The new GO Transit York Concourse at Union Station will open for business on Monday, April 27. After years of construction and an ever-changing maze pf construction hoarding, the new concourse will show off what the Union Station Revitalization project is all about.
Anyone who travels through Union Station knows the old, crowded GO Transit area under the East Wing of the station. Passengers rushing for trains jostle with queues in the fast food court and the ticket area. The York Concourse opens up space under the West Wing that formerly housed baggage services and parking, an area that for most users of the station simply didn’t exist because much of it was off limits to the public.
The new concourse will add about 50% to the available passenger space and will open up circulation between the waiting areas and the tracks above, not to mention adding new ways to get into and out of the station.
This map looks north with the existing Bay concourse at the right hand end of the station. On either side of Bay Street are the old freight teamways which are now pedestrian paths under the rail corridor and access to tracks above.
In the middle of the station is the Via concourse which is not affected by this work. To the west (left) is the new York Concourse.
Both the Bay and York concourses will remain open until after the Pan Am Games this summer, and the Bay Concourse will then close for a renovation to match the new York Concourse with a target reopening date early in 2017. Concurrent work will include completion of the new lower level shopping concourse in two stages (under Via in 2016, and under the Bay Concourse in 2017), as well as heritage restoration of the Great Hall and the East Wing of the building.
The goal is to have three times the space GO Transit has today to serve at least twice the passenger volume.
Also opening will be new accesses to the station and tracks including the first phase of the NorthWest PATH link across Front Street (eventually to extend north to Wellington Street) and the York East Teamway providing another set of stairs up to track level and access to the station itself.
The photo gallery below is from a media tour on April 24, 2015.
When it opens on Monday, will you be able to walk from the York Concourse to the subway entrance via the moat?
Steve: No. The central part of the moat is still under construction. The easiest route to the subway is from the north end of the York Concourse (just inside the doors to the moat), turn east and walk through the existing area under the Great Hall and thence into the existing east concourse to the moat. I suspect that this path will be preserved as long as possible during reconstruction of the East Concourse right up to the point where the existing moat between GO and the subway is dug out to make the new connection at a lower level flush with the lower level of the new concourse.
It looks amazing all finished up. I am glad to see Union finally coming together. Any update on when the rest of the renovations.. namely the Great Hall will commence?
No doubt the rest of the renovations will commence AFTER the Pan Am games given the complexity and restrictions needed for the work to be safely completed. I can see them completing the waiting area in the west wing before the games leaving the rest until after.
Ohh and one more thing. With the addition of this new path entrance will they finally rebuild the connection to the Royal York or is that one of those things to go the way of the Dodo?
Steve: The City will be letting the tender for phases 2 and 3 shortly (the bid closes in May). The East Concourse is in Phase 2 with a planned completion in early 2017. The heritage restoration of the Great Hall and East Wing is in Phase 3 (tendered concurrently) with a target completion probably in late 2016. Work will not begin until after the Pan Am Games.
Re the Royal York, the hotel has apparently not made up its mind what it wants to do with connections to Union Station and PATH.
There’s really interesting video on the 680news.com website about the new concourse. At 1:32 of the video is map of the GTA with some very strange broad lines on it. At first glance I thought they were new routes, but then I realized they are effectively arrows to draw your attention to the end of the various rail lines. I had not seen this schematic before. I suspect it will lead to some confused travellers.
Thanks Steve for the good work on analysis of transit in Toronto.
Another bland Toronto box, like that asinine pedestrian tunnel to the Island airport.
And how curious the signage no longer uses the second-worst font choice, Tiresias (specifically not what we recommended when we did an evaluation for GO Transit).
LikeLiked by 1 person
Patience fellows. Union Station will look great when it is all said and done. A great legacy is being constructed for future generations.
Keeping both concourses open this summer was a good last minute decision. Keeping Bay open longer is good for the businesses who need to relocate. Hopefully the lower food court opens before the Bay concourse shuts down, or very shortly after. (I hope Cinnabon stays!…)
Commuter tip: UPX lounge will be open to public. While the food court is still being built, and other coffee places are in flux, and you missed your train… If you need to find a place to have a coffee waiting for the next GO Train, the nearby UPstairs lounge is open to the public (after May 6) with coffee and beer for sale. It does not require a UPX ticket to enter and it is out of the way of commuter traffic flows. Two ways of access: Access via walking along Platform 3 or via Great Hall.
There are so few Steve Munro videos out there, I just had to add this link from UrbanToronto.
Steve: Jingle, jingle, jingle …
@GrantB I agree that map is…not the clearest way to show things. Do the graphical links between the map and schedules have to be BIGGER than the routes they’re trying to point to???
As a more general comment, I walked over to the York concourse the other day – the key points here are that I had to walk over, and that it was *empty*. It’s brand new, this was off peak, the connections aren’t fully opened…there are *many* reasons the York concourse is not currently as busy as Bay. However, it hit me that the Bay Concourse might still handle the vast majority of traffic for the foreseeable future, largely because the TTC connects only to it. Why would I want to add an extra walk to my commute that could be avoided by just using Bay concourse? Yes, there will soon be UPX and new PATH connections to the York Concourse…but I suspect it will always be much quieter than it’s eastern neighbor!
Steve: The Bay concourse will close after the Pan Am Games, and this might redirect some traffic westward. Finishing the NW PATH up to Wellington (probably in 2017) will also make the west end of the station a better connection to parts of the core than it is today.
Does anyone have photos of what it looked like before? As comparison.
Steve: I am not sure how much there is around. I was in this space before the renovations started, and at that point it was mainly a parking lot for car rentals. By that time the size of the baggage handling area was already much smaller than the original layout, and the kitchen that cooked the food for diners on trains had long been closed.
RE: Photos of “Original Condition.”
Photos would not really show you the original condition. You had to walk the area more than once. Dingy corridors, locked doors, stairways leading to nowhere, utilities and mechanical systems hanging from the floor above that were abandoned years ago. A depressing car park for car rentals, etc. The same applies for floors above ground floor most of which were abandoned years ago. I am waiting to see how the Bay Street Concourse ends up. Considering the column layout this it the best they can do. They have a long way to go, but it is looking good.
Steve: Yes, I’ve been through much of the West Wing and “York Concourse” before construction started, and it was not a pretty sight. The new offices are rather plain — nobody will be able to accuse Metrolinx of extravagance.
Offtopic, but as a commuter deaf since birth (marky.ca/hearing) who wears a backpack and cannot hear trains behind me, I heard with concern about the backpack snag death at Union. This will be potentially worrisome as Union doubles.
I posted two separate safety suggestions to GO on UrbanToronto here and here.
What is the function of those hinged wheel covers anyways? Get rid of them, they seem to do nothing and it could save a little money for GO to just not have them . I always thought they were some kind of costly aesthetic, but now they are a safety hazard as well, apparently.
Steve: Actually, I believe that their purpose is to provide added protection for passengers falling under the train. They do also clean up the “look” of the side of the train by eliminating the “missing teeth” effect of openings for the trucks.
The maps for Union Station continue to make me scratch my head; the information display is poor, and part of this is probably the confusing platform numbering. I have to ask how a single elevator can access platforms 5,6,7, and 8.