The TTC has published its planned schedule for various streetcar infrastructure inspection and repair projects for 2023, and a look-ahead to 2024.
See: Subway Closure and Streetcar Diversions – 2022 Review and 2023/2024 Forecast
This article was updated on January 19, 2023 at 8:45 pm with additional illustrations from a staff presentation to the TTC Board.
See: Board Report Briefing Subway Closure & Streetcar Diversions – 2022 Review and 2023/2024 Forecast
The full list of closures begins on p 13 of the report. There is a variety of full weekend, early closing and late opening events (check the legend to the chart).
There are fewer Line 1 closures in 2023 due to ATC (Automatic Train Control) than in 2022 because the main work is complete. However, there is a follow-up phase that will require some weekend closures for testing and implementation. Other work affecting Line 1 includes repair of station finishes on the University subway, elevator installation at Lawrence, various track replacements, and preliminary work at Finch for the Yonge North Subway Extension.
On Line 2, there will be work at Kipling to add a new storage track, preparatory work at Kennedy for Scarborough Subway Extension, preparatory work on the east end of the line for ATC installation, and some track replacement work. As usual there will be several late openings of service on Sundays for beam replacement on the Prince Edward Viaduct.
Many closures involve only an early shutdown of subway service to give a longer overnight maintenance window than would be possible with normal hours of service.
There is a long list of events for the streetcar system, but many of them are short interruptions of overnight/weekend work for inspections or minor repairs.
The major trackwork planned in 2023 is listed both in the report (starting on p 19) and on the TOInview map of City construction projects. The schedule implies that a good chunk of the streetcar system will be shut down at various times during the year. The Ontario Line contributes some of this to the Queen car, but the long-suffering riders on King do not get a break either after years of work at King-Queen-Roncesvalles. Note that Adelaide from York to Victoria is a Metrolinx project and so does not appear in this list.
Some of the dates in the TTC list do not align with info on TOInview. This is very common.
Parts of the schedule simply do not make sense. Some projects have far more time reserved than they should take based on past experience. Some projects will block the routes from carhouses in the east end to the rest of the network either via Queen Street or via Coxwell and Gerrard Streets, and times for these overlap.
Update: The TTC confirms that planned work on Gerrard Street will not occur at the same time as projects on Queen will block access to Leslie Barns and Russell Carhouse. See the map at the end of this section for a graphic view of the planned work.
Details of the Broadview Station Loop expansion are not yet available, nor is it confirmed whether this will actually occur.
I hope to get clarification of what is going on from the TTC.
- Feb 27-Mar 26: King Street West from Close to Strachan
- Mar 10-Oct 29: Dufferin Loop
- Mar 24-Nov 28: Queen Street East from Carlaw to Leslie & Leslie to Greenwood
- Mar 31-Apr 7: Intersection of King & Church
- May 1-Nov 29: York from Queen to Adelaide (Ontario Line diversion)
- May 6-July 8: Intersection of Lower Gerrard & Coxwell
- May 6-Nov 21: Russell Yard
- May 14-Nov 8: Broadview from Gerrard to Broadview Station
- June 18-July 29: Intersection of King & Parliament
- July 30-Nov 18: Metrolinx work at Queen/Degrassi overpass
- Sept 3-Oct 2: Broadview Station Loop
- Sept 7-Oct 29: Queen from Parliament to River & Davies to Broadview
- Oct 8-Dec 16: Oakwood Loop
- Oct 16-Feb12: St. Clair West Station Loop
The report does not list specifics for 2024, but info already appears on the TOInview map. It is not clear how some of this work will interact with Metrolinx Ontario Line construction at King & Bathurst. There is a proposed track and lane realignment at Bathurst & Fleet, but it is not clear whether this will actually occur, or if the planned work is simply replacement of existing special work as is. Details of the Spadina Station streetcar loop expansion are not yet available.
- St. Clair & Yonge
- St. Clair & Bathurst
- Queen St. W from O’Hara to Triller
- King St. W from Strachan to Spadina
- King & Queen (Don Bridge)
- Bathurst St. from Queen to Front
- Bathurst & Queen
- Bathurst & Fleet
- College St. from Bay to Yonge
- Main & Gerrard
- Russell Yard (continuing from 2023)
- Expansion of the streetcar platform at Spadina Station Loop
Update: The following map was included in the staff presentation to the Board on January 19, 2023.
This map contains several geographic errors:
- The project labelled Queen & Yonge points at King & Spadina.
- The project for St. Clair & Bathurst is shown east of St. Clair West Station rather than west of it.
- The project for St. Clair & Earlscourt is shown well west of Lansdowne rather than east of it.
- Carstops on Queen East at Wineva and at Waverley are shown as west of Kingston Road rather than east of it.
- The project for Queen & Jarvis is shown well west of Yonge.
- The project for Fleet Loop actually points to Exhibition Loop.
There are a few more, but my point in cataloguing them is that this is sloppy work and it speaks to the quality of information presented to the Board by management.
Gradually, and several years behind the original target date, the TTC has converted overhead wiring designed for trolley poles first to a hybrid pole/pantograph configuration, and then to pure pantograph style. A map of the current status was included in the staff presentation.
There are some problems with this map which is based off of a track plan that is itself out of date. “Wrong way” track has been removed from the one-way streets downtown, although it still appears here. Also, some work is underway on King West even this is not shown with the orange “in progress” colour. The intersection of King & Shaw had already been converted to Hybrid format when I visited it a month ago. (There are other errors in the map, but please don’t bother commenting with fixes.)
One amusing relic is the legend “Hillsdale Ave” on Lake Shore Blvd West. This was the site of a long-removed wye, the last in the system, and the street is called “Hillside Ave”. “Hillsdale” is in North Toronto.
Again, this is an unfortunate example of how the “official” records of the system are out of sync with actual conditions in the field.
Is it known yet if the “Spadina Station streetcar loop expansion” will allow two streetcars to be in the station with their doors open at the same time?
Steve: That is the only reason for expanding the platform. Reading between the lines in the budget papers this will be done at the east end of the platform.
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Interesting they cut off 503 streetcar in November to do overhead wiring on Kingston rd. So far nothing has been done so streetcars could have continued running all this time. Instead buses ply this route for no reason.
If that’s an example of TTC planning I shudder to see what happens this year.
Steve: It is far too common for service changes like thus to occur based on planned work that does not actually happen.
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I will be expecting that the TTC (and the decision-makers at city hall) will have the track replacement one using the bare minimum of workers, spread over the longest timeline. Totally opposite to how the Europeans and Australians would have done it.
Seen videos showing that outside of North America they use a couple of hundred of workers over a weekend to tear up and replace tram tracks. Here, the use a handful of workers over months, with a lot of time waiting for supplies to come in.
Why? Because public transit is low priority to the decision-makers. They don’t use public transit, so why bother.
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I notice the TTC list May 1-Nov 29: York from Queen to Adelaide (Ontario Line diversion) – I had assumed that the addition of a south-bound track on York was being done by Metrolinx/IO as part of their work on Adelaide from York to Victoria. Of course, as you have mentioned before, the work on York would be a great opportunity to bring the (new) southbound track south to King from Adelaide (or at least allow for it @ Adelaide so that when King is redone (2024 or 2025?) the correct King curves could be easily added.) No doubt the TTC brains trust is not doing this – it is only about 100 metres of (single) track so it would be a fairly cheap way to get a useful diversion route all the way from Queen to King.
I’m curious as to the February to November SOGR capital works on Gerrard Street East! Presumably not a 9-month full closure!
Nice to see them gearing up the the Line 2 ATC work!
Steve: Yes, that Gerrard Street work caught my eye too. I am waiting for feedback from the TTC on what this involves because Gerrard cannot be closed concurrently with sections of Queen.
Weren’t some portions of Queen between Davies/Broadview and King downtown done about 20 years ago? It doesn’t seem to be meeting the hoped for 30 year lifespan if they’re due for major replacement now.
Steve: The intersection at Broadview was done fairly recently, but the tangent track further west was not a full rebuild, only spot repair. What surprises me more is that the intersection of King and Queen is not scheduled at the same time. On TOInview, it appears that the work now shown for 2023 by TTC was originally in 2024. This is an example of the mismatch between the City and TTC versions of the plan.
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I find it funny that the first planned subway closure is on January 21-22 when the list closure of 2023 subway closures will only be approved on January 19. Looks like another shortsighted move.
Steve: This report is not for formal Board approval but rather asks that they “endorse” the plans. I’m sure that the list has existed for some time, but is only now coming to the Board for information. If past experience is any guide, there will be many changes, especially to the streetcar section parts of which, as I noted, simply do not make sense.
So, in theory, streetcars will be able to venture west of Sunnyside, maybe even west of Humber loop for at least a period of time, until the next planned or unplanned closure/diversion/bustitution?
I haven’t kept exact track (ha ha), but it seems to me that, over the past decade or even decade and a half, the majority of the time, Lake Shore has seen bus shuttle service instead of streetcars.
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The construction of the Ontario Line will affect streetcar service on Bathurst Street between Queen Street West and the Bathurst-Fleet intersection. At some time, streetcars may be replaced with buses on the “511 Bathurst” route, and what season(s) is it scheduled? Hopefully, it should be done outside the busy tourist season so it doesn’t affect the “511 Bathurst” route in late-summer, when the Canadian National Exhibition takes place, which requires extra service on this route.
Steve: The work at Bathurst and King for the Ontario Line is supposed to occur off the street with the main excavation and entrance on the southeast corner. Streetcar service is not supposed to be interrupted on Bathurst or King for this, according to Metrolinx.
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I was looking back at photos I had from the time and the section between Broadview and Davies was rebuilt in 2002 and King through the core was done in 2003. I know there was a recent patch job done but wasn’t it originally hoped that the trackwork would last for 30 years before reconstruction? The concrete hasn’t come close to surviving that long. Even the intersection at Queen and Broadview is suffering and it has been less than 10 years. It’s actually a common sight at many recently rebuilt junctions.
Steve: There is an ongoing problem with the quality of concrete, just to add to everything else. In some cases the track is fine, and certainly the new steel tie foundations, but the concrete crumbles. I remember the TTC complaining about this two decades ago. There are also cases where I think the track projects are driven by other city work and occur prematurely, although not in this case. We also still have pre-panel track intersections like King & Church that are falling apart.
I assume that, sooner than later, all the overhead will be rebuilt (it was planned for about 6 years ago!!) so that ought to stop closures/diversions for that but then, when there are no poles, they have to adjust it so it ‘wiggles’ and the pans get longer lives and remove the frogs etc. Is that something they can do ‘on the fly’ or will it mean further closures?
Steve: They should be able to do it “on the fly”, but seem to take any excuse to shut things down. At worst it should be overnight or weekend work on a manageable-sized section. There are already some intersections with no frogs.
Yes, it is amazing what can be done when politicians actually give a care. Like, for example, prefabricating a bridge and installing it IN ONE WEEKEND. See this video.
Steve: GO Transit has done some weekend bridge replacements in the past few years too. One does not have to cross the pond to find examples. However, I will come back to the fact that a dedicated bridge is a lot simpler than an intersection, let alone when every other utility piles on to the project and screws up its timetable. At KQQR there were at least three other players: Bell, Hydro and Toronto Water, plus the road realignment.
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The realignment (shifting track on Bathurst to side of street, along with reconfiguration of Bathurst & Lake Shore intersection) was a pre-covid priority of Councillor Cressy. I haven’t seen Councillor Malik’s thoughts on this or whether it will be a priority.
And I second Ed’s comment about streetcar service on Lake Shore. It feels like anything they rebuilt out there (Queensway ROW, Long Branch loop, Kipling loop) has been a make-work project.
Did any other utilities pile on during the 1921 TTC KQQR weekend track replacement? If I remember correctly; streetcars ran through during the entire process.
Steve: I doubt you were around then to remember, but in any event it was a reconstruction in situ, not a complete reconfiguration and replacement of utilities that probably date from 1921 or earlier when the street was built.
I find myself wondering if some of the bus replacements are done because TTC simply does not have enough streetcars to properly service the complete network.
Steve: Pre-covid some routes were run with buses due to the unreliability of the new fleet, but if the MDBF stats are to be believed, that problem should be behind us. Also, all of the cars that were rotating through Bombardier/Alstom’s Quebec plant for welding repairs are back. The fleet is almost at full strength with only a few cars out for a long term (including the ones trapped in the King Street flood which have still not been repaired).
The fleet numbers say 200 cars if I leave out the long-term absences. The peak scheduled service right now is 144 cars which, amazingly enough, is on Saturday afternoons. At a 20% spare ratio, the TTC should have 29 spares for a total of 173 cars. There is headroom for more service. Even at a generous 25% spare ratio, that would mean 180 cars for service with 20 left over.
One big problem on the TTC with all fleets is that they have been so used to having a very generous spare factor that they don’t have the discipline of keeping everything in top notch shape and can afford to sideline problem vehicles. This will only get worse with the coming service cuts.
The situation on the bus fleet is worse with a spare factor over 30%. This makes it very easy to dedicate lots of buses to streetcar replacements. The irony is that they talk of these as if somehow the buses would be reclaimed for service elsewhere when the streetcar system gets to full strength, but there isn’t money to actually operate them. Moreover, bus replacements due to construction projects are paid for out of the construction account (capital) and this actually “saves” the TTC money on the operating budget.
If you want to see slow construction check out most Metrolinx projects. I have never seen more than 5 people working on platform 4 at Bramalea. I went past Guelph station last Monday and only two workers were in sight. This is ridiculous, especially of they have to have a CN foreman there to protect the work site.
And yet elsewhere in the world, utilities seem to have learned the magical art known as “communicating with each other.” They have even been known to use the ultra-high-tech tool known as a “checklist” to ensure that issues are prevented. The problem with Toronto is that there are never any consequences for monumental incompetence, so nothing ever changes.
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The Broadview Loop expansion is out to tender on Merx.
I note that there are, again, many late openings due to “SOGR Structure Maintenance PEV Beam Replacement”. This project seems to have been ongoing for the last 3 or 4 years, how many beams does the PEV have that need replacement? Would it not be better to do a longer closure and get all done?
Steve: This is standard ongoing work every year with one about every four weeks when it’s warm enough to work on the bridge. I have a front row seat to watch this work, and it’s not something you would attempt on a large scale and hope to get the subway back open. As it is, they advertise a noon opening and often finish early.
Why do I have the sense that between Roncesvalles platform adaptation and the track project at Dufferin Loop and on King from Close to Shaw, King West and Roncesvalles will be bustituted most of the year?
Steve: The Ronces platforms were supposed to be done while the intersection was closed. If they are not finished by the end of March, one might well ask where the project manager was through all of this. Dufferin Loop closure obviously assumes the Queen car is back at least to Sunnyside where the overhead is partly installed as of my recent visit. Not sure what they will do with the west end of King yet. It could run via Shaw and Queen, then up Ronces, Ronces, and then with a bus shuttle on a one-way loop through the construction zone. At the risk of jinxing the project, replacing tangent track should be a fairly swift job.
Do we have any idea if they will be adding protected turning phases for the half decade long Queen station diversion? It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if they did absolutely nothing.
Steve: It is claimed that there will be transit priority, but also that signals will be adjusted overall to optimise traffic flow. Three guesses who wins out in that analysis.
It would be nice to see some pro-active transit priority from day one rather than having to fight an uphill battle for it after the fact.
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One more thought/question. Would you happen to know if the King Close to Strachan construction will lift the slow order in the rail underpass between Atlantic and Sudbury? Or is that due to narrow lanes, low ceiling, or general underpass condition that goes beyond track?
Steve: The problem in the underpass relates to the overhead and the danger of dewirement running with poles. The real question is whether they will get rid of the slow order when that section shifts to pans, or if they will just forget why it was there in the first place.
Ah that makes sense, thank you. Fingers crossed, hopes not getting up.