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Text by James Bow

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Kennedy subway station is the eastern terminus of the BLOOR-DANFORTH subway line and the western terminus of the SCARBOROUGH RT. In addition to linking the two lines and providing a terminal for fourteen bus routes, the station offers a connection to GO Transit’s Stouffville line. As a result of these connections, Kennedy is the fifth busiest station on the TTC network, after Bloor-Yonge, St. George, Sheppard-Yonge and Union, serving approximately 107,330 passengers on an average weekday.

This hub was established almost accidentally, and against the wishes of planners in Scarborough who had hoped to build a downtown core around the newly opened Scarborough Town Centre mall. However, as plans were laid for its construction, the Toronto Transit Commission and Metropolitan Toronto found itself cooling to new subway construction. It was the mid-1970s, and as the SPADINA subway was being built, Metro planners concluded that subway expansion was getting increasingly costly, and the high density areas that subways were best able to serve were, by and large, being served.

The question of how to serve the lower-density suburbs with transit that was cheaper to build while still being rapid was argued in the mid-1970s. The TTC favoured a network of streetcars on private rights-of-way to bridge the intermediate capacity gap between the level of ridership above which was no longer feasible to service with a plain bus or streetcar route, and the level of ridership below which it was not economically sustainable to build a subway. The province of Ontario, however, favoured a high-tech solution and used its crown corporation, the Urban Development Transportation Corporation, to design a train using a linear-induction maglev-like motor.

The TTC and Metropolitan Toronto proposed that the gap between the end of the BLOOR-DANFORTH subway at Warden and the Scarborough Town Centre be bridged with a high-speed streetcar network that could branch at Scarborough Centre to serve the far reaches of northeastern Scarborough. However, Scarborough favoured further subway development. As a compromise, Metropolitan Toronto agreed to extend the BLOOR-DANFORTH subway one station northeast from Warden to a spot southeast of the Kennedy/Eglinton intersection, with the light rail link continuing from there to the Scarborough Town Centre. At the same time, Etobicoke would receive a one-station extension west from Islington to Kipling. These extensions would reduce the congestion of bus lines entering Warden and Islington station and would also open up new parking lots, easing the parking crunch in the former terminal stations. The expansion project would cost $110 million in the late 1970s ($71.4 million for Kennedy and $38.6 million for Kipling).

The Kennedy and Kipling extensions were touted at the time as the last subway extensions to be built in Toronto for some time. From this point on, said literature released by the TTC, further rapid transit would come in the form of Light Rail Transit.

Extending to Kennedy

The Kennedy extension followed the underused former Canadian Northern railway right-of-way that paralleled the BLOOR-DANFORTH subway tracks southwest of Warden. However, local concerns about noise and property values as well as difficulty in crossing a number of rail spurs enroute forced the TTC to build the extension underground. Kennedy station would be a large, four level complex, with the underground subway platforms at the lowest level, with a large mezzanine level above that, an at-grade bus terminal above that, and space for an elevated light rail station above that.

The large mezzanine level offered exits to Eglinton Avenue ((or, more accurately, a service road linking to the Eglinton Avenue bridge), as well as commuter parking lots (with 585 spaces) and a Kiss ‘n’ Ride facility.

Opening Celebrations

Kennedy station opened to the public at the same time as Kipling, on November 22, 1980. A ceremony took place a day before with a special train of new subway cars (5807-5806-5791-5790-5804-5805) leaving Davisville station at 12:40 p.m. and proceeding through Lower Bay station to Warden where Scarborough Mayor Gus Harris and Ontario Minister of Community and Commercial Relations Frank Drea were waiting. At 1:30 p.m. the two politicians flipped a switch to work a ceremonial signal to clear the train to Kennedy station. At Kennedy, speeches were given and a commemorative plaque unveiled.

The train then left Kennedy at 2:20 p.m. and ran express to Islington, stopping only at Warden and Yonge (the latter unscheduled, to let one rider off). At Islington, the same signal ceremony was performed by Etobicoke Mayor Dennis Flynn, followed by the final run to Kipling station. Once speeches were completed here, the special train departed Kipling to enter regular service at Islington around 4:10 p.m.

Kipling Station opened with a built-in connection to a Kipling GO station on the Milton line, which opened for service less than a year later. No such connection was made at Kennedy, even though the station was located right next to the Uxbridge subdivision. At the time, GO Transit didn’t serve the line, but the Stouffville GO train did start service on September 7, 1982. With only one train a day in each direction, neither GO nor the TTC showed particular interest in building such a connection.

Further Expansion

Kennedy station was a busy place connecting subway passengers to many buses continuing journeys deeper into Scarborough. At the same time, construction continued on the Scarborough rapid transit line which was to use the station platforms at the top level. However, early in the 1980s, the province cajoled the TTC and Metropolitan Toronto into changing its high-speed streetcar plan into a test track for the province’s new linear-induction technology. Kennedy station had already been largely built with specifications suited to the CLRV streetcars plying Toronto’s streets downtown. The elevated loop for the streetcars extended west of the station and wound around the top of the kiss’n’ride pavilion. The task of switching designs mid-construction was costly, but the province agreed to pay for all cost overruns.

The Scarborough RT opened on March 24, 1985, a year behind schedule and nearly $100 million over budget. What was to have been a trunk line for a network of streetcars branching out across Scarborough instead became a mini-subway that might, in future, be extended as a single line to Malvern. Curious crowds pushed the line to capacity in the opening days, and the restructuring of Scarborough’s bus routes to Scarborough Centre funnelled a lot of passenger traffic through the RT, and through the lengthy transfer at Kennedy station.

The Scarborough RT did attract more passengers than buses could comfortably serve, but it also ran into controversy. The design changes and the line’s largely untested technology produced teething pains with the equipment. The turning loop at Kennedy station was a particular problem. Designed for streetcars, the linear-induction trains had difficulty handling its tight curves. The speed limit was reduced on the loop to just 5 km/hr after a derailment occurred during operation. In total, problems led the TTC to ask the province for $27 million to repair issues and to rebuild the turning loop and platforms at Kennedy station.

The province, to its credit, agreed to pay for the costs, and the SCARBOROUGH RT shut down for three months during the summer of 1988. A switch was added at the east end of Kennedy station to allow trains to cross over. The loop was taken out of regular service and used to store trains in an emergency. The platform at the south side of the station was extended across its adjacent track to the former inbound track, allowing arriving trains to open doors on both sides. Boarding passengers would board trains from the south platform while disembarking passengers would depart on the north platform, heading downstairs to the bus terminal.

Station Design and New Connections

Built in the late 1970s, with Metropolitan Toronto concerned about the rising costs of subway construction, Kennedy station has a more subdued design aesthetic compared to the Montreal-inspired stations of the SPADINA subway. The station’s tile-work shares much the same design as Kipling (built and opened at the same time), with brown tiles, and red and gold vinyl fluting on the walls opposite the station platforms. While these features are easier to clean, they have been criticized for producing a dark, drab appearance. Above ground, the station makes extensive use of glass windows. Attempts were also made to speed up transfers, with one escalator running directly from the bus terminal level to the subway platform, bypassing the mezzanine.

Kennedy station does have some art, however. Frank Perna was commissioned to design and paint the mural A Sense of Place over the angular concrete station entrance building off the Eglinton service road. Several plaques commemorate the workers who built the extension, and a small diorama of a subway tunnel under construction (assembled by a P. Twist) can be found set into the mezzanine corridor wall.

Kennedy station’s sprawling design may have contributed to loitering and youth gang crime within the station itself. In 1998, a fatal stabbing within the station sparked a community safety audit, which led to the TTC adding new and brighter lights, closed circuit television cameras and security patrols. The TTC also piped classical music over the public address station

The answer is nefarious youths. In 1998, a community safety audit conducted after a fatal stabbing at Kennedy station suggested piping in Bach, Sibelius, Schumann, and others would repel gangs. New lights, CCTV, and additional security patrols were also ordered. The technique had also been tried on the Vancouver Skytrain and at 7-11 Convenience stores, as well as the London Underground. Since being used in Kennedy, classical music has also been piped into Warden, Victoria Park, Main Street, Greenwood, Bathurst, Dundas West, Runnymede and Finch stations.

Adjacent to Kennedy station, the Stouffville GO train continued to operate on the Uxbridge subdivision, gradually adding additional peak trains. No move was made to connect these two services until 2005, and only after extensive negotiations about whether the TTC should extend a tunnel from the mezzanine level beneath the Uxbridge subdivision tracks, and who should pay how much for the connection. Eventually, however, Kennedy GO station opened on June 2, 2005, with an elevator for wheelchair accessibility, but without a manned ticket booth or permanent station building.

In January 2015, work began to alter the station to provide a connection with the EGLINTON-CORSSTOWN LRT. The TTC warned that, around January 15, the north entrance to Kennedy station would be closed to allow for the loading platform for the LRT to be built north of the subway tracks. The taxi stand area was moved to the passenger pick-up and drop off area. Passengers were also required to detour to the south entrance or the passenger pick-up and drop off entrance.

The Reluctant Hub

Kennedy station has been criticized as an awkward transfer point between two modes of rapid transit (the BLOOR-DANFORTH subway and the SCARBOROUGH RT) that should have been one. However, political decisions sabotaged the intent of the SCARBOROUGH RT to act as a trunk line branching out to a wider swath of Scarborough. At the same time, Scarborough planning decisions prevented the growth of high density transit-friendly development around Kennedy station, specifically because such development might detract from Scarborough Centre as a downtown hub for the municipality.

In spite of this, developments were being made that were to increase Kennedy’s prominence as a transit hub. In 2007, the provincial government announced its MoveOntario 2020 platform, which promised funding to the City of Toronto’s proposal to build light rail transit corridors along Eglinton Avenue, Sheppard East and Finch West. The Eglinton line was the centrepiece, stretching from Pearson Airport in the west, diving into a tunnel around Weston Road, emerging around Don Mills and continuing to Kennedy station. A second LRT line would continue east along Eglinton before turning northeast and then north to access the Malvern neighbourhood, while the ICTS technology of the Scarborough RT would be retired and the line converted into a third LRT operating out of Kennedy station.

The prospect of three major LRT lines converting on Kennedy meant a major redesign for the station had to be considered. One proposal had the Eglinton-Crosstown and Eglinton Malvern lines converging in a single twin tunnel at the same depth of the subway tracks, but to the north. The Scarborough LRT would meet Kennedy station in a wide loop with a platform directly above the Eglinton LRTs. Passengers from the BLOOR-DANFORTH subway could go up a single flight of stairs to access the Scarborough LRT (instead of four flights to get to the former Scarborough RT), or descend another flight of stairs to board Eglinton cars.

The election of Rob Ford in 2010 cancelled Toronto’s Transit City proposal, eliminating the Eglinton-Malvern line and combining the Eglinton-Crosstown with the Scarborough LRT in an alignment that was all underground beneath Eglinton. Two years later, Toronto City Council rebelled against its mayor and reinstated the original Transit City alignments, only to cancel the Eglinton-Malvern again and abandon plans for the Scarborough LRT in favour of extending the BLOOR-DANFORTH subway to Scarborough Centre.

As of 2016, Toronto Mayor John Tory has convinced council to back a one-stop extension of the BLOOR-DANFORTH subway to Scarborough Centre, and the relaunch of the Eglinton-Malvern line. In the meantime, the Province of Ontario under Metrolinx continues to build the Eglinton-Crosstown line, which will dive underground at Kennedy and stop at a platform adjacent to the BLOOR-DANFORTH subway tracks. The EGLINTON-CROSSTOWN LRT is expected to open in 2021.

With Toronto mayor John Tory also favouring upgrading the Stouffville GO train into more frequent regional express rail under his SmartTrak proposal, Kennedy station’s role as a major hub will be enhanced in the future. It is hoped that more transit-friendly development will produce a community that thrives off Kennedy station’s presence, making it into the hub it deserves to be.


  • New paddle-door fare gates able to handle PRESTO cards were installed at Kennedy on December 9, 2016, making Kennedy the first interchange station on the TTC to have its turnstiles replaced by the new fare gates.
  • Kennedy station also has a bike repair station.
  • Effective May 1, 2017, Metrolinx closed the north parking lot at Kennedy to make way for EGLINTON-CROSSTOWN LRT construction.
  • On Fall, 2017, EGLINTON-CROSSTOWN LRT construction at Kennedy station will force the shutdown of a number of bus bays, and a number of routes will be relocated to a temporary bus terminal built in the main parking lot. This terminal will be connected to the subway station within its fare paid zone.

Service Notes (as of January 1, 2017):

  • Off-Site Resources:
  • Line: 2 Bloor - Danforth
    3 Scarborough RT
    5 Eglinton-Crosstown LRT (in 2021)
  • Hours of Operation:
    First Train to Kipling: 5:43 a.m. weekdays, 5:48 a.m. Saturdays/holidays, 8:00 a.m. Sundays.
    First Train to McCowan: 5:59 a.m. weekdays, 5:58 a.m. Saturdays/holidays, 8:01 a.m. Sundays.
    Last Train to Kipling: 1:31 a.m.
    Last Train to McCowan: 1:30 a.m.
  • Address: 2455 Eglinton Avenue East
  • Opened: November 22, 1980 (2 Bloor-Danforth), March 24, 1985 (Line 3)
  • Wheelchair Accessible Since: May 28, 1999
  • Average Weekday Ridership: 71,440 (Bloor-Danforth), 35,890 (Scarborough RT) (2014)
    71,050 (Bloor-Danforth), 34,300 (Scarborough RT) (2013)
  • Entrances:
    • Service Road Entrance, located near Transway Crescent which intersects with Kennedy Road, south of Eglinton Avenue East, and Service Road which intersects with Eglinton Avenue East, east of Kennedy Road. (Not accessible)
    • South Parking Lot Entrance, located on the east side of Transway Crescent, 76 metres south of Service Road, near the north west corner of the South Parking Lot. An exterior elevator and a sidewalk staircase lead to the concourse/collector level (Accessible)
    • GO Station Entrance, located at 2467 Eglinton Avenue East, at the west side of the TTC East Parking Lot, located on the south side of Eglinton Avenue East, just west of Midland Avenue. A GO Station elevator and stairs lead to the TTC Kennedy subway station Concourse Level (Accessible)
    • Passenger Pick up and drop off Entrance, located by motor vehicles only off Transway Crescent. A flight of stairs connects the enclosed waiting area to the concourse/collector level. (Not accessible)
  • Elevators (click here for maintenance schedule):
    • Passenger Pick Up and Drop off to Concourse
    • Concourse level to SRT line
    • Subway platform to Concourse
  • Escalators (click here for maintenance schedule):
    • Concourse To Bus Level West End (Up At All Times)
    • Platform To Concourse Centre (Up At All Times)
    • Platform To Bus Level Centre (Down At All Times)
    • Platform To Bus Level East End (Up At All Times)
    • West End - Concourse To Street (Eglinton Avenue) (Up At All Times)
    • West Side Bus Level To Scarborough RT (Down At All Times)
    • East Side Bus Level To Scarborough RT (Up At All Times)
  • Parking:
    • East Lot (Enter off eastern service road): 151 spaces
    • North Lot (Enter off western service road, north side, beneath Eglinton): 112 spaces
    • North Service Road Lot (Enter off western service road, north side): 199 spaces
    • South Lot (Enter off Transway Crescent): 673 spaces
  • Pass Vending Machine available.
  • Centre platform (both levels)
  • Token vending machine

Regional Connections

TTC Surface Connections:

Former TTC Surface Connections

Kennedy Station Image Archive

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Terminal | Scarborough RT | LAWRENCE EAST >>
Subway Related Properties Page


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