College & Bathurst Construction

The reconstruction of College & Bathurst began on June 20, and is expected to continue for three weeks. This will involve both the full replacement of trackwork as well as other road and watermain works. The eastbound safety island will be removed because there is not sufficient space to expand it for accessibility requirements. The westbound island will be rebuilt and expanded.

The originally announced diversion for the 506 Carlton service operating with streetcars for the east end of the route was a loop clockwise via Bay, Dundas and McCaul. This has been revised so that 506 cars now run south on Parliament from Gerrard to Queen, and then west to McCaul Loop. The meet between 506 streetcars and buses is at Parliament.

This change is required because of construction at Bay to remove the two existing safety islands. Whether the route will revert to the original loop once it is physically possible remains to be seen.

Construction photos will be added here as the work progresses.

June 22, 2016

June 26, 2016

Streetcar Track Construction Update: Spring 2016 (Update 2))

Several projects sprang up with the warm weather in Toronto, and more are to come.

Updated May 13, 2016: Details of diversions and replacement services for College Street projects have been added to the end of this article.

Updated May 13, 2016 at 3:00 pm: Details of diversions and replacements updated for 506 Carlton and 512 St. Clair.

First off was the replacement of special work on Charlotte Street at Adelaide and at King including removal of the never-used lead to Adelaide Street eastbound.

Next was the replacement of the southwest ladder track at Roncesvalles Carhouse. Because of the odd shape of the property, this carhouse has many interesting twists and turns in its layout.

A short section of Bay Street south from Elm has been in rough shape with a slow order for a few years. Now the track has been replaced.

Pending work for the construction season includes:

  • Richmond Street tangent track from east of Yonge to York. This is part of an overall reconstruction of the street previously begun by Toronto Water.
  • College at Bathurst (June 20 to July 22) and at Lansdowne (July 11 to 22). This is part of a set of projects affecting College Street described in detail on the City’s website. See below for details of service diversions and bus replacements.
  • A shutdown of 512 St. Clair will be required for the reconstruction at both St. Clair West and St. Clair Stations. This will begin concurrently with the reconstruction of Bathurst & College.

As of May 9, the 501 Queen service is diverting around Toronto Water construction via Spadina, King and Shaw. This will be in place until Thanksgiving weekend unless the work is finished early.

Diversions for College Street Projects (Added May 13, 2016)

Illustrations here are taken from display panels for a public meeting earlier this year.

Through the summer to the Labour Day weekend, the 506 Carlton route will operate with streetcars on the eastern portion of the route looping downtown via Bay, Dundas and McCaul. This route stays the same throughout the period because it is not affected by construction projects further west.

The western end of the route will operate with buses whose location will vary from phase-to-phase of the work. The service will loop east of Yonge Street via Jarvis, Maitland and Church. Note that the section between Dufferin and Lansdowne will be affected by construction work that will take place for some or all of the summer (see later maps below).

Updated May 13 at 3:00 pm: The split service shown below will operate on weekdays. On weekends, buses will provide service over the entire route diverting as necessary between Spadina and Lansdowne.

201606_506Diversion_1_CarltonSplit

While College and Bathurst is under construction, services will be modified as shown below.

The 506 west bus will divert via Spadina, Harbord and Ossington. The 511 Bathurst car will be replaced with buses diverting via Dundas, Spadina and Harbord.

201606_506Diversion_2_CollegeBathurst

During a considerable portion of the project, water main work between Dufferin and Lansdowne will require the 506 west bus to divert via Dufferin and Dundas.

201606_506Diversion_3_DufferinLansdowne

While the intersection of College and Lansdowne is under construction, the 47 Lansdowne bus will divert via Dufferin Street from Bloor to Queen southbound, and will operate northbound via Lansdowne only to Dundas Street, then via Dundas and Dufferin to Bloor.

201606_506Diversion_4_CollegeLansdowne

Updated May 13 at 3:00 pm: 512 St. Clair will be converted to bus operation during construction work at St. Clair West and St. Clair Stations throughout the summer. Buses will serve St. Clair West at on-street stops. During the September-October schedule period, construction work at St. Clair Station will require bus operation from St. Clair West Station to St. Clair Station.

Bathurst Street Track Construction 2014 (Updated)

The last major track project for 2014 on Toronto’s streetcar system is underway on Bathurst Street. During the first phase which began October 20, Wolseley Loop just north of Queen Street will be replaced. The second phase will run from November 3 to 20 for the replacement of the intersection at Dundas Street.

Updated November 10, 2014: Work at Dundas and Bathurst has progressed to the point that the new intersection almost completely assembled. Photos have been added at the end of the article.

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TTC Service Changes Effective Sunday, August 31, 2014 (Update 3)

The August 31 schedules will see a return to fall service across the system as well as several other changes.  At long last (I have been distracted with other events, and there was a lot to do this month) here is the consolidated list of service changes. The list combines all types of change because there are overlapping seasonal, construction and service improvement effects.

The table linked here has been updated to correct errors missed in its creation. Thanks to Timor Urakov for catching these.

2014.08.31_Service_Changes (Revision 2)

Major changes include:

  • Return of streetcars to 510 Spadina
  • A major change of the 504 King schedule to provide added running time
  • Return of 504 King and 505 Dundas streetcars to Broadview Station
  • Route split of 501 Queen for Gardiner Expressway construction at Humber Loop
  • Route split of 116E Morningside Express to 198 UTSC Rocket

Something I have not included here, but will add in a future update, is a list of all of the Standby Buses (and a few streetcars) that are spotted around the city for various reasons. They don’t show up in the route-by-route info, but there is a substantial chunk of the fleet used to provide this service. Due to a bus shortage, the number of standby vehicles scheduled for fall 2014 is lower than originally planned.

510 Spadina

Streetcars will return to Spadina between Bloor and Queens Quay with all service running through to the south end of the line. The route will be scheduled based on CLRV capacity, and new Flexities will take over runs one by one as cars become available. Current plans are for through service to Union and a resumption of streetcar service on 509 Harbourfront in October.

At the end of the AM Peak, 508 Lake Shore trippers operate a westbound trip as 506 Carlton to provide extra capacity to the UofT St. George campus. These trips previously operated back to Roncesvalles Carhouse, but they will be changed so that the cars switch over to 510 Spadina which has more cars during the midday than the AM peak.

Previously, this interlining was done using 503 Kingston Road cars from Russell, but with the move of 510 Spadina to Roncesvalles, trippers from that division will be used.

504 King Running Time Changes

In an attempt to reduce the need to short turn much of the service to keep operators on time, the TTC is changing the round trip times during all periods of service on this route.

King Round Trip Time Changes September 2014

                    Weekdays     Saturday     Sunday
                    Aug   Sept   Aug   Sept   Aug   Sept
AM Peak             104+8 120+8
M-F Midday          100+8 122+5
PM Peak             115+8 135+7

S-S Early Morning                85+5  105+5  78+2  95+4
S-S Late Morning                 97+7  111+6  94+5  109+5
S-S Afternoon                    97+7  111+6  94+8  109+5

Early Evening        95+7 116+6  97+4  111+4  82+8  97+3
Late Evening         85+6  99+4  83+7  100+4  76+4  95+4

In the table above, the “before” times are shown under “Aug” and are taken from the schedules in effect until Aug. 30. The “after” times are shown under “Sept” and are taken from the schedules effective Aug. 31.

The time is given as running time plus recovery time. For example, the AM peak running time of “120+8” means that cars will have 120 minutes of driving time to make a round trip plus 8 minutes of terminal recovery time. Some of the changes increase the total time by 20%, a very substantial increase.

Whether this will translate into a noticeable reduction in short turns remains to be seen. One potential problem will be the accumulation of “early” cars at terminals where it is already possible to find lineups of cars. From my own knowledge of the line, some of these changes appear to be excessive and will probably have to be rolled back.

501 Queen & 508 Lake Shore

From September through December, reconstruction of the Gardiner Expressway at Humber Loop will close off the underpass between the loop and Lake Shore Blvd. The outer end of the Queen route will once again switch to a shuttle bus connecting with the streetcar.

Subway Changes

Yonge subway operations will be changed to base more trains at Davisville Yard. This will give more time for maintenance work as the last service trains will be clear of the line sooner than on current schedules. An early morning non-revenue train that carries Station Collectors to work will be replaced with a shuttle bus.

On the Bloor subway, service will be improved weekday middays and evenings, and on Saturday afternoons to reduce crowding.

Roncesvalles Yard

In anticipation of the arrival of more Flexities, some runs will be shifted to other locations. Exhibition Loop will now be used to store some 511 Bathurst runs as well as 512 St. Clair runs already at that location.

The 510 Spadina route will operate from Roncesvalles where the Flexities will be based, and to make room, all runs on 505 Dundas will operate from Russell.

Broadview Avenue

Streetcar service will return to Broadview Station after a temporary absence in July-August.

Since the re-opening of the Broadview & Queen intersection, carhouse trips from Russell westbound have resumed using the west-to-north curve that was taken out of service for safety concerns in October 2012.

Six Points Project

The reconstruction of the Kipling-Dundas-Bloor interchange begins in September and this will trigger diversions of various routes around Kipling Station.

Toronto Deserves Better Transit Service Now! Part 4: Streetcar Riders Count Too

Much discussion of improved service has talked about bus riders in the suburbs who have long trips and whose bus routes lost peak service when the crowding standards were rolled back in 2012.

Peak period crowding standards had never been improved for streetcars because there were no spare vehicles, and so there was nothing to roll back. However, over past decades, that shortage of streetcars limited peak service in a way that the bus system didn’t have to deal with.  This was compounded by two factors:

  • The TTC opened a new Spadina-Harbourfront line without increasing the fleet.  This was possible because service cuts on the early 1990s left Toronto with “spare” streetcars.
  • The project to buy new streetcars dragged on for years thanks both to the embrace of 100% low floor technology, and the obstructions posed by Mayor Ford to streetcar and LRT plans in general.

Between 1998 and 2014, the total number of streetcars scheduled for the peak periods has risen only 10%, and there is no headroom for further growth with the existing fleet. Indeed, service quality is compromised by vehicle failures, and the scheduled service may not all get out of the carhouse.

This year, the TTC will finally take delivery of the first “production” vehicles in its new fleet, and claims that service will operate as of August 31, 2014 on 510 Spadina with the new cars.  Whether the line will convert 100% to the new fleet in one go remains to be seen.

The TTC Fleet Plan contains no provision for improving service on any streetcar route beyond the higher capacity that new cars will provide. This will come only as the new fleet rolls out line-by-line and some routes will wait until late this decade to see more capacity (and even then with less frequent service).  Existing cars would be retired at a rate that matches or exceeds the new fleet’s ability to replace service, and would also eliminate any spare capacity for growth on lines running older cars.

This is what passes for responsible planning in an organization that claims a dedication to “customer service”.

This article looks at each streetcar route in turn and at a possible revised fleet plan that would make provision for short term improvements as the new fleet arrives.

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Past and Future Streetcar Service Capacity

Now that the first Low Floor Light Rail Vehicle (LFLRV) is rolling through Toronto streets on test runs, the question of service quality and capacity for streetcar routes is once again an issue.

The most recent TTC document setting out their intended use of the new fleet appeared in the 2013 Capital Budget Blue Books.  These are not available online, but I presented the TTC’s fleet plan in an article last fall.  From the numbers of vehicles to be assigned to each route, one can work back to the service frequency and capacity numbers.  In general, peak period headways get a bit wider, but the capacity goes up, in some cases dramatically.

The TTC faces two challenges: one on the budget, and one in operations.

Toronto Council has been extremely stingy with operating subsidies and “flat lined” the TTC over the past two budget cycles.  Hard liners will want the TTC to simply replace service on an equivalent capacity basis and maximize the savings in operator costs.  This would be a disaster for service quality even if the TTC actually ran cars on the headways they advertise.

On the operational side, any increase in headways brings even wider gaps when the service is upset by weather, random delays and short turns.  It is already a matter of record that the largest drop in riding over the past two decades came on the lines where 50-foot long CLRVs (the standard Toronto cars) were replaced by 75-foot long ALRVs (the articulated version) on an equivalent capacity basis.  Falling riding led to reduced service and the familiar downward spiral.  This must not happen when the new fleet rolls out across the system.

Since at least the mid-1990s, the TTC has told us that they cannot improve streetcar service because they have no spare cars.  In part, they are the victims of their own fleet planning.  The TTC originally rebuilt some of its old PCC cars (the fleet preceding the current one) in order to have enough to expand operations on the Harbourfront and Spadina lines.  However, by the mid-1990s, service cuts on many routes thanks to the economic downturn in that decade and the subsidy cuts by the Harris government, reduced the fleet requirements to the point where the PCCs could be retired and the Spadina line opened without buying any new cars.  When riding started to grow again, the TTC had no spare vehicles to improve service, and to make matters worse, the fleet was entering a period of lower reliability thanks, in part, to poor design.

Toronto waited a long time for new cars to be ordered, and this process was delayed both by the decision to go with all low-floor cars, and by political meddling at City Hall.  New residential construction along the streetcar lines pushes up demand, but the TTC cannot respond with better service until they have more cars.

Recent discussions about the new cars have included comments about how we cannot possibly have more streetcars on the road.  What many people forget is that the streetcar services were once much better than today.  In this article, I will look back at service levels once operated in Toronto, and at the service that we might see if the TTC actually operates the new fleet in the manner their Fleet Plan claims.

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Looking Back: Services to the CNE

With all the recent talk about Ontario Place, and with Exhibition season almost upon us, I thought this would be a good excuse for photos of streetcar services to the Ex.  Decades ago, the CNE raised much bigger crowds and there was a time it really was a showcase, an “exhibition”.  I remember when the “Better Living Centre” was brand new, and its intent was to give fairgoers a look at all that was new and exciting in household goods.  The Internet didn’t exist yet, and the phenomenon of the shopping mall full of goods manufactured anywhere but here was in its infancy.

The TTC ran many streetcar services into the Ex over the years, and parades of cars would leave the grounds following the evening fireworks.  (Transit Toronto has a short history of the CNE services on its website.)

The photos here have been chosen not just for the fact that cars might be operating on Exhibition routes, but also for interesting details about what is, or is not, still in the city today. Continue reading

King/Bathurst Reconstruction Project (Update 8)

Update 8:  August 10, 2011 at 7:40 am:

Construction of the new safety islands has completed early, and the 511 is back to its normal routing.

Update 7:  July 26, 2011 at 8:00 am:

The TTC has revised dates for resumption of service through the intersection:

  • Wednesday July 27:  504 King and 508 Lake Shore routes return to King Street
  • Saturday July 30:  511 Bathurst route returns temporarily for Caribana
  • Tuesday August 2:  511 Bathurst route resumes diversion via Spadina
  • Monday August 15:  511 Bathurst route diversion ends

Update 6:  July 24, 2011 at 5:00 am:

An excellent overhead view of the completed intersection dated July 17 is available on Flickr.

Service on King Street through the intersection resumes on Monday, July 25.

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