Queens Quay Update: February 2014

The completion date for restoration of streetcar service on southern Spadina and Queens Quay has been pushed back due to winter weather delays to, probably, the end of August 2014.  Today, I spoke with Waterfront Toronto to find out how various parts of the project fit together.

Work at Spadina Loop cannot proceed into the intersection (the south half of the loop) until traffic can shift to the south side of the street, but that is currently prevented by utility work still in progress on that side from Rees Street west.  Pole installation at Spadina for the new overhead is also a limiting factor and this has to work around the traffic moves.

Waterfront Toronto now expects that Spadina Loop will be completed, except for the overhead, by late May.

Meanwhile, on the portion of Queens Quay east of Rees, work will begin on the streetcar right-of-way and the new north side roadway in March (depending on weather) with the westbound auto traffic shifted to the south side of the street.  The tangent track is expected to be completed by late June.

This opens up the possibility that if the TTC could get the overhead done quickly enough, the 509 Harbourfront car could return for August, but that is far from certain.

Meanwhile on Spadina, although the loop trackage be finished by mid May, service will not be extended south from King to Queens Quay until the overhead is in place.  The work schedule may be too tight for a having the loop available for July, and in any event streetcars will not operate on Spadina during August while the intersection at Dundas is replaced and modifications are underway at Spadina Loop.

I checked with the TTC to find out their position on the situation because it was the February 2014 CEO’s report that alerted me to the change.  Brad Ross replied:

To be clear, and I/we have been consistently clear on this with you and anyone who asks, the schedule is entirely Waterfront Toronto’s. We publish dates based on their schedule. No one wants to resume streetcar service on QQ more than us. To add further clarity, as you requested, criticism of the TTC on the delays on QQ would be wholly unjustified and unfounded. As I have said before, you need to speak with WT for an answer as to why the delays and shifting schedule.

Union Station, the portal and loop down there are not affected and are not delaying work. We need to install the overhead along QQ and at the loop at QQ and Spadina, but require the track to be in first. WT have committed to a schedule to ensure this work is finished on time for the new streetcar to at least operate on Spadina to QQ. WT are well aware of this need and we have been quite clear with them on it.

Meanwhile, the Spadina and Dundas intersection is being redone this summer … and work … is happening on the platform at Spadina station simultaneously to better accommodate the new cars.

I will continue to monitor the TTC and Waterfront Toronto for updates to the project plans.

Toronto Council Elects Maria Augimeri as New TTC Chair (Updated)

Toronto Council has elected Maria Augimeri as the new Chair of the Toronto Transit Commission to replace Karen Stintz who resigned the post (but not her seat on the Board) to run for Mayor.

During the nomination process, Mayor Ford attempted to nominate his brother Doug for the position, but he is ineligible as he is not on the Board and there is no vacancy to which he could be appointed.  The Mayor attempted to move that his brother replace Commissioner Glen DeBaeremaeker on the Commission, but this was ruled out of order by the Speaker.  A notice of motion (or a special meeting of Council) to change the composition of the TTC would be required for future debate.

The result of the vote was:

  • Maria Augimeri: 23
  • Josh Colle: 21
  • Spoiled: 0
  • Absent: 1

In speeches before the vote, Augimeri talked of her role as a “caretaker” for the remainder of the term, whereas Colle emphasized that there were many important issues facing the TTC, including labour negotiations.  He also mentioned that his constituents are more concerned about being able to get on the Bathurst and Dufferin buses than with new lines on maps.

Colle’s speech was the more forward-looking, but his candidacy may have suffered by association with outgoing Chair Stintz and Mayor Ford.  In any event, I hope that both Commissioners will work together and do more than simply minding the store for the coming months.  There are important policy discussions that can, at least, be set in motion even if they are not decided until the next Council and Commission.  We have had three years of inaction and cutbacks, and now is not the time to sit back and just wait for the election.

Updated February 20, 2014 at 1:00 am:

By contrast with her speech at Council, Maria Augimeri spoke about the importance of service improvements in a press scrum following her election.

In the Globe, Oliver Moore quoted Augimeri:

“I’m very concerned about crowding,” she told reporters shortly after the 23-21 vote at Toronto council, in which the brothers Ford both supported her opponent.

“People feel like sardines and, hopefully, if we can get the buses running better, that’s a one-up on what we’ve done for decades, and that is centre on subways versus LRT and the sexier forms of transit. People ignore the buses and the streetcars, so we want to put more emphasis on those.”

I look forward to Chair Augimeri’s inaugural comments at the TTC Board meeting on February 24.