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Dundas West

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Text by James Bow
With thanks to Nathan Ng

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Dundas West station near the West Toronto Junction has become a major transportation hub in its own right. In 2013, the station was used by 27,990 riders on an average weekday. It is the western terminal of two streetcar lines that together haul 89,200 passengers on an average weekday, not to mention two bus routes with a total ridership of over 11,000 passengers. Its use is likely to grow as improvements are made to the rail corridor to the east of the site, with new regional transit services connecting to this station. Its current and future usefulness belies its somewhat modest beginnings.

Early History of the Dundas Street and the Junction

The early history of Dundas Street is covered more fully in our history page on Dundas station. The important thing to note is that Dundas Street began life as a military highway connecting the old Town of York to the developments around the Town of Dundas and southwestern Ontario. The highway was initially planned to approach Toronto by way of today’s Bloor Street, but the area’s topology routed Dundas Street north, following the height of land, approaching the city by its current roundabout route.

The first landowner in the area was John Scarlett, who purchased property in 1817. In 1838, he built his home, called “Runnymede”, near where Dundas Street West today meets St. John’s Road. The railways arrived in 1880, with the construction of lines by Canadian Pacific and Grand Trunk. The meeting of these lines at a junction provided the spark of jobs and industry to launch the construction of new houses and the formation of the village of West Toronto Junction in 1884. The area was formally incorporated as a town in 1889, and became the City of West Toronto in 1908 before being annexed by the City of Toronto in 1909.

With Dundas Street providing the main link between the City of Toronto and the West Toronto Junction, the demand for transit soon followed. The Toronto Railway Company built along Dundas Street to Humberside Drive. Meanwhile, on November 12, 1890, the Weston, High Park and Toronto Street Railway Company incorporated and was given a mandate to build streetcar lines within the village of West Toronto Junction and the townships of York and Etobicoke. It soon changed its name to the City & Suburban Electric Railway Company and, by 1894, its streetcars were connecting with Toronto Railway Company cars at Dundas and Humberside. After merging with the Davenport Street Railway Company, it was rechristened the Toronto Suburban Railway.

Most of the traffic continued to follow Dundas Street, as Bloor Street was an underdeveloped street west from Dundas. The crossing over the Humber River was handled by a low stone bridge at Old Mill Road. When the City of Toronto annexed West Toronto, they pressed the Toronto Railway Company to build tracks down the street. The Toronto Railway Company refused and, in 1914, the city-owned Toronto Civic Railway began work on a single-track line between Dundas Street and Quebec Avenue. It opened for service on February 23, 1915. Later that year, the route was double tracked and, in 1917, extended to Runnymede Road.

On September 1, 1921, the Toronto Railway Company’s franchise to operate streetcar service in Toronto expired, and the City of Toronto launched the Toronto Transportation Commission to take over all streetcar service within city boundaries. The Toronto Suburban Railway operations were bought out by 1927, and throughout the early part of the 1920s, the TTC worked to extend BLOOR streetcar service over the length of Bloor Street and Danforth Avenue. An underpass was built beneath the railway tracks west of Lansdowne Avenue, allowing through service. The BLOOR WEST Toronto Civic Railway service was absorbed into the line, and the route extended to a new loop at Jane Street.

In 1924, the City of Toronto built a high-level bridge for Bloor Street over the Humber River, making Bloor Street a more direct route to get into and out of the city from the west. These changes meant a shifting of traffic at Bloor and Dundas. Before 1921, Dundas had been the main street, and Bloor a lesser-used branch. With through streetcar service and a new bridge over the Humber River, Dundas and Bloor became a more balanced intersection, and the beginnings of a transit hub started to take route.

The Story of a Loop Called Vincent

The ancestor of today’s Dundas West station’s loop is Vincent loop, named after a street that no longer exists. Vincent Street ran from Dundas Street, a block north of Bloor, east to dead end at the rail corridor. While a short street, the name seemed to have a surprising resonance with the TTC. When the BLOOR-DANFORTH subway was being designed, the station where the line crossed Dundas Street was originally to be named “Vincent” instead of “Dundas”, so passengers wouldn’t confuse it with Dundas station on the YONGE subway. While the station was eventually named “Dundas West”, the Vincent name stuck around as the official name of the staging yard immediately to the west of Dundas West station (commonly called “Keele Yard” — access to which is found via a doorway leading off the stairs leading up from the eastbound platform to the station’s mezzanine level), and it remains so named even though Vincent Street disappeared with the construction the Crossroads mall and apartment complex in the 1970s.

Vincent Loop opened to streetcars on July 1, 1923, as part of a general revision of streetcar services the Toronto Transportation Commission inherited from the Toronto Railway Company. Before this date, DUNDAS streetcars continued past Bloor to wye at Keele — and, later, to loop at Runnymede. Streetcar service on Roncesvalles was provided by the QUEEN streetcar, which wyed at Boustead Avenue, near the Roncesvalles/Dundas intersection. On July 1, 1923, the TTC routed KING streetcars north on Roncesvalles and Dundas past Bloor to the new Vincent loop, located at the northeast corner of Vincent and Dundas. The extension allowed both KING and DUNDAS cars to connect with BLOOR streetcars, giving residents from West Toronto more choices in heading downtown.

Vincent loop would see only KING cars in regular service, although short turning DUNDAS and BLOOR cars would sometimes pay a visit. Some rush hour KING cars would turn from northbound Dundas to westbound Bloor, avoiding Vincent and providing extra service to Jane loop, but Vincent remained the western terminus for most KING cars, and appeared on most rollsigns. Vincent was a simple loop, entered into from the south and exiting back the same way, with no passing tracks or loop-the-loop facilities. It remained in use without significant modification for another 40 years. When construction began on the BLOOR-DANFORTH subway, the loop was rebuilt and modified to get around the construction work, with a longer private right-of-way, but it was never considered for an upgrade. The station to be built for the Bloor-Dundas intersection was to be located across the street. Once Dundas West station opened in February 26, 1966, Vincent Loop was decommissioned.

Dundas West Station Features

Dundas West was one of the twenty stations to open with the first phase of the BLOOR-DANFORTH subway line, and the second last station to the west before the Keele terminus. As part of that first phase, Dundas West station followed the same modern architectural stylings of the other stations of the line, with clean lines, large glass windows, brick exteriors and overhanging canopies. The station platform followed the same two-tone tile system of the rest of the BLOOR-DANFORTH line, with grey background tiles and green trim. However, Dundas West station also offered a number of unique amenities. The facility was linked to the west end of Vincent Yard, with offices within the concourse level of the station connected by passageways to the underground yard tracks. These were initially used as yard offices, until Vincent Yard was decommissioned as an active yard, and were later filled by the Maintenance of Way Department when their equipment was stored in Vincent Yard’s tunnels.

Dundas West station’s loop was significantly more complicated than the Vincent loop it replaced. Vincent loop only saw KING cars in regular service. When Dundas West opened, KING and DUNDAS cars had to stop there. In the case of the DUNDAS streetcar service, cars coming from downtown stopped in the station and continued on to Runnymede loop, before coming back and stopping in the station again before heading downtown. Dundas West station’s loop was built to be entered from the south and the north, with switches allowing cars to head south or north or loop the loop. Cars entered into a sheltered terminal with a single track providing pickups and drop offs for KING, DUNDAS-Broadview Station and DUNDAS-Runnymede cars, 7 days a week. Strangely enough, the TTC removed a key piece of track — a short section of northbound track on Dundas West, from north of the switch leading into the station to just south of Edna Avenue. This meant that northbound streetcars could not bypass Dundas West station; all had to enter the loop, whether they wanted to turn around, or continue to Runnymede. This included the CARLTON NIGHT cars, which were rerouted off Howard Park Boulevard to Runnymede Loop via Dundas. One might think the presence of two different streetcar routes heading to three different destinations loading and unloading at a single platform might cause passenger confusion and chaos, but the TTC managed just fine for the two years, three months that DUNDAS service to Runnymede continued. During the Canadian National Exhibition, and other special events at the Exhibition, additional service would be provided by the DUNDAS-EXHIBITION, adding yet another operating into the mix.

Trolley Bus Operations and the Slow Rise of Diesel

Opposite the streetcar platform was a roadway and a loading platform for buses that wasn’t originally used. No bus routes were routed to Dundas West station when it opened in 1966. However, on May 11, 1968, subway service was extended west from Keele station to Islington, and the TTC used this occasion to end streetcar service on Dundas from Dundas West station to Runnymede. Trolley bus wires were strung up through the station and over the bus roadway and service began on the 40 JUNCTION trolley bus, operating from Dundas West station to Runnymede loop. This arrangement remained in place for another two decades.

The terminal itself saw few changes until the late 1980s, when the TTC rented out space to a McDonald’s restaurant. The move attracted some controversy at city council, with some residents worried about increased litter on the TTC, kids being encouraged to eat more junk food, and whether or not the TTC had received the best deal possible for taxpayers. The deal was maintained, however, with the restaurant split into two sections, allowing customers to purchase Happy Meals without crossing fare barriers.

In the mid-1980s, diesel buses started to appear at Dundas West station for the first time in regular service. For the 1987 CNE season, the 522 DUNDAS EXHIBITION streetcar was replaced by the 93 EXHIBITION WEST EXPRESS bus. On August 3, 1991, trolley buses paid their last visit to Dundas West station as the 40 JUNCTION route was converted to diesel operation, along with most of the rest of the trolley bus network. Finally, on February 13, 1994, service began on the 168 SYMINGTON route, replacing a branch of the 41 KEELE bus, that had operated out to Lansdowne station. The new route was more local in nature, and connected residents on Old Weston Road, Davenport Road and Symington Avenue both with the subway, and two major streetcar routes heading downtown.

A Need For More Platform Space and a Second Exit

As the 1990s drew to a close, however, changes were afoot at Dundas West station. Rising ridership on the 504 KING streetcar and rising congestion downtown was putting pressure on the line, which led the TTC to look for ways to move streetcars more efficiently. One of the problems identified was the single loading platform at Dundas West station (coupled with a similar arrangement at Broadview station, where 505 DUNDAS and 504 KING cars also met). With 504 KING cars obliged to wait for 505 DUNDAS cars to load passengers and depart before themselves departing, and vice versa, delays on one line had the tendency to transfer over to the other line. The TTC decided that separate loading platforms were required for both routes, so that each could load cars and lay over without delaying the other.

On Labour Day, 2002, Dundas West station’s terminal was shut down so the streetcar loop could be rebuilt. Switches were added leading into the station, and again near the station exit to produce a passing siding and a separate platform for 505 DUNDAS streetcars. 504 KING cars would continue to use the original loading platform. The loop-the-loop switch also remained, feeding directly into the 504 KING siding. Construction proceeded swiftly and streetcar service resumed on Sunday, November 24, 2002. At around this time, elevators were installed from the terminal level to the subway platforms, making the station accessible to wheelchairs.

Another thing that became increasingly clear was that Dundas West needed was a second exit from the subway platform. Improved fire safety standards required that there be more than one exit from the subway platform to the street, in order to prevent passengers from being trapped. Dundas West’s lone exit at the west end of the platform was a problem. Also, since 1974, when GO Transit opened Bloor Station on the Georgetown line, a second exit was an obvious opportunity to provide a direct and convenient connection between the east end of the subway station and the GO Train route. Around the year 2000, when the federal government pursued plans for an airport rail link between Union station and Pearson along the Georgetown corridor, with an intermediate stop at Bloor, such a connection was part of the plans.

Complicating matters, however, was the Crossways Development, a high-rise residential complex with a retail mall space located between Dundas Street and the railway tracks, north of Bloor Street. The placement of the subway platforms meant that the tunnel between the platform and the Bloor commuter rail station would need to take up some of Crossways’ property. In spite of the potential benefits of building a direct link between the retail mall and this increasingly important public transit connection, the management of the Crossways Development remained hostile to the project. Negotiations dragged on, hampered by changes in the building’s ownership. When the UP Express rail link between Pearson Airport and Union opened for service in June 2015, the commuter rail station at Bloor was significantly upgraded, but connections between this station and Dundas West remained via Bloor Street. In early September 2017, Metrolinx announced its intention to expropriate property from the Crossways Development in order to make the construction of the second exit and connection at Dundas West a reality. Construction should begin once the legal wrangling is resolved.

Possible Changes for the Future

Dundas West station’s surface transit loop has seen few changes since its renovations in 2002, and it is unlikely to see more in the near future. The facilities remain adequate for the services that use it. There have been rumours and suggestions for changes, however, such as reinstating the 507 LONG BRANCH streetcar and running it north on Roncesvalles to loop in Dundas West station. Residents groups in southern Etobicoke have been vocal in their support for such an extension, and although the TTC maintains that such a move would disrupt the balance between 504 KING and 505 DUNDAS streetcars that they’d built a second platform to achieve, the fact remains that the station did have more than one route load off a single platform for the first 36 years of its existence.

Another possible change, albeit one less likely to occur than a reinstated LONG BRANCH streetcar, is the restoration of streetcar service on Dundas Street from Dundas West station to Runnymede. Such a move would be to serve an extension of the 512 ST CLAIR streetcar to Runnymede or beyond, shortening deadhead times for streetcars going to and from Roncesvalles carhouse. This has led to proposals for a JUNCTION streetcar, although it’s not certain that the presence of these rails would require such a service.

Dundas West station is already a major transportation node within the Toronto transit network, connecting the subway with important streetcar lines connecting passengers to downtown Toronto, and a number of bus routes serving the local area. Connections already exist between this station and commuter trains heading to the airport and west to Brampton and Kitchener, although these are not as convenient as they should be. However, work will continue to improve connections and upgrade the station.

Service Notes (as of September 3, 2017):

  • Off-Site Resources:
  • The official TTC Dundas West Page
  • Hours of Operation:
    First Train to Kennedy: 5:53 a.m. weekdays, 6:01 a.m. Saturdays/holidays, 8:14 a.m. Sundays.
    Last Train to Kennedy: 1:43 a.m. every day.
    First Train to Kipling: 5:59 a.m. weekdays, 6:01 a.m Saturdays/holidays, 8:21 a.m. Sundays
    Last Train to Kipling: 2:03 a.m. every day.
  • Address: 2365 Dundas Street West
  • Opened: February 26, 1966
  • Average Weekday Ridership: 27,540 (2018), 29,620 (2015), 27,770 (2014), 27,300 (2013), 27,990 (2012), 29,180 (2011), 23,990 (2010), 26,500 (2009), 27,010 (2008), 24,530 (2007)
  • Entrances: 1
    • Main entrance, located on Street, on the west side of Dundas Street West, 63 metres north of Bloor Street West.
  • Elevators (click here for maintenance schedule: 2
    • Bus Bay to Concourse and Eastbound Trains
    • Concourse to Westbound Trains
  • Escalators (click here for maintenance schedule): 3
    • North Side - West End - Westbound Platform To Concourse (Up At All Times)
    • South Side - West End - Eastbound Platform To Concourse (Up At All Times)
    • Concourse To Bus and Streetcar Platform (Up At All Times)
  • Wheelchair Accessible: 2002
  • No Washrooms
  • Token vending machine
  • 2 Side Platforms
  • No TTC parking.

TTC Surface Connections:

Former TTC Surface Connections

Regional Connections

Document Archive

Dundas West Station Image Archive

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