Where Would a Don Mills Subway Go?

There has been a lot of discussion here about potential alignments for the eastern leg of a downtown relief line.  On occasion I have mentioned a route rather different from the commonly discussed one via Pape, the Leaside Bridge and Overlea, and I am sure this has caused some confusion.

One advantage of having been at this transit advocacy business for a long time is that I have a long memory and archives to match.  For your delectation, here is a proposed route from Don Mills and Eglinton to downtown.  It is a TTC Subway Construction Department drawing dated December 12, 1973.


A few things worth noting about this drawing:

The route north from Danforth is via Donlands, not Pape.  This provides access to Greenwood yard via the connection shown.  It also aligns the route further east to simplify the valley crossing north of O’Connor.

The route passes through the middle of Thorncliffe Park and proceeds north to Eglinton.  This is more or less the sort of alignment I have been talking about for the east leg of a DRL (or, for that matter, for the Don Mills LRT if it came south of Eglinton).

Two alternative alignments from the CNR line to Queen are shown.  One goes straight south while the other runs along the rail corridor.  Going west along Queen brings its own problems, and these were discussed in an earlier, 1968 report that I will present in a separate post.  (Please don’t clutter up the comments thread here with questions about that part of the alignment.  You will get your chance.)

I present this information mainly so that people can see that the idea of a subway to Eglinton and Don Mills is hardly new, and it’s not even mine — I simply resurrected an old TTC concept.  When we discuss transit plans, it is useful to know some of the history.

Buses on Streetcar Routes?

The CBC this morning carried an item reporting that the TTC would begin running buses on streetcar routes to relieve crowding.  Chair Adam Giambrone was quoted as saying that cars don’t get out of the yard due to “safety” problems such as dashboard heaters failing and causing windows to fog up.

Sigh.  That’s this week’s excuse.  Things are getting bad when the best that Giambrone can trot out is that chestnut “safety” that is a catch-all excuse in the same league as “congestion” and “TTC culture”.  The real problem is that the TTC has been hiding reliability problems with the streetcar fleet for years, and needed service improvements don’t show up because they don’t have enough working cars.  The problem has been masked because at least one carline has been under construction for most of the last five years.

Next week, a new schedule comes into play on Queen with less, yes less service than today.  The reason?  The operators need even more layover time (strangely only on weekday schedules but not in the evening), and the TTC comes up with this by stretching the headways.

Management’s refusal to undertake a restructuring of the line, to break it into separate components that don’t have an immense round trip and a corresponding need for layovers, is getting quite trying.  The use of relief crews at Russell Division works in the east end because the carhouse is near the end of the line, but a completely different scheme is needed in the west for Long Branch bound cars.

If we are going to start busing streetcar lines, then let’s stop running inadequate service to handle the demand on the routes.  Stop telling us about average loads that are within standards when news reports include clips of people complaining about huge gaps and crowded cars.

Thanks to inaction on streetcar reliability, riders will have to put up with ongoing problems for three years until the new fleet begins to arrive.  Even that is dependent on funding, and I am not convinced that the streetcar fleet will survive the many demands for new money in Ottawa and Queen’s Park.  Is this the beginning of the end?  A fate like the trolleybus network that was allowed to deteriorate beyond the point of no return?