“Snowmaggedon” and the Dufferin Bus

On January 17, 2022, a record snowfall hit the Toronto area. Yes, this is Canada, and it does snow here, although people who live in areas without the moderating effect of Lake Ontario rarely have much sympathy on that score.

A post mortem report on the event will be discussed on March 29, 2022, at the Infrastructure & Environment Committee. As the City’s report on the event summarizes:

On January 16-17, 2022, the City of Toronto experienced an extraordinary winter storm that involved extreme cold temperatures, very rapid snowfall, and an ultimate snow accumulation of 55 centimetres in just 15 hours. The below freezing temperatures that followed the storm and lasted for more than two weeks created a unique set of challenges for storm clean up.

The effects on transit routes were severe, and there was little or no service on parts of the network for an extended period.

Snow clearing took a very long time:

Ultimately, 179,442 tonnes of snow were removed from 3,471 km of roads, requiring almost 60,000 truckloads. Removal was conducted over a 30-day period; however, operations were suspended when additional snow events occurred, meaning snow was removed on a total of 23 non-consecutive days.

Toronto’s snow clearing practices tend to focus on major streets and often do not include physical removal of snow. This effectively narrows roads and limits their capacity until the snowbanks eventually melt. A history of warmer winters and fewer severe storms has contributed to a somewhat laissez-faire relationship to winter that failed Toronto in 2022.

The report speaks to several changes in approach to major storms that will be implemented in early 2023, and I will not go into these here beyond noting the effect on transit.

Two related problems do leap out.

First, the responsibility for various aspects of snow clearing fall to different groups. Roads and sidewalks were plowed by multiple contractors. Sidewalks were, until this year, the responsibility of property owners, but the city’s fleet of sidewalk plows was not yet at full strength, and subject to breakdowns. Bike lanes might or might not be plowed especially if they are simply painted and have no protective barriers.

The result is both a “who does what” clash and a war for space where snow can be dumped before it is carted away, if ever.

Second, the reduction in road capacity causes congestion both by taking lanes out of service, and by parked cars, to the extent motorists can navigate the snowbanks, encroaching beyond the curb lane. This is a particular problem on streetcar routes, but is not confined to them.

Plowing, when it does occur, may not be accompanied by aggressive towing, or at least by temporary relocation of parked cars so that the curb lane can be fully cleared.

Toronto has a network of designated snow routes for major snow events. Most of the territory it covers is in the old City of Toronto with some outlying areas. When a major storm condition is declared, parking is banned for 72 hours (or more if need be) on the streets shown in red below. Most of the suburban city is not included.

The map below is dated October 2013, and it is due for updating especially if Toronto plans to be serious about the quality of transit service and meaningful schemes for transit priority across the city.

In Brief

The major snowfall on January 17 disrupted transit service, and the effects continued for a few weeks after the event. In some cases, buses had not returned to “typical” pre-storm travel times into February.

The location of congestion problems on routes reviewed here was not distributed along them a a general delay, but could be found at specific locations and times where the effect was “net new” after the storm. This suggests that a detailed study of storm delays will reveal key locations and conditions that should be avoided in the future.

On Dufferin, a major location for delays was northbound to Yorkdale Mall, and this persisted for some time after the storm. Normally, problems on routes like this are assumed to arise from their hilly nature, but that was not always the case in late January.

Continue reading

King-Queen-Queensway-Roncesvalles March 2022 Update

Construction has resumed, although not exactly at a “breakneck” pace, at the complex junction of King, Queen, The Queensway and Roncesvalles. Here are photos showing the current state of things.

Slip Lane Removal

On the southwest corner of the intersection, there used to be a “slip lane” that allowed eastbound traffic veering from The Queensway to King Street to bypass the signalled intersection. This was fine for motorists, but a danger to pedestrians. In the new intersection layout, this lane has been removed and the sidewalk will be expanded to make this a conventional 90-degree junction.

King Street Realignment

King Street formerly met Queen at an angle, but this has now been straightened out. With the new intersection geometry, the two streetcar lanes split apart east of the intersection. This will align the future tracks on the north side with sidewalk “bumpouts” for the northbound and southbound carstops.

Track and Overhead Construction

Many new overhead support poles have been installed around the intersection, and they are festooned with coils of future span wires. West of Sunnyside Loop, excavation of the trackbed has started together with construction of foundations for centre support poles.

Planned Restoration of Streetcar Service

In the announcement of February 2022 service changes, the TTC anticipated that 501 streetcar service would be restored to Sunnyside Loop in the May 2022 changes.

In May, the 501 bus shuttle will be shortened from Broadview to University, but streetcars will continue to operate only to Bathurst Street (Wolseley Loop). I have asked the TTC for an update on streetcar service restoration and await a reply.

TTC Service Changes Effective February 13, 2022

In the February 2022 service changes, the TTC will begin to restore some of the pandemic-era service cuts. Many of the affected routes are comparatively short and operate on headways where the removal of one or two buses made a big change in the level of service. At the same time, running times on some routes will be adjusted for reliability including some cases where service is improved by reducing round times.

The total amount of service remains below the budgeted level by 1.8 per cent in light of reduced operator availability.

About 20 crews remain open at each division, and they would be staffed using spare operators or overtime.

Vehicle occupancy standards will be changing for the purpose of planning service levels. I will discuss the TTC’s plans for the timing of service improvements in a separate budget update article to be published soon.

The TTC will be modifying the vehicle occupancy standard in the February board period in preparation for projected increases in ridership in Q2 2022 (50% of pre-pandemic levels) and Q3 2022 (70% of pre-pandemic levels). The vehicle occupancy standard will be adjusted to 80% of pre-pandemic levels or approximately 40 customers per bus in the AM and PM peak periods (measured at the peak point, peak direction, peak hour for each period). In addition, to accommodate this increase in customer demand, service hours are also budgeted to increase in Q2 2022 to 100% of pre-pandemic levels.

Subway

There is only one change on the subway. The step-back crewing for One Person Train Operation (aka OPTO) on the Spadina Subway at St. George Station will be changed to a double step-back to give operators more time between trains and reduce delays.

Streetcar

The following changes will occur on streetcar routes:

  • 501 Queen:
    • Streetcar service is restored via Queen to Wolseley Loop at Bathurst Street. It will be further extended to Sunnyside Loop in May.
    • The travel times on the bus service between Broadview and Humber/Long Branch will be reduced. No buses will be removed from the schedule, and headways will improve.
  • 505 Dundas:
    • The temporary extension to Woodbine Loop has been removed.
    • Four AM bus trippers from Broadview Station that originate from 100 Flemingdon Park have been restored.
    • Service to Broadview Station will resume with the schedule change in late June. (Presumably this will also see 504 King return to Broadview Station as well, although it is not explicitly mentioned in the TTC’s service change memo.)
  • 506 Carlton:
    • Streetcar service is restored over the full route following sewer construction on Coxwell Avenue.
    • Four AM peak bus trippers from Main Station that originate on 23 Dawes, 24 Victoria Park and 67 Pharmacy have been restored.

The total number of buses operating on streetcar routes has been reduced:

  • AM peak: From 88 to 83 (net of 8 restored trippers on 505 and 506)
  • PM peak: From 81 to 66

The TOInview infrastructure project map now includes the reconstruction of streetcar track on Adelaide from Charlotte Street to Yonge Street as a 2022-23 project. This is part of the Ontario Line diversion, but it also will give eastbound service a bypass for events on King and Queen between Spadina and Church. The addition of a southbound track on York Street is not yet listed on TOInview.

Buses

The following routes will see changes, most of which are service restorations to fall 2021 levels.

  • 8 Broadview: Schedules changed for reliability. Late evening headway increases from 20 to 30 minutes on all days.
  • 9 Bellamy: Service improvement weekdays during the peaks, midday and early evening.
  • 11 Bayview: An AM peak tripper removed in error in December has been restored.
  • 12 Kingston Road: Service improvements during weekday peaks, Saturday morning, Sunday morning and afternoon.
  • 20 Cliffside: Service improvements during all periods except Monday to Saturday late evening, and Sunday evenings.
  • 22 Coxwell: Running times increased and service reduced during most periods.
  • 23 Dawes, 24 Victoria Park and 67 Pharmacy: Trippers interlined with 506 Carlton restored.
  • 25 Don Mills: AM peak trippers removed. School trips restored.
  • 42 Cummer: Peak period service improvement. 42C Victoria Park service restored.
  • 45 Kipling: Service rebalanced between Steeles and Belfield branches so that matching headways operate on each branch.
  • 50 Burnhamthorpe: Service improvements during all daytime periods and weekday early evenings.
  • 57 Midland: Service improvements weekdays all day except midday, Saturdays except late evening and Sunday daytime.
  • 61 Avenue Road North: Service improvements weekday peak periods and midday.
  • 76 Royal York South: School trips restored.
  • 78 St. Andrew’s: Service improvement during weekday peaks.
  • 100 Flemingdon Park: Four AM peak trippers interlined with 505 Dundas restored.
  • 161 Rogers Road: Service improved during all periods on weekdays, offset by service reductions in some periods on weekends.
  • 168 Symington: Service improved during all periods on weekdays, offset by service reductions in some periods on weekends.
  • 925 Don Mills Express: Weekend operation restored.
  • 600 Run as Directed: Weekday crews reduced. Weekend crews substantially increased. Although this is not explicitly mentioned, weekend subway shutdowns for maintenance and construction will resume in February.
  • 300 Bloor-Danforth Night Bus: Several trippers have been added, especially on Sundays, to deal with crowding on trips in the period before the subway opens.

Details of these changes are in the spreadsheet linked below.

Queen Street Update – December 12, 2021

2021 has not been a good year for transit service and riders on Queen Street with the combined effect of projects stretching from Neville to Roncesvalles and beyond. Some projects have moved at a glacial pace, when they move at all, because of unexpected conditions discovered during construction, and a sense that fixing them was not exactly the City’s top priority.

This is precisely the kind of situation that leads to eye rolling whenever an agency says that it will close parts of downtown “only” for seven years.

Here, running from east to west, is a review of the current status.

Updated December 15 at 6:30 pm: The 63 Ossington bus resumed its normal route today.

Updated December 21 at 11:45 pm: I have been remiss in not mentioning that no sooner had the Ossington bus resumed its normal route via Ossington, Queen and Shaw, than it was diverted again via Dundas-Bathurst-King thanks to the closure of the Queen/Ossington intersection.

Updated December 22 at 11:15 am: As of this morning, Queen and Ossington has reopened, and the 63 Ossington is on its regular route. However, the underlying map used by service prediction apps still has the King-Dufferin-Queen layout, and service predictions at the south end of the route will be missing or inaccurate until this is changed.

The East End

Conversion of the overhead wiring system for pantograph operation was somewhat spotty east of Queen and Leslie where streetcars from pan-ready routes turned south to the carhouse. Some of the conversion was done under service, and other work was done with the streetcars replaced by buses.

Streetcar service to Neville returned on December 6 replacing a shuttle bus that had operated between Coxwell and Neville Loop. On a quiet Sunday morning (December 12), there were plenty of cars at Neville, but this is not always the case depending on conditions along the route.

Service earlier in the week was very spotty with large gaps from downtown, and an inability for riders to know when service might appear because the streetcar operation to Neville is not part of the “official” schedule transit apps use to make predictions of service at stops.

The overhead within Russell Carhouse is still trolley pole-only. The westernmost tracks have no overhead at all.

Downtown

Officially, the 501 Queen car is still diverting to King via Parliament Street. However, thanks to traffic signals at Richmond and Adelaide that prioritize traffic to/from the DVP over transit, there can be severe congestion in what should be a small link between Queen and King. Some Queen cars travel via King to the Don Bridge to escape from this.

The 501 bus services (one to Humber, the other to Long Branch) continue to operate east to Broadview looping, officially, via Broadview, Gerrard and River to Queen. In practice, some of these buses operate north to Broadview Station although whether they carry passengers is a sometimes thing. This could help to supplement capacity on what has again become a busy link that the 504/504 shuttle bus cannot always handle, but the arrangement seems to be ad hoc, not a formal part of the service.

On King, the 501 Queen cars operate west to Spadina looping via Adelaide and Charlotte Streets.

The current plan is for streetcar service to resume on Queen between Neville Loop and Bathurst Street (using Wolseley Loop north of Queen) with the January schedules.

Conversion of overhead to pan-friendly mode is substantially complete over this section, and at one location, Victoria, is pantograph-only with junctions for curves that have no frogs, only a pair of contact wires.

Queen West

The track replacement project from Bay to Fennings (east of Dovercourt) continues, much to the dismay of local merchants on a street that, by the original schedule, would have been clear of construction two months ago.

According to the City’s project site, the segments of work are being taken slightly out of sequence both for TTC operations and to suit affected merchants.

  • Queen is fully open to Bathurst Street. From there to Dufferin, buses divert both ways via King.
  • Track work and repaving is completed to Niagara Street (between Bathurst and Shaw).
  • Work is in progress between Niagara and Shaw except for the block between Gore Vale and Strachan which has a row of businesses. This will be done last in the project .
  • At Queen and Shaw, the intersection should re-open on December 13.
  • Track between Shaw and east of Ossington has been replaced and been concreted.
  • Track replacement from east of Ossington to Fennings is in progress. The intersection at Ossington is expected to close on December 14. The TTC has not yet announced what will happen to the 63 Ossington bus during this closure, but once the entire section from Ossington to Shaw opens again, the Ossington bus can resume its normal route.
    • 63 Ossington resumed its normal route on December 15.

Despite delays on this project, it is worth noting how fast track can be replaced and the roadway re-opened when all that is necessary is removal of the top pavement layer and track, and installing new track attached to the steel ties embedded in the road. Decades of rebuilding streetcar track to this standard are now paying off.

The biggest delays inevitably occur where other utilities are involved, or where the road geometry is changed triggering utility relocations. Intersections are more complex because the TTC started to build these on new foundations several years after adopting new construction for the tangent (straight) track, and the city has not yet been through a complete round of intersection replacements where new track can be installed on a pre-existing foundation. Even so, the entire Queen/Shaw project from demolition through new foundation and new track installation took only three weeks.

There are construction photos and videos on the City’s web page linked above.

King/Queen/Queensway/Roncesvalles

This project drags along and is at the opposite end of “speedy” projects compared to work further east on Queen.

With the move into “Stage 2” some weeks ago, Queen Street has re-opened for east-west traffic. The 501 bus operates straight through the intersection, and the 504 King/Roncesvalles bus dodges the intersection. Eastbound 504 and 304 (night) buses operate via Queen and Triller to King, while westbound service diverts via Dufferin and Queen.

The south leg, King Street, at the intersection is closed and has been excavated for installation of new curves linking to the special work at Queen. With the change in intersection geometry, the curve will now occur before the switches rather than after, and the intersection itself will be a conventional 90 degree layout on all four legs.

How well this will handle the substantial volume of westbound traffic from King to The Queensway, especially given Toronto’s chronic inability to provide true transit priority, remains to be seen. This was already a source of much congestion especially when construction or special events caused traffic to spill off of the Gardiner Expressway.

This view looks west on The Queensway from Roncesvalles from the west end of the new eastbound loading platform. The mound of dirt west of the intersection was formerly a small pedestrian island that was a refuge, of sorts, for pedestrians crossing to the southwest corner and the bridge to Sunnyside Beach.

A mixture of new and old overhead poles remains here and at some point all traffic will be shifted into curb lanes so that work on the streetcar track and new reserved lanes can occur from Sunnyside Loop west to Parkside Drive.

The paving at Glendale (St. Joseph’s Hospital) remains incomplete, and there are still some Hydro/TTC poles within the curb lane that have not been removed or shifted to new locations.

This entire project is a textbook example of both what can go wrong and of the extended period when road and transit users must endure the shortcomings of project planning and management.

In 2022 the area north of the intersection including the carhouse entrance will be rebuilt. Concurrently, the loading zones on Roncesvalles will be modified to work with the accessibility ramps on the Flexity streetcars. This work is planned for the Spring-Summer construction season, but I will believe that when I see shovels in the ground. Other utility upgrades are included in this project, and that always seems to be a recipe for delay rather than the supposed effect of concurrent, co-ordinated work. See the City’s KQQR construction page for more information.

All photographs in this article are by the author. The diversion map for 504 King is by TTC.

TTC Announces Streetcar Diversions and Bus Replacements (Updated)

The TTC has posted several notices on its website detailing recent and planned service changes on several streetcar routes.

Updated November 21, 2021: Modified to pick up new and replacement pages on the TTC’s website.

King-Queen-Queensway-Roncesvalles Project

The TTC’s KQQR page has been updated to reflect the new routings implemented over the November 13-14 weekend.

With the south leg of the intersection now closed and Queen Street open for east-west traffic, the 501/301 Queen bus service now operates straight along Queen Street.

The 504/304 King bus service diverts westbound via Dufferin and Queen as it has done for many months, but now runs through to Dundas West Station. The eastbound service from Dundas West heads east on Queen to Triller and south to King.

This map does not show the diversion implemented for the track work at Queen and Shaw Streets that requires the 501/301 services to divert both ways via Strachan, King and Dufferin. That project also requires a diversion of 63 Ossington via Queen, Dufferin and King.

There is also a TTC page under their Construction Notices (as opposed to Service Advisories) for the KQQR project. This page is extremely out of date.

Queen East Overhead Conversion for Pantographs

The 501 Queen Streetcar currently operates as far east as Russell Carhouse (east of Greenwood) during overhead upgrades on the east end of the route. The 503 Kingston Road car continues to operate over its full route to Bingham Loop. A 501N shuttle provides service between Leslie Street and Neville Loop.

On November 21, this arrangement will change, and the 501 Queen cars will be extended to Woodbine Loop at Kingston Road. The 501N shuttle bus will loop via Eastern and Coxwell Avenues. The 503 service will remain as is.

This change will remain until January 2, 2022 when streetcar service to Neville Loop should be restored.

Other 501 Queen Diversions

Two diversions are in progress for the ongoing track replacement project on the central part of the Queen route:

  • 501 buses divert between Bathurst and Spadina via the Richmond/Adelaide pair.
  • 501 buses divert between Dufferin and Strachan via King during track replacement at Shaw & Queen.

501 streetcar service will be restored to Queen Street between Neville Loop and Wolseley Loop (at Bathurst) on January 2, 2022.

The map for the diversions is in this notice. That page is now partly out of date due to the extension of the 501 streetcars to Woodbine Loop on November 21, 2021.

Photo by Raymond Lee

506/306 Carlton / 505 Dundas Changes for Sewer Work on Coxwell Avenue

From November 21 until mid-February 2022, the Carlton streetcars will turn back at Broadview via Broadview, Dundas and Parliament. This loop is currently used by the 505 Dundas car due to water main work on Broadview north of Gerrard.

The 505 Dundas service will be diverted and extended to Woodbine Loop via Broadview and Queen Street while the Carlton car is looping at Broadview.

Queen/Shaw Intersection Replacement Begins (Update 2)

Work began on November 15, 2021 on the replacement of special work at the intersection of Queen and Shaw. Based on past experience with similar projects, this should last about three weeks.

Updated November 19, 2021 at 2:45 pm: Track replacement has begun with the eastern leg of the intersection, and foundation work is in progress for the other two legs.

Updated November 21, 2021 at 1:40 pm: Links to TTC diversion notices added.

The service diversion now embraces changes for multiple works along Queen Street West:

501 Queen Bus: Initially, the diversion was via Dufferin, King and Strachan both ways. However, extension of the tangent track replacement west of Bathurst now requires buses to divert both ways via Dufferin, King, Bathurst, Richmond/Adelaide, and Spadina. (Updated November 19)

63 Ossington Bus: Diverts both ways via Queen, Dufferin and King. The buses loop through Liberty Village on their normal route via Strachan southbound and Atlantic northbound, but then turn west onto King for the northbound diversion.

Elsewhere on Queen, there are diversions and bus replacements. (Updated November 19)

  • Streetcar service runs between Russell Carhouse (east of Greenwood) and King & Spadina (via Parliament) due to track and overhead work on the central section of Queen, and overhead work in The Beach. It will be extended east to Woodbine Loop on November 21.
  • A bus shuttle runs between Neville Loop and Leslie/Commissioners. This will change on November 21 to operate between Neville Loop and Coxwell.

The 503 Kingston Road car continues to operate between King & Spadina and Bingham Loop at Victoria Park.

Photos on November 19, 2021

King-Queen-Queensway-Roncesvalles Moves to Phase 2

After a long delay thanks to construction issues and utilities that were not located where they were expected to be, the King-Queen-Queensway-Roncesvalles project has moved into its second phase over three months later than planned.

This affects routes 501 Queen and 504 King.

The 501 Queen bus service was formerly diverted via Dufferin and King to Roncesvalles. It now operates both ways via Queen Street following the normal streetcar route in the west end. Separate diversions remain in place elsewhere on the route for track work east of Bathurst, and for overhead work in the east end.

The 504 King shuttle bus had been operating in two sections. One ran on Roncesvalles Avenue between Dundas West Station and Roncesvalles Carhouse. The other ran from the eastern entrance of the Exhibition via Strachan to King, and then over a large counterclockwise loop formed by Dufferin, Queen, Triller and King.

The 504 bus now operates between Dundas West Station and the Exhibition as one route with the two former segments now connected at Queen and Roncesvalles. Westbound buses continue to operate via Dufferin and Queen, while eastbound buses run via Queen, Triller and King as shown below.

Note that this arrangement means that there are no westbound buses on King west of Dufferin, just as there have been no eastbound buses on Queen since this project began. Queen Street now has two-way service.

At the time I write this (7:00 pm, November 14), the TTC has not updated its website to reflect the new routings.

Metrolinx Announces Construction Plans for Queen Station

Construction of a new lower level station at Queen and Yonge will close roads in the area for an extended period according to a new blog article from Metrolinx. Between early 2023 for about four and a half years, Queen street will be completely closed from Victoria to James Street.

Source: Metrolinx

James Street will also be closed as well as a portion of the west side of Victoria Street.

Streetcars will divert both ways around the construction site via Church, the Richmond/Adelaide pair, and York. This will require York to become two-way at least south to Adelaide Street (it is two-way only from Queen to Richmond), and new track will have to be installed. Although the map above shows partial occupancy of Victoria Street, it is not clear whether the tracks, long out of use thanks to construction at St. Michael’s Hospital and at Massey Hall, will finally be reactivated.

Source: Metrolinx

Reconstruction of Adelaide Street is already in the City’s plans for 2022. Originally, when I asked about the scope of work, the feedback I received from the TTC was that this would only involve track removal from Charlotte Street (east of Spadina) to Victoria. However, with these diversion plans it is clear that new track will be required at least to York Street.

An obvious question here is what plans Metrolinx has for Osgoode Station, and whether a Queen diversion west of York will be required. It is conceivable that the Adelaide trackage may yet live again further west. There will also be construction effects at Queen/Spadina and King/Bathurst. I have written to Metrolinx asking when details of these projects will be available so that the entire plan for downtown construction will be clear.

Source: City of Toronto, TOInview

A further issue is that there is a major reconstruction of King Street planned in 2023. This would have to be well out of the way before Queen Street could be closed. If there will be track on Adelaide to which a connection could be provided at York, a new east-to-north curve would be an obvious addition at King.

More generally, there should be a plan for the future use of downtown streetcar track to support the various diversions needed for construction and to restore some of the flexibility in streetcar operations that has been lost over the years as less-used bits of track fall victim to various construction projects. A list of potential locations includes:

  • Adelaide Street from Charlotte eastward, not just from York, including connecting curves at York.
  • An east-to-north curve at King and York.
  • Reactivation of track on Victoria between Queen and Dundas.
  • Addition of curves in the SE quadrant at Church and Carlton (reconstruction is planned there in 2022).

I have written to the TTC asking what their plans are.

Too often, chances to improve the network have been missed when track is rebuilt “as is”. This is an excellent chance to rectify past oversights.

A further issue in all of this will be the effect of redirected streetcar (and other) traffic on the cycling network downtown. I will seek info about this from the City of Toronto.

I will update this article when I receive additional information from Metrolinx and the TTC.

TTC Service Changes: September 5, 2021

September 2021 will see expansion of TTC service in anticipation of returning demand including in-person learning at schools and universities. Many express bus routes will be improved or enhanced.

In a reversal of past practice, schedule adjustments for “on time performance” will actually reduce rather than add to travel times in recognition that buses do not need so long to get from “A” to “B”, and that they can provide better service running more often on their routes than sitting at terminals.

Full details of the schedule changes are in the spreadsheet linked below.

Continue reading

Queen Street Construction Update: Aug. 6/21

Construction is moving slowly on various parts of the Queen route which will continue to operate with a mix of buses and streetcars until late in 2021.

King-Queen-Queensway-Roncesvalles

The planned move to “phase 2” on July 22 with through operation east-west on Queen Street has still not happened, and there is no announced date for this.

Here is a view of The Queensway looking east toward Roncesvalles taken on August 4.

In the foreground, the new leads to Sunnyside Loop are mostly completed within the streetcar lanes on The Queensway, but the majority of the new loop has not been installed. In the background, the leads to Roncesvalles Carhouse are now in place across the westbound road lanes and connected to trackage within the yard.

Aug 4/21. Photo by Steve Munro.

When the project moves to phase 2, work will shift to the King Street leg of the intersection. 501 Queen buses will revert to east-west operation via Queen rather than their present diversion via Dufferin and King. The two 504 shuttle buses will be linked via Queen although there will only be eastbound bus service on King Street east from Triller. Westbound service will operate via Dufferin and King as it does today.

This means that there will be no westbound service on King from Dufferin to The Queensway just as there is no eastbound service on Queen today in the phase 1 configuration.

The north leg of the intersection will be the last part of the reconstruction, and it will include the intersection at the north gate of the carhouse.

Queen From Bay to University

This first phase of a large-scale project to replace track from Bay to Fennings (west of Dovercourt) is not exactly speeding along. The trackbed has been partly excavated in preparation for rail replacement using the existing foundation and ties.

Looking east toward Bay Aug 5/21. Photo by Steve Munro.

Because this track was rebuilt two decades ago with a new foundation, concrete ties and Pandrol clips holding the track in place, the excavation only needs to remove the surface layer. The old track will be replaced and new rails clipped onto the existing base. Also visible below is the rubber sleeve for vibration isolation that was wrapped around the old track.

Aug 5/21. Photo by Steve Munro.

Pre-welded strings of track sit in the north curb lane (usually occupied by a fleet of fast food vendors and tour buses). A companion inventory sits in the north curb lane at Trinity-Bellwoods Park for the west end of the project.

Aug 5/21. Photo by Steve Munro.

East from University, the track excavation has not progressed to the same degree. A short section just west of York will be completely excavated to access utilities underneath. The special work at York will not be replaced as this intersection was rebuilt in 2013.

Work will continue westward from University to Spadina in stages, and then will jump to the west end of the project at Fennings and work eastward. There are no announced dates for future stages nor details of service arrangements for buses and streetcars.

Queen Street East from Leslie to Neville

Streetcars returned to the east end of 501 Queen and to the 503 Kingston Road route on August 5. During a shutdown that began on July 26, spot repairs were performed at various locations on the track, and work began on conversion of the overhead for pantograph operation.

Intersections at Coxwell, Connaught and both entrances to Russell Yard are in a transitional state with new and old overhead. The intersection at Kingston Road and Queen, including Woodbine Loop, was installed with pan-friendly overhead when the track and roadway were rebuilt here in 2019.

Two 503 Kingston Road cars sit in Woodbine Loop short-turned due to an overhead break near Bingham Loop. Aug 5/21. Photo by Steve Munro.