The Not So Speedy 509 Harbourfront Car

Streetcar service resumed on 509 Harbourfront on Sunday, October 12, after an absence of over two years. The Queens Quay reconstruction project started at the end of July, 2012, and was supposed to be complete in the spring of 2013. For many reasons, things didn’t quite work out that way (this has been discussed in other posts and I won’t repeat the chronology here).

Although the line re-opened for streetcar service, the operating speed was, putting it mildly, glacial thanks to a whole new set of traffic signals that gave a new meaning to the antithesis of “transit priority”. Even with relatively little demand for road traffic on Queens Quay, the vast majority of time was devoted to moving the few cars that showed up now and then, while the streetcars waited for occasional, and very brief, green windows, even at locations where the “traffic green” and “transit green” would not have produced conflicting movements. Despite over two years to plan how the signals might operate in the interim configuration for this stage of the project, the arrangement had all the earmarks of a last minute scheme with a one-size-fits-all approach to programming intersections.

This arrangement lasted until late in the first week of operation, but there is still no co-ordination between transit and signals, and there are now many more places where streetcars can be held waiting for their chance to proceed. Even with the fixes, streetcar service is slower than the bus route it replaced (which did not have to deal with anywhere near as many signals) and slower than the streetcar service operated before the reconstruction.

The TTC, City and Waterfront Toronto face an acid test in their combined commitment to transit as the primary mode of access to the waterfront — if they cannot manage at least to equal the performance of the streetcar route before construction started, what is the future for surface transit in general?

Because the final arrangement won’t be in place until Queens Quay reverts to two-way traffic in the spring of 2015, we will not know just how “intelligent” the traffic signals will be about transit. The worst outcome would be to open the finished street with a disastrous arrangement for traffic control.

In this article, I will review actual running times for 509 Harbourfront in October 2014 with both the bus replacement service and the return to streetcars, and will compare this to data from February 2010.

From Bay Street to Bathurst & Fleet

The first two sets of charts present October 2014 data for trips westbound and eastbound between Bay & Queens Quay and Fleet Street just west of Bathurst. This includes all of the route that has been shut down and all of the traffic signals, new or old.


Pages 1 to 5 of each set show the weekday data, while Saturdays and Sundays are on pages 6 and 7. Each dot on a chart represents one vehicle’s trip and the lines show the overall trend in each day’s data.


  • The first two pages cover weekday bus operation. Note both the scatter in the values around the trend lines and the large increase through the afternoon and PM peak periods.
  • The third page covers the first weekdays of streetcar operation (Thanksgiving Day was on Monday of this week, and so there are only four sets of data). The green line (Friday) is at a lower value than that of other days because changes in the traffic signal programming were implemented on the previous evening.
  • Pages four and five show the remaining weekdays with the trend lines at roughly the same value as on Friday October 17. In other words, there was one set of changes implemented and nothing thereafter.
  • Page six shows Saturday operation. Note that the red and yellow lines (October 4 & 11) are for bus operation while the green and blue lines (October 18 & 25) are for streetcars.
  • Page seven shows Sunday/Holiday operation. The red line (October 5) is the only day of bus operation, while all other data are for streetcars. There is a marked difference between the first weekend (October 12/13) and following Sundays (October 19 & 26) that benefited from the changed signal timings. However, the October 4 bus still wins out.


  • The eastbound data show the same general pattern as westbound, but the buses had an even greater advantage running via a comparatively fast route on Lake Shore. They had few stops to serve, and the traffic signals on Lake Shore (the diversion route eastbound) favour east-west traffic.Congestion effects during certain periods are obvious, but otherwise the buses made reasonably good time.
  • For the first week of streetcar operation, the running times are much worse than the bus service, although this is improved somewhat on October 17. Of particular note is the considerable variation in streetcar running times showing how unpredictable the trips could be with the original signal programming.
  • For the last two weeks of October, the trend line sits at roughly the same level as it did on October 17 showing, as with westbound operation, that only one programming change was made with no follow-up adjustments.
  • Saturday and Sunday running times are a bit shorter than for weekdays, but the Sunday charts show dramatically the difference between buses on Lake Shore (red), streetcars before the signal changes (yellow and green), and after (blue and purple).

Before I turn to the fine details, it is worth looking back an operations before the street was rebuilt.


These charts containing February 2010 data are in the same format except that there are only four weekday pages because of the shorter month. Family Day (February 15) is included with the Sunday data.

What is quite striking about these data in comparison to the 2014 values is the consistency across the month and the types of day. To be fair, February is not prime time on Queens Quay, but the values are quite consistent. For both directions, the trend lines sit in the 8-to-10 minute range with westbound values being slightly lower than eastbound.

Even after the signals were reprogrammed, the values in October 2014 are roughly 1/3 higher than the corresponding values in February 2010.

To avoid publishing a huge amount of detail here, I have consolidated a comparison of running times by route segment and day of the week in one set of charts.


There are seven charts:

  • The first shows the ratio of running times in October 2014 (the period from October 17 onward when traffic signals had been reprogrammed) to February 2010 for the section between Bay Street and Fleet Street west of Bathurst. Separate lines show westbound and eastbound values, as well as weekday, Saturday and Sunday numbers. The values are quite consistently around 1.2 for all times and periods. Spikes, which occur mainly on weekends, are due to unusual events that have not been filtered out and the relatively small number of data points involved.
  • The next six show the ratios for each route segment in each direction for weekdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Westbound, the consistently highest ratio is for the segment between York Street and east of Queens Quay Loop with values falling generally between 1.4 and 1.6. In other words, over this section cars are taking 50% longer today than they were in 2010. This is a very serious problem that must be addressed.

The segments crossing Spadina (from east of the loop to west of the intersection) and from west of Spadina to south of Bathurst/Fleet also show consistent ratios around 1.2 or a 20% premium on running time for 2014.

The eastbound situation is similar with the notable exception of shorter running times from York to Bay because the stop that existed in 2010 has been eliminated. This is, in any event, a minor segment of the route.

Note also that running times for route segments unaffected by construction have also gone up. This begs the question of what signal timings may have changed in these areas in the 2½ years the line was operating (over a different route) with buses.

The attitude at the City of Toronto and Waterfront Toronto runs roughly that “this is an interim arrangement and everything will be fixed next spring”. No, I don’t think that is a valid answer, especially with so much improvement to be made in the central part of Queens Quay just to get back to 2010 performance.

Will this be another half-baked Toronto project that shows how we cannot bother to get the details right, or will it be fixed so that Harbourfront (and Spadina) cars really will glide along the rebuilt Queens Quay as a true example of “transit priority”?

23 thoughts on “The Not So Speedy 509 Harbourfront Car

  1. Is there any indication that the transit light programming people have data like this or revisit their changes over time?

    Steve: Well, I suspect that the short answer is “probably not” in part because of the divide between the TTC and City Transportation folks, and in part because my gut feeling is that the folks who programmed the signals didn’t understand the effect of what they were doing on the transit service. The “we were in a hurry to get it implemented and didn’t have time for anything fancier” excuse is really hard to credit considering that the project has been underway for over two years.

    All this programming data for even temporary changes should be made public and there should be a review period if possible (ie if the programming is being done as an emergency situation vs as part of construction of special events).

    As an aside. There are apparently 30 people working on temporary transit plans for the Panam games. An event that will likely only involve 30-60 thousand people. MLSE and the Eaton Centre should demand 30 people work permanently on transit to their permanent business that attract way more people. Is there any discussion about making the changes permanent since besides athletes needing to be at events on time everyone else in this city also has to be at work on time and why should they get special consideration?

    Steve: These positions are funded through the Games, not as part of the standard city, regional and provincial budgets. Indeed, I suspect that a fair number are seconded from “regular” jobs leaving holes in their parent organizations.

    I know that the City wants to get a better handle on how traffic and transit behave, but what level of detail they want to drill into is another matter.


  2. Should be remembered that traffic signals are “owned” and “maintained” by the transportation department, not the TTC. They see a streetcar only as “a” vehicle, ignoring the number of passengers onboard the said vehicle. To them, a single-occupied automobile (though in theory could carry 5) is the same as a new streetcar that can seat 70 people (though in theory could carry an additional 62 standing). They rather give “priority” to vehicles making left turns before any kind of transit vehicle.


  3. Good article Steve. During the two year bus replacement, service on the 509 ranged from very fast (with little or no traffic on eastbound Lake Shore Blvd or westbound on Queens Quay) to very poor (with tons of congestion both on Lake Shore and on Queens Quay. The worst of the congestion on Lake Shore was in the AM rush hour weekdays (between 8-10) and on weekends (especially in the afternoon with events at the Rogers Centre/ACC and with occasional closures of the Gardiner).

    Despite the slow streetcar signals on Queens Quay today, the 509 streetcar is much preferred to the old 509 bus route. There were times I took the 509 bus in the AM rush going eastbound on Lake Shore and I often got off at Lower Simcoe and walked to Union Station because there was simply too much traffic. Also, congestion was a problem westbound on Queens Quay, especially during the weekends in the summer months. Because Queens Quay only had one lane in operation, buses were often stuck in traffic and going at a snail’s pace.

    Steve: Yes, I am sure that the trip up Bay to Union was no picnic (I used the service to come south from time to time to 20 Bay and to Harbourfront). My concern in writing the article was twofold: at the very least, the service now should be no worse that it was four years ago; also, it will be hard to argue for “rapid transit” in the eastern waterfront if we do such an abysmal job with the “new” Queens Quay West.


  4. Why can’t streetcars just follow general traffic signals? Since left turns have their own phase, there should not be a safety conflict.

    This says nothing to the elephant in the room as to why there is signal priority for these streetcar routes, and has been there for 25 years now, yet has never been activated! This is something one would expect out of some conservative red state in order to get federal money, not a progressive and (relatively) transit focused city like Toronto.

    Steve: There are two issues here. First, there are locations where no left turn is possible, but the transit green only displayed as a separate phase even though transit movements would be safe on the green for other traffic. Second, there is an issue of the relative priority of left turns over transit movements. This will not be helped by short stacking lanes for turns that would quickly back up through traffic, a configuration that almost demands left turns be cleared frequently.


  5. About 2 weeks ago at Rees Street, I noticed the traffic light sequence was (1) green for westbound traffic & left-hand turns, (2) green for streetcars only, (3) green for cross-traffic, (4) green again for streetcars only, and then the 4 steps are repeated. When the line first reopened, step 2 was omitted making a rather prolonged wait for the streetcar green.

    Steve: Yes, that was an important change — giving the transit phase twice within the cycle rather than once — that should have been an obvious programming setup from day one. The running times dropped on October 17 thanks to this type of change, but they are still higher than pre-construction.


  6. Steve this is the sort of thing that the new Mayor and council can look to as they try and change the way things are done. Reading this, it sounds very much like Waterfront and the City are simply taking the attitude, “well, yeah, whatever, we will look at it next week”. This is not the sort of approach that will solve that which ails Toronto. I fail to see the harm in actually looking at the light configuration today. Provide transit green as a superset of the time that is provided for cars that transit movement will not interfere with.

    This should be viewed as an opportunity to approach a problem, where things are truly broken, and apply of focused approach / method, to actually dial in transit priority as best as can be done with the technology currently at hand. That it will need to be revisited is fines, as frankly the city needs the practice. The method (although likely not the solution) could then be applied on other routes.


  7. I believe there is a misunderstanding going on here. I thought that from this article, there were times when through traffic had a green signal, but the streetcar’s signal was still red. I was suggesting that until the city gets around to fixing this glitch (I can already see the article in ‘The Fixer’ for 2024, asking the city why they haven’t addressed it…), the streetcar could just follow the general traffic signal as it should not have to worry of left turners cutting in front of it since they can only move on their protected phase.

    @Richard, this setup should be used as often as possible when dealing with far side stops. Even on the new busway on Highway 7, though the signal priority is surprisingly good, it is not a guaranteed green. If York Region had this setup in place, then it allows the bus to load and unload passengers while through traffic is letting left turners go, then when they are finished and through traffic is allowed, the bus is loaded up and is set to go furthering improving its competitive edge against the car.

    Steve: One major change on Queens Quay is that some formerly farside stops have become nearside, and there are additional signals so that “farside” is almost meaningless in cases because the next signal is so close by.


  8. Ben Smith asked:

    Why can’t streetcars just follow general traffic signals? Since left turns have their own phase, there should not be a safety conflict.

    When QQ reopened to transit, left turns did have their own phase, but when the signals were adjusted, in most cases the left turn signals were removed. I am guessing that this approach was taken (rather than leaving the left turn signals in and changing the phasing/timing) was because in most cases there are no left turn lanes for cars to wait for the dedicated left turn signal to turn green.

    Without dedicated left turn phases, left turns can happen anytime during the green light, and conflict with streetcars. So streetcars are relegated to the short transit phase, although at least occurring twice per cycle.

    When I was out there shortly after then signals were adjusted, the biggest issue was EB where there are two stops at the near side of a signal. The streetcar ended up being delayed 3 or 4 minutes at both stops, because a passenger arrived to board just at the moment that the streetcar received the short transit phase, the driver opened the door to allow the passenger to board, and the streetcar missed the phase and had to wait another minute for the next “window”. And, unbelievably, this would then happen at the next “window” and the one after that! It was 3 or 4 minutes at both stops before the streetcar finally got through the intersection.

    I don’t ride QQ often enough to know whether this was just an overly generous operator or if it is a typical practice or directive, but there should be a directive that loading happens only on red — or that a streetcar can be held up by passenger movements on no more than one transit phase.

    On top of that, I am sure that there is room to make further reductions to green times to get the signals to cycle more frequently, as well as adjustments that could be made to coordination between signals to make it more likely that streetcars (and cars, for that matter) can get through closely spaced signals without having to stop at each one.


  9. As a cyclist, I am keen on the extension of the Martin Goodman Trail along Queens Quay, and ride there at keast once a week to check on progress. Since the streetcars returned, it seems that I hit a red light every intersection. The streetcars are not faring much better, nor even traffic. There doesn’t appear to be any synchronization for traffic flow. It’s stop and go from Bay to Spadina.


  10. It seems pretty clear than the City Transportation people, at last those in authority, don’t use transit otherwise these situations wouldn’t continue to plague riders.


  11. The same illogic of giving streetcars only limited time on a separate phase is in place eastbound on Lake Shore at the Gardiner underpass. Eastbound streetcars could go on the general green light for cars on Lake Shore, as there are no conflicting movements possible. But no, wait 90 seconds and hope the light changes….


  12. Today there is a paving operation on Queens Quay and they appear to be repainting the road for two way traffic. We’ll see if this gets us anywhere; perhaps it will keep autos from getting stuck in the tunnel at least.


  13. Erik said:

    “Today there is a paving operation on Queens Quay and they appear to be repainting the road for two way traffic. We’ll see if see if this gets us anywhere; perhaps it will keep autos from getting stuck in the tunnel at least.”

    The paving is the top coat on most of QQ and is nothing to do with returning the street to 2-way traffic which will only happen next summer when it is all finished. The problem with cars driving into the tunnel will probably remain until then because people driving south on York and wanting to go east see a nice wide concrete ‘road” and take it. Unfortunately it’s the streetcar ROW. Signage could probably be better but until one can legally go east on QQ I bet we see more ‘stuck in tunnel’ incidents.


  14. Oh boy, I was waiting for this Steve! Long rant coming up given I commute from Rees to Union on a daily basis, and boy oh boy is it *terrible*.

    As a new QQ resident, I signed the lease explicitly on the return of streetcars, and was overjoyed when they actually came only a little behind schedule instead of, you know, years and years and years.

    Then I rode them…

    The original lighting schema was *awful* for a number of reasons. I believe Richard L is incorrect in which phase did not exist before the alternate – I have a distinct memory of the three phases going “cross traffic”, “E/W traffic”, “Streetcars”.

    Steve: That’s correct — that was the original configuration, and whoever came up with it should be pensioned off PDQ as they have no understanding of how the street operates. Quick and dirty, but a piece of crap.

    The distinct memory comes from one particularly painful trip, midweek, when our driver nearly hit people *at every light*. Between the constant E-braking and horn leaning, People got off the streetcar the ride was so unpleasent! Pedestrians, ever impatient, would begin walking after the E/W phase went red, expecting that surely the intersection would behave normally and allow them to walk – this was particularly prevalent behaviour for pedestrians that had just missed their crossing the phase before, and were impatiently waiting for the light to “toggle”, not realizing there would be a third phase after normal car traffic for the streetcars. Sadly, the streetcar light would go green, and the driver would have to lean on the gong and slam the brakes to avoid running over the pedestrians who’d assumed they should now be crossing. There was a lot of cursing on both the pedestrian and passenger side of things, with more than one “I wish they’d just kept the damn bus” being mumbled…

    Then they “fixed” them, i.e. brought the performance from a “1” to a “2” out of ten, still atrocious by any standards.

    Most of these have been mentioned before, but are all the problems I can think of with the current system:

    – In places where left turns are physically impossible, the streetcars still have to wait for their own phase…why?!

    – On a very related note, as soon as they’re bi-directional traffic, cars turning left won’t be able to do so anyways (due to oncomming traffic), so even the intersections where left turns ARE physically possible have no reason whatsoever to halt streetcars during the normal green of automobile traffic. Traffic backing up while one car waits to turn left is a completely separate, irrelated problem that is in no way solved by stopping the streetcars from going!

    – The transit signal is *so short*, they’re frequently missed, especially with nearside stops when passengers run to the car at the last minute during its one, brief hope at getting a green.

    – The lights clearly have no idea whatsoever when a streetcar is coming, as they’re timed completely randomly relative to the flow of traffic. This is true for cars, too…

    Steve: The detector loops are not hooked up as part of this “interim” arrangement although there was much rushing to get them finished before the streetcars returned.

    – There are lights at every single possible location they could be placed, frequently only to allow a pedestrian crossing. I’m sorry, but the Beer Store parking lot between Rees and Spadina does *not* need a full time signal system – there’s no cross street! If they insist on providing for the Beer Store patrons, the light should only be triggered if there is a need, as is done on many “unbalanced” crossings in the city (you know, the ones that reset to green if no one is lined up for the other direction). Roughly half the intersections have this problem.

    Steve: This is supposed to be fixed for the spring iteration and be triggered only when needed and when it won’t conflict with the streetcar. Having said that, places like the Beer Store should have run on a much longer cycle for the north-south crossing giving more time to east-west. Even on a fixed program, the streetcars would be held less often on average.

    – The real “transit priority” lights (vertical white bar) are being used completely ineffectively. Around Spadina/QQ, these are supposed to be used to allow the streetcars to turn right across normal traffic, among other things. The problem is that the streetcars can’t go straight while this occurs, for some unknown reason (there certainly isn’t a physical one). This means that, headed west at Spadina, if you have a 510 Spadina behind a 509 Harbourfront, instead of BOTH being able to clear the intersection (509 would go straight, leaving the 510 to take the transit priority and make it’s right turn), they BOTH just sit there. Are you serious?!

    Steve: Part of the problem at this location is that the switch is still manual. Yes, TTC, you finished the track back in the summer, but did you get around to electrifying the switch, no, better to pay someone on point duty full time. The problem is that it is the electric switch that “tells” the intersection when a streetcar is there and where it needs to go. Because none of this is connected, the signal is on a preprogrammed loop. I agree that the incompatibility between turning and through cars is just plain dumb.

    I agree that these are not problems that should be fixed once the road is finished. Having spent a while studying intelligent traffic flow and simulation in a past life, I understand the city’s argument that there’s no point training an intelligent system when it’s going to change soon anyways – it would learn entirely the wrong parameters. However, the system implemented right now is clearly not “intelligent” yet (if it ever will be), and it would not take more than a day to fix the current lights and drastically improve flow (it shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes, to be honest). As Steve mentioned, some stops are now gone, and so ultimately the transit should be faster than it was in 2010 – not slower!

    For what it’s worth, once and only once (and interestingly BEFORE the light switch during the first week), things magically worked. I was on 4400 – awesome – and hit green at every signal, except the one following the York/Simcoe stop … which was red while we loaded, and flicked green the second the doors closed. We made it from Rees to Bay Station in just over *one minute*. It was beautiful!


  15. Steve: “The Not So Speedy 509 Harbourfront Car”

    I have read the entire article and it is clear that streetcars are failing Toronto and it is time to try buses as a pilot to project to determine whether buses are more suitable for Toronto.

    Steve: Actually, it is far from clear that buses are more suitable. The problem lies in a lack of attention to transit priority, whatever the vehicle.


  16. Dave says:
    November 28, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    Steve: “The Not So Speedy 509 Harbourfront Car”

    “I have read the entire article and it is clear that streetcars are failing Toronto and it is time to try buses as a pilot to project to determine whether buses are more suitable for Toronto.”

    Two things are clear:

    1) The department responsible for traffic lights and the TTC do not know how to communicate with each other.

    2) You have an antipathy towards street cars. Every time buses have replaced street cars on lines without construction the buses have been slower and more are needed to provide the same service. When ALRVs were replaced on 501 west of Humber twice as many buses as street cars were needed and they weren’t turned. This would look like a great service improvement but if the TTC would run a separate 507 again then the service would be much better. I know you didn’t mention 501 but the same thing is true on 509. The TTC ran more buses than street cars and the buses had better signal timings. If the TTC and Toronto Traffic can get their act together then we would have better service on 509/510.


  17. Hey Steve,

    Thanks for your comments! Interesting to know about the EM loops and electric switch not being configured yet, hopefully that will be sorted out. Interestingly in a bad way, I’ve seen so many cars de-wire at the Spadina / QQ intersection, they almost need a full time point man there anyways. Hopefully won’t be a problem when panto finally roles out in a few decades! Always nice when years and years of work are left unfinished, giving more flack to the diesel crew…sigh.


  18. Robert Wightman said:

    “The department responsible for traffic lights and the TTC do not know how to communicate with each other.”

    I wonder to what degree that is that the TTC does not communicate the issues, and to what degree it is that the traffic signals have been seen by those who dictate priority as a means to move “traffic”.

    Also I wonder whether there is an understanding in this of the incentive effects on traffic. I really do believe that one chooses to drive because it is seen as being faster. When you see a streetcar in a ROW, or a bus in a ROW go cruising past you, well you are more inclined to take use transit.

    I cannot believe that the people who created the signal sequence would not have been able to understand the impact, so either transit was not a high priority in signal sequencing (ie other phases were worked around it), or it was not a priority at all, other than each signal had to have a transit phase (fit it where you can).

    I am saying that regardless of what the TTC communicates, if the people who control the signals do not place a priority on it, well it will not matter. I believe that this is an issue that requires political direction. If the senior most people place priority on getting their vehicle through traffic, well then autos not transit will have priority.


  19. P.S. Steve in terms of signal priority there are couple of points made in a Transport Canada report on Bus priority for Ottawa that I thought were pertinent to the issue in Toronto.

    “Transit priority.

    A project manager and traffic signal engineer work full-time on transit priority planning implementation and monitoring. They work within Ottawa’s traffic operations organization, in close contact with the traffic signal staff who are ultimately responsible for making transit priority measures work.”

    “Institutional challenges.

    A strong dialogue has been created between transit staff (who identify problems and propose solutions) and traffic operations staff (who assess trade-offs and implement solutions). Helping each group understand the other’s world facilitates “outside the box” thinking, and helps to overcome resistance to new ideas. Making transit priority a way of doing business, rather than a special project, has required a shift in organizational culture.”

    Based on this article, and other issues, it sounds like in Toronto, this sort of working relationship has not been achieved.

    Steve: It is supposed to exist, but experience suggests that it doesn’t.


  20. Malcolm N says:

    “Also I wonder whether there is an understanding in this of the incentive effects on traffic. I really do believe that one chooses to drive because it is seen as being faster. When you see a streetcar in a ROW, or a bus in a ROW go cruising past you, well you are more inclined to take use transit.”

    I remember that the summer I worked for CN, 1969 while in University, being told that the train control staff was to make sure that the GO trains always had a green board when operating along side the Gardiner so that the people plodding along in their autos would see the GO trains whisking by at 79 mph. This was the “legal” maximum but they would often go faster.

    I have occasionally ridden 510 and 512 cars that have received signals that allowed them to keep up with traffic. When this happens it is eye opening for the motorists. Unfortunately allowing a handful of autos with 1.1 to 1.2 passengers each seem to be more important than a street car with 40+ people.


  21. Robert Wightman said:

    “I remember that the summer I worked for CN, 1969 while in University, being told that the train control staff was to make sure that the GO trains always had a green board when operating along side the Gardiner so that the people plodding along in their autos would see the GO trains whisking by at 79 mph. This was the “legal” maximum but they would often go faster”

    Yes, if only the Streetcars on King and Queen could do that (well maybe not the 125-130kph part) imagine the feeling of foolishness drivers would feel as a streetcar cruised by making an average of say 20-25kph when they were struggling to make 11, and then taking 20 minutes to find a parking spot. Gee should I drive and take an hour and cost $25-30 including parking, or ride the subway and Streetcar, be there in 20 minutes and use my metropass hmmm???

    I really do hope that Toronto manages to drive to getting best implementation on signal priority. However, correct me if I am wrong, I am under the strong impression to do this really well is an interactive process, that reacts to the conditions that exist now.

    I think that with a new vehicle location system, city traffic needs to be provided the data (route, current headway vs scheduled etc) and tasked with moving transit close to scheduled run time as job one, and assisting headway management (ie give more greens to late, more reds to those running too early). One advantage of this in moving all traffic, I would think, is that in the case of street running transit they also represent to a great degree current traffic flow, and hence the relative requirements for signal time. Of course the TTC would still need to discover the idea of actually dispatching vehicles on a timely basis, and work to provide information as to when a vehicle needs to run ahead of headway to still be on headway through the bad patches (and providing good forecasts of where these will be).


  22. Has it been suggested to John Tory that he needs to replace some senior member of the City “Transportation” Department in order to get someone who will *actually make an effort* to *implement* transit priority? It’s clear that the “Transportation” Department has been the main problem on streetcar priority signals, repeatedly.

    Steve: I would argue also that the political priorities of the “ruling party” at city hall have not exactly been pro-streetcar, and notwithstanding Tory’s fine words, many of the same hacks are running the show in his administration.


  23. You know, I took the streetcar along Queens Quay last night coming home from the Raptors game to see how it looked, and I immediately noticed this traffic signal problem (I must have missed this article when you first published it). At three different signals we sat for almost 45 seconds while one-way traffic on Queen’s Quay zoomed along. But streetcars on their own ROW with their own signals weren’t allowed to move until their light turned green. Ridiculous. Steve, are they working to fix this issue? It’s really amazing how even when the TTC tries to get it right they manage to screw up. I’m not even surprised by it anymore.

    Also, is it just me or did they eliminate a few stops on Queen’s Quay after the construction? Only one stop to serve both York and Simcoe? Any reason why they might have done that, or was I just tired after a crazy Raptors game and mis-heard the stop announcement?

    Steve: I have tried to draw attention to the signal problem, but the standard line from all concerned is that it will be fixed when the street is finished. To me that’s a crap answer because they have had two years to figure out what the interim configuration might be, and nothing prevents them from making adjustments to give streetcars more green time than simple inaction. The TTC has had to extend schedules with more running time to compensate, but doesn’t make a big public stink about the situation.

    As for the stops, the changes are related to locations where there wasn’t enough room to keep the existing layout. For example, the old westbound stop at Simcoe was beside Harbourfront’s theatre building, and there wasn’t room for the extra space the new islands would require. York and Simcoe have been consolidated. This is only a small change for Simcoe eastbound and York westbound which have both shifted slightly, but the old Simcoe westbound and York eastbound stops have disappeared. Rees eastbound has moved from farside to nearside, again because of space constraints on the east side of the intersection.

    At least some of the cars still announce the old stops because the GPS info has not been updated. Again, two years to fix it, but …


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