Shelters on St. Clair (Updated)

The TTC will install new shelters on St. Clair starting in late July.  They are currently at the stage of approving drawings for the manufacture of the shelters, then there will be a prototype, then the installation.

I can’t help wondering why on a project that has seen so many delays we are only just now getting around to the preliminary stages of building the shelters.  This is one more example of a project with equal measures of bad luck and bad planning.

On a brighter note, I was at a community meeting tonight regarding the detailed plans for this year’s construction between Westmount and McRoberts, and things went much more smoothly than the raucous gatherings of earlier times. 

Update May 9:  The presentation materials are available online.

11 thoughts on “Shelters on St. Clair (Updated)

  1. Why isn’t the TTC going to rebuild the trackage between Keele and Gunn’s Loop this year? This is the worst trackage on the line, on par with Keele Street, and it desperately needs replacement. We do not want another Fleet Street on St. Clair West.

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  2. Not sure if this is the right place to ask this, but: for the “transit priority” system, where are the detectors for oncoming streetcars located?

    I’ve noticed a couple of times on the redone part of St. Clair a pedestrian signal switching from “walk” to a flashing hand just as a streetcar pulls up to the red light. I haven’t spent any time studying this, so maybe it’s coincidence, but it sure looked like the light was triggered by the arrival of the streetcar at the intersection.

    The problem is, it’s a long time between the start of the flashing hand and the green light for the streetcar. (The flashing hand takes about 15 seconds; add maybe another 15 seconds for the cross-traffic yellow light, left-turn green, and left-turn yellow.) So if we can predict a 30 second delay, and the ROW gives the streetcar an unobstructed path, wouldn’t it make sense to put the detector 30 seconds’ travel distance back from the intersection? The effect on cars is the same (the light would be triggered just as often, and left turns could still go first), but as the streetcar pulled up the light would be just finishing its change instead of just starting.

    Steve: This has been an ongoing problem on Harbourfront too. In some cases it is impractical to put the detectors 30 seconds away, but in any event the design should be to minimize or eliminate the dwell time of streetcars approaching a signal. Having said that, one consideration that always applies is that the cross-traffic needs a minimum amount of green time. You can’t throw the light to red two seconds after someone starts to cross the street.

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  3. Well I hope they don’t get the type that is at the corner of Hwy 2 and Brock Street — SE corner.
    One sided with canopy, if there is any breeze at all with the rain you will get wet. It is more of a glorified sun shelter perhaps.

    However they probably felt that the sidewalk was to narrow to put in anything wider that people could actually fit into.

    Shelters come last don’t you know, why would anyone put comfort of the rider at the top?

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  4. One problem I have noticed on St. Clair (or think I’ve noticed, anyway) is that many people don’t seem to understand the new traffic lights. Specifically, they assume that when the left-turn light turns green they can drive or walk across the intersection. Yesterday I saw a pedestrian start to cross when the left-turn light turned green and almost get run over by a turning car; I saw a few other similar problems within the next half hour, and have seen several since the streetcars returned. A few signs advising people of the change in the lights might have been helpful. Confirms my suspicion the initial problems on Spadina were due to the confusing traffic lights rather than what they were supposed to be due to.

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  5. Well, one big problem with the lights is that when it’s dark outside it’s very hard, sometimes impossible, to read the sign that says “LEFT TURN SIGNAL”. This is very dangerous, and I have seen near-accidents because of it at, e.g. Spadina and Harbord.

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  6. Left turn signals should use arrows for all indications, not just the green indication, eliminating the need for the “Left turn signal” sign and making them clearer. Visibility of coloured arrows is no longer a problem with modern LED technology. Transit signals should use white symbols (one common scheme is to use a horizontal bar for “Stop” and a vertical bar for “Go”), rather than coloured lights, so that motorists don’t confuse them for turn signals. These changes would make the traffic signals on transit ROWs clearer, but unfortunately they would require provincial approval.

    Steve: There is some debate on how to make signals “clear”. A left turn arrow indicates an advanced green phase for turns, but the absence of an arrow does not mean that turns are prohibited. The situation on streetcar rights-of-way is different in that cars can turn left only when they have their green signal.

    Similarly, the vertical white bar is now used to indicate an exclusive streetcar phase, not a shared green with traffic and pedestrians.

    Any scheme to clarify the signalling arrangement must deal with all of the permutations in a consistent manner.

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  7. The clarity of signals is not that difficult to implement. While the absence of a green turn arrow does not mean that those turns are prohibited, the presence of a RED turn arrow does. A signal fixture intended to provide information for the sole purpose of left turners should have all its indications in the form of an arrow.

    As for the white bar signals for the streetcars, the simple solution is that a solid vertical bar means exclusive streetcar phase, and flashing vertical means a shared phase.

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  8. This is somewhat off-topic, but I noticed in the presentation that significant curb cuts to allow for left turn lanes are still on the table. I assume that this is Transportation Services’ idea to prevent turning vehicles from holding up through traffic, but is this really necessary? Many downtown streets are two lanes in either direction with no turn lanes and they work fine. IMHO it also ruins the aesthetics if the curbs and lane markers are not parallel to the building facades.

    I find the whole implementation of the ROW to be sub-par from an aesthetic standpoint. Do the streetcar tracks really need to be elevated from street level? Do we really need six traffic lights per direction (two main lights, two for left turn signals, and two for the streetcars themselves) at each intersection? Who actually decided these things? There’s no point in spending millions on street trees and lampposts if the ROW really is an eyesore.

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  9. I hope that shelters can be put up as soon as new platforms are constructed. It’ll be pretty cold soon after they’re done.

    Jonathan Cooper said, “I assume that this is Transportation Services’ idea to prevent turning vehicles from holding up through traffic, but is this really necessary? Many downtown streets are two lanes in either direction with no turn lanes and they work fine.”

    The problem is that unlike other downtown streets, St. Clair’s streetcar ROW doesn’t allow for left turns from and onto streets not at intersections. At intersections, there is not just left-turn and through traffic but also U-turn traffic in the left lane. Because of through traffic on that lane, you can’t have a dedicated left- and U-turn phase work well, and the other option without dedicated left- and U-turn lanes is that you have a Queen’s Quay-style signalling setup; I don’t know how well that would work on St. Clair.

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  10. It turns out the left-turn signals on St. Clair have green arrows, but since I hadn’t noticed that over the past months they haven’t been too effective with me. Pedestrians may simply see them change out of the corners of their eyes and start walking. The problem mentioned by Andrew is important. The signals don’t seem to be well distinguished. Would the TTC have been likely to conduct research about uses of this configuration elsewhere? I think I just made a joke.

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  11. Around August 7th the temporary concrete barriers on the new platforms West of Avenue road were removed. Within the last week the remaining barriers at Yonge, Deer Park and Avenue were collected. I hope this means the new shelters are coming soon – but maybe it doesn’t matter.

    It seems the work at St. Clair West Station isn’t going too well?

    According to the original construction flyer (still linked from the St. Clair Transit Today site) work was to wrap-up September 1st.

    Now on the TTC site they have posted this flyer saying
    work will continue into Fall 2007. No completion date given.

    I had a very slow and crowded bus ride from Yonge to Bathurst today.

    Hoping that ROW will be in use again soon.

    Steve: Another botched, late TTC construction project. There are times transit advocacy is a very lonely calling.

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