On March 11, 2014, photos of car 4401 on training runs appeared in at least two locations:
- St. Clair & Yonge on Torontoist
- Spadina south of Adelaide on Twitter (Photo by Kyle Baptista @kylebap)
Delivery of the first production car, 4403, has been delayed until late April according to the TTC’s Brad Ross, but the rate of production can be ramped up by Bombardier. In any event, 510 Spadina will operate with new cars effective August 31, 2014.
Meanwhile on Queens Quay, construction of the new streetcar right-of-way and the permanent north roadway is expected to begin later in March depending on the weather. Work will begin west from Lower Simcoe to Rees, a section where utility work is completed and traffic can be shifted to the south side of the road. West of Rees, installation of sewers is still underway.
Preliminary overhead work has been done at the exit from Queens Quay Loop, and work is also underway at the King/Spadina intersection. During brief spells of warm weather, track within the loop was set in concrete.
…depending on the weather.
And watermain breaks, and pothole filling, and collisions, and construction delays, and supply problems…
Steve: Today, briefly, it is spring! The track at Queens Quay Loop was sitting in fresh concrete when I visited earlier today. The real challenge at that location is getting all of the utility work under and near the intersection finished so that the southern part of the loop can be installed.
I’m pretty excited about this. I think all-door low floor boarding alone would decrease time spent at each stop significantly.
Will the streetcars be using all-door boarding with POP when it rolls out on Aug 31?
Steve: Yes. There is no “front door” or farebox by the operator who is in a separate compartment. The TTC plans to have staff on board for the first period of operation to help people understand the new way of paying fares.
It’s not using the pan even on St. Clair.
After witnessing another dewirement off a turn last week (and the subsequent light show and intersection blockage) I must say these things really need to not enter service using poles.
So Union Station is showing August 30th as the date of restoration for Streetcar service along Queens Quay. Given that this is AFTER the CNE I foresee a return of the 521 and possibly 522 this year.
Steve do you have any idea what the board period will look like during the CNE this year given that Queens Quay is out, Lower Spadina is out along with King if I am not mistaken? Given the current spare ratio with all the diversions/closures and taking into account a 7 alarm fire at one of the stations by my estimate we do not have enough buses to run increased service during the CNE.
Given the work taking place along King I can foresee a 522 service this year.
Steve: No, I have no idea what the Exhibition services will look like.
I am involved with tentative plans for a group event which would involve catching one or more water taxis at the foot of York Quay on Sat. Aug. 16. What is the likelihood of the streetcars [we would be using TTC] operating along Queen’s Quay by that date. If the access is the same as it is at present it could present a problem.
Steve: At this point, the plans are still for streetcar service to return at the end of August. The controlling factor is the intersection at Spadina which may be one of the last pieces to be completed. That said, it is my understanding that it would actually be done sooner, around the end of June or early July begging the question of whether streetcars could return for August at least on the 509. (Spadina will be closed at Dundas for track work and could not reopen until late August no matter what happens on Queens Quay.)
The TTC is quite suspicious that Waterfront Toronto will actually finish the work on the advertised schedule, but given lead times for operators signing up for work, a decision to schedule streetcars rather than buses for August must occur in early June.
No worries Steve, thank you. While I am on the subject did you manage to get a peek at Union while you were over at Queens Quay?
Its looking good there with the station box almost complete from what I can tell. My guess is they will be closing the current mezzanine shortly and opening the new section by May.
Steve: No, I wasn’t at Union because I travelled to QQ via the 509 bus from King and Yonge.
Just to clarify … was it the LFLRV that dewired? And now that the LFLRV is being taken on more trips around Toronto for operator familiarization … is it handling the wires properly?
The discussion above about how the operator will be in a separate compartment makes me wonder: will the new streetcars have an external speaker for route announcements at stops? With the legacy streetcars, I assume that blind passengers must ask the operator before boarding what route the car is on and whether it’s short-turning, but if the operator is in a sealed compartment, it seems like that won’t be an option. Steve, do you know?
Steve: I do not know how the blind are expected to interact with operators on the new cars. This is a subject that must have already come up with ACAT discussions about the vehicles, and I will have to chase this to see what the procedure will be.
It was a plain CLRV. There are too many issues with poles that would only be exacerbated on larger vehicles. Pans need to be operational from day one.
What are the possibilities of a parade of streetcars along Spadina with the launch of the LFLRVs? I was a toddler when the CLRVs were introduced so I don’t know how the TTC welcomes new streetcars.
Steve: There was a parade when Spadina opened in 1997. An event this year will mark not just the new cars but the long-awaited reopening of Queens Quay service unless the TTC and Waterfront Toronto figure out a way to do that part of the line sooner, a feat I cannot too strongly encourage.
Since the first day of service for the new cars is a Sunday, a special pre-opening celebration on the Saturday wouldn’t hurt, but might tempt riders still packed on the 77 Spadina bus to ask why service does not start immediately. Of course we would need to fight off the (remaining) mayoral campaigns who would try to score points one way or another.
I could not help but observe that riders get to “experience” parades of streetcars (and buses) along many routes on a regular basis. I don’t think it means exactly what Moaz means, though…
Granted that pans are better than poles but the problem is the lousy overhead, not the poles. There have been many systems that operated at high speed with poles and did not suffer from the dewirement problems that the TTC does. Put the blame where it belongs, but yes pans would be better.
The LFLRV does regular nightly training (week nights) and has been doing constant pan testing on St. Clair. Pan testing has been done in other locations, mainly long stretches and the recent Queen shut down. The frogs/crossovers are incompatible. The pan itself has had some problems, mainly with the raising/lowering.
The new current problem is the overhead insulators burning out – the latest one happened Thursday night eastbound Gerrard/Broadview knocking out the intersection for 2 hours. The LFLRV had passed through eastbound and was unaware of the reported loud bang and flash, resulting in the next CLRVs in various directions to go dead (the LFLRV was unaffected as it had contact with live overhead). These new insulators contain both the insulator and diode, and can be seen on Spadina, St. Clair, and said intersection. They are easy to spot as they are longer and a single unit (single old insulators without secondary diodes can be seen at bridges). Obviously the engineers need to come up with a solution.
Steve: Have you had the opportunity to ride one? I’ve heard from others that it is an excellent smooth and quiet ride.
Steve: The only ride I have been on was the press tour from Hillcrest to Bathurst Station and back. Yes, very quiet and smooth. Looking forward to a longer, faster trip.
Heads up Steve looks like they are doing work on the overhead at Spadina and Fort York today. Saw two trucks sitting on the ROW around noon.
I can understand the concern of fewer streetcars during off-peak hours. But during peak hours, I think going from 2 minute to 5 minute headways is perfectly acceptable (and an improvement, in fact).
Still disagree, Adam Vaughan and Gord Perks? Then do you honestly believe that increasing the frequency to less than 2 minutes will improve things?
Steve: You really don’t know basic arithmetic, do you? One new LFLRV is equal to two CLRVs or about 1.4 ALRVs. If you more than double the headway, you will be running less capacity than what is there now. As for the premise that somehow the 5 minute headway will be more reliable, all you have to do is look at 501 Queen which used to have a much more frequent service of CLRVs. When the ALRVs came along and headways widened, the already poor service became even less reliable, and the line lost a lot of ridership as a direct result. Is that what we want to do to the entire system (including bus lines that will get artic buses on wider headways)?
That was a typo. I meant to write 4 minutes. Given the same capacity, I would think that an excessively frequent route is harder to manage than a slightly less frequent route. I would like to ask you: how frequent was 501 Queen when it ran with non-articulated vehicles?
Steve: In October 1980, the Queen car (Neville-Humber) ran every 2’27”. In October 1971, it ran with two-car trains every 4’00”. In April 1964, it ran with a car every 1’30”. It should be noted that until service on Kingston Road was cut back, there was a streetcar along Queen (on what is now called the “Downtowner 502” route) every 3 minutes or better on top of the Queen service.
The problem with managing cars on wider headways is that if the schedules do not reflect actual operating conditions, then there will always be gaps and short turns, and these will be much bigger on routes with fewer vehicles. When Queen ran with two-car trains, it was common to uncouple the trains in service and short turn one of the two cars. This is not possible with artics.
Steve: The problem I have with your comment is the idea of “excessive” frequency. Much of the view today of “streetcar service” is based on current experience, not on what the system is capable of and once operated.
Steve, question for you with regards to using Parliament, would it be feasible and / or reasonable to run tracks back up to Bloor from Carlton and run a service like the Broadview – King car, down Parliament and say Queen to act as a Yonge/Bloor bypass? Could a streetcar even get through Castle Frank in terms of the turns assuming you did lay the tracks, and of course could the station and Parliament handle a goodly number of streetcars (say one every 1-2 minutes or so). I realize this is likely a wild eyed question, but I wonder only because I have the feeling the decision to build the DRL will not be made until after any excess capacity on Yonge is gone. I know there used to be a Parliament streetcar, and the north end of the tracks is now gone, but I wonder about the options.
Steve: The short answer is no. Aside from the fact that Parliament is a busy street with many traffic signals and generally slow operations, there is no spare capacity at Broadview Station for more service. It is quite common to see the platforms full today and cars waiting to get into the station. (It is also common to see the station completely empty thanks to many short turns, but if all of the scheduled service were there, it would be a problem to add much more.)
Sorry Steve I was referring to Castle Frank, however, I suspect that would not change the answer, as it looks too tight to run any service through that station anyway, and the balance of your answer would still stand. Your point with regards to short turns at Broadview is interesting, in that being more disciplined with regards to running through service might offer a small opportunity there.
I worry in terms of the train wreck the lack of a DRL threatens to become. This is especially disturbing given that people do not seem to understand the need for their own areas and see it only as a ploy by downtown to get more service.
Steve: Castle Frank, aside from having a small loop, also has, as I understand things from previous discussions of this idea, a problem with insufficient structural strength to carry a loop full of streetcars. From a passenger handling point of view, this is a station west of the point where outbound trains start to empty out (Broadview and Pape) giving more room for anyone transferring from a connecting line from the south.
I have a question for anyone who frequents Dundas territory.
The original TTC rollout document suggested that 80 some odd curb cuts and other stop enhancements on Dundas would be done by the end of this year – 42 in 2013 and 41 in 2014, along with 24 upgrades for TVM’s.
Has anyone seen any progress on this? I haven’t seen any (but I don’t frequent 505 territory) and I half assume the TTC is waiting for the finalized report on eliminating or moving stops before spending any money.
When I wrote my comment, I was thinking about the 510 Spadina line. I rechecked the rollout plan, but saw that the frequency would decrease from 2 minutes to 3’15”, roughly. I disagree with those who say that this is a bad change. Unlike Queen, I don’t think there’s a previous service plan for Spadina that we can compare the existing service with.
Steve: A headway of 3’15” is less than 2x the current headway, and so there is a net capacity increase for Spadina. With its short headway and limited platform space, the change should work reasonably well as long as they figure out a way to have two cars on the platform at once at Spadina Station. Union is going to be interesting with both the 510 and 509 running new cars. The situation is not the same on routes that already have wider headways and frequent service cock ups (Spadina is not a valid model for, say, Queen or King).
At least on Queen, the plan is to replace ALRVs with LFLRVs on roughly a 1:1 basis so the headways will stay about the same, and the capacity will go up. The problem remains with irregularity of service and line management. King will see a capacity increase and wider headways although still under 3 minutes.
I plan to write about the transition plan for the streetcar fleet (or the absence of one) in the near future.
You bring up the Queen Streetcar and the frequent service it once operated with. If bunching and reliability was better back then, was it because of its frequency, or it was really because of better line management and ability to couple/uncouple? Also, do you believe that restoring the frequency to 2’27” from 5’10” would be enough to improve gaps, and would we experience the same reliability in service as in 1980?
Steve: It’s a combination of factors. When there was more service, there also tended to be more “elbow room” in the service that could accommodate minor delays. This was deliberately tuned out of the system in the 1980s when, after decades of growth, the TTC finally hit a patch of ridership loss. There were line management issues even then, but with more frequent service, the gaps were not as horrendously long. It is a matter of planning gospel at the TTC and other systems that riders are much more sensitive to waits and transfers than they are to in vehicle time. Therefore, the more we make them wait and unexpectedly transfer, the more cheesed off they get disproportionately to the magnitude of the change. TTC cites these numbers all the time, but does not follow its own precepts when it comes to service reliability.
I have been interpreting the arguments of shorter-streetcar advocates as saying that the sheer number and ubiquity of streetcars along a line is, by itself, a measure against bunching and gaps. I hope this is not what people are advocating for.
Steve: If the TTC could clean up its line management, the problems introduced by wider headways would not be as severe. However, this does not seem to be a big priority for all their focus on “customer service”.
Curb cuts. The 2014 To-IN-View map shows that the City expects curb cuts (and installation of TVMs – Ticket vending machines) to be done on King, Queen, Dundas and Wellington in 2014. They had Queen on the original 2013 map and I think the contract was actually awarded but few cuts were actually made). The currently available 2013 map shows curb cuts and TVMs on Spadina and Bathurst but I do not know if these actually happened.
Of course it would make sense to decide on which stops are to be eliminated or moved before making curb cuts and installing the infrastructure for TVMs. Of course, it being the TTC, I suspect that the cuts will be made and THEN they will look at the stops – sigh!
Good point in terms of transfer. I have to admit I had been thinking in terms of the morning rush, and also more focused on the capacity at Yonge / Bloor and South. I tend to think of Bloor / Danforth as being able to add trains from where it is, more readily that Yonge. However, it would make sense to add traffic where it would not require extra trains.
How is the current situation at Pape in terms of station and line capacity for Streetcar service? Are there good options further east? I understand it would take a fair number of even the new cars to make a dent.
Steve: There is no room for a streetcar loop at Pape Station, especially one on the scale needed to absorb a lot of transfer traffic from the subway. Then there is the small problem of getting all of those cars down to at least Gerrard Street. There has not been service on Pape south of Danforth since early 1966.
The further east you go, the less attractive a streetcar diversion becomes even if you could find a station that works physically. You would be adding a longer component of east-west surface travel that would make the link unattractive as a diversion route. Also, you need to remember the question of making a link to the north, not just to Danforth.
And just to add one point from the last time I brought up the idea. Even though it is theoretically possible to construct an underground loop at Castle Frank thanks to the unused streetcar deck on the Rosedale Valley bridge, there’s no room for a portal along Parliament unless you want to start digging up bodies in St. James Cemetery.
I am sure they won’t, although their family might object.
Steve: Why do visions of a Zombie subway satire filter into my head? If the undead start showing up at public consultations (or better yet demanding their own midnight sessions), transit planning may take on an entirely new dimension.
At least it would result in a push for better Blue Night service.
Steve: I foresee a new, special colour scheme and buses with subdued lighting. Night stops would be required at certain strategic locations.
I knew there was not service now (no tracks) however, I was thinking that the distance of new tracks (restored) was not so far as to present a major issue in the context of the problem. I was hoping that there was still room for a loop. We could revive the service, raise it from the dead as long as we are having zombies on the tracks.
Perhaps its a dead issue 😛 but if I am not mistaken wasn’t there a loop at Parliament and Bloor back in the 60s? Could the area where the loop was not be utilized in some fashion?
The question is where would service go from there? In a perfect world I would have a streetcar route from Don Mills and Finch to Parliament and Bloor. I would suggest Broadview but it’s packed as it is.
Steve: The small park on the southeast corner of the intersection was Viaduct Loop. It is not located conveniently for a subway transfer and is too small for a service that would operate with substantial capacity.
It seems that some people want to resurrect the Harbord car, or parts thereof. It is a shame that we just finally got rid of Townsley loop with the redoing of St. Clair r.o.w. If we are going to rebuild long lost lines then let’s redo the Bay car but leave it on Queen’s Park and University which are nice and wide. Instead of stopping at Lansdowne it could continue along the Hydro r.o.w. west of the Newmarket sub and head off into the wilds of Etobicoke or a branch could swing north along the Humber.
It would provide relief for the Yonge subway. If we could only run it through lower Bay it would be perfect.
The line would need to be run with at least double sided cars so there would be left hand loading on Queen’s Park and University. What other lines could we resurrect? The possibilities from going backwards in time are almost limitless. Does anyone have a spare Tardis?
Steve: If you pick up the correct right-of-way heading out of the city, you will eventually reach the streetcar museum at Rockwood. Think of the possibilities for through running, say, the L&PS car!
Technically it’s L&PS cars now even if you don’t count what’s left of the trailer car they have. However, I’m not sure what the restoration potential of #4 is.
The stop-and-proceed policy aside, can streetcars safely blow through a face-pointing switch at full-speed (like a subway does) in the straight-through direction?
Steve: Technically yes, although this would probably not be a good idea as streetcar special work is not built for full speed operation. However, the stop-and-proceed rule in Toronto really is a combination of a few decades of bad track switch technology that has never been fixed and an almost paranoid attitude to safety. The current crew running the TTC has not known any other environment and treat it as perfectly normal that streetcars have to tip-toe through intersections.
Car 4403 (the first production model of the Flexity Outlook for Toronto) has already arrived. (This afternoon, I saw it being backed into a stall at the Harvey Shops but I don’t know on what day it arrived.) There appears to have been a press event (perhaps earlier today?) featuring 4403. The Toronto Star has a video.
As of last week, it seems that the new stall at Roncesvalles for low-floor vehicles was still not in use. (I assume the stall was not yet in use as employee automobiles were parked on the stall’s exit track.)
Is delivery of production models behind schedule?
Steve: There was an event today for the media and politicians. Next week there is one for, shall we say, friends of the TTC, many of whom participated in a Twitter trivia contest to win invitations. 4403 is indeed much later than originally planned, and I hope that the delay — mainly caused by major changes to the accessibility ramp — means that we have a much more acceptable new streetcar.
The TTC claims that once production ramps up, they could actually go beyond the originally planned 3 cars/month. Depending on how severe the reliability of the old fleet becomes, speeding up deliveries to get back “on time” may be a worthwhile option.