The Harbourfront line, approved by the TTC in 1985, was the first new streetcar line built in Toronto in over 60 years, and one of three to be opened over the space of ten years. The 2.1 km line included a tunnel and underground stops at Union Station and Queens Quay ferry docks, and then surface track in a dedicated right of way on Queens Quay, terminating at a new loop at Lower Spadina Avenue. Passengers travelled in rehabilitated PCCs along this dedicated right-of-way route, supporting development along the waterfront. Known during planning and construction as the Harbourfront Light Rail Transit line, construction began in the fall of 1988 and the service opened on June 22, 1990.
A second, larger project was closely related to the Harbourfront line. The Spadina Light Rail Transit project, proposed in 1983, was approved in June 1992. Streetcars had not operated on the length of Spadina Avenue since 1948, when buses took over. The new Spadina streetcar route would operate along a dedicated right-of-way between Spadina Station and Queens Quay, and then along the Harbourfront line tracks to Union Station. The project was built to accommodate the development of the railway lands south of Front Street, and the projected increase in ridership to that area. Construction began in December 1992 and the new 510 Spadina streetcar route opened on July 27, 1997.
Queens Quay LRT
While the Spadina LRT was under construction, a third short but key streetcar link was being quietly planned. On November 24, 1998, construction began on an 800-metre stretch of track along Queens Quay, from Spadina Avenue to Bathurst Street. This new link permitted the operation of a direct streetcar service from Union Station to Exhibition Place, and could also eventually serve as part of longer extensions to the west and to the east. The extension opened on July 21, 2000 with service on the new 509 Harbourfront streetcar route.