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Subway Related Properties Page

Text by James Bow

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Islington subway station opened to the public on May 10, 1968, as part of the western extension of the BLOOR-DANFORTH subway line into Etobicoke. As a terminal station, from 1968 to 1980 (when Kipling station, it served as a gateway for many commuters heading further into the old City of Etobicoke and provided connections to Gray Coach buses and bus service to Pearson Airport. As a suburban terminal station built in the late 1960s, it shares several architectural features with Warden station, along with several challenges that it will have to address between now and 2025.

Montgomery Versus Islington

When plans to extend the BLOOR-DANFORTH subway west from Keele materialized, initial plans called for the subway to stop at Old Mill, Prince Edward and Montgomery in Etobicoke. Prince Edward Drive and Montgomery Road were local streets at the east and west ends of the growing Kingsway Business District, and likely would have served local shoppers and residents very well. However, both streets were short, ending not far north of Bloor Street, meaning that the stations’ utility in serving buses from northern Etobicoke might be limited.

As designs developed, Royal York was selected as a station stop within the Kingsway Business District, as Royal York Road extended well north of Dundas. As for Montgomery, the TTC agreed to swallow the cost of crossing Mimico Creek and building a major suburban terminal at Islington Avenue. Construction began in the mid-1960s and the station opened on May 10, 1968, with the dignitaries watching as Mayor of Etobicoke Edward A. Horton drove the ceremonial first train through a smash-through sign proclaiming “The Subway Comes to Etobicoke”.

Station Features

As Islington Station is approached from the east, subway trains emerge from a tunnel to cross Mimico Creek over a short bridge. After passing the entrance to a storage track between the two service tracks, trains dive back underground in a unique triple tunnel portal before the storage track links back to the service track, and trains reach the double crossover east of the station. Like most terminal stations, Islington features a centre platform. Stairs lead up to a concourse level connecting passengers with stairs to exits to Islington Avenue (east and west sides), a passenger pick-up and drop-off pavilion (a “kiss’n’ride”) and a bus terminal featuring six enclosed bus bays and a seventh bus platform open to the elements.

When Islington station opened, the TTC still maintained a zone fare structure, with Zone 1 covering the inner core of Metropolitan Toronto and Zone 2 covering the outer suburbs. Islington station was located well within Zone 2, but the TTC decided to keep the whole of the subway within Zone 1. Passengers arriving at the station from connecting buses could then pay their Zone 1 fare at the fare gates at the concourse level, and subway passengers could pay their Zone 2 fare on the waiting buses in the terminal. To provide a Zone 2 connection for passengers wanting to connect to buses at other subway stations within Etobicoke (Royal York and Old Mill station), passengers were obliged to board the 3 KINGWAY bus, which travelled on Bloor Street all the way to Jane station. Strangely enough, this service remained in place even after the Zone fares were eliminated in 1972, and free transfers were offered between the subway and connecting buses in Etobicoke, though it is likely the store-owners of the Kingsway Business District wanted the service kept.

The elimination of Zone fares meant the fare gates in the concourse level had to be reworked, bringing the bus terminal within the fare-paid zone while keeping the street exits out. The issue of other connecting services, such as Gray Coach buses (including their Airport Express service) and, after 1974, Mississauga Transit, was more complicated to handle. The TTC was able to allow these services to pick up passengers within the bays of the station’s bus terminal and had non-TTC buses drop off their passengers at the street exit on the west side of Islington station, where passengers could descend the stairs to pay their TTC fares.

As Islington station was opened as part of the rest of the original BLOOR-DANFORTH subway project, it shares many of the same architectural and aesthetic features of the other stations on the line. It follows the same tiling patterns of the Bloor-Danforth subway, with a white base tile and blue trim. Like Warden, Islington denotes its status as a terminal station by taking on a third trim tile, in its case a light greyish-blue title. These tile arrangements were carried out at the bus terminal. The station’s exits and its kiss’n’ride pavilion also feature glass walls with a red colour strip at hip height.

Changes Since Opening

In addition to alterations as a result of changes to the TTC’s fare structure, Islington has undergone many changes since its opening. The area redeveloped in the 1980s, with a commercial development built at the northeast corner of Islington and Bloor, providing a direct connection to the station. Also, in the late 1970s, the subway was extended one stop east to Kipling, which reduced the number of TTC buses using the bus terminal. The bus terminal still saw considerable use, however, as Mississauga Transit used Islington Station as its main connection with the TTC. Even following the opening of Kipling station, the agency seemed reluctant to move out of Islington station.

In 1999, the station became the site of a dispute between the City of Toronto, the TTC and Mississauga Transit, as residents of Burnhamthorpe Road complained about what they saw as an excessive number of Mississauga Transit buses using their street to get to Islington Station. When Mississauga Transit declined to reroute all its buses via Highway 427 and Dundas Street, the TTC responded by blocking Mississauga Transit buses from using Islington’s bus terminal. The dispute simmered until August 2001, when all sides agreed to reduce the number of buses using Burnhamthorpe Road, and Islington station was reopened to Mississauga Transit buses.

By this point, however, there was a growing understanding of the need to renovate and upgrade Islington station, as well as the challenges posed by such a renovation. The TTC knew that provincial law required every station on the Toronto subway network had to be wheelchair accessible by 2025, but Islington’s sprawling layout and its bus terminal with its individual bus bays would mean a lot of elevators would have to be installed. Worse, the concrete decking of the bus terminal was showing its age.

On November 18, 2013, the TTC reported that the bus bays at Islington would have to be closed within three years and it recommended that a temporary bus terminal be established. Temporary shoring helped the TTC keep some of the original bus bays open (although bays 1 and 2 remained closed), and the temporary bus terminal idea was dropped. The TTC acknowledged that the terminal would have to be completely demolished, as had been done at Victoria Park and would have to be done at Warden, to build a new terminal with an island configuration to make the station accessible to wheelchairs.

In the meantime, Metrolinx started construction on a new regional transit facility at Kipling station in 2017. The terminal would divert all MiWay buses away from Islington, offering a connection at Kipling with not only the subway but GO Transit buses and trains as well. On December 14, 2020, MiWay announced that its services would vacate Islington terminal at the end of service on January 3, 2021, to service the new Kipling Regional Bus Terminal the following day.

Islington station has not been a subway terminal since 1980, but it remains an important gateway into the Toronto subway network for residents of Mississauga and Etobicoke up until the end of 2020. The loss of its regional status may cost the station passengers from transit services coming from the west, but it also opens a new chapter with a facility, promising a major renovation with potential for redevelopment within the area that could keep the station busy for years to come.

Service Notes (as of January 4, 2021):

  • Off-Site Resources:
  • Hours of Operation:
    First Train to Kennedy: 5:43 a.m. weekdays, 5:50 a.m. Saturdays/holidays, 8:03 a.m. Sundays.
    Last Train to Kennedy: 1:33 a.m. every day.
    First Train to Kipling: 5:54 a.m. weekdays, 5:59 a.m Saturdays/holidays, 8:12 a.m. Sundays
    Last Train to Kipling: 2:14 a.m. every day.
  • Address: 1226 Islington Avenue
  • Opened: May 11, 1968
  • Average Weekday Ridership: 41,270 (2018), 40,250 (2016), 37,410 (2015), 42,630 (2014), 38,600 (2013), 41,150 (2012), 40,230 (2011), 40,760 (2010), 43,090 (2009), 43,160 (2008), 42,080 (2007)
  • Entrances:
    • Islington Avenue, West Side (on-street, north of Bloor Street);
    • Islington Avenue, East Side (through the mall, north of Bloor Street);
    • Parking Lot (on-street, west side of Islington Avenue, north of Bloor)
  • Escalators (click here for maintenance schedule):
    • West End - Platform To Concourse (Up At All Times);
    • Centre - Platform To Concourse (Down At All Times),
    • East End - Platform To Concourse (Up At All Times);
    • West Side - Concourse To Street Level (Up At All Times);
    • East Side - Concourse To Street Level (Up At All Times)
  • Not Accessible
  • Washrooms (closed)
  • Token vending machine
  • Pass vending machine
  • Passenger Pick-up and Drop-off
  • Centre platform
  • Parking (4 lots, 1568 spaces, prices range from $2 to $7 and are charged throughout the day. Only the main lot offers free parking after 3 p.m. weekdays and all day weekends and holidays)

TTC Surface Connections:

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