Terminology: Subway/subway/HRT

I have been grappling for awhile with an appropriate term for what we know as subway. In most every case, when one uses the word in the GTA, they are referring to the TTC’s HRT: the Yonge-University-Spadina line, the Bloor-Danforth line, or the Sheppard line.

But if you take a light rail line, and run it in a tunnel, isn’t that a subway? Or do you call it a streetcar-subway, or an LRT-subway?

Merrriam-Webster defines subway as:

an underground way; as
a: a passage under a street (as for pedestrians, power cables, or water or gas mains)
b: a usually electric underground railway
c: underpass

Meanings a and c are clearly not what we are talking about, but both HRT and LRT in a tunnel are described by definition b.

Referring to the YUS and BD lines as HRT avoids this confusion, but many are unfamiliar with the term HRT. To add another complication, some will use HRT to also include Commuter Rail (like GO Trains).

So, here is the nomenclature I have decided to use throughout the Toronto LRT Information Page and this blog:

subway: a tunneled section of a transit line, whether for HRT, LRT,  or even BRT

Subway: part or all of the TTC Subway network; as in, extending the Spadina Subway to Vaughan

Clear as mud? I just need to avoid starting a sentence with the first use.

One Response to “Terminology: Subway/subway/HRT”

  1. W. K. Lis Says:

    That is why the term “Metro” is used in some jurisdictions instead of “Subway” for the HRT. However, it must be used from the start. It would be difficult for Toronto to start calling its subway a “Metro”. However, since its monthly pass is called “MetroPass”, it a small step.

    Cal’s comment: There are some places on this site where I will use the term “Metro” (or “HRT/Metro”). The problem is with the common usage of “Subway” in Toronto. I have seen, even in the TTC’s own material, the term “Metro” used as an umbrella term that includes the three Subway lines and the Scarborough RT.

    The MetroPass got its name back before the most recent amalgamation when we had a regional government that oversaw Metropolitan (Metro) Toronto. The name implied that it was good all across Metro Toronto, not that it was only good on the Subway.