Two upcoming open houses may be of interest to readers.
Ashbridge’s Bay Carhouse
April 8, 2010 from 6:30pm to 9:00pm at the Toronto EMS and Fire Academy, 895 Eastern Avenue
The project website includes notes from previous public sessions and a map of proposed alternative routes to the carhouse from the existing streetcar network.
The notice for this meeting also includes reference to information about the new streetcars. The final design for these cars is not yet determined, and an advisory committee (of which I will be a member) is now being organized by the TTC to assist with this.
Scarborough RT to LRT Conversion
Two public meetings have been scheduled for the Scarborough LRT conversion project. This is the official launch of the Transit Project Assessment (TPA).
April 12, 2010 from 6:30pm to 9:00pm at Jean Vanier Catholic Secondary School (Cafeteria), 959 Midland Avenue (north of Eglinton)
April 15, 2010 from 6:30pm to 9:00pm at the Chinese Cultural Centre, 5183 Sheppard Avenue East (at Progress Ave)
If the Cherry/Commissioners alignment is chosen, could streetcar service potentially replace any of the 72A Pape bus service in the near/far future? After the Don Mills LRT is built, I would imagine LRT continuing south of Danforth on Pape, replacing the whole bus route.
Steve: All of that is way, way off in the future. The Cherry/Commissioners route is part of the general plan for transit in the Port Lands, but this area will not be built out for at least a decade.
I thought the funding was pulled for the Scarborough RT conversion to LRT and extension to Sheppard? Hopefully this much needed project finds its funding as the present RT is at capacity and is near the end of days before an upgrade is absolutely necessary.
Steve: At this point, Metrolinx has not announced its conclusions on how to handle the new funding situation. In any event, work on the TPA must continue so that the project is ready to go whenever money is available. A related question is whether this line is considered part of the “Pan Am Games” bundle.
Ashbridge’s Bay Carhouse:
I’ve read elsewhere that Councillor Fletcher and some residents of Leslieville are concerned about trackage going up Leslie Street to Queen Street. I would be surprised if the TTC chose another alignment though as Leslie is the most obvious choice.
Trackage down Coxwell, and across Lake Shore to Leslie, isn’t a bad idea in addition to going up Leslie, although I know that it won’t happen. In the short term, measured in years, it could provide additional summer / weekend / holiday service to Ashbridge’s Bay and, to some extent, to Tommy Thomson Park. Long term, measured in even more years, it could be the first phase of a Portlands route, not unlike how Harbourfront functioned until Spadina was completed.
In terms of the new streetcar advisory committee, I hope that a significant amount of time will be devoted to getting the internal layout right. I know that the low floor trucks aren’t quite as space-consuming as the wheels on the Orion VII buses, but I won’t ride the new streetcars much if the TTC does anything like that again. New amenities like internal bicycle locking stations aside, I would be happy with single seats along one side of the car and double seats along the other, with leg room in front of, and underneath, each seat.
Steve: If you look at the map of alternate routes to the carhouse shown on the project website, you will see that a connection from Russell Carhouse via Eastern Avenue is roughly the same length as the Leslie Street approach. A connection via Coxwell is highly unlikely.
Your comments about the seats are well taken, and this is one of my concerns. The Bombardier mockup that was here a few years ago was singularly bad in its cluttered arrangement of seats and limited foot room. 2×1 seating works fine in the CLRV fleet, especially the rebuilt ones where it extends to the rear of the car, and there is lots of foot room. This comfort should not be lost in the name of “accessibility”.
There is also going to be an open house for the Malvern Carhouse.
Is construction still progessing along the Sheppard East LRT line?
Is the Sheppard LRT part of the $9 Billion dollar package that now got slashed in half?
Steve: Work on Sheppard right now is concentrated at the Agincourt Station grade separation. Sheppard is part of the $9b package, but various people including those at Queen’s Park have confirmed that this project will proceed.
I went last night. The session took place in a large room and it was filled. Information brochures were handed out at the door.
10 routes from the facility to Queen Street were shown and evaluated by cost, time, number of residents, and practicality. 2 routes via Carlaw were ruled out because they would cross active rail lines. One up Cherry Street was ruled out because it would have to cross the lift bridge over the Keating Channel. (The replacement of that bridge is still several years away.) The TTC’s preferred route is straight up Leslie to Queen, about 1500 m. Streetcars would operate in mixed traffic because a ROW would be difficult with residents living along the stretch between Eastern Ave. and Queen and the TTC.
Not a single person during the question period supported the plan. It was quite unpleasant with people shouting out of turn. People who wished to speak put their hands up and two staff with mobile mikes canvassed the floor. (I would have preferred two standing mikes and people lining up behind them. To speak again, they would have to requeue behind the last person.) Some objected to the loss of parkland. Honestly, it’s beside a sewage treatment plant! Others decried more industry by the waterfront. The greatest complaints seemed to be the streetcars themselves. “Put it somewhere else!” one would cry to applause, despite the fact that the site selection process was clearly explained. One concern I share is that locating the streetcar facility next to the Sewage Plant would make it hard for any future expansion of it.
There were concerns over both congestion and noise. As described in the brochure, European streetcars use semi-soft wheels. The TTC will use advanced softer wheel which appear to have a middle rubber flange. Addressing concerns about increased congestion at Lakeshore/Leslie, the TTC estimates one streetcar crossing every two signal changes.
Curiously, it was late in the meeting when a spokesperson explained that the Ashbridges Bay site was just one of three planned facilities. The Connaught Yard will store some vehicles but there is no room for expansion there nor Hillcrest.
I have always wondered about the berm at the Sewage Treatment Plan. According to one attendee, it was built to shield people from a spill of Chlorine gas!
All in all, it was fun to see democracy in action, though I would have preferred a more cordial meeting.
Steve: I have copies of the presentations, but don’t want to put them up on my site due to size. They should show up on the project’s own site next week.
What troubles me is that the proposed connections via Russell Carhouse needlessly include double tracking of Connaught Avenue with associated loss of parking and increased transit traffic there. Notable by its absence was any scheme to run a north-south connection through the west end of Russell Yard. I have passed this on to the TTC to see their reaction.
It’s amusing to see one group hollering about the loss of the park where the carhouse will go, while another wants the land reserved for expansion of the sewage treatment plant. I can just imagine what a public meeting for such a proposal would sound like.
I went looking for the project on TTC.ca and couldn’t find it even though it does list TC etc – silly me I should have looked at City of Toronto Projects (which is a mixed bag list which includes Jane LRT which will happen god knows when and Bathurst streetcar relay which is allegedly finished).
Disappointing to see a “traditional” yard in the February panels rather than a partially or fully covered depot to reduce ambient noise, keep snow off the cars while parked and give protection to workers and offer the possibility of green roof or other amenities or uses on the roof linked to the possibility of a transport museum there.
At the very least they could design for future deckover if the cost of building the roof on day one would scare the voters with a high pricetag. Simply covering greenspace with unrelieved concrete is not what we’re meant to be about last I heard. It also seems to me that the east end of the facility could be extended into the remaining land to allow the northernmost storage tracks a wider turn radius and reduce noise.
I’m also concerned about the single point of failure possibilities. TTC may be able to head off complaints about noise by committing to a Commissioners route as part of the lift bridge replacement project to get both a reduction in movements and a link to Cherry/504.
Steve: The link via Cherry is a future part of the Port Lands LRT, but it won’t be built for at least a decade. Cherry Street is going to shift to the west as part of the reorganization of the streets and the mouth of the Don River.
I asked staff on this one; the two tracks into the facility, which one would conclude at first glance to be one inbound and one outbound track, are actually a pair of bi-directional tracks. If one of the tracks fail, all traffic can be put on to the other. It’s not an ideal scenario, but arguably suffices. I say “arguably” because there’s about 700m along Leslie, off the main line (unlike the other two carhouses), for something to go wrong.
Steve: Can I remind everyone that Wychwood (St. Clair) carhouse was itself at the end of a blocklong access track, and getting into Russell will be difficult if the bottom end of Connaught is blocked. Only Ronces has two completely separate entrance and exit points.
Then there’s Greenwood Yard. If a single access point is good enough for the BD subway, I think it’s not high on the priority list for the new carhouse.
The access to Wychwood and Russell are short, residential streets. The odds of something happening to block access on Leslie are many times higher because the route is much longer and heavily used by cars.
The access to Greenwood is also short and has no other traffic.