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?

32 thoughts on “Buses on Streetcar Routes?

  1. I mentioned the last time this was brought up that if we do not take radical action now, our legacy network may be lost. That seemed like “crazy talk” at the time, but people are finally starting to see what I was talking about.

    As I also said in that post, I think that we should look at reality. I agree, cutting Queen into two (or three) lines would be a great idea, but it’s not going to solve the car shortage. The best way to do it, I still insist, is to turn over an entire streetcar line to buses until we get low-floor cars operating. I still favour Carlton due to its many turns and the fact that the only subway station it truly uses (Main) only has one streetcar route. Dundas and King share two stations, and Queen has an expensive right-of-way in the Queensway, as does St. Clair, and Spadina, and lastly Bathurst, Kingston Rd and the Downtowner, even when combined, do not have enough cars scheduled to do it. I honestly think if we turned Carlton over to the buses that it would go a long way towards saving the rest of the network. Hopefully I dont come across as ‘crazy’ as I did last time.


  2. “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.”

    Now this is a real high tech problem. A heater is basically a piece of high resistance wire through which an electric current is run to make it hot. Next you add a fan to blow air over it and on to the windows. I assume that the CLRV’s and ALRV’s still have a low voltage DC power supply on board so a 32 VDC fan motor is not exactly high tech either. If the TTC can’t keep these running maybe they could provide oil fired lanterns for the operators to place on the dash to heat up the windows. This has to be the sorriest excuse that I have ever heard of or is the vehicle so badly designed that they can’t get to the wiring and heaters to repair them?

    At least the TTC seams to be going ahead with the placing of the new Street car order according to this moning’s Globe and Mail article by Jeff Gray.


  3. There is nothing to be said about the failure of TTC to get new and/or rebuilt existing rolling stock in regard to its streetcar fleet.

    It’s a disaster, period.


    On the subject of layovers. Why can we not have step-back crews at the ends of the lines (or the car houses) and get rid of the layovers all together?


  4. I agree with James, we need step-back crews at the end of lines in order to give drivers a break, but keeping the cars moving. I have seen one car arrive at Long Branch, and then boom you have three there as the driver of the first one is still on his break. This just slows down service.

    I also think that there is enough cop-out from the TTC – the TTC culture is not to “provide an adequate amount of service” but to “provide service when, and if, we feel like it!!!!” The 501 line in the westend is a prime example.


  5. …and just how will they justify the expense of rebuilding the St. Clair line (AND building Spadina/Harbourfront/the Damned tunnel under Bay St.) if they DO decide to can streetcar service alltogether. Oh yes, Toronto is REALLY in the forefront–a world class city–by ditching it’s LRTs just as other world class cities are expanding theirs! There are a lot of people in T.O. who have a lot of explaining to do to have allowed the situation to get this bad.
    That said, I would really like to blame everything on the building of the Sheppard Subway, so, I will!


  6. What Giambrone actually said was something like “the dashboards fog up” and therefore the operators “can’t see out the dashboard”.

    Pondering this one leads me to some low thoughts.

    Steve: I can’t help thinking that Admiral Adam has been bamboozled by his staff. Dashboards did not fog up until winter, and the shortage of cars is not a recent phenomenon.

    If there are more serious safety-related problems with the streetcar fleet, I want to know why the TTC has not addressed them.

    A whiff of the farmyard hangs in the air on this one.


  7. Hi Steve

    I find it strange that the TTC has not reconsidered a rebuild on at least part of the existing fleet. I think that once the TTC knows who the electrical supplier for the new cars will be they should order enough parts to rebuild some CLRV’s so that something that resembles normal service can be restored. The added advantage will be that some experience with the new electrics can be gained. Everyone talks about waiting till the new cars arrive, but if they arrive with teething problems the TTC will have no end of trouble maintaining anything approaching service.

    As for ideas of staff bamboozlement, I think that it is time that the TTC started clearing out some deadwood. About the only thing that these people should be planning is how to teach a course in advance CYA.

    Steve: To be fair to the TTC, they did have a plan to overhaul the CLRV fleet, but this was dropped when it appeared that this would defer indefinitely the provision of accessible streetcar service. Now that the new car order process is back underway (although we still don’t know about funding), the TTC plans to perform a less extensive overhaul on about half of the CLRVs. I am hoping to see more details on this early in the new year when and if the TTC produces a detailed fleet plan.


  8. If this is “the plan” then why not put buses on the Etobicoke section of the 501–i.e. the 507 bus!

    Steve: They would have to admit that splitting the 501 might be a good idea, and sadly the folks in Etobicoke would associate the improved service with buses, not with a more sensible route structure.


  9. One of the cruelest things I have seen in my life is the illusion that politiciains have created for those whose mobility is limited by disability through unsubstantiated glib promises. I attended the mockup of a low floor streetcar at Dundas Square. The largest number of people present when I attended were in large electric wheelchairs and scooters. The TTC spokepeople on the site actively encouraged the discussion amongst the people who currently lack mobility about all the things we will be able to do “soon”.

    These are the same politicians and TTC bureaucrats who can’t or won’t run adequate service on the high floor fleet to even accomodate those who can climb stairs. The fantasy that was being sold – of easy mobility throughout the city – on that day at Dundas Square will never happen under the current funding and service formulae. The number of low floor cars that are contemplated to be ordered cannot provide sufficient service to offer true wheelchair mobility in rush hour – or even on the increasingly overcrowded “shoulders” of rush hour.

    In the meantime, political interference has prevented the rebuild that should be solidly underway on the CLRVs which are at the end (past?) of their useful life. The result is a steadily deteriorating service that cannot be improved because there is a shortage of reliable vehicles. We are in desperate need of additional rolling stock to maintain the streetcar service – but the situation would not be as dire as it is if there were not so many cars out of service.

    We saw the same situation with political interference with the bus fleet. For many years there were no buses available for the TTC to buy that met political preconditions. A shortage of buses ensued – partially hidden by the drastic cuts in service throughout the 90’s and on into the new century. Fortunately, the old reliable (my favourites) GM Diesels could be rebuilt “one more time” (And now 60 or so of them are being rebuilt again.) and we were able to muddle through.

    Now political interference has resulted not only in the hideous Orion buses forming the backbone of the fleet – but even worse the hybrid version that costs more but has little or no added value. More money has been squandered with very little real service improvement.

    To return to the streetcars. Political interference prevented the rebuild of the CLRVs. Political interference is driving the requirement for unproven (unsuccessful where tried) 100% low floor cars. The end result is increasingly looking as though it will be disasterous service for everyone – and given overcrowding very little opportunity for true mobility for the differently abled.

    Please don’t misunderstand me. As I have stated earlier in these comments, “Mobility” is a right. For those who are unable to benefit from regular mass transit society must provide (if it is to be fairminded) that mobility. However, we must be focused on the allocation of scarce resources to provide the greatest benefit to all. Under no circumstances should that mean that the differently abled are left out. (As is the case with the woeful Wheel Trans “service”.) However, spending enormous sums to convert “mass” transit to something that is theoretically accessible, but practically useless is a waste of money.


  10. There is no way, the TTC would attempt to replace the streetcars with buses.

    Can they?

    Steve: After the solidly pro-subway presentation at the last Commission meeting re the Richmond Hill line, I would not put anything past them. There are also rumoured to be opponents of Transit City and LRT in general in Metrolinx and the Ministry of Transportation. They could kill the SC system simply by preventing funding of the new vehicles from happening and the system would slowly die off.

    I am very, very cynical based on long experience, and am tired of having to fight the same fight over and over and over again.


  11. It seems like Toronto is going down the same road Philadelphia did in 1992. In 1992, the last 3 surface carlines were temporarily replaced with buses. In the last few years one has been reinstated (15 Girard), but the other two (23 Germantown, 56 Torresdale) are still operated with buses. Lets hope that our system doesn’t go down the tubes with 16 years (and counting) of temporary bus replacement.


  12. I have no problems running buses along side streetcars to help relieve congestion and improve headways, but of course the TTC cannot seem to think that far ahead.

    I don’t think this is the beginning of the end, however. In the past 10 years the TTC has invested heavily into its tram infrastructure by repairing old rails, planing new lines (both rapid transit and standard) and building right-of-ways. It seems unlikely that they will throw that all away by letting their vehicles expire.

    I think one major problem is that the masses don’t see the benefits of light rail. I’ve always been a transportation/geography geek, but until I discovered others like myself on the internet and did the research, even I thought streetcars were a waste. Besides the cliched yet important reasons of zero emissions and making urban cores more transit and pedestrian friendly, the fact is that they accelerate much better than buses and can hold more passengers than buses as well. This makes them ideal for high density urban cores.

    With that said, something NEEDS to be done for the Queen line. This line extends far outside the urban core, and lacks the mobility that buses offer. Running buses on the Etobicoke portion and having them terminate at the Queensway ROW, and then having it run from the ROW to Broadview station (like King and Dundas), and having another branch run from Broadview to The Beach(es) along Queen would be the best I’d think.

    PS: On another topic, YRT is to raise fares AGAIN, blaming “operating costs”. Considering we are in a recession and oil is at its cheapest rate in years, maybe doing a blog post into this increase would be a good idea.


  13. I had thought that the big difference between Philadelphia and Toronto was that here the TTC have just about finished upgrading the tracks and the overhead and it’s ‘only’ the cars themselves which need attention. (OK, line management needs attention too :->) while in Philly the tracks were in terrible condition in 1992 and have only very recently been replaced, in part. BUT, there is an interesting article. It seems that even though the tracks are fixed SEPTA, their TTC, is now not very interested in using them! Maybe the TTC could borrow some of their cars?

    Steve: Aside from the fact that they don’t seem to have any spare equipment, the cars would have to be regauged down from Pennsylvania Broad Gauge (5’2.5″) to TTC Gauge. Whether this is technically possible would depend a lot on the truck design.


  14. When I was last in Philly I believe they were still running some PCC’s which could be re-guaged since I believe that they were formerly TTC.

    Steve: I am not sure that we want to replace 30-year old CLRVs with PCCs almost twice their age. Given Philadelphia’s standard of maintenance, I wouldn’t count on them being any better and you would have the further complication that hardly anyone at the TTC knows how to maintain them.


  15. Good grief — the TTC wants to innocently add buses to streetcar lines, and everyone gets tied up into a knot? I actually made this suggestion a few months back on this blog for the King line.

    I think the real fear here is that, under actual service conditions, the buses may do a better job of moving people and keeping the service regular, and that customers and motorists will see this — is that what you’re all afraid of?

    Why don’t they just convert one streetcar line to bus operation for the time being (say, the 504) and do a six-month trial? Then this argument can be put to rest once and for all. The freed up streetcars can then be assigned to other routes.

    I doubt the TTC is ready to kill the streetcar system — not after they’ve spent a pile of cash on St. Clair and other parts of the system. And I don’t believe that Metrolinx is anti-streetcar, or anti-TransitCity. However, I do believe that Miller and Giambrone are anti-subway.


  16. If there wasn’t a fixation on 100%LF, the ALRVs could be rebuilt with a low floor centre articulated section in conjunction with Proof of Payment – riders with accessibility issues could then ride in the “centre car” just as accessible cars exist in the GO system. Unfortunately only 52 could have this done as a maximum, however it’s worth noting that 52 is more than many cities’ entire tram systems! It would also require yard space capable of accommodating cars nearly 30m long, but we’ll need that anyway.

    As for buses on the streetcar network – we already see them downtown on the 504 every so often. I’m okay with expanding that but on an infill rather than replacement basis, for instance with a 504 shuttle between Roncesvalles and Broadview to handle peak traffic rather than short-turning streetcars wastefully.

    Of course, if police and towing resources were targetted on streetcar routes to ensure blockages and traffic impeding illegal turns are swiftly and severely dealt with (for instance, the frequent illegal stops outside Best Buy Dundas/Bay), streetcars could complete their routes more quickly and fewer supplemental vehicles would be needed.

    As noted above, replacing an entire route might simply play into the hands of the TTC planners. What’s needed is for one TTC commissioner to face down the CGM, demand a tour of the yards, an accounting for all 248 of the LRV fleet and an openness about the serviceability of those laid up.


  17. Admiral Adam – I so love it when you say that.

    Anyways When those public meetings were going on for the LRT routes, I would ask the Admiral about that why not use subways since there is so much extra passengers he kept on saying that there will be a growth on the amount of passengers … technically ONE subway train can carry way more than an LRT vehicle … He goes on about how LRT’s can bring more people for less buck. He told me NO MORE SUBWAYS……yet there are two subway extensions that have stations way too close to each other (Keele-Finch, York U, Steeles West | Finch, Cummer/Drewry, Steeles). One moment the USS TTC is saying that there will be no more subways then there will be extensions.

    Steve: To be fair, neither of the two new subways is exactly near the top of the Chair’s priority list, but he’s stuck with at least one of them thanks to Queen’s Park and the old boys’ network at York U.

    One moment Admiral Adam says from the bridge of the USS TTC that there will be streetcars then now they will be replaced by buses.

    Steve, what do you think about the TTC being run by elected commissioners with maybe 1 or two from City council. This “board” of the TTC being independent from the City as in can run it’s own business without having it’s lips touching council’s rear end?

    Maybe even having a 4th. voting option in 2010 (1 for Mayor, 2 for councillor, 3 Trustee, 4 for commissioner).

    Steve: There are two problems. If Commissioners are appointed (as they once were), then what you get depends on whoever is in power at the time. With David Miller as Mayor, you might have a fighting chance of getting me, but with Mel Lastman you would have seen political hacks that were part of his circle with little real interest in transit.

    As for elections, it takes a lot of money to get elected on a city-wide mandate. Just getting on Council in one ward is bad enough, let alone the whole city. Anyone with the pull to organize that sort of thing needs to raise a lot of money and make a lot of friends.

    I prefer that the Commission operates de facto as a committee of Council where I can keep an eye on them, and where their constituents can hammer away at them for screwups. The last thing we need is a board that Council can hide behind whenever it doesn’t like the decisions. After all, Council sets the subsidy policies and pays a good chunk of the operating and capital cost for the TTC. Let the responsibility sit where it belongs.


  18. Operators don’t ask for layovers at the end of the line. Management does, calling it recovery time. All the layovers on Queen are there because [management] wants them. It’s one way to cut some short turns. If a car has a 15 minute layover and is 14 minutes late they don’t short turn it.

    Steve: Management should find a better way of managing service that doesn’t involve cars sitting at terminals interminably, so to speak. It is the operators who need breaks, not the cars.


  19. I have a bad feeling that allowing buses to be slipped in will set a precedent for undoing everything that was fought for over thirty years ago. Dropping the network would be a black eye to this city’s heritage.


  20. Councillor Perks was saying at a west end res assoc mtg that they were short of streetcars and one possibility for change/raiding was the Bathurst line.

    Steve: The scheme, as I understand it, is to bus 511 Bathurst during the AM peak when the shortage of cars is worst, but demand on the 511 is not affected by special and seasonal events. Streetcars would come onto the 511 later on.

    This approach (or a similar scheme on other routes) only works to the extent that the number of AM peak cars exceeds the number of PM peak cars. For the January 2009 schedules, the difference is only 10 vehicles, and there are 9 CLRVs on Bathurst in the peak.

    With Queen, my dreaming/thinking of transit options to the WWLRT is doing a new line on the north side of the Weston railtracks and diverting some of the Queen cars to an expedited trip to the core via Front St. with stops at Bathurst and Spadina.

    Steve: The problem remains what to do east of Spadina. If you turn south via the existing trackage, you get tangled in all of the “priority signals” and take far longer getting to Yonge Street than by just staying on Queen. If you continue east, you hit serious problems at York both for the existing configuration of Front Street and planned changes to reduce traffic flow and increase pedestrian space.

    Also, you would need to supplement service east of Dufferin so that Queen cars (on the schedule anyhow) came reasonably frequently since you are diverting a bunch of them onto your new line.

    Yes, this would cost money, but the TTC and the City and piecemealed EA processes cannot think of anything new it seems. “No we can’t consider this because we don’t have a plan for it. Go away”

    Steve: The great tragedy of the WWLRT is that it has been planned it bits thanks to the political pressure by the Deputy Mayor whose attitude seems to be to get what you can, when you can. This gets chunks of the line built, but the planning is isolated, and the finished product is the result of too many compromises. The result is lousy service to the CNE grounds, potential negative impacts in Parkdale, and a Toonerville Trolley streetcar line to Union Station.

    This inability to consider options could cost us at least a half-billion or more. I’ve been wondering more and more, now that the WWLRT is part of the ads all throughout the TTC for Transit City, why can’t new GO service using four/five car trains run from Etobicoke to the core, if one of the big goals of the WWLRT is to get better travel from Etobicoke to the core? While some money would have to be tossed at all of this, including a few million for sustain-the-bull sycophantic consultants, given the total costs of the WWLRT are near $700M (including c. $150M for the rebuild of the Union Station loop), if we could save $500M … or redirect that half-billion to other transit uses …

    Anyone interested in that?

    Steve: GO is attractive for trips into the core if you can get to a station fairly easily. A friend of mine lives just up Royal York and loves to commute from Mimico Station, but that’s an ideal situation. There is also the little matter of fare integration.


  21. Hi Steve

    Mark Dowling’s comments about stricter enforcing of traffic regulations is interesting. It seems that the only time this ever happens is if the police have a blitz. Once that blitz is done everything goes back to normal. This is a policy that should be practiced on all heavy TTC surface routes. To add a kick to it (and help pay for it) the city should request that the province increases the fines and have the difference funneled back to the city. Towing services should also be prioritized so that the heavy routes get priority. You could also tie in feedback from the TTC operator’s for any new trouble spots. Our road capacity is limited and people should not be allowed to hog or abuse it.

    Steve, I would also like to wish you a very happy New Year and I trust that you had a good Christmas.

    Steve: Thanks very much! My (rather long) post with thoughts for the New Year will magically appear at midnight (give or take a leap second).

    As for traffic enforcement, I am constantly amazed that the powers that be continue the fiction that this sort of thing can only be done by the police. We need a dedicated crew to enforce parking (stopping and standing) bylaws vigourously. It’s tiring to hear about all the problems of congestion, and numerous proposals to combat it (up to and including banning traffic from parts of King Street) when we won’t simply enforce the rules that are there today.


  22. James says:

    “On the subject of layovers. Why can we not have step-back crews at the ends of the lines (or the car houses) and get rid of the layovers all together?”

    I believe that layovers are to provide recovery time to cars that experience a delay on the line. You made the silly assumption that the TTC was trying to behave in a humane manner to its employees. Stop being so nice.

    Yesterday I rode St. Clair from Yonge to Spadina and the Spadina Car from Bloor to Union. A couple of thoughts.

    1 Because of the far side stops we hit just about every light red and had to wait for it to cycle back to green. This might have been made worse on St. Clair because the operator never got over 20 km/h; I suspect that he had too much running time for the loading.

    2 The frequency of service on Spadina seems to be getting to the point were the cars are tripping over each other. Part of delay was waiting for the car in front to clear the stop so that we could enter. I went south in a 5 minute gap that immediately caught up to 6 cars. The front 3 turned at king the fourth went to Union, the fifth went to Queen’s Quay while the sixth and us went to Union. All seven cars were south of Queen and North of Adelaide at the same time. How does a line that is almost entirely on PROW get so screwed up?

    3 CLRV 4100 was out on Queen St. with no side sign and no rear sign so I have no idea what line it was on. I did see two CLRV’s go by on 501 in about 15 minutes which to repeat someone else’s question is where are the ALRV’s?

    4 My wife and I walked from the AGO to Yonge Street and past two Dundas cars going the same direction that we were. Traffic was a total mess on Dundas.


  23. Using buses on the streetcar routes should only be done during the rush hour, when additional vehicles are needed. The problem for me is that if I see a bus pulling into a stop where I am, but I see a streetcar behind it, I would rather wait for the streetcar.

    There will be those who will get on the bus, but I would not be one.


  24. Regarding driver layovers, I was thinking back to my days in Vienna – where they have a massive amount of streetcars.

    On the route “D” which I rode fairly often – about 1/3 of the way from the north end of the line – there was a small layover building at the edge of a rarely used loop where drivers would sub each other off. It was at the Augasse stop near the Franz-Josefs Station and Postal Terminal (on a one way street near some of the university earth sciences and business school buildings). Delays would take a minute or two at most. I rarely remember car layovers at the end loops. And short turns were something I wasn’t aware of until I moved to Toronto.

    The length of that line per Google Maps is about 9.8 km. A bit shorter than the Dundas route, and a little longer than Yonge-Humber on Queen.

    What has to be so difficult for the TTC about driver layovers? (Wait…don’t answer that – I think it’s an inability to properly procure swan boats for the Woodbine Beach-Sunnyside Beach route).


  25. Hi Steve:-

    I recently watched an historic video tape with a five minute segment on Birmingham Alabama. There their 48 PCC cars were run on a major surface route and were the express service. The lowly crawling diesel bus was the local service. Gridlock not counted in, might the streetcar stop only at the major points along Toronto’s routes and let the dirty, smelly, bouncy things do all the stopping? This could alleviate some car shortages until rebuilding can catch up with the fleet. This way too, real transit service can still be supplied on a heavy route and the less than desirable vehicle can pick up the crumbs.


    Steve: The problem on many routes is deciding what constitutes an express stop, and what proportion of riders want to travel only between these stops. Given what passes for service on the Queen car, I would probably get on the first thing that showed up, and would be particularly annoyed to be bypassed by an express car.

    Operationally, there would be problems at shared stops as it would be difficult to load a bus and a streetcar at the same time.


  26. Steve

    I recall your proposal to move all ALRVs to King and make Queen an entirely CLRV fleet.

    This would bring faster and more reliable service to King and more frequent service to Queen.

    Does this proposal still hold true with the shortfall of LRVs? Or is something much more radical needed as a solution?

    I still believe that your proposals for breaking up Queen into 3 routes and the moving of ALRVs to King would be the best decision to make in an ideal situation.

    I just wonder how far we are from an “ideal situation” these days.

    Cheers, Moaz

    currently in Mississauga

    Steve: I still feel that my proposal is superior to anything the TTC has attempted, and am becoming quite frustrated at how little is happening there.


  27. The New Year was not a good one for the Queen car.

    To be fair:
    1) The rails were greasy with the cold and snow
    2) Taxis were especially obnoxious

    That being said, after the traditional countdown and fireworks at City Hall, I started walking east to catch a westbound 501.

    Between Victoria and the top of the Don bridge, not one streetcar in either direction.

    A 501 HUMBER showed up, which I let go, and then another 501 HUMBER. I got on with complaints. This car got as far as Jarvis before announcing that it was turning at Church.

    From Church, I walked back to Jarvis when a 501 LONG BRANCH finally arrived.

    The 501 was diverting around the City Hall crowds via Church, King, and Spadina in both directions. The poor blokes waiting for a westbound car at Spadina were, of course, completely out of luck as the turning streetcar bypassed the stop. Just as bypassed was anyone waiting on Queen, where I suppose there were no notices.

    Interestingly, by Roncesvalles we had caught up to another 501 LONG BRANCH and followed it all the way to Long Branch loop.

    Steve: Something the TTC is extraordinarily bad at is posting service advisories on stops for diversions that they know well in advance will occur. New Year’s at City Hall is a predictable event, and it’s also a night when a lot of would-be riders are not savvy enough to guess that the 501 is running via King.

    On a related note, we need to start looking hard at turning streets like Queen into a transit mall when there are special events. Get rid of the autos (they can fight their way along Richmond and Adelaide) but leave public transit where people expect to find it.


  28. It would seem at this point that the most useful piece of information is just how many streetcars are available for service day-to-day and more specifically how many ALRV’s are available.

    If there seems to be many “missing in action” streetcars surely someone could get a ballpark number for comparison to the numbers that are promised on the Service Summary.

    From what I’ve read here so far it almost sounds like David Gunn lives on only in the name of a building when it comes to the streetcar fleet. Maybe they rolled the dice that they could let them deteriorate like they would an old bus and just hope they make it to the day the replacements come … only these may not.

    Steve: If I have any criticism of David Gunn, it is that he concentrated on the subway system as the backbone of the network, and only came to realize some of the problems with the streetcars shortly before he left. As for a detailed report on car availability, that is expected early in the new year for the entire fleet, not just streetcars.


  29. Happy new year Steve, all the best in 2009. Steve is there any used streetcars out there the TTC can purchase til the new ones arrive? ones that can be re-gauged for our system, to fill the gaps without having to use buses.

    Steve: Off the shelf, it would be hard to find equipment. Unlike some European systems that have used hand-me-downs, the TTC is not part of a larger family of properties that has a common design standard for fleet or track geometry. Back in the days when PCCs ruled, this was different, and a great deal of the Toronto PCC fleet was second-hand.

    Another important consideration is that the lead time to find equipment that could possibly work, procure and prepare it for service would likely take us close to the delivery date for new cars.

    The biggest mistake was to delay the rebuilding of part of the CLRV fleet both to reduce capital spending (while we blow billions elsewhere) and to assure advocates for low floor cars that Toronto would not perpetuate high floor streetcars to the last possible moment under ODA. That was one of those political marriages of convenience that haunts the transit system.

    I believe the obsession with 100% low floor cars is not ideal for our system, would a 70% low floor off the shelf model work on our track? I find GIAMBRONE is dropping the ball on this one, just like Lansdowne avenue. There has been a review to that shady job ordered by the courts. The LRT file, we need someone with Vision and no political puppet strings attached with the authority to beef up and replenish what we have. We are back to 1973 again.

    Steve: I think a 70% low floor car would have been much easier to procure, but I was not impressed with the mockups that were in Toronto. The interiors felt cluttered, some seats were far too close together, and the Bombardier car in particular seemed inappropriate for densely used routes where internal circulation for frequent on/off traffic is essential.

    One problem with 70% low floor is that you can get a layout like the much-hated bus fleet with its underused rear section.


  30. “is there any used streetcars out there the TTC can purchase til the new ones arrive?”

    There are the ALRVs delivered to Santa Clara (previously discussed on this site) now operated in Salt Lake and Sacramento – they would require regauging and likely further refitting to meet TTC compatibility though, and that assuming that they have any more life expectancy than the current ALRVs, are available for disposal by their current owners and that there would be sufficient yard/loop space.

    The 21 Sacramento units at first glance seem to be surplus to requirements although US$7.5m in mid-life extension & retrofit is part of SCRT’s capital planning, likely to cover for planned refurbishment of Siemens vehicles.

    A *lot* of “ifs” there so I wouldn’t hold my breath to see double-end ALRV variants on the 504 unless the California budget crisis forces SCRT to sell off their fleet with the hope of getting more (locally built) Siemens units later.


  31. Steve comments about 501 performance New Year’s Eve:

    “On a related note, we need to start looking hard at turning streets like Queen into a transit mall when there are special events. Get rid of the autos (they can fight their way along Richmond and Adelaide) but leave public transit where people expect to find it.”

    The irony is that there was very light automotive traffic that night. Other than cars stuck on Queen between Yonge and University when the crowds left Nathan Phillips Square after midnight, the heaviest “traffic” were cabs on Queen Street West dropping off and picking up. The cabs did slow down the service a bit more than normal, but other traffic was almost nonexistent, at least in the midnight-2AM time period.

    Cab traffic was worse than normal, but all other traffic was much lighter. Despite the pauses for cab loading/unloading/waiting, we still made very good time Spadina to Roncesvalles as there were no cars lined up at the usual choke points in Parkdale.


  32. Just before Christmas I was overjoyed not once, but twice by the Queen car! Each time, I was short-turned at Kingston Road, but the car in front actually waited for the passengers to get off the short-turning car and pick us up.

    This behaviour is so rare and wonderful as to be worthy of comment. Long may it continue.


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