Subway Trivia Answers Archive

As we have run out of questions, the Subway Trivia Contest has been retired.

Q.: How far south on the University line must a westbound Bloor-Danforth train go before it can head north to Wilson Yards?

A.: At the TTS Gloucester Retirement Charter, the chartered train managed to go from eastbound on the Bloor-Danforth line to northbound on the Spadina line by running up the connection to the University line just east of Spadina station, running through St. George station, and stopping just east of the station to reverse direction and take the scissors crossover to the northbound track. This move was conducted with a driver at both ends of the train, and with the trailing driver on the radio to Transit Control. Once the train cleared the scissors crossover, Transit Control was notified and the switch flipped. The train then reversed direction and took the crossover with no delay to regular service.

So, if you have permission from Transit Control, it is possible for the westbound train to follow the Bloor-Danforth line to a point just east of Spadina station. Then, reversing direction, you can travel the "wrong way" up the connection track between the Bloor-Danforth and University lines, stopping at the northbound platform of St. George station. Changing direction there, you proceed straight to Wilson Yard. Transit Control probably prefers this to the option suggested by many respondents: taking Lower Bay, stopping the train at Museum station and running it wrong way up to the double crossing just east of St. George station. This option runs the train the wrong way up a longer length of track.

If Transit Control wants to avoid service disruptions, chances are you will be asked to run through Lower Bay and southbound through the University subway. At Osgoode, you can move into the pocket track south of the station, changing ends and then heading northbound, legally, to Wilson Yard.

Stefan Miskovsky was the first to mention the use of the Osgoode pocket track. Josh Anderchek was the first to suggest changing direction just east of Spadina station.


Where is my brother?

Q. David Cavlovic took this photograph of a rather unique signal on the Toronto subway network. It is a signal on the east end of the University-Spadina platform of Union station, meaning that it's facing the back end of all subway trains entering this platform. It exists to signal the crossover just east of the platform, so that trains can reverse direction and head up the Yonge line. On what other station platform can you find such a "wrong way" signal?

A. We were looking for the TTC's other "wrong way" signal standing on a subway platform. Many of you tried to reason out the question, noting that the "wrong way" signal was in place for trains short-turning at Union, and you suggested other places where short-turning might have occurred in the past, like Eglinton station. However, the answer we were looking for was Islington, whose signal is accessible to the public (but don't touch!), and which faces the wrong way because Islington used to be the western terminus of the Bloor-Danforth subway from 1968 to 1980.

Scott Robert was the first to answer this question correctly.

Where am I?

Q: Where did photographer Brian M. Wolk snap this picture?

A. The tile arrangements, give this one away. The picture was shot at Downsview station; specifically, the stairwell leading from the mezzanine level to the bus terminal.

Dee Crabtree guessed correctly the precise location, although David Cavlovic was the first to place the picture in Downsview station.

Where am I?

Q: Where did photographer Sanj Arora snap this picture?

A. The colour of the tiles narrows the selection down to Museum, Jane, Lansdowne, Spadina, Pape and Main Street stations. The fact that it was leading to a side platform rather than an island platform eliminated Museum. The length of the stairs made many select Pape station as their answer. A couple noted, however, that the door at the end of the stairs is only found at the end of the stairwell leading to the eastbound platform, and that was the answer we were looking for.

David Cavlovic was the first to guess Pape station, and Rob Lubinski was the first to identify the eastbound platform.

Q. David Imrie asks: "Prior to the opening of the Bloor-Danforth Subway, what were the streetcar loops closest to Danforth Avenue? What routes did they serve?"

A. The answer is: Erindale Loop (located north of Danforth Avenue at the site of today's Broadview station loop, used by the King streetcar), Lipton Loop (located north of Danforth Avenue near the site of today's Pape station bus terminal, used by the Harbord streetcar), Danforth Loop (located south of Danforth Avenue on Coxwell Avenue, beside Danforth carhouse and used by the Coxwell streetcar), Hillingdon Loop (located on Hillingdon Avenue, south of Danforth, on the east side of Danforth carhouse, used by Bloor and Danforth short turns and occassionally by Church and Sherbourne trippers), Main Street Loop (located at the site of today's Main Street Station loop and used by Carlton cars) and, finally, Luttrell Loop (located at Danforth and Luttrell, and used by Bloor, Danforth and, before Main Street Loop opened, Carlton cars).

Godfrey Mallion came up with the correct answer to this question.

Q. David Cavlovic asks: "Which station has the longest fare-paid area that can be walked without doubling back?"

A. No official measurement has been taken, but clearly the largest fare-paid walk through a TTC station exists at Spadina. Enter the station through the Walmer Road entrance, walk the length of the Bloor-Danforth platforms (500 feet), then up into the mezzanine level where the streetcars board, along the long tunnel with the moving sidewalk, down the steps and through the Spadina platforms (500 feet) and out the Kendal Street exit -- almost a half mile. The sprawling Wilson complex is probably a distant second.

Mark Brader, Eli McIlveen and Corey Reynolds came up with the correct answer to this question.

Q. What was Rosedale station to be named, when the Yonge subway began construction?

A. Given that the entrance to Rosedale Station is located on Crescent Road, it should be no surprise that the initial plans for the Yonge subway called for this station to be named Crescent. By 1953, Rosedale was the name chosen.

Pete Coulman could come up with the correct answer to this question.

Q. After the subway reached Islington in 1968, was it possible to travel along Bloor Street and transfer onto suburban buses without paying an additional fare?

A. Yes. One simply transferred onto Route 3 Kingsway, which ran from Jane station along Bloor Street to the Six-Points Interchange. It then proceeded down Dundas to the East Mall.

The Kingsway service predated the Bloor-Danforth extension by several years, and was numbered 50, operating from the western terminus of the Bloor streetcar through the Kingsway area of Etobicoke. 49 Bloor West and 50 Burnhamthorpe are both direct descendants of the 50 Kingsway service. When the Bloor-Danforth extension opened in 1968, these two routes came into being, operating west from Islington station.

Bus service on the section of Bloor Street from Jane to Islington was maintained, however. Possibly partly to assuage the concerns of the Kingsway shopping district, but also because the Bloor-Danforth extension was kept within Zone One of the TTC's two-zone fare system. This made it easier for the TTC to administer fare collections on the subway, but it also penalized passengers travelling from points on Islington north of Bloor to points on Royal York south of Bloor, where a trip along Bloor was required to make the connection. The 3 Kingsway service was entirely within Zone Two and free transfers were accepted on all suburban buses connecting with the route.

Alan Gryfe was the first person to correctly answer this question.

Q. When were the Gloucesters first mothballed?

A. Everybody knows that the Gloucesters made their last runs in 1990, when they were retired after 46 years of faithful service.

What many did not know, however, was that the Gloucesters were put on the shelf before. In 1962, the first of the Montreal subway cars arrived for a University subway which had not yet opened. The TTC wanted to break in the new equipment, but had a surplus of cars. So, the TTC took some of the Gloucesters offline in order to allow the MLWs to get their hours in.

When the University subway opened, and the surplus disappeared, the mothballed Gloucesters returned to service.

David Cavlovic was the first person to correctly answer this question.

Q. What subway did the Mayor of North York propose in 1968, that would have cost $400 million to build? How close are we to actually building this subway or reasonable facsimile thereto?

A. In 1968, Mayor James Service of North York suggested that the Bloor-Danforth subway be extended from both its terminals (Islington and Warden) up central Etobicoke and central Scarborough, to the Hydro right-of-way near Finch Avenue. There, he suggested that the lines turn into themselves, running along the right-of-way to meet at Yonge Street, creating a gigantic subway belt line.

The proposal was basically laughed off the stage. The Upper Canada Railway Society opined that the project would be extremely costly and the ridership extremely low. It was not taken seriously. However...

In 1985, the Scarborough RT (basically an extension of the Bloor-Danforth subway in a different mode) opened, taking rapid transit into central Scarborough. Also during this time, serious proposals were put forward for a subway beneath Sheppard Avenue, running from the Spadina Subway to the Scarborough Town Centre. Plans for the Sheppard Subway projected an extension further west, jumping up to Finch Avenue and running along the Hydro right-of-way into Etobicoke. There, it would follow Highway 27 to connect up with the Bloor-Danforth subway at Kipling Station. The first stage of the Sheppard subway is due to open in the summer of 2002, and more extensions are planned.

So, James Service might end up getting the last laugh after all...

David Imrie was the first to answer this question correctly.

Q. What have been the regularly scheduled short turn services on the Toronto subway and when did they operate?

A. From some point after the TTC stopped interlining trains with the Bloor-Danforth subway until 1978, Yonge trains stayed off the University line, short turning at Union, on Monday to Saturday evenings and all day Sunday. From 1973 to 1974, every second rush-hour train turned back at Eglinton instead of going to York Mills. From 1974 until the mid 1980s, every second rush-hour train turned back at Eglinton instead of going to Finch. From 1978 until today, every second rush-hour train turned back at St. Clair West Station instead of going to Wilson or Downsview. There were also 'crowd relief' trains stored at Davisville and Union Station which would run into either Bloor or Union to relieve the Yonge line when things got too crowded.

The University line was not heavily patroned outside of rush-hours when it first opened, and so the TTC decided to cut service. The Eglinton short turn service was said to have been necessitated to prevent bunching caused by slower-moving Gloucester cars. A new signalling system solved this problem in theory, but in practise it is said that short turns still occurred at Eglinton until the Gloucesters were retired in 1991. The St. Clair West short turn was related to the Gloucesters, but is also due to the fact that the Spadina subway is underused compared to the Yonge line. After 1978, the arrangement of the short-turn services was such that the Yonge-University-Spadina line operated as two lines, Eglinton-Wilson and Finch-St. Clair West, with an overlap covering the middle portion of the subway. This continued until the new signal-dispatching system reduced the need for a short turn at Eglinton.

So far as we know, there was no regular short-turn service on the Bloor-Danforth line, although Pat Lavallee notes that, when excess Yonge-University trains were run into Greenwood yards, they would stop short of St. George Station and run in via Lower Bay (this after Lower Bay was decommissioned as a public station). It was for this reason that subway trains had 'Museum' on their rollsigns.

David Cavlovic was the first to answer this question correctly.

Q. What do the names Vincent, Yorkville and Montgomery all have in common? For bonus points, what other names belong to this group?

A. The answer, of course, that these were 'working' names of subway stations and were renamed into what we refer to these stations today before they opened to the public. Vincent Station is better known as Dundas West, Yorkville Station is better known as Bay and Montgomery is today known as Islington. Yorkville does appear on station walls, however, as a subname for Bay Station. It was the only one of the three to be named after a neighbourhood. Montgomery is a minor street in the Islington Avenue area. Vincent is particularly perplexing, as this street barely stretches for one block; one could only imagine that the TTC were reluctant to refer to Dundas Street, for fear of getting the station confused with Dundas Station on the Yonge line.

Other stations that bore different 'working' names included Lowther for the Spadina line's Spadina Station, and 'Princess' station for Sheppard-Yonge on the Sheppard line. The latter was a rather graceless attempt to honour the departed Princess Diana and the idea was shot down very quickly. The Bloor-Danforth line's Spadina Station was originally to be called 'Walmer', and we can also point to North York Centre which, although it was never given a working name while it was under construction, was given the name of 'Empress' when the mid-block station was originally planned in the early 1970s. There was also a contest to provide names for what became St. Clair West, Eglinton West and Lawrence West stations, but this did not appear to be successful, as the TTC stuck with the current names.

Peter Coulman was the first to answer this question correctly.

No Service Car

Q. Where was this photograph taken?

A. The picture, taken from the collection of Brad O'Brien, is the wash rack at Davisville Carhouse.

George Davidson was the first person to answer this question correctly.

Q. Where in Ontario were ICTS lines planned but never built?

A. The Ontario Government hoped to build a number of showcases for the experimental ICTS technology, so it's no accident that GO Transit was the focus of a number of these proposals. The GO ALRT project proposed building ICTS lines to connect the outer terminal stations of the Lakeshore commuter line with the cities of Hamilton and Whitby. At the time, GO Transit was having difficulty securing rail time to run its trains beyond Oakville and Pickering, so the change in technology made some sense. Then Federal legislation upgraded the priorities of passenger trains, and it became cheaper to use standard equipment. The extension to Oshawa proceeded on right-of-way purchased for the ALRT project. The Hamilton extension was not nearly so well developed (having encountered controversy over its alignment into Hamilton), and more frequent rail service has only been extended out to Burlington.

We must also not forget the GO URBAN project, using the original ancestor to ICTS technology: a proposed maglev train operating between Union Station and the Exhibition. The Ontario Government was working with the West German government and Klaus Maffei during the early 1970s, and got as far as building some concrete supports for the right-of-way. Then the partners pulled out, and the project died. The province stepped back and retooled the technology to produce what we see today.

The province also encouraged other cities to plan and build ICTS lines, particularly Hamilton and Ottawa. In Pat Lavallee's words, "Hamilton told them where to go, and how to get there," while Ottawa decided to stick with its busway technology. Toronto also was to have an Etobicoke RT to complement its Scarborough ICTS line.

Nobody got all of the elements of this answer, but many, like Frank Hood, Pat Lavallee, David Imrie and others, came up with portions of it.

Q. Apart from the obvious thoroughfares of Yonge/University and Bloor-Danforth what other major Toronto thoroughfare has the most number of subway stops serving it?

A. We apologize for the fact that this question was not clearly worded. What we were trying to ask was, other than the streets that the Toronto Subway ran along (Bloor, Danforth, Yonge, University, Allen Road, etc), which streets were served by the most subway stops. So, Allen Road was not the answer we were looking for. The answer we were looking for was Dundas, which is served by four subway stops (Dundas, St. Patrick, Dundas West and Kipling). The next highest number of stations is three, which is the case with St. Clair, Eglinton and Lawrence. Once again, our apologies for not making ourselves clear.

Francis Cavanaugh was the first to correctly answer this one.

Q. In the early 1960s, the provincial government stepped in with additional capital funding for the TTC. This allowed the TTC to open the first segment of the line between Keele and Woodbine, and then extend that line to Islington and Warden two years later. Before this funding was received, what was to have been the ORIGINAL two terminal stations of the Bloor-Danforth subway?

A. When the TTC could not count on government support, it had to go slow on subway construction. Thus the TTC planned to build the subway in three stages: the University line from Union to St. George, and then the Danforth segment from St. George to Greenwood (so says David Cavlovic, who supplied the question). The next segment would extend the Bloor line west from St. George to Keele. Fortunately, the provincial government stepped in and the Keele-Woodbine section was built at once, and the Keele to Islington and Woodbine to Warden sections followed soon thereafter.

Peter Coulman was the first to correctly answer this one.

Q. What do the Scarborough RT cars lack that every other piece of passenger carrying equipment the TTC uses has?

A. A number of people guessed 'horns' or propulsion systems, but only a few grasped the one that was so obvious that it was as plain as the nose on your face, or the rollsign on the front of the car. That's right: the Scarborough RT trundles back and forth along its one line and it doesn't tell passengers where it's going.

David Cavlovic was the first to correctly answer this one.

Q. What is the only station on the subway to offer absolutely no transfers between the subway and any surface route?

A. The answer that we were looking for was Chester Station. No daytime routes pass anywhere close to the station, meaning that no transfers between Chester and such routes can take place. Summerhill has an on-street transfer with the Yonge bus and, despite what some people said, it *is* possible to transfer between a McCowan or York Mills bus into McCowan Station on the Scarborough RT. The Chester answer is not without some dispute, however. Some did point out that transfers were theoretically possible between Chester and the 300 Bloor Night Bus. I admit that we goofed on this one, that Chester is the closest to being right, but the reality is that all stations offer transfers with surface at some point in the day.

Daniel Garcia was the first to correctly answer this one.

Q. The last time the Queen Subway was seriously considered as a TTC priority, when was it supposed to open, and what other event was to happen on that date?

A. The last time the Queen Subway was considered a serious TTC priority was in the early 1970s. As construction continued on the York Mills extension of the Yonge Subway, the TTC and Metro planners were bouncing between the Spadina Subway and the Queen line as their next project. The Queen Subway would have opened in 1980.

At that time, the last streetcar in Toronto would run, and the city would have a bus and trolley bus-only fleet. The TTC abandoned its streetcar abandonment policy in 1972 and, in a completely unrelated move, the Queen Subway idea fell from favour throughout the mid 1970s.

No one was able to correctly answer this question.

Q. When the North Yonge Subway from Eglinton to Finch was planned, the TTC briefly considered "midblock" stations between the current stations, before cutting these to save money. What were these stations?

A. Glencairn (between Lawrence and Eglinton), Yonge Blvd/Glen Echo (between Lawrence and York Mills), Empress (between Sheppard and Finch). As far as we know, no midblock station was considered between York Mills & Sheppard. It's also interesting to note that Empress Station has come to pass as North York Centre, thanks to the efforts of North York council to develop their downtown. No plans are in the works to resurrect the other midblock stations, however.

Jeremy Nemers was the first to correctly answer this one.

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