TORONTO: Canada’s largest transit city will soon see a new state-of-the-art GO bus hub open right next to Union Station.
The sophisticated terminal, set to begin operating early next month, will shelter customers from the elements, offer them easy access to and from the downtown core and work much like a modern airport. Get ready to step aboard.
You have to wonder what Burt Williams would think if he could see inside Toronto’s new Union Station Bus Terminal (USBT), which will officially open on Dec. 5.
Williams was a bit of a visionary in Canada, back in the mid-1800s, when the city had a population of about 21,000. A furniture maker and local undertaker, he started what is considered Toronto’s first transit services – stagecoaches, running along King and Yonge streets, which he called ‘omnibuses’.
What Williams, and other transit pioneers, started in Canada, has grown to something they would likely marvel at – including the new USBT facility, which will feel and function much like an airport.
The hub – opening as Metrolinx celebrates the 50th anniversary of the GO Transit’s bus service – is a bit of a marvel, in looks and function.
Construction started back in June, 2017, and the new terminal is located on the north-east corner of Bay St. and Lake Shore Blvd., in the CIBC SQUARE development – just south of the busy rail corridor.
The new Union Station Bus Terminal was built in partnership between Metrolinx, Ivanhoé Cambridge and Hines – it is part of the larger connected CIBC SQUARE development that includes two office towers at 81 and 141 Bay Street.
Customer access to the new terminal includes outdoor access through the main entrance on Lake Shore Blvd., just east of Bay St., the entrance on Bay St. across from Scotiabank Arena, and a new enclosed pedestrian bridge over Bay St. that connects to Scotiabank Arena’s galleria and the PATH.
While the Bay East Teamway will still be under construction on Dec. 5, customers can still access the terminal from the Bay St. entrance. The old Union Station bus terminal will be shut down at the end of the service day on Dec. 4.
The new USBT customers will use on Dec. 5, and beyond, will act a bit like an airport. That includes a sophisticated way of keeping track of bus traffic and movement while keeping riders informed of any changes.
The new bus terminal uses an airport-style departure system that will help minimize delays and maximize safety. (Roy Mak photo) The terminal has bus platforms and customer waiting areas that occupy two floors of the building, changing from the existing single-level terminal.
Dynamic digital signage in the customer waiting areas will direct customers to the appropriate zone and gate before boarding.
Inside, customers will wait in climate-controlled waiting areas, where they’ll be able to connect to WiFi. The new USBT is actually part of a broader revitalization of Union Station, to help people move in and out of the city with greater ease.
A lot of effort has been spent on including many safety features, including adhering to Metrolinx’s ‘Safety Never Stops’ motto by protecting customers and staff from COVID-19, as well as other risks.
At the new terminal, glass gate doors will physically separate the customer waiting area from the platform area for enhanced safety and prevent unauthorized access.
The gates will only be opened and closed to allow customers to board and de-board buses. GO Transit has implemented more than 40 safety measures across the transit system to enhance customers’ safety and comfort while they travel – and many will be reflected within the new USBT. – (Metrolinx Story)