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Spadina Subway Extension opening:

Spadina Subway Extension opening:




            In 2009, the TTC began building an extension of the Yonge University Spadina subway line from Downsview Station. The extension would have six new stations and would bring the subway into York Region. This would be the first subway expansion since the Sheppard line opened in 2002.


            The existing Downsview station was renamed “Sheppard West” because one of the new stations on the line would be named “Downsview Park” and the TTC didn’t want to confuse riders.


            The line was originally to open in 2016 but was pushed back to December of 2017 due to construction delays.


            Between May of 2017 and the day before the extension opened, I got to get a peek at all six of the new stations.


            The line opened to the public on December 17th. There was an opening ceremony two days earlier with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau coming to Toronto, however I missed that.


            Some people got up early to ride the first train from Sheppard West station, but I didn’t. I would ride the extension on opening day though. For the occasion, all TTC subways, streetcars, and buses were free for the day! This is what I did on opening day:


December 17, 2017:


            I left home and walked to Yonge and Royal Orchard. I photographed a YRT D40LF on route #3 which was heading for Pioneer Village station which is one of the new subway stations. Previously, the route #3 went to York University.



            I boarded a bus on YRT route #99 and rode to the Richmond Hill Center terminal where I transferred to VIVA Orange.


            As a result of the new subway opening, the portion of VIVA Purple west of Yonge Street is being handled by VIVA Orange now.  However, a branch of VIVA Purple will still operate down to York University on weekdays.


            I rode the VIVA Orange bus to the new Vaughan Metropolitan Center station. I photographed the entrance from the bus.



            I got off the bus and photographed it at the new terminal which is situated right in the middle of Highway 7! It brings up memories of when the Yonge subway first opened passengers could transfer from the subway to the Bloor Streetcar line from a covered station in the middle of Bloor Street! When the Bloor subway opened 12 years later, the terminal was demolished. However, for awhile you could see where it was as Bloor was widened around the terminal. Ironically, the long term plans for VIVA is to build light rail lines!



            I then went downstairs to the subway. I took some photos of the stairs.




            I noticed that escalators to the bus platform were still under construction! I then headed to the main area of the station and photographed a news crew covering the opening day.



            There were a lot of people in the station. Either due to the free rides or the novelty of the subway were factors.


            I went down to the platform and boarded a Toronto Rocket train. I saw at the south end of the station the emergency signs that read “Exit when flashing” were activated. It reminded me of back in 2002, something similar happened when the Sheppard line first opened! The problem on Sheppard wasn’t fixed for months! I took some photos.




            I then boarded the train and we departed. The subway train stopped at the Highway 407 station and then Pioneer Village station. The Pioneer Village station is close to Black Creek Pioneer Village (about a 10 minute walk). It is near the intersection of Jane and Steeles. I will cover the Highway 407 station later.


            The next stop on the extension is York University. Prior to the opening, York University was a hub for many TTC bus routes, many GO Transit bus routes, YRT/VIVA routes, and Brampton Transit’s Zum service. With the new subway, most TTC bus routes have been rerouted to other stations and no longer service York University common. One route; the #196 was discontinued altogether. I took my last rides on the #196 the Monday before the extension opened.


            The next station is Finch West. I toured that station the day before and will go into detail much later.


            The next stop was Downsview Park. This station has connections to the Barrie GO train line. After leaving Downsview Park, we curved south and stopped at Sheppard West. I stayed on and rode to Wilson which was the end of the line for the Yonge University Spadina subway when I was born. (Downsview; later Sheppard West didn’t open until 1996).


            I got off at Wilson and photographed the train.



            I then caught another train back to the Vaughan Metropolitan Center station. I stood close to the cab door of the Toronto Rocket train I rode as to get a forward view of the new line. When we got to Vaughan Metropolitan Center, I photographed the train.



            I went outside the station for a few minutes before I got back on the subway. I rode one stop to the Highway 407 station. I got off and photographed the train.



            I then filmed the train pulling out of the station.


            While I got to see this station at an open house, it was the only station where I didn’t get to go down to the platform. This station has what may be the longest escalator in the system going up three stories. I photographed it and the mezzanine.




            I then went downstairs to wait for a southbound train. I saw Adam Zelka from the TTS there. A subway train arrived and I got on. I rode to St. Clair West station. At St. Clair West, I got off and boarded a streetcar on route #512 heading westbound. I rode to Dufferin and got off. I crossed the street intending to go to a nearby 7-11 when I saw a Flexity heading eastbound. I noticed it was #4450 which is one of the new streetcars that I hadn’t ridden on yet. I photographed the car.



            I rode #4450 to Oakwood Avenue and got off and photographed the car.



            I filmed #4450 pulling away. I then took another streetcar back to Dufferin and bought lunch. After lunch, I rode the streetcar to Bathurst and got off I transferred to the route #7 bus. Orion 7 NG #8212 pulled up. It was painted in the TTC’s new livery based on the livery on the new streetcars. The TTC is taking delivery of some new Nova LFS buses painted in the livery and are repainting some of their older buses in the livery as well. I photographed #8212.



            I rode #8212 south to Hillcrest Shops which is the TTC’s main shop building where they do major repairs and rebuilding of buses and streetcars. I saw Orion 7 NG #1324 in the new livery. I photographed it.



            I then walked around and took a picture of retired CLRV #4016.



            I then saw three of the four fishbowls on TTC property: 2345, 2444, and 8058 which back in 2015, the TTC had reclaimed back from the Halton County Radial Railway Museum after it had sat outside in the museum for 10 years. During the course of 2016 transit fans began saying that 8058 was too far gone and its interior would be used in one of the other fishbowls the TTC retained.


            However in September of 2016, at an open house (which I was unable to attend as I was in San Francisco), a TTC employee said they would fix 8058. However, once again, it doesn’t look good for 8058 despite how promising it looked at the start of 2017.



Here are 2345, 2444, and 8058. Only one of the buses will survive.


            I then left Hillcrest and caught a bus to Bathurst subway station. When I got there I photographed Orion 7 NG #1361 which was being used on the #511 in place of streetcars due to streetcar shortages.



            I then got on the subway and rode one stop east to Spadina. I was looking for more of the new streetcars I hadn’t ridden on yet. I boarded Flexity #4402 and rode one stop and got off. I photographed it pulling away as well as Flexity #4446 which I decided if it returned, I would ride it downtown until I saw a streetcar I hadn’t ridden yet.




            Before #4446 could return, Flexity 4451 came. I hadn’t ridden #4451 yet. I photographed the car before I got on.



            I rode #4451 to King Street. I noted the numbers of passing streetcars to make sure I had ridden the car or not. All the cars we passed where cars I had previously ridden.


            I got off at King Street and photographed #4451 and filmed it pulling away.



            I then saw Flexity running on route #514 which is the TTC’s newest streetcar route. The #514 opened in 2016 and runs between the Dufferin Gates and the Distillery District. Most of the line already existed, but a new extension of track was built on Cherry Street from King Street to just before the railway tracks that all eastbound passenger trains departing Union station use.


            The Flexity I saw on the #514 was #4445; another Flexity I hadn’t ridden on yet. I photographed it and attempted to get on the car; sprinting after it.



            I managed to get on #4445 and rode to University Avenue. I got off and photographed #4445 before I filmed it pulling away.



            I then rode back to Spadina. Once I got to Spadina, I saw Flexity #4452 which was one more Flexity I hadn’t ridden yet. I photographed it before I got on at the other side of Spadina.



            I rode back to University Avenue where I got off. I photographed #4452 and filmed it pulling away.



            I then photographed a CLRV and Flexity #4439 which was signed up CHARTERED.




            Even though I had ridden four Flexity streetcars which I previously hadn’t ridden before, I decided not to go after any more and to head home.


            I boarded a northbound subway train at St. Andrew and rode to Finch West which is another of the new stations. I photographed the train after I got off.



            I filmed the train departing Finch West and went upstairs. I had visited this station for a preview at an open house the day before.


            I went upstairs to where a hallowed out section for a future LRT line that will be traveling west on Finch would originate here. The TTC had built an open space to allow for a new station when the line is built.


            When the TTC first built the Queen station on the Yonge line back in 1954, they had excavated a space for an east-west subway to be built under Queen Street. The east-west line was later built under Bloor instead but “Lower Queen” as its known may be used in the future as the TTC is looking to build a downtown relief line as the Yonge line is getting congested. However, an elevator which was built into Lower Queen will have to be removed if the station is to be used.


            I photographed the door to what I call “Lower Finch West”. The door is marked “11S 200” for some reason.



            During the open house the day before, the door had been opened and I had stuck my camera into the opening.



Behold, it’s “Lower Finch West”!


            The TTC claims that the Finch West LRT will open in 2022. I hope the project isn’t cancelled. The TTC is also building another LRT line on Eglinton which is to open in 2021.


            I noticed at the open house the day before, an elevator close to the door to “Lower Finch West” broke down; even before the station officially opened to the public! Fortunately, it was repaired and working properly on the first day of service.


            I then went to the bus terminal to catch a bus to Finch Station on the Yonge line. I just missed a bus. There was a large crowd waiting for a bus at the station.


            The next bus came with was Orion 7 #7977. The older Orion 7s like #7977 are probably not going to be repainted into the Flexity livery as they will be retired in the next few years. In fact the first 200 or so Orion 7s are in the process of being retired.


            I photographed #7977.



            I rode #7977 back to Finch. I managed to get a seat but the bus filled up. At one point, the driver ordered a passenger who had caused a disturbance to get off the bus. I didn’t notice anything, but I was sitting at the back. The driver said that he would go out of service if this passenger didn’t leave the bus, but we left a couple minutes later.


            I’m not sure what happened but I don’t know if the passenger in question was really bad or the driver was being an asshole. I’m saying this based on previous encounters with TTC employees ignorant of my right to photograph TTC vehicles.


            A little while later, we got to Finch without incident. I attempted to photograph #7977 but people blocked my shot and the bus pulled up to a layover elsewhere in the station.


            I photographed Orion 7 #1268 which is painted in the Flexity livery.



            I then photographed #7977 laying over and Orion 7 #1122, though I would have preferred to have photographed a different 1122 from the Toronto area which is sadly no more.





            I then left the station and boarded a VIVA bus and headed home.




            The new subway stations are all quite nice and it’s interesting to be able to ride the subway within York Region! This extension should have decent ridership.


            The next new rapid transit expansion in Toronto will be the Eglinton LRT line which is to open in 2021. Toronto is debating on if they should replace the Scarborough RT with either a LRT line or a one-stop extension of the Bloor-Danforth line which will cost more and serve less.


            However another city will open the next electric rail line in Southern Ontario at some point next year. Until next time…