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Scarborough RT (TTC)

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Scarborough RT

The Scarborough RT is an Intermediate Capacity Transit System (ICTS) light metro public transit system in the Scarborough district of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Unlike the Toronto Transit Commission's three other rapid-transit lines, it uses ICTS Mark I vehicles powered by linear induction motors. They are the same model as the original fleet of the Vancouver SkyTrain, but unlike Vancouver and other operators, the TTC has opted to not use driverless mode.

The line has six stations and is 6.4 km in length. It is operated by the Toronto Transit Commission and administered with its subway system, although that system uses different trains and technology. RT simply stands for 'rapid transit', as the name 'subway' seemed inappropriate for a line that is predominantly elevated. Internally, the TTC uses the name 'rapid transit' to refer to all four lines, which is often confusing to the general public. The internal route number for the Scarborough RT is 603, but this is not used on public signs.

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The TTC had proposed to extend the Bloor-Danforth Line using streetcars operating in a private right of way, but the ICTS system was used instead because the Province of Ontario agreed to pay a large portion of the costs. Ontario wanted to develop and promote its new technology, which had been originally designed for urban GO Transit services. Changes to federal railway regulations had made the new system unnecessary for GO, and so the government hoped to sell it to other transit services in order to recoup its investment.

It was developed by the Urban Transportation Development Corporation (UTDC), then an Ontario Crown corporation but now a division of Bombardier. The business proposal initially bore little fruit – it was used only by Vancouver's SkyTrain, and the Detroit People Mover. With expansion of the SkyTrain and sales to Ankara, Kuala Lumpur, New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, and now Seoul, a newer version, sold under the name ART (advanced rapid transit), has become a success for Bombardier (see advanced light rapid transit).

One unusual feature of the ICTS cars is that they are driven by linear induction motors: instead of using conventional motors to turn the wheels, they pull themselves along the route using magnets and a distinctive metal plate that runs down the centre of the tracks. This system requires very few moving parts, and therefore leads to lower maintenance costs.

The trains are also able to be operated exclusively by computers, doing away with the need for a human operator. The public, however, was not ready for driverless trains when the Scarborough RT opened, particularly in light of frequent software glitches early in its operation, so operators were retained (other systems, including Vancouver's, take full advantage of automated operation). The Scarborough RT trains have only one operator, unlike TTC subway trains which feature both a guard, who is responsible for the operation of the doors, and an operator, who drives. In practice, the trains drive themselves; the operator monitors their operations and controls the doors.

The Scarborough RT opened in 1985. Only a year after it opened, the TTC had to renovate its south-western terminus at Kennedy station, because the looped turnaround track, originally designed for streetcars under the earlier plan and not needed for the bi-directional ICTS trains, was causing derailments; it was replaced with a single terminal track.


The line follows an L-shaped route: first northward from Kennedy Station, parallelling the Canadian National Railway tracks, between Kennedy Road and Midland Avenue, 4 km to Ellesmere Road; then eastward between Ellesmere and Progress Avenue, through Scarborough Town Centre to McCowan Road. The Scarborough RT's unique ICTS trains have their own small yard east of McCowan station. This yard is large enough to store the existing fleet, but would have to be expanded if the TTC were to expand the line's capacity by buying new trains. Basic maintenance is provided at this yard. For more major work, the cars are taken to the subway's Greenwood yards by truck because differences in track gauge make it impossible for the Scarborough RT's track to be connected with the rest of the subway and streetcar systems.

Almost all of the line is elevated or at grade, but there is a short underground section just north of Ellesmere station as the line passes under the railway.

All stations, whether by transfer or fare-paid terminal, connect to surface TTC bus routes. Other surface connections are noted below.

Stations marked have elevators for wheelchair access.

NameOpening YearInterchange
Scarborough RT
Bloor-Danforth, GO Transit
Lawrence East 1985
Ellesmere 1985
Midland 1985
Scarborough Centre
GO Transit
McCowan 1985


  • Twenty-eight UTDC ICTS Mark I 40-foot passenger cars

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