As the busiest transit hub in Canada, Union Station is used to playing host to more than – prior to COVID-19 – 300,000 daily visitors. Serving those travelers is about to get easier, as Bay Concourse is now open, thanks to a project led by the City of Toronto, in partnership with Metrolinx. We break down what all the restoration and revitalization means for customers – with health and safety top of mind. Did someone mention space to spread out? It all starts today (July 27).
It’s big. It’s bright. And it finally opens today.
Six years after the City of Toronto closed Union Station’s Bay Concourse for major rehabilitation and construction, the work is now complete, and the space is has now opened.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic may have put a damper on a lot of celebrations lately, but it didn’t ruin today’s (July 27)reopening. Customers are being treated to a little bit of extra fanfare on opening day. GO Bear is making a special appearance and branded masks are being given out to some of the first customers through the doors.
On top of that, with the reopening of Bay Concourse, GO Transit customers now have about three times the amount of waiting area inside Union Station: from roughly 40,000 sq. ft. – to now more than 123,000 sq. ft when you combine the York and Bay Concourses.
The first customers through the doors were impressed.
Arceu Robert Arnuco, a long-time GO customer who recalls the old Bay Concourse said: “I’m excited to have a direct path through Scotiabank Arena and get to the platforms.
“Very different from the old one. Easy to see where the platforms are, the old one was definitely a maze, you didn’t know where you were going. That’s why I really like this concourse.”
At track level, it’s easier to get on and off trains since stairwells along the entire length of the platforms are now open to GO customers.
There are new stairs and elevators at the east ends of the train platforms to give riders access to the new Bay Concourse. As there are some platforms that only have stair access, Metrolinx recommends customers use the York Concourse for barrier free access.
Customers can now walk indoors directly from the new Bay Concourse to the TTC Subway through the new retail space.
There are also more departure boards, giving customers the ability to spread out – meaning less crowding. And there are lots of new PRESTO and ticket vending machines, making it even easier for customers to pay fares. Here’s a breakdown of the new features for customers:
- 72 departure screens
- 30 PRESTO devices
- 7 ticket vending machines
- 6 self-service Presto reload machines
“We know our customers have been waiting for this day and we’re extremely excited to announce the re-opening of Union Station’s Bay Concourse,” said Metrolinx President & CEO Phil Verster.
“The revitalized Bay Concourse will provide more connections and waiting space for GO customers, enhancing the experience inside Canada’s largest transit hub while supporting the future needs of our growing region.”
Not only is Bay Concourse bigger and more spacious than customers remember it, there will also be new retail options opening in the future.
The City of Toronto’s Union Station Revitalization Project was one of the most complex construction projects in the country. Wedged into one of the most congested parts of downtown Toronto, all the work needed inside this historic site needed to be done while still maintaining train and bus service to one of the busiest commuter hubs in North America.
Walking into the new space, customer Enrique Gomez said he liked the connections.
“It was really easy for me, to go from the subway and now to a GO train – its easy,” he noted.
“I think this space is great. In downtown everyone is normally in a rush – easy connections is going to work for everybody.”
It was no small feat.
While work on the Union Station Revitalization Project is now complete – construction inside this iconic transit hub will continue for years to come as Metrolinx focuses on making train travel even safer, faster, and more reliable for GO customers.
That next phase of work is called the Union Station Enhancement Project. It will be completed in stages and includes work on the, removing heritage steel, installing overhead lighting, a new south concourse, widening platforms, increasing vertical access, and upgrades to passenger communications systems.
Who knew there could be so much room in Toronto to stretch out in?