A Visit to Fleet Street

Monday afternoon, I took advantage of the balmy Thanksgiving weather to look at the state of Fleet Street, an oxymoron if ever there were one in its current state.  The construction is working its way east from Exhibition Loop, and is currently at the Strachan intersection where the coming realignment of the tracks is already visible.  From here east, the street is a mess, pedestrians are walking along the roadway because the sidewalks are torn up, and the former brewery site is now a vast and empty lot awaiting more condos.

All of this doesn’t warrant a post, but two observations do.

First, despite the fact that the 509 Shuttle only has to run back and forth from Spadina to the Princes’ Gates, there are three buses on this service, and two of them were running almost as a pair.  I was one of a handful of people on the trip east from the CNE, and I didn’t see many on the other two buses either.  Isn’t it amazing how the TTC can run such frequent, if erratic, service for construction replacement, but when it comes to basic everyday service, well, you know the rest.

Second, I saw the best example of a transit priority signal in Toronto.  Eastbound at Strachan and Fleet, there is a signal to let the streetcars out of Exhibition Loop.  Despite the physical impossibility of any streetcar actually appearing here for several months, the light dutifully cycles through its “transit” phase.  Clearly, the presence or absence of a streetcar has nothing to do with this “pro transit signal”, and it is simply one phase in a multi-phase progression.  That’s what I see elsewhere and indeed it’s the sort of thing that is actually “anti-transit” because streetcars must wait for their own phase rather than using the regular green time that had been available to them for decades.

The TTC and the Works Department need to start being honest about which signals are true “transit priority” and which are rather expensive decorations whose main effect is to keep streetcars out of the way of other traffic.  There is supposed to be a report on this subject coming to the TTC, maybe even at its October meeting.  Stay tuned.