Toronto Transit Commission subway trains carried the first riders on its new Line 1 extension early Sunday all the way to Vaughan.
The 8.6 kilometre extension includes six new stations. The stations opened at 8 a.m.
Provincial and municipal leaders. along with a handful of TTC riders, rode the $3.2 billion extension on Sunday.
Toronto Mayor John Tory, TTC CEO Andy Byford and TTC board chair Josh Colle travelled north from Sheppard West station, while Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca travelled south from Vaughan Metropolitan Centre.
Both delegations met at Pioneer Village station, where a red ribbon was cut to open the extension officially.
"This is, without question, the proudest day in the TTC's certainly recent history," Byford said.
"It is, without question, the proudest day in my 28-year career. This is such a beautiful subway extension — six stations, Presto-equipped, Wi-Fi-equipped, cell-equipped. We're driving at the moment on an automatic train control system, a first for Canada."
Byford said the opening of the Line 1 extension is a fitting end to his time in Toronto as TTC CEO.
"I promised the mayor we would have this open by the end of 2017. We have faced huge challenges on this project. We had to reset the project back in 2015. We reset it. We brought in new management to help us. We got additional funding," he said.
"And I've kept my promise. It's open at the end of 2017. And I pay credit to my team. They're the people who did the hard work."
Byford said the TTC overcame all of the challenges in its path, including harsh winters and problems with contractors, to complete the extension.
"At one point, it was heading for 2018 or even 2019. No way. We said we will have it open by the end of 2017, and here we are, we've done it."
At a special launch event on Saturday, Byford said the Line 1 extension is a significant addition to the Toronto subway system. And he said the stations themselves are beautiful.
"This is the culmination of years of work. I think people are going to be blown away when they see how spectacular this subway is."
Toronto Mayor John Tory said the completion of the extension shows that the city is moving forward.
"Fantastic. What a great ride," Tory said as he stepped off a subway train.
"It proves that we can get things done in the city. This was a project that was in deep trouble two or three years ago. People had let the problems fester," he said.
Tory said Byford and his team developed a plan then got the project back on track. "We have to take that can do attitude and move forward to build all the other projects," he said.
"We have to get them all done. There's no option of saying, well, let's do one or two and not the others.
"This city is starved for transit to get people out of their cars, to get congestion reduced, and to get the environment protected and to give people more time with their families. So the lesson of today, we can do it, let's just keep doing it over and over again, like other cities do," Tory said.
To mark the opening, the entire TTC network is free for the day.
The new stations are:
- Downsview Park
- Finch West
- York University
- Pioneer Village
- Highway 407
- Vaughan Metropolitan Centre
At the event on Saturday, Colle said the new stations are well equipped.
"All the stations have Wi-Fi, are presto-enabled, new fare gates, have public parking, commuter parking, bike lots, everything you would expect in a station," he said.
The $3.2 billion project was jointly funded by all three levels of government. The province calls it "the largest expansion of Toronto's subway system in nearly 40 years which will significantly reduce congestion in the GTA."
"The Line 1 extension will add an estimated 36 million transit trips and eliminate 30 million car trips per year, helping to ease traffic congestion, improve air quality and fight climate change," according to a provincial news release.
The province says the subway's last stop, Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, is a transportation hub that connects directly to the vivaNext rapidway, "part of an extensive rapid transit network of dedicated bus lanes that York Region Transit is building."
There are additional charges to switch to other transit agencies from the extension, but one token — or Presto tap — will take riders all the way up to the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre stop.