Today was the big day that the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) opened the 6-station subway extension to Line 1 – nine years in the making and with a budget of over $3.2 billion!
I thought to myself yesterday while preparing to go out on a downtown pub crawl that it’d be cool to be part of Toronto history and ride the first public train along the new line from Sheppard West to Vaughan Metropolitan Centre. Despite getting kinda wasted and heading home from the last bar at a reasonably late time, I still managed to wake up early enough on a Sunday to catch the first southbound train from College, which would eventually lead me northbound towards Vaughan.
My friend Elaine had agreed to come for the ride as well, boarding the 7:55am southbound train from the first stop on the line, Finch. The plan was for me to meet her when it passed through College, but I failed to realise that other trains closer to the downtown area had commenced service at the same time. She wasn’t on the first train that passed through College, so I train-hopped until I found her on the next one. We may have missed the opportunity to be on the first ever public train to use the new track, but we were on the first train to do the full circuit from Finch to Vaughan.
The best thing about the journey along the new portion of the track was that the train driver opened up his compartment and allowed a few people in at a time to see the line up close & personal, from the perspective of the operator. It was a rare privilege to be able to see the TTC in this form.
Elaine & I got chatting with a guy sitting next to us; he told us he also travelled on the TTC the first day the northbound Spadina line extension opened in the late 70’s. Not only that, but he remembered being 4 or 5 years old and taking the subway when the first line was completed in the 50’s. He was pretty confident he’s gonna live long enough to be the first to travel on the Eglinton LRT when it opens in 2021 – providing of course that it doesn’t get delayed!
Pretty much everyone on the new track was there purely for the ride. There was a surprisingly upbeat, happy & celebratory mood in the first carriage, it was a really nice event to be part of.
We reached Vaughan Metropolitan Centre around 9am to a round of applause from the fellow passengers and a lot of fanfare at the beautiful new station.
There wasn’t too much going on outside the new station, it was kinda desolate all the way up in the northern suburbs. We managed to find a nearby diner for some brunch and then made our way back to the station for the return trip downtown.
I’ll probably never come up this far north again but I don’t at all regret getting up early after a night on the booze to be part of Toronto transit history this morning. The opening of a new train line is definitely not something that happens every day.
Bring on Eglinton 2021!