Roncesvalles Renewed Celebration (Updated)

Updated July 24, 2011 at 11:00 pm:  Links to archival photos of Roncesvalles Avenue from the City Archives have been added to the end of this article.

Apologies to those who expected to find the PCCs running on Ronces.  In turned out that one car had already been hired out for another event, and the second PCC was in the shop for repairs.  Two CLRVs don’t have quite the same effect.

Original post from July 18:

To celebrate the return of streetcars to Roncesvalles Avenue, the local BIA (Business Improvement Area) will host a special event on Saturday, July 23.

At about 10:15 am, there will be a ribbon cutting ceremony opposite the library at Roncesvalles and Wright, and until 4:00 pm, PCCs will operate on Roncesvalles as a free service.  (Regular transit vehicles, which may well still be the 504 shuttle bus, will charge fares.)

Scheduled King streetcar service returns to Roncesvalles Avenue on Sunday, July 31.  The celebration is taking place a week early to avoid conflicts with both the Simcoe Day holiday weekend and the Caribbean Festival.

[Ronces logo borrowed from Roncesvalles Village Facebook page.]

Updated July 24:

Here are links to photos of Roncesvalles Avenue.  All images are from the City of Toronto Archives.

Looking north on Roncesvalles from King Street (Dec 10, 1909).  The original Roncesvalles carhouse is on the west side ofRoncesvalles a bit north of the intersection.

Looking south on Roncesvalles to Queen Street (Dec 10, 1909).  The hotel on the southeast corner is clearly visible behind the vacant lot on the east side of Ronces.  The track leads to the original carhouse run off to the west side of the street.

Sunnyside & Roncesvalles (1915).  This view shows the original arrangement of tracks at Sunnyside and the bridge that carried streetcars down to Lake Shore Blvd.  That branch of the intersection is roughly where the pedestrian bridge over the Gardiner Expressway is today.

Looking west along Queen to Roncesvalles (1922) showing the “Sea View Hotel”.

The often-published view of Queen & Roncesvalles from April 24, 1923 showing the reconstruction by he TTC.  The view looks northeast from the lead to Lake Shore Blvd. that no longer exists.

The original Roncesvalles Carhouse stood north of Queen Street on the west side (April 1923).

Looking south across the site for the new Roncesvalles Carhouse (June 1923) with the Toronto Railway Company’s old yard for the first carhouse in the distance.

Queen & Roncesvalles (1927)  showing the access bridge to Lake Shore Blvd.

Roncesvalles and Grafton looking south (1919) showing the decrepit condition of Toronto Railway Company track.  This track had been installed only a decade earlier when the line opened in 1909.

Looking west from Roncesvalles along Pearson (1916).  The houses are still there, but the trees are a big bigger.  Oddly enough, the Google Street View was taken just as track construction was beginning a few years ago.

Looking southeast at Howard Park & Roncesvalles (February 1924).

Bus garage adjacent to Dundas Carhouse on Howard Park east of Roncesvalles, north side (1923).

Dundas Carhouse (1931) looking southwest from Ritchie Street.  The carhouse was not used as an operating division after 1931, but was a storage site for old cars as they were replaced by PCCs beginning in the late 1930s.

Dundas & Roncesvalles looking south (1912), and another view looking north.  Note that there was originally a set of tracks allowing cars to turn between Dundas and Roncesvalles across the front of the Merchants Bank building which is now a Starbucks.

Queen Street looking west near Sunnyside Loop (1933).  The Queen Street extension didn’t exist yet, and Queen street’s trackage ended at Sunnyside Loop just beyond the carhouse fence and under the large billboard.

Temporary waiting room (January 1936), later replaced by Gray Coach Lines Waiting Room (December 1936).

Looking east on The Queensway to Roncesvalles (1959).  The hotel on the southeast corner is almost invisible under billboards, and the Gray Coach terminal, looking somewhat like its original design, sits on the northwest corner.  Sunnyside CNR station is on the south side of King roughly where the Polish war memorial park is located today.

12 thoughts on “Roncesvalles Renewed Celebration (Updated)

  1. Steve:

    Aren’t there only two PCCs in the fleet? This means that the service will be a bit spotty if it runs from Dundas West to Queen. I guess that means a slight service improvement compared to many of the gaps on the regular King service.

    Steve: It turns out that one of the PCCs is already booked out, and the other one is in the shop and may not be available, so there will be at least one CLRV.


  2. Steve, where can one board a PCC? Presumably at Dundas West or the Roncesvalles yard?

    Steve: At any stop enroute. If you want to get off inside Dundas West Station, you have to pay a fare.

    Also, did you see “The Fixer” on the ‘mixed’ bike lanes & streetcar stop bumpouts on Roncesvalles?

    Regards, moaz

    Steve: Yes, I saw the article which was more positive about the design that the headline suggested.


  3. Will the BIA be paying the newly inflated charter fee, or will the TTC call this one an operational run?

    Steve: I will have to find out what arrangements have been made for this.


  4. I went to Queen and Bathurst then walked back to Spadina, down to King West to Bathurst and back to Queen. I saw 4 504 Church cars on Queen east of Spadina, 4 504 Broadview Station cars on Spadina south of the railway tracks, almost half the service between Queen’s Quay and King was 504’s. They seemed to split the line in two; Broadview to Queen’s Quay and Roncesvalles to Church with the entire east bound run on Queen.

    The Charlotte loop is definitely out of service so the poor Spadina inspector could short turn without using College an McCaul or something weird. Spadina was a total zoo with half the routes in the downtown using it.

    The street cars seemed to ignore light phases and blasted through intersections when ever there was a break. Two or 3 ran the red light southbound at Lakeshore because the idiots coming off the Gardiner blocked all the south bound lanes for the entire light so when the intersection cleared the cars, the first of which was sitting on one idiot’s bumper blowing his horn and ringing his bell floored it an so did the two behind him. There is something to be said for mass.

    The cars making left hand turns off Spadina just nosed out into the intersection, waited for a small gap, and bulled their way through. Who needs Transit Priority? I saw a number of cars make turns or go through lights that did not have a transit turn or green signal. If they didn’t the service would not run. Any cops who were around were smart enough to know to ignore it.

    I left Bathurst and headed east as a 511 made the turn. I got to Spadina walking before the car in front of it. Church seemed to be the destination of choice for a lot of the service today. I saw, 501, 504, 505 and 506 cars turning there. I never saw a Downtowner bus though. I bet that everyone can’t wait until the intersection is finished; though from the use at Spadina and King it may need replacing soon.

    Steve: The Spadina intersections are on the 2012 list, or at least they were in the original 2011 budget. The stretch of Queen east of Bathurst is a mess because there have been no changes to the parking regs, and the “peak period” is far too short there anyhow (4 to 6 pm).

    So far, the only police I have seen associated with this project have been guarding traffic cones. Meanwhile, as you describe, the degree to which the signals simply cannot handle the volume of transit and road traffic is painfully obvious.


  5. Robert Wightman wrote,

    “Any cops who were around were smart enough to know to ignore it.”

    Do the cops have jurisdiction here? Or rather, have the laws been re-written the the past 20 or so years?

    At one point (and I’m asking if this is still in effect), streetcar operation fell under the Railway Act (which is federal legislation), and the Toronto Police did not have jurisdiction, in the same way they do under the Highway Traffic Act (which is provincial legislation) or the Criminal Code (another piece of federal legislation).

    As I understood it, a streetcar going through a red light was not a HTA offence, but a RA offence, and it would be up to the company operating the streetcar to police its operators. I am not sure if there were revisions to both acts when transit signals were first implemented. If they weren’t, it is the TTC that is ‘looking the other way’ and not the cops.

    Steve: Streetcars are subject to the HTA. Section 32(2) provides that one must have a driver’s license to operate a streetcar on a highway. The phrase “motor vehicle or streetcar” appears repeatedly throughout the act to embrace these vehicles under the same provisions.

    The HTA contains the rules related to the white bar indication:

    Red light

    (18) Every driver approaching a traffic control signal showing a circular red indication and facing the indication shall stop his or her vehicle and shall not proceed until a green indication is shown. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 144 (18).

    Exception – turn

    (19) Despite subsection (18) and subject to subsection (14), a driver, after stopping his or her vehicle and yielding the right of way to traffic lawfully approaching so closely that to proceed would constitute an immediate hazard, may,

    (a) turn to the right; or

    (b) turn to the left from a one-way street into a one-way street,

    without a green indication being shown. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 144 (19).

    Exception – white vertical bar indication

    (19.1) Despite subsection (18), a driver operating a bus or street car on a scheduled transit authority route approaching a traffic control signal showing a white vertical bar indication may, with caution, proceed forward or turn right or left. 1994, c. 27, s. 138 (13).

    Note that the HTA does NOT bar a transit vehicle from entering an intersection when there is a green signal. In other words, the white bar nullifies the red signal for transit vehicles (with care), but a white bar is not a legal requirement to make turns.


  6. Hi Steve and Robert:-

    Streetcars are indeed subject to the highway traffic act. I remember many years ago seeing the notice posted in the Inspector’s office on the S end of the SB platform at Davisville advising all operators that the change either had or was about to take place. This would have been somewhere around 1985 maybe.



  7. Dennis Rankin says:
    July 21, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    “Hi Steve and Robert:-

    “Streetcars are indeed subject to the highway traffic act. I remember many years ago seeing the notice posted in the Inspector’s office on the S end of the SB platform at Davisville advising all operators that the change either had or was about to take place. This would have been somewhere around 1985 maybe.”


    I never said they weren’t subject to the HTA, just that any cops around were wise enough to realize that the system would not run if they ticketed all the street cars that “abused” the system. Most cops know when it is time to enforce a law and when it is time to turn a blind eye. Enforcing these laws would bring the city to a stand still and would create a lot of enemies from people who could be valuable allies.

    I know that street cars were under the street railway act once upon a time which I believe was federal legislation. In the 80’s the feds wanted to unload this so they allowed the provinces to put streetcars under the HTA. This is some archaic relic left over from the British North America Act that set up Canada. It was not unusual in the 60’s and 70’s to see Gray Coach operators on Queen or Bloor because they had their driving licence suspended. They would drive street cars until they got it back. Alas there is no Gray Coach and you can’t drive a streetcar without a licence.


  8. Actually, streetcars always came under Provincial jurisdiction Street Railway Act dating back to the era of radial cars travelling to outer towns. It was a little-known fact that flew under the radar until one day a Toronto police officer investigated a minor accident involving a streetcar and discovered the operator had a suspended driver’s license. He also discovered one was not required! When this hit the newspapers the situation came to the attention of the powers that be and it was quickly and quietly changed. It was the reason sometimes I would watch a streetcar operator ignore a red traffic light with impunity as he knew it did not apply to him. This was a nice way for operators to keep working by bidding work on a bus route until they got their license back. There might well have been some operators who never had a driver’s license in the first place. Too bad.


  9. Was out of town this weekend so missed the re-opening unfortunately, but I just returned from a run down the new Roncesvalles and have to say I’m impressed. I watched the bump outs go in and was on the fence as to what I thought of them during construction, but they seemed to be working really well. Ironically they’re the perfect height for the buses that are currently running (elderly people were getting on without having to struggle to step up), so accessibility looks like it will suffer a (hopefully temporary) setback after the streetcars resume their normal routes. I wonder where the idea for them came from? If its a TTC original, its a winner. Anyone know where are they supposed to be added next (if anywhere)? If only they’d have installed them with the Dundas reconstruction that’s ongoing . . .

    The only problem I observed was an incident when a cyclist didn’t stop while a bus was letting off passengers around Howard Park Ave and nearly ran over two women. Although I’m a cyclist myself, I worry the blatant disregard for traffic rules many bikers have in this city will create problems, and that the signs that are supposed to be installed will not be enough. They almost need a mini cross arm or one of those extendable “stop” signs from schoolbuses.

    On a last note, what a disaster it would be if the new tram contract was cancelled by our fearless leader; these bump-outs would never be used to their potential.

    Steve: The bump outs are the combined effort of many people including the local Councillor, Gord Perks, community groups and businesses, the TTC and City staffs.

    Why not on Dundas too? A few problems. First off, there were already fights between the local businesses and former Councillor Giambrone about parking restrictions that, put bluntly, were too extreme for the benefits they brought. Second, Dundas crosses several wards while Ronces lies entirely in one ward and that simplifies the politics. Finally, Ronces has less traffic on it and the traffic engineers were supportive of the plan. There are no major cross streets, and so the need for turn lane space on Ronces is much less than on Dundas.

    All that said, the TTC is looking at expansion of this type of stop layout where practical elsewhere in the system, but don’t hold your breath for anything that takes road space until we have a change at City Hall.


  10. Though they didn’t have any “antique” streetcars they did have an air-conditioned one and believe me, in that heat wave it was great.

    As for the bump-outs, I think they’re great! I’d be prepared to see us go though a war against the car to get more of them.


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