Streetcar System News – February 2014 (Updated)

Updated February 11, 2014 at 10:00 am:  Questions & answers related to trackwork plans and new streetcars have been added.

Spadina / Queens Quay Update

To nobody’s great surprise, the restoration of streetcar service south of King Street on Spadina will not occur until June 21 rather than with the schedule change in late May as originally hoped. This is a direct result of the bad weather and poor construction conditions. The TTC’s position is:

Due to the delays in Waterfront Toronto’s work and the need for TTC work to follow in series (i.e. overhead), it is not anticipated that the loop will be available for service for the May Board Period. Once we have greater clarity, we will reflect that online.

Some preliminary work on suspension for the new overhead has already been done, but this cannot be completed until the track is in and overhead vans can drive on the new pavement at the loop.

As plans now stand, service will resume on both the 510 Spadina and 509 Harbourfront routes with the re-opening of new streetcar track on Queens Quay rather than in two stages as originally hoped.

I await detailed info from Waterfront Toronto on updates to their construction plans. Much of the utility work on the south side of Queens Quay is now completed, and traffic is shifting to that side of the road at least as far west as Rees Street. This move will allow work to begin on the new streetcar right-of-way in the middle of Queens Quay and the construction of the new permanent roadway on the north side.

Detailed construction news updated weekly is available on Waterfront Toronto’s Queens Quay project page.

No sooner will streetcar service resume on southern Spadina, but the route will convert to bus operation for two track projects likely in August. The intersection at Dundas will be rebuilt this year (the one at College has been deferred because of scheduling conflicts), and there will also be work at Spadina Station.

When the line reopens on August 31, service will be provided, at least in part, by the new low-floor streetcars.

Updated February 11, 2014:

Q: What work is planned at Spadina Station? Track? Platform – especially provision so that two new cars can be on the platform at once – one loading, one unloading. Only 3 CLRVs fit there today.

A: The TTC has placed two low floor streetcars at Spadina already. They can physically fit inside the station, although the lead module of the lead car would have to be positioned opposite the five pillars with glass curtains, and that the lead door would be on curved track with a wider gap between the vehicle and the platform. We are reviewing operating procedures and possible alterations that are necessary to allow two new cars to be on the platform at the same time if necessary.

This implies that the work to be done in August will be trackwork, not platform changes.

New Streetcars

Recently, I sent questions to the TTC about the status of new car production and the implementation of these vehicles. Here are the replies:

Q: What is the status of the order and when will production deliveries begin?

A: Production deliveries will begin in March.

Q: What will be the rate of deliveries?

A: As always planned, there will be a ramp up to the production rate of 3 per month (36 per year). Once stabilized at this rate there are opportunities to transition to a higher rate and this is currently under investigation.

Q: What effect will this have on planned retirement of the problem ALRVs before the next winter season?

A: ALRVs will begin retirement at the end of this year and throughout 2015 as more new streetcars enter service.

What is still unclear is how the TTC will adjust service on 504 King and 501 Queen as the ALRVs [the existing two-section streetcars] disappear from the fleet and these routes continue operation with the remaining CLRVs [the shorter, single-section cars].

Updated February 11, 2014:

Q: Are there outstanding issues still to be dealt with on the ramps in the new streetcars, or have whatever design tweaks were necessary been incorporated in the production versions we will receive?

A: There are still a number of outstanding issues to be resolved. The production vehicle will have the necessary structural changes made to receive the new ramps. However, there is a transition phase between cars going into revenue service and when the final version of the ramp is delivered. For a number of vehicles that will go into service, an interim ramp will be incorporated to improve on accessibility – with improved transition between the ramp, the door threshold and the interior car floor. The final production version will be lighter in weight, less demanding on the drive mechanism (hence more reliable), and will have faster deployment and retrieval times. Initial production cars that do not have the latest ramp configuration will be retrofitted with the final version as part of the configuration control process.

Capital Budget Cuts

Among the City-imposed cuts in the Capital Budget was a $10-million/year cut in surface track maintenance for 2014 to 2018 with an equal cut to subway track in 2019 to 2023. I asked about the effect of these cuts.

State of good repair, which track replacement is clearly part of, will not be affected. If we need to further cut the capital budget to do track work, we’ll find that money elsewhere.

Queen East Major Track Projects

Two major projects will affect streetcar service on Queen Street East this spring.

At Queen and Leslie, the new sewer line must be tied into existing infrastructure under Queen Street, and then the new special work for the track leading to Leslie Barns must be installed.   Tentative plans are for this work to begin in mid-May and run to the end of June.

While Queen Street is closed, service will operate with bus replacements and streetcar diversions:

  • A 501 Queen bus will run from McCaul Loop to Woodbine Loop (at Kingston Road) diverting around construction via Jones, Dundas and Greenwood.
  • 501 Queen, 502 Downtowner and 503 Kingston Road Tripper streetcars will divert via Broadview, Gerrard and Coxwell.
  • Carhouse trips for 504 King and 505 Dundas that now operate west from Russell Carhouse via Queen will use Coxwell and Gerrard.

Beginning at the end of June and running through July, the special work at Broadview and Queen will be replaced. This intersection is in poor condition with long-standing slow orders and one switch (west to north) permanently out of service due to a danger of derailments.

During this work, service will operate as below:

  • The 501 Queen bus will divert via River, Dundas and Carlaw.
  • 501 Queen, 502 Downtowner and 503 Kingston Road Tripper streetcars will divert via Parliament, Gerrard and Coxwell.
  • 504 King cars will divert via Parliament and Dundas.
  • Carhouse trips to Russell will continue to operate via Coxwell.

Normal service on all routes resumes in August.

King Street Diversion

New February 11, 2013:

Q:  The 504 King diversion around construction at the Don Bridge is now listed as running to August due to additional work in the area.  I understand that the track connection at Sumach to the new Cherry Street line is to go in this year.  Will this be done while the 504 is on diversion (ie before August), or will there be yet another shutdown for this trackwork too?

A:  The Sumach/King connection work is scheduled for March 30.

Transit Priority for Diversions:

Q:  With the extended period of various diversions, why has there been no change to implement transit priority or at least advance greens for left turns at various locations?

A: We continue to work with the City on transit priority signalling. There are no new installations to date; where there, they are in use. Advance greens and the like is a question better put to the City.

I am meeting with Stephen Buckley, Toronto’s General Manager of Transportation Services, on February 12 and will discuss this issue with him.

[TTC comments provided by Brad Ross via email on February 7, 2014.  Updates by email on February 11, 2014.]

44 thoughts on “Streetcar System News – February 2014 (Updated)

  1. I had heard (just the other day) that the second module will have to be modified slightly for ramp issues and it was not clear whether this work could be done here in Toronto. Do you know the status of this Steve?

    Steve: I will inquire about this too.


  2. You forgot to request the total number of streetcars to be built. 204 or 264? Or some other number in between.

    Steve: There is a budget line for the extra 60 cars, but no funding yet.


  3. In the summer the TTC are also supposed to be building the linking track at Cherry/Sumach/King for the Cherry Street ‘stub’. To avoid yet another diversion, it would be good if this were properly coordinated and done when the 504 is being (once again) diverted from that stretch of King Street. (The current diversion caused by WT and IO work on the Don River Bridge is supposed to be finished in April.)

    Steve: Now until August (see later comment).


  4. And then there’s the current 504 detour on Queen/Parliament with the bridge on King east of River being closed.

    This detour started for about 6 to 8 weeks in September 2013. They’ve just extended it again, now to August 2014, with the public explanation simply consisting of finger pointing to other city departments. TTC seems to fail to appreciate that they are merely a city agency, so finger pointing at other city departments does little in the customer’s mind. As best as I can make out, the original work was related to the bridge, and some of the further delay is related to sewer work.

    Why then couldn’t these things be done concurrently?

    Why isn’t the new 504 trackwork at King/Sumach being built at the same time, or we are in for yet another closure for that.

    Why can’t the city at least paint some lines for northbound autos at Parliament/Queen so that they don’t sit where they block turning streetcars? Or for that matter, given it’s an 11-month detour, put in a transit left-turn signal westbound at Queen, to try and alleviate the gridlock created by the detour.

    Given that this detour is adding to travel times (the detour isn’t particularly long, however Parliament is very slow with all the lights, and the 504 (and 501/502/503) are slowed by the extra congestion eastbound at Parliament), why hasn’t any extra running time been added to the 504 schedule?

    While some of this is clearly outside of everyone’s control, it doesn’t appear to have been dealt with, or communicated, very well.


  5. With presumably multi-millions being spent to rebuild two Spadina intersections, when really, the concrete is not even two decades old, why can’t we rebuild the curbs along Spadina to make room for bikes? The wonderful Metrocrats and politicians couldn’t see the room for bike lanes there when it was being “designed” – so it’s not like TTC users have been killed on the street like cyclists have been.

    Normally I just advocate for really cheap paint to expand the subway system etc., but in this sad case, moving the curbs back about a foot or so might just be adequate, and be OK in leaving the hydro/wires intact therefore just concrete etc.

    Steve: OK, for the umpteenth time, the original intersections on Spadina were not built to modern standards, and that’s why they are now being replaced right down to the foundation. As for curb bike lanes on Spadina, well, there’s the small matter of parking. I presume you don’t want the bike lanes immediately beside the sidewalks because that would put them in line with existing hydro poles.


  6. If they’re sticking to the August roll out, that must mean they will be keeping a dozen or more of the new vehicles in storage until then because it wouldn’t take months to commission new rolling stock when it gets delivered onto property. (I’m under the impression the TTC has already been training operators but I could easily be wrong there.)

    Steve: Spadina is the first line, but it will be under construction through the summer. That’s why the wait until the end of August. It will almost certainly run with a mix of new and old cars initially. Once Spadina is converted, Harbourfront and Bathurst will follow.


  7. Hi Steve,

    Has the TTC thought about what it will do with the existing fleet once the new cars come online? Will they keep the ones they can in service? I realize the cars aren’t here, but has anyone given any thought to ordering more to keep up with demand? Am I asking for too much foresight from anyone in the TTC? hahaha

    I realize this question is going to firmly be outside reality but has anyone given any thought to a serious expansion of the streetcar network? I realize this would take political will from city hall that is non-exitstant at this time and many more dollars but I wonder if this would try to do what Transit City tried to do – reach out to many more neighbourhoods and give residents another option to get around.

    Steve: The plans are to start retiring the ALRVs (two-section cars) as soon as possible as they have the worst reliability problems. The CLRVs will follow afterwards. There is already a budget item for more cars, but there is no funding for this yet. The combined capacities of Russell, Ronces and Leslie Barns will hold a bigger fleet than the one now on order.


  8. I’ve always wondered why the TTC put in those wide tree-lined medians for Spadina. The trees don’t have enough room to grow and die quickly, and their branches constantly hit the streetcars. If the TTC got rid of the trees and narrowed the medians, there’d be plenty of room for proper bike lanes on Spadina.

    Steve: The problem with the trees is that the pits were not built properly for their roots. The new design used on Queens Quay (among other places) corrects this. And, by the way, those medians are continuations, somewhat narrowed, of the safety islands at stops. This does not represent continuous space for bike lanes.


  9. Is there a reason that the two 501 projects (at Leslie and at Broadview) could not be done simultaneously to reduce the duration of the impact on service on Queen?

    Steve: There is only one crew and one set of equipment for moving track panels around. I supposed that the two jobs could be staggered, but there are probably also considerations about how much of Queen would be torn up at one time.


  10. I realize this question is going to firmly be outside reality but has anyone given any thought to a serious expansion of the streetcar network? I realize this would take political will from city hall that is non-exitstant at this time and many more dollars but I wonder if this would try to do what Transit City tried to do – reach out to many more neighbourhoods and give residents another option to get around.

    Beyond Cherry and Queens Quay East, the other one that might happen in the long term would probably be a St. Clair extension westward to close the loop via Dundas Street West. Unfortunately I don’t believe the right of way west of Keele is wide enough for reserved lanes. I can’t see any other obvious additions.

    Steve: There is not going to be a “closed loop” via Dundas, or an extension to Kipling Station either. The former doesn’t make sense as a transit route, and the latter (a scheme first proposed during the Howard Moscoe days at TTC) depends on changes at the transition from St. Clair to Dundas that are no longer part of current plans.

    However, there is a possibility of a western extension from Keele as part of a study of updating the road to suit current conditions. I’m not sure where this sits, and given that the local Councillor is one of the haters of “the St. Clair Disaster”, it is probably stalled forever.


  11. Does the TTC have enough storage capacity for the new cars before Leslie is open? Hopefully they will not starting scrapping ALRVs before they get all the bugs out of the new cars and hopefully they realize it will take 3 CLRVs to replace 2 ALRVs. I sometimes wonder about the TTCs common sense.

    Steve: Yes.


  12. Returning to Spadina, trackbeds and bikes, if “modern” techniques mean that we have to spend a batch to replace how many tons of concrete?, will we ever get advanced to the point of finding room for bikes on such a wide street? It does mean adjusting the curbs, and the parking bay spaces – and it is a testament to how long bad design decisions can make cycling unsafe, like on St. Clair, where it is now more dangerous to ride a bike than before the RofW was installed. And apparently, increasing cycling safety was the first priority of folks as expressed at an early Open House – but nada happened.

    I do suspect that there is strong self-interest in ensuring biking is unsafe so that the true competition to transit in the core is minimized. The city makes money (or at least does waay better) on core transit, but often for many the bike is the better way.


  13. So the first new train arrives in March (late March).
    After commissioning the first train enters service in August (late).
    When will we see pantographs on top of these contraptions ?

    Steve: The intent is to have routes pantograph-ready for the new cars. At the current rate, I don’t think they will make it, and I have yet to discern an actual pattern to some of the installation work. Meanwhile, there is still some non-pan friendly overhead on Spadina notably at intersections.


  14. Steve:

    Meanwhile, there is still some non-pan friendly overhead on Spadina notably at intersections.

    Would it be possible to run with both the trolley pole and pantograph, and lower the pan (switch to the pole for power) at those intersections?

    Steve: No. Such a scheme is just asking for trouble with the frequent down-and-up being forgotten at some critical location.


  15. Steve, if you are meeting with Stephen, you could ask him about the changes to the streetcar signals on Lake Shore at the portal to Humber loop. The signal for eastbound streetcars used to be green by default, and westbound motorists had to stop on a red and wait.

    Since late last year, westbound motorists have a green, and the streetcar signal is red by default. It only gives a green signal for steetcars for about five seconds, and that only if the cross-street signal has been green due to a pedestrian or car in the condo driveway. I have seen the walk signal for Lake Shore count down to zero, and because there’s no cross traffic, go back to walk. In that case, the streetcar signal stays red.

    I’ve been on several streetcars which have proceeded through the red light.

    In fact, the streetcar signal for eastbound streetcars is superfluous. Remove it, and let streetcars make a left turn on the green, taking due caution if there’s opposing traffic (which is rare). The streetcar priority signal made sense when it was default green, since the streetcars could proceed into the tunnel under the Gardiner while opposing traffic was held at a red. That arrangement made sense; this one makes no sense. The streetcar does not need a separate phase.

    In fact, there are many intersections where the streetcar turns left, on a traffic light, on the same green that cars use. Imagine the tieups if this was replaced by a separate streetcar-only phase that’s only on for five seconds per full cycle, and red otherwise.


  16. I was told at the Hillcrest Open House that new cars on Spadina will very likely be operating solely with poles initially. There is supposed to be no impact to their operation from this. (All the intersections need to be re-strung as pan-friendly.) I would expect that this will continue until all nearby diversion routes have been updated to pan-friendly also. We could be seeing poles for a while.


  17. Track work schedules are now quoted in months whereas we used to see days and occasionally weeks. An intersection used to take a long weekend plus a day or two; for reasons we are told of concrete curing it is now a month or more. Essential service? Giggle Giggle. Just like being on holiday!

    Steve: Well, if you had been paying attention to the articles I have written about track construction, you would know that those weekend jobs didn’t produce very good track.

    The intersection replacements currently include construction of a completely new foundation, something that has been missing under many intersections. There are three layers of concrete: the foundation, the track panels (which include the ties) and the track itself. To the degree possible, the ties are now steel, not wood, and the intent is that the next time the intersections are replaced, only the top layer will have to come out. The use of pre-welded track panels extends the life of the intersection so that the joints don’t fall apart long before the track would otherwise be due for replacement.

    That the amount of work involved is completed within a month for a grand union like King & Spadina is quite amazing. It is not physically possible even to demolish the existing track over a weekend, let alone install the replacement.

    The construction work is done by a combination of TTC crews and a private contractor who is responsible for everything except the actual track work.

    Easy to take pot shots when you don’t bother to acknowledge what is actually being done.


  18. If you’re [talking] to transportation services, an advance green capable signal light was installed two years ago for westbound Dundas to southbound Parliament that I have never seen activate. They should turn it on for the 504 diversion when Queen/Broadview is closed.


  19. Are any platform/loading changes contemplated for Union Station loop for the Flexitys?

    Steve: None that I have heard of. Two cars can fit on that platform at once (one to load, one to unload), but it’s a tight squeeze.


  20. Any official word from the TTC on the movement of the 510 Spadina route from Russell to Roncesvalles? One Roncy operator told me that they’re getting Spadina later this year in order to operate the new streetcars.

    Also, the same operator told me they were supposed to start training on the new cars this month, but that’s been delayed (due to software and other issues on the new cars) until the OK is given to produce more cars.


  21. Andy asked:

    Are any platform/loading changes contemplated for Union Station loop for the Flexitys?


    None that I have heard of. Two cars can fit on that platform at once (one to load, one to unload), but it’s a tight squeeze.

    Moaz: Really? I thought Union Loop was so small it could barely accommodate 2 CLRVs.

    Although I suppose the actual flexibility of the Flexity streetcars means there will be a little bit more space on the platform … but will 2 Flexity streetcars really fit?

    Cheers, Moaz

    Steve: Just barely.


  22. If there is no automation or pointman, can 2 flexities fit in the loop at Union?

    When you say that 2 flexities will fit but barely I start to wonder if that’s an on paper design spec or a real world measurement.

    Steve: I have seen two CLRVs, barely, fit on the unloading platform, and on the loading side, at least the back end of a Flexity would be on the platform. The real need is for the “new” Union loop and platform arrangement with platforms on the north-south straightaway. This project has been delayed for years by a combination of interagency wrangling, the TTC’s indifference to the Eastern Waterfront line, and funding problems.


  23. I hope with the planned diversion of Queen using Broadview that the TTC connects the NA switch from north Broadview to east Gerrard.

    Also during the Broadview and Queen intersection construction hopefully they use Parliament, Dundas and Broadview for diversion both ways in stead of Gerrard and Parliament. Using Gerrard will require the use of 3 or 4 manual switches, meaning either point person standing there or operator going back to reset.

    Steve: For reasons that astound me, the TTC seems to prefer paying pointmen to stand around operating switches that should be electrified rather than just fixing the switches.


  24. I have indeed read your articles and comments all along on this; but getting from 5 days to a month on account of concrete curing is a stretch. With King and Spadina I recall most of the removal work was done quickly and efficiently in the first three days, but later there was lots of time with no one there. In the end if I recall correctly it ran over the month.

    I think most of your readers would like to see the streetcar services provide a faster and better service, but these substantial outages, sometimes in years, do huge damage to the brand.

    Steve: Actually, if you watch how the work at a major intersection is staged, there is NOT a month of curing for the concrete. There are four stages to the work. First is excavation and removal of the existing intersection right down to the foundation level. That generally takes five days or so for a big intersection like King & Spadina. Next comes the foundation slab which is poured in sections, and not long after each section is ready, the track panel goes on to of the still-curing concrete (always starting with the diamond in the centre of the intersection. They build out from there, usually doing the primary direction of travel first (i.e. the one they want to restore service too first). There are two more concrete pours. One gets up to the top of the ties, and the next to the top of the rails. The whole process takes about three weeks, weather permitting, to re-open the “main” routes, longer for the curves that are left to the end.

    The design is such that when replacement is required, only the top layer comes out, or maybe the top two, but not the foundation. It will be many years before the TTC cycles through all of its intersections and builds them to the new standard, but you cannot treat this complete reconstruction as somehow wasteful because there is no comparison of scale. The old intersections were thrown together on wooden ties, often without a proper foundation, and each section of track was bolted in place on the street. This may have been faster, but it also fell apart a lot faster and led to premature disintegration of expensive track work.

    The situation on Queens Quay is unusual for reasons I have gone into here before. The last multi-year project was St. Clair which was a huge cock-up mainly thanks to the utilities, and a desire by the City to spread the work out over time. As a contrast, Kingston Road was completely rebuilt from Queen to Victoria Park last summer including sidewalks and the curb road lanes in an amazingly fast project using two companies/crews working simultaneously. It is possible.


  25. Steve: To nobody’s great surprise, the restoration of streetcar service south of King Street on Spadina will not occur until June 21 …

    Yesterday I saw a southbound 510 replacement bus attempt to cross 3 lanes of traffic (from the curb to the left lane) on Spadina just south of Front St. so it could avoid traffic bound for the Gardiner West/Lakeshore.

    Which reminds me … is there any reason why buses cannot use the ROW at this point in the reconstruction of Spadina? Those diamond lane signs with the streetcar and bus are very (teasingly) noticeable.

    Cheers, Moaz

    Steve: I have not checked for a few weeks due to the weather, but there was a large section of track that had not been concreted on the northern side of the bridge presumably for completion of some underlying work. Difficult to run a bus through that. I do agree that getting the buses onto the streetcar right-of-way would be a huge improvement.


  26. Steve:

    I have seen two CLRVs, barely, fit on the unloading platform, and on the loading side, at least the back end of a Flexity would be on the platform.


    So essentially the 2 Flexitys (Flexitys?) can share the loop but barely share the platform. I suppose it’s not the worst thing in the world as I’ve been on trains that were too long for the platform. The GO Train at Mimic is an obvious one, and there is one station on the Northern Line of the London Underground.


    The real need is for the “new” Union loop and platform arrangement with platforms on the north-south straightaway. This project has been delayed for years by a combination of interagency wrangling, the TTC’s indifference to the Eastern Waterfront line, and funding problems.

    The Spadina+Queen’s Quay project has not been the greatest example of coordination and planning. I can understand the unexpected delays because of unmapped infrastructure, but the projects really should have been coordinated together.

    Well, perhaps there is a magic (tragic?) number of projects beyond which, coordination is simply impossible? To my mind there are 5 projects that could be happening right now:

    1. Union Station Second Platform
    2. Spadina track replacement
    3. Queen’s Quay redesign and track replacement
    4. Union Station loop redesign
    5. Special work to add a wye (south-to-east and west-to-north track and switches) at Bay & Queen’s Quay for future use on the East Bayfront line. (would this have to include the construction of an east portal or not?)

    Maybe projects 1-3 were so massive that there were not enough engineers and construction workers available?

    Cheers, Moaz

    Steve: The basic problem is that the TTC badly underestimated the complexity of building the new eastern leg of the Queens Quay tunnel. Moreover, there was a lot of foot-dragging by TTC planners about whether they should even build the LRT line at all. Through disinterest and lack of work to get funding in place, the Union Station project got underway without any provision for concurrent work on at least that part of the streetcar tunnel and expanded station that is immediately beside the worksite. City staff complained regularly that people at the TTC seemed to be completely unaware of the timing and details of work on the railway station.

    Believe it or not, the overall Queens Quay project is more or less on time, although the transit service will be going back in later than expected. The details are still being worked out, but construction of the new streetcar roadbed will begin in March unless this ridiulous winter persists. Waterfront Toronto and Eastern Construction (who provide overall project management) have done a lot of shuffling of project components to get work done whenever and wherever possible. For example, more work has been completed on the new north sidewalk and some related utilities than was originally planned by this time in the project, and that will offset lateness in other sections.


  27. Steve to answer your question regarding the ROW on Spadina it’s currently impassable. Given all the snow and such the ROW is currently coated (downhill too I may add) in ice, a foot or so of snow and has not been cleared. No way to tell if work is still ongoing but given the condition of the ROW I can see why they are not using it.


  28. Come September it may be possible to ride a new car on King in the AM. There are a couple of Spadina cars that start the day with a trip on King first. It’ll be interesting to see if the schedule changes or they just don’t get new cars.


  29. So I asked Brad about the Spadina ROW being used for buses when I saw him at Bloor Station earlier. From what I was told the short answer is the ROW is not used for buses. I get the feeling there is more to it … a lot more but given the fact he was just coming out of a presser he was not too willing to get into any more details.

    If you like Steve, I can keep an eye on the situation for you, I work at Bremner and Spadina.

    Like I said to you yesterday, the conditions on the ROW after a winter like we had this year are very poor. The ROW is filled up to the curb with snow and ice. Without streetcars running along it there is nothing to keep the level of snow down. I doubt the TTC sees any need in maintaining it if there is nothing running along it.

    As it stands right now if there are any open work sites, they are covered in snow which makes it beyond dangerous to traverse the ROW. All in all … things are best left the way they are … as the saying goes, if it’s not broken don’t fix it.


  30. Maybe some of the Infrastructure money promised by Ottawa, will be used to rebuild Union loop! ;)

    Heard on CP24, that, Doug Ford will be nominated to take over as TTC Chair from Stintz.

    Steve: For Doug to take over the TTC (a RoFo wet dream), would require that Council first remove a sitting member from the TTC (or one of them would have to resign to create a vacancy), and then DoFo would have to actually get enough votes to become chair.

    If this happens, it will show that the last four years of everyone talking about how incompetent that drunken, crack-smoking mayor is were for naught. Despite some of the ridiculous things Council has done, I don’t think they are that stupid, collectively.

    This may simply be a ploy for the Fords to avoid having to declare support for either of the real candidates, Josh Colle or Maria Augimeri.


  31. A comment on the TTC’s inability to get electric switches to work properly. I rode the King car to Dundas West today and was amazed to see that the TTC had a point man there to set the switch into Dundas West as the electric switch was inoperative. Why couldn’t the operator set it? it is not like he would need to go back and re-set it.


  32. “Why couldn’t the operator set it? it is not like he would need to go back and re-set it.”

    More generally, as long as there is a policy of always stopping at every switch, switches should never be re-set. Instead each car should, if necessary, set it for itself. In the event the next car needs to go the same way, no setting of the switch need take place, and nobody ever needs to walk back the length of the car to re-set the switch. This is the “toilet seat” principle.


  33. Isaac Morland says:

    “… This is the “toilet seat” principle.”

    Does your wife let you get away with that? I get flack when I try it.


  34. Point person at out of service switches. The policy for manual and/or out of service switches on main lines is that the operator go back and reset to the main line. It’s considered a double protection, the stop at every switch plus the reset.

    Steve: Safety is good, but the long-standing problem of out of service electric switches begs the question of whether anyone in the TTC actually cares about this. The trek to and from the switch for an operator of a 30m LRV is going to be substantial.


  35. Peter Witt stated:

    The policy for manual and/or out of service switches on main lines is that the operator go back and reset to the main line.

    As I understand it, it is that the operator go back and reset to the main line unless the following streetcar is close enough to see the turning car.

    Since many turns are done because several cars have bunched, this does reduce the number of times an operator needs to go back, without reducing safety.

    I believe the major derailing of a car on St. Clair at Wychwood was caused by it running at speed through a switch that was set for the yards. I have a vague feeling that I have been told that this was a major reason for at least one of the safety rules, but I am not sure, and even if so I cannot recall which of the two it was.

    (Possibly it was just that this incident caused a tightening of the rule enforcement.)

    Steve: There were derailments due to operation at speed through open switches in other locations as well, one of which was electrified (Don Bridge westbound) but could not react in time for the speed the car was travelling. Unsafe operation is unsafe operation, but the TTC’s response was to implement the most restrictive rules rather than dealing with those problems that are rooted in technology.


  36. Thanks as always for your notes Steve. They are very informative.

    Quick question… do the new TTC LRT vehicles have a drivers booth at both ends (similar to what I see for the Crosstown)? Seems like a great way to simplify short turns/reduce bunching (especially on the dedicated right of way routes). Presumably the TTC would need to add add a cross over switch to link the tracks in appropriate locations.

    Steve: No, they are single-ended cars. Converting the system to use crossovers would be a massive job, especially considering the problem of stopping traffic “behind” a car that is short-turning. Also, such short turns would have no ability to lay over to fit back in the opposite flow.


  37. Pete says:
    February 18, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    “Quick question… do the new TTC LRT vehicles have a drivers booth at both ends (similar to what I see for the Crosstown)? Seems like a great way to simplify short turns/reduce bunching (especially on the dedicated right of way routes). Presumably the TTC would need to add add a cross over switch to link the tracks in appropriate locations.”

    Making the vehicles double ended increases the cost by 5 – 10% and reduces the seated capacity though it does increases standing capacity. Most of the legacy systems I rode in Europe used single end cars but had huge loops 2 or 3 track that could hold 5 – 10 30m cars.


  38. The snow removal budget will have to be increased for the new fleet. After the latest series of storms, I have noticed that only a small 1-2m strip near the head of each stop is cleared.

    With the installation of curb cuts and other accessibility features at each stop, this type of “removal” will be completely inadequate and unacceptable.

    Steve: There is a more general problem that snow needs to be cleared from the curb lanes where parking is permitted because there have been service blockages and collisions as a direct result of cars parked (or attempting to park) improperly.


  39. It seems that the signal priority for streetcars eastbound on Lake Shore turning into the underpass to Humber loop has been fixed. After a very short delay, we got a green signal today and proceeded. All this without the cross street having to change, or even the eastbound car traffic getting a red light.


  40. Robert Wightman says:

    “Making the vehicles double ended … increases standing capacity.”

    How so? I can’t think of any differences in standing space between single and double-ended cars. Actually, I would have thought the doors would take away standing space.

    Steve: These are low floor cars, and so doors do not create stepwells as they would do on high floor cars. However, the “offside” doors do take up space that could be used for seating because some fare collection equipment that would be in the vestibule has to be shifted to create the doorway. Similarly, space for wheelchairs, strollers, bikes, etc., cannot use the space “opposite” the doors because that’s another doorway.


  41. After seeing that the snow & ice on the Spadina ROW had melted, and not seeing any gaping holes in the pavement, I asked Brad Ross about buses using the ROW and was told that no, they wouldn’t.

    It seems clearer that this is a TTC policy decision since there are diamond lane signs along the ROW from College down to Wellington that have a streetcar and bus image. Now these signs are not present at Front, and there are centre poles … so maybe there is a structural reason.

    And yet, I have to say it sucks to sit on a bus stuck in traffic while the ROW is open and seemingly available.

    Cheers, Moaz


  42. A couple of weeks ago, I stopped by Roncesvalles Carhouse to look at the new building there for the Flexity trams. The exterior of the building looks complete with 1 track passing through it. (I believe the were 3 tracks there before construction; now there seems to be only one.) However, there was still no overhead wire over that track.

    Is there any news when the new Roncesvalles facility for Flexity cars would be ready to use? Have you heard when Flexity cars will start to be stored at Roncesvalles?

    Steve: I will have to inquire about this.


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