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Main Street

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Text by James Bow

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Main Street station opened on May 10, 1968 as part of the TTC’s extension of the BLOOR-DANFORTH subway from Woodbine to Warden. The station is located within the old City of Toronto, and offered connections between Zone 1 (City) and Zone 2 (Suburban) transit services. This had an impact on its design. Today, even after further extensions of rapid transit further into Scarborough, Main Street station remains an important transit hub for the neighbourhood, and a significant connection within the regional transportation picture. In 2014, 25,580 passengers passed through the station on an average weekday.

Warden subway station was, from 1968 until 1980, the eastern terminus of the BLOOR-DANFORTH subway and the gateway into Scarborough. Passengers transferred from subway trains to one of many buses at an extensive, 9-bay bus terminal to continue on their journey into northern and eastern Scarborough. Even with the extension to Kennedy in 1980, Warden serves as a major transfer point for several bus routes operating along Warden Avenue and St. Clair. In 2014, a respectable 32,110 passengers passed through the station on an average weekday.

Early History

Although Main Street station didn’t open until 1968, streetcars have been running through the property for thirteen years beforehand. On May 15, 1955, to relieve congestion at Luttrell loop further east, the TTC opened the new loop on the east side of Main Street, north of Danforth Avenue, for CARLTON streetcars. CARLTON cars continued to operate through the loop as the station was built, with a brief hiatus as the loop was rebuilt as part of the construction of the surface transit terminal.

When Main Street station opened, it effectively replaced Luttrell loop. Although the BLOOR-DANFORTH subway extended further east into Scarborough, a number of buses that had connected with BLOOR streetcars were extended west to the station. Victoria Park station was located too far north of Danforth Avenue to act as a convenient terminal and, in any event, the businesses along Danforth Avenue between Main Street and Victoria Park Avenue were unwilling to lose transit service. The 20 CLIFFSIDE and 23 DAWES buses were extended to the station, and 113 DANFORTH was extended years later. Main Street station also served as the eastern terminus of east-west routes operating through East York, with 62 MORTIMER connecting as soon as the station opened, and 87 COSBURN appearing later.

Zone Issues

At the time the station opened, the TTC still maintained a zone fare system, with the boundary between Zone 1 (City) and Zone 2 (Suburban) being where Luttrell loop used to be. Buses from Scarborough were effectively kept as Zone 2 services as they were extended west, and they met with Zone 1 services at the station. With the two services mixing at the single terminal, the TTC decided that paper transfers would be required for passengers transferring between these subway and the station’s buses and streetcars. They designed this into the station itself, building a large concourse level between the bus terminal and the subway platforms to house the collection booth and turnstiles.

Of course, when the TTC eliminated the zone fare system in 1972, uniting all of Metropolitan Toronto under a single fare, there was no need to maintain the paper transfer requirements. Fortunately, room was available at the western end of the surface terminal to place a new collector booth and line of turnstiles, moving the bulk of the surface terminal within the fare-paid zone of the station. This was done soon after the zone fares were removed, and the turnstiles and collector booths were removed from the concourse level. You can see where the turnstiles used to be in the tile patterns of the concourse floor.

Regional Connections

Main Street station opened just under a year after service started on the Lakeshore GO Train. The initial GO Train service included a stop called Danforth station. The stop was a station established by the Grand Trunk Railway in 1883. Initially called York station, Canadian National took over in the early 1920s and later renamed the station Danforth. The station building that was in use when GO Transit arrived was eventually demolished in 1974. The station was accessed by a set of stairs leading up to the Main Street bridge.

In spite of the proximity between the two stations, there was initially no move to improve the connection between the two facilities, or to encourage transfers between the two stations, even as service on the Lakeshore GO train increased, and trains on the Stouffville GO line joined in. There are reports that the provincial government considered building a tunnel between the two stations in the 1980s, as increasing ridership threatened to push the YONGEsubway over capacity and Metropolitan Toronto considered the construction of the Downtown Relief subway line. However, such a project was deemed too costly. Utilities beneath Danforth Avenue mean that such a tunnel would have to be deep, and at over 200 metres long, the tunnel between the two stations would be longer than the tunnel in place between the BLOOR-DANFORTH and SPADINA platforms of Spadina station.

Between 2005 and 2008, however, Danforth GO station was renovated, adding elevators and a new wheelchair accessible entrance from the north end of the Main Street bridge, shortening the walk between Danforth GO and Main Street stations. GO Transit and the TTC also set up programs to encourage more transfers between the station. The TTC Times Two program allowed passengers to take the TTC to any GO station, like Danforth, take the GO train (paying the GO fare) and then boarding for free (after showing a transfer) on the TTC at any other GO station.

In 2015, to try and reduce congestion at Bloor-Yonge station, Toronto Mayor John Tory and Metrolinx announced a pilot project to allow TTC riders to apply a $60 sticker to their monthly Metropass and board for free at Exhibition and Danforth stations for trips to Union — a substantial discount on the $181.60 a monthly pass between Danforth and Union would have cost. However, a year into the pilot project, Metrolinx announced that only an average of 75 stickers were sold each month.

Special Features

Main Street station follows the same utilitarian modern design applied to other 1960s-built stations on the BLOOR-DANFORTH subway. Its station building offers a simple rectangular design, the same overhanging canopy of other BLOOR-DANFORTH stations, brown brick, and large glass windows with a band of red colour around three feet off the ground. The station interior follows the BLOOR-DANFORTH tile colour pattern, with yellow base tiles and red-brown lettering and trim.

The station, however, has a number of features that make it stand out from other stations on the line. The large concourse level has already been mentioned, where the fare gates used to be. Main Street station is also the only station on the TTC where “Street” is explicitly shown in its name. This was done to prevent any confusion that this station, located on the Main Street of the old village of East Toronto, was actually the “main station” of the Toronto subway network.

Possible Future Changes

Main Street station has already seen some renovations since its opening in 1968. In addition to moving the fare gates to the bus platform level, the station was made accessible with the installation of elevators effective November 23, 2004. The station was also one of the first to receive the new Presto-enabled paddle fare gates, replacing the traditional turnstiles.

While technically, Main Street station has only one exit between the subway platforms and the street, the large concourse and multiple stairwells, as well as the large bus terminal reduce the need for a second exit, compared to other stations on the BLOOR-DANFORTH line. No plans have been made for installing a second exit from the station.

Service Notes (as of January 1, 2017):

  • Off-Site Resources:
  • Line: 2 Bloor - Danforth
  • Hours of Operation:
    First Train to Kipling: 5:51 a.m. weekdays, 5:55 a.m. Saturdays/holidays, 8:07 a.m. Sundays.
    First Train to Kennedy: 5:51 a.m. weekdays, 5:52 a.m. Saturdays/holidays, 8:12 a.m. Sundays.
    Last Train to Kipling: 1:38 a.m.
    Last Train to Kennedy: 2:09 a.m.
  • Address: 315 Main Street
  • Opened: May 10, 1968
  • Wheelchair Accessible Since: November 23, 2004
  • Average Weekday Ridership: 25,580 (2014), 25,390 (2013)
  • Entrances:
    • Main Street Entrance, located on the east side of Main Street, 79 metres north of Danforth Avenue. (Accessible) (Presto fare gates opened April 8, 2016)
  • Elevators(click here for maintenance schedule):
    • Bus to Concourse to Eastbound Platform
    • Concourse to Westbound Platform
  • Escalators (click here for maintenance schedule):
    • Centre - Lower Concourse To Street & Bus Level (Up At All Times)
    • North Side - Westbound Platform To Concourse (Up At All Times)
    • South Side - Eastbound Platform To Concourse (Up At All Times)
  • Parking: None
  • Pass Vending Machine available.
  • 2 Side platforms
  • Token vending machine

Regional Transit Connections (at Danforth GO station, 270 metres south on Main Street)

TTC Surface Connections:

Former TTC Surface Connections

Main Street Station Image Archive

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