Ten Years of Spadina Streetcars

Today, July 27, 2007, marks the tenth anniversary of the Spadina streetcar/LRT.  Despite the transit crises of past weeks, we celebrate an important birthday for the Spadina line and for our transit system.

I started writing this piece for the Jane’s Walk series back in late April, but there was just too much else going on, and it didn’t get finished in time.

Without Jane Jacobs and the many who fought beside her, there would be no Spadina streetcar, the heart of the Annex would be an expressway, and the renaissance of Spadina south from College would not have happened.  Indeed, had the road designers had their way, Dundas would be widened out to six lanes through downtown to the DVP, and much of Chinatown would be arterial roads bereft of late 19th century architecture.

The many condos whose populations fill the King-Spadina-Front area would not be there because western downtown would be like so many other expressway cities, a sterile land of interchanges and new office blocks, but no people.

You can read more about the Spadina and other expressway plans on Transit Toronto’s site in the article by Sean Marshall

Last year, June brought the 35th anniversary of the expressway’s death and a celebration by spacing magazine at Spadina House.  That building, visible in some photos of the event, would have been demolished for the expressway’s interchange with the Crosstown Expressway.

Before Toronto’s streetcars were electrified, Spadina was a busy horse car route, so heavily loaded that tired horses had to be changed off regularly, a 19th-century variation on a fuelling stop.

Not long after the Toronto Railway Company took over in September 1891, the “Belt Line” route was inaugurated running via Bloor, Sherbourne and King as an amalgamation of the Spadina and Sherbourne routes, plus a part of Seaton Village.  When the TTC took over, it was split off again as a separate route. 

The Spadina car ran with double-end equipment from a crossover north of Front (roughly opposite Clarence Square) to a crossover at Bloor.  In those days, Spadina ran straight north to Bloor rather than dodging to the west, and the crossover was roughly where the parkette on the SE corner lies today plus a bit of the northbound roadway.

For a time, the Spadina line ran over the “new” Spadina bridge at the railway lands to Fleet Street which met Spadina roughly where the Gardiner Expressway and Lake Shore Blvd are today. 

The main part of the route was on a private right-of-way parts of which were lined with trees.

Many of the buildings in this area date from Toronto’s 1880s building boom of the 1880s that established Spadina’s importance in the growing city, especially for generations of immigrants.

Spadina has always been a busy commercial street.  Just to the west between College and Dundas lies the Kensington Market that has not been destroyed by street widenings or other modern improvements.  It survives in our anti-pedestrian era where no self-respecting shop can exist without at last a dozen parking spaces.  Whether it can withstand the onslaught of gentrification remains to be seen.

North of College, we have another Toronto anomaly, a traffic circle around Knox College.  If the expressway had been built, this troublesome edifice would have been demolished in the interest of speedy traffic flow.

An historical footnote:  the crossover track remained on Spadina south of King buried under asphalt for years after service ended in 1948.  The TTC mined the track for use at Humber Loop where the underpass to the Lake Shore ran with single track operation through the fall and winter of 1973/74 during bridge construction above.  (The crossover for the other end came from Dufferin Street north of King, and, amazingly, the TTC put it back into the street where it remained until the King/Dufferin intersection was rebuilt.)

Although service on the Spadina route lasted until 1948 when the last double-ended cars were retired, the Harbord line continued running there south to Dundas until early 1966.  With the opening of the Bloor Subway, the Harbord car became the Wellesley Bus.  I was part of a merry band of railfans who rode many last trips that February night including the last Harbord car west from Pape and Danforth to Lansdowne Carhouse.

As an activist, my involvement with Spadina came in 1973 when the Streetcars for Toronto Committee proposed converting the line back from bus to streetcar operation.  I must admit that I was a bit of a skeptic on this front, but Howard Levine, another SFTC member, convinced me that this would work.  We proposed the line (including a loop at Adelaide, King and Charlotte that would wait three decades to be built) to favourable reception, in principle, at the TTC, but the project quickly ran into stiff opposition.

  • Merchants complained about lost spaces with the conversion from angled to parallel parking.
  • The TTC proposed removing several stops on the existing bus route claiming that the streetcar’s main purpose was to serve the expected development at “Metro Centre”.  That development took decades to appear, and the primary demand is still north of Dundas Street.
  • Council members misleadingly presented the right-of-way as a barrier down the street that would prevent pedestrians from crossing.  The TTC didn’t help by emphasizing the fast service on a limited-access right-of-way.
  • The Ontario Transportation Development Corporation published a GO-Urban photo mockup showing elevated trains on a “slender” guideway on Spadina at Harbord, and this totally confused people about what technology was on the table.

Spadina went onto the back burner, but the idea didn’t completely die.  The Harbourfront line had the honour of being our first new streetcar line and opened in 1990.  Harbourfront had its problems, many of which are unsolved to this day.  Alas, the track was not built to the new standards, and as we have recently seen, it is falling apart and very noisy in places.  Just the sort of thing to endear streetcars to the neighbours. 

The access track on Spadina from King to Queen’s Quay saw only carhouse moves until the full Spadina line opened seven years later.

Once in operation, the Spadina line took a while to become established, but ridership grew because, for once, the amount of service on the street actually exceeded the demand most of the time.  You could never accuse the TTC of overserving Spadina when it was a bus line. 

Gradually, the link to the waterfront changed riding patterns.  Instead of empty buses southbound at Dundas, the streetcars started picking up riders bound for Queen’s Quay, something that never would happen with the bus, if only because so few of them actually went that far south.

Pedestrian behaviour changed on Spadina too.  With the protected right-of-way in the middle of the street, even on a frequent headway there was lots of room for pedestrians to get through.  What was once impossible, or at least foolhardy, a mid-block crossing of Spadina, is now fairly common, and the expected barrier is actually an aid to pedestrian traffic.

The loading pattern for Spadina has changed so much that the Sunday morning service, at one car every 2 minutes, is more frequent than the morning rush hour.  Demand on the line cries out for all-day, all-door loading with longer, low-floor cars, but that won’t come until a new generation of streetcars.

There remain problems with the traffic signals where “priority” means that automobiles go first, then the streetcars.  The TTC and City are supposed to be working on this, but we’ve heard that story for nearly two years now.

Spadina isn’t perfect, it’s certainly not fast (no transit service in a dense corridor like Spadina could be), but it is carrying lots of riders with the potential to grow that the old 77 Spadina bus never had.

We can kvetch about the line tomorrow, but today’s a day for celebrations.

Happy Birthday Spadina Streetcar!

[For a detailed history of the Spadina line, please see James Bow's article on the Transit Toronto site.

[If you want to get lost in the City Archives for a while, go to their page, select "Items that have been scanned", enter "Spadina" in the keyword field and search.  You will be there for a while.]

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Steve thanks you for reading this article, even if you don't agree with it.
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21 Responses to Ten Years of Spadina Streetcars

  1. Karem Allen says:

    They should rewrite the “Spadina Bus” song.

    Nice to read praises for Jane Jacobs, I will learn more about her.

  2. hamish wilson says:

    Yes, it’s worth celebrating the streetcar service and the ROW, but the re-design failed to provide safe passage for cyclists – there wasn’t enough room, and the compromise that was put on is actually kinda dangerous really – where the white line is is really where a cyclist should be riding.

    For many of us, bikes beat transit in the core, moreso when transfers might be required, yet the TTC and the City almost seem determined to keep the bike conditions unsafe to ensure captive riders where the transit system sorta makes money.
    Streetcars tracks prevent repainting streets for bike lanes and it’s a pronounced problem for east-west bike travel in the west end especially.

  3. Justin Bernard says:

    Happy Birthday Spadina! And a big grateful thank you, to all the activists who fought to save their neighbourhood from the devastation that an expressway would have brought.

    One can visit York Region, and Brampton to see what the result would have been, if the Spadina Expressway was built.

    It is a really depressing sight to see.

  4. Very nice article.

    One small correction: The building around which Spadina loops north of College is not Knox College, but 1 Spadina Crescent (a rather nondescript name for such a notable building, I think). Knox College is located on St. George St.

    Steve: When it was built, it was Knox College, later Connaught Labs (now part of York U), now 1 Spadina Cr. As this is an historical article, I used the original name of the building.

    Here it is, late in the 19th century, from the City Archives. If you look closely, you can see the streetcar overhead. Therefore this photo is taken after electrification by the Toronto Railway Company.

    Here is the “new” Knox College in the main quad of the campus.

  5. Joseph C says:

    The Spadina streetcar is great and all, but Spadina avenue is great because it maintains a minimum of 4 lanes to a maximum of 6 lanes + a Streetcar ROW.

    You mentioned that traffic planners wanted to widen Dundas Street to 6 lanes from the DVP to around Spadina. Well, that would have been a great idea because Dundas could have been another great boulevard with 4 lanes and a Streetcar ROW.

    Toronto’s greatest boulevard is also the widest one probably in the GTA. University Avenue, with 8 lanes and an enormous sized sidewalk, it’s a great avenue for cars and walkers alike. Crossing it would be a challenge, except there are great huge islands that are like mini parks with benches and such.

    Whichever planner conceived a grand plan like University Avenue, hats off to him. I wish that avenue went in that format all the way to the waterfront with a grand start by the lake at Queen’s Quay.

    The Spadina expressway was ill-concieved but back then they never thought about using underground means like they did with the Ville-Marie Expressway in Montreal. Even today, if a simple tunnel connector went from the Richmond-Adelaide Pair to the existing end of Allen Rd, It would be an excellent toll generator, a way to alleviate traffic at Eglinton avenue, and put a proper beginning and end to the Richmond-Adelaide pair (start and end at an expressway).

    I never knew that it was your idea for the Spadina LRT, good job in planning that. Hats off to you Sir.

    Steve: I have to disagree about University Avenue. It is the coldest, most pedestrian unfriendly street downtown where the really interesting stuff is always to be found a few blocks away. A good example is McCaul and Baldwin, two short blocks west of University.

    You can see the sterility of Dundas in places where new buildings — notably the Police Station — were built with setbacks in anticipation of the road widening.

    Toronto is a city of narrow streets and fortunately we had no 20th century of Baron Haussman who levelled Paris to build the grand boulevards. Can you imagine Paris designed by the kind of urban planning and architecture that infests Toronto?

  6. David Cavlovic says:

    Karem said : They should rewrite the “Spadina Bus” song.

    Hmmm. Idunno. You can’t really improve on the rhyme scheme of

    77B / on the T-T-C

    I tend to be a “performance practice” purist at times. Somehow “A bus named Desire” just dosen’t quite work…

  7. Geoffrey Singer says:

    As a high school computer science student back in the 1980s, I knew Steve as the sociable tech guy you contacted when you had problems with the Toronto Board of Education mainframe computer. It wasn’t until a few years later, while studying urban planning at Ryerson, that I began to get an inkling that there was a lot more to Steve. I was attending an environmental assessment meeting for the Spadina LRT at City Hall one hot summer evening and there was Steve, EA documents in hand, strongly advocating for the new line. At that point I didn’t appreciate that he had already been fighting the good fight for close to two decades. Of course since then I’ve learned a lot more about the crucial role that he has played in this city’s transit history.

    Happy Birthday Spadina Streetcar! And thanks, Steve.

  8. Joseph C says:

    “You can see the sterility of Dundas in places where new buildings — notably the Police Station — were built with setbacks in anticipation of the road widening”

    Well I’m not sure about where the police station is but I do recall after heading back home from Dundas Square today, the Bestbuy and Canadian Tire and the Eaton’s Centre block is far from the road, so far that you could have a wide sidewalk and 6 lanes with no problem. However, that all ends at Bay St. where suddenly Chinatown begins and the stores are closer to the street. The only thing I saw they could possibly do is add in a lane going eastbound for taxi stands or something of that sort, because with that much space it doesn’t hurt to do so.

    About University Avenue, it has the largest sidewalk I’ve seen, how can it not be a good pedestrian corridor? There aren’t many or if not any random driveway entrances, just a very wide wide sidewalk which means I don’t have to walk near the edge of some busy road. It has to be the best transportation corridor possible. Subway, Large Sidewalk AND 8 lanes for cars. Seems perfect to me.

    You say what if Toronto had grand boulevards? Well Spadina is still one, minus 2 traffic lanes, University Avenue will remain a large one, Front Street looks sort of like one, Queen’s Quay is one, and I might be missing more.

    Grand boulevards don’t have a great impact as an expressway does. It allows pedestrian travel, transit (Bus or LRT/streetcar) and bearable car travel as well. Having an 8 lane boulevard is bad for pedestrians due to the major crossing, but then avenues like University have LARGE island parks that act as a nice refuge for people crossing.

    I guess opinions will always differ but I find that a mix of both boulevards (University Ave) and smaller streets such as College Ave or King St makes the best outcome in a City. Too much of either makes things worse.

    Steve: The problem I have with University Avenue is that it was designed as a wide street with land uses that do not generate a lot of pedestrian activity. Moreover, when you walk on University, you feel out of scale (I worked near College & University for two decades and know the area well).

    The police station in question is on the south side of Dundas west of University in a sterile block from Simcoe to St. Patrick. Rather than engaging the street and passersby, the station sits well back on its site, and there is no view through clear windows into it. It’s not threatening, but certainly it does not invite awareness that the police are there and might have some involvement with the community.

    It’s not clear in your argument whether you want tons of pedestrian space or lots of room for cars, or which takes precedence. My point is that the built form of downtown Toronto is four-lane streets and the time is long past when some “visionary”, in the manner of Baron Hausmann or Robert Moses, could flatten huge chunks of the city in the name of progress. We have to live with the city as it is built.

    Ironically, where we did have room to build grand avenues, instead we built motorways as a visit to any suburban arterial will show. That model does not belong downtown, and it will take a century to repair the damage it has done in the suburbs. I’m not saying make all of North York a bunch of four-lane streets with houses and shops to the lot line, but much of the suburbs is built to serve the car first and the pedestrian a distant second. No pedestrians, no street life.

  9. James Bow says:

    Huh. It seems we passed like ships in the night back in the late eighties, Steve. I went through my public education in Toronto at Orde, then Lord Lansdowne, and Harbord CI, graduating in 1991. I had no cause to contact someone involved in the Toronto Board of Education mainframe computer, though.

    And McCaul and Baldwin was my area. Strange how McCaul has streetcar tracks and University doesn’t. But McCaul is also more pleasant to walk than University Avenue, especially during winter.

    And Baldwin still has the excellent Ying Sing Pastry shop. I try to stop there for lunch whenever I visit my old home town.

  10. Benny Cheung says:

    For the most part the Spadina tram line works well. There is usually a tram you can see with your eyes even if you miss one. I cannot say that for the Queen tram. It does an okay job of beating traffic. If I have it my way, I would take out some of the stops. Why do we have stops at Nassau?

    Steve, historians like to ask a lot of “what if” questions. I have a few questions like that. What if an ICTS or a monorail was built instead? How would that change the street and other buidlings in the area? Chicago has their elevated trains and it seems to have no impact on street life there.

    This is another “what if” question. If Toronto built a metro on Spadina, would the area be even better? Taking out the tramway, one can increase the sidewalk space by a lot. That would encourage a lot more street vendors and predestrian traffic.

    Steve: [In the original reply to this comment, I made the remark that the Chicago el is unidirectional, but it's not as James Bow points out in the following comment. I have corrected the text here and thank James for rescuing me from a horrible faux pas. I have ridden the Chicago el, and where the idea that it only went around one way came from, I do not know. Must be the summer heat.]

    In response to many complaints about the original stop spacing and the TTC staff’s focus on railway lands development rather than existing users on Spadina, the Commission directed that stops be inserted at Sullivan, Nassau/Baldwin, Willcocks and Sussex. The Nassau/Baldwin stop, in particular, was intended to serve the Kensington Market.

    The streets under the “el” in Chicago do not have the same level of street life and attractiveness as other, “open” streets nearby. There are some important issues to consider.

    If anyone wants to see the impact of an el on a street, use Google Maps and look at the satellite views of various parts of the loop in downtown Chicago. The stations completely cover the street. Any elevated structure needs stations which always span the road, regardless of its width, because passengers have to get to the platforms. Newer buildings on Wabash are set back from the curb line giving generous sidewalks, but the station structure at Wabash and Madison is roughly 100m long. Wabash itself is a 6-lane street.

    There are some very challenging accessibility issues under these conditions. As a structure, you either have a centre platform which in turn requires a mezzanine crossing the street under the tracks, or side platforms which require fare control areas at the ends of the platforms if the street is narrow. Some of the old el stations in Boston worked this way before they were demolished.

    On a road the width of Spadina, the guideway structure would not obscure the buildings, although it would not do wonders for the views. Transferring between lines would be more time-consuming because of the need to go up or down from the elevated station rather than just across the intersection. For the short travel distances on Spadina, the time saving of the el would be substantially offset.

    If we were looking at narrower streets such as Queen, the el would fill the street. A “Y” structure might be possible between stations (central columns supporting a pair of guideways, but those columns would take a bite out of the road space, and the street would no longer have four traffic lanes. Parking would almost certainly disappear on one side, permanently. A more classic el “inverted U” support structure would require columns to stand in the limited sidewalk space. I don’t want to think about the implications of stairways, escalators or elevators on sidewalk space at stations. Riders would have a wonderful view of the upper stories of the old buildings on Queen, but the sidewalks would be in perpetual shadow. If you want to destroy property values, just try that sort of proposal.

    Elevateds are a blight on any street they serve, and cities that had the chance tore them down. Vancouver’s Skytrain gets away with being an el precisely because it mostly does not run above streets, and the long section of street running is in the middle of an industrial area.

    No, Spadina would not be better with a subway. Aside from the loss of stops and the more complex access requirements of a subway, we would probably lose the island in the middle of the street back to automobile traffic. Pedestrians would not be able to J-walk as they do now. More to the point, the level of demand on Spadina is nowhere near that of a subway line, the construction cost would be extremely difficult to justify against other more pressing needs, and the operating costs would be horrendous.

    The Spadina streetcar carried 43,000 passengers a day according to the 2005/6 report, slightly more than the Sheppard Subway, without the billion-dollar pricetag. The good people of Sheppard west of Don Mills languish with bus service as infrequent as half-hourly. If we used that line’s station spacing as a guide, Spadina would have stations at Bloor, College, Queen and Front. Just the sort of way to encourage fine-grained transit use of a neighbourhood. In short, I feel a subway on Spadina would have been a disaster, but it would have fitted well with an expressway because, then, we wouldn’t have to worry about those neighbourhoods — they wouldn’t be there.

  11. Jordan Kerim says:

    Yes, I still remember the opening day ceremonies for the Spadina LRT, quite hilarious in fact.

    Ontario PC MPP Isabel Bassett and Metro Chair Alan Tonks were both heckled to oblivion (that was also one of the very very few times I’ve seen a Peter Witt run the streets of all places on the new LRT, along with a PCC whose kind (rebuilt A-15s) had just been retired roughly two years prior). Mayor Barbara Hall was there too.

    Over the years of construction I would visit the street regularly during the summers to inspect the progress (luckily I lived close by). If anyone thinks Spadina is bad now, they obviously did not see it prior to the rebuild of the mid ’90s! As many of of you fans of the LRT/Streetcar may or may not know, essentailly half of the entire $100 million cost of the line ($49 million approx) went towards building the underground loop at Bloor!

    Unfortunately the low floor streetcars that were supposed to be included in the 510 line were never ordered due to Metro council balking at the cost. Yet oddly enough the Harbourfront LRT’s Union station loop has an elevator, along with Queens Quay Station (which was one of the very first elevators in the entire TTC system, aside from those at the then newly renovated Bloor station) and Spadina Station. Hopefully when the new LRVs arrive they will run in MU and will allow all door entry and exit as was implied in the Minneapolis, Minnesota LRV mockup on display at Dundas Square.
    ~Jordan Kerim

  12. James Bow says:

    … the “el” is unidirectional around The Loop … [This appeared in the original reply to the comment above.]

    I have to correct you, there: the Loop has two sets of tracks, and trains proceed through it in both directions. Of the top of my head the arrangements are:

    - Green Line – both directions along the east and north sides.
    - Pink Line – clockwise.
    - Orange Line – clockwise.
    - Brown Line – counter-clockwise.

    But your point stands: the El is extremely useful, but something of an eyesore, depressing the property values of the streets it looms over and darkens. Chicagoans have taken a perverse pride in it, and nobody with any sense would advocate taking it down or putting it underground, but the streets around it are doing much better than the streets under it.

    Steve: I stand corrected, and have fixed my remarks in the comment above. Thanks to James for catching that one.

  13. “the renaissance of Spadina south from College would not have happened”

    That dump? Please….

    The Spadina Expressway shutdown saved rich people’s houses, they are so beautiful that I agree it shoudn’t happened, but, the streetcars create more pollution by increasing traffic jams behind them that should be just written-off. A healthy balance between roads and public transit is what we need, no political correct solutions that give TTC their name, Take The Car…

    Steve: I will leave it to my readers to decide whether Spadina south of College is a “dump”. As for the streetcars creating traffic jams, I have to assume that refers to some other streets. Of course, first you have to find one of the streetcars …

  14. John F Bromley says:

    With regard to the direction on the Chicago El, you’re both right. For many years the loop was unidirecional on at least two sides if not all four. No doubt Steve is remembering that period before the color coded routes (which mean little to anyone outside Chicago), as I do, when the El was known by route names.

  15. Dennis Rankin says:

    Hi Steve:-

    In a historical perspective the Windy City’s el “Loop” was unidirectional for a certain period. All trains went counterclockwise. ‘In the 1950s the Loop was operated uni-directionally with Evanston Express and (usually) Ravenswood trains on the Outer Loop and Lake, Garfield, and Douglas trains on the Inner Loop’. I gleaned this paraphrased caption from a photo in Chicago “L”.org’s web site of a Lake Street train of 4000s. There is more info to add to this of course and I know it’s buried in my library somewhere, for the bi-directional use resumed as it is at present but it is enough for substantiated proof that you weren’t smoking something funny when you first wrote whatever it was you edited away!

    Some trivia points too about Chicago’s Loop. There was also a period in the el’s early history when the loop operated bi-directionally, but when it was first completed as a continuous loop it was left hand running when the rest of the system was right hand. South Side steam locomotive hauled trains were part of the repertoire of service supplied at this time.

    The downtown of Chicago is known as the “Loop”. Many understand this to be because the el’s rectangular traversing of the central city defined downtown by setting the ‘core’s’ limits. This is true, but the term originated with the Cable Car system which operated over the same streets; Lake, Wabash, Van Buren and Wells, but predated the el by about 15 years. Finally, the junctiion of Lake and Wells had been described at one time as the busiest railway junctiion in the world for it not only hosted North, West and South side routes of rapid transit trains, but the interurbans from Milwaukee came through its interlocking too.

    Dennis

  16. Michael Greason says:

    I love Chnatown, Kensington and the Spadina car. Last Sunday, as my British mother so eloquently called it, was “walkabout Sunday” in Kensington. (Car Free Sunday’s to some.) I was there to buy fruit in Chinatown and cheese in Kensington. The streets were alive with people and bands played spontaneously in the street. To call this treasure a “dump” is to fail to appreciate all the things that make cities great. There may be those who do not appreciate the greatness of cities and actually prefer the sterility of the suburbs. However, please don’t spoil the fun for the rest of us. (By the way, I unfortuantely have to commute on occasion to the Dixie 401 area in my car. Talk about dysfunctional – sitting on 6 or 8 lane roads amongst the trucks and taking 3 lights to get through an intersection. Even for drivers, caught behind a streetcar, the city is much more civilised – though I am not encouraging driving in the city.)

  17. Michael, you are right, I shouldn’t call Chinatown a dump, I apologise, and I love going to Kensington market to buy cheese and Mexican goodies, I am considering moving West of Augusta to one of those lovely, little houses…but on Spadina I only see garbage anywhere, a lot of people, and a lot of traffic, hardly what I would call a “boom”. Now they are killing St Clair. I think that in every other street streetcars are creating a lot of traffic jams because they are slow, and they stop frequently.

    A bus line will do the job, and a total revision of the TTC budget will give some credibility to their demands, and keep a balance between public and private transit, not everyone can live in the subway loop.

    Steve: The problem with buses is that the projected increase in demand for service on major routes cannot be handled by that mode. I’m no fan of some of the heavy-handed construction on St. Clair, but buses are not the answer.

  18. Stephen Cheung says:

    If you want to call Chinatown a dump, be sure to blame the merchants, not the Spadina subway. These merchants (who have been here for many ages, even before the Spadina LRT) especially the supermarkets are less civilised when it comes to garbage and waste, they dump it next to the curb where it rots and stinks and creates that “aroma” that is Chinatown. I’ve seen other pedestrian bustling areas especially on Bloor and Danforth which have the fruit stands out on front but all the trash is properly disposed in the waste boxes behind their stores, where it belongs. And AFAIK, St. Clair doesn’t have the same garbage issues that Spadina has. The insertion of the ROW is certainly not going to cause a street to be more or less of a dump. That is dependant on the merchants who ply their trade there.

    As for your suggestion on buses, you’d need a whole division of buses to service Spadina. Turning the ROW back to auto lanes will only increase congestion on the street even more. And buses, operating in mixed traffic will get stuck. Which requires more buses to run. Which then get stuck themselves. And so on.

    I am actually looking forward to the completion of the ROW on St. Clair. You can be sure that the ROW will add some character and revitalize the street. I among many other railfans will be interested in taking a look at the street once it is completed. Now if they can only extend the streetcar to Jane, and create some track from Dundas West station to connect to the route. The worst thing that could happen to the ROW is frequent closures when a section of Bathurst needs to be taken out of service given that the line is completely isolated. We need a second set of tracks to connect this route.

  19. Robert Wightman says:

    While I am not positive I believe that I have seen documents that show the “LOOP” portion as running unidirectional with a combined 22 second headway of L trains and interurban.

    July 27 is my birthday so I am happy about “my present” 10 years ago but I believe the the Mount Pleasant car’s last day of service was also on a different July 27.

    Spadina never ceases to amaze me. How can a car that [is on a reserved lane] except for 3 short blocks get so screwed up at times?

  20. David Aldinger says:

    The return of Streetcars to Spadina was quite a coup. One thing one might want to remember about the period before construction got the final go-ahead is that there were those who wanted the TTC to just send streetcars out on unrebuilt tracks. I can remember coming into town by car once with my late father and riding along Spadina before the rebuilding work started and he looked over at the tracks said “Aren’t those tracks good enough to use?” Obviously the TTC didn’t think so but hey, what counts is the pleasant fact that streetcars got to make their comeback on Spadina.

  21. David Aldinger says:

    One thing I forgot to mention on my last posting on the Spadina car concerned the loop at Spadina station. I’ve often questioned the need for the loop there to be underground since the busses never needed an underground loop. If I’m not mistaken I believe that the TTC originally wanted to put the streetcar loop at the same level as the subway platform.

    Steve: Yes, that was the original plan. However, the depth of construction would have required a longer ramp on Spadina itself, and they would have had to buy several buildings along the north side of Bloor because shoring them up for a deep loop was not practical. Given that two of these were a bank, and the Boy Scouts, it was not going to be a cheap expropriation.

    Also, going to track level only would make a direct connection to the eastbound line, and westbound would require an up and down.

    I agree wholeheartedly with Stephen Cheung’s comments on the St. Clair line. It most definitely needs at least one more track connection to the rest of the streetcar network. If memory serves, the TTC has looked into this in the past when they looked at the restoration of trackage on Dundas West north of the subway. I never understood why that section of the Dundas line was abandoned. I have a slide my dad took of a Dundas PCC bound for Runnymede back in the summer of 1967.

    Steve: The Runnymede extension was abandoned well before the policy of gradual abandonment of the streetcar system was reversed in late 1972. Originally, the Dundas line itself was only supposed to last until 1975. Also, the TTC had some spare trolley buses, and the Junction route was a handy place to use them up.

    I don’t know whether you are aware that the short piece of track under the bridge north of Dundas on Runnymede was to be part of the lead to a Runnymede Carhouse up at St. Clair that was never built.

    St. Clair originally had connections from Yonge, Avenue Road, Lansdowne, Old Weston Road and Keele Street but these dropped off the map one by one. It has run with a single connection since late 1956 when the Harbord car was cut back from Townsley to St. Clarens Loop, and I’m not holding my breath for a new line to the south. Yes, a connection that didn’t involve the Bathurst hill would be really nice, but you’re more likely see one to the north to the Transit City network rather than to the south.

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