Text by James Bow
A subway stop at the intersection of Yonge and Sheppard was envisioned as early as 1959, as Metropolitan Toronto drew up plans to extend the YONGE SUBWAY north from Eglinton station. Initial plans called for the northern extension to go in two phases, first running from Eglinton to Sheppard Avenue, opening in 1970, and the second extending from Sheppard Avenue to Steeles, opening in 1980. Metropolitan Toronto council approved the extension to Sheppard Avenue on January 25, 1967, and then approved a further extension to Finch on October 17, 1969.
A Temporary Terminus
Initially, Sheppard station was to be a terminal station on the Yonge line, serving a new downtown being developed around the Sheppard/Yonge intersection by the Borough of North York. It would have featured a large bus terminal allowing passengers to connect from the subway trains to a number of routes extending to the east, north and west across the growing suburb of North York, and even into Markham and Vaughan. The extension to Finch was commissioned to take advantage of open land along the Hydro right-of-way corridor north of Finch Avenue for a large park’n’ride lot, as few such opportunities existed around the Sheppard station. This reduced the demand on the connecting bus terminal, but a large terminal, and a sprawling station complex were still designed.
Sheppard station was to be the first of two stations to open in the Borough of North York, north of the TTC’s central fare zone. As was the case when Islington, Royal York, Old Mill, Jane, Main Street, Victoria Park and Warden stations opened on the BLOOR-DANFORTH SUBWAY line in 1968, the TTC planned that the northern YONGE SUBWAY would remain in the central fare zone, while the buses connecting to it were in the suburban fare zone. This way, connecting passengers could pay their second fare as they transferred from bus to subway.
A Fare Question
The TTC set up fare gates at the concourse level just north of the subway platform. A lengthy tunnel connecting this concourse to the bus terminal was thus outside the fare-paid area. Theoretically, people could legally enter and exit the station from the street through the bus terminal, although this was likely discouraged for safety reasons. The corridor also featured a number of stairwells leading to exits onto Sheppard Avenue
Construction delays, resulting from labour disputes and unexpected obstacles along the route, pushed back the opening of the North Yonge extension until the TTC decided to open the subway from Eglinton to York Mills station instead, on March 31, 1973. Sheppard station, along with Finch, would open a year later, on March 30, 1974 (and, coincidentally, the twentieth anniversary of the opening of the original YONGE SUBWAY.
Ironically, by then, Metrpolitan Council had forced the TTC to abolish its two-zone fare system, uniting all of Metropolitan Toronto within a single fare zone. This should have meant that passengers arriving at Sheppard station by bus could connect with the subway without showing a transfer, but the design of the station made that impossible. The long corridor, with narrow staircases leading to street exits on both sides, was impossible to put within a fare-paid zone without major renovations to install automatic entrances, or block off exits, so transfers were required make connections between bus and subway for years to come.
A Second Subway Arrives
This changed in the late 1990s as work began on the SHEPPARD SUBWAY. The station would be host to the interchange between the new line and the YONGE SUBWAY, and a sizeable portion of the line’s $1 Billion budget was spent to build an east-west station above the YONGE platforms and below the street. As designs were being drawn up, the sudden death of Princess Diana led to proposals that the station be renamed “Diana” in tribute, although the Spencer family turned down the request. Instead, to avoid confusion and the appearance of “YONGE NORTH” signs on the Sheppard subway platform, the entire station was set to be renamed as “SHEPPARD-YONGE”.
Construction not only installed a new station platform above and perpendicular the old one, but a large set of tailtracks and a track wye connecting the SHEPPARD subway to the YONGE line. The Sheppard platforms were also built very wide, to handle projected future growth, with two side platforms on the tracks, and a centre platform between them. Passengers could board trains from the side platforms while detraining passengers would get off on the centre platform, speeding up boarding at the station.
Future plans called for the YONGE platforms to be similarly configured, and space was built for these platforms on either side of the YONGE line. These new side-platforms on the YONGE line only extend the width and the length of the SHEPPARD platforms above, and have been covered over. The remaining space will have to be hollowed out, as was done at Union station, when ridership warrants. The centre platform on the SHEPPARD line remains unfinished and inaccessible to the public. While some thought was given to having SHEPPARD trains enter the station via the northern (westbound) platform to discharge passengers, then pull into the tail tracks to transfer to the southern (eastbound) platform to pick passengers up, the TTC decided it was easier if westbound trains simply used the crossover east of the station to access the southern platform. Until the SHEPPARD subway is extended west of Yonge Street, the northbound platform see only occasional use by trains and their passengers, primarily when trains leave service at the end of the day. The northern platform itself is also used by passengers accessing certain wheelchair-accessible exits.
The SHEPPARD SUBWAY construction was an ideal time to renovate the rest of Sheppard station, bringing the bus terminal within the fare-paid zone (expanding and installing automatic fare gates at the various exits), and making the entire station wheelchair accessible (save for the secondary exit at the south end of the station, leading to Poyntz Avenue). Art was also installed, with the biggest feature being an eight foot high, 12,000 square foot panoramic landscape of Yonge Street. The mural, entitled Immersion Land by Stacey Spiegel depicts, in compressed form, a trip north from Toronto using one square inch porcelain tiles.
Between the YONGE and SHEPPARD subways, 124,500 passengers make use of Sheppard-Yonge station on an average weekday, making it the fourth-busiest station on the network (after Bloor-Yonge, St. George and Union. It serves as an anchor to North York’s growing downtown, and more entrances have been built into surrounding developments since the new subway opened. As Toronto grows, this station’s importance to the subway network will only grow with it.
Sheppard Station Trivia
- Before the introduction of the latest generation of transfer machines, the automatic entrance at the south end of the station at Poyntz Avenue was given a special transfer of “SHEPPARD-POYNTZ”. This was likely done so that passengers could enter the station at the south end, walk through it, and transfer to buses at the bus terminal on the north side.
Service Notes (as of January 3, 2016):
- Off-Site Resources:
- Line: 1 Yonge - University - Spadina
- Hours of Operation:
First Train Northbound: 5:48 a.m. weekdays, 5:59 a.m. Saturdays/holidays, 8:14 a.m. Sundays.
First Train Southbound: 5:43 a.m. weekdays, 5:49 a.m. Saturdays/holidays, 7:59 a.m. Sundays.
First Train Eastbound: 5:42 a.m. weekdays, 5:58 a.m. Saturdays/holidays, 7:54 a.m. Sundays.
Last Train Northbound: 2:10 a.m. every day
Last Train Southbound: 1:20 a.m. every day Last Train Eastbound: 2:14 a.m. every day
- Address: 20 Sheppard Avenue East
- Opened: March 30, 1974
- Average Weekday Ridership: 76,820 (Yonge-University), 47,680 (Sheppard) (2014)
76,420 (Yonge-University), 49,440 (Sheppard) (2013)
75,190 (Yonge-Univresity, 50,410 (Sheppard), (2012)
- Yonge Street (Accessible) - east side of Yonge Street, 51 metres north of Sheppard Avenue East; stair and escalator to north concourse level
- 25 Sheppard Avenue West (Automatic) (Accessible) - south side of Sheppard Avenue West, 69 metres west of Yonge Street, non-TTC elevator and escalator to west concourse level. Closed after 7 p.m. and before 7 a.m.
- Sheppard Avenue West (Automatic) - sidewalk staircase, south side of Sheppard Avenue West, 78 metres west of Yonge Street, leading to west concourse level.
- Beecroft Road (Automatic) - sidewalk staircase, on the north side of Sheppard Avenue West, 28 metres east of Beecroft Road, leading to west concourse level.
- Harlandale Avenue (Automatic) - sidewalk staircase, on the south side of Harlandale Avenue, 53 metres west of Yonge Street, leading to pedestrian concourse level.
- Poyntz Road (Automatic) - west side of Yonge Street, 18 metres north of Poyntz Road; sidewalk staircase leading directly to the Yonge University Subway Platform Level
- Southeast (Automatic) - east side of Yonge Street, 30 metres north of Poyntz Road; sidewalk staircase leading directly to the Yonge University Subway Platform Level
- Elevators (click here for maintenance schedule):
- West Concourse to North Platform
- West Concourse to South Platform
- South Platform to Sheppard Station Centre Platform
- North Platform to Sheppard Station Centre Platform
- Street to North Concourse
- North Tunnel to North Concourse
- Bus Terminal to North Tunnel
- Non-TTC elevator. Street (Southwest corner of Sheppard Avenue and Yonge Street - 25 Sheppard Avenue West) to Fares concourse. Call 416-225-2064 for status.
- Escalators (click here for maintenance schedule):
- Concourse To Train Platform (Poyntz Avenue Automatic Entrance) - Up At All Times
- Concourse To Train Platform - Down At All Times
- Concourse To Train Platform - Down At All Times
- Concourse To Train Platform - Up At All Times
- Concourse To Concourse - Down At All Times
- Concourse To Concourse - Up At All Times
- Concourse To East Side Street Entrance - Up At All Times
- Concourse To Bus Platform - Down At All Times
- Concourse To Bus Platform - Up At All Times
- South Concourse To Sheppard Station Centre Platform - Down At All Times
- South Concourse To Sheppard Station Centre Platform - Down At AM Rush; Up At Other Times
- South Concourse To Sheppard Station Centre Platform - Up At All Times
- Wheelchair Accessible Since: November 22, 2002
- Washrooms Available
- PRESTO Enabled
- Forms of fare payment include credit or debit
- Centre platform (Yonge-University); side platforms (Sheppard); disused centre platform (Sheppard)
- Token vending machine
TTC Surface Connections:
- 84 SHEPPARD WEST
- 85 SHEPPARD EAST
- 97 YONGE (on-street transfer)
- 98 WILLOWDALE-SENLAC
- 196 YORK UNIVERSITY ROCKET
- 320 YONGE NIGHT (on-street transfer)
- 384 SHEPPARD WEST (on-street transfer)
- 385 SHEPPARD EAST (on-street transfer)
Former TTC Surface Connections:
- 10 VAN HORNE
- 26 BAYVIEW NORTH
- 55 SENLAC
- 98 WILLOWDALE
- 139 HUNTINGWOOD
- 167 CONSUMERS ROAD
- 169 HUNTINGWOOD
- 190 CITY CENTRE EXPRESS
- Sheppard-Yonge station plan (a series of diagrams created by the TTC showing the location of stairs, escalators and elevators at Sheppard-Yonge station, effective January 1, 2017) (PDF - 524 Kb)