The Union Station to Queens Quay Link and the East Bayfront Light Rail Transit (LRT) (referred to as the Waterfront East LRT Extension) is a priority Waterfront Transit Network project. The scope of the project runs from Union Station to the foot of Bay Street, and along Queens Quay to the Distillery Loop (Cherry Street Loop).
The project is a coordinated effort between the City, TTC and Waterfront Toronto, and would provide new and improved infrastructure to operate additional streetcar services to the East Bayfront area.
The current scope of work for this section includes an assessment of the preferred location for an underground to surface portal on Queens Quay East, opportunities to implement interim transit improvements before the full build-out of the extension, updating of past Environmental Assessment approvals through a Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP), and preparing a 30 percent design, cost estimate, and Business Case. In parallel, an Environmental Project Report (EPR) will also be completed and submitted to the Province for approval as part of the TPAP.
In December 2020, City staff provided an update about their work on Waterfront Transit Network priority projects, specifically the Union Station to Queens Quay Link and the East Bayfront LRT, to City Council. Staff reported that preliminary design and engineering work is underway with 30 percent design and Class 3 cost estimate being developed. The TPAP is anticipated to be complete in early 2022. Further details about the project will be included in future reports to City Council.
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.
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.
Work is ongoing to confirm the preferred design for the concept plan, and to identify the potential to implement an interim phased improvement plan for the loop. The phasing plan will also assess the opportunities to improve transit service on Queens Quay to serve the East Bayfront and the Lower Don Lands. Options being assessed are a continuous east-west LRT service on Queens Quay, improved bus service, and combinations of the two.
The other key focus of the current work plan is assessing options for the location of a new portal east of Bay Street for the transition of the LRT from a tunnel to the surface right-of-way.