Lower Bay Station—which passenger subway trains are passing through until May 24—opened in 1966. Bay Station, one storey above, opened along with it. By the end of that year, Bay was open, and Lower Bay was closed off.
Even though it hasn’t been a proper station since, Lower Bay hasn’t gone unseen. It’s been used for film shoots (from Max Payne to Johnny Mnemonic), special events (like Nuit Blanche and Doors Open, and at bargain rental rates at other times), training (for everyone from TTC maintenance staff to Toronto Police), and public tours (the next is on June 26).
On Saturday afternoon, Torontoist made our way down into the station, through one of two pairs of locked metal double doors at Bay Station, to see something few people have from the platform in the last forty-five years: trains filled with passengers going through the shuttered station. As when in-service trains last came through the station in 2007, passengers this long weekend don’t get off at Lower Bay: if they ever did, it’d be because an emergency has necessitated it.
Whether it’s viewed from a subway car passing through it, or along its platform as cars pass by—video of both scenes from Saturday are above—Lower Bay Station is remarkable not for how different it is from other TTC stations, but how similar it is. There are security cameras trained on the platform, the live feed going to the collector’s booth. There is a working (which is to say, muddy-sounding) broadcast system. There is signage. And the third rail is electrified, detour or no detour.
Lower Bay’s still a little dirtier, a little rougher, a little weirder, though. Drag your fingertips along most any surface, and they’ll get instantly covered with jet-black brake dust. An escalator is boarded-off, disabled, its steps removed. The yellow line that runs along the edges of both sides of the platform—the one you’re always instructed to stand back from—is made up of a smooth, continuous, and vinyl-looking material, not the bumpy hard plastic we’re now used to. The TTC once tested different styles of the line at Lower Bay, so the platform edge transforms a half dozen or so times: there’s a panel or two where the nubs are dime-sized, rather than quarter-sized; there’s another where the spacing between those nubs is different; there’s another where the yellow is a different shade.
The differences, in other words, are mostly things you have to look for to find. As the passenger trains go by, there are a few riders who gape out the train’s windows to see an empty Lower Bay, but as usual, most keep their heads down.
Video by Miles Storey/Torontoist.