Wrong Way at Russell (Updated)

In the thread about Ashbridge and Russell Carhouses, there has been the odd mention of cars using the crossovers at Russell Yard.

Until the late 1960s, there were two crossovers at this location.  One still exists on Connaught south of the east gate where the double track merges into single track.  The other was in the “trailer yard” west of the Traffic Office.  The track which now is a westbound bypass track off of Queen used to connect to the eastbound track beside it just behind the Traffic Office.  This was changed so that cars could enter the yard westbound from Queen to couple into MU trains.

One use for the crossovers was that occasionally a car would be spotted in the carhouse facing south.  This was usually done to put the front truck over the wheel truing equipment at the north end of the pits.  This activity stopped with the arrival of the CLRVs.

John F. Bromley sent along three photos of cars facing the wrong way at Russell.

Here is 4074 facing south on Track 2 inside the carhouse, nose-to-nose with another A-1 class car (identifiable by its distinctive trolley shroud) on September 21, 1965.

Ex-Cincinnati car 4597 sits outside of the carhouse facing south on Track 2 on December 17, 1966.

Toronto A-6 class car 4340 faces south to Eastern Avenue surrounded by ex-Cleveland 4600’s with ex-Cincinnati 4599 partly in view.  The date is July 26, 1967.

The crossover on Connaught Avenue will be removed later this year when the special work at Russell Yard is replaced.  The TTC has not yet worked out the details of completely replacing the yard while keeping it in service.

Updated at 5:10pm:  Robert Lubinski sent in this view of 4166 facing south on Track 7 on July 21, 1991.

Bylaw Enforcement is Anti-Transit

I wish that I could put this story down to the silly-season, the pre-election follies that afflict City Hall.

I wish, but I can’t.

Today, we learn in the Star that TTC buses will be forced to comply with the anti-idling bylaw, although there are good reasons for not doing so, as the article describes.

Meanwhile, we learned only two days ago of the many exemptions available to those who flout traffic control bylaws.  These are the “legal” exemptions, not to mention the many other road users who operate as if traffic bylaws don’t apply to them.

Enforcement can be spotty, even when paid duty constables are hired as the TTC did a few years ago to patrol King Street, because everyone knows the tickets will either be cancelled, or will be treated as a business expense.  Meanwhile, the City and the TTC gripe about traffic congestion and its effect on transit service.

Maybe they should both start with a “war on cars” where it matters, on all those cars that block lanes intended for moving traffic.  A fleet of tow trucks will drive the message home that roads do not exist to store cars, they exist to move them.

Once that challenge is in hand, the City can turn to a long-suggested but still not implemented proposal to extend the times designated for rush hour restrictions.

If Toronto has nothing better to do than ticket idling buses, then the City has lost sight of the real problem on our streets.

Service Changes Effective June 20, 2010

Many service changes take effect on June 20, 2010.  Most of these are seasonal route changes and, in some cases, improvements.  Many routes lose peak service, particularly in the AM peak, during the summer because school traffic falls off.

2010.06.20 Service Changes

The 512 St. Clair route is scheduled to return to Gunn’s Loop on June 20, but the actual implementation date has not yet been finalized.  Cars will operate to Lansdowne with geneous layovers pending the opening of the line.

The TTC has published a comparison of running times and headways for the route before and after the implementation of the right-of-way on St. Clair.  Particularly striking is the improvement in running times on Saturdays when St. Clair was the most congested before the reconstruction.  Advocates for transit priority often forget that there are many more hours, and much more traffic, outside of the peak period on some routes.

An operational change effective on June 20 is that AM peak cars running out of service will now operate east to Yonge, then return westbound and go out of service at St. Clair West Station.  This will avoid having cars bound for Roncesvalles Carhouse drop inbound passengers eastbound at Vaughan Road rather than taking them to the subway.

2005-2010 St. Clair Schedule Comparison

For details on individual route branches, please refer to the TTC’s Scheduled Service Summary.

A New Carhouse for TTC Streetcars (Update 4)

Updated June 9, 2010 at 7:40 pm:

Council today voted to support the TTC’s proposal for the Ashbridge Carhouse including an access route via Leslie Street.  This was little surprise given that Councillors are loathe to override staff recommendations unless there is an overwhelming case in favour of an alternative.

The first part of the debate turned on whether the carhouse should be at the Ashbridge site at all.  Despite some uninformed grandstanding by would-be mayor Ford, and handwringing by others over what might have been at the Lever site (Sunlight Park) if only its availability had been known sooner in the process, the Ashbridge site selection was approved.

The second part of the debate focussed on the access route.  The TTC argued strongly against the Knox/Russell option and that position won the day, in part because few champions of this route rose in the debate.

The Transit Project Assessment now enters its formal 90-day phase for comment and then goes to the Minister of the Environment for approval.

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Furious George Has A Plan (Update 2)

Updated June 8, 2010 at 11:00 pm:

The Smitherman campaign has posted a backgrounder to his transportation plan which has been updated to reflect the funding of inflation by Queen’s Park.

In a previous update, I noted that there was a bit over $1-billion still unaccounted for.  This is explained in the backgrounder as follows:

Once the provincial government formally approves their contribution escalation the Smitherman construction cost increment is reduced to $3.87­billion, or $5-billion once financed to 2021. [Page 3]

Although this issue has been addressed, the method of paying for transit investments has not been changed.  Smitherman still depends on revenue from gas tax and dividends from City agencies, money that is already spoken for by existing budgets at the TTC and the City.  He also depends on new tax revenue from developments along the routes to be built.  However, those taxes traditionally have been at least partly spent to serve new residents and businesses these developments would bring.

While I applaud Smitherman for at least producing a detailed plan, I still do not agree with elements of it such as the Bloor-Danforth subway extensions or with his financing scheme.  (For the record, at Council today TTC staff responded to a question from Councillor Thompson about a subway extension and explained that any subway extension could not be built along the existing SRT corridor.)

The original content of this post follows the break.

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Still Waiting For A Long Branch Car (Updated)

Updated June 3, 2010:

On June 2, the Commission didn’t decide to implement the 507 Dundas West option (described below), but didn’t kill off the idea entirely either.  Some Commissioners balked at the $825k/year pricetag, but the greatest failing was the lack of strong support from the local Councillor who is not a member of the Commission.

I had the sense that individual Commissioners wanted to do what they could to improve service on Lake Shore, but could not figure out a way to do so without out appearing to overrule staff and give in to a local pleading, especially in an election year.

There was a side discussion of the Park Lawn Loop whose installation would extend the 501 Humber service a short distance westward providing better service to some of the Humber Bay condo area, but this project is one of many competing for capital funds in a tight budget.

The motions passed by the Commission were:

Vice-Chair Mihevc:

That the Lakeshore Boulevard Streetcar service matter be referred to staff for consideration during the 2011 budget process.

Commissioner Milczyn:

That TTC staff consult with City Transportation staff on the possibility of constructing a portion of the civil works related to roads, curbs, sidewalks and utilities required for the Parklawn Loop in conjunction with road construction this year, and further authorize the Chair and Vice-Chair to approve any reallocation of funds required for this.

Commissioner Moeser:

The Chief General Manager be authorized within his authority spending level of $100,000.00 to approve any pro-active work considered appropriate for the proposed Park Lawn Loop.

[From draft minutes of the meeting supplied by the General Secretary’s office.]

I spoke to the subject, but nobody from the community appeared probably due to timing constraints and a sense that deputations would be fruitless in the face of TTC staff’s position on the matter.

The original post follows the break.

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Sunlight Park Carhouse?

The TTC has a report on its Supplementary Agenda for the June 2 meeting regarding the Unilever property at the foot of Broadview as a possible carhouse site.

During the initial search for new carhouse and maintenance sites, this property was rejected because the then-available acreage was too small.  The situation has now changed, and quite a large block of property is available.  However, the lead time to acquire and clear the site means that a new carhouse and maintenance facility could not be ready in time for the delivery of the Flexity LRV fleet.

All the same, it would be worthwhile investigating this property as a long-term site for a new carhouse replacing Russell and/or Roncesvalles once the high-floor fleet is completely retired.  This would allow redevelopment of two choice pieces of property on Queen Street.

Those familiar with the old Lever Bros. property know it is bordered by Sunlight Park Blvd., a street named after a well-known product.  If this does become a carhouse, that would make a fitting and historical name.

Of course, with that BMW dealership next door, the carhouse would have to feature a large window framing an LRV looking out onto the DVP!