiles and the use of the Toronto Subway font for station names. Eglinton Station is the only station to retain this wall treatment, though Queen Station retains a narrow band of original blue Vitrolite tiles near the ceiling at platform as well.

The design of the stations on the University line was mainly utilitarian and this style (sometimes referred to as “bathroom modern”) was later used for the Bloor–Danforth line as well. Queen's Park and St. Patrick stations have circular and semi-circular cross-sections because they are constructed in bored tunnels.

Lawrence, York Mills, Sheppard, and Finch Stations are similar to each other in design, but have different colour schemes: Lawrence is red and cream, York Mills is light and dark green, Sheppard is yellow and dark blue, and Finch is light grey, medium grey, and dark grey.

The Spadina line has unique art and architecture for each station. Glencairn and Yorkdale Stations had their art removed.

North York Centre station, being an infill station, has a design that is very different from the other stations in the earlier North Yonge extension.

Downsview is the newest station on this line and also has art and architecture that is different from the earlier Spadina line.

The Spadina north extension to Vaughan Metropolitan Centre will feature unique art and architecture as well.

Voice announcement system

As with all other subway lines, the Yonge–University–Spadina line uses an automated voice announcement system on board its trains to announce each stop as the train arrives. The T1 trains use a pre-recorded female human voice, recorded by TTC employee Susan Bigoni, while the new Toronto Rocket trains use a built-in female computerized voice, along with visual displays displaying the next stop, similar to the system used on TTC's surface vehicles (streetcar and bus routes).

Toronto Rocket

Main article: Toronto Rocket

Based on Bombardier's Movia trains, the new articulated Toronto Rocket (TR) series trains were scheduled for delivery starting between late 2009 and early 2010, but the initial delivery was delayed until late 2010 due to production problems. They entered revenue service on July 21, 2011.

Once the TR train deliveries are finalized, it is expected that the Y–U–S line will be entirely served by the TR series trains, which will allow for integration with the upgraded signalling system to accommodate the new automatic train control system and allow expansion in service to meet future ridership demands for the Spadina subway extension to Vaughan.

Automatic train control

The TTC estimates that automatic train control on the Yonge–University–Spadina line could be installed by 2017.[32] When this system is installed, the TTC will be able to run trains as often as every 105 seconds. The limit of the manual signal system is every 150 seconds, the interval at which trains operate at rush hours.

Line number

Unofficially subway lines are numbered, but in October 2013 the TTC announced plans to give the lines official number to help riders and visitors to navigate the system. The Yonge-University-Spadina Line would be numbered as Line 1.[33]

See also

Toronto portal
Trains portal


External links

  • TTC website
  • TTC Transit City LRT proposal
  • TTC Spadina subway extension website
  • Transit Toronto (not affiliated with the Toronto Transit Commission)

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