Kennedy

Halfway through my journey! I’m not sure whether to feel elated or exhausted. A bit of both, I suppose. Onward, ever onward...

Kennedy station RT platform
The refreshingly pure RT platform at Kennedy station

If you’re from Scarborough, then you know Kennedy like the back of your hand. You’ve stood on the wind-swept RT platform, dreaming of better days. You’ve cursed the way idiots park in the commuter lot. You’ve waited with dull resignation, like everyone else, for the 34 bus. You’ve ridden that extra-long escalator from the subway platform (and missed countless transfers). And you’ve always wondered what the hell the psychedelic northwest entrance mural is supposed to represent.

Kennedy is part of your emotional landscape.

Frank Perna's "A Sense of Place" mural, Kennedy Station
Frank Perna’s A Sense of Place adorns the Service Road entrance
(see the artist’s statement in the photo gallery)

Within the station, several plaques commemorate the extension of the Bloor-Danforth line from Warden to Eglinton, and the opening of the Scarborough RT. A small diorama (assembled by P. Twist) of a subway tunnel under construction is inset into the mezzanine corridor wall. The accompanying plaque implores you to take a moment and appreciate the skill, sweat and toil of the countless labourers who built the subway.

Diorama at Kennedy Station
A begrimed worker emerges from the tunnel diorama

Kennedy is the system’s true intermodal transfer node. The fifth-busiest station, it connects subway, bus, RT, and automobile passengers. There’s also an adjacent GO train stop, and the station will eventually service the Eglinton Crosstown LRT line. It’s a workhorse facility.

Kennedy station exterior
Kennedy station exterior view: the elevated RT platform sits above the ground bus level, which in turn lies above the mezzanine and subway levels. 

The Kennedy RT platform merits special commentary, because it physically encapsulates both the aspirations and the failures of a puzzling choice in transit technology three decades ago.

I’m probably alone here, but I think the RT level looks gorgeous. Clean lines, shadows, and patterns fill the space in every direction. The expansive, generous windows and open sides allow natural light to flood in and illuminate the platform. And there aren’t any ads! It’s one of the purest expressions of architecture to be found in the network.

Scarborough RT train at Kennedy station
RT in the station: looking retro-magnificent

Kennedy station RT platform interior ceiling view
Hypnotic patterns of light and shadow

Unfortunately, a closer inspection reveals tell-tale indicators of our past bungling. The most obvious vestige is the (mostly) unused roundabout track on the western end of the platform, circling overtop the Kiss ’N Ride entrance.

RT Roundabout at Kennedy station
An ever-present reminder of transit meddling 

Originally, the roundabout was built for multiple CLRV streetcars coupled together. But intense political pressure from the Ontario government (abetted by a faction of Scarborough council) forced the mini-subway-like ICTS system onto the TTC, a controversial decision that would have many far-reaching consequences, including some highly visible ones at Kennedy.

Specifically, the sharp curve radius proved problematic for the ICTS trains, despite numerous attempts to resolve the issue. They simply couldn’t make the turn reliably. Oops.

The roundabout was more or less abandoned, and the interior platform was extended to cover one of the tracks (notice there’s only one track inside the platform?), so that RTs simply reverse course, switching to the other track after exiting. If you examine the south platform floor tiling and the lighting placement, you can see where the platform was extended; if you look under the west end of the north platform, you can see the original CLRV platform tiling (and then come to the realization that the entire platform was raised to accommodate the RT car heights).

Like McCowan at the other end of the RT line, Kennedy exemplifies what happens when a gauzy, oversold political vision of transit doesn’t quite translate into practical real world execution (And let’s not mention the lack of integrated development. That parking lot speaks to an abject failure of planning, decades in the making).

Kiss 'N Ride entrance, Kennedy station
Welcome to yesterday’s future, today

Kennedy was officially opened by Premier William C. Davis and became the eastern terminus of the Bloor-Danforth line on November 21, 1980. The RT platform and the SRT line opened March 22, 1985. Visit the RT now, before it gets mothballed!

Photo Gallery

Tour the station, and view captioned historical images from its past:
(hint: turn on the captions)

Kennedy Station photo gallery

Transfer:
Kennedy station transfer
Kennedy station transfer

More about Kennedy

TTC Station info | Map | Wikipedia: Kennedy

My next stop: Lawrence West
Previous station: Islington

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