Toronto’s new Union Station Bus Terminal opens doors for first time

For weeks, Metrolinx News has been covering the new Union Station Bus Terminal, explaining what it will look like ahead of its anticipated opening. Today (Dec. 5), customers got a chance to experience what it’s like to commute to and from the new, state-of-the-art facility. And the advance stories were correct, the new Union Station Bus Terminal really does look and feel very much like an airport.

It’s move-in day for Toronto’s new Union Station Bus Terminal.

The new Union Station Bus Terminal, located on the northeast corner of Bay St. and Lake Shore Blvd., opened for transit business today (Dec. 5).

Front of the USBT is shown.
The new, bright USBT on opening morning. (Matt Llewellyn photo)

Some customers were determined to be among the first to walk through the doors and catch a bus out of the new terminal, even if it meant waking up before sunrise on a Saturday.

Photo is of a bus.
A GO bus arrives inside the facility on the first morning. (Matt Llewellyn photo)

The new terminal is an upgrade from the old one, which had more than 100-million customers travel through it since it first opened in 2003.

With 14 bus bays – double the capacity of the previous terminal – 270 bike parking spaces, and convenient amenities like washrooms, charging ports and Wi-Fi, the new USBT is a welcomed advance for many travellers.

It’s also indoors, allowing customers to easily transfer between buses and trains.

Image is of a bus.
A bus is seen from inside a gate – much like how an airport handles airplanes. (Matt Llewellyn photo)

Milton’s Tracy Hahn from Milton is a respiratory therapist working with COVID patients in Toronto, at night. 

“I really depend on my GO bus to get me to my patients,” she said as she used the new USBT to board a GO bus on opening morning. “It’s been tough these last 10 months but I’ve been able to depend on GO and I’m glad that you’re continuing to support your customers.

“Thank you so much for the work you do. The new station is beautiful. ”

Image shows Tracy in front of a bus.
Respiratory therapist Tracy Hahn prepares to board a GO bus on opening morning. (Anne Marie Aikins photo)

The new terminal also changes how customers access buses.

Click here to see all the different ways to get to the new Union Station Bus Terminal.

Like an airport, there are now zones, and gates within those zones, that open to the bus platforms. The gates stay closed until buses are ready to board or de-board, one of the many safety measures Metrolinx has implemented to ensure customers stay safely away from moving vehicles.

Image shows Chris.
Transit fan, Chris Drew, standing inside the new USBT on opening day. Behind Drew, you can see one of the gates. (Matt Llewellyn photo)

Chris Drew, a transit enthusiast and Toronto resident who was one of the first customers for UP in 2015, had a good first impression as he toured the station on opening morning.

“Quite spacious and calming,” he said.

“Lots of signage. Easy to navigate.”

Why did he want to be first?

“We’re in challenging and sad times, so I wanted to see something positive, uplifting, and a sign of progress – time to safely celebrate something new.”

Using the new terminal does take some getting used to. When customers arrive, it’s important they check the departure boards – there are 68 across the terminal – which will direct you to the relevant zone on the first or second level.

Images of buses at a station.
Final buses leave the old USBT, which is no longer in service. (Matt Llewellyn photo)

While it’s a big change, Metrolinx has ensured there are staff on site to help navigate through what the transit agency is calling a better and safer way to catch the bus.

Some customers used all their senses to evaluate the bus hub.

Frank, from Bramalea, who did not want his last name used, said he liked the new smell inside the new USBT. 

“This is such an exciting day,” he said. “This new station looks like it will really improve my commute.”

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.

Now that the new station is open, Ivanhoé Cambridge and Hines will begin construction of their second CIBC SQUARE tower at the old terminal location at 141 Bay Street. 

Story by Nitish Bissonauth, Metrolinx bilingual spokesperson, media relations and issues specialist, with files from Anne Marie Aikins, Metrolinx senior manager, Media Relations.