Doors Open Toronto: Lower Bay Station, May 28, 2022 (Updated)

On Saturday, May 28, 2022, between 10am and 5pm, the TTC will open the lower level of Bay Station as part of Toronto’s Doors Open event.

May 28, 2022: Updated with photos from the event.

Bay Station is an inverted version of St. George Station with the Bloor line on the upper level (the currently active station) and the University line on the lower level. Tracks connect to Lower Bay from the junctions north of Museum Station and at the west end of Yonge Station. These are regularly used for equipment moves between the two lines as well as by work trains.

This station has rarely been seen by the train-riding public except for a few construction-related subway diversions. It operated in revenue service for the first six months of the Bloor-Danforth subway during the trial of an integrated service on the Yonge-University and Bloor-Danforth lines. When that ended in September 1966, the station took on various uses including storage, training, testing of platform treatments for wayfinding, and movie shoots.

During the event, trains will be parked on the platforms, and there will be displays from the TTC’s centennial book A Century of Moving Toronto.

Access is only by stairway.

Route Map for Integrated Subway Service 1966

Here is a selection of photos from the event.

Lower Bay Station is taller than most because of the alignment of the tunnel which connects to the University line north of Museum by going under the north-to-west track into St. George Station.

Two trains were set up with photos arranged by decade. The display is adapted from the book TTC100 which is available in hardcover or digital version from the TTCShop.

The streetcar system is a lot smaller than it was in 1949 before any of the subway was built. Streetcar trains with Peter Witt cars served Yonge, and trains of PCCs operated on Bloor-Danforth. Many other parallel routes funnelled riders into downtown.

Lower Bay is a bit worse for wear, not having seen revenue service (at least with stopping trains) since 1966. It has been used, among other things, to test various floor treatments for wayfinding.

Once the Yonge Subway opened in 1954, the major interchange was at Bloor-Yonge with a protected unloading and loading platform in the middle of Bloor Street leading directly to the Bloor Station platforms below. This area will see major reconstruction in coming years as Yonge Station and the link with Bloor Station are expanded to provide a separate eastbound platform for Line 2.

Streetcar traffic to the east end was quite intensive with the combined service Bloor and Danforth trains operating close to once a minute between Bedford Loop (now St. George Station) and Coxwell. The view looks northwest on the Prince Edward Viaduct with the trees of Rosedale in the background.

At the east end of Lower Bay, there is a TTC Lego subway train set up which some lucky soul will win in a draw.

Finally, the station name is “BAY Yorkville”. This is a testimonial to the days when Yorkville was a disreputable neighbourhood full of coffee houses, people with long hair, and smokeables you can now find on any street corner. The station’s original name was to be “Yorkville” after the former town, but this was changed. This is not the only original BD station to get a different name when it was built: “Vincent” became “Dundas West”, and “Willowvale” became “Christie”.

24 thoughts on “Doors Open Toronto: Lower Bay Station, May 28, 2022 (Updated)

  1. Ah, the memories. The inductive loops thrusting forth from the lead car’s cab like an outstretched arm with invisible fingers pointing the direction desired at ‘The Junction’.

    Inability to co-ordinate meshing the timings of movement on the two lines has always been given as the reason for the interlining fail…but one has to wonder. Even at that time, many other nation’s systems were able to do it, and more.

    I suspect the limitation wasn’t the engineering at all. It was the political sham of offering the hordes from the burbs a one-seat ride to downtown to ‘sell’ the whole project to begin with. This was of course, ‘Pre-Amalgamation’ in Toronto.

    It would be most interesting to read a review of both what the engineering was capable of at the time, and the scheming to pour molasses on it.

    Steve: TTC management never wanted to build or operate an integrated system, and constructed/operated a schedule that could not have been better designed to screw up service if they tried. Two big problems were that trains were scheduled to change routes so that a Woodbine-Keele train might become a Woodbine-Downtown train, and strict alternation of service at the three junctions meant a delay on any branch quickly cascaded to the whole system. It only worked if everything was precisely on time and in sequence, and we know how often that happens. Imagine running branching bus or streetcar routes where the “A” service had to wait at a merge point for the “B” service to show up.

    While you’re slagging off the “hordes from the burbs”, please remember that in the era when this was planned, much of “the burbs” was farmland. The purpose of the integration was to relieve transfer traffic at Bloor-Yonge. Also, in those days, “downtown” really was at the south end of the “U” and so much more transfer traffic, proportionately, was bound there. Also don’t forget that until 1966 TTC subway operations consisted of a single, paltry line from Eglinton to St. George, nothing as complex as the big city transit system like NYC, and they had no experience in how to manage multiple services sharing the same track. Even today, our system is operationally simple, just bigger.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. On the 28th, they will also have the TTC shop pop-up open UPSTAIRS.

    Another cool feature in lower bay station, is the variations of ‘tactile wayfinding strips’ they have tested for blind people.


  3. It’s a shame they cannot open Greenwood, Russell or McCowan Yard again. Lower Bay is interesting but it has been done to death.

    Some of the Crosstown sites would have been nice to see though I suspect there are liability issues doing so.

    Steve: I suspect that the Crosstown stations are still technically under the contractor’s control and have not been formally handed off to Metrolinx.


  4. I was hoping that some, if not most, of the Line 5 stations would be part of Open Doors Toronto. Likely the lawyers said “no”.

    The same lawyers who closed down the “Adventure Playground” at Harbourfront, because we can’t have “fun”, because we may get hurt.

    Steve: Opening an industrial site to visitors, especially when it is under construction, is fraught with liability problems especially the way that the whole project is designed as a P3. Any site which is actively under constrction would require people to wear safety equipment (boots, hard hats, goggles) and this has been the drill for media tours. It is simply not workable on a “Doors Open” basis. Also many of those stations are very deep and I wouldn’t count on having escalator/elevator service.

    If they were going to show off the line, it would make far more sense to have a controlled access to part of the carhouse in Mount Dennis, and possibly rides along the surface section on Eglinton East, but even these ould pose problems. I don’t think there is any provision on the contract for pre-opening operations.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Two big problems were that trains were scheduled to change routes so that a Woodbine-Keele train might become a Woodbine-Downtown train

    Ah. I have seen this map before but did not realize that each colo(u)red line was *2-way*. I thought it was the case that if you were at Woodbine and wanted to go to Keele, you took a “red” train (I know – at one point they were *all* red, but never mind) and when you wanted to return to Woodbine, you would take the “blue” train and change at … well … looking at it more carefully, there is no “blue to green” connection without traveling past Union … What was it you said “couldn’t have made it worse if they tried”? Lol.

    The digits next to the station names are … ? Addresses? Mileposts? Pointed de chaînage?

    Steve: They are street addresses. Davisville, for example, is at 1887 Yonge on the East and, of course, 1900 Yonge on the west.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Steve writes in answer to my post above:
    [While you’re slagging off the “hordes from the burbs”,]

    I was paraphrasing. That was the nature of the debate at the time, which is why I purposefully referred “Pre-Amalgamation”. Much of the testy tension at the time was due to the City vs Boroughs within Metro, and the TTC having to thread a line between them, with yet another agenda of its own.

    I lived in York Township at the time, so I’d hardly be “Slagging” ‘the hordes’ now, would I?

    please remember that in the era when this was planned, much of “the burbs” was farmland.

    Early Sixties? The only farmland that existed in York Twp at the time was the Eglinton Flats.

    Steve: The design decision to plan for the wye and integrated service dates to the 50s. As for farmland, the last time I looked, neither Warden nor Islington stations, the then-planned outer ends of B-D, served York Twp. A lot of Scarborough was farmland.

    James Bow writes:


    As early as March 1966, however, some were expressing concern about the feasibility of interlining. Indeed, the UCRS Newsletter reported that “under actual service conditions it may result in unavoidable slowdowns at the junction of the two lines; a breakdown or delay on one route will affect the entire system. Further, high operating costs may outweigh the advantages of the direct ride to downtown.”

    Other subway systems, like Montreal for instance, twist their tunnels to bring one track of a line over the other. When these double-decked tracks enter a transfer station, such as Lionel-Groulx, they let passengers off across the platforms from the double-decked tracks from the other line, reducing the need to go up or down a level in order to transfer between lines. If the TTC had gone this route, trains to Keele at St. George and Woodbine at Bay would be on the same level, and passengers wouldn’t have to wait between levels in order to be sure to catch the first train to their destination. With St. George as a terminus, however, the twisted arrangement would be the inefficient one: in this case, it would be passengers going downtown who would have to choose between two levels.

    The design of the “T” was a failure from concept. The question is really whether it was done purposefully or not as a sop to those selling the “one seat ride to downtown”.

    Many other cities managed to do it quite successfully, and only recently have their electro-mechanical signalling and dispatch systems been replaced by digital logic.

    Steve: The geometry of connecting two lines for across the platform transfers as you describe is a lot simpler than three lines with integrated through routing. Also, tunnel locations were constrained by building foundations. The Toronto implementation was doomed by a combination of operational and scheduling constraints that were built into the line by the TTC.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Other subway systems, like Montreal for instance, twist their tunnels to bring one track of a line over the other.

    Only at Lionel-Groulx and Snowdon. And at Snowdon, the southwesterly line was never built so not particularly busy (L-G is). But Berri-UQAM (originally Berri-de Montigny) was just two lines crossing at right angles (and a third sneaking in a block over). When Line 5 (the other line at Snowdon) was extended north-easterly (I use actual compass directions not “Montreal directions”) a new passenger connection was built at Jean-Talon and it was of the same design as Berri-UQAM (sans, sneaky 3rd line).


  8. Not mentioned above is the intermixing of Gloucester cars with the Montreal and Hawker-Siddely trains. Taking the red cars off Bloor should have allowed a speed-up of the other cars. (Did that ever happen?)

    I took the line from Keele to downtown most of that summer. I didn’t use Lower Bay very much, unfortunately.

    Steve: For a time, the BD line operated with the M- and H-series trains in “high rate”, but this led to problems with motors on the H-1 cars. Despite the fact that the problem fleet is long gone, the TTC has never reverted to operation at the higher speed the trains are capable of achieving.


  9. So the TTC can’t route trains from say Greenwood yard to VMC (not that they would ever have a reason to) But for clarity’s sake, let’s say they did. The only way to do that would be to turn down Bay, go all the way to the next cross-over… St. Andrew? And back north.

    Steve: Either St. Andrew or to the pocket track at Osgoode.


  10. When did they make the lower level of Bay Station accessible? If the excuse that Open Doors can only be accessible, then the lower level of Bay Station should be closed off to all.

    Steve: It is not accessible. The escalators have not run since 1966 (if they are even still there) and there is no elevator. This is not normally a public space and so there is no legal requirement for accessibility to this part of the station. Moreover, many other Doors Open sites are not fully accessible as you can easily learn from their website.

    If you check the details of various Door Open sites under “Accessibility” you will find locations that are not, or at least not fully. Whatever gave you the impression that this event had to be 100% accessible?


  11. I was fortunate to be on some H-Trains operating on High rate on the Y-U-S. I believe that was allowed if a motor or two on the train was essentially dead. Going up the Rosedale and Summerhill hills was impressive. I had heard rumours that the Gloucesters were capable of a High rate, or at least a High rate for them. The thing is, if High Rate were used today, how much time would that actually save per trip?

    Steve: I rode trains in high rate on YUS too. The travel time between Eglinton and Finch was reduced from about 12 to 10 minutes (the equivalent of saving two trains) because of better speed between widely-spaced stations and operation on hills as if they were not there. I suspect there could also be savings on the Spadina side of the line, although speed restrictions in some locations would limit the benefit.

    At one point, I proposed a switch to high rate as a way of saving money on new train purchases, and the reaction of TTC management was almost apoplectic because the fix was already in for a big train order to Thunder Bay based on low rate operation.

    Another issue with high rate was the need to adjust braking distances and signal timings. Whether the new Line 1 ATC has provision for high rate operation built in, and what the TRs are actually capable of doing, is quite another matter.


  12. On renamed stations, many, many years ago I saw one of those yellow sawhorse things labelled “Vincent”.


  13. The track siding between Keele and Dundas West stations was called the “Vincent” yard.

    As for Dundas West Station, they may change the name because “Dundas” now has a bad repetition because of Henry Dundas’ slavery ties. Dundas opposed a bill tabled in 1792 in the UK calling for the immediate abolition of the slave trade. Myself, I would rename it to “Roncesvalles Station”, which is much closer to Roncesvalles Avenue than Pioneer Village Station is to Black Creek Pioneer Village itself.


  14. If you wanted to really experience High Range you needed a solid train of M cars. IIRC they were lighter than the Hawkers and had 25 more hp per motor. I was on a train once when a supervisor decided to operate the train to get in his required hours of operation. The motor man warned him that the train was hot and he had to power off a lot sooner. He decided to fallow the off markings and ran the double red before Victoria Park. Needless to say he had to phone in the Signal Passed at Danger and explain why. He also got out to reset the trip cock. The motor man did not gloat or say anything except. “These pure M trains are really hot.”


  15. Re: “Whether the new Line 1 ATC has provision for high rate operation built in, and what the TRs are actually capable of doing, is quite another matter.”

    Is it not immaterial what the speed could be since it’s programmed in or is it possible the TRs have a top limit? I would think “speeding things up”, albeit safely, would be a benefit for commute times? Of course, I know nothing about the limitations of automated systems.

    Steve: Considering that there are automated systems that control trains running far faster than subway speeds, it is not the software which is the issue. The question is whether the trains were built with the ability to operate in a “high rate”, or if their performance spec is “low rate”.


  16. Line 1 subjective feels slower after the implementation of ATC. There are many areas where the trains seem to crawl compared to the good old days of human operators. Prime examples are the downtown stations where ATC has the trains coasting slowly into the station and the curved areas between Dupont and Eglinton West.

    Steve: The signal system is enforcing TTC operating speeds that are more restrictive than how drivers manually operated the trains. Some ops were particularly good at running as close to the timed signals as possible without tripping. That was part of the problem in the Russell Hill crash. A junior operator learned that’s how it was done, and managed to get past a red that should have stopped his train but for a failing trip arm. Never seeing them turn to a clear indication was part of the challenge. There is also a longer stopping time while the train has a little chat with itself before the doors open. Tiny bits but they all add up. The offsetting benefit is that trains approaching choe points like Bloor can get much closer to each other with ATC and (once Line 1 is back at pre-pandemic service or better) can stream through stations after gaps to clear backlogs of passengers. The real problem shifts downstairs where a more frequent Yonge service will deliver transfer riders faster than the Bloor line can take them away.


  17. I’m not holding my breath that the TRs are capable of high rate for the very reasons you surmise they might not, especially when it comes to the political football of the size of fleet orders. As it is, I’m sure the TTC brass would argue faster speeds are not safe.

    Steve: And yet one of the selling points for ATC was that they could shorten trips by running trains faster.


  18. Rename Dundas West to Crossways Basement

    > [much closer than] Pioneer Village Station is to Black Creek Pioneer Village itself.

    To say nothing of Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, which is infinitely distant from any metropolitan centres in Vaughan.


  19. Jarek (semi-serious) wrote: To say nothing of Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, which is infinitely distant from any metropolitan centres in Vaughan.

    In 15-20 years the area around VMC could be as dense if not more dense than North York Centre. There are massive redevelopment proposals for sites around Colossus movie theater, on Crislea instead of the stores/stripmalls, the old (already torn down) AMC theater and next to Ikea, as well as around the station. If it all gets built as planned there would be something like 25-50,000 people living around VMC.


  20. The area around VMC may become dense but as long as the feeder network around it sucks, it will be no more busier than North York Centre. I live 10km away from the station and it takes 2 bus changes and 50 minutes. It is faster to walk 20 minutes, hop on 105 bus to Sheppard West subway station (23km away)


  21. Steve said:

    “At one point, I proposed a switch to high rate as a way of saving money on new train purchases, and the reaction of TTC management was almost apoplectic because the fix was already in for a big train order to Thunder Bay based on low rate operation.”

    Was this referring to the TR order way back around 2007, or the upcoming late-2020s order?

    Steve: Even earlier. The irony with the late 2020s order is that as currently sized, it is not clear how much capacity it has to run more frequent service with ATC, although a move to high rate if it were possible would make a difference.


  22. You mentioned movie shoots at lower Bay. If you were ever a viewer of the TV show Night Heat there was, I think, just one episode that had scenes using the subway but I don’t remember what stations were used right off the bat. Was either level of Bay used in this episode to your knowledge?

    Steve: Don’t know. I will leave this for others to comment on. There are many movies listed on IMDB with Lower Bay as a location, but this list is not necessarily complete.


  23. Is it likely for the TTC to open the bus/streetcar/subway garages for future doors open events like they did in the past?

    Steve: I believe so. The next event coming up is a United Way fundraiser, and I think that Hillcrest is supposed to be the site. Waiting for something official from TTC on this.


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