A Few Details About New Streetcars

Based on some of the comments here as well as a few of my own interests, I recently posed three questions to the TTC about the new Bombardier cars.

1. What are the “specified options” mentioned in the report, and when will we know which of these, if any, will actually be included in the order?

Specified options include security camera system, wheel flange lubrication, pantograph current collector, cab training simulator etc. 

Timing for ordering optional equipment depends on:

  • better definition of scope of work and system offered (e.g. camera system);
  • technical and noise necessity (e.g. flange lubricator);
  • system compatibility (e.g. pantograph); and,
  • completion of negotiation of the design and scope of work (e.g. cab simulator).

 2. When will a plan showing the interior layout be available which accurately reflects the dimensions of the Toronto car? Will there be an opportunity to fine tune this, or will that be done as part of the prototype operation when there’s a real car for people to walk around in? I have to assume this must already be available for discussions with ACAT.

While the exterior dimensions are fairly well set, the interior layout can be an evolving process. As noted at the April 27, 2009 Commission Meeting, there are four cost-neutral layouts that would afford flexibility in the final configuration. The current schedule calls for completion of the Conceptual Design Phase four (4) months after Notice of Award (NOA); Preliminary Design Phase twelve (12) months after NOA.

There will be opportunities to review the design through computer modeling and presentations during the design phases. A full-scale, half-car mock-up is scheduled for delivery in 18 months NOA. This would offer a “real car” feel for stake holders including ACAT to critique. The actual Prototype Car No. 1 is scheduled for delivery 26 months [after] NOA.

3. For the transit city network, will this be built to TTC gauge or to standard gauge? In other words, will the two systems and fleets be physically able to interoperate (assuming the TC cars stay away from “tricky” parts of the legacy network) or will the two systems remain disjoint?

This has a specific application to the St. Clair line because there has been talk of connecting it to Jane and operating it out of a TC carhouse. This would require that the 512’s trackage be made compatible with the TC fleet. This has obvious and immediate implications if the specs for the TC fleet have to be nailed down within the next year.

The Transit City network will be built to TTC gauge. Note that once the carbody structure, bogies, articulations etc. of the legacy system vehicles are proven through design, Finite Element Analyses, testing and validation, there will be savings in “proven” equipment and configuration for the TC vehicles, as well as savings through common tooling, manufacturing and quality control processes, if negotiation with the base vehicle carbuilder is successful.

TTC’s wider gauge also offers a wider aisle width and roomier interior, with little incremental construction cost, compared with a “standard gauge” vehicle.

Interoperability obviously involves more than track gauge. If Jane cars are required to operate on St. Clair, a whole host of challenges will have to be addressed, including tight radius curves and steep grades at St. Clair West station and short turn loops en route.

 Thanks to Brad Ross, Director, Corporate Communications at the TTC for this information.

After receiving Brad’s reply, it occurs to me that if St. Clair cars are to be based at a TC carhouse via Jane Street, this would be done by keeping some “city” cars at the new Eglinton West carhouse and running them over the TC network down to St. Clair.  This assumes, of course, that the Jane line is on the surface and makes a physical connection with an extended 512.  All of that is many years in the future, and St. Clair cars will be based at downtown carhouses for many years to come.

40 thoughts on “A Few Details About New Streetcars

  1. “TTC’s wider gauge also offers a wider aisle width and roomier interior, with little incremental construction cost, compared with a “standard gauge” vehicle.”.

    I find this hard to believe.

    Firstly, track gauge is not the main dictator of body width – the amount of space either side of the track there is. Example: UK trains and GO Transit use the same track gauge, yet GO trains are much roomier, because there is more room around the tracks (so the loading gauge is higher). Also the 2ft gauge Darjeeling Himalayan Railway has carriages about as wide as Toronto subway car.

    Secondly, any existing manufacturer of LRT vehicles is not going to completely retool their production lines for the body shells for 6cm. Instead, they will supply the same body shells, just with slightly different bogies attached.

    Thirdly, TTC gauge is all of 6cm wider than standard, and even if the bodyshells were made 6cm wider to match, the difference would be barely noticeable.

    I agree that the marginal cost of buying vehicles for TTC gauge rather than standard is relatively small, and certainly worth paying to keep interoperability options open.

    Steve: Your comments are valid for high floor cars, but for low-floor cars, the gauge affects the amount of space available in the gap between the wheel wells that protrude into the car interior. 6cm is not much, but it gives a tiny bit more space between these wells, and by extension, the seats perched on them. From a manufacturuing point of view, the side panels of a car are not affected by the width of the car, only the floor and the roof. The latter is a comparatively straightforward structure. Clearly the TTC expects to get a bit more room in their floor layouts.


  2. I thought that the TC vehicles were going to be ordered “off the shelf”, implying that TC’s tracks would NOT be using the TTC’s gauge.

    Are they going to build TC using the TTC gauge or did I miss something?

    Steve: “Off the shelf”, but TTC gauge. The changes needed for a different gauge are minor compared to those needed to handle the curves and grades.


  3. As he’s referring to commonality of parts, does this mean that the plan/thought/brainwave to use 750Vdc on the Transit City cars is no more?

    Would also be interesting to know if they are planning on retaining the existing wheel/rail profile for the TC system…



  4. If TC is being built to TTC gauge, why would there be a problem AT ALL with turns at loops along the St. Clair line (should TC cars be used on St. Clair)? Cars should be built (if possible) to handle any route – as in a one basic design to fit all. That’s logical in my opinion – cars could be used where needed, not along dedicated routes.

    Steve: The TC network is big enough that it can support its own fleet and brand new allowing it to match standard car specs. If you want to talk about cars dedicated to routes, look no further than the RT.


  5. While they are considering options, I would suggest a camara system on the front of the vehicles to ticket drivers that are illegally impeding streetcars (driving in the streetcar lane or waiting to turn left during restricted times). Another system that would automatically photograph a vehicle/driver passing open doors on a streetcar could help increase safety. We are obviously going to have streetcars in mixed traffic for years (if not forever) so maybe some technological solutions could mitigate some of the current issues.


  6. “I agree that the marginal cost of buying vehicles for TTC gauge rather than standard is relatively small, and certainly worth paying to keep interoperability options open.”

    Interoperability in one sense, but not in another. Building TC in TTC gauge rather than standard would allow St. Clair cars to operate to Jane & Bloor, allow the sharing of carhouses, and allow construction of a Kingston Road LRT if the BRT planned there were ever to be upgraded. However, it eliminates the possibility of operation on mainline railways – virtually unknown in North America, but quite common in Europe (called tram-trains). Also, it virtually forces neighbouring municipalities to build in TTC gauge as well.

    Steve: Not necessarily. If the marginal cost of a non-standard gauge vehicle is small, then it should be easy to have a family of technically similar vehicles of different gauges. The bigger cost penalty would come from having a different supplier who would have to establish a manufacturing presence to handle a comparatively small order.


  7. Wasn’t there a need for the TC cars to be able to navigate St Clair and Bathurst in order to reach Hillcrest for major repairs? I remember this in a report a year or two ago but I can’t recall exactly which one.

    Steve: Clearly if they are not going to handle steep grades, they are not going to Hillcrest, and this begs the question of where in the new network there will be a heavy shops capability. (Getting into Hillcrest also involves the intersection at Hillcrest gate and special work inside of the yard, all of which is built to “city” standards — tighter curves and single blade switches.)


  8. Will the Transit City LRVs utilize trolley poles or pantographs?

    Steve: Pantographs. The cars will be double-ended and will simply reverse at terminals or turnbacks.


  9. What’s the difference between the two types of pantographs. I mean, what are the benefits of either design?

    Steve: By this do you mean the more common modern version with a single arm, or the older form that is diamond-shaped in profile? Structurally, the single arm version is certainly simpler, and there are probably aerodynamic issues for high speed operation favouring that design.


  10. St. Clair cars possibly traversing TC trackage to get to and from New Eglinton car house. Everything old is new again: Only 80 years ago, you had North Yonge service to Sutton and Jackson’s Point traversing city track to get to and from Old Eglinton carhouse. The main difference in this case was wheel-flanges. Which makes me wonder: is it absolutely necessary to make transit city cars THAT much different from the “legacy fleet”?

    Steve: Don’t forget that the TC lines will not have loops, and the legacy fleet will be single-ended cars. Each network has very different requirements.


  11. Re: track gauge vs. loading gauge. I concur that Brad Ross has misspoken (or been misbriefed) here. Dublin’s LUAS Green Line was built to a standard track gauge as was the Red Line, but Green was built to a wider loading gauge so that it could be converted to metro. The current LRVs are 2.4m wide and will be replaced by 2.6m metro cars on conversion.

    Steve jumps in here: Loading gauge affects how wide the cars can be. Track gauge affects the design of the trucks and their effect on the width of aisles, and it is the latter to which Brad Ross (misinformed or not) refers.

    Steve, you commented “The bigger cost penalty would come from having a different supplier who would have to establish a manufacturing presence to handle a comparatively small order.”

    As I have noted before, what TTC considers small would encompass entire systems in other light rail cities, and look at Melbourne’s varied system within a 500 vehicle fleet. The SRT is an unfair comparison since we’re not talking about third rail systems – many systems have mixed fleets of LRVs and it’s not unreasonable to plan for interoperability. The very fact that Vancouver is trialling Bombardier trams from Brussels on their existing network during the Olympics should highlight the advantage of having a compatible dynamic envelope and track gauge.

    Steve: My reference to an alternate supplier was with respect to an add-on order from say Mississauga, Hamilton or K-W, not to the TC network. As for Vancouver, they don’t have an existing streetcar system other than their heritage line running with a variety of antique vehicles. The Bombardier streetcars will certainly not be visiting any Skytrain or Canada line stations, and vehicles from those lines could not possibly operate on the streetcar route. Your comparison to the GTA is apples and oranges.

    We have been suckered by the same folks in TTC who can’t seem to get their head around a regular service bus that isn’t 40m long. St. Clair should have been TC Line 1 with crossovers, the elimination of loops and TC Yard 1 in the St. Clair/Weston neighbourhood. Instead it’s a poorly constructed ROW whose specifications are threatening to impose limitations on the TC network.

    Steve: The St. Clair project started years before Transit City was even announced. The preliminary studies go back to 2003, but TC was announced in 2007. In retrospect, yes, it might have been a chance to build the first TC line, but that option passed a long time ago. Also, would you really have wanted “Transit City” to be represented by such a botched piece of design, community consultation and implementation?

    St. Clair threatens no limitations on TC at all. The scheme to serve it from a TC carhouse requires both the construction of the Jane LRT and extension of the St. Clair route, neither of which is likely to happen in the near future. Other TC lines will be built to specs for “standard” LRVs. Nothing prevents a “legacy” LRV from running over the TC network to a TC carhouse as and when a track connection exists. Toronto has operated multiple carhouses with mixed fleets for over a century.


  12. I think the gauge issue only comes into play when crossing borders. For example suppose Mississauga decided to get street cars, there would be no possibility of inter-operation between a Mississauga car and a TTC car, like there is between buses, unless Mississauga adopted TTC gauge.

    The result of this is that you would have border stations where a TTC car pulled into one side of the platform and a Mississauga car into the other side of the platform, and people went from one to the other, then each car headed back the way it came.

    Wondering about the legacy fleet for a minute, seems short sighted to not make those double ended as well, and then when reconstructing track, they could eliminate the loops. What they do need to do though is over the next 30 years or so, any time existing track needs rebuilding it should be rebuilt to TC specifications, then the next time they buy cars, we don’t have this problem. Eliminating loops would also allow a lot of end of route turns to be eliminated as well.

    Steve: The main location where a Mississauga/Toronto interoperation might occur is at Pearson Airport. As for re-engineering the existing system, as I have written before, many of the curves are constrained by intersection geometry on the old network. Rebuilding all of this to accommodate “standard” car requirements is not going to happen. Also, the grades into St. Clair West, Spadina and Queen’s Quay Stations are dictated by surrounding road layouts and extending some of the ramps would be difficult.

    As for eliminating loops, the problem there is that we have no place to store cars at, say, Neville that await their return westbound. At locations with subway connections, changing to double-ended operation would actually be more complex than what’s there now. This type of change is not just a question of throwing a few crossovers into the system.


  13. There are two types of pantographs used. The diamond shape one is more sturdier and the older design. It takes more power to lower and raise. However, on sections where the overhead wire is not as well supported, the pantograph will be able to sustain the additional weight without collapasing. There are also no restrictions in which direction it is used.

    The more modern version is the single arm resembling the Z character. Since it has less frontal drag, it aids in aerodynamics. While one Z pantagraph can be used in forward and reverse directions, it is not ideal. At speeds over 100 km/h, most trains will have two Z pantographs. One for forward direction and reverse direction. At the terminal, one would lower a pantograph and raise the other one. By the way, pantographs are only stable to about 300 km/h to 400 km/h.

    Steve: Somehow I doubt this problem will present itself on the TC network.


  14. So why are the TC lines going to be built without loops?

    Steve: Because it’s a hell of a lot easier to build turnbacks with crossovers and pocket tracks, especially in the tunnels.


  15. Steve

    Im just curious-if the TC system will be without loops, what will they do to short turn cars or bypass streetcars that are stuck (for whatever reason) along the TC lines?

    Will the TC system include crossovers and pocket tracks along the TC lines? Im guessing we will never have something of a scale like St. Kilda Road near the University of Melbourne – but where would we be able to place crossovers and pocket tracks along the TC lines?

    Cheers, Moaz

    Steve: Yes, they are planning crossovers for “emergency” turnbacks, and pocket tracks for places where a scheduled turnback might be operated.


  16. “suppose Mississauga decided to get street cars”

    If I recall correctly, they will be eventually, on Hurontario and Dundas.

    Steve: I will believe it when I see it. George Smitherman may not know that Mississauga exists, let alone that they are looking at LRT.


  17. Why is it that the TTC decided to go with a standard length of legacy car? Wouldn’t it be more practical to have a modular vehicle similar to subway trains? This is going to be a real problem at St. Clair West Station, the only station with bidirectional streetcar service. First, only one car will be able to unload, with others (there will be line-ups) blocking service and buses from moving through the station. Also, the layout with one car loading beside the other will no longer work as each car will take up the entire platform, not to mention the layovers that were built into that schedule. I can also imagine a lot of issues at Spadina Stn., and along that route.

    Steve: This is a problem in many locations, not just at St. Clair West. The problem for a “standard length” is that it’s hard to make it 100% low floor.


  18. Steve, I was hoping you could clarify one point on the question of system-wide interoperability. If I recall matters correctly, the central argument against converting the legacy lines’ electrification system to high-tension catenaries was that the resulting upgrade would not be compatible with CLRVs et alia, and that the conversion process would be extremely disruptive to legacy line operations. This argument seems to imply that the legacy cars and the Transit City fleet would operate on separate suites of infrastructure–carhouses, repair facilities, and the like.

    Steve: That is correct. However, it would not be difficult to make a small part of the TC network operable by cars using trolley poles so that St. Clair cars could reach Eglinton West Carhouse. The problem is much, much bigger for cars from TC to run on the legacy network.


  19. Hi Steve:-

    Penny wise and pound foolish to not build TC with loops.

    As much as I believe in the wisdom of single endedness for a trolley line, if it must be, throwing good money away for the duplicated mechanical and electrical equipment on every vehicle and thereby incurring the associated maintenance and inventory costs along with it, then so be it! Yes in tunnels it will make life a bit easier to fit in and build double end turnbacks. There are operating minimums then that will hinder the most efficient scenarios that could have been had loops been necessitated, more particularly at end terminals.

    But with this said, when it proves problematic at terminals to chage ends as we do in the subway, then loops could be built to rectify the shortcomings of changing ends. Thus double ended cars looping at the points where changing ends would hamper the efficiency of dispatching cars quickly. Case in point, the 69th Street Terminal of the Media and Sharon Hill lines in west suburban Philadelphia, where the double ended cars loop at this extremely busy and compact terminal.

    What I’m suggesting is that it would be folly to not consider loops and the property required for a decent terminal site. Short turn points are one thing, but hampering operations at terminals is a silly prospect! We have a blank page still, lets keep an open mind, eh!


    Steve: Loops at locations underground are very difficult to build because of the space they take up. For example, I doubt you could fit one anywhere under Eglinton and Yonge or any nearby location.


  20. Gawd, PLEASE no underground loops! The temptation to do what they did at Spadina Stn, or Union Stn, is too great. Can you imagine an underground loop at Yonge and Eglinton? Knowing the TTC, it would probably follow the old 5 AVENUE RD. looping!


  21. “For example, I doubt you could fit one anywhere under Eglinton and Yonge or any nearby location.”

    You could build it under the old bus bays. It’s unused TTC owned land that is going to be excavated anyway to build what ever condo is going to be built there.


  22. It amazes me that there are people who either think loops are the way to go 100% of the time, or cross-overs are the way 100% of the time.

    Each has its advantages and disadvantages, and the overall needs and restrictions of a situation dictate which wins over. I regularly get emails on the LRT Information Site asking why we don’t plan to phase in double-ended cars for the legacy network or why we don’t go with loops for the TC network.

    There are so many differences like track geometry and single blade switches with the legacy network that dictate that sticking with single ended cars and loops is the way to go. The changes to go with cross-overs is simply not worth it unless changing all of the differences and that is not going to happen because many of the geometry issues would require taking out a lot of buildings. That is not going to happen. Space in the road for crossovers is limited, though a single tail track at the end of a line does make this a little more possible. For instance in Melbourne, many of the outer ends of routes have a single tail track in the street (see http://lrt.daxack.ca/Melbourne/hires024.jpg for an example). This takes up less space where the LRV can wait for its return trip. In some cases, this tail track is long enough for a second vehicle.

    The TC network is best suited to double-ended operation with crossovers. Street widths provide the space needed for a terminal with crossovers while loops can be either costly to purchase land and build or can be disruptive to both LRT operations and traffic operations when they use existing roads. This does not preclude the use of loops where it may make sense. The LRT systems in Pittsburgh and Sydney both have one terminal that uses a loop while the others use crossovers. Pittsburg’s loop is in the tunneled portion downtown, though it will change once the extension under the river is completed.

    Loops do permit closer headway operation when all works well, but if a unit has a problem, everything shuts down. Where tight head ways are needed, multiple pocket tracks can be used for turn backs and allow vehicles to leave in a different order than they arrive. A good example is at Melbourne University where seven routes terminate there and two others pass through. During rush hours, trams arrive and depart less than 60 seconds apart. This is accomplished with three pocket tracks north of the platform – see http://lrt.daxack.ca/Melbourne/index.html#university for the details and photos.


  23. “You could build it under the old bus bays. It’s unused TTC owned land that is going to be excavated anyway to build what ever condo is going to be built there.”

    Underground parking is built for almost every condo nowadays.


  24. If the TTC gauge provides such advantages for low-floor vehicle floors, why don’t cities that are installing new streetcar systems go for TTC or even wider gauges?

    Steve: Because they want to buy a small order of cars where a non-standard gauge wouldn’t be cost-effective. Also, the advantages here are as much for commonality across the fleet, not because we gain a bit in the aisle width.


  25. I never understood the reasoning for 100% low-floor trams. We had 100% low-floor buses (the Orion VIs), look how that turned out! (I know that one of the problems was that they were CNG, but the TTC didn’t bother re-building them like they did with the CNG Orion Vs still operating on Dufferin). The Orion VIs had lots of dead space for all four wheelwells, the mechanics and so on, which other buses put under the rear seating area, so only the front wheel wells are dead space.

    As long as the doors are low floor and there is ample space for passengers with disabilities, what is wrong with a 70% or 80% low floor? The buses are all about 70% low floor, which at least reduces the amount of dead space though they still have problems with carrying heavy loads.

    I’ve rode on many other LRTs – they were either partial low-floor (like Phoenix’s new system) or high-floor with high platforms, like St. Louis. Granted we won’t have high-floor trams on a legacy street railway, but perhaps it might work for TC?

    Steve: TC has a lot of street running, and high platforms there mean ramps up to those platforms rather than a simple concrete pad such as we have on the streetcar routes. This affects access to the platforms (people cannot enter or leave except via the ramp) and the amount of space required for stations. I will take low floor entry, thank you.


  26. Steve, but what about the need for 100% low-floor? That was the main point of my comment, the high-platform option just being a tangent that could technically be possible with TC.

    Steve: I agree that there was no absolute need to insist on 100% low floor and this no doubt affected the legacy car order. However, for TC, I believe that high platforms push the technology further away from LRT especially given the amount of street running we will have.


  27. If the driver will not be collecting fares and issuing transfers, I would assume with the driver in an enclosed cab, that it will be hand controls.


  28. W. K. Lis Says:
    May 6th, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    “If the driver will not be collecting fares and issuing transfers, I would assume with the driver in an enclosed cab, that it will be hand controls.”

    I would NOT assume that. The Siemens cars in St. Louis have foot controllers. Keeping the same style of controller with similar response characteristics would make it easier to mix equipment which will happen for a few years.


  29. I’m confused – out here in Long Branch, we are being told that Transit City LRT’s will use our existing tracks and one of the TTC’s major (debatable) selling points is that you will be able to take the same train to Union Station without having to transfer. Can’t happen if the gauges are different, can it?

    Steve: The “Transit City” cars cannot run on the WWLRT because that line has curves and grades the new cars cannot handle (notably at Union Station). WWLRT will run with the “Legacy” fleet.


  30. Karl Junkin Says:
    May 10th, 2009 at 9:01 pm

    “Would equipment mix be much of an issue? Aren’t operators supposed to be able to drive any of the TTC vehicle? Subways use hand controls already.”

    It would be at the division level. I do not believe that there is a division where you can work streetcars and subway, streetcars – buses and subway buses yes. It just means that one day you could have a CLRV or an ALRV and the next day a LFLRV. It would help if all these vehicles had similar controllers and were set up to have a similar response. When operators change division they may have to qualify on the vehicles in that division if they have not operated them recently. Steve may have more knowledge on this.


  31. I attended the WWLRT meeting on Royal York Road this evening along with between 150 and 200 local residents and the local councillor Grimes. I learned the following items:

    1. It will make its initial connection to Union Station via Queens Quay. It will probably replace the 509 originally.

    2. They will not rebuild Lakeshore. They will just put in curbs as on Spadina between Front and King.

    3. They want far side stops and most intersection and to remove some stops. They figure that they can save 3 – 4 minutes between Humber and Long Branch and 18 minutes between Humber and Union Station.

    Steve: Saving time to Union is only valuable if the trips to be served actually want to go there. For people bound further north, they may have to backtrack and the net saving may be lower.

    4. The right of way of way Under the ACC then in the middle of Bremner and Fort York Blvd. then under the Gardiner would come later. The one TTC engineer responsible for the WWLRT did not realize that Bremner was built below the level of the Bathurst Street Bridge or that it would have to be raised and not lowered. The other engineer said; “Oh yeah they either have to raise it and the bridges at Dunn Ave. Jamieson, and Dufferin one meter or lower the railway right of way one metre”. According to both, GO wants to put in 6 tracks through there and not 5. The TTC wants a level intersection at Bathurst and Bremner to accommodate the special work. Can’t they run the cars in via Queens Quay?

    5. Everybody wants better streetcar service and new cars but no one wants LRT and it right of way. They all said that there is no problem running the cars in the street.

    6. Most people think that the Park Lawn loop should be farther west to serve the condos there.

    Steve: It is worth remembering that Park Lawn was the original western terminus of the WWLRT. The “extension” to Long Branch came only with Transit City, and to Hurontario with the Metrolinx RTP. I agree that the loop is too far east, and this is yet another example of a remnant of an old plan being perpetuated after circumstances have changed.

    7. Everyone wanted better local service, especially between the rush hours. They thought a timed transfer as on St. Clair would be great. They also are in favour of better faster service downtown.

    8. They were in favour of safety islands to make loading faster and safer, but not a right of way. They all think that it is a waste of money. The TTC manager responsible for St. Clair was there and said that St. Clair was a great design and should be followed to some extent on lakeshore. Most people thought he belonged in a psychiatric hospital.

    Steve: That would be a particularly funny sentiment were it at Tuesday evening’s meeting on the grounds of the old Lakeshore Hospital. He wouldn’t have to gfo far.

    9. Many thought that the line should be part of GO transit and run in one the CN line. They think that you can just keep adding trains to GO and run at a 5 minute headway and stop at Long Branch, Kipling, Islington, Mimico, Humber Loop and Sunnyside. Some actually wanted to run an RDC service from Long Branch GO to Kipling GO via the Canpa Sub. They actually proposed this to GO and could not understand why GO and CP did not like the idea.

    10. According to Councillor Grimes the redevelopment is starting out at Long Branch and working its way east. There are two factories on the north side of Lakeshore that are coming out with two huge condos going in I think 40 stories tall. They were approved before he became councillor he informed me. He actually seemed to know what was going on and talked to all the people there, even me.

    11. The people were worried about the impact of losing two traffic lane and the problems created by banning many left hand turns. They also worried about the barrier that the two curbs in the middle of the road would create for people crossing the street.

    Steve: With the infrequent service, the streetcar right-of-way will become a pedestrian refuge for a lot of midblock crossing. It works that way today on Spadina with frequent service.

    12. The loop at Park Lawn will be in the existing bus loop, there is a notice of application to change the zoning of the loop to allow for a streetcar loop. The loop will be bi-directional and allow cars to enter from either direction and exit to either direction. Almost everyone thought that the Humber loop should be totally eliminated, with no stop there as it was in an unsafe area. The TTC is looking at selling the land for the 507 loop off and possible the road way as well.

    13. Most people were in favour of improving the look and feel of the street and the elimination of strip malls. Grimes said that they want 4 to 6 story mixed use development along the street.

    Despite the fact that no one wanted the LRT on Lakeshore most were in favour of better street car service, the new vehicles, new fare collections and the high speed run downtown. Almost no one had been on Spadina or St. Clair and had no idea, especially from Spadina, how the right of way worked.

    There will be a transportation workshop at the Twentieth Street School, 3190 Lakeshore Blvd. West at Twentieth Street on Saturday May 30 between 9:00 am and 1:30 pm. Special guests include Transit Advocate Steve Munro and Cycling Advocate Anthony Humphreys. There is another meeting tomorrow; attend it if you can.

    At 4:00 pm when I was going west on Lakeshore at Parklawn, 4233 had been in an accident eastbound with an auto and had 7 ALRV’s behind it. So much for line management.


  32. So if I’m reading Robert’s report rightly, Waterfront West is looking a lot more like a Harbourfront car running out from Queen’s Quay to Long Branch and Hurontario Street with right of way and signals improvements than like a full-on LRT line. It’s tough from out here to see what benefit the capital cost of a Brenmer Boulevard grade separation would bring to headways and running times for that kind of overall implementation.

    Steve: The entire WWLRT has been a dog’s breakfast of little proposals from day one. The saving grace, such as it is, will probably be that most of it will never be built. Having said that, we need to be careful that whatever is approved in principle is reasonable so that we don’t get a half-baked scheme appearing out of nowhere in the future.


  33. The Tuesday meeting at the Assembly Hall (part of the old Lakeshore Psychiatric campus) had a minority of pro-LRT folks. These are the ones who applauded some of my points.

    Robert Wightman says:

    “7. Everyone wanted better local service, especially between the rush hours. They thought a timed transfer as on St. Clair would be great. They also are in favour of better faster service downtown.”

    Everyone wants world peace, and a pony too. I seriously doubt if any substantial percentage of the people who thought this would take the streetcar anyway; I know that the faces of the anti-LRT crowd (older people, boomers and retirees) aren’t the faces I see on the streecar along Lake Shore (Humber College and Lake Shore Collegiate students, amongst others).

    Even with a Metropass, I was very hesitant about getting off the streetcar to do some shopping on the way home. The random headways meant that I might be waiting for half an hour in a blizzard for the next Long Branch-bound car. Timed transfers aren’t much help.

    Someone ran in the last municipal election on setting up a rail service from South Etobicoke. He didn’t win. There are also some pretty good reasons why this won’t work even if the track owners and GO said, “Yeah, go ahead, we don’t mind.”


  34. Ed Says:
    May 13th, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    “The Tuesday meeting at the Assembly Hall (part of the old Lakeshore Psychiatric campus) had a minority of pro-LRT folks. These are the ones who applauded some of my points.”

    The majority at the Monday meeting were not pro LR but they were pro transit they all believed that LRT was over kill and a waste of money. They were OK with the part from Union Station to Roncesvalles but not the part in the middle of Lakeshore Blvd. I tend to agree with them. We do not need another badly thought out LRT line just because the street is wider than normal. Build the inner part, put in safety islands and improved signalling and then put in the PROW later when it is really needed.


  35. Montpellier is getting more trams: “The external and interior design of the 42 m long trams will be developed by authority’s transport department, Christian Lacroix and Alstom.”

    What chance TTC would let a top Canadian designer anywhere near new streetcars?


  36. Having driven both subways and streetcars, I would rather stick with foot pedals on the new cars as there is a much more delicate feel than over a hand controller. Furthermore you’re right about keeping consistency in vehicle dynamics. And yes, we will have to qualify on the new vehicles as well as recertifying every 3 years, 2 years on subway, 5 on bus.


  37. Dear Steve,
    You high lit Tom Jurenka’s questions about streetcars in Toronto. I hope the experience on the east side of the pond may be of benefit in Toronto, and address some of the issues raised by Tom.

    * they tear up streets (I’ve lived through Queen Street E, Gerrard, now St. Clair, being torn up utterly to undo the damage of streetcars pounding the rails)

    The proven LR55 track system (www.LR55-rail-road-system.co.uk) is easy and quick to install and promises a minimum of 30 years near maintenance free service, based on the experience since 1996 in Sheffield.

    Steve: The complexity of TTC road rebuilding is brought on by the fact that they are rebuilding all the way to the road base, which in many cases dates back to the 50s and beyond. This requires a much more extensive excavation and a multi-stage construction. Future reconstruction is expected to be much faster as only the top layer will be removed. Moreover, many construction projects are co-ordinated with utility and/or sidewalk repairs that have nothing, per se, to do with transit, but are better gotten out of the way at the same time.

    * they are slow as molasses (as a bicyclist, I routinely pass 5 or 6 streetcars on Queen Street heading from AC Harris to downtown)
    Most European countries have traffic management measures to keep streetcars moving, including pre-emption of traffic signals, giving a non stop transit across junctions. Amsterdam has many more cyclists than Toronto, and part of the traffic management (and safety) measures is dedicated cycle lanes/ways.

    * because of their slowness and immobility they delay traffic all the time, causing snarls and the attendant idling pollution
    With suitable traffic management, and stopping only to pick up and set down passengers, the quicker accelerating streetcars out run buses, and emit no polluting fumes. With suitable traffic management, the other traffic also keeps moving, more slowly.

    Steve: Toronto is notorious for bad traffic management while priding itself on being a world leader. The biggest problem is that we board high-floor cars with pay as you enter fare collection. This will change in a few years.

    * they are super expensive (witness the recent funding mess)
    TRAM Power Ltd offered state of the art articulated streetcars, at about half the cost of “super expensive” Flexities (www.trampower.co.uk) but was not seriously considered.

    Steve: I am not going to comment on the technical competency of TRAM Power’s design or their manufacturing and support capabilities. I will, however, note that Siemens bid considerably higher (by a factor of 50%).

    * So I’m really curious why streetcars are a better alternative to trolley buses or just plain old buses, which move fast, are mobile, and are less expensive per unit to buy. Would you be able to point me at some links/articles/studies/whatever to help me understand this issue?

    Transportation Research Board Report No. 1221 (of 1989) answers this question directly. Streetcars get people out of automobiles, buses (even trolleybuses) do not. If Toronto is to reduce congestion, health threatening air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions, people will have to make fewer trips by car and more by transit. With the renewable power available in Toronto, streetcars are zero carbon.

    Yours sincerely,
    Prof. Lewis Lesley


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