GO Transit’s commuter rail network and the Toronto Transit Commission’s subway network both carry tens of thousands of commuters daily and are thus important components of Toronto’s commuter network. These systems have also been designed in isolation to each other. Toronto’s subway was the product of planners from the TTC and the City of Toronto, built to follow corridors of high traffic. GO Transit’s commuter network was also designed to alleviate stress on high traffic corridors such as the Queen Elizabeth Way and Highway 401, but it has been limited to running on tracks that were laid down decades beforehand by the freight railroads.
Despite this, GO Transit and the TTC are cooperating to establish connections between the GO Train network and the Toronto subway system. This article lists and briefly describes the connections that are currently available, and what may become available in the future.
Union Station (All GO Train Lines/Yonge-University-Spadina Subway)
The overwhelming majority of passengers who take the GO Train either travel to or from Union Station. Union Station was also one of the two termini for the original Yonge subway. It only stands to reason that this commuter hub, located in the heart of downtown Toronto, should be a major connection between the two systems. A number of GO Train commuters actually complete their commutes on the Toronto subway from this point. Work destinations located as far north as North York Centre are feasible, given that, from Union Station, these commuters are going against the general flow of commuter traffic.
The history of Union Station is extensive, as are the plans for its future. There is simply too much to cover in this section, and is covered here.
Kipling Station (Milton Line/Bloor-Danforth Subway)
The Milton GO Train line opened to the public almost a year after the TTC extended subway service to Kipling Avenue. A connection between GO Trains and the Toronto subway at this point was built into the line from the beginning. The only exit off of the GO platform (aside from an emergency exit directly onto Auckland via a locked gate) is through TTC property, where commuters are steps away from the subway platforms and the TTC’s north and south park ‘n’ ride lots.
Kipling subway station was not built in anticipation of a connection with GO Transit. Islington station is located close enough to the CP main line that a connection is possible there. Kipling station was built to connect to new TTC commuter parking lots. However, this being done, GO felt that a connection at this point would be easier to build and more convenient for its passengers.
The current connection serves five inbound and five outbound Milton trains every weekday. During the early part of the 1990s, additional Milton trains served this stop every day. This connection opens up destinations along Bloor Street to commuters from Mississauga, Milton and points west along the 401.
Bloor Station/Dundas West Station (Georgetown Line/Bloor-Danforth Subway)
The Georgetown GO Train makes four inbound and four outbound stops at Bloor station (the Milton GO Train bypasses this station and heads directly downtown). This stop was built because of its proximity to the Bloor-Danforth subway, and the connection opens up destinations along Bloor Street, as well as King and Dundas Streets (via the King and Dundas streetcars) to commuters from the northwest. The connection between the subway and the GO Train is not very convenient, however. Passengers leaving Bloor station exit the platform at the southern end, proceed down a dank stairwell to the Bloor Street underpass beneath the CN tracks, and then have to walk a half block in the open air to get to the entrance of Dundas West station.
In the early part of the 1990s, the TTC and GO Transit looked at improving this connection. The TTC considered a plan to build a secondary exit off of the eastern end of the Dundas West subway platforms and into a parking garage located next to the CN tracks. Budget cuts in 1995 forced this plan on the backburner, but it has not left the books. The connection would become more important if the Georgetown line is chosen as the main connection between Union station and the Airport.
The TTC have confirmed the Dundas West GO connection in their 2000-2004 capital budget and have allocated $10 million for the project. The initial opening date of the new entrance is set for 2003.
Danforth Station/Main Street Station (Lakeshore Lines/Bloor-Danforth Subway)
Danforth station is located beside the Main Street bridge over the CN railway tracks in East Toronto. Commuters access Main Street through the use of a wooden stairway. Ticket booths are located near the level of the street. The station is located right next to a stop on the 506 Carlton streetcar line, and is a half block away from Main Street station. The TTC has considered building a tunnel south from the station to connect with Danforth station, but lack of funding keeps this proposal on the back burner.
A direct connection would make destinations along the Bloor-Danforth subway and the Scarborough RT more convenient, all day, seven days a week, for commuters as far away as Burlington and Oshawa.
The Stouffville line used to stop at Danforth station, but now runs express to Union from Agincourt.
Kennedy Station (Stouffville Line/Bloor-Danforth Subway)
The eastern terminus of the Bloor-Danforth subway, Kennedy station, is located very close to CN’s Uxbridge subdivision, on which Stouffville GO Trains operate. Indeed, the station’s bus terminal is just a few metres to the west of the railway tracks, and the Scarborough RT parallels the line from Eglinton Avenue all the way to Ellesmere. And, yet, from 1980 to 2005, the Stouffville train did not stop anywhere near Kennedy station, or any of the stations on the Scarborough RT. Agincourt station lies to the north at Sheppard Avenue. Stouffville trains used to stop at Danforth station, where an inconvenient walking transfer with the Bloor-Danforth Subway existed at Main Street station.
GO and the TTC recognized the lack of a connection as a lost opportunity, and agreed to begin work on a connection between Kennedy station and a new GO station near the bus terminal. Although the Stouffville line also passes close to Lawrence East and Ellesmere stations, a location near Kennedy station was clearly more convenient, as it requires just one transfer to go from the Stouffville train to either the Scarborough Town Centre or west along the Bloor-Danforth line.
The connection had been placed in GO’s 2002 capital plan, but construction was delayed as a result of a funding dispute between the City of Toronto and the Greater Toronto Services Board. Once the dispute was resolved, construction began on a platform adjacent to the TTC’s bus loop. The connection with the TTC is off of an existing underground walkway leading from the mezzanine level.
Kennedy GO station is wheelchair accessible and has a ticket vending machine. There are no manned ticket booths. The connection serves two inbound and two outbound trains to Stouffville and one inbound and one outbound train to Markham. As connections go, it pales against Union station, and even Kipling, but as service increases in the future, so too will the usefulness of this connection.
Future Oriole/Leslie Station (Richmond Hill Line/Sheppard Subway)
This connection was to have been in place once the Sheppard Subway opened between Yonge and Don Mills in the summer of 2002. The current Oriole GO station is located a few hundred metres southeast, where the tracks cross Leslie Street. The plan called for GO to reconstruct the station further north, at Sheppard Avenue, to provide a link with the new Leslie station. The TTC was to build a 220 metre pedestrian walkway, with lighting, to run from the Leslie station bus terminal to the edge of CN’s property on the Bala Subdivision.
Something fell through, however, and the station was never relocated. This was likely the result of a spat between the City of Toronto and the Greater Toronto Services Board about the city’s portion of GO’s budget. This dispute continues, and plans to relocate the station continue to languish. The walk between Leslie station and Oriole is lengthy, open to the elements, and passes beneath the noisy highway 401.
Original plans also called for ticket booths and possible alternate exits at Sheppard Avenue and Old Leslie Street.
The connection would serve four inbound and four outbound trains to Richmond Hill, putting it just behind Kipling’s connection to the Milton line in terms of the number of trains used to serve it. The connection would represent a significant improvement for commuters heading into Toronto from Richmond Hill, however, giving them an alternate route to North York’s downtown, and other destinations along the Sheppard and Yonge subway lines.
Future GO Finch/Chesswood Station (Bradford Line/Yonge-University-Spadina Subway)
The proposal to extend the Spadina subway north to York University includes two intermediate stations: one at the Keele-Finch intersection (serving the southwest corner of York University) and another one at Chesswood, south of Finch. Chesswood station would serve an industrial area, and should see a number of workers arrive during rush hours. Another feature of Chesswood station, however, would be a connection to a new station on the nearby Bradford GO Train line, likely to be called Finch. The temptation to nickname these two stations GO-Finch will likely be irresistible.
If a connection were built today, it would serve only two inbound and two outbound trains to Bradford. In the future, however, additional service may be possible, as would an extension to Barrie. The Bradford GO Train line is unique in that it has no stops within the City of Toronto other than Union station. Commuters have a long and fast trip south from Maple, which makes the Bradford GO Train usable only to commuters heading to downtown Toronto. A connection at Chesswood would give commuters much better access to Yorkdale, York University, and downtown North York, and would likely take some pressure off the many buses that currently run between Newmarket and Finch subway station.
The connection can not happen until the subway is extended to York University. Although this has been identified as a priority within Toronto’s Official Plan, funding has not been finalized, and no construction date set. This could change in the future, however, especially if Toronto is awarded the 2008 Olympics, or if the City of Vaughan is successful in securing provincial and federal funding for the subway extension.
Future Dixie Station (Milton Line/Bloor-Danforth Subway)
Long term plans for the Bloor-Danforth subway (which are not strongly supported by the TTC or the City of Missisauga) call for the line to be extended west from Kipling station, south of the CP railway tracks to Sherway Gardens. From there, the line could continue further west and north, angling back up to the CP tracks and terminating in the area of the Dixie GO station. Should this happen, a new connection would open up between the subway and the Milton GO line.
Given that Milton already has a convenient connection with the subway at Kipling. The only benefit for GO commuters would be improved access to the Sherway Gardens area of Toronto - for destinations on Bloor Street east of Kipling, it would be faster for commuters to stay on the GO Trains and change at Kipling. However, the driving force behind the Dixie proposal is not its GO connection, but possible connections with Mississauga Transit. It is expected that thousands of commuters from Mississauga could board the subway at this point either from Mississauga buses, or from large commuter lots, some of which are already in the area.
The area around the current Dixie GO station is primarily warehouse industrial, with few residents and businesses to support subway development. Mississauga itself is lukewarm to the proposal to extend the subway, refusing point blank to pay for the construction. It is unlikely that we will see this connection come about anytime soon.
Future York Centre Station (Georgetown Line/Eglinton West Subway)
Plans for the Eglinton West subway called for it to terminate at Black Creek Drive, near the proposed York Centre development. This stop would be close to the CN Weston Sub and the Georgetown GO line, and a new GO station was planned in this area to connect with the Eglinton West subway.
The plans for York Centre station show a large parking lot and a bus terminal separated from the Weston Sub by Photography Drive. The GO platforms would likely be on the other side of Photography Drive, and a connection made via a crosswalk. No plans for a dedicated underground connection are shown.
Had the connection been built, commuters from Georgetown and Guelph would have been given better access to destinations along Eglinton Avenue and points along the Spadina subway. This would have been more convenient than the current connection with the Bloor subway at Dundas West.
Future Caledonia Station (Bradford Line/Eglinton West Subway)
The proposed Caledonia station on the Eglinton West subway lies very close to the CN Newmarket Sub and the associated Bradford GO Train. A connection between subway and GO train suggests itself here, and such a connection was considered during the early stages of planning for the Eglinton West subway. However, as the plans for the subway progressed, the idea of a connection was dropped. Likely it was felt that Bradford’s two trains did not justify the expense of a connection.
Had a connection been built, more destinations would have been opened up for Bradford commuters. However, connections with such destinations as York University and downtown North York would have been far more convenient at the proposed Chesswood station on the extended Spadina subway.
Future North Toronto/Summerhill Station (New GO Line/Yonge-University-Spadina Subway)
In the long term, GO wishes to route some of its trains along the CP main line through midtown Toronto. This would take some pressure off of Union station and open up more of the city to GO commuters. Should this happen, an obvious destination for this service would be old North Toronto station. This architectural masterpiece on Yonge Street would be an impressive stop for commuters, and it would give them easy access to businesses on Yonge Street north of Bloor and south of St. Clair.
Should the plan come to fruition, the obvious connection with the Toronto subway is at Summerhill station, located just to the north of the site. A second exit would be constructed at the south end of the subway platform to provide this connection.
Although plans have been around for some time for the use of North Toronto station by GO Trains, it is unlikely that we will see such service anytime soon. GO’s Milton line is the exception to the rule in that it operates on CP tracks. GO would have a hard time negotiating with CP rail to borrow its heavily used main line through midtown Toronto. And there is some question as to the usefulness of such a line. Commuters coming downtown to Union can take the subway north to their destinations and be moving against the general flow of commuter traffic on the subway. Here, GO commuters are making use of spare TTC capacity. GO commuters completing their trips downtown via Summerhill station are following the general flow of commuter traffic, where the subway has generally reached its capacity. GO commuters completing their trips to points north of Summerhill station would have their journeys shortened, however.
North Toronto’s main usefulness is reducing the pressure on Union station, and the proposed renovations to Union station may increase its capacity to such a degree that North Toronto station may not be needed for this purpose for some time.
The TTC, however, may end up building its portion of the connection, anyway. A recent report identifies the single exit from the Summerhill station platforms as a potential fire hazard. A secondary exit at the south side of the station would be very close to North Toronto station. The TTC is looking into taking part in the commercial redevelopment of North Toronto station to provide a secondary exit through that station.
Future Dupont Station (New GO Line/Yonge-University-Spadina Subway)
In a recent GO wish-list/plan for its next fifteen years of operation, GO Transit proposes all day rail service along the CP midtown Toronto line from Kipling station to Markham Road. Intermediate stops would include North Toronto station and a new station at Spadina Avenue. Here a connection would be made with the Spadina subway at Dupont.
Such a service would provide a quick bypass for many commuters on the Bloor-Danforth subway, giving them quick access from the west end of the city to points downtown and north of the station, including Yorkdale shopping centre and possibly York University in the future.
Future Agincourt Station (Stouffville Line/New GO Line/Sheppard Subway)
Future plans for the Sheppard subway call for an extension east of Don Mills station to the Scarborough Town Centre. The extension would run beneath Sheppard Avenue as far as Kennedy, and would then start to turn south towards the Scarborough Centre. Just east of Kennedy, the extension would pass beneath the Stouffville GO line, very close to the current Agincourt station. It is likely that a station stop would be built here (or a connection built to a Kennedy North station further west) between the subway and the GO train.
Such a connection would open up points along Sheppard Avenue and downtown North York to commuters from east Markham and Stouffville. It would make a more convenient link to the Scarborough Centre than the planned connection at Kennedy station. This station would also be very close to the mid Toronto CP main line, and the service that’s proposed to run along it from Kipling all the way to Markham Road.
Sunnyside Station (Lakeshore Line/Queen Subway)
Tom Box writes with the following information: Another possibility occurred to me for your list of GO/TTC connections: Sunnyside on the GO Lakeshore West line, and Roncesvalles on the TTC Queen subway.
Sunnyside ceased being a CN passenger station at the same time GO was created: May 1967. The last trains to stop there were two CN Hamilton-Toronto commuter trains that were replaced by GO trains.
A couple of years later, a TTC planning document identified the Queen subway as a high priority, and said that GO might be interested in reopening Sunnyside to provide a connection to the subway.
Most traces of Sunnyside station have vanished, but the four tracks of the Oakville Sub spread apart at that point (just east of the footbridge over the Oakville Sub and Gardiner Expwy), and there’s a grassy patch between tracks two and three with some broken pieces of concrete that might be remnants of the station platform.
As you can see, the issue of connections has not been addressed seriously by the TTC and GO Transit in the past, but it is a priority both systems have identified in the future. Only four connections exist today between the Toronto subway and GO Train lines, but many more may appear in the future, if all goes right.