Why are TTC stations looking so awful? Missing tiles, exposed pipes irking riders

If you're wondering why some TTC stations are looking awful these days, you're not alone.

For months now, repair work has required the removal of wall panels and ceiling tiles at stops like Queen's Park, Donlands, and Wellesley — exposing decades-old grime and pipe systems.

Riders who spoke to CBC Toronto this week dubbed the vibe "dingy," and one that gives the impression the platforms are "not safe."

Glancing over at the strip of tiles missing along both sides of the subway platform at St. Patrick station, lifelong Toronto resident Rosanna Latino told CBC Toronto she expects more from city officials, noting the unsightly work is taking years to complete.

"This subway station, it's awful to look at," she added. "And for tourists to look at this — it doesn't give Toronto a good name."

So what's it all for, and why is it taking ages to finish?

Lauren Pelley/CBC News

'These aren't quick fixes'

According to the TTC, the projects are meant to boost accessibility and replace aging infrastructure throughout the decades-old subway system. 

At Donlands, for instance, work started this summer that will last through to early 2020. It's setting the stage for a second exit and entrance.

Over at Wellesley, ceiling panels were removed in September to install a fire prevention system and sprinkler lines in the new year.

Alan Habbick/CBC News

And at Queen's Park and St. Patrick, panels were removed back in 2017 for a major tile replacement project that's set to last several years. 

"These aren't quick fixes," said Coun. Brad Bradford, a TTC board member. 

The construction teams are facing various challenges, he added. "You're underground, you're working with a lot of utilities ... Our stations are heavily used throughout the day."

Lauren Pelley/CBC News

He acknowledged the work is taking a while, and said the TTC does hope to have it finished as soon as possible.

Latino said it's already been too long for her liking.

"They've got to get their act together," she said.