After many delays, the Queens Quay reconstruction project will be completed to the point that streetcars can return on the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend, October 12, 2014.
Years of utility construction, rebuilt sidewalks and a completely new trackbed for streetcars are almost over. When the project finishes in 2015, Toronto will finally see more than beautiful presentations and websites, we will see the street as the designers intended.
Updated October 8, 2014
Test car 4164 ran to Union Station on October 7.
Photos from Harold McMann:
View from 4164 eastbound at Lower Simcoe and Queens Quay:
Union Station Loop:
Photos linked from a comment by “Thomas”:
Approaching Lower Simcoe Westbound
This was a typical scene only a week ago on September 24 looking west toward Rees Street and the Radisson Hotel. All traffic had shifted off of the streetcar right-of-way to the newly paved roadway north of the tracks (to the right in the view below). A fleet of vans from contractors putting the finishing touches on the line filled the streetcar lanes. Work at this point was mainly electrical – TTC power feeders, traffic signals and lighting. Preliminary supports were up for the overhead, but most of the line did not yet have contact wire in place.
By October 3, 2014, the contact wire is in place (although not yet energized) and much of the fencing around the right-of-way has disappeared in anticipation of test runs starting October 7.
This view looks west at Rees Street where both transit stops are now on the west side of the intersection (the eastbound stop has been changed from farside to nearside). The crew working on the roadway are making saw cuts for the loop detectors that will activate the transit priority signals.
This is a location where Toronto Hydro has not yet completed the shift of its plant into new underground chambers and conduit, and the street still has a mix of temporary and permanent utility poles.
The view below looks in the opposite direction east from Rees Street. The traffic signal will control the exit from the Radisson Hotel at the east leg of Robertson Crescent.
The new street is divided from south to north into three bands. Southernmost is the pedestrian and cycling area including rows of trees. The structures shown here are “silva cells” designed to provide support for the pavement above, but to be open for the growth of tree roots below. The whole area around the cells is filled with fresh soil before the area is closed in. Tree planting will be done in the spring of 2015.
This section will include the Martin Goodman cycling trail linking up existing portions of the waterfront trail from west of Spadina to beyond Bay Street. (Plans for Queens Quay East include a similar layout when the transit right-of-way is built, but for now there is a temporary trail heading east from Yonge.)
This view is in the same location, but from the streetcar lanes showing the new pavement on the north side of Queens Quay. Traffic operations are still only westbound because the project is not yet at the state where all intersections are ready to switch over to two-way traffic.
Looking east from Lower Simcoe Street. The eastbound stop at Lower Simcoe has been shifted further east, to line up with the new exit (controlled by the traffic signals) from the Harbourfront Centre site out of frame to the right. The westbound York Street stop remains in its old location and is on the east side of the new intersection.
Work west of Spadina is still underway, and I will add photos from that section next week.
Please read more carefully my challenge. This is exactly the sort of thing I am not talking about. I am well aware that government usually does not build its own trains, manufacture its own asphalt, or operate its own digging equipment. But almost always the trains, asphalt, and operation of digging equipment is paid for by a government contract. The question is not whether private industry is involved, which it always is, but whether the local roads are operated as a public service or on a for-profit basis. My claim is that the local roads are operated as a public service substantially everywhere.
This is part of what is so fraudulent about many “privatisation” proposals. They are sold as if once the system is private it no longer requires public subsidy. But with transit systems, either it still requires public subsidy, in the form of an expensive contract, or it will shrink down to the tiny rump which can actually operate profitably (e.g., in Toronto, maybe the 1 and 2 subway and a few crucial streetcar and bus lines can operate profitably, but forget bus service to every neighbourhood).
The electrical support is an eyesore. If they are implementing such a visual obstruction they could at least have the sense to pick a colour that blends in or alternatively apply art or colours to them to make them something that people would want in a photo.
Got a couple of pictures of CLRV 4164 in testing westbound approaching Simcoe and past Simcoe. First time in over 2 years I’ve seen a streetcar on Queen’s Quay!
Steve: Thanks for these photos. I was not able to get down to Queens Quay today.
I wonder how the testing went. Its good to see the new cars on there. How are the new cars handling the tunnel?
When I went to Spadina & Queens Quay today, I noticed there were about 6 or 7 streetcars parked around the Queens Quay loop overflowing onto the street itself. It looked strange as I don’t think there was any problem on the 510 line itself. If there is a shortage of streetcars, why would so many be parked?
Hopefully, this would not happen when the 510 line is extended to Union.
Steve: With the now and forever project of installing the new floor on the platform at Spadina Station, the cars take all of their layover time at Queens Quay Loop. On the current schedule, all trips are supposed to go to QQ although it is not uncommon to see some short turn at Adelaide. In the new schedules, only one car in three goes to QQ when the line is busy and the rest are scheduled to run only to King as was the case back before the construction started.
It will also be interesting to see how Spadina Station Loop is used once the full extent of the platform is available. The whole point was to be able to fit two LFLRVs on it at the same time.
I plan to publish an analysis of the line in November once I have tracking data for both configurations of the route.
Wait… Queens Quay and King turnbacks?
I thought service was going to Union Station.. not turning back?
Steve: Where have you been? The Spadina service will mainly turn back at King just as it did two years ago, with every second or third car running through to Union.
Ohhhhhhh I realize the confusion. When you said running through to Queens Quay I thought you meant TURNING BACK at Queens Quay loop. Apologies steve.
Jarrett Walker said “My view is that streetcars mixed with private car traffic are overrated.”
Exactly where am I cherry picking my arguments?
The phasing of the traffic lights is a simple timing scheme at the moment, transit priority won’t work yet as the final traffic controllers are being built.
You only chose one source and you ignored the fact, verifiable from TTC stats, that the average speed of street car in the inner city is greater than buses. From the point of view of American cities that are building 2 mile long street car lines and promoting them as “the ANSWER” to all their transit needs they are overrated. They are not replaceable by buses on most lines in Toronto.
The TTC has posted a tender for streetcar rail grinding services. I wonder if the new vehicles are more prone to causing rail corrugation, if they are less tolerant of it, or if this is more for improved customer relations. We shall see.
Steve: At this point we have no way of knowing in practice what the behaviour of the new vehicles is as a cause of corrugation because there are only two of them. My suspicion is that this is primarily for customer relations, and it’s not the first time the TTC has had to deal with this problem (although the track construction standards since the mid-90s have improve the situation a great deal).
A lot of transit progress has taken place under Mayor Ford’s administration.
Steve: We pause here for comic relief.
Yes it has: We have more crowded vehicles, we have cancelled then re-instated then who knows what LRT, we have a cancelled garage that will affect transit service in the suburbs for years. Yes we have had a lot of progress spelt R E G R E S S.
Good one! Technically not untrue, except that it all originated before the current regime. Previously approved progress has taken place due to the time lag between when it was approved and when it was built. e.g. Queens Quay, Union Station, new subway cars, new streetcars. So it unfortunately LOOKS like a lot has happened under this administration, but now there will be a lag of nothing happening after the transit progress blackout of the last four years.
Steve: We pause here for comic relief.
You are biased Steve and should resign from this blog. Let your readers vote on who to select as your successor from among your most frequent commenters. I am nominating, endorsing, and voting for Mr Robert Wightman who will restore this blog to it’s former neutrality and relevance.
Steve: This is my blog, you dim twit. If you don’t like it, set up your own blog and try to get the same following. As for Robert Wightman, we have known each other since our youth, and I can assure you that his opinion of the Fords is just as “biased” as mine is.
For those of you who, like myself, are always impressed by the extraordinary competence of the TTC’s posted notices for construction detours/”board your route elsewhere today”/etc., I present to you this notice on the 509 bus eastbound stop pole on Fleet St. at Fort York Blvd.
Hmm, that’s about a 20-30 minute walk, and is the eastbound terminus of the route, and this notice is posted on an eastbound stop. Sigh…looks like somebody at the TTC got the southbound Bay at Front pole notice, i.e. the one that is actually the Union Station-adjacent stop, misplaced at the far end of the route.
Additionally, the westbound replacement bus stop pole for the 509 at Fleet & Fort York says “Starting October 12 board 509 Harbourfront Streetcars on Queen’s Quay”. For those unfamiliar, the correct westbound stop is actually not all the way over+down at Queen’s Quay and Bathurst, but 2 metres away in the ROW immediately adjacent to where the bus stops. Queen’s Quay is a block south, and does not exist that far west – the streetcars come up to Fleet. That’s about a 5 minute walk and then the streetcar would bring you right back. This is the notice that should go on the eastbound stops at Dan Leckie, Spadina, and Simcoe.
I really have to wonder how the TTC does such an incredibly poor job with these notices – virtually every single time there are glaring errors on them.
Mike can’t be serious, can he? He does know that you pay for the web hosting costs of this blog, right? It’s like he’s asking you to vacate your own house and let somebody more his type move in.
Steve: He seems not to understand the principle behind the domain name being mine, and that a blog isn’t something where readers get to dictate content other than by not showing up.
But, anyway, something on topic: it’s good to see streetcars on Queen’s Quay once again. I’m surprised the prototype LRVs weren’t there today, but I suppose they had to get one of the more expendable older vehicles to test the waters first before they risk the new stuff?
Either way, I’m looking forward to riding the new tracks next week.
There are different meanings of the word “serious”. For example, I would consider certain candidates in Toronto’s municipal elections to be unserious, but due to their large and/or noisy following, they have to be treated as serious. Same in Waterloo’s municipal elections.
Mike: if you think that I am unbiased you are grossly mistaken. Everyone’s opinion has a bias and mine is a result of my education, upbringing and friends. I try to impart technical and regulatory facts that may help to explain why some things are done or can’t be done. As Steve says we have known each other for over 50 years and share similar, but not exact, opinions on many subjects.
I do not have the patience to go through all the fine detail that Steve does to see the problems with the TTC’s surface routes. I do however like to read technical manuals and government regulations from which I gather many facts that I share to try and explain problems that exist or may exist when a certain strategy is tried.
Steve: Mike left another longer reply that I have deleted. He really does not seem to understand the role of a personal blog, nor of free speech, when it applies to the “saintly” politicians he so admires.
Hopefully, the service here should greatly improve and even more so with the new cars. These long term plans (a couple of lines and new cars) coming to fruition being one of the few bright lights in the transit picture in Toronto currently.
Yes, I agree, and I hope this is the point that Mike is really making. The next couple of years will be a major issue, even with the most transit friendly and well funded council and mayor, the ability to advance service will be very limited. This ability will be so limited, that it will require much improved management on Street just to maintain the current level of service.
In a perfect world, you would be able to immediately order hundreds of extra buses, fast track the garage expansion and direct a environmental assessment on a Yonge Street extension to Steeles, with extra turn capacity included or even a yard, to be started immediately. Start really pushing a massive effort to improve transit signal priority, and transform the TTC management systems etc. This all being fast tracked as a major priority and you would be looking, if you were lucky, at seeing the beginning of the impact near the end of their term, and the major improvements into the next. Even the signal changes started so long ago on Yonge, will need to be fast tracked to have the major impact come within the next term of council.
The problem is that you can reasonably expect demand to grow by 10% between now and then, and traffic to slow and further impede the current surface fleet further, so a real reduction in the service delivery before any improvement can be made, even with a most pro TTC and transit council.
To make this begin to work, Toronto Traffic, and Police service, will need to be worked with, and assist transit in ways that has not been previously seen. The impact of the Fords should be really begin to be fully seen circa 2017. Whoever, is in power at the time should be feeling the voters’ wrath for the lack of progress on the transit file.
Tory has been smart to indicate that the DRL will take too long, and his plan will deliver improvement in 7 to 10 years. That way people will not be expecting to see immediate results. However, unfortunately, too much of his plan is unworkable anyway.
However, Robert, I think one can reasonably say that there comes a point that anyone with any reasonable interest in Transit, a basic understanding of nature of statistics around human behaviour, and a realisation of physical space, would have a healthy dislike for the Ford approach to transit.
We should all realise that people do not leave work in a steady flow from 2:30 in the afternoon to 9:00 pm. We should all realize a slightly overloaded bus will run slower than an appropriately loaded one. We should all know that somebody with a choice between driving and riding transit will be more likely to ride transit if they are not looking at long waits and having to force themselves onto a bus, streetcar or subway car. We should all know that a larger split to auto from transit means the roads will be much more congested.
In short, as an interested observer, or a resident of the city, who needs to move about, or a taxpayer, I am not convinced that being against Rob Ford’s transit policy, can be called biased. I am generally chaos and mayhem, does that make me biased?
I hope that you meant to put one more word into the last sentence than you did or you could be a character in a heavy metal song or computer game.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary has many definitions for “bias” but the two I find most useful here are:
1) a tendency to believe that some people, ideas, etc., are better than others that usually results in treating some people unfairly
2) a strong interest in something or ability to do something
By definition 1 you, I and a great many others find most people’s ideas are better than the Ford brothers but does dismissing the Fords and their arguments constitute “treating them unfairly?” I was taught way back when that applying your standards to anything is putting your personal bias onto that item. It is almost impossible for humans to treat anything about which they have any knowledge with impartiality. Perhaps the word should have been partial rather than bias but I am sticking with my high school Latin teachers. Nolite urinare contra ventum! Which is what you do when you try to reason with the Fords.
Anyway, I agree with your argument.
How about the horsecar at Disneyland? 100% on private property, privately run and financed. Zero government support.
Alas, no swan boats in the canal.
Steve: I think you have violated the terms of the question. If these cars wandered out onto local streets, I might call the “local transportation”. As for the swans, they are probably all off at the ballet.
How many new low-floor streetcars does the TTC have? The Bombardier strike is over, and still no additional new streetcars. They should have been working on the new streetcars before the strike, and should have finished them now that the strike is over.
Steve: There are four in Toronto, although two have not yet had the “production” retrofits. Deliveries are supposed to resume soon and the production rate is 3/month. Like many others, I am waiting for Bombardier to actually achieve this delivery rate.
Swan Canal is a new one to me.
Kevin Love says;
True, but they are in the pond in Boston Common, unfortunately I do not have a link to them.
Steve: They have their own website!
“If these cars wandered out onto local streets, I might call the ‘local transportation’.”
In that case, the question has been defined in a way that makes it almost impossible to fulfill the conditions. Local streets tend to be owned by local governments. So we have asserted that taxi services and other private businesses that use these streets are receiving that government benefit.
So the only “winner” is a private system that provides service to local streets while at the same time not using those local streets in any way. Good luck finding an example.
Steve: No. Public transportation almost by definition is among various locations in the public realm. An amusement park ride does not confer a benefit outside of the private park, and even there it may be treated as a “loss leader”, a necessary part of the charm used to attract patrons.
Yes, transportation within a single attraction, provided by the owners of the attraction, is not what I am talking about. Lots of zoos have various sorts of buses or open cars which similarly are not what I am looking for. I mean regular transportation from the pharmacy to the cafe down the street, over a few blocks to the grocery store, and back to my house or apartment. My claim is that this always happens everywhere on roads which are provided as a public service, not run as a business. So far for such a sweeping claim it’s looking pretty good.
On the topic of privately owned and operated public transport, I’m going to go with various railways in various cities in Japan as examples. Not the big subways with the subsidized and cross-subsidized development, but the little private railways that connect to them.
Yes, they probably wouldn’t exist without some sort of government involvement and would hardly be successful if not for the large population densities that Japan is famous for…but they are not subsidized on a level like Hong Kong or Singapore’s government subsidizes/cross-subsidizes their “private” transit.
Indeed, my claim is that it is impossible or at least very difficult to fulfill the conditions. Some people seem to think that it is possible for local transportation to be run as a strictly for-profit business, and maybe it is possible, but I claim that it is not actually done that way anywhere: the local government is always responsible for the basic infrastructure of roads; in most locations private businesses, including taxi companies and car manufacturers, rely on that infrastructure for their business.
To win the challenge, somebody has to find a location where the local roads are owned and operated by a private business, and users pay for the privilege of using the local roads, and all the costs of building, maintaining, and repairing the roads are paid out of the user fees. Honorable mention if there is a reliance on voluntary donations or sponsorships.
You could be excused for forgetting the original point I was trying to make (October 5):
“And of course many of the same people who would probably go into shock if somebody suggested charging drivers to use the roads feel no embarrassment at all when they leave a comment somewhere suggesting that LRT and bus riders should pay a high enough ticket cost to cover all the expenses associated with building and running those services. Guess what guys, government is — everywhere — responsible for making local transportation convenient.”
So my point is that local transportation users never pay in full at the point of use for their use of the local transportation grid; it is always subsidized. And I made a snarky comment about people who think public transit should be funded from the farebox, even while they drive around on subsidized roads all day.
The only real question is how the subsidy will be invested: more and more general vehicle lanes forever, or at some point do we spend some of the money on public transit vehicles and transit-specific infrastructure? Efficiency dictates that at some point the “next lane” in the widening should be an LRT or BRT lane. Personally I would do it at the point of widening from 2 to 4 lanes. Note however that I understand this is just a principle; I don’t have an actual specific plan for what to do with any existing city. But then, I’m not running for mayor on my “plan”.
I did mean to add that word, missed it when I changed my mind in how to phrase that. However, I think you missed another person I could have been with that, it would however make me a Ford.
The concern I would have with regards to have a rule of thumb, is that it would need to include the distance over which that lane travelled, and the number of people that had close to enough to common trips to make transit a viable alternative for a dedicated lane, also actual transit usage generally in the area. Really does come down to actually getting people to select transit, which of course a BRT or LRT does make much more attractive, however basic planning also has a huge impact. Harder to see it when you have a 300 meter walk across the parking lot, plus the distance to the closest stop.
I would love it if politicians and bureaucrats used the phrase “creating efficiency” as often as they use the phrase “finding efficiencies” … especially when referring to transit.
On the other hand, seeing as everyone who has an IQ greater than expired mayonnaise knows that “efficiency” is a political code word for service cut, I would rather politicians not talk about creating or finding them.
I have found that in general “finding efficiency” means looking at something and realising that I could do that with fewer resources, and that is the only change. That is I have found that if I run 10 buses to move 550 people it works, therefore is more efficient, and I just found that laying on the ground (along with the people forced to wait as full buses passed waiting for an empty.) I suspect that “creating efficiency” might mean actually investing something in order to have a similar reduction in the staff required. Like say a running 5 street cars to move 550 people (or for that matter 4). Still leaves excess capacity, while still reducing staff, something had to be done to create this, not just a cut. In this sense building an LRT and running a 2 LRV train every 5 minutes as opposed to a bus every minute would “create efficiency”. Finding it, is when you realize that you are actually only moving 3000 people, and you do not need 60 buses, only say 55, to achieve your loading standard. So you decreased capacity, whereas creating efficiency would have had a greater reduction in required staff, and an increase in capacity. To me “creating efficiency” should mean investing to allow my existing staff to do more. “Finding efficiency” seems to mean, if I do this I can reduce the number of buses I run, and the number of drivers I need.
Steve: It’s a bit trickier because those “efficiencies” almost certainly lead to a reduction in demand as people give up trying to use an overcrowded service, or growth that might have happened does not materialize. In the process personal costs go up, and this could also have secondary economic effects such as constraints on movement of workers to jobs, students to schools, shoppers to malls, etc. But the TTC’s budget and the city subsidy would look just great, thank you, and those indirect costs will never show up on your property tax bill, at least not directly.
The transit priority signals on Queens Quay between Bay and Spadina were programmed to ensure that streetcars had no priority today.
The westbound green cycle for autos is about 1 min 15 sec. About 10-15 sec is for left turning autos with the rest being for through westbound auto traffic. Only after that cycle are streetcars given the green transit signal for a few seconds.
Thus, for 1 minute, even though there are no possible conflicting traffic movements – not even from left-hand turns, streetcars must wait motionless for their short cycle. Streetcars got only a few seconds to cross an intersection every couple of minutes. Thus, streetcars started to queue and bunch.
Hopefully this was a programming bug that will be quickly fixed.
Sorry Steve, I reread my previous post, and realised I was not clear enough for my distaste for “found” efficiency.
I would argue that the “finding efficiency” as I described will certainly lead to reduced ridership, as they clearly represent much worse service. However, the “creating efficiency” ones, should actually represents an improvement in service. It would have been better if I had suggested a transfer to a single car LRT every 2 minutes, than a 2 car LRT every 5. However, a 2 car LRT every 5 minutes versus a bus a minute, still means having comfortably 300 spots instead of a tight 275. A single car LRT every 2 would mean an equivalent of 375 spots (2.5 cars in 5 minutes), which would be well into RGS type service, and allow the other 1/2 of the drivers to provide improved service elsewhere, while still meaning constant service.
Of course the costs of construction associated with the created efficiencies will require a real investment -money from taxes somewhere – to create. This type of efficiency is not free.
The efficiency created with an LRT or the new streetcars, comes from a major investment, and results in improved service, and provides for a either a smaller growth in staff or larger service improvement. 5 new Streetcars represents 750 spots to move 550 people with only 5 drivers instead of 10 buses & drivers providing 550 spots to move 550 people. You cannot run a 2 car LRT every 30 minutes instead of a bus every 5 and call that an improvement, or a “created” efficiency. This type of service change has a real cost to users.
Even the real efficiency that can be created from a new vehicle management and tracking system and much improved coordination with the signal control system to improve movement of transit vehicles, will require a substantial investment. This should create real efficiency and improved service. This type efficiency is unlikely to be “found”. The type of efficiency that the TTC needs to creates requires real work, and investment. It will not just be found.
One real positive efficiency that I can think of that could have been “found”, in recent years would been to have moved the ALRV cars to King, and run more service as CLRV on Queen. King would have benefitted from the improved capacity, and Queen from increased frequency, and there would likely have been fewer problems with cars actually slowing traffic movements on King, as there would have been able to have been slightly fewer of them. I would hope however, this type of “found” efficiency would be fairly rare.
Steve: I proposed just such a swap in detail, probably on this blog, certainly to the TTC, and for all of the usual reasons the idea was ignored. It is ironic to find more ALRVs on King these days, but when full ALRV service resumes on Queen, look for many of the King trippers to become buses, not streetcars. This shows just how desperate for working equipment the TTC is that they cannot actually field service on the entire system at once.
To be clear while creating these efficiencies will require investment, I think it will be much less expensive, than the alternatives, of having to go to great length in massive new road construction, or just suffering with the current system. The replacement of current cars with new, will create some efficiency. This type of created efficiency needs to invested in and created in many places. “Found efficiency” seems to be a false efficiency and we should be wary of it. It seems to lead to overcrowding , reduced transit usage, which as Steve says have other very high costs. Also, you do not “create” efficiency by over investing in types of transit that carry capacity and capital costs well beyond what the demand supports.
There are improvements that may be created from improved management practices and systems that will result in better bus spacing, hence service and loading and ridership without more buses and drivers. However, this requires work and investment, and will not just be happened upon. It will require a real investment in training, in systems and equipment for: tracking, dispatch and signal controls, as well as a cultural shift inside both the TTC and other city departments. It will not be just “found” for free by the side of the road. The transit systems needs to be able to invest to “create” efficiency and improved service that will attract a much larger ridership, and provide efficient movement of people about the city, instead of wasting time stuck in traffic, or massive amounts of money expended on a fruitless road construction program. “Creating” efficiency sounds like what it is, hard work, steady investment and a real consistent process of self critique, and continuous improvement. “Finding” efficiency, sounds too easy, like a free lunch, which in my experience have usually cost me a great deal.
All the more reason to start changing the way people think, and to ensure that “efficiency” is not seen as a code word for a service cut … or an excuse to do things poorly.
Spadina bus becoming Spadina Streetcar in ROW was “creating efficiency” but failing to provide the transit priority signalling to make the service fast and frequent was a mistake. The St. Clair ROW was “creating efficiency” but not investing in transit priority signalling, not widening St. Clair at the rail underpass between Keele and Old Weston Road, and not managing the line effectively are examples of mistakes that have been made.
Are you covering the Bathurst St construction? I saw some big machines today at the Wolseley St loop and so might be worth covering. The intersection is closed all the way to Queen St West from where I saw the said action. Any information on when the third new streetcar will enter service?
Steve: I will cover it in due course, and when it’s not raining. The first part of any work like this is demolition and excavation. When they start laying new track, then I will visit. The bigger job, of course, will come in November with the intersection at Dundas.