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The end of the line for the Scarborough RT


When the SCARBOROUGH RT line first opened on March 22, 1985, the line ran for over 30 years but was given another lifespan until 2025. Here, ICTS car #3022 shows off at Kennedy Station sporting its new blue vinyl paint with the station names along the top and the line’s number prominently displayed on the front and sides. This photo was taken by Jelo Gutierrez Cantos on April 29, 2015.

I rode one of the first trains along the Scarborough Rapid Transit line — or “The RT”— on March 24, 1985. Crammed to the rafters with transit buffs and other curious Torontonians, the little linear-induction cars swept us 6.4 kilometres through six stations between Kennedy and McCowan stations. It opened with great fanfare, with politicians claiming that the line — eventually dubbed the TTC’s Line 3 Scarborough — foretold a great transportation future for Scarborough.

No fanfare greeted the last train along the line — because nobody knew it was the last one. Monday, July 24, the last car of a southbound train separated from its train-set and derailed after leaving Ellesmere Station. Five passengers suffered minor injuries during the incident.

Since then, the TTC has operated frequent shuttle buses to replace Line 3 service between McCowan and Kennedy and launched an investigation into why the incident occurred. The transit agency said it would operate shuttle buses to replace the RT until such time as it could determine why the car derailed and that the line remained safe for passengers.

Today, Thursday, August 24, the TTC confirmed that it has cancelled Line 3 service permanently.

The transit agency had planned to shut the line down permanently Saturday, November 18. It intended to extend service along eight routes so that buses operate between Scarborough Centre and Kennedy stations, instead of ending trips at Scarborough Centre. It also proposed installing bus-only lines, line markings and transit-priority signals on Kennedy Road and Midland Avenue to decrease bus-travel times between the stations.

Instead, the TTC will continue to operate separate shuttle buses between the two stations. Since Tuesday, August 22, TTC contractors, working with the City of Toronto Transportation Services staff, began installing temporary road markings and signs to establish bus-only lanes. They will create one southbound bus-only lane beside the curb on Midland Avenue and one northbound on Kennedy Road between Ellesmere Road and Eglinton Avenue East. The TTC will operate buses along the new shuttle routing Saturday, August 26.

In a news release, the TTC claims, “These measures will improve transit priority and operations, provide frequent, high-capacity bus service and ensure [passengers] can plan their trips online in September.”

The TTC says that Line 3 moved about 30,000 passengers a day.

The November replacement plan includes operating frequent express shuttle bus service between Scarborough Centre and Kennedy stations southbound along Midland and northbound along Kennedy. Other features, such as red painted lanes, new queue-jump lanes and signal priority to allow buses quicker movement through mixed traffic will be rolled out over the next three months. The TTC also recently upgraded the bus terminal at Scarborough Centre Station to accommodate Line 3 bus replacement ahead of schedule.

The TTC and City are now exploring ways to advance the on-street improvements, while also creating a temporary bus staging area on the north side of Kennedy Station to relieve congestion at the busy station while construction on the new bus terminal continues.

Temporary Bus Lane Route.JPG

^ Temporary shuttle-bus routes, starting Sunday, August 26, 2023

When the TTC completes construction of a new bus terminal at Kennedy in November, it will extend the eight bus routes to Kennedy, eliminating the need for passengers to transfer. The TTC explains that this will give thousands of passengers in a large part of Scarborough a direct connection to Line 2 Bloor - Danforth subway. The TTC has also committed to using newer hybrid buses and larger articulated buses along the 903 Kennedy-Scarborough Centre express route, the core bus-replacement route connecting to Centennial College Progress Campus.

In the longer term, buses will operate in a dedicated right-of-way along the Line 3 corridor until the Line 2 east subway extension opens. The TTC is also exploring ways to remove the RT track and power systems, then build and open the right-of-way sooner than planned.

According to the TTC, the “bus-replacement plan not only addresses Line 3’s reliability issues, it provides AODA-compliant service. Four of the existing six Line 3 stations are not accessible, but the interim express bus program will ensure that AODA standards are met, providing accessible transportation options for riders in this corridor of the city.” (AODA refers to the accessibility standards that provincial legislation — the Accessibility fr Disabled Ontarians Act — sets out.)

The TTC explains that the RT was already “operating more than 10 years beyond its design life. Reliability has proven a challenge, particularly in extreme weather conditions.” Metrolinx has already started a project to extend Line 2 from Kennedy to Scarborough Centre and beyond. However, the provincial transit agency doesn’t expect to open that line until 2030 or later.


^ If funding is available, the TTC proposes converting part of the Line 3 right-of-way into an off-street busway.

You can learn about the TTC’s November plan to replace the RT with express shuttle buses here.

From the Transit Toronto archives, read:

  • The Rise and Fall of the Scarborough RT”, by James Bow, here.
  • The Proposed Scarborough RT East Extension (1990s proposal), by Peter Drost and James Bow.