It was a busy weekend in Toronto. The Exhibition kicked off the final leg of Summer, and the added passenger load on the TTC was further complicated by the closure of Lake Shore Boulevard for a bridge-raising as well as the closure of the TTC's Line 1 between St. Andrew and Union Stations to complete the long-awaited second subway platform at Union Station. The new platform opened to the public this morning, with the first commuter train pulling in at 5:59AM, but we were given a special sneak peek of the upgraded station and its inner workings over the weekend, joined by TTC Project Manager Malcolm MacKay as well as Brad Ross, Head of Communications for the TTC.
Over the weekend, trains were turning back at Union and St. Andrew Stations, with the track between these two stations closed. Passengers going to and coming from the Yonge Street stretch of Line 1 poured into Union Station over the weekend, and on Saturday were greeted by their first ever view of the new platform, uncovered overnight by removal of the hoarding that had replaced the old south wall of the station. By Sunday, most of the view from the old centre platform to the new platform was obscured by a new temporary wall, as work to reconfigure the stairs to the centre platform, and to add a permanent divide between the two, is now getting underway.
At the time of the Saturday afternoon tour, the new parts of the station were still a hive of activity as crews raced to get all of the final details in place for the first weekday rush. At platform level, workers were installing the final electrical elements and ceiling panels, as well as cleaning the new tiles and signage in advance of the platform's first customers.
One of the TTC's service trains was pulled up to the new platform on Saturday, serving as a staging platform for construction crews, while also acting as a temporary bridge over the tracks.
The new platform features matte-white tiles and signage with a re-introduced classic TTC font, visible in detail in the image below.
Wayfinding signage helps to reassure passengers that they are indeed on the new Yonge-bound platform, which surely helped to alleviate confusion during this morning's rush.
The platform's finishes and details are a departure from the existing style, and with the new platform now open, we can expect modernization of the centre platform to proceed over the next six months.
With the new platform now in place, the centre platform's south edge has been partitioned off to install a glass art wall to be called Zones of Immersion Designed by artist Stuart Reid, it will measure 500 feet long by 7 feet high, and will be the focus of an upcoming story on UrbanToronto. In the meantime, you can see the temporary fence and tarp wall that was coming together on Saturday to separate to close off this new work area.
Though the new platform is certainly the star of the show, the project also involves the improvement of the station's concourse. This includes the addition of new fare collection booths and turnstiles, as well as new stairs, escalators, and elevators leading to the new platform. New access points to Union Station and to the pedestrian PATH network have opened as well, but this is still just the beginning as much more is to come up here as the centre platform and its access points are reconfigured too.
With the second platform now open, Union's passenger capacity has effectively been doubled. To help ease commuters into the transition, the TTC will have staff at street, concourse and platform level to provide directions and answer any questions passengers may have.
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