An Invitation to Dinner

At the recent meeting of the TTC Board, Vice-Chair Alan Heisey proposed that the TTC and Metrolinx Boards should meet regularly to discuss issues of mutual interest. Such a meeting took place a year ago, but despite the best intentions at the time, nothing further came out of this. As Heisey said “It’s not as if we don’t have things to talk about” citing fare integration, Presto, the Crosstown project and SmartTrack. Using fare integration as an example, with some discussion already afoot about just what this entails, it will be better to have these discussions earlier rather than later, said Heisey. The TTC should be in front of discussions on how an integrated system will be structured in Toronto.

Heisey went on to mention that at a recent meeting of the Toronto Railway Club, of which he is a member, he learned things about the Crosstown contract he did not know such as that the operation of the Mount Dennis yard will not be done by the TTC, and that although the TTC is supposed to be operating the line, the company delivering the project would really like to do this work. This is the sort of information Heisey hopes would come out in a joint meeting, and he proposes that the TTC host the event (as Metrolinx did in 2016).

It is no secret that far more information is available outside of formal Board meetings at both TTC and Metrolinx than one ever hears on the record. Those of us who attend Metrolinx meetings regularly know that “information” is thin on the ground at these events where the primary function appears to be telling the staff how wonderful they are and luxuriating in the ongoing success of everything Metrolinx, and by extension the Government of Ontario, touches. “Seldom is heard a discouraging word” could be the Metrolinx motto.

Indeed the TTC has become infected with a similar problem recently where whatever new award(s) they manage to win take pride of place at meetings while serious discussion about ridership and service quality await reports that never quite seem to appear. Budgets do not offer options conflicting with Mayor Tory’s insistence on modest tax increases. Getting an award for the “We Move You” marketing campaign is cold comfort to people who cannot even get on a bus or train because there is no room.

Oddly enough, when TTC Chair Josh Colle contacted his opposite number at Metrolinx, Rob Prichard, the word back was that such a meeting might have to await the appointment of a new CEO. The position is now held on an acting basis with the departure of Bruce McCuaig to greener pastures in Ottawa. That is a rather odd position to take. Is Metrolinx policy and strategy so beyond discussion that without a CEO, they cannot have a meeting? How is the organization managing to push trains out the door, let along host an almost endless stream of photo ops for their Minister?

Commissioner De Laurentiis agreed that there are many issues, and warmed to the idea, but suggested an information sharing/exchange session as opposed to a formal meeting. She concurred that the type of information Heisey is gathering “accidentally” should come the Board’s way formally.

Vice-Chair Heisey noted that he was told he could not see the Crosstown’s Operating Agreement because it was confidential. For what they’re worth, here are a few handy links:

These do not include the operating agreement for the line because, I believe, it does not yet exist beyond a draft format and the intention is not to formalize it until a few years before the line opens in 2021. However, aspects of the proposed agreement are certainly known to TTC staff. Whether their interpretation matches Metrolinx’ intent is quite another issue.

Other topics for a joint meeting suggested by Commissioner Byers included Accessibility, and the working relationship between Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario including the topic of risk transfer.

For those who have trouble sleeping, the Crosstown agreement makes interesting, if tedious, reading. One section deals for pages on end with the contractual arrangements between Metrolinx who will procure and provide the fleet, and the project provider who must test, accept and operate (or at least maintain) the cars. This is a perfect example of the complexity introduced by multi-party agreements with the 3P model. Each party must define at length its roles and responsibilities where a consolidated organization would deal with the whole thing in house. Of course some would argue that this simply shows how keeping parts of the overall procurement within Metrolinx adds layers of complexity that a turnkey solution might avoid. That’s a debate for another day, but an important part of any future project design.

Chair Colle observed that just because you invite someone over to your house, they don’t necessarily accept, and the TTC could find itself without a dance partner. Heisey replied that we should invite Metrolinx to dinner and tell them what the menu will be. Dinner invitations are often accepted. Colle observed that any one or two of the suggested items could “keep us well nourished”.

Mihevc added to the list by suggesting both the Finch and Sheppard LRT projects. That should be an amusing discussion considering that Metrolinx and City Planning have gone out of their way to be agnostic on the subject of Sheppard East’s technology considering that there are Councillors and (Liberal) MPPs who would love to see a subway extension there, not LRT. Both Boards, not to mention their respective management teams, would go to great lengths to avoid implying any sort of commitment beyond the next announcement of another GO parking lot or a long-anticipated subway extension’s opening date.

The biggest problem with the Metrolinx-TTC relationship is the province’s heavy-handed approach whereby any move away from the “official” way of doing things will be met with a cut in subsidy. Indeed, despite increasing outlays from Queen’s Park on transit, they keep finding more ways to charge Toronto for their services. The City gets more money on paper for transit, but spends some of it to buy provincial services in a monopoly market. Even if Metrolinx invites Toronto to dinner, they will expect the City to foot the bill.

As a public service, if only to forestall imminent starvation of the TTC Board, the balance of this article explores some of the issues raised by Commissioners.

The video record of the TTC debate is available online.

[For readers in the 905, please note that this is a Toronto-centric article because it deals with issues between the TTC and Metrolinx. Municipalities outside of Toronto have their own problems with the provincial agency, not least of which is its undue focus on moving people to and from Union Station.]

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Selective History Colours Transit Commentary

In a recent column in the Toronto Sun, Gordon Chong advances the argument that transit developments are too much about politics without enough professional planning.

The politics of transportation, published Saturday March 4, 2017

Up to that point, he and I agree, but our analysis of the situation quickly differs. Chong writes of decisions that were influenced by political considerations. He uses the Wynne flip-flop on support for tolls, and the ongoing question of how much the Scarborough Subway will cost, as jumping-off points, but then lists:

  • Cancellation of the Spadina Expressway by Bill Davis in 1971
  • The TTC/City decision to reverse plans to eliminate streetcars in 1972
  • The current emphasis of reimagining King Street rather then concentrating  on a Queen Street subway

Chong is acerbic, to put it mildly, in his remarks about Davis and the Spadina calling it

One of the most egregious examples of political self-interest and, some would say, spinelessness in transportation planning …

He goes on to say that stopping Spadina was important:

Holding the downtown riding, where the Spadina Expressway was deeply unpopular, with a tough, capable and popular Jewish cabinet minister was important to the Conservatives.

It is amusing to think how readers would react if some other group were the target of Chong’s ire, especially considering the role of the Shiner family in fighting for the expressway. Regardless of how one feels about the issue, it is the planning merits that should be debated.

Citing former Transportation Commissioner Sam Cass, certainly the “black hat” of the expressway battles, Chong argues for “balanced” road and transit networks. Nobody has ever been able to define just what should measure this so-called balance, and cynics among us translate the term as “an expressway for me, transit for everyone else”. Toronto is about to spend $1 billion to maintain that sort of “balance” with the Gardiner East rebuild project.

Chong goes on to talk about how the Spadina would have provided relief from the northwest into downtown instead of the current status, a “virtual parking lot”. He ignores the effect the expressway would have had on the city. Unlike the DVP which was built through an unpopulated area, the Spadina would have torn through established neighbourhoods setting the stage for a Crosstown expressway parallel to the CPR tracks at Dupont, and an eventual extension south to the Gardiner. The renaissance of downtown’s west side could not have happened with an expressway in place.

Relief and the Queen Street subway? Yes, there was another transportation plan on the books in the 1960s, and it was a Queen Subway that would have turned north to Don Mills and Eglinton, what we now call the “Downtown Relief Line”. That didn’t get built either thanks to a shift in attention from the downtown to suburban rapid transit lines.

As for the streetcars:

Another misguided political decision occurred when the Toronto Transit Commission’s Streetcar Elimination Program was stopped in its tracks by an alliance of local citizens and aldermen (now councillors) delaying the sensible transition to subways and buses capable of maneuvering more easily in traffic.

Unfortunately, the streetcar lovers prevailed and motorists are now stuck behind slow moving and frequently disabled streetcars and LRTs in the downtown core.

Chong has been beating this drum for years, and he forgets that the subway to which streetcars might have “transitioned” has never been built. I was part of the group who fought to retain streetcars, and our argument then as now was that the routes streetcars serve require higher capacity that would be difficult to provide with buses. In the early 1970s, the TTC ran almost twice as much service on most streetcar routes as it does today, and the problem with a shortage of vehicles is not a recent one. Ever since the 1990s recession when ridership fell and the TTC was able to cut back on the size of the fleet, there have been almost no improvements in streetcar service. A fleet well beyond its design life limps along attempting to provide service.

Buying more cars is long, long overdue, especially now that the near-downtown areas served by these routes are starting to redevelop. King Street is the most pronounced example, but more residents and potential transit riders are coming to the other routes even though the TTC has no way of providing better service. Bombardier’s glacial delivery rate for new streetcars is only the latest of problems, but the TTC’s inaction on buying more streetcars predates that order.

Keeping the streetcars was not just a matter for the existing network, but for suburban expansion, something that would have been ruinously expensive with subways back in the 70s and 80s, let alone today. But Queen’s Park preferred its high tech trains (now known as the SRT), and the promise of inexpensive suburban expansion evaporated with them.

Suburban transit in Toronto has been badly served by a succession of administrations going back to pre-amalgamation days. In 1990, then Premier David Peterson announced a “network” of rapid transit lines amounting to “a chicken in every pot” planning. This included a Malvern extension of the SRT, a Sheppard Subway from Yonge to STC, a Yonge/Spadina loop subway via Steeles, an Eglinton West subway from the Spadina line out to the Airport, a Bloor subway extension to Sherway, and a Waterfront LRT to southern Etobicoke. The first the TTC heard of this plan was when the Premier announced it.

Peterson lost the election, but the Rae government, looking for make-work projects in the face of a recession, kept the Sheppard and Eglinton projects alive, although the latter didn’t get far, and was killed off by Mike Harris five years later. The only part of the Waterfront line built was the new connection via Spadina and Queen’s Quay into Union Station. (The Spadina streetcar and the Harbourfront connection to Bathurst came later.) The Sheppard line survived the Harris regime only because he needed Mel Lastman’s political support for amalgamation, and that subway was part of the deal.

By 2007, David Miller proposed the Transit City LRT network with the intention of bringing better transit to routes that were not all aimed at downtown Toronto. The lines served the city’s “priority neighbourhoods”, not necessarily locations where civic egos dictated prestige transit lines. That network was sabotaged first by Premier Dalton McGuinty’s cutbacks in transit support, and later by Rob Ford’s visceral hatred of any plan that had Miller’s name on it, not to mention his loathing for streetcars.

LRT (as streetcars on some degree of reserved right-of-way are known) is used in hundreds of cities around the world, and two substantial networks in Calgary and Edmonton are the core of their respective transit system. But none of that matters to the subway boosters in Toronto.

Chong argues for both a Queen subway and a Relief Line, but presents this as an alternative rather than as a complement to the streetcar service on King.

Now, city council is considering a King Street traffic mitigation plan giving priority to streetcars and pedestrians over cars, when it should be looking at Queen Street and how to complete the planned subway along it, linking it with the long-awaited downtown relief line.

They are two completely separate projects, especially considering we are unlikely to see a DRL until the early 2030s at best. Meanwhile, King needs substantially improved transit service with larger streetcars and priority for transit movements over cars.

The Relief Line suffers, as we have repeatedly seen, by its characterization as “Downtown” by those who would exploit suburban feelings of transit inequity. Politicians prefer to play to their voters with inaccuracies and slurs, always implying that “someone else” is getting what their voters deserve.

Finally, Chong puts in a plug for the Sheppard West subway connection.

There are many other examples of short-term thinking and aborted transit plans requiring a 50- to 100-year vision, such as completing the Sheppard subway.

The Sheppard connection from Yonge to Downsview was one of two options before Council, and it was in direct competition with the line to York University. That route, and the possible further extension to Vaughan, had better political connections, and a higher likely demand. The subway ends today at Downsview (soon to be renamed Sheppard West) because that was common to the two possible routes. It was the only extension Council could agree on. But now, integration of a Sheppard service with the Spadina line is impossible due to mixed train lengths and incompatible headways on the routes. At best there would be a transfer between the lines.

Political intervention in transit planning? Certainly, but this goes well beyond the few battles Chong trots out. Transit battles have led to the bizarre combination of paralysis, the inability to actually build, and intense pressure to build specific projects with high political profile, one that has been artificially inflated by populist rhetoric, not by good planning.

Why write an article about an opinion piece in the Sun by a has-been politician? Simple. Gordon Chong is a Tory, and he was both Vice-Chair of the TTC, and Chair of the predecessor agency to Metrolinx. He can be expected to lobby for some position of influence over Toronto’s transit plans if Patrick Brown’s PCs take control at Queen’s Park. His selective view of history is something we can do without.

Toronto and the GTHA have major transit and transportation issues for any government after the 2018 election. Fighting old battles on long-expired pretenses is no way to plan the city.

Transit First For King Street?

Toronto’s Planning Department and the TTC hope to transform King Street as a realm primarily for transit vehicles and pedestrians with a pilot project aimed for fall 2017. Are the plans too aggressive, too timid, or just right? Is Toronto willing to embrace a fundamental change in the operation of a major downtown street?

On February 13, a crowd of hundreds packed into meeting rooms at Metro Hall for the launch of a new vision for King Street by the City of Toronto. Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat introduced the session with an overview of the project’s goals and the framework for upcoming studies and implementation. Top of her list is “Transit First”, a fundamental view of the street as existing primarily to move people in transit vehicles and, by extension, to shift from a street designed around automotive traffic to one built around pedestrians. This is not just an exercise in transit priority, but also a shift in street design beyond transit lanes to expand and improve pedestrian spaces.

Transit service is beyond capacity, and fast and reliable service cannot be achieved while accommodating the existing volume of cars. For the duration of the pilot, the transit experience should be improved.

Improving the transit experience on King Street should also transform the public realm experience for increasing numbers of pedestrians to help address open space deficits along the corridor.

King Street users are overwhelmingly pedestrians, not motorists, and yet the lion’s share of space is dedicated to cars, not to transit and those on foot.

kingstreetpilot_usersvsspaceallocation

Inspired by trial street interventions by other cities, Toronto looks to take a short-cut in reaching a demonstration of what is possible with pilot configurations using a minimum of construction. This has several advantages. A trial avoids the lengthy, complex and finality of a formal proposal assessment, which can take years before anyone has a chance to learn whether a scheme actually works. A pilot can use temporary, movable installations such as planters, signs and road markings that can be quickly changed for fine tuning, to test alternate arrangements, or to undo the changes. Residents, businesses and politicians can buy into a trial hoping to see improvement, or at least to determine that side-effects are tolerable for the broader goals, without fearing they are locked into major expense and upheaval that might not work.

This is a refreshing change from endless studies producing little action, with the only downside being that some changes are simply beyond the limitations of a pilot. If a trial works well enough, then more lasting changes requiring construction can follow.

King is not a street like others in Toronto where transit priority has been attempted. Spadina, St. Clair and Queens Quay are all wider, and options for increasing road space on King are few. Traffic patterns and business needs differ on each street, and a layout that works in one place may not be appropriate for others. Equally, the benefits or horrors of these streets do not necessarily apply on King.

The city has three proposed layouts for a transit-first King Street. At this stage they exist only as general schemes, not as detailed, block-by-block plans. On that fine-grained level any new scheme will succeed or fail. Even if a plan achieves transit improvements, too many small annoyances, too many details overlooked could collectively derail a scheme. The planners flag this as a need for both a “micro and macro” view of the street – the big picture of better transit, and an awareness that every block, every neighbourhood along the street is different.

Common to all plans is a substantial reduction in the space available for cars and trucks. Some areas now used for loading, drop offs and cab stands would be repurposed either as through traffic lanes with no stopping, or as expanded sidewalk space into what is now the curb lane. Left turns would be banned throughout the area.

This demands a major re-think in how the street works for its many users both regular and casual.

The street is only four lanes wide, and along much of its length buildings come out to the sidewalk line. Only limited roadway expansion is possible, but not practically across the corridor. In any event, the focus is not on cars but on pedestrians and their transit service. Road improvements should not masquerade as benefits to transit.

In the illustrations below, the yellow areas indicate new space reserved for pedestrians while the blue lines show where cars would be expected to drive.

kingstreetpilot_blockoptions

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Bathurst Station Bids Goodbye to Honest Ed’s

Honest Ed’s bargain store has been on the southwest corner of Bloor & Bathurst Streets for as long as most people in Toronto can remember, and it shares my birthdate, 1948.

The site was sold by the Mirvish family a few years ago and will be redeveloped with a mix of commercial and residential buildings. The store closed on December 31, 2016.

As a marketing phenomenon, Honest Ed’s had a style all its own that was not the staid sort of thing one would see downtown at Eaton’s, and definitely not a few kilometres to the east near Bay and Bloor in what has come to be called the “Mink Mile”.

In honour of the long-standing role of the store near Bathurst Station, the TTC changed much of the signage to match the Honest Ed’s style, using Ed’s own sign painters to design the very un-TTC like update to an otherwise grey station from the mid-1960s era of the original Bloor-Danforth subway line.

For the benefit of those who didn’t get to the station, and for out of town readers, here is a gallery of Bathurst Station as it appeared on January 1, 2017.

And a Happy New Year to everyone!

[Note: There appears to be some problem between WordPress and Firefox in that the gallery below will not open properly if you are reading this article from the main URL. However, if you click on the article title so that this is the only article displayed, the gallery will work properly. This problem has been reported to WordPress.]

 

Creative Writing From the Mayor’s Office

Back in June, an Op Ed from Mayor Tory appeared in the Toronto Star extolling the virtues of the Scarborough Subway. Torontoist, intrigued by how this piece came to be, made an FOI request for correspondence in the Mayor’s office. The result is an article and associated copy of the FOI response.

Tory’s article triggered a response from Michael Warren, a former Chief General Manager of the TTC. I have no brief for Warren himself, but what was intriguing was how the Mayor’s staff reacted with a need to debunk Warren. The following memo from the Mayor’s Chief of Staff is among the FOI materials.

chriseby20160630remichaelwarren

This memo is full of misinformation, but it gives a sense of the mindset in the Mayor’s Office and why so many statements from Tory simply do not align with reality.

… greater use of existing GO rail tracks … six new stations …

The original SmartTrack plan was for a “surface subway” that would carry 200,000 passengers per day using capacity in the GO Transit corridors. However, this plan depends on key factors including good integration with TTC service and much more frequent trains. SmartTrack is now reduced to nothing more than GO’s already planned service stopping at six extra stations. That is not “greater use” of tracks beyond what would have happened with GO’s RER plan. Even the ability to make these stops with little or no penalty in travel time results from GO’s planned electrification, not as part of SmartTrack.

GO Transit has no interest in the work of upgrading signals on their corridors to accommodate the level of passengers implied by that all day count, and hence the network “relief” claimed for SmartTrack cannot possibly materialize without significant new investment.

Tory’s campaign literature talks about a “London-style surface rail subway”. In Toronto, the word “subway” means service that is at worst every 5 minutes, not every 15, and it’s that convenience the campaign expected people to key in on. Some of the timetables for London Overground do feature very frequent service at a level GO’s signal system (let alone Union Station’s platform arrangements and passenger handling) cannot hope to accommodate.

A recent City backgrounder on proposed new stations shows that they will attract some, but not a vast number of new riders. That’s why they were never in GO’s short list of potential stations to begin with.

At these six new stations, trains will come every six to ten minutes in rush hour. That’s better than what candidate Tory promised … every 15 minutes or better. And to be clear, the provincial RER model sees trains coming every 15 minutes.

Actually, the provincial RER model already sees trains coming more often than every 15 minutes during peak periods and the improvements are not confined to the SmartTrack corridors (Stouffville and Kitchener) or to the City of Toronto. Queen’s Park has made no move to bill Toronto for extra service above levels planned for RER, and therefore we must conclude that none is planned.

SmartTrack was always envisioned as a beefed up version of RER; more stations in Toronto, more access for riders, faster frequencies and a TTC fare.

In fact, there is no “beef” in SmartTrack, and its only contribution will be for those who live or work near the six new stations. The service levels are part of GO RER, nothing more. As for a TTC fare, this is far from decided, and the likely cost to Toronto to support such an offer is fraught with problems. There is the obvious question of where the operating dollars will come from, but moreover riders on other GO corridors within the city might reasonably ask why they don’t get the same deal.

Conversely, some of the Metrolinx machinations about “Fare Integration” have suggested that subways might be treated more like GO Transit with a fare by distance model. If that’s what a “TTC fare” for SmartTrack really means, that’s not what Tory was selling in his campaign.

… Warren suggests tax increment financing … has been abandoned. That’s flat out wrong. City staff are preparing to report back … and have already stated it “may be the appropriate revenue tool for funding …”

Warren may have been incorrect that TIF has been abandoned, although it is hard to tell because his original piece “was edited to make clear that John Tory still supports his TIF transit financing scheme” according to a correction notice following the online version of Warren’s article. Whether Tory still supports TIF is of little matter because City staff recently reported that it cannot support the full cost of SmartTrack and additional revenues from other sources will be required.

Warren … talks of the abandoned LRT option, which he says will cost $1.8 billion … The TTC said this week that building the LRT would now cost as much as $3 billion.

The infamous “Briefing Memo” from the TTC about LRT vs Subway costs provides that higher estimate, but this is based on the assumption that the LRT line would be build much later than originally planned. Most of the cost increase is a function of inflation. Also, of course, the LRT option would serve much more of Scarborough than the subway, including the Town Centre planning precinct, a fact Tory’s Chief of Staff conveniently ignores.

As for additional costs, the provincial commitments to various transit plans, including its own, have always included inflation to completion, although undue delay caused by Toronto Council’s inability to make a decision might reasonably considered beyond the level of Queen’s Park’s generosity. All the same, the $3 billion estimate assumed a leisurely LRT project schedule compared to what would have been possible with dedication and leadership.

Under the Mayor’s leadership, Toronto is moving ahead with the most ambitious, and badly needed, transit expansion in its history.

A great deal of the expansion now underway was in the works before John Tory was elected. Indeed, his campaign claimed that SmartTrack was the single project that would solve every problem, and no other transit schemes, notably the Relief Line, need even be considered. Tory has changed his tune on that, but the RL is still treated as something we will need, someday, maybe. There is no leadership on his part in demonstrating how this line would serve suburban riders with additional commuting capacity.

debate … should be guided by fact, not distortions and rhetoric

That comment speaks for itself.

Travel Times on Queens Quay West

At a recent TTC Board meeting, the question arose of just how well Queens Quay operated as a transit street and how long it took the streetcars to navigate through the new setup.

Staff claimed that they had added six minutes to the schedule to compensate for problems, but this really didn’t give the full picture. Not to miss a chance to carp, Councillor Minnan-Wong latched onto this number and worked it into the debate at Council when the “Waterfront Reset” report was up for debate. The report passed without amendment, but the seeds of disinformation have been planted.

In the interest of clarity and accuracy,  rare commodities at City Hall, here is a review of what has actually been happening.

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TTC Service in 1928

A recent comment sent me looking for service levels early in the TTC’s existence (post 1921), and I was pleasantly surprised to rediscover that this information is in a book, now long out-of-print, by John F. Bromley called TTC ’28. This book provides a view of the system when the electric street railway in Toronto was at its height.

In a recent presentation to the TTC Board, staff argued that the streetcars were an integral part of the growth of Toronto, but their viewpoint was comparatively recent, from the 1950s onward, and even that did not fully show the former extent of the transit network which was once almost entirely operated with streetcars.

I often get questions about the streetcar system as it was, and this article is intended to consolidate the bits and pieces in one place. The route histories will give some indication of why there is so much streetcar track in apparently odd places today. Remember also that the downtown one-way streets date from the 1950s when the DVP/Gardiner recruited several streets as on/off ramps to the expressway network and “optimised” them for use by motorists.

Information for 1928 is taken mainly from Bromley’s book. Other sources are Rails From The Junction by James V. Salmon, Riding the Radials by Robert M. Stamp, and The Toronto Trolley Car Story by Louis H. Pursley.

The following map shows TTC routes in August 1928. It was scanned by Pete Coulman from a guidebook, and the original scan lives on the TransitToronto website’s maps page.

ttc-map-1928-08-22

Only a few routes on this map are bus operations, generally small lines on the periphery of the system.

Serving Downtown

Anyone born in the past half-century is used to the idea that the Yonge-University and Bloor-Danforth subways (now known as Lines 1 and 2 respectively) provide the lion’s share of transit capacity into the core area, supplemented by the streetcar network and GO Transit. However, before the subways opened, their role was provided not just by streetcars on their namesake streets, but on parallel routes that fed into a common area. This was an essential part of service design not simply to spread out the network through many neighbourhoods, but because all of the streetcars needed to serve the core could not fit onto one street.

“Downtown” was quite different from the area we think of today, and much of the development was concentrated south of Dundas with areas to the north more residential than commercial. Construction of Eaton’s College Street store began in 1928, and it was thought to be a huge risk building so far away from downtown. The building is much smaller than original plans because of the combined effect of its location and the recession.

The land around the port and the railway corridor was used mainly for industrial purposes, and the large workforce in these areas required a lot of transit service. This land is now home to tens of thousands as the condo boom recycles the old city and changes travel demands.

Services to downtown in 1928:

  • Bathurst cars ran south from Vaughan Loop at St. Clair to Front, then east to Frederick Loop at Sherbourne Street. (Although there was track linking Bathurst to the Exhibition ground, it was used only during special events such as the CNE or Royal Winter Fair.)
  • Bathurst trippers (peak period cars) ran from Caledonia Loop on St. Clair east to Vaughan/Bathurst, south to Adelaide and then east to Church.
  • Bay cars ran from Caledonia Loop on St. Clair east to Avenue Road, then south to Bloor, east to Bay and south to Ferry Loop (York & Queens Quay where the circular ramp from the Gardiner is today).
  • Beach cars ran between Neville Loop on Queen to Sunnyside Loop west of Roncesvalles. Today the route is 501 Queen.
  • Beach trippers ran from Neville Loop to King & Bay looping via Bay, Wellington and Sherbourne. Today’s 503 Kingston Road Tripper is a descendant of this route.
  • Queen cars ran initially from Bingham Loop on Kingston Road (still in use by routes 502, 503 and 12) looping downtown via Victoria, Richmond and York. During 1928, service was extended east to Birchmount Loop, but streetcar service was cut back to the City of Toronto boundary in 1954 with the creation of “Metro Toronto”. Today’s 502 Downtowner is a descendent of this route.
  • Bloor cars ran between Luttrell Loop (between Dawes Road and Victoria Park on Danforth) and Jane Loop (south side of Bloor opposite the foot of Jane Street).
  • Danforth trippers ran from Luttrell Loop west to Church & Bloor, then south to Queen looping via Queen, York and Richmond.
  • Carlton cars ran between Luttrell Loop and High Park over almost the same route as today’s 506 Carlton. College Street ended at Lansdowne, and so streetcars jogged south to Dundas to continue their trip west.
  • Carlton tripper cars followed the east end route to Parliament, then jogged south to Dundas and west to loop via Victoria, Adelaide and Church.
  • Church cars began at Christie Loop (corner of Dupont & Christie) and ran east via Dupont, Avenue Road and Bloor to Church, then south to loop via Front, Yonge and Wellington.
  • College cars took a rather scenic route from Royce Loop (southeast corner of what is now Lansdowne & Dupont, formerly Royce Street) via Lansdowne, College, Bay, Dundas, Broadview, Gerrard, Carlaw, Riverdale and Pape to Lipton Loop (current site of Pape Station).
  • Harbord cars also originated at Royce Loop, but took a different route into downtown via Lansdowne, Lappin, Dufferin, Hallam, Ossington, Harbord, Spadina and Adelaide to Church looping via Richmond and Victoria. Sunday service followed much of the College route from downtown to Lipton Loop. This evolved eventually into a consolidated Harbord route which was its form until 1966 when the BD subway opened.
  • College trippers ran from Royce Loop to College and McCaul where they turned south and then east to York looping via Richmond, Bay and Adelaide.
  • Dovercourt cars ran from Townsley Loop at St. Clair & Old Weston Road (the loop still exists as the western terminus of 127 Davenport) then later in 1928 from Prescott Loop (a small parkette west of the railway at Caledonia). They operated via Old Weston, Davenport, Dovercourt, College, Ossington, Queen, Shaw to loop via Adelaide, Crawford and King. This route served the Massey-Ferguson industrial district which is now the eastern part of Liberty Village. Peak period service extended via King looping via Church, Front and George Streets. The most substantial remnant of the Dovercourt car is the 63 Ossington bus which was once operated with trolley coaches taking advantage of the electrical system already in place.
  • Dovercourt Trippers originated at Davenport & Dovercourt (reversing using the wye at that location as there was no loop) and followed the main route to King & Church.
  • Dundas cars operated between Runnymede Loop (now the western terminus of 40 Junction) and City Hall Loop (from Bay via Louisa, James and Albert Streets). This route has operated through to Broadview Station (now as the 505) ever since part of City Hall Loop disappeared under the Eaton Centre development.
  • King cars operated over essentially the same route as they do today between Vincent Loop (across the street from Dundas West Station) and Erindale Loop (one block north of Broadview Station). Peak service was extended in the west to Jane Loop and in the east to Danforth & Coxwell with some trippers looping downtown via Sherbourne, Front and Bay.
  • Parliament cars ran from Viaduct Loop (now a parkette at Bloor & Parliament) south to Queen then west to loop via Church, Richmond and Victoria.
  • Sherbourne cars ran from Rosedale Loop (at Rachael Street) south to King and then west to York and Front to Station Loop (Simcoe, Station and York Streets). Peak service operated east to Danforth & Coxwell rather than to Rosedale Loop.
  • Spadina operated with double-end cars between crossovers at Bloor and Front.
  • Yonge cars operated between Glen Echo Loop (east side of Yonge, just before the hill down to Hogg’s Hollow, the originally proposed name for York Mills Station) and Station Loop. Short turn services operated as far north as Lawton Loop (now a parkette on the west side of Yonge north of Heath Street) and AM peak trippers originated at Eglinton Carhouse (of which parts remain in the bus garage now recycled into a “temporary” bus terminal).

This is a huge number of routes that collectively linked the commercial and industrial core of Toronto to the residential neighbourhoods, some of which were comparatively recent “suburbs”.

The level of service was equally impressive. In the table below, numbers under “Two-Car Trains” give the number of trains (a motor car plus a trailer) operated followed by the total number of runs so that, for example, the Beach car has 44 runs of which 37 operated with trailers.

Route                 PM Peak      Two-Car
                      Headway      Trains

Bathurst                2'00"        3/30
Bathurst Tripper        5'00"        9/14
Bay                     1'15"
Beach                   2'30"        37/44
Beach Tripper           3'00"
Bloor                   3'00"        All 41
Carlton                 3'00"
Carlton Tripper         4'00"        14/17
Church                  4'00"
College                 4'00"        2/23
College Tripper         7'00"
Danforth Tripper        7'30"        7/10
Dovercourt              2'45"
Dovercourt Tripper      4'00"
Dundas                  2'00"
Harbord                 2'30"
King                    2'00"        31/54
King Rush               4'00"
Parliament              3'00"
Queen                   5'00"        16/17
Queen Tripper           5'00"
Sherbourne Tripper      2'45"        10/26
Spadina                 2'45"
Yonge                   1'45"        All 42

The West End and Suburbs

In addition to many routes listed above, a few were entirely “local” to their areas, and others were part of separate suburban network, the lines called “radials” that had been built separately from the “city” system.

  • The Davenport route was a remnant of a longer route on the Toronto Suburban Railway, but by 1928 was reduced to operating a shuttle service from Bathurst to Dovercourt. It survived until 1940 when it was replaced by a bus.
  • Lansdowne operated as two separate routes because of the railway level crossing (now an underpass) north of Dupont (Royce). The Lansdowne North route operated as a shuttle from St. Clair to the north side of the railway. Service from Royce Loop southward was provided by the College car weekdays and Saturdays, but there was a Lansdowne South Sunday service from Royce Loop to Dundas.

The TTC operated routes for York Township under contract.

  • Oakwood cars operated from Oakwood Loop at St. Clair (still existing) north to Eglinton and west to Gilbert Loop (west of Caledonia Road).
  • Rogers Road cars also operated from Oakwood Loop north to Rogers and west to Bicknell Loop (east of Weston Road).
  • Lambton cars, a remnant of the Toronto Suburban Railway, operated from Runnymede Loop west to Lambton Park. The line did not carry well, and it was converted to a bus route in August 1928.
  • Weston Road cars operated from Keele & Dundas north to Humber Street in Weston. This was another TSR line that originally had operated to Woodbridge (1914-1926). The line was converted to TTC gauge in stages, and for a time ended at a loop at Northland Avenue (at the City limits).

The Oakwood and Rogers routes eventually became trolley coach lines as part of what is now 63 Ossington, although Rogers Road has been extended and split off from Ossington for many years. The Weston Road route also became a trolley coach, although streetcar service remained as a peak-only extension of St. Clair until 1966. That extension was not possible until the opening of the “St. Clair Subway” under the Weston rail corridor in 1932, and the streetcars originally operated to Northland Loop. That is the reason why St. Clair cars were signed “Northland” even after they were extended to Avon Loop at Rogers Road.

Another leftover from the radial system was the line on Lake Shore Boulevard West.

  • Mimico cars operated from Roncesvalles Carhouse via the old trackage on Lake Shore (pre-Gardiner Expressway) west to Stavebank Road, just east of the Credit River in Port Credit. In the fall of 1928, the city trackage was extended to Long Branch, and the “Mimico” route disappeared. “Port Credit” cars ran on the remaining “radial” line until February 1935.

Updated: I have been remiss when listing routes operating in 1928 by omitting the Toronto Suburban’s line to Guelph. This was not a TTC operation, but remained part of CN’s electric operations to the end.

The line began at Keele & St. Clair, but was abandoned in 1931. This electric railway was never extended into downtown and suffered from its “suburban” nature even though its terminus was on the CN corridor now used by GO’s Kitchener-Waterloo service. The small station building remained for decades after. A fragment of the line still sees streetcar operation as the Halton County Radial Railway museum.

The East End and Suburbs

Most of the services in the east end ran to the downtown area and they are included in the main list above.

  • Coxwell cars shuttled between Danforth and Queen with Sunday/Holiday service extended via Queen and Kingston Road to Bingham Loop. This route exists almost unchanged today.

Service on Kingston Road east of Victoria Park was provided by the Scarboro radial car to a point east of Morningside Avenue where Kingston Road and Old Kingston Road diverge today. In late 1928, the line was double-tracked to Birchmount, the city routes were extended into Scarborough and the radial service operated from there east. Rail service ended in two stages: east of Scarborough Post Office in 1930, and the rest of the line in 1936 to allow highway widening.

The North End and Suburbs

The northernmost of the remaining streetcar lines is on St. Clair. In 1928, it operated from Caledonia Loop to Mt. Pleasant Loop at Eglinton, although service on St. Clair was also provided by the Bay and Bathurst cars west to Caledonia (see above). Eventually, the line was extended west to Keele Loop (replaced now by Gunn’s Loop) when the underpasses at Caledonia (1931) and at Weston Road (1932) opened. Caledonia and Prescott Loops were no longer needed.

By far the most extensive of the radial lines was the Metropolitan Division of the Toronto & York Radial Railway. This was not taken over by the TTC until 1927. Cars ran from Glen Echo Terminal north to Richmond Hill and Lake Simcoe with the line ending in Sutton. Service operated every 15-20 minutes during peak periods to/from Richmond Hill with some cars running through to Newmarket every 45-60 minutes all day. Cars to and from Sutton operated every two hours or so leaving from Sutton between 5:50 am and 10:25 pm with a running time of 2 hours and 25 minutes. The Lake Simcoe route was cut back to Richmond Hill in 1930.

Ministerial Hot Air On Fare Integration

Today saw an exchange in the Ontario Legislature showing the true colours of the provincial government when it comes to an informed, intelligent discussion of fare integration in the GTHA. The full exchange is below lest anyone accuse me of quoting them out of context.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: My question is for the Acting Premier.

Throughout its history, TTC fares in Toronto have been based on the simple principle that every Torontonian deserves equal access to their transit system regardless of their income and regardless of where they live.

But now Metrolinx is quietly working on a fare integration plan that could force people living in Scarborough, Etobicoke and North York to pay a higher fare for a subway ride than people living downtown. Will the Liberal government guarantee that Metrolinx will not force people living in Scarborough to pay more to ride the subway?

Hon. Charles Sousa: Minister of Transportation.

Hon. Steven Del Duca: I want to thank the leader of the NDP for the question. Of course, as everyone should know by now, the folks at Metrolinx, who are doing an exceptional job, are working hard to liaise with all of our municipal transit systems around the greater Toronto and Hamilton area to make sure that, collectively, we can deliver on fare integration for this region.

I think anyone who moves around the greater Toronto and Hamilton area would recognize—and certainly I hear it loud and clear from my own constituents in York region—that we need to make sure, in order to support the unprecedented transit investments that this government is making, that we need a fare integration system across this entire region that works seamlessly, that makes transit more accessible, more affordable, more reliable and more dependable for the people of the entire region. That’s the work that Metrolinx is embarking upon in conjunction with all of our municipal transit systems. They will keep working hard, Speaker, to make sure that we can get it right.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Speaker, in fact, what Metrolinx has been quietly doing is designing a fare integration plan that could force the TTC to become a zone-based system that divides Torontonians based on where they live. So years from now, people in Scarborough might get a new subway but then find out that they can only afford to ride the bus.

Will the Liberal government guarantee that there will be no fare zones within Toronto, and that Metrolinx will not force the TTC to charge higher fares for subway riders?

Hon. Steven Del Duca: I guess only the leader of Ontario’s NDP would think somehow that after months of open conversations, after months in which every single board meeting has a public portion, only the leader of Ontario’s NDP would think that this is somehow hidden. It’s a conversation that’s been ongoing.

It’s part of my mandate letter which, of course, she should know. For the first time in Ontario’s history our mandate letters were posted publicly at the time that we received them, Speaker.

I think what’s also, perhaps, the reason that the leader of the NDP is mistaken about how supposedly hidden this effort is, Speaker, is that because while we are investing in transit through budget after budget after budget, that leader and the NDP caucus continue to vote against them. They are obviously more focused on petty partisan politics in Scarborough instead of being focused on making sure that they support the transit investments needed to deliver the seamless integrated transit network the people of this region and the people of Scarborough deserve.

Let’s get the historical inaccuracy in Horwath’s question out of the way first. The pre-Metro Toronto Transportation Commission used a single fare within the old City of Toronto, and supplementary fares beyond in what were then separate municipalities where the TTC provided some services. Some suburban bus routes were operated by private companies which charged their own fares. After the creation of Metro in 1954, the Toronto Transit Commission had fare zones roughly based on the old city and everything else, but these were abandoned in 1973 as part of the political deal for suburban municipalities helping to finance transit expansion through their Metro taxes.

I am no fan of Andrea Horwath, but she asks a legitimate question.

The Minister’s response is pure political hot air talking about the wonderful work at Metrolinx, and the wonderful spending on transit construction now underway, but utterly avoiding the issue of separate fares either for zones or classes of service within Toronto. Instead, he turns the question into one of “petty partisan politics” and fails to address the matter of whether Scarborough riders will pay more to ride their new subway whenever it opens.

One might ask the same question about the Minister’s constituents in York Region who will be heavily subsidized by Toronto Taxpayers to ride the Spadina extension to Vaughan.

Transit Network Analysis, SmartTrack and the Mysteries of Future Growth

Among the many reports (scroll down to the bottom of this document for links) coming to Toronto’s Executive Committee on March 9 is a short paper on Transit Network Analysis, three detailed demand projections and a paper about  Growth Assumptions. Although this has the neutral title Population and Employment Projections, it is in fact a review of the effect of SmartTrack on development in the Greater Toronto Area. The main report is titled Commercial & Multi-Residential Forecasts For The Review Of SmartTrack.

The paper is authored by the Strategic Regional Research Alliance, or SRRA, whose primary focus is real estate market tracking and projection. This organization (or its principals) were involved in the reports leading to the original SmartTrack plan in now-Mayor Tory’s campaign, specifically:

A fundamental premise running through all three papers, and perpetuated in the SmartTrack proposal, was that downtown Toronto was more or less fully built-out, and that future commercial growth would occur primarily in two major centres outside of the city, the large area around Pearson Airport and an equally large area around Markham. The potential for additional growth within Toronto itself was regarded as low, and therefore major expansion of the rapid transit network would focus on the two big suburban nodes.

At the Mayor’s direction, SRRA was retained as a consultant to the planning work now underway by the City of Toronto. This raised eyebrows both at Council for the crossover from a campaign support role to consultant, and also at Metrolinx where SRRA’s principal, Iain Dobson, had been appointed to the Board during the latter days of Glen Murray’s term as Ontario Minister of Transportation.

Although there is reason to take the new SRRA report with a grain of salt, the document makes interesting reading including a shift in some of SRRA’s outlook compared to their earlier work.

Which Land Use Model is Toronto Actually Using?

This report is supposed to be background to the overall planning study coming to Executive, but its focus is exclusively on the effects of SmartTrack. There is little mention of the development effects of other initiatives including the Scarborough Subway Extension (SSE), the Eglinton Crosstown LRT. Also, in part because ST and the GO/RER proposal cover the same territory and share stations, it is unclear how much change to development patterns occurs specifically due to SmartTrack and how much to the two services operating in one corridor.

Other background studies examine ridership effects of various combinations of SmartTrack, the SSE and the Relief Line, and these clearly must have an underlying land use, population and job location model. How this was developed or relates to the SRRA study is not clear.

That said, for the remainder of this article, I will concentrate on the SRRA text and its underlying assumptions.

Continue reading

There’s A New Subway On The Way (7)

February 25, 1966, saw the ceremonial first train operate over the Bloor-Danforth line, but it was also the last day of service on many streetcar routes.

The fans, of which I was a very junior member in those days, were out in force trying to ride as many “last cars” as possible. This took some careful planning, and it was not physically possible to be everywhere.

The Bathurst service to Adelaide and the St. Clair service to Weston Road were rush-hours only, and so these were the first to be visited. It was a very dim late February afternoon as people photographed the last car to Avon Loop at Rogers Road. The destination signs said “Northland”, the name of a loop further south that had been replaced by Avon years earlier (before I was born), but the roll signs were never changed.

Next to go was the Parliament car, a route that operated until just after midnight. It was a short shuttle from Bloor at Viaduct Loop to King at Parliament Loop, but it was an important line it its day. The trackage was also used at times to route some King cars to Broadview & Danforth avoiding the congestion of streetcars at eastbound Queen & Broadview that could back up from the intersection to the Don Bridge on a bad day.

That Parliament car on its trip in to Danforth Carhouse conveniently crossed Pape & Danforth just before the last westbound Harbord car whose operator faced an unexpected surprise waiting at his first stop. Harbord wandered through the city in a vaguely U-shaped route from Pape & Danforth (see description below) to Davenport & Lansdowne. The running in trip down Lansdowne to the carhouse brought us to Bloor Street where it was time for a 3 am snack and a wait for what would be one of the two “last” Bloor cars.

The Bloor trip took us to both Jane and Luttrell Loops, and the car became so crowded as the night wore on that we started to leave passengers at stops. It was not quite dawn when the car pulled in to Lansdowne Carhouse, and everyone walked down the street to the brand new subway entrance where the Bloor night car transfer got us on to complete the night’s entertainment.

Many routes were affected by the subway’s opening.

The Bloor and Danforth routes vanished except for shuttles on the outer ends that would operate until the first of the BD extensions opened in 1968.

Jane Loop has been replaced by a new office building and parking lot, although the TTC history is still visible from the old traction pole sporting a Canadian flag on Google Street View. Bedford Loop, a terminus for peak-only services on Bloor-Danforth has vanished under the OISE building and a parkette. Hillingdon Loop (a peak-only short turn at Danforth Carhouse) now hosts a branch of the Toronto Public Library. Luttrell Loop is now occupied by housing that is newer than its surroundings, but the role as a TTC loop is clear from the road layout and the still-present traction pole.

The Parliament car was replaced by the 65 Parliament bus operating to Castle Frank Station at its north end. Viaduct Loop was abandoned and is now a parkette. Parliament Loop at King was for many years the terminus of the bus until it was extended south and west to serve the St. Lawrence district. The loop is now a parking lot for a Porsche dealership.

This was part of a complicated land swap some years ago between the TTC, the dealership and the Toronto Parking Authority. The TTC had plans to build a new streetcar loop on Broadview north of Queen where there is now a parking lot, the City wanted the land south of Front once occupied by the dealership as part of the “First Parliament” site, and the TPA wanted replacement parking if the TTC built on its lot. The dealership moved to the TTC lands, the City got the land south of Front, and the TTC bought a vacant lot on Broadview for a new TPA lot to replace the capacity that would be lost when the loop went in. The loop has never been built.

Much of the track used by the Coxwell car (daytime route, just like 22 Coxwell today) and Kingston Road-Coxwell (weekends and evenings, again just like the bus) remains in place from Coxwell & Gerrard south, east via Queen, and northeast via Kingston Road to Bingham Loop. Coxwell cars used a very small loop on the southeast corner at Danforth now occupied by a commercial building, and Coxwell-Queen Loop which still exists. The track north of Gerrard remained operational for some months after the subway opening and Carlton cars preferentially used it to loop at Danforth Carhouse rather than Coxwell-Queen when short-turning. Eventually, the power was cut and overhead removed. The carhouse remained active as a storage site for PCCs that were rotated into the pool used by Russell Carhouse, but the link was via Danforth, not Coxwell.

The Harbord car, whose route I described earlier, ran from Pape and Danforth at Lipton Loop (replaced during station construction by Gertrude Loop) to St. Clarens Loop at Lansdowne and Davenport. The route meandered a lot running south to Riverdale & Pape, a block west to Carlaw (jogging around the railway), then south to Gerrard (at the corner now home to the “Real Jerk” restaurant), west along Gerrard to Broadview, south to Dundas, west to Spadina, north to Harbord (finally on the street from which the route took its name), west on Harbord to Ossington, north to Bloor, west to Dovercourt, north to Davenport and west to Lansdowne. There had been track on Pape north of Lipton Loop for a proposed extension into the Leaside industrial district south of Eglinton, but this was never built due to the recession.

The Dundas car operated from Runnymede Loop to City Hall and service further east was handled by Harbord. With the subway opening, the routes were consolidated, and Dundas was extended east to Broadview Station. Various chunks of Harbord became other routes including the 72 Pape bus, 94 Wellesley, 77 Spadina (now 510 Spadina). Service on Dovercourt and Davenport was abandoned not to be replaced by bus routes until decades later.

The Carlton car, the only “zone 1” streetcar route in 1966 to retain the red ink from the days of multicoloured transfers, still operates over its old route much as the King car does although loops at Vincent and Erindale were replaced by Dundas West and Broadview Stations respectively.

The St. Clair and Earlscourt services were reorganized (this would happen a few times over the years until the “Earlscourt” route simply became a short-turn variant of St. Clair), and service to Weston Road was dropped. The 89 Weston trolley coach extension south from Annette to Keele Station provided a direct subway link for riders on Weston.

Bathurst and Fort were consolidated into a single route from Bathurst Station to Exhibition Loop which, in those days, was located where the Trade Centre (whose name changes with its sponsorship) is today. Service between St. Clair and Bloor was taken over by 7 Bathurst and 90 Vaughan which formerly shared Vaughan Loop at St. Clair with the streetcars. Service on Adelaide to Church (returning westbound via King to Bathurst) was abandoned. Active track remains on Adelaide today only from Spadina to Charlotte, and from Victoria to Church.