Scarborough RT (TTC)

Scarborough RT (TTC)

Infobox rail line
name = Scarborough RT

image_width = 250px
caption = A Scarborough RT ICTS Mark I train leaving Lawrence East station, bound for McCowan.
type = Rapid transit
system = Toronto subway and RT
status =
locale = Toronto, Ontario
start = Kennedy
end = McCowan
stations = 6
routes =
ridership = 42,390 (avg. weekday) []
open = March 22, 1985
close =
owner = Toronto Transit Commission
operator = Toronto Transit Commission
character =
stock = ICTS Mark I
linelength = 6.4 km (4.2 mi)
tracklength =
notrack =
gauge = RailGauge|sg
el = Third rail, Linear induction
speed =
elevation =

The Scarborough RT (sometimes shortened to SRT or RT) is a rapid transit line in the Scarborough district of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Rather than the long subway trains used by the Toronto Transit Commission’s three other rapid-transit lines, it uses the shorter Bombardier Advanced Rapid Transit (ICTS) Mark I vehicles powered by linear induction motors. They are essentially the same as the original fleet of the Vancouver SkyTrain and that of the Detroit People Mover, although unlike these other operators, the TTC has opted to run them semi-automatically with a driver on board.

The line has six stations and is 6.4 km (4.2 miles) in length. It is operated by the Toronto Transit Commission and administered as part of its subway system, although the Scarborough RT differs technologically from the city’s other three lines in a number of respects. RT simply stands for "rapid transit", as the name "subway" seemed inappropriate for a line with only a small section underground. Internally, the TTC uses the name "rapid transit" to refer to all four lines. The term is sometimes used for streetcar lines as well. The line’s tracks are of standard gauge, unlike those of the rest of Toronto’s streetcar and subway lines.

The line is internally referred to as Route 3 (formerly route 603), but this number is not used by the public or shown on TTC maps and signs.

Late at night when the Scarborough RT is not operating, the 302 Danforth Rd-McCowan Blue Night bus serves the same area. The 302 originates at Danforth and Warden, where it connects with the 300 Bloor-Danforth that travels to the west. From Warden, the 302 travels east along Danforth to McCowan, then north along McCowan to Steeles. With the exception of McCowan RT station, it does not pass near any of the subway or RT stations, though other night bus services pass near stations. Bus service is extended on Sundays because the subway and RT start at 9:00 a.m. instead the usual 6:00 a.m. start.


In the early 1980s, the TTC had proposed to extend the Bloor-Danforth line by using streetcars operating in a private right-of-way, but the ICTS system was used instead because the Province of Ontario agreed to pay a large portion of the costs. This change was made after construction had commenced. At Kennedy Station, there are clues revealing that it was originally built for streetcar operation; it is possible to see old low-level streetcar platforms protruding under the current high-level platforms, and Kennedy station originally had a loop to turn streetcars. This proved too sharp for safe operation of SRT cars, and the loop was abandoned for regular usage and replaced by a crossover. Ontario wanted to develop and promote its new technology, which was originally designed for an urban GO Transit service known as GO ALRT. Changes to federal railway regulations had made the new system unnecessary for GO, and so the government hoped to sell it to other transit services in order to recoup its investment.

The Scarborough RT opened in March 1985. Only three years after it opened, the TTC had to renovate its south-western terminus at Kennedy station, because the looped turnaround track, originally designed for streetcars under the earlier plan and not needed for the bi-directional ICTS trains, was causing derailments; it was replaced with a single terminal track.

Largely because of the relatively high cost of the ICTS technology for the service it provides, the line has seen no extensions since it opened. Many transit advocates believe that it would have been wiser either to build it using streetcars, as was originally planned, to allow for lower costs and more flexibility in route options, or to simply extend the underground Bloor-Danforth line further into Scarborough (for more details, see "Future" below).


The trains operated were developed by the Urban Transportation Development Corporation (UTDC), then an Ontario Crown corporation but now a division of Bombardier. The business proposal initially bore little fruit – a proposed pilot project in Hamilton was cancelled after meeting widespread public opposition, and the technology was used initially only by the Scarborough RT, Vancouver’s SkyTrain, and the Detroit People Mover. With expansion of the SkyTrain and sales to Ankara, Kuala Lumpur, New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, and now Seoul, a newer version, sold under the name "ART" (advanced rapid transit), has become a success for Bombardier.

One unusual feature of the ICTS cars is that they are driven by linear induction motors: instead of using conventional motors to turn the wheels, they push themselves along the route using magnets and a distinctive metal plate that runs down the centre of the tracks. This system requires very few moving parts, and therefore leads to lower maintenance costs.

When the car motor is accelerating, it actually lifts the car off the track an extremely small distance. This micro-lifting prevents the truck wheels from making a solid electrical contact with the track. Instead of using the conventional method where motive power is supplied by a single third rail, with return current traveling through the running rails, a separate positive and negative power rail are provided on one side of the track. With respect to the accelerating trucks and the micro-lifting, the truck wheels have a somewhat larger flange than normal in order to keep the car inline on the track during the micro-lifting.

The trains are also able to be operated exclusively by computers, doing away with the need for a human operator. The public, however, was not ready for driverless trains when the Scarborough RT opened, particularly in light of frequent software glitches early in its operation, so operators were retained (other systems, including Vancouver’s TransLink, took full advantage of the automated operation). The Scarborough RT trains have only one operator, unlike TTC subway trains which carry both a guard, who operates the train’s doors, and an operator, who drives. In practice, the Scarborough RT trains drive themselves; the operator monitors their operations and controls the doors. The transit workers' union has firmly opposed driverless trains. [cite web|url= |title=TTC eyes driverless subway |work=Toronto Star |first=David |last=Bruser |date=2006-11-17 |accessdate=2007-12-08] One feature which was not added since the Scarborough RT's opening is the automated stop announcement system which came into effect in January 2008.


The line follows a roughly L-shaped route: first northward from Kennedy Station, parallelling the Canadian National Railway tracks, between Kennedy Road and Midland Avenue, 4 km to Ellesmere Road; then eastward between Ellesmere and Progress Avenue, through Scarborough Town Centre to McCowan Road. The Scarborough RT’s ICTS trains, which are not shared with any of the TTC’s other lines, have their own small yard east of McCowan station. This yard is large enough to store the existing fleet, but would have to be expanded or replaced if the TTC were to expand the line’s capacity by buying new trains. Basic maintenance is performed in this yard, but for more major work, the cars are taken to the subway’s Greenwood yards, which must be done by truck because differences in track gauge make it impossible for the Scarborough RT’s track to be connected with the rest of the subway and streetcar systems.

The north-south section of the route, where it follows the CN tracks, is at ground level; the shorter east-west section (except for the ground-level yard) is elevated, as is the Kennedy terminus. The line dives briefly underground just north of Ellesmere station to cross under the CN tracks.

All stations, whether by transfer or fare-paid terminal, connect to surface TTC bus routes. Other connections are noted below.

Two stations, Kennedy and Scarborough Centre are wheelchair accessible.

"For a list of stations on this line and their major connections and details, see: List of Toronto subway and RT stations."

There have been proposals to add a station at Brimley Road due to the increased number of residential developments in the area of Brimley Road and Ellesmere Road.


The TTC is currently carrying assessing extending the RT from McCowan to Malvern Town Centre. [cite web | url= | title=Proposed Extension of the Scarborough Rapid Transit (SRT)| accessdate=2008-03-30] They have also made a motion that the current study should include the addition of a station where the existing line crosses Brimley Road. [cite web | url= | title=TTC Minutes - February 27, 2008| accessdate=2008-03-30|format=PDF]

In 2006, a study was completed on the prospects of this line. [cite web | url= | title=Scarborough RT Strategic Plan – Study Report - Final Report - August 2006| accessdate=2008-03-30|format=PDF] It recommended upgrading the line to handle larger ART Mark II vehicles, at a cost of $360 millon (2006 dollars). Extending the Bloor-Danforth line (either along the current Scarborough RT route, or along a different alignment directly to Scarborough Centre) was not considered cost-effective or justifiable.

On June 15, 2007, the Ontario government had released MoveOntario 2020, a plan that would fund 52 different transit projects throughout Toronto and Hamilton for the cost of $17.5 billion, including the Scarborough RT extension to Sheppard Avenue, which would meet the proposed Sheppard East LRT line, also to be funded by MoveOntario 2020.


The Scarborough RT has long been maligned for many reasons. Because it uses different vehicles and a different track gauge from the rest of the TTC's rail network, it cannot be easily integrated or extended. Because the line was built to handle Mark I vehicles, subway trains would not be able to handle its tight curves even if the track were replaced with the TTC's gauge [cite web | url= | title= Transit Toronto Newspaper Archive: Toronto Star, Monday April 24, 2006 | accessdate= 2008-06-08] . The TTC's fleet of Mark I vehicles is aging and demand has exceeded the capacity of the TTC's Mark I fleet [cite web | url= | title= Strategic Plan for the Future of the Scarborough RT | accessdate= 2008-06-08|format=PDF] , but these vehicles are no longer produced by Bombardier, leaving the TTC with the expensive prospect of either retrofitting the line for Mark II vehicles (such as those used in Vancouver) or streetcars, or paying Bombardier to restart the production of Mark I vehicles. Most critics of the line point to the fact that the demand is not such that it requires 'Rapid Transit'. The TTC itself estimates potential demand at no more than 10,000 passengers/hour/direction [cite web | url= | title= TTC Open House #2: Scarborough RT EA | accessdate= 2008-06-08|format=PDF] , which could be served by streetcars running in a grade-separated right of way. (2015) [cite web | url= | title= Strategic Plan for the Future of the Scarborough RT | accessdate= 2008-06-08|format=PDF]

See also

* Bombardier Advanced Rapid Transit
* Toronto subway and RT
* Toronto Transit Commission
* Toronto streetcar system
* Signals on the TTC
* MoveOntario 2020


External links

* [ TTC future option analysis, updated August 30th, 2006]
* [ Transit advocate's analysis of the SRT's future]

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