Eglinton Station - Toronto's Former Suburban Gateway

By Mark Brader and James Bow

See also

When Eglinton station opened to the public, it was the Yonge subway's gateway to Toronto's northern suburbs. Several bus and trolley bus routes converged on this station, bearing passengers to and from the east, north and south, connecting to the subway at a large, multi-platform bus terminal. South of the terminal, Eglinton garage, formerly Eglinton carhouse, stored a large number of buses and trolley buses for routes serving a wide area of the city. The complex was a busy place from the start, and it only got busier.

The Yonge/Eglinton intersection has transformed since the Yonge subway opened. Office and residential towers rose up and new shopping centres opened. Traffic increased. The suburbs continued to sprawl northward and, in 1973, the north Yonge subway extension opened, moving the subway's northern gateway first to York Mills and then, in 1974, to Finch. Eglinton station was no longer a suburban gateway, but the centrepiece of a growing commercial and residential core located in the very centre in a large and dynamic city.

Eglinton station has changed alongside the intersection -- its entrances rerouted with connections built to nearby shopping centres, and its bus terminal reconfigured, expanded, reduced, and finally replaced -- but the actual subway platform retains features that were in place when the trains first started rolling. Eglinton station is the only station where the original Vitrolite tiles are still visible on the walls. When the TTC replaced old Eglinton garage with the new Eglinton garage on Comstock Road, space became available for a major renovation that has already seen the closure of the aging bus terminal and will eventually produce a new terminal with improved passenger flow through the station. The work will still take years to complete.

Visitors to Eglinton station in 2002 would have done well to take pictures, for a few years later they might not be able to recognize it.

A Brief History of Eglinton Station

(Above) Here we see one a section of the outer walls whose original appearance survives completely (although the ceiling has changed from white-painted concrete to metal channels). (Below) Here we see the original plain wall, including ad panels and two sets of warning signs.


One of the 1966 Solari flip-leaf automatic destination signs, no longer in active use since regular short-turn service ended on the Y-U-S line, but with its indicator updated to show a current destination.

When it opened, Eglinton station was a terminal station with a single centre platform serving two tracks. Four stairways and one escalator led to a mezzanine level above. Halfway along this mezzanine concourse, on the east side were the stairs to the station's main entrance, flanked by a pair of washrooms; and directly opposite, on the west side, were the glass doors leading to the station's bus terminal.

The main entrance was about 100 m south of Eglinton Avenue, in a windowless temporary building designed to be incorporated into a future development on the site. The fare barrier was actually perpendicular to Yonge Street, and the stairs in two flights, so that passengers would turn through 360 degrees between the street and the mezzanine concourse.

Passengers transferring from the subway to a bus or trolley bus would walk through the glass doors into a second concourse extending west and angling slightly north toward Eglinton Avenue; on their left were separate stairs leading up to each of nine parallel bus platforms (or "bays"). Each bay had a single drive-through bus lane, divided into unloading and loading areas. Each platform had a wall (with translucent windows for daylight) separating it from the next one, and a canopy for rain protection (but not extending over the actual bus lane). Passengers arriving by bus or trolley bus would disembark at the unloading platform and descend a separate flight of stairs, taking one of five short cross-passages leading southward to the main bus concourse.

Eglinton Terminal Redevelopment Plans

Plan of Eglinton station's mezzanine level

(In 1968, new stations at Islington and Victoria Park included similar parallel-plan bus terminals, but in these the loading stairs don't block the full width of the platform. Then if different routes share a platform, people can transfer from one to the other by just walking along the platform. Also, these newer stations used overall roofs instead of individual canopies.)

Buses and trolley buses would originally enter the station either by turning off Eglinton Avenue, or using a diagonal driveway at the corner of Yonge and Eglinton; the latter was later eliminated when the corner was redeveloped. They ran south through the platforms and exited by turning onto Duplex Avenue or Yonge Street.

The bus platforms were numbered east to west from 1 to 9, and a photo taken just after the station opened (which we do not have permission to reproduce) shows signs for each platform as follows. (Until 1956, TTC bus and trolley bus routes had only names; there were no route numbers.)

  1. Yonge
  2. blank
  3. blank
  4. Nortown eastbound
  5. Leaside
  6. Sunnybrook
  7. Nortown westbound
  8. Eglinton West
  9. Richmond Hill

(Above) A street-level view of the station's main entrance, under the Bank of Montreal in the Canada Square complex. (Below) Here we see the escalators descending beneath the bank (there are also stairs, awkwardly fitted in, off to the left of the picture).

Four or five of the platforms had trolley bus wires. At this time Yonge and Nortown were trolley bus routes; Eglinton West was also considered as a possible trolley bus route at one time.

At the west end of the station, the last cross-passage, for unloading from platform 9, doubled as an alternate exit from the station, with a set of exit turnstiles by the foot of the unloading stairs. Passengers exiting this way would then turn left and up a flight of stairs that forked to the north and south. The north fork was always called the Duplex Avenue exit (or entrance) of the station, although it actually led onto Eglinton Avenue about 50 m east of Duplex.

Outside of the fare-paid area was the tenth bus platform, which riders could reach from the south fork of the stairs or directly from Eglinton Avenue via the Duplex entrance. Platform 10 stood out from the rest, having a different canopy design and, more notably, four stopping positions notched into the sidewalk of a common bus road that a stopped bus would not block. (This became the TTC's preferred layout for entire bus terminals starting with the north Yonge subway extension in 1973).

We do not know why this platform was outside the fare-paid area, or how it was originally used. A likely possibility is that the station was designed to receive suburban buses from North York, before it was known that the TTC's service area would be expanding to include all of Metropolitan Toronto. In any case, passengers entering the station from Eglinton, or arriving at platform 10, and needing to reach the fare-paid area to board the subway or another surface route, would take a separate back passage parallel to, but north of, the main bus concourse. This finally turned south to reach the main concourse just before the doors to the subway section of the station, with a collector's booth and a set of entry turnstiles at that point.

Along the north side of the main bus concourse, in between the cross-passages, space was provided for retail businesses, although this was not occupied when the station first opened. A newsstand was present at the intersection of the bus and subway concourses when the station opened, and has been there ever since.

The first improvements to the station were made in about 1958. The canopied Duplex entrance was enclosed in a small building, and turnstiles and a collector booth were installed there, replacing the original locations, and thus bringing platform 10 into the fare-paid area. (The former collector booth area near bus platform 1 eventually became retail space.) From the outset the Duplex entrance was an automatic one, its booth unstaffed in normal operation. The change also allowed the back (north) passage to be connected to the physically adjacent cross-passages, making it available as a convenient route for passengers arriving at bus platforms 1 to 9 to transfer to the subway when the concourse might be crowded with waiting passengers. At about the same time, a second escalator was added alongside one of the stairs between the subway platform and the concourse, giving the present symmetrical layout with escalators running both ways.

This arrangement worked well, to start, but things grew crowded as the passengers and the bus routes arriving from the suburbs increased. To compensate, the bus terminal was expanded with separate structure containing platforms 11, 12 and 13, connected to the bus terminal concourse by a short tunnel. For the outbuilding, the single-lane design was used, with platforms 12-13 having a full roof and platform 11 only a canopy.

Eglinton station also had to change with the changes happening in the area. The subway attracted a lot of new development to the area. The TTC contributed to this development by selling the air rights over the station and allowing developers to build Canada Square, featuring shops, offices, movie theatres and the headquarters of TV Ontario directly over the tracks. The complex opened in stages, with the original 1962 building extended north overtop the station in 1968. The Yonge-Eglinton (later spelled "Yonge Eglinton") Centre rose at the northwest corner of the intersection in stages in 1974 and 1975.

Eglinton station underwent renovations then; its original entrance, having been built into Canada Square as intended, was then closed and a new entrance built at the north end of the concourse. The station's retail space now expanded into the enlarged concourse over the subway platform. From the new main entrance, stairs and escalators led up to Canada Square, while a set of tunnels took patrons beneath Eglinton Avenue to the Yonge-Eglinton Centre, and under Yonge to the other two corners of the intersection.

Also at about this time, a second automatic entrance was built into the low central section of Canada Square between its two main towers; this was not connected to the main mezzanine concourse of the station, but led directly to the south end of the platform by a separate stairway.

The North Yonge extension to York Mills opened in 1973, reducing Eglinton's status as the subway's suburban terminal. When the extension opened, the TTC scheduled a short-turn service on the Yonge subway, with every second northbound train terminating at Eglinton during rush hours. The Solari flip-leaf automatic destination signs, first used as part of the TTC's interlining of the Yonge and Bloor-Danforth subways, came into use again, now moved to the northbound platforms, to notify passengers which trains went just to Eglinton and which went all the way to York Mills. The short turn service continued into the 1980s before full rush-hour service was extended from Eglinton to Finch. Short turns still occasionally happen at Eglinton station, but the scissors crossover south of the station is usually bypassed in favour of the pocket track at the north of the station, installed in 1973.

Although the development around the Yonge/Eglinton intersection ensured that Eglinton station would remain busy, the North Yonge extensions did reduce the number of bus routes terminating at Eglinton station. Platforms 11 through 13 became surplus and the structure and the tunnel leading to it was closed to the public. The outbuilding has just sat there for all the time since then, except for a few months in the mid 1980s during a major renovation of platforms 1-9 when it was reopened temporarily. The space around the outbuilding was rented out as a public parking lot for some time, and for years after that until 2004, part of it was a TTC staff parking lot. Platforms 1 through 9 continued to see regular use while platform 10, connected to the Duplex Avenue entrance, remained open to the public and was used for special operations such as when other platforms were closed due to construction.

The mid-1980s renovation of Eglinton station was part of the series of renovations to the original Yonge subway which replaced or covered most of the aging Vitrolite tiles. At this time the layout of the bus concourse was changed once again, with the back (north) passageway now closed permanently (presumably to save the cost of refinishing it, and to create a storage space). Passengers arriving by bus or trolley bus now again had to use the cross-passages to the main bus concourse, as in the station's original configuration, even if transferring to the subway. This move did enable Eglinton station to retain much of its original look, as Vitrolite tiles were salvaged from the closed corridor (and Queen station, which had the same colour tiles and had been renovated shortly beforehand) to replace whatever broken ones existed in the station's public areas.

This renovation also further expanded the retail space in the station, taking over the original main entrance area and moving the washrooms to the south end of the concourse.

The Last Days of Eglinton's Original Bus Terminal

This photograph, taken in the year 2000 by David Cavlovic, gives you an overall view of the bus concourse. Note the the support structure under bus lane 7, encased in wood, then fairly new.

In the summer of 2000 came the first public hint that all was not well with the station's bus terminal. A yellow carboard sign was posted in the subway concourse:

Please excuse our appearance
=============================
Remedial Work in Progress
In Bus Concourse Level
Completion is scheduled
for end of July
Sorry for any inconvenience

And then a structure resembling a two-span bridge was erected across the bus concourse, between the stairs to platforms 6 and 7. It was made of the components typically seen in temporary structures such as scaffolding at construction sites, and enclosed in panels of painted drywall.

The reason was that the concrete slab over the concourse could no longer be relied on everywhere to support its own weight plus the buses passing overhead. The concrete was particularly deteriorated under the bus lane for platform 7, serving the busy 32 Eglinton West route; the new support structure was needed to reinforce it.

But this was only the beginning. The metal-channel ceiling below the span began to be left open for long periods of time to allow the concrete to be inspected. (Along with the wood-enclosed roof support, this gave the concourse something of an under-construction look -- which made it seem highly appropriate that until June 9, 2003, nobody remembered to take down the sign in the subway concourse. July of what year? In fact, in later months the sign reappeared in the bus concourse, in a corner but back in plain sight.)

In November 2001, the TTC issued a report confirming earlier reports that "The structural slab which supports the bus platforms will reach the end of its useful service life by the end of 2003. Bus operations on this slab must cease at that time."

By this time, plans were underway to replace the Eglinton bus garage adjacent to the station with the new Eglinton garage at Comstock Road, providing an opportunity for a temporary bus terminal to be built in the old garage.

The last day of normal operation at the old bus terminal was Sunday, April 27, 2003. At that time the bus platforms were assigned as follows:

  1. 51 Leslie
  2. 34 Eglinton East
  3. 54 Lawrence East
  4. 103 Mount Pleasant North
  5. 56 Leaside
  6. 5 Avenue Road
  7. 32 Eglinton West
  8. 61 Avenue Road North
  9. 100 Flemingdon Park
  10. unused

Buses using platforms 1-5 exited the station by turning left from the bays, left onto Yonge Street, and right onto Eglinton Avenue; from platforms 6-9 (and 10 if diverted there), they turned right from the bays, right onto Duplex Avenue, and left or right onto Eglinton.

But on Monday, April 28, five routes had changed platforms:

  1. closed
  2. closed
  3. 54 Lawrence East
  4. 103 Mount Pleasant North
  5. 34 Eglinton East
  6. 100 Flemingdon Park
  7. 32 Eglinton West
  8. 61 Avenue Road North
  9. 51 Leslie
  10. unused, 56 Leaside, unused, 5 Avenue Road
    (stopping positions from north to south)

As well as bus platforms 1 and 2, the exit driveway onto Yonge Street was also closed; all buses now exited the station onto Duplex. (One of our contributors then suggested to the TTC that if all eastbound routes were going to run via Duplex and Eglinton, a bus stop should be added at that corner, and this was installed around the end of July.)

The only actual structural demolition at this time was of the loading section of platform 1, although the bus lane of platform 2 was also dug up (and its canopy suffered several impacts with construction equipment). Under the demolished area, and the closed bus exit, a new connecting tunnel was dug to join the old bus concourse to the temporary terminal. As the roof of this tunnel was at ground level, a skylight was installed along its length. Near the south end of the tunnel, stairs were constructed leading to a new, uncanopied bus platform along the south edge of the old terminal property.

Also during the construction period, additional deterioration was found in the concrete slab. A second roof support was added in June 2003 under bus lane 10, and another in July under bus lane 6, mostly in its cross-passage but protruding into the main concourse. And meanwhile, on Monday, July 28, the subway station's south entrance from Yonge Street also closed as part of the work.

The original terminal did continue in use a little beyond the end of 2003. With the connecting tunnel complete, the bus driveway onto Yonge Street even reopened, for buses using platforms 3-5, on about February 1, 2004. The aging terminal was still in use on the subway's 50th anniversary, March 30 -- but that was its final week of operation. The station's Duplex entrance closed along with it, on Saturday night, April 3.

(And beginning on April 16, the entire sidewalk on Eglinton alongside the closed terminal was torn up, from Duplex almost to Yonge, and rebuilt with a standard curb instead of a low driveway curb. In June the staff parking lot was closed and a chain-link fence was then erected all the way around the closed terminal. Now no bus driver will absentmindedly turn into the old platforms.)

The Temporary Bus Terminal

On April 4 the temporary terminal opened, and with it a modified and enlarged south entrance to the station.

The original south entrance doors from the street have been closed off, and a wider entrance has been built a short distance to the south in what was previously TTC office space. The entrance is still an automatic one, but it now has two turnstiles each for entry and exit instead of one. It leads to the same stairs down the the subway platform as before, but now just southwest of these stairs is an enclosed waiting room for passengers transferring to buses.

Immediately beyond the waiting room are the two main bus platforms: an eastbound platform extending south from the waiting room, and a westbound platform extending west and angling a little north (essentially parallel to the old bus concourse), with six and four stopping positions respectively; they share the same bus road, which curves as it passes the waiting room. Near the start of the westbound platform is the tunnel leading to the east end of the old bus terminal area, and so, via the main concourse over the subway platform, to the station's main entrance at Yonge and Eglinton.

Although the station's mezzanine level is generally one level below ground, this is not true near the south entrance, where Yonge Street slopes down to meet it. From the street, through the new entrance, to the new bus platforms is entirely level or just slightly ramped. Therefore this is a particularly convenient point to provide wheelchair access, which was done on about September 9, 2004. An elevator connecting to the subway platform opened at the same time.

The bus stops are not numbered, as the platforms in the old terminal were. From south to north, the stops on the eastbound platform are:

  • 103 Mount Pleasant North
  • 51 Leslie, 56 Leaside
  • 100 Flemingdon Park, WheelTrans
  • Unloading (for all routes listed below)
  • 34 Eglinton East
  • 54 Lawrence East

And from east to west, along the westbound platform:

  • 32 Eglinton West excluding 32C
  • 32C Eglinton West via Trethewey
  • 61 Avenue Road North
  • 5 Avenue Road

Thus the busiest routes (32, 34, and 54) stop nearest the waiting room. The walking distance between the subway and these stops, or the common unloading stop, is similar to the walking distances in the old bus terminal; but since the level access requires the new layout to have the bus platforms end to end, the less busy outer stops involve a noticeably longer walk than before. The westernmost stops, for routes 61 and 5, are outside of the old garage building, but a canopy is provided over them.

All nine bus routes entered the old terminal directly from Eglinton Avenue. Now buses on six routes turn south from Eglinton onto Duplex Avenue, entering the terminal by the old garage driveway, just south of the former bus exit driveway on Duplex. Within the terminal they make an anticlockwise loop, which brings them onto the bus platform lane just before the stop for route 100; routes other than the 100 may then call at the common unloading stop before advancing to their own stop for loading. The three routes whose stops are southernmost (51, 56, and 103) cannot use the loop; they reach the station by turning south from Eglinton onto Yonge (a left turn prohibited to other vehicles), then west on Berwick and north into the terminal to reach their stop directly. All routes leaving the terminal exit onto Duplex, turning left or right on Eglinton.

The new terminal includes a "special event platform", held in reserve like platform 10 in the old one. This is the uncovered platform built along the south edge of the old terminal's bus driveways. Buses would reach it from Duplex by using the old bus exit driveway in reverse, then exit onto Yonge via the other old bus exit. Stairs lead down from the east end of this platform to a set of doors (normally closed) in the tunnel to the old concourse, while at the west end a path from the platform ramps down to meet the route 61 platform in the new terminal. (When the old terminal was fenced in, a locked gate was put across this path.)

Retail space is provided along the eastbound platform for the four businesses that remained in the old terminal when it closed. The time they needed to move varied from overnight to weeks, so that, just as with the original station, much of the space was unoccupied at first.

Eglinton Terminal Redevelopment Plans Eglinton Terminal Crosssection

Richard Hooles submitted these plans for the new Eglinton station's bus terminal; construction to start once the temporary bus terminal opens.

The Planned New Terminal

Once the original bus terminal has been demolished, work can begin in earnest on the new Eglinton complex. At least, that was the plan.

The TTC has already received millions of dollars for developing its air rights above one part of Eglinton station (Canada Square); the area above the current bus terminal is larger and can yield up more money while producing even more potential passengers steps from the subway.

However, attempts to redevelop the original terminal site stalled, and was further complicated by the decision made by Toronto City Council in 2006 to propose construction of an underground LRT beneath Eglinton Avenue. The provincial government agreed to Toronto's request and incorporated this proposal into its Move Ontario 2020 program. Despite the election of Rob Ford to the mayoralty and subsequent changes to the Eglinton LRT design, the project is still proceeding, under the control of the provincial body, Metrolinx.

The design of the Eglinton LRT will change how the new bus terminal will be built, both in terms of incorporating the LRT-to-subway connection into its design, and in the fact that a much smaller bus terminal will now be needed, since the LRT will be replacing many of the bus routes that currently operate into Eglinton station. The temporary bus terminal will likely serve TTC patrons until 2016, at least.

Once Toronto's suburban gateway, the Yonge/Eglinton intersection is turning into a diverse development node in the very centre of a large and growing city. With these changes, Eglinton station will be ready to handle not only the passengers it now handles, but far more which may be drawn by the increased development in the area.

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