scarborough rt

TTC to replace trains with a dedicated busway in a clear step backwards

After more than 37 years, the TTC's Line 3 Scarborough RT is coming apart at the seams, and a new report tabled to the transit agency board is officially recommending a long-discussed plan to demolish and replace the rapid transit route with buses until the future Scarborough Subway Extension enters service.

Opened in 1985 with what was then cutting-edge self-driving technology, the RT has been pushed into obsolescence despite multiple extensive overhauls to extend the life of the line and its trains, which are known for susceptibility to breakdowns, especially in snowy weather as witnessed in January.

Just over one year ago, the TTC Board approved a plan to eliminate service on Line 3 in 2023, directing staff to figure out a way to keep Scarborough moving until the Line 2 East Extension enters service, planned for 2030.

After a technical review, the TTC is officially recommending that trains cease service on Line 3 in the fourth quarter of 2023, with a plan to replace the RT with a bus route operating in a dedicated busway or bus-only road along a portion of the current RT's right-of-way.

Buses would operate on an exclusive TTC-only busway running between Kennedy Station and Ellesmere Station, with buses to then travel along Ellesmere Road and Brimley Road to connect to Scarborough Centre Station.

Converting the right-of-way for bus operation wouldn't be an overnight switch, as construction will be required to create new bus stop platforms at Lawrence East and Ellesmere stations, as well as stops at Kennedy and Scarborough Centre stations for an additional bus service. Both Midland and McCowan stations will be entirely closed and decommissioned.

The bus service would run until 2030, when the subway extension is planned to enter service, a move the transit agency claims will "provide customers with the quickest and most reliable service." But people are already worried.

The new busway wouldn't open until 2025, meaning local commuters can expect a major downgrade in their TTC service.

With a projected cost of almost $50 million, the busway would only have a functional five-year service life before the new subway comes online.

For some armchair analysts, the temporary busway in place of a higher-capacity rapid transit line is a tough sell. One commenter summed it all up with just three letters.

Lead photo by

Nicoli OZ Mathews

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