Toronto subway riders pass through Bay Street station every day, but what some riders may not know is that right below their feet, there’s an out-of-use subway platform.
Known as one of Toronto’s lost subway stations, the lower Bay Street station was put out of use almost 60 years ago after a mere six months of being in service. The reason for the station — and its puzzlingly flawed design — to this day leave transit enthusiasts scratching their heads.
Reece Martin, a Toronto transit planner and creator of the RMTransit Youtube channel, explains that the lower station was originally opened as part of the Bloor-Danforth line.
“Essentially it was built because the original plan was to have trains from the Yonge line go onto Line 2 and then loop around, and instead of going up to York University and the Spadina Line, they went straight onto Bloor Street and run that way,” Martin told Daily Hive.
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Although the station was meant to connect the lines and improve service, it very quickly began creating serious delays.
“Basically it was just creating a lot of problems operationally because all of the lines were intertwined, so if you had a delay in one place, say you had a delay at Museum Station, even though Museum Station isn’t on Line 2 today, because all the lines were intermingled, that means all the trains on the whole line have to stop,” Martin said.
How the TTC couldn’t have foreseen these problems before opening the line is something that’s still debated today, Martin said.
“No one really knows the answer, but it doesn’t seem like the TTC designed it to work,” Martin said. “It’s a very weird situation. They designed it this way and they had the plan of running the trains all intermingled, and yet, they didn’t design it in a way that would make it reliable.”
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The platform itself also had some design flaws that ended up creating hazardous conditions in the station. Trains coming through the station that were headed towards the suburbs didn’t have a specific platform that they would go to, meaning they could arrive on either the upper or lower platforms.
“Apparently people were literally standing on the stairs because to catch the next train, you never knew if it was going to be on the upper level or the lower level and that was creating hazards and such in the station, so that was part of the problem as well,” Martin said.
TTC spokesperson Stuart Green confirmed to Daily Hive that the station “was closed mostly due to confusion for customers.”
In a video on his Youtube channel, Martin not only explores the station but offers some possible future uses that he would like to see in an ideal world, including turning the platform into a transit museum like the one in New York City where old subway cars could be put on display.
In recent years, the 500-foot long space has become a popular filming location and is also used for events like the annual Toronto Doors Open.
“It can be rented at a cost to almost anyone,” Green said. “We’ve had concerts, art installations, and events.”
Drake recently used the lower Bay station to shoot subway scenes for his newest music video What’s Next.
And because someone will take issue, this was shot Tuesday evening on a rented and closed set (Bay Lower), COVID protocols followed. pic.twitter.com/DTrUXvGh1H
— TTCStuart 🚈🗣️ (@TTCStuart) March 5, 2021
Green said that the track is also still actively used by the TTC to shuttle trains between Line 1 and Line 2.
By giving the lost station a new life, the TTC turned a big loss into a win and Green says they have no plans to change its use for the foreseeable future.