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 Combined with conflicting and out-of-date online information, it is common to find at least two different versions of notices at the same stop, not to mention “stop not in service” notices in locations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the constant shifts in the operating plan are challenging to keep up with, but the lack of attention to removal of out of date information, particularly when new notices go up at the same location, does not serve riders well at all.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.
> 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.
So, I guess someone actually looked at the plan and realized that looping through the yard was going to be an operational pain? Because nothing else has changed recently, so TTC announcing this change on day of is a joke.
The Queensway work between Parkside and Sunnyside is giving the work at the intersection a run for its money for title of most-delayed part of the project…
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Is this why the city installed an enormous pole right in the middle of the sidewalk at Yonge and Adelaide? Seems to be causing quite an obstruction to people in wheelchairs and walkers, also concerning about the blind using the crossing.
Steve: I will have to go and look at it, but suspect that it’s not for TTC. Along Adelaide there is a relatively new line of poles in the usual location to hold up span wires for overhead.
Actually, Steve, TTC does not care about communications with its customers, even those with mobility issues. Their website is not updated and is difficult to navigate. I cannot find out if both elevators and escalators are not working at their Finch station using their website and checking out both elevators down with scheduled repairs, elevators with no scheduled repairs, tape recording of all elevators and escalators down and after checking with CS. Also a customer cannot find out from their website if part of the line 1 subway is not working on a weekend, as it has not been for three years, by checking the website. If there are any changes according to CR, the change is not posted on the website, but on twitter. I don’t use twitter on a regular basis, and according to one survey only 25% of the population does.
And I have phoned TTC CS and the TTC chair many times, without any result.
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Used to work in downtown Toronto. Was vibrant attractive area then. But look at the mess now! The same situation is occurring on my home street in another town now. What’s up with these unions who delegate jobs for certain sites!
Steve: This is not a union issue. Both Hydro and Bell have been responsible for delays in the KQQR and Carlton/Church projects due to bad planning and infrastructure underground not being in the expected location. That said, there appears to be no sense of urgency on KQQR. Work to correct the problem at Church/Carlton is underway. The sheer number of projects this year, a product of partly of covid-related delays, compounds the issues. The number of active sites will stay high in coming years due to already planned projects plus the Ontario Line. Part of my purpose in publishing this info is to flag problems we are already having in the hope that somebody reading this site – and I know there are a lot at City Hall who do – will take the problem seriously. Just announcing another Mayor’s project co-ordinating committee is worthless if it does not produce results.
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The pole @ Yonge & Adelaide is a new TTC overhead pole – that corner is to be extended and ‘regularised’ as vehicles do not require a turn radius due to one-way street and it will, eventually, be on the sidewalk. (Similar to the one on Adelaide @ Victoria in the bike lane that has been, temporarily removed.)
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It looks like 510B cars are using McCaul loop to turn around due to congestion around Charlotte loop thanks to the ad hoc mystery closure of Queens Quay and cutback of the 510A branch.
As usual with the TTC’s incompetent to non-existent route management, despite both branches of the 510 being cutback substantially, there are large gaps present on the route despite the same number of cars covering a much shorter round trip distance.
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The article did not mention the 5-year diversion of 503 Kingston Rd from York Street to Spadina Avenue and now Bathurst Street. Is it likely that 503 will return to its original route in early 2023?
Is utility work the main reason for taking so long to replace track at or near KQQR and along Wellington Street?
Steve: Yes. Hydro plant was not where it was supposed to be on Wellington.
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Got an e-mail from the TTC this morning about their “new approach” to “[run] (506C) replacement buses along the nearest parallel corridors and diverting streetcar service to Dundas Street” starting this Thursday. I can see why they are trying something new instead of the current replacement bus route that takes riders on a quite a tour, but I don’t understand why the new shuttle routing is Gerrard – University – Hoskin/Harbord rather than Gerrard – Yonge – College – St George – Harbord. The new replacement route won’t connect with the Yonge Line at all and won’t serve the U of T campus on St George. They might as well just add more buses on the 94 Wellesley and run a shorter shuttle from Castle Frank Station to Queen’s Park Station via Gerrard.
At the end of the day though, without effective line management, I am sure service will be as frustrating as the regular Wellesley bus.
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The TTC says there was surprise construction this morning which forced both the 505 and 506 to divert via Parliament, Queen, and Spadina for over 3 hours. (I spotted a 506 darting north on Bathurst.) The service is as useless as operations and management.
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I saw this pole today. Is the plan is to narrow Adelaide by bumping out the sidewalk into the left lane after the intersection? If not, the pole will still be quite in the middle of everything even after the corner is squared.
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And I immediately gasped in agreement, and was about to post, but Steve continued on then hit the head of the nail I was about to hammer.
And then L Wall wrote:
Indeed! On Tuesday (yesterday) I was headed to the Islands with a dog in tow (or more accurately, the other way around), and the fastest and most direct way is via the subways and then the streetcar from Union to the Ferry Terminal. Toronto Ferry on-line timetable stated Tuesday as the last day of Fall operations. It was wrong, last day was the 10th … it’s a Toronto thing. Whatever, at Union, there was a sign blocking the path to the streetcar loop, words to the effect of “Out of Service” on it. That’s it, no info. I talk to uniformed staff: “Get bus upstairs”. That was it. There were two red-clad TTC ambassadors SW corner of Front and Bay. They knew nothing save to point out the bus stop. No shuttle bus, just have to take whatever comes.
“But my transfer time has expired” I protested. “You’ll have to pay again” was the reply (to go one block due to their failing!) … “Then there’s going to be one heck of an argument when I get on the next bus” I retorted.
In the event, there was such a long line-up that he opened the back doors as well as the front. Nasty scene avoided.
Situation was same when returning three hours later. I just walked up to Onion (sic) as the wait was already over ten minutes, and I wanted to avoid rush-hour.
A lot of the tourists also lined up got a taste of how incredibly inept Toronto has become for transportation and other public needs. That short walk from Front to Union east side of Bay is an ugly … really ugly side of Toronto in many respects.
So when I got home, and the next day, I checked on the TTC’s website for information on what the problem was/is. And like many other posters, after going around in circles for five minutes, I gave up.
And nothing epitomizes the TTC’s chronic communication difficulties than being on a subway train, and an important service announcement comes on … that no-one can hear, let alone understand.
God help riders in a sudden emergency, like a fire on-board. “World Class City”? Even the tourists were wondering out loud.
On track reconstruction: There’s a couple of piles of Pandrol clips north side of College just west of Augusta. That’s a section where ostensibly just the top layer of the concrete track-bed being removed, and new rails and clips being installed and then concreted again.
The clips are in an *atrocious* condition. I would have thought with their coating before being installed, and being encased in concrete, the corrosive action would be minimal.
Perhaps the tracks “had to be replaced” for more than just cracked concrete? On the flip side of that logic though, the cracked concrete and cathodic action on the clips would/could have been causative.
My concern: Are the clips entombed and remaining in the same condition? Some clips were literally eaten through into pieces, their intended task long ago rendered missing.
I have noticed only after passing through the King/Sumach area that only select portions of the intersection has new concrete. It wasn’t something immediately obvious from your photos. Pieces like the small wedge between the outer west-to-south curve rails are cracked and sunken. How did this take so long if they didn’t even pour new concrete for the entire intersection?
Steve: Some delays lay in (a) starting at least two weeks after the diversion was implemented, and (b) delay in hookup of the electric switches following completion. As for selective new concrete work, I am baffled by the way this was done piecemeal rather than completely rebuilt with track panels. Someone was being penny wise and pound foolish.
As an update if you haven’t been around recently, the Sunnyside loop still doesn’t have any overhead. KQQR Construction Update #60 email (dated yesterday) said only “501|301 Queen Streetcar – bus / streetcar switch at Dufferin Street continues”.
Also the new trackside concrete is already chipping immediately east of the intersection on south side of the tracks. Driven on for less than a year.
Steve: Thanks for the update. I plan to visit KQQR later today (Monday).
Old topic but I had a chance to hear a streetcar go through the north to west curve of the King/Sumach intersection for the first time last week. I couldn’t tell if the greaser was working or not because there was a lot wheel screeching. I wonder how long until they give up and put them on to the actual vehicles themselves.
Steve: There is a wheel greaser under the overpass on the northbound track on Sumach. It is possible it was not working or empty (a not uncommon problem). Also some squeal effects are weather sensitive, for example track that is drying out after rain or dense fog squeals a lot because the natural layer of grease gets washed off of the rails. I have been there when cars have been quiet.