Streetcar Fleet and Infrastructure Plans 2011

Plans for the ongoing replacement of streetcars and the allocation of new low floor light rail vehicles (LFLRVs) to routes are contained in the detailed papers for the 2011 TTC Capital Budget.  Also included are the five-year plans for track renewal and the overhead replacement/reconstruction project.

This information should be considered as preliminary, an indication of the type and scope of work the TTC plans to undertake.  Changes to the fleet plan and the rollout of new cars to streetcar routes will affect the infrastructure plans.

Fleet Plan

The 204 LFLRVs now on order will begin entering service (presuming deliveries occur on time) in 2013.  The planned rollout is based on the following assumptions:

  • A backlog of capacity requirements to bring routes to current loading standards will be accommodated.
  • Ridership will continue to grow by 2.5% annually.
  • The 501 Queen route will not be split.
  • 20 cars are reserved for a variety of factors including extensions and future ridership growth.

The delivery schedule is:

  • January 2011:  Full scale mockup of 1/2 car (it’s not here yet)
  • October-November 2011: Prototypes 1 and 2
  • February 2012:  Technical verification vehicle
  • December 2012:  Production car 1
  • 2013: 30 cars
  • 2014-17:  36 cars/year
  • 2018: 26 cars

2011 Budget LFLRV Fleet Rollout Plan

A number of issues leap off the page directly from the plan.  Most critical is the TTC’s intent to begin retiring the ALRVs before the routes needing them (Queen and King) are converted to LFLRV.  Indeed, the Queen route is the last projected for conversion, in 2017, even though the ALRVs are all to be retired by about 2014.

This will push up the CLRV requirement in the short term, but there are no spare CLRVs.  Cars released from early conversions of CLRV routes will have to shift to Queen and King just to maintain service if the ALRVs are retired in 2014.  This will require about 46 CLRVs for Queen and 12 for King, more CLRVs than will be released from routes to be converted in 2013-4.

This has important considerations for carhouse plans.  Space at Russell and Roncesvalles will not, realistically, be available for LFLRVs until a few years into the program when the new fleet’s capacity is large enough that old cars can actually be retired.

In short, if the TTC wants to retire its ALRV fleet, then it needs to introduce LFLRVs on the routes using these vehicles at the start, not the end, of the conversion.

Another troubling provision is that the spare factor for LFLRVs is planned at 20%, no better than the 30-year old CLRVs they will replace.  In the short term, a high spare factor would be reasonable as teething problems with the new fleet are worked out, but this should be a basic part of the plan going out 10 years.  Indeed, the number used for Ashbridge Carhouse projections has typically been 15% with 85 of 100 cars on that site available for service.  That extra 5% is setting Toronto back 10 cars.

Oddly enough, although the fleet plan includes some allowance for the waterfront, there is a separate provision in the budget for 11 cars for new routes to the East Donlands (Cherry Street) and the eastern branch of Harbourfront.

The plan as written does not make sense and requires major revisions.

LFLRV Service Levels

Although the TTC has not published service plans for the LFLRV routes, one can work backward from the number of cars assigned to each line to obtain an idea of the headway and capacity to be operated.

2011 Budget LFLRV Rollout Headways and Capacity

This chart uses service design capacities (based on current Service Standards), not the crush loads cited by some, including the manufacturer.  Typical peak period riders should not endure crush conditions, and planning is based on an average over the peak period that leaves room for variations in demand and headway regularity.

In this chart I have used 74 and 108 for CLRVs and ALRVs respectively, and 150 for the LFLRVs.  With the move to all-door loading, there will probably be an improvement in space utilization, but I wanted to be conservative in the calculation.

The projected headways are simply based on the number of cars.  If a route has a one hour round trip and operates to day with 12 cars, then the headway is 5 minutes.  If the revised car allocation calls for 8 cars, then the new headway would be 7.5 minutes.

(Note that the allocation of cars to the King car and its trippers is my estimate based on a comparable service design to today’s with a one-hour long “wave” of higher capacity.  The TTC allocates 30 cars in all to the King and Lake Shore routes, and I have divided them among the services to roughly duplicate current operations.)

The proportional increase in capacity on some routes is quite striking begging the question of how much latent demand the TTC projects for service on routes like Dundas and Carlton.  On Dundas, 17 LFLRVs will replace 18 CLRVs thereby providing almost double the capacity on this route on roughly the same headway.

The 502 Downtowner route is coverted in 2013, but its companion the 503 stays a CLRV route until 2014.  This will produce unblendable headways during the transition, and in any event begs the question of whether, on what will now be almost 15 minute headways for each route, having two separate routes makes sense.  All of the cars should run on the 502 or the 503 routing.

(A common and extremely annoying practice guaranteed to make customers’ blood boil, even in the dead of winter, is that 502 cars are short-turned westbound at Church, returning eastbound from Victoria.  They are on time, but empty.  On a 15 minute headway, this would produce a 30-minute gap eastbound at Yonge.  This practice should stop, but as the schedule always wins out over customer service, that is unlikely.)

Track Replacement

A considerable amount of work is planned for 2011-12 with the list dropping off from 2013 onward.  The TTC is finally catching up with reconstruction of their infrastructure to overcome the poorly built track of the 1980s and early 90s.  Current standards including a robust roadbed, vibration insolation and continuously welded rail.  The TTC considers that 75% of its surface track is now in “excellent” condition, and that by 2015 they will reach a steady state of maintenance.

The “new” style of intersection construction started quite a bit later than the work on tangent track, and therefore the rate of intersection work remains high for coming years.


  • Queen from Connaught to Coxwell and Connaught from Queen to  Eastern Avenue.  This will include replacement of special work at the various carhouse entrances.  The “crossover” track on Connaught will not be replaced as it is no longer required.  This will mean that the only northbound track will be from the east gate out to the intersection with Queen Street.
  • On Eastern Avenue, there is a project to realign the track and place the ladder track, now in the north curb lane, in a reserved area 250-300mm higher than the existing rails.  The intent is to lessen the grade that is included in the turns north from Eastern to the carhouse in anticipation of the new LFLRV fleet.  A Transit Project Assessment has not yet been conducted for this, and it will be difficult to make the fall 2011 construction plan.
  • Kingston Road from Bingham Loop to Waverley including the special work at Bingham.
  • King from Queen to Close.  This is the last remaining track to be rebuilt on the King route.
  • Roncesvalles carhouse tracks 5-17 and 26-29
  • Shaw from Queen to King
  • Long Branch Loop
  • Harbourfront route from the Bay Street Portal to Union
  • Spadina from King to Queen’s Quay
  • Gerrard Street bridge
  • King and Bathurst intersection
  • Separate from the main track project list is a proposed extension of the exclusive lanes on The Queensway east to Roncesvalles.  The budget for this appears in 2011.  Whether it will actually happen remains to be seen as this project has been deferred before.  It is part of a proposed reconfiguration of the traffic lanes at Queen and Roncesvalles which has not yet been approved.


  • Kingston Road from Queen to Waverley
  • Queen’s Quay from Spadina to the Bay Street portal including Queen’s Quay Loop
  • Spadina from Sussex to the Bloor portal
  • Spadina Circle
  • Intersections of Spadina with Adelaide, King, Queen and Dundas
  • Ossington from College to Dundas
  • Richmond from East of Yonge to York
  • McCaul from Queen to College including McCaul Loop
  • Dufferin from Queen to Dufferin Loop


  • Russell Yard tracks 11-22
  • Victoria from Dundas Square to Adelaide including the intersection at Queen
  • Wellington from Church to York
  • York from King to Queen including intersections at Adelaide, Richmond and Queen
  • Wolseley Loop
  • Bathurst and Dundas intersection
  • Adelaide and Charlotte intersection


  • The Queensway (private right of way)
  • Spadina and College intersection
  • Kipling Loop
  • Dundas and Parliament intersection
  • Dundas, Victoria, Dundas Square intersection


  • Dundas bridge
  • Neville Loop
  • Roncesvalles Carhouse pit tracks
  • Dufferin Loop
  • Intersections of Queen with Broadview and Shaw
  • Roncesvalles Carhouse southwest exit
  • Humber (Lakeshore) Loop

The reconstruction projects at the two carhouses will pinch the TTC’s capacity to hold cars at these locations especially before the new carhouse at Ashbridge Bay is available.  A staging plan for this work has not yet been published.

Notable by its absence in this plan is Adelaide Street from Charlotte eastward.  It is unclear what the TTC’s long-term intention for this is.

Automatic Switch Replacement

The TTC has a long-standing project to upgrade the electronics at automatic track switches.  Ever since the change from overhead wire contactors to loop antennas that was required by the introduction of ALRVs, the track switches have been considerably less reliable than the simpler, but more primitive equipment.  Indeed, this was a safety issue, and a “stop and proceed” order was introduced for all switches (electric or manual).  Not only does this slow streetcar operations, it introduces jerky rides for passengers.

This project keeps vanishing into future years, but the budget claims that we will see a tender for new equipment and a rollout of better gear over the next few years.  I will believe this when I see it.

There is no plan to change track switches to double-blade operation.  This would be a massive project, and the spec for the LFLRVs was designed specifically to avoid it.

Overhead and Power Distribution

Although the TTC originally talked of operating the new fleet with trolley poles, this will be only a temporary arrangement.  Conversion of the entire system to handle pantographs will proceed in parallel with the delivery of new cars and their rollout to various routes.  If the plan shown above changes, then the overhead conversion schedule must be altered to match.

Without going into all of the detail, here is a rough outline:

2010-11: A few small sections have been converted including tangent wire and intersections.  The clear intent is to get some experience before launching into the project on a large scale.  For 2011, the list includes the remainder of St. Clair, Kingston Road and some overhead at Hillcrest and at Russell Carhouse.  Oddly enough, St. Clair is not destined to actually receive LFLRVs until 2016, an odd decision considering the high profile nature of this route.

2012: The main work this year will concentrate on tangent wire and intersections for track used for various short turns and diversions, as well as Russell Carhouse and special work for Kingston Road.  This suggest that track between Russell and Bingham Loop will be used as the testbed for new cars.

From 2013 onward, the plan builds out over the system in parallel with route conversions.  In future years, as the plans stabilize, I will include details along with the track reconstruction schedules in the annual wrapup.  The total estimated cost of the overhead conversion and replacement is $104.5-million.

The TTC has been updating its feeder system to increase capacity and to replace old, worn out cabling and poles.  This work will be largely completed by 2016.

Two new substations are planned to deal with low power situations:  one at Humber Loop, and one at or near Neville Loop.  This suggests that the new cars are not as tolerant of low voltage situations as the cars they are replacing.

65 thoughts on “Streetcar Fleet and Infrastructure Plans 2011

  1. Looks like a cluster f***k! Further proof TTC management is incredibly inept. I am beginning to think they ought to scrap the whole thing.

    Steve: I was a bit surprised that there were such obvious errors in the fleet plan. This is not difficult to work out but, sadly, this is not the first time I have seen a gaffe in a fleet plan (you will get to read about one when I write up the subway in another article).


  2. Steve – is there any mention of the tracks on Kingston Rd between Bingham and Victoria Park, including the turn north on Vic Pk. When they did Bingham loop last year they began northbound on VP about 50′ north of Kingston. They didn’t touch the part south on VP or west on KR. I can understand ignoring the old tail track east of VP but the other is terrible track and the switch also.

    Steve: Sorry, I should have said “From Bingham Loop” and have corrected the post to fix this. Yes, the 2011 work includes the curves and special work.


  3. Are wheels on a low-floor tram connected in any way? How did they design the bogies to handle single-point switches?

    Steve: The trucks on these cars have axles.


  4. While the 501 Queen may not have the LFLRV’s until 2017, riders could still ride the 502 Downtowner with LFLRV’s by 2013 on Queen Street between McCaul and Kingston Road, the 503 Kingston Road by 2014 on Queen Street between King Street East and Kingston Road, and the 508 Lake Shore by 2015 on Lake Shore Blvd. West and the Queensway. No exactly perfect, but maybe to be used as a draw for those routes.

    Steve: Yes, if you don’t mind waiting for a scheduled 15 minute headway for one of these routes to actually show up.


  5. Steve,

    Has the TTC addressed the problem w/Spadina (LRT) station?

    That is, currently its barely meeting needed capacity while having room to unload one vehicle and load another.

    So far as I can tell, this will not be possible with the new longer vehicles.

    That is to say, there’s room for only one at a time on that platform.

    Steve: The TTC will have to address the problem at Spadina by using every inch of the platform, and even then it will be difficult. There will be problems at other locations where it is not uncommon to see two cars in a terminal at the same time. With 30m cars, that will not be possible, and the TTC will have to rethink the concept of terminal recovery time for routes with frequent service.


  6. I think you once explained that the axle of a high-floor tram guides the wheel on the other side of a blade in a single-blade switch, and that low-floor cars without a continuous axle require 2-blade switches. Do you know how Bombardier is solving this problem so as to avoid the conversion to 2-blade switches?

    Steve: The new cars have axles. Some earlier models of low floor cars avoided axles to simplify the provision of a continuous low floor (this also required some tricky arrangement with the motors), but this is not the case for the new Toronto cars.


  7. This may be a stupid question, but are the Blue Books available online? The TTC website can be a pain to navigate.

    Steve: No. They are only in hard copy, and they are about the size of two large phone books. Every year, those of us who are interested in the details of the TTC’s capital budget — including City staff who are supposed to analyze this — wait for the TTC to get around to publishing the materials. Officially, you are supposed to be able to view such material at TTC head office, but it’s easier to find a friendly Councillor who has a copy. Reading through the whole thing in detail takes hours.

    Should the material be online? Definitely.


  8. Of course, Steve, I assume all the TTC plans to continue and conclude their trackwork replacement which you have detailed above are contingent on Mayor Ford’s not getting permission from Queen’s Park to proceed with his stated intention to cancel all orders the TTC has already placed with Bombardier for the new legacy-system LFLRVs as well as for the others intended for use on the cancelled Transit City lines which the mayor has already ordered the TTC to stop work on.

    Steve: Of course. Given that there has been no move to stop the project (although I would not be so sure if the Tories are elected at Queen’s Park in the fall), planning must continue.


  9. Else, the TTC, faced with a life-expired fleet of streetcars and no new cars to replace them with, would have little reason to do any further trackwork – and instead would have to begin planning for the orderly shutdown of the legacy streetcar system and order new buses.


  10. The following order for LFLRV rollout would make more sense. At least if the TTC magically learned what ‘customer service’ was actually about:
    • 512 St. Clair, together with decent line management, first of the routes as an apology for the construction clusterf**k on this route
    • 501 Queen + related tripper routes, together with decent line management, as an apology for the scheduling clusterf**k on this route
    • the remaining ALRV routes
    • remaining routes in order of pent-up demand

    Steve: To this, I would only add that as CLRVs are released from various lines they should be redeployed to improve service elsewhere as soon as possible.


  11. Exactly what work is planned at the loops, and where could one find those plans? Neville’s track was upgraded during the Queen E. track replacement project, so I’m assuming this is some type of “redesign” required throughout the system to accommodate the new cars?

    Steve: These projects typically are simply the replacement of existing track.


  12. I was a bit surprised to see that the 2011 trackwork schedule includes “•Harbourfront route from the Bay Street Portal to Union.” I find this strange as they did major work on the tunnel, the track and the overhead only a few years ago – less than 5 I think – and, more importantly, this area will surely be modified when (if?) the Queen’s Quay East line with its new portal are built. (There is also the work to improve the Union loop.) Would it not be better to have only one closure of the line and do ‘everything’ at once or would that be too radical an idea for the TTC?

    I also note that they are going to lay new tracks on Victoria in 2013, the City has just put out a tender for a new watermain on Victoria so it seems strange that the (permanent) repair to the street and the new tracks will be done two years later. Another case of two silos not talking?

    Steve: It makes sense to do the utilities first and the track later, although the timing may simply be a case of spreading the work out as 2011 and 12 are rather full already. As for Harbourfront, that schedule changes every time I talk to someone, and there’s also the question of when/if funding and construction will occur for the eastern branch of the line. This may be a placeholder.


  13. You can download a brochure of the low floor Flexx Urban bogie from Bombardier’s web site.

    This is available in standard, narrow and broad gauge. Look at the FLEXX Urban 1000 bogie. One of the problems with earlier low floor design was the fact that without axles the wheel sets had some play in them and did not always track through special work well. This design looks like it should work better. I just wonder what its clearance above track level is and how it will work in heavy snow storms with chunks of ice. Perhaps the TTC will have to put pilots back on the cars.

    Steve: They still have snow in Europe, don’t they?


  14. I agree with the TTC’s decision to roll out LFLRVs on 510 first, but I don’t see any mention of the infrastructure required to do so. In addition to being larger (as mentioned by James), the new streetcars can only operate using POP, so new fare barriers are needed for the streetcar platforms at Union and Spadina to prevent fare-evaders from getting onto the subway where they cannot be caught.

    At Union, there is a ticket collector jar used when the 509 is free, but that causes long lineups, so I wouldn’t recommend using it on a regular basis.


  15. It looks to me that the TTC is in too damn much of a hurry to retire the ALRVs. If they want to retire them first that’s one thing but to do it before LFLRVs are to be deployed on those routes is as insipid a thing as I can think of.


  16. If the downtown network is converted to pantograph operation, what will happen to the heritage streetcars (2 PCCs and 1 Witt) that use trolley poles?

    Steve: Other systems have vintage cars with pantographs. The real question will be whether the TTC will spend the money needed to make the necessary structural changes.


  17. Wasn’t it in one of the budget documents or news articles about the growth of the city’s workforce that the TTC wanted to hire two mechanics devoted to keeping a greater proportion of ALRV fleet in service? If the TTC is going to hire multiple people for the express purpose of keeping them running, wouldn’t it make sense to keep them long enough to have a comfortable transition to the new cars instead of pinching the fleet in the middle of the transition?

    Steve: I will have to check this, but I didn’t think this idea made it into the final version of the budget.

    From the overhead plans, it really sounds like the TTC is anxious to keep the new cars confined to places with pan-friendly overhead to the point of avoiding pole operation altogether. What strikes me as odd is that the TTC is waiting until the first new cars arrive to test the pan-friendly wire with pantograph equipped cars. They could take one of the existing streetcars and temporarily install a pantograph to test with at any time and start working through whatever issues sooner, independent of the arrival time of the first new cars.

    Why am I not surprised about the track switches? Whenever something at the TTC doesn’t work, it’s because of the electronics. It’s always the electronics. Whether it’s wayside equipment, vehicle propulsion systems, garbled PA systems, you name it, it’s the electronics every time. Ultimately, it gets to the point where the TTC sounds like the carpenter who always blames his tools. I wonder, given how widespread the issues seem to be, whether all the TTC’s equipment has electronics problems, or if all the electronic equipment has a TTC problem. We’ll see how the new power switch system goes if/when it arrives.


  18. Given that the ALRVs are the larger in capacity, why is the TTC wanting to replace them before they begin retiring the smaller CLRVs? Have the former been a terrible maintenance headache to keep in running condition? Anyone here know the TTC’s reasoning here?

    Steve: Yes, the ALRVs have been a major headache for the TTC. It’s easier to keep the CLRVs running.


  19. I at least agree with Spadina being the ideal place to send the new streetcars. With it being such a short heavily trafficked route between King Street and Spadina Station even a few new cars could really make a difference.

    And its probably one of only 2 streetcar routes where increasing the headway between cars might actually increase people’s satisfaction with the service.

    But after that the rollout seems to be a miss mash, seemingly determined mainly by the lines’ proximity to to new yard not by what would best serve riders.

    One thing I couldn’t help but notice is that the combined cars for Bathurst and the Downtowner equal those that are to be assigned to St. Clair. Perhaps it might make sense to at least assign those cars there at least temporarily until there are enough delivered to make a dent on King.

    What is the reasoning behind permanently assigning vehicles to a route one at a time instead of assigning cars based on the best service that can be provided to the city for a given number of CLRVs and LFLRVs?

    For instances by early 2014 there should for more that 40 new cars I cannot see how the city would not be better off with having those cars on King and Spadina.

    Steve: I believe that it’s a question of coordinating the reconstruction of the overhead with the route by route rollout.


  20. So I guess they had to shrink the wheels in order to fit an axle in a low-floor tram?

    Also, is the “pilot” that metal bar under the front of PCC’s? What made them disappear from the fleet?

    Steve: The real challenge is to reorient the motor so that it does not contribute to the truck profile through the centre section where it is under the aisle in the passenger compartment.


  21. A minor Quibble. The Streetcar Plan Table seems to have “unscrapped” 4063 II as it’s in the totals.

    Steve: Many at the TTC seem unaware that they do not have 196 CLRVs.


  22. I can understand that redesigning/rebuilding the overhead to accommodate pantographs is complex at junctions – though pantographs are common elsewhere so there must be things we can learn from others – but what is involved elsewhere – the long straight stretches?

    In the majority of the system is it ‘just’ a matter of installing new wire on new ‘hangers’? (This actually seem to be have been happening all over the place in the last couple of years.)

    I also agree with TTC Passenger that it would surely make more sense to start work on the conversion as soon as possible, even if that means using an existing streetcar (or the first test car?).

    Steve: In addition to the new hangars giving clearance from span wires for pans, and a bit of slew so that the wire does not wear a groove in the pan, the TTC is installing heavier gauge wire to handle the current demands of the new cars.


  23. Question regarding pantograph and trolley operation… I assume pantograph-equipped can’t operate on trolley wires, but what other combinations are/aren’t possible?

    Steve: Trolley poles cannot run on “pure” pantograph overhead because intersections don’t have frogs, and wires just start and end without any need to provide a continuous path for a trolley shoe. Pantographs can operate operate on “trolley” wire that is mounted with suitable hardware to avoid snagging on span wires and at frogs.


  24. Can’t wait to see the current streetcar fleet go. They were a mistake from the design board stage. The new models will be a dramatic improvement although the clearance issue does worry me.

    Question: how much money would be saved if the TTC did not have to do track and overhead maintenance year after year?

    Steve: Roughly $20-30 million, although this number may still reflect some overhang from the rotten track built in the previous round (between the point where we decided to keep streetcars and the point where we resumed building good track in Toronto). The flip side if we don’t maintain track (ie: get rid of streetcars) is the extra cost of running all the buses needed to carry the passengers.


  25. The 2014 trackwork schedule includes “•The Queensway (private right of way)”. I find this strange as they replaced the track, twice(!), in the early 2000s. The 2nd track replacement was due to the poor quality of track, IIRC. This seems like quite the boondoggle to have to replace it yet again after only 10 years. Third time in 15 years, for an average track life of 5 years.

    Steve: I too am baffled by this project. The TTC seems to be unable to lay and maintain ballasted track.


  26. Did I miss a few things in the construction plans?

    The first one is the Bathurst railway bridge and southern approach. That location looks like a war zone. Or is it waiting for the WWLRT…

    The other is the York Street track from Wellington to King. You mention King to Queen and Wellington from Church to York but not the southern section of York. Did I miss it, is it an oversight or is this TTC planning at its best?

    Also I am (as I am sure you are) curious as to what the plan is for Adelaide from Charlotte to Victoria. The TTC seems to have gotten quiet on this stretch. The roadway from Spadina to Yonge is in serious need of repair. Once the Trump Tower and the condo construction (Shangri-la, Cinema Tower, etc.) are completed there’d be no excuse to not fix the road for Mr. Ford’s precious automobiles!

    Steve: I report what’s in the budget. The status of Bathurst Street is a mystery. It was tied up in debates over the WWLRT, and that whole debate more or less stopped with the Miller era.


  27. The 15 minute headway Steve mentioned is about the same headway some U.S. cities for their lone streetcar lines. Seattle advertises that it has a 15-minute interval for its streetcar. It happens when we get spoiled, we think the very frequent service we have with the TTC is normal.

    Steve: We have very frequent service because we have many more riders than Seattle. Being spoiled has nothing to do with it!


  28. Why are they redoing track on the Dundas Bridge in 2015? If this is the Dundas bridge over the Don River it was done about 3 years ago when the whole bridge deck was removed and totally rebuilt.

    Steve: This is the bridge on Dundas West at Sterling Road.

    Also, the stretch of Victoria between Adelaide and Richmond was done not more than 7 years ago when they did Richmond from Church to Yonge so the need to do ALL of Victoria in 2013 seems odd. (The junction of Dundas and Victoria, including the archway under the City TV building looks pretty poor to me and it does not seem to be mentioned at all.) I realise that what to do is dependent, up to a point, on what other City departments are doing but the TTC does seem a bit confused about the condition of some of its tracks!

    Steve: Dundas and Victoria is part of the Dundas Square job. I will have to doublecheck the next time I see the Blue Books exactly what was specified for Victoria, and I won’t be surprised if the scope is adjusted to take into account what has already been completed.


  29. A PCC or Witt with a pantograph? — it just wouldn’t look right, and then you’d ruin the original look. Now you can accuse me of being a streetcar railfan … but, if the downtown network is converted (which I don’t think is even necessary), then we’ll never see the old cars on the street again. Trolley poles have worked for 100 years — what’s the rationale in spending over $100M to change now given that all the track, switches, and curves will remain non-standard? Hopefully the TTC will at least keep one CLRV and ALRV and not junk them all (like they did with subway Gs and Ms, Bay Lower, etc.). As much as everyone hates the current streetcar fleet, they really were state-of-the-art when they hit the streets in ’79.

    Steve: The rationale is, I suspect, that they’re worried the scheme to use longer trolley shoes to get extra power for the new cars will not work, and are moving to pantographs instead.

    PS … why are you not covering any of the work on the Spadina extension that’s now underway?

    Steve: For the same reason I am not covering the work, such as it is, on Sheppard East. My primary focus here is policy, and I cover the nuts and bolts stuff only to the degree that there’s a connection. For example, last year I documented the track work on Roncesvalles and on Parliament to show that it was possible to do the work quickly, and to show the quality of what was being installed. This has a direct bearing on debates regarding Transit City construction. Also, of course, Roncesvalles has the new “bump out” loading zones, and I will return to them once the project is completed to review how well they work, and how applicable they are (or not) to other parts of the system. This is an important part of the streetcar accessibility problem.

    If what you want is news on where people are digging holes in the ground on Spadina, this is available elsewhere. The policy questions lie in issues such as fleet and carhouse planning, service levels, and the degree to which the project encounters cost and project management problems along the way.


  30. It is baffling… why the TTC isn’t going to upgrade its track switches. I’d understand maybe not all at once but not even to consider incremental upgrades to double point switches, intersection by intersection as a long term plan. Why not!

    On a related matter, I remember seeing a report I think last year about adding new curves to intersections (e.g. N-W at Broadview & Gerrard, @Ossington, etc). What’s the status on that thing, if there’s anything new?

    Steve: That report arose because someone had written to Adam suggesting new curves, and management replied that some of the ideas were ok, but none of the affected intersections was scheduled for rebuilding in the near future.

    By the way, when is that Dundas Square intersection (N-E, W-S) going to be fully operational? It seems like it’s been out of service for ages.

    Steve: I don’t know yet what’s going on there, and at Queen and Dufferin. They may simply be waiting for better weather. I have sent a query to the TTC about this.


  31. I did some digging for information about the hiring of two people to work on the ALRV fleet. I wasn’t able to find out whether they authorized the hiring, and they don’t have an jobs posted right now, but the 2011 operating budget document specifies the work TTC wants to do on the ALRVs. The TTC wants to do body and frame work on the cars, and replace the wheels.

    That body and frame work and the wheel replacement’s for keeping the cars in general roadworthy condition rather than dealing with issues of them breaking down and needing corrective maintenance. This works’s also to be expected given the age of the ALRVs, just like you need to reshingle the roof on your house every 20 years or so.

    This leaves two questions:

    1) Why would TTC move to scrap the ALRV fleet so quickly after investing in a new set of wheels and body/frame repairs for each car?

    2) If the ALRV fleet does experience an unacceptably high rate of breakdowns and the TTC is planning to cycle them through the shop to do the heavy body work and wheel replacements, wouldn’t it make sense to address the breakdown issues when the cars are in the shop being worked on? That’d ensure a solid supply of ALRVs that are in good condition to get the TTC through the whole length of the transition period to the new cars, however long it ends up being.

    Steve: Yes, this does sound quite reasonable, and begs the question of co-ordination between various plans. Keeping the ALRVs alive is important because it will be a while before there are enough LFLRVs to displace them.

    One last thing that’s off topic but I don’t know where to mention it was when I went looking for the budget document on the TTC website, I came across the “Schools and Youth Groups” section of the tours page. It says they don’t do tours for schools or youth groups. They suggest attending one of the limited spaces public tours or going on a self directed tour of the Sheppard line to look at the art. Can you imagine a high school shop class showing up for one of the public Hillcrest tours hoping there’s enough free spaces so everybody can get in? When I was in scouts, my troop got treated to tours of the new 53rd division police station and the CBC’s TV studios on Jarvis St among other things. I’m sorry for the off topic complaint but I think that the TTC, as a member of the community, can do a lot better than a two liner on their website that flips off every high school and scout troop in the city by saying, in effect, “We don’t do that. Go look at art on the Sheppard subway.”

    Steve: There is a much better reason for not giving school groups tours of Hillcrest and similar sites — these are working shops and it is not practical to take sizable groups through them on workdays (e.g. school days). It’s hard enough keeping people from falling in a pit or touching something they shouldn’t when the shops are quiet, let alone when they have real work going on.

    The question, then, is whether school/student groups would entertain weekend visits, and whether the TTC would treat these as special versions of the regular tours they do at off hours.


  32. Pantographs and poles mix together in San Francisco, among other places. Just a matter of setting up junction points for both. TTC will have to do the same in many parts of the city, at least for the period when they run both Bombardier and CLRV/ALRVs together. Milan did this as well when they switched to pans back in the 1970s.


  33. The TTC seems to be unable to lay and maintain ballasted track.

    Yes, they need a railway contractor such as PNW the one that looks after GO tracks.


  34. Low-floor streetcars are very intolerant of snow and ice build-up. A talk with any European operator about what they have to do to keep their fleets running in winter weather similar to what we experience in Toronto is very illuminating. Does anyone really trust today’s TTC to take the same sort of measures taken by competent and experienced European operators?

    The day is going to come when Torontonians will regret the awarding of this order. At the very least, we are going to get stuck with numerous costs that weren’t even discussed when the order was placed. The planned replacement of the overhead is but one example.


  35. I feel like I’m beating a dead horse here, but why, again, are the 502/503 trippers included on this list, especially so early and with such a massive increase in capacity? Increasing headways will only drive people away from what I, as a former resident of those routes’ catchment areas, would describe as a service already used anemically? I can count on my hands the number of times I’ve ridden those routes and had trouble finding a seat. During midday the service is sporadic bordering on non-existent, and as you’ve said, Steve, a short turned 15 minute headway becomes a 30 minute wait.

    There is no need that I can see on that corridor for increasing the capacity that much, and at any rate the Kingston Road portion would be better served by running the 22A Coxwell to Victoria Park via Kingston all day. At the price of a few extra buses, you’ve got better and more reliable service than you could possibly get from streetcars on that route most likely at a fraction of the cost. I love me some streetcars, but those two routes soaking up cars make my blood boil.

    I may have to go stand on my lawn and yell at the kids today now. Rant mode off.


  36. RE: Seattle headway on the South Lake Union trolley – Toronto’s streetcar system carries about 100x more passengers a day (300,000 vs. less than 3,000) – shorter headways make a lot of sense with a lot more riders!


  37. “The day is going to come when Torontonians will regret the awarding of this order. At the very least, we are going to get stuck with numerous costs that weren’t even discussed when the order was placed. The planned replacement of the overhead is but one example.”

    I was at the meeting where the modified the tender to require a 100% low floor model. They claimed that having a partial low floor would require ramps which cause of layout problems. They didn’t address the possibility of a 50% low floor vehicle with stairs, like all the new buses.

    I suspect it all goes back to one of the questions asked in the survey about the new streetcar that asked about the importance of passenger flow through the vehicle. Of course everyone checked it off because it didn’t explain that better passenger flow could cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

    They plowed ahead with 100% low floor claiming it was the universal standard despite the fact only two European cities had them. Now the costs are coming in. A new carhouse because the existing ones aren’t suitable, new overhead, new fare collection system and zero successful bidders on the original tender. How many are yet to come, switch problems, derailment problems, maintenance headaches, problematic doors, snow problems…

    Here is an email exchange I had on the issue in 2007.


  38. The TTC was advised by one bidder that it would be preferrable to go with something less than a 100% low-floor design, given that company’s experience with several European orders. Did the TTC listen? Of course not!

    Furthermore, that experienced builder offered to bring their 100% low-floor demonstrator to Toronto at their expense to test the concept on TTC rails. They were told to buzz off. Nor would anyone at our so-called pro-LRT City Hall listen to them.


Comments are closed.