The Union Station to Queens Quay Link and the East Bayfront Light Rail Transit (referred to as the Waterfront East LRT (WELRT) is a priority Waterfront Transit Network project, and a joint effort on the part of the City, TTC, and Waterfront Toronto. The scope of the project runs from Union Station to the foot of Bay Street, along Queens Quay to the Distillery Loop on Cherry Street and into the western Port Lands area.
The existing underground streetcar infrastructure, consisting of an approximately 540-metre long tunnel, under Bay Street from Queens Quay Station to Union Station, opened in 1990. This existing link provides connections between the central-western waterfront, TTC Line 1, GO trains and buses, and the lower downtown core. The existing streetcar loop at Union Station is currently inadequate for current service levels, with insufficient space for volumes of waiting and alighting customers. Consequently, significant infrastructure improvements and expansion are required to accommodate the future easterly extension of the LRT service.
As directed by Council, the City, TTC, and Waterfront Toronto worked with an external consultant team to complete a focused feasibility study and evaluation of higher-order transit options to connect Union Station to existing and approved light rail transit lines east and west of Bay Street along Queens Quay.
In April 2019, staff provided an update on the Union Station to Queens Quay Link and the East Bayfront LRT. City Council approved the streetcar option as the preferred technology for the Union Station to Queens Quay Link and directed staff to undertake the preliminary design and engineering phase of the extension of streetcar service to the East Bayfront.
Staff also reported on the concept plan to improve the existing turnaround loop at Union Station. This concept plan proposed four platforms at Union Station to meet the 2041 forecast for transit ridership, as well as upgrades to the existing underground LRT station at Queens Quay and Bay.
The current work has seen the City, TTC and Waterfront Toronto advanced the design for Area 1, 2A and 2B from 10% to a draft 30% design. The City is also is also examining options to extend the WELRT south on Cherry with a loop in the Port Lands (Area 2C) as a replacement for the Distillery Loop. Consequently, City staff, Waterfront Toronto and the TTC are undertaking a value engineering exercise to inform the design and contain costs. From June 7, 2021, to July 6, 2021, the City of Toronto, Waterfront Toronto and TTC sought feedback through the Waterfront East LRT Summer 2021 Virtual Community Consultation meeting, an online survey, and emails received by the project team about the Waterfront East LRT Extension from Union Station to Cherry Street. The Engagement Summary Report and Appendix document the feedback received from the public consultation and engagement activities. In summer 2022, the project team continued the engagement process with stakeholders and landowners, and will provide the overall design to the general public in the fall of 2022.