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How was your commute on Queen Street?

Posted by Natalia Manzocco / May 13, 2014

ttc construction torontoCommuters along Queen this week might have noticed that street before them has been essentially reduced to rubble. Joining Queen and Leslie in TTC construction hell is the intersection of Queen and Victoria, which has been closed off to all traffic - aside from emergency vehicles headed to St. Michael's Hospital - due to track repairs. The construction is set to last until the end of May.

In a video message posted by the TTC last week explaining the shutdowns, chair Andy Byford points out that streetcar drivers were, until recently, forced to slow their vehicles down while passing through Queen and Victoria due to the state of the worn-out concrete. Those streetcars will now be diverting down Church all the way to Spadina on King. Motorists making brief north-south cuts through downtown, meanwhile, may want to just steer clear of Victoria altogether.

Further east on Queen, a similar scene has played out for the past few weeks as the TTC adds new tracks to service its Leslie Barns facility - a new home for the city's incoming low-floored streetcars. Local businesses have lamented the construction, which has forced vehicles to divert north (the TTC is routing 501 cars up to Gerrard between Coxwell and Broadview).

ttc construction queen eastBut the fun doesn't stop there. Queen and Broadview is set to be torn up on June 30 (until July 25) to give the high-traffic intersection's tracks and switches a much-needed refresher. Queen streetcars will run along Dundas from Coxwell to Parliament, while the 504 King cars will take Dundas to Parliament and continue along King - not a huge change from the existing diversion due to construction at King and River.

ttc queen eastThey'll also be replacing some more tracks in the Queen and Broadview area - though the TTC points out lanes of traffic will still be left open, we're in for a summer of slowdowns. Work has already begun on the stretch of Queen between Jimmie Simpson Park and Logan.

All this is making the commute into and out of the downtown core that much more challenging. So, how was your commute?



URBAN PLAN SMART GUY / May 13, 2014 at 12:37 pm
We should never ever ever upgrade our infrastructure but instead, move further out into the 'burbs!
MattB / May 13, 2014 at 12:41 pm
One of the side effects of this construction is the corner of King and Spadina. Going west, you have the King streetcar; turning right onto Spadina you have the Queen streetcar; also turning right you have the Spadina streetcar. it can take for ever to get through. Keep away if you can. Urban gridlock hell.
Bob / May 13, 2014 at 01:03 pm
OMG Streetcars ahhhhh. Please send the next Toronto mayor to Vancouver, see how they use electric buses with articulating electrical connector arms. No more need for track/road maintenance while using the existing electrical distribution system. Vibration is less and the biggest draw...buses can pull over to the curb.
Big WIn / May 13, 2014 at 01:07 pm
Olivia Chow Facebook Pub Night
Friday, May 23at 6:00pm - 8:00pm
Fox and The Fiddle

Olivia wants to move people across the city faster!

Marc replying to a comment from Bob / May 13, 2014 at 01:17 pm
OMG subway trains ahhh!!! Let's take the mayor to space let him see how space shuttles work. No track, no repair, no closing and best of all; they're not even on the face of this earth!
Rafa / May 13, 2014 at 01:24 pm
Traffic chaos is caused by streetcar track maintenance. Once maintained, traffic chaos is caused by the streetcars themselves. Remind me why we bother with these things again?
iSkyscraper replying to a comment from Bob / May 13, 2014 at 01:42 pm
OMG Low-information commenters ahhh.
Rob Ford Lite replying to a comment from Rafa / May 13, 2014 at 01:56 pm
Good point Rafa, because we all know cars/buses are immune to traffic.
Steven / May 13, 2014 at 01:57 pm
Rob Ford was right all along. Get rid of streetcars and replace with subways.
sean replying to a comment from Bob / May 13, 2014 at 01:58 pm
electric buses would destroy the 'cafe culture' downtown. you know, the culture that manages to survive endless streetcar track construction.

Gabe replying to a comment from Rob Ford Lite / May 13, 2014 at 02:03 pm
No but cars/buses can move around, change lanes and easily change routes on the fly NOT like a street can that once one of them fails, the whole line fails, and it forces extra traffic onto other streets that already have street cars on them.

You know how tracks work right?
iSkyscraper replying to a comment from Steven / May 13, 2014 at 02:04 pm
That's like saying "get rid of all subways and replace with GO trains" - because those are even faster, right? While you're at it, why not replace all hammers with screwdrivers? Replace all trees with lakes? They all play different roles. We need more buses, more streetcars, more subways, more commuter rail (and for that matter more bikeshare, which is also a form of public transit). You wouldn't replace any one of those modes with the other. We just need more everything, and funding for it - something dimwitted Robbie never understood.
Valentino Assenza / May 13, 2014 at 02:10 pm
We had a perfectly funded and viable plan called "Transit City." Which if we stuck with it, would be that much closer to completion. But Rob Ford with his moronic "Ford Nation" ideology got in front of a microphone his first day in office declaring "the war on the car is over," and we as Torontonian's thought..."what war on the car?" This was easily the worst move the "Mayor" made. He tried to make up for it by putting a "Hero Burger" at City Hall, but I gotta say it doesn't quite have the effect on me he intended it would.

To those that love their car: Improving transit, is supposed to cater to those that ride transit, not to those that drive cars. I'm not crying any tears for you sitting in you Lincoln Navigator, behind a streetcar listening to Z 103.5. Improving transit is not for your convenience but for the convenience of people who are wanting to take transit. Improving transit is not to motivate people to drive, rather it's to motivate people consider another alternative other than their car.

Now that Transit City is cancelled, every politician Municipal, and Provincial is dangling their sexiest transiit plan in front of us, and so far, they all look like crap. I'd like to believe that within the next four years we'll make some progress on the transit front for this city. But the reality is, that our "Mayor" and city councillors who we elect with half-hearted esteem, will probably spend the next four years drinking coffee and talking about a transit plan in council chambers, rather than any action happening on one. Condos will keep going up, the core's population will get that much more dense, and a whole host of Torontonians will be looking at our watches griping "where the heck is the streetcar/subway/bus?"
Toucan Sam / May 13, 2014 at 02:10 pm
First want to say I like Andy Byford. Class act. Good to see that the TTC and city are working together to coordinate these needed repairs. Also nice to see them trying their best to minimize the impact on businesses and pedestrian traffic.

I wish people would take a more sensible view on streetcars. Instead of sticking to your ideological views, list the pros and cons while considering what the alternatives are.
Big news for the youth / May 13, 2014 at 02:47 pm
Olivia Chow vows to create 5,000 jobs for youths with new program!!!!

Olivia Chow says she will create 5,000 jobs for youths by demanding that companies bidding on big city projects employ people who are under 24 years old.

who are we fooling? / May 13, 2014 at 03:03 pm
We're told streetcars are better than buses. They did the same thing on York last year. It was supposed to be finished in June. It took to December. Same as Kingston Road. They pour more than two feet worth of concrete in two different pours and the last one has I-beams embedded in it to serve as rail ties. All those material, brought it in from god knows where, and all that labour and yet we're told streetcars are better than buses. The rest of the world went from buses to articulated buses yet we fear them because of a faulty part made in Eastern Europe the last time we tried them a decade ago. Now we're getting them back one here and one there, instead of having a serious debate over the future of buses in our city. We should have had that debate before deciding to give the biggest mooch of taxpayer money ever called Bombardier a new contract to build mega million tanks to be our new streetcar fleet.

PS, after all that work on York they didn't even put in a left turn from eastbound King. Goes to show you the shortsighted nature of the TTC. Labour first, service last.
who are we fooling? replying to a comment from Big news for the youth / May 13, 2014 at 03:04 pm
Its BS, meant to hire kids of city workers just as the TTC does.
who are we fooling? replying to a comment from Valentino Assenza / May 13, 2014 at 03:06 pm
Queen has NOTHING to do with LRTS or Transit City. That Hero Burger was nothing special nor his idea. It pertained to council deciding on food options for city hall.

We had a plan for the DRL during 2008 and 2009. Miller kaybashed it to save a few million for the down payment on the yet to arrive streetcar fleet.

Thats who you should blame.
who are we fooling? replying to a comment from Rob Ford Lite / May 13, 2014 at 03:08 pm
Buses go around problems much easier. They are faster. They can fight traffic better than streetcars who lose the "gap" at intersections to cars and have to wait another traffic light to cross said intersection. I've seen people in crutches walk past my streetcar, then we pass them and they then pass us again at the next light.
who are we fooling? / May 13, 2014 at 03:10 pm
Streetcar tracks on King have been closed between Queen and River for 6 months now and NOT ONE minute of construction work has started. This has added 10 minutes to the route the 504 takes. This could have been avoided had they simply built a connector track the 15 metres down River Street when that was rebuilt 2 years ago.
hey guy replying to a comment from who are we fooling? / May 13, 2014 at 03:24 pm
You realize the construction is happening under the Queen/King River Bridge, right?
who are we fooling? replying to a comment from hey guy / May 13, 2014 at 03:36 pm
It may have started now after 6 months of closure, not when the road was first closed. It was also closed another time a year or so ago to study the problem.
tommy / May 13, 2014 at 03:45 pm
It would be good to remind people that the Toronto streetcar network moves more people everyday than the entire GO train network. Replacing the routes with buses would likely require a 3-to-1 ratio of buses-to-streetcars, costing more in labour, not to mention changing routes because buses can't take turns as sharp as streetcars can. As for getting caught at red lights - it happens to buses all the time too.
who are we fooling? replying to a comment from tommy / May 13, 2014 at 04:08 pm
Wow. That ratio gets bigger and bigger every time some guy regurgitates it. They ignore the existence of bendy buses.

I will remind you that labour is NOT just the guy behind the wheel. There are entire divisions on call around the clock to move broken down streetcars out of the way. Each streetcar that breakdowns means three streetcars of impacted riders; the one from the broken down car, the one behind it who have to exit the vehicle so it can push the broken one away, and the third one which has to carry the load. A bus breaks down a either a new one is expedited from the yard to take the riders or they simply board the next bus. The streetcars on the other hand march away in a circus conga line followed by a crew in a large lorry with a modified bumper and a supervisor in an expensive Chevy Taho. The entire processions clogs the rest of the streetcar line until they get to the yard. The broken down bus is towed away by Abrams towing and zips off back to the yard.

There are crews who work overnight at expensive rates to keep the ugly overhead wires up there.

There are crews driving around the city in specialized mini street sweepers that have the sweepers aligned with the streetcar tracks. Buses don't have that.

There are "Jockeys" who work in the streetcar yards solely to manoeuvre streetcars around to make sure they're all in the right order for the next morning. They are also known to sleep on the job, in sleeping bags in the back of streetcars in the yard. Management knows this for a fact.

Quit peddling BS about lanes and turns!! Streetcars take two lanes to make a turn. So do buses! Buses can make any turns in this city. ANY turns, anywhere!! Not just where there happens to be a track with correct turn. And how many turns the 501 make? Can you tell us?

Buses may get caught at one red light. The right turns green and they're gone. Streetcars have the gap taken from them by cars who go in front of them and then change the lane, so the streetcar has to wait for the next light. Have you been on the 504 anywhere near Bay Street? Buses by law have to be allowed back into the lane. Its the law. Learn it.
iSkyscraper / May 13, 2014 at 04:09 pm
It would also be good to remind people that cities replaced streetcars with buses, then replaced some buses with articulated buses, and now are replacing some articulated buses with streetcars (at least on downtown routes where development and livable street culture was desired).

Reality wins, internet trolls lose.
Brian / May 13, 2014 at 04:21 pm
bahh, east end...nobody cares
who are we fooling? replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / May 13, 2014 at 04:21 pm
Not every city is the same nor does the city follow one model exclusively. Its not "reality' to try to pass off the contrary as being fact, as you're trying to do.

Buses don't impede culture. Manhattan is not a dead zone where crosstown bus routes exist. London and Montreal are not void of culture were bus routes run.
Dave / May 13, 2014 at 04:39 pm
Streetcars are better then buses for many reasons. The main one being they carry more passengers which should be enough argument for downtown Toronto. But my argument is not scientific or numerical. What is wrong with having streetcars downtown simply because they are nicer? They are much more plesant to ride and add a certain charm to the downtown. Why can't that be reason enough? It's not like Toronto ever does things for rational or smart reasons. Downtown is for people.
who are we fooling? replying to a comment from Dave / May 13, 2014 at 05:02 pm
How are they nicer? How is it pleasant to see cars overtake you then cut you off and take the lane FROM the vehicle you're in? And the vehicle can't do the same? How is that pleasant? Its not charming either. People use transit to get from A to B as fast as possible, and as efficient as possible. The people making these decisions believe in charm while they don't ride them themselves.

Carrying more people is not a sign of less labour. Its a sign that more eggs are in one basket. A jumbo jet carries more people than a streetcar. Should we run those down Queen Street in rush hour?
Toucan Sam replying to a comment from Dave / May 13, 2014 at 05:08 pm
Totally agree. Actually I'm hoping the TTC gets some hovercraft. As you say, "They are much more plesant [sic] to ride and add a certain charm to the downtown. Why can't that be reason enough? It's not like Toronto ever does things for rational or smart reasons. Downtown is for people."

Are you sure you're not talking about the F-35's Harper wants to order. I hear "They are much more plesant [sic] to ride..."

Also think the streetcar tracks should be made of gold, "They are much more plesant [sic] to ride..."
who are we fooling? replying to a comment from Toucan Sam / May 13, 2014 at 05:19 pm
So was Dave being sarcastic? Man that went over my head.

Kudos on the hovercraft. I said jet but your use of hovercraft nails it even better. Trade off cost for "pleasantry".

Funny how I see Steve Munro on the subway so often at St George, yet its thanks to him we have these relics.
Curious / May 13, 2014 at 07:56 pm
What are the odds Toronto gets a downtown relief subway line in the next 25 years? I don't live Downtown so I cant really comment, but is this something that downtown residents want? Say a line that goes from Dundas W to Donlands via Union...
Arby / May 13, 2014 at 08:18 pm
I'm not a fan of Chow, but she's not listening to special interests here or else they are telling her to take a pro people position on public transit. If she's their choice, then what will she deliver that we don't want. Or is she real? As long as we have to have some form of addition to gridlock via public transit, give me buses instead of streetcars. They are like water. They can get around anything. Whole lines aren't constantly impaired because of single trains. And quit the sabotage of the system which has been aided and abetted by rightwing politicians who think it's proper that the private sector can 'rescue' all of our taxpayer funded services and systems!
Bob / May 13, 2014 at 09:08 pm
For all you subway supporters, if we can build a subway on every streetcar corridor and not bankrupt the city, don't we think we would have done that already?

Building a subway doesn't automatically mean the removal of parallel surface transit. Like Yonge and Sheppard, bus service is maintained to serve the local demands. Alternatively they can build a slow subway like Bloor-Danforth with twice as many stations than the Eglinton LRT and Northern part of Yonge.

Subway tracks need to be maintained too, just like the track work that closed the Danforth subway from Kennedy to Woodbine this past weekend. They just don't interfere with traffic.

If we remove streetcars and replace them with trolley buses, the city needs to remove all parking at all times on all streetcar corridors. There is no parking on Bay street for a reason. Buses need to pull in and out. Small businesses won't agree with this, so trolley buses won't work.
Rob Ford / May 13, 2014 at 09:37 pm
iSkyscraper replying to a comment from who are we fooling? / May 13, 2014 at 09:55 pm
"Buses don't impede culture. Manhattan is not a dead zone where crosstown bus routes exist. London and Montreal are not void of culture were bus routes run"

No one said buses impede culture per se. I said they do not spur development as streetcars do, and if you replaced rail with bus then ridership would drop. But go ahead and twist it anyway you like. Because, again, trolls always lose and reality always wins. All three cities you mention developed as they did because of streetcar lines that built their urban fabric. And they have all mused about bringing part of their old streetcar network back, if funding were available:

New York - http://vision42.org/
London - http://www.railway-technology.com/projects/crossrivertram/
Montreal - http://spacing.ca/toronto/2007/04/12/will-streetcars-return-to-montreal/

I'm through debating this. Up with streetcars, and all other forms of transit. Down with uneducated armchair transit planners.
sean replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / May 13, 2014 at 11:02 pm
On Queen West and King W no one fucking needs anything to spur development. What they need is an e-w subway that can actually move the residents of all the new condos that are going up, but until that happens they need to get streetcars the hell out of traffic's way and get buses that don't bunch up and will come more than once every 45 minutes.
Bob replying to a comment from who are we fooling? / May 13, 2014 at 11:31 pm
The problem is some people in this city are uneducated and thinks like a fool. They think like subway vs LRT or subway vs streetcars or streetcars vs articulated buses. They can't look beyond the current options nor have any imagination on how thinks will work out if a change is made to the current system. This whole talk of streetcars sucks and they need to be replaced should only be considered by urban planners and engineers, not politicians and clueless commuters.

The way to think is what will happen if we replaced streetcars with buses, what will happen 30 years later? How much money are we going to spend? What is it's effects? How much will maintenance cost? How much more road space will be taken since buses need more space than streetcars? And the list goes on.

Streetcars/buses are local transit that feeds the subway system. If we just ran subways in this city, half the riders would be gone cause they can't get to the subway. A streetcar line cannot be converted to a subway line. There is still local demand that would prefer the streetcar instead. How many people will still use the streetcar? Ask a consultant firm, I don't know.

Don't put a comment oh someone is using subways and not the streetcar without thinking.
Debra / May 14, 2014 at 12:02 am
My commute was fine, I live in the west end where most of the councillors live.
rob / May 14, 2014 at 12:21 am
"There is still local demand that would prefer the streetcar instead."

So what. Build a subway. Toronto is a city of stagnant politicians and NIMBY hipsters who don't like change. Streetcars are nothing more than moving stop signs. Those who LOOOVE the Streetcar truly don't understand the concept of sharing the road. For them, it's about OWNING the road.

Doesn't cut it.

Subways will be built eventually and the ridiculous middle of the road streetcar will hit the dust.

I'm only for buses if they move many people and with greater speed.
who are we fooling? replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / May 14, 2014 at 08:03 am
"No one said buses impede culture per se. I said they do not spur development as streetcars do"

More talking out of your rear from the king of double speak.

You call everyone who doesn't believe in your blind streetcar vision as armchair critics. You're a clown period.
who are we fooling? replying to a comment from Bob / May 14, 2014 at 08:05 am
What are you yapping about? I never once mentioned replacing streetcars witch subways.

Buses do not need more road space than streetcars. Why would you fabricate such nonsense?
Hello Darren Buttigieg replying to a comment from who are we fooling? / May 14, 2014 at 09:19 am
"They are also known to sleep on the job, in sleeping bags in the back of streetcars in the yard. Management knows this for a fact"

Sleeping in the back of a streetcar sounds pretty uncomfortable.

"Buses by law have to be allowed back into the lane. Its the law. Learn it."

Unfortunately most drivers act like that law doesn't exist.
Arbo / May 14, 2014 at 09:38 am
Get off your butts and walk.
who are we fooling? replying to a comment from Arbo / May 14, 2014 at 09:47 am
In a perfect world maybe but people can't walk from Leslie to Yonge.
lolbus / July 16, 2014 at 10:03 pm
Since when do cars yield to buses?

Nothing would help augment transit more than a reduction in the downtown proliferation of single occupant vehicles.
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