A Word About Diversion Notices
I have often written here and on Twitter about the proliferation of service change cards and posters as the constant changes in streetcar routes occur. Combined with conflicting and out-of-date online information, it is common to find at least two different versions of notices at the same stop, not to mention “stop not in service” notices in locations where streetcars are actually running.
Without question, the constant shifts in the operating plan are challenging to keep up with, but the lack of attention to removal of out of date information, particularly when new notices go up at the same location, does not serve riders well at all. Operating staff, in good faith, give out incorrect info leading passengers astray, and I have rescued a few lost travellers over past weeks.
This is a very serious issue given the amount of construction that will affect TTC routes (and not just the streetcar network) in coming years. Riders have enough challenges with service quality without having to divine whatever route their service might be taking today. There is a clear fragmentation of responsibility for keeping route information up-to-date and consistent within the TTC. Even in a recently announced reorganization, the responsibility for “closures and diversions” is in a separate branch (Operations and Infrastructure) of the TTC from “service delivery” (Transportation and Vehicles).
The phrase “Beware of the leopard”, for those who know the reference, seems particularly apt for some TTC “communications”.
The TTC needs to figure out how communications about service plans and changes can be centrally accessed and administered so that all notices speak with the same voice and contain current, accurate information.
Updated October 9, 2022 at 11:40pm: It turns out that there are four pages within the TTC website where service information might be found. At last count, the list includes:
There is the parent Service Advisories which links three of the four above. Some but not all of the items in the Updates page are also displayed on the main page under “Latest News”.
Although the same topic might be found through different pages, the text is not always the same indicating that multiple versions of the information have been posted. In this situation it is easy for their content to drift thanks to selective updating.
The diversion via Parliament and Queen of the 504B King/Broadview Station and 503 Kingston Road services ended on October 7.
Work on track replacement at King & Shaw began in the week of October 3. The new foundation slab is in place for the eastern quadrant and centre of the intersection, and the track for the east quadrant is now in place. Completion of the west and north quadrant foundations must occur before the new track panels can be placed there.
The 504C King bus continues to divert westbound via Strachan, East Liberty and Atlantic, and eastbound via Douro and Strachan.
The map in the service advisory linked from the King car’s page shows the diversion at Shaw correctly, but also shows the diversion at King/Sumach which has ended. (Apologies for the soft image. This is what is available on the TTC’s site.)
Very little road and track work has taken place here since my last visit. There has been some utility work north of Queen, but no work yet on the new alignment for track work at the carhouse north gate.
Meanwhile, at Glendale (St. Joseph’s Hospital stop), the eastbound stop is even more treacherous than before with bare dirt beside the narrowest of pavement. Imagine what this will be like when there is rain, or at night, or for anyone with mobility challenges. Note the wooden footbridge across the tracks. One amusing point here is that one of those pylons off in the distance has a service change notice tied to it.
Although the extension of streetcar service was scheduled for the October 9 board period, and the published electronic schedules include times for streetcars running to Sunnyside Loop, in fact the diversion south to Dufferin Loop continues with no word on when streetcars will run further west.
The original plan was to loop 501 cars through the yard at Roncesvalles Carhouse as an interim measure pending the availability of Sunnyside Loop which has no overhead yet thanks to the unfinished work along the south side of The Queensway.
The situation at Carlton & Church has been unclear for some weeks, but Toronto Hydro is now working actively on their vault that was discovered foul of the new, deeper, trackbed under the intersection.
According to Google Maps, the intersection would reopen on October 16, but this may not be a complete opening. According to the TTC’s construction notice:
Carlton and Church update as of September 28, 2022
Work at the Carlton Street and Church Street intersection continues to progress – particularly with Toronto Hydro crews on-site replacing the high voltage chamber. The City’s contractor has also completed sidewalk replacement at the intersection last week.
According to Toronto Hydro, their subcontractor anticipates completing the chamber work within four weeks. This will be followed by the City’s contractor completing the track replacement work. At this point, the end date of the project is expected to be early-November.
That construction notice includes a map of service diversions which are about to change, although the notice makes no mention of this. The same map is in a service advisory.
A separate service change notice shows a revised diversion plan to take effect on Thursday, October 13.
This is a classic example of the problem with the TTC’s website in that there are three separate submenus: Construction Projects, Service Advisories and Service Changes where one might find info (often conflicting) about where a route might be going, not to mention a fourth, Service Alerts, where temporary changes for emergencies are posted. Some but not all of these collections are automatically linked to the route information pages, and it is common to find expired notices linked along with active ones.
This arrangement removes all service from Carlton and College Streets between Parliament and Ossington with the streetcars diverted to Dundas Street. Meanwhile, the 506 bus operates via Harbord and Hoskin, supplementing the meagre 94 Wellesley service there, and on Gerrard from University to Parliament.
Given the unknown timing of completion of various aspects of the work on Carlton and College, it is unclear whether the streetcars might be restored at least as far as Bay Street as an interim measure once the hydro work at Church is completed. There have been too any changes and surprises along the way to make a solid prediction on this.
(For those who do not know the track layout downtown, Bay is the only intermediate point to which service could be restored given limitations of curves at College and at Dundas for other streets with north-south trackage. This was the originally planned diversion, and is still the published route in the GTFS format schedules used by trip prediction apps as their “route map”. This will cause all trip planning/prediction apps to attempt to “find” service on the official diversion, and give very little meaningful info for much of the route between Parliament and Ossington.)
Meanwhile, further west on College Street, track construction is underway westward from St. George to Bathurst. As of October 9, new rail has been installed as far as Augusta, and the existing track foundation has been exposed a few hundred metres west of that point. This line was last rebuilt with the “new” type of foundation including steel ties and attachment points for Pandrol clips making track replacement relatively quick compared to previous eras. Only a small amount of track on the system remains where a full excavation to build a new foundation is required.
Track installation is planned on Adelaide from Charlotte (the east side of the existing streetcar loop used by various services at King & Spadina) to Victoria (the point at which active track still exists). This will be used between York and Church as the eastbound diversion around Ontario Line construction at Queen & Yonge, and more generally for diversions around events such as TIFF which block King Street.
At this point, the City is conducting utility work along Adelaide including replacement of a vintage water main. When this is done, track construction will commence. Details of the plan are on the City’s website.
Pre-welded track strings have been stored on Adelaide west of Spadina.
There was a recent brouhaha about interference with the bike lane on the south side of Adelaide at Victoria thanks to the premature installation of a new overhead support pole for that intersection. The pole’s location was based on the intersection as it will exist after the bike lane shifts to the north side of the street. It is self-evident that the pole is not required in the immediate future as new track is unlikely to be in place until some time in 2023. The pole has been removed.