Waterfront West Update

This article presents information on the proposed Waterfront West connection at Sunnyside and its relationship to the Waterfront West Master Plan, as well as the proposed design for the section west of Humber Loop.

Due to the article’s length, I have placed the break here.

Dufferin to Humber Section

Current TTC designs for this section have produced much debate in Parkdale because of possible intrusion on properties, and also because of a proposed link from the existing Queensway right-of-way to the new WWLRT line at Sunnyside.

Among the alternatives are:

  • A connection somewhere east of Roncesvalles.  This is not favoured because all of the WWLRT service would need to pass through the Queen / King / Roncesvalles intersection and would produce severe congestion.
  • A new streetcar intersection just west of Roncesvalles where the WWLRT would connect into the Queensway.  This design would create a difficult traffic arrangement with two signalled crossings quite close together.  Indeed, the new crossing conflicts with an east-to-north left turn lane planned for this location.
  • A connection at Colborne Lodge Road (the middle of High Park).  This would route the WWLRT around the intersection, provide transit service to the beach area, and greatly speed operation of the line as a faster route into downtown from southern Etobicoke.  This appears to be the City’s preferred choice.

One version of the plans (6MB pdf) shows both the Roncesvalles and Colborne Lodge routes.  Note that the layout shown for Queen & Roncesvalles does not include the planned redesign at this location.  One wonders how a TTC  proposal does not even acknowledge related plans already in the works, and this left hand, right hand problem afflicts the credibility of too many projects.

The Waterfront West Master Plan is before Toronto’s Executive Committee on June 2.  From that report, it is clear that the City does not favour the TTC’s proposed connection.

The Waterfront West Light Rail Transit (LRT) EA is addressing a series of alignment options which would locate the LRT either north of the Gardiner/rail corridor or along Lake Shore Boulevard. Although the Master Plan can accommodate these various options, a Lake Shore Boulevard alignment would provide the best transit access to the waterfront parks and attractions in the Western Waterfront. The Lake Shore alignment, however, would create a “pinch point” at the Legion building near Dowling Avenue that would require further analysis. Its connection to the existing LRT line on The Queensway via Colborne Lodge Drive or its eventual continuation west along Lake Shore Boulevard across the Humber River is consistent with the Master Plan objectives.

Construction of a new LRT ramp and bridge structure from Lake Shore Boulevard near the Boulevard Club across the Gardiner and rail corridor to existing transit facilities at Roncesvalles is incompatible with the vision of the Master Plan to create an open, unobstructed waterfront. If a LRT alignment north of the Gardiner to Roncesvalles is pursued, it should cross at Dowling Avenue or further east to reduce its impact on the Western Waterfront.

(See the linked report at page 9)

Humber to Long Branch Section

A few weeks ago, the City and TTC held two open houses along the Lake Shore West route of the Waterfront West LRT.  After less-than-successful public consultation in late 2008, the intention was to “restart” the process with a fresh look at the line.  In particular, the idea was to find out what the community wants, not just what the TTC proposes to build.

I attended the session on May 12th, and was interested as much in the dynamics of the meeting — what issues people raised, how were these considered and addressed — as by the displays on view.  There’s not a lot new in those displays, and they were a mixture of the panels from December 2008 (parts 1 and 2) and the updated May 2009 presentation.

The TTC did not present any updated design information, and that probably disappointed many who attended.  After the December round, many left with the impression that the TTC would stamp its standard 36-meter design all over Lake Shore (which is considerably narrower in many locations), and the community was hoping for an alternative.  That will not come until the next round after a report summarizing the community’s input.  The cutoff for feedback is June 5.  Realistically, this means that we won’t see any new proposals until the fall given the need to digest the comments and incorporate them in the plans.

Several questions came up about the travel and demand characteristics in the Lake Shore area.  GO comes up regularly as a high-speed alternative way to travel downtown even though that system does its best to discourage inside-416 riders.  Of the demand at Long Branch and Mimico Stations, 25% and 40% respectively originate in the Lake Shore area.  There is clearly a market for a faster, even if more expensive way to get downtown.  However, commuting trips are not the entire story.  Half of the riding on the Lake Shore streetcar services is local — between Humber and Long Branch Loops — on an all day basis, and one third of the traffic is local during the peak period.  This demand is not well-served by the irregular and unreliable service that comes through on the Queen car.

The TTC fudges demand numbers on Lake Shore at 12,000 per day, although the TTC’s actual counts most recently from 2006 are much lower at about 8,000.  The discrepancy is explained by the fact that the WWLRT project talks about total ons and offs, but of these, there are 4,000 local riders who get counted twice.  A basic mistake one would not expect to see from transit planners.

The projected peak point demand on Lake Shore for 2031 is 1,100 passengers per hour, but the actual count today is only 430 just west of Humber Loop.  This is far from LRT territory.

Total daily ridership on Lake Shore is comparable to that on several of the north-south bus routes into Kipling, Islington and Royal York Stations, and the projected demand is lower than that anticipated for the Kingston Road BRT project.  I’m not advocating that we get rid of the Lake Shore streetcar — the infrastructure is already there and in good shape — but that an upgrade to fully reserved right-of-way is very hard to justify.

Over the years, the Lake Shore has seen a decline in employment as southern Etobicoke lost its industrial base, and this affects riding.  The population west of Humber loop has remained relatively constant (around 20K)  from 1991 to 2001 (census years), but the employment fell from almost 18K to under 14K jobs during the same period.

Ever since the Bloor Subway was extended to Kipling, trips north to the subway have provided an attractive alternative route to downtown especially for those with destinations closer to the subway line.  That effect, however, has been underway for decades, long before the deindustrialization of the Lake Shore neighbourhoods.

The characteristics of local demand are obvious even on the riding counts for the 508 Lake Shore service.  Between 1995 and 2005, demand on this line has dropped almost by half.  To what degree this is caused by 508s shadowing 501s eastbound from Long Branch and doing very little work, I don’t know, but the drop in eastbound counts is much more severe than westbound.  This suggests a problem with headway management eastbound from Long Branch Loop where, no doubt, the generous layovers for 501 cars tend to trap 508 cars immediately behind them. 

Of those who board the 508 cars eastbound, at least a third have departed before the cars reach Humber Loop.  This is in line with the overall percentage of local traffic described above.  Similarly, more people get off the 508 westbound on Lake Shore than are on the cars westbound at Humber.  These are local trips in the pm peak.

The TTC acknowledges that there are problems with short turns on the Queen car, but this is primarily an issue in the afternoon (or should be), not on an all day basis as I showed in a recent analysis of service to Lake Shore.

Without question, the big issue on the Lake Shore is the claimed need for a private transit right-of-way from Long Branch to Park Lawn.  The level of service and the congestion, such as it is, on Lake Shore simply do not justify this level of intervention.  The TTC is projecting that the WWLRT will have a headway between 6 and 10 minutes at peak, and it is simply not credible that so much road space would be dedicated to so little service.

The TTC made no friends at the public meeting by the repeated insistence that without a right-of-way they could not guarantee good service.  That is complete hogwash, and the TTC should know better.  Service reliability west of Roncesvalles is directly related to problems on the narrow, heavily used part of Queen Street east to Yonge, and on short-turning of Queen cars (even though the well-larded schedules are supposed to provide ample time for everything to reach Long Branch Loop).

The TTC claims that with the right-of-way, five minutes will be saved on the trip from Long Branch to Humber Loop.  This is extremely hard to believe.  The running time between these points has consistently been in the 25-minute range for decades, and as my review of actual vehicle operating data shows, there is little variation due to congestion along the route.  A 20% reduction in trip time will have to come almost entirely out of stop service times, and this would be most likely if stops that do not now have safety islands gained them.  However, that requires redesign of the road in locations where this is not feasible due to right-of-way constraints, as well as removal of some exiting closely-spaced stops.

A further saving of up to 15 minutes is expected between Humber and downtown.  That, of course, has absolutely nothing to do with the right-of-way on Lake Shore, but of whatever new route is built east of the Humber River.

The biggest single “delay” to passengers on Lake Shore is caused by unreliable service.  With a scheduled service that never gets any better than 10 minutes, and gaps of 20 minutes common, the variation in waiting time greatly exceeds the proposed saving in travel time.  Moreover, that saving only applies to riders from the western end of the route at Long Branch even though much of the growth in demand will come at the east end with new condos in Mimico.

During the Q&A at the May meeting, one question forcefully put to the TTC was to distinguish between those changes that required the right-of-way and those that could be made separately.  For example, revised streetscaping could be implemented without changing the arrangement of the streetcar lanes.  Similarly, if so much time is spent serving closely-spaced stops, these could be eliminated with no other changes to the road.

The TTC made a pitch that an LRT service would improve mobility on the Lake Shore.  No.  Better service improves mobility, and an upgrade to LRT is only one of the ways in which that service might be provided.

Comparisons with the St. Clair project were inevitable.  To be fair, much of that line is still under construction and some congestion is caused by the herds of buses making their way, sometimes with difficulty, through the traffic lanes.  However, east of Bathurst, we can already see some effects of the attempt to keep too many people happy.  There is simply not enough room for the sidewalk space, parking, turn lanes let alone through lanes for cyclists and autos that everyone wanted.  This is a caution to other projects that we cannot please everyone, and we should not try.  On Lake Shore, any change means that compromise is needed, and the TTC is one party that needs to understand the limitations on the space they can claim on roads.

In response to concerns about business impacts, the TTC sited the Spadina car as an example of a major improvement to a commercial area.  This is simply not applicable to Lake Shore where the service is, at best, one fifth of the level on Spadina and the transit contribution correspondingly smaller.

Some speakers asked why Lake Shore could not have a timed transfer, like St. Clair, that would allow people to make round trips for shopping cheaply.  The TTC argued that this would cut into revenue, but missed the point that the trip might never be taken by transit without some incentive to wait for an infrequent service to show up.

Some asked that the streetcars be replaced by buses.  This is a classic problem that arises with the way TTC manages service.  From time to time, for construction or some other upheaval, a portion of a route will be converted to bus operation.  Usually there are far more buses on the route than the streetcar service they replaced, and as a shuttle, they tend to run more frequently and reliably.  Buses are quickly seen as better than streetcars.  However, if the entire 501 were run with buses, service on Lake Shore would be (a) just as spotty and (b) as minimal as the TTC could get away with.

Many would like to see something like the old 507 Long Branch service restored to provide at least reliable local service.  This has been tried occasionally by the TTC, but on an unmanaged basis where cars tended to take generous layovers and shadow the 501 cars that made it west of Humber Loop.  As always, proper line management is essential to providing good service.  There is also the question of a reasonable overlap between the 501 and 507 services so that through trips don’t languish thanks to short turns of Humber cars at Sunnyside.

Finally, in an insult to the intelligence of the audience, the TTC made the bold statement that the TTC is a world-leader in transit signal priority.  We may have a lot of signals, but “priority” is not what I would call the way they treat transit vehicles.  The principal function of many signals is to keep pesky streetcars out of the way of autos.  Combined with farside placement of stops on new rights-of-way, the “double stop” problem at traffic lights adds considerably to trip times.  Signal priority on Lake Shore will make, at best, a trivial contribution to the line’s operation.

The TTC needs major changes in its approach:

  • Recognize that “LRT” does not mean right-of-way everywhere.  That is one of the strengths of this mode, that it can become simply a streetcar where traffic segregation isn’t needed.
  • Stop trying to apply arguments for busy bus routes that will become a future Transit City lines to a route that has embarrassingly poor service for a street the City of Toronto has designated as an “Avenue” for considerable growth.
  • Operate good, reliable service to the Lake Shore communities today rather than giving transit an even worse reputation with a poorly considered design for the indefinite future.
  • Address all of the transit needs in southern Etobicoke as a group rather than only looking at the Lake Shore corridor.

I will return to these issues when the TTC updates its proposal or calls another public meeting.

18 thoughts on “Waterfront West Update

  1. Has anyone taken a look at the amount of money required to put in a right-of-way vs the amount of money to put in more cars? I would imagine that it would be cheaper to run a few more cars on the line and improve headways than to rebuild the entire line to save a few minutes of congestion (especially given that there may not be much congestion to begin with)…from the cost-benefit, at what point does right-of-way make sense?

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  2. The WWLRT is just a fancy version of the western branch of the 501, or even the 508.

    why not merge the 509 with the WWLRT? Long Branch-CNE loop (is that the official name for it?)-Union Station.

    Will the WWLRT kill/shorten the 501 or 508?

    I still want to know how the tracks will reach the CNE grounds loop.

    Steve: That is another part of the same study, and there are various options for getting from Exhibition Loop to Dufferin Street and points west. You can look these up on the project’s website.

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  3. The idea that the WWLRT should connect to The Queensway via Colborne Lodge is ridiculous. There is no way it would be faster then connecting west of Roncesvalles. On The Queensway there is only one light between Roncesvalles and Colborne Lodge and it is green for the streetcars 90% of the time. Queensway has a bridge over Park Side, so it can cross it with no delays. It is also very quick to cross Colborne Lodge because it light is usually green and people rarely get on or off except during summer weekends.

    To follow Lake Shore, there would be a light at Park Side and another light where it would have to wait for a light to turn at Lake Shore and Colborne Lodge and another light and turn at Queensway and Colborne Lodge.

    While serving the park is nice, the focus should be on daily commuters. The Waterfront West Master Plan suggests for the WWLRT to cross to the north side of the CN line at Dowling. I don’t see a problem with that.

    Steve: Actually the route via Roncesvalles and Queen is not as straightforward as you describe it. A new traffic signal would be added on Queen west of Roncesvalles to control the connection. There is already a traffic light just east of Parkside on Queensway, and another may be added at Sunnyside. The signal at Colborne Lodge itself is not always green, and I have waited for it on 501 cars on several occasions.

    As for the crossing at Dowling, there still remains the problem of connecting service to King or Queensway. If the connection is east of Roncesvalles, then it creates problems for intersection capacity there as I mentioned. If west of Roncesvalles, then it’s the design we are already talking about.

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  4. I think that the big argument for putting the connection at Sunnyside is that it provides a (walking) transfer connection for those coming of Roncesvalles and it provides service to St. Joe’s. I am not sure how many want to get off at Lakeshore at Colborne between October and May.

    Steve: The intention of the WWLRT is not to attempt to serve every possible location but to provide a fast route to downtown from Lake Shore west of the Humber. If the Colborne Lodge alignment is used, people can always transfer eastbound there to a 501 (or whatever else might come by). There is also, of course, the question of where an eastern terminus for a revived 507 should be. If at Roncesvalles as some have proposed, the issue of a through ride from Long Branch to Ronces is addressed. The real question, though, for any route design, is the overall O-D pattern.

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  5. A true signal priority just give green to wherever the next streetcar that will proceed the intersection.
    So we wouldn’t have a waiting for green problem that slows down both the Queen streetcar or the WWLRT.

    But will the city implemented it? That’s the problem.

    Steve: It’s a bit more complex because you can’t just turn a signal red that has not had enough time for people already making the crossing, especially on foot, to react. Having said that, the TTC needs a more sophisticated method of scheduling transit green time than a loop detector a bit upstream from a traffic light. Holding green time on the main (streetcar) street longer and pre-empting the left turn phase to let transit vehicles through are valid options at many locations.

    Spadina is an exception to this because of the frequency of service, the width of the street and the absence of refuge islands for pedestrians caught part-way across. Unfortunately this argument gets dragged out as a general rebuttal at locations where none of these situations applies.

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  6. It would be too bad not to use the existing Queensway right of way for its full length. Notwithstanding your comment about some long waits at Colborne Lodge Drive, I generally find this section to be fast moving.

    To avoid too many signals west of Roncesvalles, would it make sense to build a short tunnel? The WWLRT could be brought across the CN tracks on a bridge (as suggested for route 4A on the map you linked to) and take more or less the same route, but enter the King/Roncesvalles neighbourhood below grade, and only rise to street level on the Queensway in front or west of the Roncesvalles yards. No additional traffic signal would be needed. The Queensway would need to be widened at this point to allow 501s and other traffic to drive around a tunnel entrance, but this might be possible given that the TTC already owns the land on one side of the street. This could also help reduce the perception of the bridge cutting off the waterfront, since the bridge would be lower than in the current plan.

    Ideally, the WWLRT would be on the “city” side of the CN tracks west of Dufferin, but the street layout doesn’t make this easy.

    Steve: A tunnel through this location would add a great deal to the cost of the project, and would be complicated by the fact it would be below the water table for much of its length. Also, I suspect that the grade needed to dive from The Queensway under the railway corridor may be too steep. In effect, the portal would have to be further west where Queensway is closer to the elevation of the rail corridor, but beyond the point where the TTC owns the north side of the street. Also, btw, chopping off the south end of the carhouse would require a complete reconfiguration of that property’s track layout.

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  7. The routing of a renewed 507 from Long Branch Loop to Dundas West Stn. is a cheap, quick, easy, temporary fix. It gets those ‘pesky Etobicokans’ toward Downtown quickly. (Of course, following this logic, AND TOTALLY OFF-TOPIC a 502 could be routed to Coxwell Station … any excuse to return streetcar service to that location.)

    I’m onboard with the idea of a Queensway to Lakeshore Boulevard via Colborne Lodge idea, provided there is some form, possibly parenthetical, of transit priority for the WWLRT to cross the necessary Lakeshore lanes, and to enter the CNE grounds at or near an alignment that could bring it into Exhibition Loop, and then through the magical Fort York/Bremner ROW/tunnel and end up at the world-class Union Station “∞” superloop.

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  8. “Steve: It’s a bit more complex because you can’t just turn a signal red that has not had enough time for people already making the crossing, especially on foot, to react.”

    Can the streetcars send a signal about 500m from the interchange which should be enough time to modify the next signal phase to tell people not to cross. They can have a digital sign with a train symbol to let people know that there is a streetcar is coming. Houston is one of the city that does this.

    I’m sure it is possible, with GPS, but that will need a lot of work and the cost may be high.

    I agree that priority is hard to implement if the headway close together, and on busy intersections. Far side stops are helping automobiles, not transit, which go against the original goal.

    Steve: 500m is generally further away from an intersection (that presumably has a stop associated with it) than the previous stop on a streetcar line. For example, on Spadina, it is roughly 2000m from Bloor to Queen, but there are 8 stops for an average spacing of about 250m. Every one of them has a traffic signal. What is needed is a way for an operator at a stop to signal that the car is about to leave and thereby set in motion transit priority at the next intersection. The Toronto implementation depends on detection of moving vehicles, and with stops so close together, by the time a car is in motion, it’s too late.

    On some routes, there are signals with no associated stops. A good example is King between Sherbourne and Jarvis where the light at Frederick is not a streetcar stop. Detection for Jarvis westbound does not happen until a car crosses Frederick, rather than initiating a sequence as the car leaves Sherbourne westbound. This is a design challenge on the new Waterfront East layout where signals will be much more frequent than stops, and the TTC needs to get it right from day one rather than giving us a decade of excuses as they have on Spadina for a system that still doesn’t work as well as it should.

    For nearside stops, cars that are holding on reds need to be able to signal “I’m close to leaving” to initiate a green phase as soon as reasonable. A lot of time is wasted holding a green phase for cars that will spend the entire time loading and then lose the extended green. Better to let the signal turn red, and then green again when it is actually needed, or to hold the extended green only if the car will be able to use it. This would be a judgement call by the operator based on actual conditions, but they would probably value the ability to “encourage” signals to work in their favour.

    For a city that claims to be a world leader in transit priority, there are some basic tactics that simply don’t exist. Yes, they would require a complete rethink and revamp of the system now in place, but they might actually do some good.

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  9. A transit priority signal (where the transit – i.e. the streetcar – is priority one) would help along the Lake Shore. Relocating a stop until the opposite side of the light would also be an option – I can’t count the times when the streetcar has to stop on a green light to pick up or drop off passengers by which time the light is red!

    I was at the second meeting for the WWLRT – and the TTC in my opinion was totally unprepared for this. Several people told them to stop comparing St. Clair and Spadina to the Lake Shore as the latter is in a totally different situation (i.e. west of Humber, Lake Shore Blvd. W. is in the suburbs, while St. Clair and Spadina are downtwon routes.) I also liked the attitude of the TTC that “beautification” essentially can only happen if the ROW is built.

    The TTC also talked about “moderate intensification” that could (or would) occur after the ROW comes – something the people also told them is not what the community may want. Of course it should be pointed out that the work is not scheduled until 2016 and no funding has been set aside – so everything is just talk at the TTC’s end.

    Someone said that the TTC should bring in time based transfers (so people can set on and off as they like within a certain period of time.) This was a no go from the TTC – they claim they can’t afford it. They also use current demand to determine service levels, without consideration to any future demand. This can be outdated, as people did say that streetcars can be packed before they hit Royal York during the morning rush hour.

    My suggestions for the Lake Shore Blvd. W. portion of the WWLRT – at least in the short term – are:

    1) Time based transfers
    2) Restored 507 car – with at least half the cars turning back at Park Lawn/Humber.
    3) Priority traffic signals.
    4) Fix line east of Roncesvalles.
    5) Service levels based on current AND perceived future demand.
    6) Drop back drivers. When a car gets to its end point (whether it be Neville Park, Humber or Long Branch), the driver gets off the car and takes his/her break and then gets on to the next car when it arrives so the car is ready to run right away.

    And as others pointed out:

    7) More 508 service.
    8) Shuttle service to GO stations.

    #1 and #2, if combined, will start getting people out of their cars and onto the streetcar prior to the ROW. Even #3 will help there – the point is, people will use it in the community, so may support it the ROW (or at least be less upset by the idea.) #4 can be combined with #7 to provide better service west of Roncesvalles. #8, if a deal is reached with GO, could help both agencies out. #6 stops the foolish 10+ minute waits in the cold/heat/rain/snow so that the driver can have his/her break (I have seen them sitting in the driver’s seat reading a newspaper at Long Branch with the door closed so passengers – the paying customers – have to wait (the shelter helps in rain and snow, but does not really keep the cold or heat out.) #5 is easy – it’s great to say that you only need one car every Y minutes, but if you want more peoplle using transit, you need it to come within a short period of time.

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  10. Steve said : “For a city that claims to be a world leader in transit priority, there are some basic tactics that simply don’t exist. Yes, they would require a complete rethink and revamp of the system now in place, but they might actually do some good.”

    Toronto’s claim of ‘world leadership’ seems very dubious as the transit priority here clearly leaves much to be desired. Firstly, many busy routes do not, I think, have transit oriority at all; secondly, on routes which do have it (Spadina) it is not fully implimented and thirdly, on routes like King where it seems to work as designed it creates major problems because, as you say, the system results in cars loading at green lights and holding up ALL traffic in the process.

    Are there cities which have a legitimate claim to being world leaders in transit oriority? Can we not simply copy them?

    PS See discussion of transit priority on Waterfront on pp12+ of http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2009/ex/bgrd/backgroundfile-21514.pdf

    Steve: It was amusing today to hear the TTC claim that priority could not be given for closely spaced intersections when they are directly contradicted by statements in the report you linked. The TTC is getting very tiresome on this and related subjects.

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  11. Drew says:

    “The routing of a renewed 507 from Long Branch Loop to Dundas West Stn. is a cheap, quick, easy, temporary fix. It gets those ‘pesky Etobicokans’ toward Downtown quickly. (Of course, following this logic, AND TOTALLY OFF-TOPIC a 502 could be routed to Coxwell Station … any excuse to return streetcar service to that location.)”

    I assume that this means “downtown via Bloor-Danforth” because even to those of us in the boonies of Long Branch don’t consider Roncesvalles to be “downtown”.

    And the problem with this argument is that it’s mostly best to take a Shorncliffe, Islington South, Royal York South, or Prince Edward bus to the subway. Unless you’re starting somewhere far from the buses (around 30th except during rush hour 110B service is the black hole) or the 507 DUNDAS WEST shows up right away.

    Steve: The purposes of taking the 507 to Dundas West are not to get people downtown from Lake Shore, but to (a) provide an overlap with the 501 Queen service even if it is short-turned for those who want to take that route, or a transfer to the 504, (b) provide a direct service to new housing on Swansea and eastern Mimico from Dundas West, likely on a better frequency than either the Prince Edward or Runnymede South buses, and (c) supplement service on Roncesvalles Avenue. I agree that riders from areas further west will get to the Bloor subway faster, probably, with a north-south bus trip.

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  12. Toronto Streetcars says:

    “The TTC also talked about “moderate intensification” that could (or would) occur after the ROW comes – something the people also told them is not what the community may want.”

    There are certainly some quite vocal people who don’t want any increased density in Mimico/New Toronto/Long Branch. Their point of view is not unanimous, but they certainly are vocal and well-organized, so who can tell?

    (The odd thing about this argument is that all the bungalows that probably housed families of 4 or 5 when first built in the 1950s are now housing 1-2 people.)

    Of course, no one wants the condo hell of the new “Humber Bay Shores” area to spread further west. But (and I’m speaking as a relatively recent inhabitant of Long Branch) the area does need to evolve, and regenerate a lot of the residential and commercial buildings that are getting long in the tooth.

    Steve: With Lake Shore as an “Avenue” in the Official Plan, some upzoning is inevitable, but more condo towers are definitely not what Lake Shore needs.

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  13. Some thoughts rather out of the box!

    407 is capable of reading a license plate on a moving car. Similar technology should be able to track individual people as they move about the platform.

    Suppose we use such a program to determine the number of persons waiting, and the number of people entering and leaving the car. Combining this information with headway should yield a reasonable estimate of the stop time for the car before it has actually reached the stop. Based on this information, the traffic signal may schedule a fast green (For a short stop), or delay the next green cycle for a longer stop.

    Steve: Sometimes, I marvel at the sort of technology people can dream up! We are talking about a city that cannot even make basic priority signalling work properly for transit, let alone guestimate the length of stop service time. Btw, your scheme won’t know how many people are going to get off of the car, nor how many baby carriages, shopping carts, etc., might be part of the mix. Some of those people milling about the stop might be annoyed that they are being tracked. Users of the 407 agree to the technology as a means of paying their toll.

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  14. Are they going to do something about the the old switches if there is any left on Queen? The ALRV still needs to manually set the switches.

    A few hours ago, I got on the Queen streetcar, it diverges on Victoria, Dundas and McCaul due to an accident at Queen and University.

    The driver have to manually set the switches to turn. Maybe an update, or at least if the put a signal for drivers. At least they should have this on the new light rail lines. But they really need proper transit priority.

    Steve: The problem is with switches that are electrified, but don’t work. This is a widespread problem on the TTC that has not been dealt with for years. You will commonly see a sign hanging from the overhead saying “Switch electrically out of service”. On the diversion route, the switch eastbound at Victoria & Dundas is a manual switch. Everything else should be automatic. As for transit priority, the electric switches are linked to traffic signals to give a priority phase for turns at only a few locations, none of them on McCaul/Dundas/Victoria diversion.

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  15. So what does the TTC have to do to make priority signaling for transit work and how long would it take to get it up and running?

    Steve: There are several changes needed. I won’t go into all of the details here, but in brief:

    Provide operators with the ability to interact with traffic signals so that they can indicate when they need green time or can relinquish priority because they are at a busy stop.
    Redesign vehicle detection and green time provision so that closely spaced signals, especially those having no associated stop, can be triggered enough in advance that they won’t hold vehicles between stops.
    Redesign locations with very long green times for cross traffic to operate on a shorter cycle and provide more opportunities for transit cycles.
    Redesign locations with very short transit-only phases so that they allow multiple transit vehicles through on one cycle.
    Rethink left turn phases to pre-empt them when a transit vehicle is present. This applies only to situations where headways are wide enough that a pre-empt would not occur on every cycle.
    Abandon farside stop design unless traffic signals will operate to ensure that transit vehicles will stop once, not twice, at intersections.

    Some parts of the existing system work well, but there are many locations where the effect is less to provide priority for transit than to avoid having transit inconvenience cars.

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  16. Perhaps this is one of the details you didn’t go into, but for farside stops it isn’t just a question of stopping twice but whether the streetcar has to slow down significantly before the intersection. I’ve found that when transit priority is working, it seems to deliver a just-in-time green. Of course, that means responsible operators end up approaching the light at a crawl. It really needs to deliver a green about five seconds earlier, so that the transit priority signal, like any other green light, does not require the streetcar to coast.

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  17. The one thing that bothers me about this project, is why doesn’t the city operate the new LRT in mixed traffic from Humber Loop to Long Branch, and if the need ever arises, then discuss making it into Right of Way? (as a stop-gap solution)

    The tracks are already the correct ones, they might only need some realignment as well as the rewiring for the pantographs. Sure, you’ll have minor traffic congestion… but most of the time saving parts are after Humber loop. They would still establish a link into Union Station, and would practically make everyone happy (as long as realignment of the tracks don’t take too long).

    Even though the community won’t get the benefits like wheelchair access, it’s much better than the alternatives: a) Bus Service b) No Service.

    Steve: That would be far too simple.

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