Updated December 15 at 1:00 am:
Car 4165 made two test runs on the western section of the St. Clair route on Monday, December 14. The first pass was done slowly to check clearances, and the second was done at speed without incident. Testing will continue through the week.
On Saturday, December 19 from 11 am to 3 pm, there will be charter service using PCCs 4500 and 4549. Here is Councillor Joe Mihevc’s announcement of this event.
Save Saturday, December 19 for a fun shop local event from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. when there will be free rides on two TTC heritage streetcars between Bathurst and Lansdowne. The heritage streetcars are the red-maroon and yellow “Presidents’ Conference Committee” streetcars that first operated in Toronto in the late 1930s and ended in the mid-1980s. These PCC streetcars are a real treat that will take you down memory lane to Toronto’s past.
The Hillcrest Village Choir will be performing for much of the day on one streetcar, and Toronto historian Mike Filey will be speaking about local history on the other. This is a great opportunity to come to St. Clair to enjoy a rare ride and support local businesses by finishing some last minute holiday shopping or enjoying a St Clair meal with friends and family.
The basic idea is have local residents support local businesses along the strip and use the PCC streetcars to jump on and off at your pleasure. So you may want to have a brunch or lunch at a local eatery, and then catch the streetcar as it comes by, make a big loop and return to where you began, perhaps jumping off at a store that you always wanted to check out. Boarding the streetcar will be from the new passenger islands.
I will be at World Class Bakers at Christie for most of the time. Feel free to come by and say hello.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The free ride only extends between Bathurst and the Earlscourt loop at Lansdowne. There will be no free transfers to other lines. The streetcar will only use the St Clair West subway station to turn around (no passengers will be permitted to exit into the subway. If you want to go to the subway, you will need to use the buses which will continue on the road and pickup passengers from the sidewalk.)
The original December 5 post follows the break below.
There is a post over on UrbanToronto showing the wandering track installed on St. Clair near Oakwood. The pictures have been picked up by the National Post with an article quoting former TTC Chair Howard Moscoe saying that the tracks will have to be fixed. Comments in the UrbanToronto thread, and elsewhere on this site echo these sentiments.
[Note: I have moved the comments regarding St. Clair from the Finch LRT thread where they were posted to this thread for continuity.]
For its part, the TTC says that the curves on the western portion of St. Clair are comparable to what we already have on the eastern portion, and this is not an issue.
My suspicion was that the photos made the worst of the situation by the focal length of the shots — a long telephoto shot that compresses distances and accentuates the wobbles. However, I wanted to be sure and spent a few hours making my way from Yonge to Lansdowne photographing the line.
Update: The particular location of interest, east from Dufferin, includes left turn lanes at Westmount that were not part of the original design as shown in the EA document. Similarly the eastbound left turn at Dufferin was an add-on. Some of the peculiarities in this particular section arise from those late changes, but this specific issue should not be used to attack the entire line.
The photos here were all taken at the same focal lengths — 70mm for the “conventional” view and 200mm for the “telescopic” view — and none of them has been cropped. They were taken from the same positions. The only editing done has been to compress the images for online use and, in one case, to correct an overexposure. (To those who bother to look at the properties of the images and see minor variations like “194mm”, it’s a zoom lens and I was positioning it reasonably close to the desired setting. Don’t kvetch.)
My overall impression was that, yes, the western part of the line is curvier than the eastern part, but this is due to the greater number of intersections and left turn lanes. The curves are comparable and generally follow both the layout of turn lanes and the narrowing of the right-of-way where the centre poles vanish at intersections.
At the risk of sounding like an apologist for the TTC, the situation on St. Clair has been misrepresented by the choice and composition of the photos. There are many problems with the St. Clair design (not the least of which is those darned centre poles to which the TTC clings adamantly), but the track does not wobble to the point that this will compromise operating speed or passenger comfort. I believe that the shots that have been published suit the agenda of the anti-St. Clair and, by extension, anti-Transit City factions who seek to discredit what the TTC is doing by any means possible.
West from Yonge. The track here curves back to the middle of the road around the eastbound left turn lane.
East from Dunvegan. Note the change in track spacing at the transition from side to centre poles. The meander at Avenue Road in the distance is a function of the street alignment. When the same view is shown as a telephoto shot, the curves are more pronounced.
East and West from Wychwood. I have presented these views only in the standard format as the telephoto version adds nothing to the overall argument. The track meanders, but no differently than on the eastern section of the line.
East from Atlas. This is a particularly good example of the effect of a telephoto view which makes the track look quite odd. As it comes to the intersection at Arlington, the right-of-way shifts to the north to make room for a left turn bay at the same time as the width of the right-of-way narrows by 1m due to the absence of centre poles. This requires the eastbound track to shift further north than its westbound counterpart, then back again to align with the westbound left turn bay, and finally to make room for the centre poles east of Arlington.
West from Atlas toward Winona. This section of the line has no centre poles and includes special ramps to allow fire trucks to cross the right-of-way from the station out of frame to the left (south). Note that this requires the line to level out for the street crossing, an effect particularly visible in the telephoto shot. As the line continues west up the hill to Oakwood, it is unusually straight because at that location both platforms are on the east side of the intersection and a left turn meander is not required.
East and West from Oakwood. These are among the longest clear views of the wandering track because of the high vantage point. A track crew working west of Oakwood blocks the full effect of the view west to Dufferin. Note that the overhead special work has not yet been installed to access Oakwood Loop, and some of the overhead is still attached to spans only by temporary ropes. Also, note the openness of the view without any centre poles on both sides of the intersection.
East from Dufferin. This view shows clearly the effect of the meander when seen in telephoto, but also the visual blight of the centre poles (which has been obvious in preceding photos). Urban design is not the TTC’s strong suit.