Streetcar System News: March 2014

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.

Toronto Deserves Better Transit Service Now! Part 1: Evolution of Service from 2006 to 2014 (Updated)

Updated March 10, 2014 at 2:55 pm:  A section has been added with a chart tracking the evolution of budgeted hours of service from 2006 to 2014 showing the effect of revisions, especially those occasioned by the Ford-Stintz cutbacks, and the recent growth of service thanks to carry-overs of “surpluses” in subsidy levels.

Originally published on March 9, 2014 at 8:00 am.

In the coming municipal election campaign, there will be claims and counterclaims about transit service – how much do we have, did it get better or worse, who should be praised or blamed for the changes.

This article reviews the quantity of service offered on surface routes measured by the number of vehicles on the road during various periods. The data shown are, with one exception, for January in each year to give comparable operating and demand conditions for scheduling purposes.  (The exception is for 2008 where I only have the February information in my archives.  Typically there are few changes between the January and February levels of service.)

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TTC Service Changes Effective March 30, 2014

On March 30, 2014, the TTC will make changes to many routes.  In the detailed listing linked below, these are broken into four groups for miscellaneous service changes, new construction projects, route restructurings, and seasonal changes.


Construction Projects

The 29 Dufferin and 329 Dufferin Night routes will divert southbound via College, Lansdowne and Queen around water main work on Dufferin.  The interlined operation with 316 Ossington will be discontinued until late 2014 when this diversion is scheduled to end.

Reconstruction of the Gardiner Expressway will split the 501 Queen, 301 Queen Night, and 508 Lake Shore routes at Humber Loop.  The schedule will be the same one used in fall 2013 during construction on Lake Shore.  This is planned to last only for one schedule period (to mid May).

The intersection of King & Sumach will be rebuilt to add special work leading to new tracks on Cherry Street.  Streetcar service here is already diverting around the closed bridge east of River and so the construction has no effect on service.

Articulated Buses

7 Bathurst will be scheduled to use 18m articulated buses on weekdays with resulting headway widenings.  The effect is greatest during peak periods when headways widen to match the higher capacity of the vehicles.  The changes by time period are:

  • AM Peak:  6’15” to 9’10”
  • Midday:  8’00” to 9’30”
  • PM Peak:  5’30” to 7’45”
  • Early Evening:  9’00” to 10’00”
  • Late Evening:  12’40” to 12’30”

This route is already notorious for erratic service which will likely become even worse with fewer buses.  I plan to compare vehicle tracking data for this route for the “before” and “after” operations in a future article.

Other Changes

Several routes have new and/or adjusted last trip times to meet last subway trains including an allowance for the time it takes riders to get from the subway platform to the bus.

322 Coxwell and 324 Victoria Park Night Buses will operate directly through Bingham Loop.  Eastbound 322 Coxwell buses will enter the loop at the west end via Bingham and exit directly onto Victoria Park as 324s.  Southbound 324 Victoria Park buses will enter the loop on the streetcar platform from Victoria Park and exit via Bingham to Kingston Road as 322s.

Service on 36 Finch West will be reorganized by removal of the scheduled short turns at Kipling (36A) and Jane (36C), and increase of service on the renamed 36 Humberwood (formerly 36B).

The express service on 35 Jane will be split off as 195 Jane Rocket and it will operate independently of the schedule for the local service.  Because the 195 will run during periods that the 35E does not today, the headways at local stops will widen considerably during many periods.

The 52 Lawrence West and 58 Malton routes will be combined as route 52, and the 58 Malton route number and name will be discontinued.  More service will run east between Lawrence West and Lawrence Stations as a result.  Service on the 52C Culford branch of Lawrence West will be provided at all times by 59 Maple Leaf.  Service in the 52G branch to Martin Grove will continue to run via The Westway over the existing Lawrence 52 route.

The 79 Scarlett Road bus will now have split operation via St. Clair during midday service all days, and during the early evening on weekdays.  This extends a practice already used during the peak period.

Three Eras of Planning

This article is adapted from a presentation I gave on February 26, 2014, to Paul Bedford’s planning class at Ryerson University.  Paul’s students have a term assignment to design a plan for the GTA in 2067 (as well as other papers along the way).  They will work in teams, just as real-world planners would, and have to consider many factors that would inform a 50-year plan.

The date was chosen to be far enough in the future that the students would have to live with the theoretical consequences, and also because it is Canada’s bicentennial year.  2067 is also well beyond the horizon of many plans already sitting in libraries requiring consideration of what lies beyond work already done.

With this as a starting point, I realized that there are two eras roughly the same length in my own history.  One is the post WWII period during which I was born, grew up and have lived my life as a transit advocate (among many other hats).  One is the era from the 1890s to the 1940s that was dominated by the growth of public transit, but eclipsed by the automotive industry especially after the war.  The tension between the first and second eras, between two views of private and public transport, underlies all of the planning debates we have today, and will be central to any plans for the third era, the next fifty years.

Apologies to those who have seen some of my previous talks on the evolution of transit in Toronto.  Some illustrations are good as examples of certain developments, and I am constrained by material available in the City Archives and other online collections, as well as material in my own library.  It is not unknown for academics to recycle material for lectures, and I am following a well-worn path.

Many thanks to Paul Bedford for the invitation to speak to his class, and to his students for their interest.

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