It’s best viewed in HD, which unfortunately means you have to see it on Vimeo. Buses and streetcars are red. Subways are in their respective color. The city of Toronto is about 25 miles across and 12 miles from downtown to the northern boundary. If you are curious about the service levels on all those routes, check out TTC’s Service Summary and System Map.

83 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: TTC Weekday Service”

  1. Unfortunately, this video does not play at all in your imbed and if you go to Vimeo it only plays 9 seconds and then stops.

      1. I’m not doing anything unusual or using unusual browsers. Using Safari and have never had any problems with Vimeo videos but after five minutes on both the imbedded video from transitblog and no progress whatsoever on the Vimeo site I gave up.

      1. Yes, but it is still controversial. There are lots of folks who want them replaced with buses. But unlike our streetcars, they have a couple things going for them:

        1) The status quo. We will spend a huge amount of money building a streetcar network, while Toronto would spend a bunch of money getting rid of theirs.

        2) Capacity. Unlike ours, they actually carry more people per vehicle.

        Even without that, there are folks who want to get rid of them, because they are inflexible. An accident can cause a shutdown, and construction can cause more predictable, but still annoying cancellations. Can you imagine a city like Seattle, with construction cranes everywhere, dealing with that? I mean a bus can simply swerve into the other lane (it does it all the time) but a surface train can’t.

        But yes, the combination of surface vehicles and subway for Toronto is quite impressive and we can learn a lot from them.

      2. As I understand – the TTC is in process of replacing it’s streetcars with modern ones that are accessible to the disabled as the PCC’s aren’t.

      3. Not only are they accessible, but they are 100% low floor so they should be pretty fast in boarding.

        I could ‘t quite catch the timing in the video, but it looks to me as though those little dots take less than an hour to move the entire length of the line.

        If so, then add an average speed of about twice that of the “modern streetcars” in the northwest as an additional advantage.

        Also, frequency. Once your service is that frequent, bus service gets to be pretty expensive.

      4. The speed advantage (when their is one) is the result of setting aside the lane. You can do the same thing with buses. Electrification helps with acceleration, but as we all know, we can do that with buses. Level boarding is great, too, but …

        The only real advantage is capacity. Which we won’t actually use. One of our streetcars has less capacity than one of our buses. So, basically, while Toronto has a couple of good reasons to go with streetcars (the status quo and capacity) we have none.

      5. For the particular routes on which they are being used in the northwest that is certainly the case.

      6. Can you imagine a city like Seattle, with construction cranes everywhere, dealing with that?

        They did it just fine when the Pioneer Place mall in downtown Portland was built. It cost a bit more than it would have normally because they had to put the wire on temporary hangers for a while. The only service disruption I can remember was for maybe an hour or two when they they were blowing a few buildings up.

        Maybe there is something different with the laws in Canada that prevent more types of work around high voltage lines or something?

      7. Toronto is the construction crane capital of North America:

        Emporis, a German-based provider of data for the construction industry, found more high-rises and skyscrapers being built in Toronto than any other city in North America last year, with 130 projects. New York was close behind with 91 projects (WSJ Jan 2014)

        so it doesn’t look like streetcar wires are slowing anyone down.

        Toronto’s streetcar network needs improvements with dedicated lanes to make it work better, but the TTC is getting serious about higher capacity cars to relieve sardine level overcrowding. They have purchased 200 new low-floor cars with five sections, four articulations, four sets of double doors, on-board ticket vending machines as well as presto card readers (aka orca). Each car, mini-train really, is 100′ long.


    Roland Harris- Commissioner of Public Works and City Engineer, Toronto, 1912-1945.

    1918- Built the Prince Edward Viaduct across the Don River Valley. Rode the subway attached to the bridge. Amazing.

    1941- Built the water treatment plant named after him, at the east end of a major street car line, Queen Street, I think. Tours available now. Unbelievably beautiful building, polished metal and glass instruments both useful and gorgeous.

    “In The Skin of a Lion”- Michael Ondaatje. Fiction, but good picture of Canadian engineering. Have ridden on subway on bridge.

    Labor relations got ugly in Canada during the ’30’s. Young Canadian radical swims a mile through the intake pipe under Lake Ontario strapped with explosives to blow up the new plant.

    However, the pipe opens up right by Harris’ desk in his basement office. Harris pulls the boy out, discusses project management with him, and I think lets him sleep it off and leave.

    In next novel, “The English Patient”, Patrick’s daughter Hana is a nurse in Italy, looking after…well, anyhow, she finds out her father’s been killed in action and goes back to Canada.

    Movie sucked worse than Elaine said it did in Seinfeld, but you have to read “In the Skin of a Lion” to even start to figure out the characters.

    Would really be good if they made the Lion one into a movie- just with different screenwriter. Also with orders to get the subway onto that viaduct, even if it really was installed later.

    Pre- PCC Streetcars mandatory too.


  3. Oh and also:

    Even though Elaine was right to start screaming the movie theater how bad “The English Patient” sucked, the book is really good.

    Though readers do have to know that the WWII Italian campaign was one of modern history’s most miserable- it rained the whole time, like in the Bill Mauldin cartoons.

    And the Canadian troops got the crap shot out of them. And the Germans left everything in sight booby-trapped, especially harmless things like clocks and pianos.

    Also: The Hungarians were on the side of the Germans, even if they spoke English and ended up in English field hospitals in old Italian mansions.

    Book definitely deserved a better movie, except it would’ve been very hard to film, and also still incomprehensible if you hadn’t learned history in Canadian schools.

    Elaine is probably right about usefulness of instructions from bathtub scene, but it got main character wrong too. What really showed her approach to romance was that she was always leaving not only teethmarks but fork marks on her boyfriend.

    Anyhow, water treatment plant is worth the streetcar ride.


  4. It’s come to my attention that my transit writings here have a very large following within Sound Transit’s leadership group (The CEO, Board of Directors, etc.). So knowing that, I would like to express my displeasure at something I found in the ST Fares and Schedule book, and I hope it is soon corrected. When one opens the ST book to the a routes page, the actual bay the bus stops at (at the BTC, for example), is not apparent. But there are these big circled numbers at the top of each column … 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. So it’s easy to think that a northbound ST bus, for example, stops at BTC Bay 2. But no, that number just means it’s the second stop on the trip. So where on the ST route’s page does it say to catch a particular bus route? BTC is a big place with 12 different bays spread out all over the place. Am I missing something? Does it say which bus bay and I’m just not seeing it? It seems to me, next to the time it leaves, and the correct day, that’s the third most crucial piece of information.

    1. I find the numbering system in the timetable to be a help when reading the timetables. The maps in the ST timetable also label the numbered timepoints and then provide a complete list of transfer opportunities at each numbered timepoint. Those features make it much easier to plan a journey and I wish Metro would follow that model with their route timetables. I do agree that it can be frustrating to find the correct bay at the various transit centers, but that problem could be helped with better wayfinding tools at the TCs. I did notice that some bays are listed in the ST timetable, but most aren’t.

      1. I think for the novice or occasional transit user, the giant circled number 2 at the top of the column (in the BTC example), is more confusing than it is helpful. They’ve found the correct bus that will take to where they want to go. They see what time it leaves on the page, but then when they see this #2, or whatever number is at the top of the column, they are more likely to think that’s the Bay number than which stop on the route it is.

        And I disagree about Metro following ST’s example. Metro schedules say which bay the bus stops at, ST’s books don’t. In this one case, I’d like to see ST follow Metro.

      2. The schedule book used to have a section that gave a full list of stops for each route. That would have been a likely place to find the bay number if it wasn’t in the schedule, but that section doesn’t appear to be in the latest edition of the book.

      1. That reminds me … At the BTC … the ORCA vending machine … not that it’s hidden, but there are no big signs over it, around it, or near it announcing this is where and what it is. You practically have to be right next to it to know what it is. Subtle, tasteful and understated is great for the Rainier Club, but not for a transit center.

      2. That sucks. I’m pretty sure Northgate Transit Center has bus numbers under the signs, as well as schedules on the wall, with the number on it. So, either way it is pretty easy. I forget if the Bellevue Bus Station is the same way, but I think it is. (It has been a while since I’ve been to either).

      3. The problem with Everett is the platform area is the size of an airport parking lot. The numbers are by the stop, but they are tiny.

        In the photo I linked to above, you can see that TriMet has a nice huge bus route number above the stop, just like is found indicating your location in long term airport parking lots.

        The fact that there are very limited crosswalks to get from one platform to another is also part of the problem there. It can be a pretty long slog to get from one platform to another.

    1. Although, I did like this comment to the LA festival …

      “Bunch of bourgeois Liberals tooling around on their penny-farthings, pretending to be practically perfect people, and inconveniencing everyone in their path. Drove there with their bikes on top of their X5s. Phonies.”

      1. Hell, they used to close the express lanes on I-5 on occasional summer Sundays for non-motorized travel. Of course this was 30 years ago…that would never ever never never happen nowadays! (Nor, probably, should it. It was fun to ride though.)

    1. You remember that the thing runs so often that you don’t need to bother with the timetable.

      1. Yeah, that’s part of what blew me away when I visited. I’ll admit, I didn’t have that much experience with subways, but when I was told the train ran every two minutes during peak, or every four minutes outside of peak, it was one of those “wow, that’s how the big cities do it” moments.

        I only took the subway once, though. The city is fun to walk through, and I was never in a hurry to get anywhere.

      2. It’s a shame you didn’t. The city is so big, and so diverse, that we would often get on the subway and just stop at a random stop without a plan. Often, the signs were in languages, indeed in alphabets, we couldn’t make out. From Urdu to Russian. Toronto is my favorite city to visit in North America, hands down. And the unbelievable transit is just a part of it (though no small part of it).

    2. “Memory timetable” means the hour-row format? I find that format quite easy to read, but I wouldn’t call memory format an intuitive name. BTW that format is used by the London Underground and BART among others.

      1. Memory timetable means that there is a predictable time increment, such as 8:18, 8:28, 8:38. Some of Toronto’s schedules get that way when they go to less frequent intervals. It may not seem like much, but my transit geek friend in Berlin says systems that do it as much as possible have shown as much as 30%+ ridership improvements. Then again, that could just be a “you can do that in Germany but it wouldn’t work here” type of thing.

      2. “Memory timetable” is similar to what we call “clock-face schedule”, where the pattern repeats at the same time every hour to be easily remembered. It is done by using headways that divide 60 evenly like 10, 12, 15, 20, 30, and 60. It is very useful when service is less frequent and much less so when frequency is 10 minutes or better.

  5. Looks like traffic lights and Link signals are down today for a good section of MLK, resulting in the drivers running Link blind down those sections, having to stop at every light. Does anyone know what’s going on?

    If they can run it blind, albeit a bit slower than normal, in situations like this, why do they have to shut down whole sections of the line when doing planned signal upgrades?

    1. The signals have been back up for about an hour now. SDOT crews have been hanging around a few different intersections working on something in the signal boxes. Wonder what went wrong.

      At least Link doesn’t have to stop at every intersection anymore. They were really slogging along this morning.

      1. Went for a little walk in the rain. The SDOT crews plugged in gas generators to the signal boxes, so I assume it was some sort of power issue.

        Signaling for our multi-billion dollar light rail system is partially being powered by little gas generators from your home improvement store of choice, with bored SDOT crew members sitting in their trucks and intermittently walking around with their Jerrycans refilling the generators’ tanks.

      2. I’m assuming your last paragraph was meant to be snarky. But if the alternative during a power failure is to have no signalling at all, why is jerryrigging gas generators a bad thing?

      3. It’s more that I find it amusing that you can spend billions on infrastructure that relies on what is likely the most complicated traffic signaling system in the region only to have it come down to something as simple as a guy in a pickup with a can of gas keeping it going.

        Even the most complicated and advanced systems sometime are saved by the most benign and everyday solutions. Is that not something to be amused by?

      4. Meanwhile, over on the BNSF main line, the signal boxes include battery backup.

      5. The traffic lights depend on electricity too. So does the phone network, although the phone network also has its own backup power and redundant equipment to keep 911 working. Are you saying you want backup power and redundant equipment for Link’s entire signaling system (and the traffic lights too)? There’s a pretty penny right there, and sorry Graham Station and 130th station, we’re taking it out of your budget.

      6. Battery backup comes as standard equipment on railroad signals. The standard set of gates and lights will run $100,00 or so, of which the battery backup itself is a rounding error. The conversion to LED for railroad signals has made the battery expense per day fairly low.

        About $300 gets you a 65 amp hour battery that can be discharged to nothing with no damage to the electrodes. That’s what we use most of the time on the railroad systems the company I work with produces. Some of our customers are going on 20 years without having to replace one.

        Sure, there’s better and more expensive stuff out there. Consumer electronics batteries are small, light, hi-tech, use exotic materials, and have to be crammed onto a circuit board.

        Railroad signal storage batteries? By customer demand they have to be Stone Age (I once went into a railroad signal box in the 1990s and found the system running on the same glass tube based set of batteries that was installed in the 1920s), heavy (makes theft less likely), and size per capacity isn’t too much of an issue. This type of thing isn’t really especially expensive.

        There may very well be something unique about traffic signals that makes them different, but long, long ago railroads decided that the benefits of battery backup on the signals far outweighed the costs.

  6. Given yesterday’s post on capacity, do you think the SDOT folks, given the likely size of ST3, will embrace the Ballard to UW line? Or do they stick to their guns with Option E?

    1. Is that really the way they are leaning? Corridor E is a cheap surface line that goes along Westlake, crosses the Fremont bridge, then heads up to Ballard. It is basically a streetcar. The only argument made for it is that it carries a lot of people for the money. But that metric is flawed, because it doesn’t look at new riders, or existing riders who would have a very improved trip. I can take a handful of buses, paint them pink, call it Ross-Transit, and tell everyone it’s a great value (assuming pink paint is cheap). But it offers no real improvement to the current system, it simply switches it around.

      I think the Seattle reps are waiting. There is support for West Seattle light rail (which I think is nuts). So if there is support for that, then I would assume there is support for Ballard grade separated rail, in one form or another (whether it skips the U-District or not). I can’t imagine West Seattle rail (which has to be grade separated) and only a streetcar for Ballard. But Ballard to West Seattle light rail stretches the budget, so there are some useless ideas being considered (like West Seattle light rail to SoDo).

      I had a chance to city council member O’Brien to talk about the NE 130th station. He gave us the lowdown on that. Before he left, I asked him about Ballard to UW light rail and he said “he liked the idea”, but I didn’t want to bug him too much, as we had already taken a bunch of his time. He seemed a bit less excited about the WSTT, but again, I didn’t want to press him on his opinion (or the opinion of others on the board) about that.

    2. There’s no evidence that they’re favoring option E. The study was jointly funded by ST and Seattle to provide alternatives both for Link and for a Seattle-built streetcar. That is a streetcar option, connecting with the SLUT. 75% of public feedback was for Corridor 5 or a “Corridor 9” (like 5 but underground at the canal and north of it too). If that’s too expensive, Corridors 2 or 3 are strong alternatives.

      As for Ballard-downtown vs Ballard-UW, it was Mayor McGinn who championed the former and now he’s out of office. ST’s staff at least understands that Ballard-UW would be shorter, cheaper, and serve two transit markets with one investment, but whether all the boardmembers understand it I can’t say. So I’d say the chance for Ballard-UW has gone from 0% to 40%.

      Regarding Ballard-UW sharing Central Link’s track, that has been solely promoted by transit fans, and ST has either not acknowledged it (usually) or said there’s insufficient capacity (sometimes). ST has never said one word in favor of it. So most likely it would either terminate at UW Station or continue east to U-Village or further.

      1. Oh, you’re looking at the 2014 final report where the corridors are lettered. So D is the one that got the most public favor. B or A would be the most likely cheaper alternatives.

    3. Here’s the ST3 timeline as of the October workshop:

      April 2015: staff present potential System Plan alternatives
      May 2015: board decides which alternatives to analyze
      June 2015-Feb 2016: ongoing results of analyses
      Mar 2016: System Plan draft
      June 2016: final System Plan + ballot measure
      Nov 2016: potential public vote

  7. I would love to see a report about transit on various cities, especially Toronto and Vancouver. From what I can tell, they are very successful, and are successful with some major differences to what we are building. For example:

    1) Not that long of a subway. The entire thing is only 42 miles. I think we are over that now (with East Link and Lynnwood Link). If we complete the spine, just that part of our subway will be over 60 miles.
    2) Doesn’t extend into the suburbs very far. From what I can tell, it goes out about 10 miles. In contrast, SeaTac is about 11 miles and Lynnwood is 15.
    3) Doesn’t cover every neighborhood. This is obvious based on the first item (not that many miles) but I think it is striking in its lack of coverage (for a city like Toronto). The subway coverage is tiny compared to a city like Washington DC (which is a lot smaller).
    4) Integrates really well with buses and streetcars. This is why they can get such good transit numbers (second in North America per capita) with so little in the way of subways.
    5) Good frequency. This follows as well. Good bus to subway interaction requires good frequency (on both).
    6) A good bus/streetcar grid. I’m getting a bit redundant, but I might as well as spell it out.
    7) BRT from the suburbs. Even though the subway has been extended over the years, that isn’t the focus for the suburbs. There is no “spine” to complete. Instead, they added BRT to the suburbs, which interact with the subway at the edges. This would be similar to say, the Swift system interacting with a Lynnwood (or Mountlake Terrace) subway stop, or maybe express buses along I-5 doing the same.
    8) Good interaction in the suburbs with commuter rail. Midwest cities have a built in advantage with commuter rail in that the railroad lines tended to go on a pretty straight shot to the city. The lines in Puget Sound go around various hills to get into the city (e. g. from Tacoma, the train initially goes south to get to Seattle)
    9) Very few stations with parking. This is probably just the result of having very few stations in the suburbs. Most of the big parking lots are at the terminus (or the former terminus) or close to them.
    10) Not every line goes to the heart of downtown. The Bloor-Danforth Line (the green line on most maps) skirts by a very urban area (with high rises) but just skirts by it. For someone trying to get to the heart of downtown (say the financial district) this means a transfer or a good walk (which is fine in the Spring or Fall, but probably not too much fun in the winter). This would be similar to, say, if we ran a line like the Metro 8. South Lake Union is very much “downtown” but a bit outside the heart (and the Metro 8 does not cover all of downtown).

    I’m sure there are a lot of things I left out, as well some things I stretched, but that is why I think a good report would be interesting. I think it is really easy to assume that each subway system is similar, but merely a matter of scale (of course New York has a huge subway, it is New York). But that obviously isn’t the case.The fact that the third biggest city north of Mexico has less of a subway than folks around here want to build is quite striking to me. Feel free to correct me with my assessment — I’m sure I missed a lot. I’ve been to Toronto, but like most cities I’ve visited, I didn’t spend much time on the subway (preferring to walk long distances to visit places).

    1. My recent harping on Toronto began after I visited the place this New Years in the freezing cold but it was awesome. Perhaps it’s time I wrote a “field report” about my experience.

      1. I have a different perspective on it than Andrew’s and want to cover things he didn’t write about or not in enough detail. I’m not in the business of assigning grades. Plus, I have a ton more pictures than he had in his post.

      2. That’s fine. I should have said in my comment that you would probably bring a different perspective.

      3. Well, that’s great. I didn’t know those existed. I remember the one for Denver, but wasn’t reading very often before then. I like forward to Oran’s perspective as well.

        I don’t see Vancouver or Portland. It would be nice to see those (if they haven’t been done) especially since they are probably the cities most like us.

    2. Torontonians have been desperate for additional subway capacity for years. The fact that more subway lines haven’t been built despite the incredibly high utilization of transit in Toronto is a tragedy, not a feature.

      It’s just like the fact that Seattle only has one subway line that’s not really a subway, and Seattle buses are slow and infrequent, yet so many people still take transit. The lack of rapid transit is not a feature. Imagine if transit didn’t suck so bad how many more people would take it.

      1. Except that Toronto’s is good enough to work for most people. Seattle’s is so bad that it doesn’t. If anything, Seattle has a population more inclined to take transit “for the good of the planet” or because we like to look at our iPhones during the commute. The fact that we drive so much just shows that our system isn’t adequate, while Toronto’s is barely so.

    3. Vancouver doesn’t have any equivalent to Tacoma or Everett. The population is smaller and is concentrated in the equivalent of King County, with no significant job centers or industries outside it. The other job center is Victoria, which is across a strait. To the extent that Langley and Abbotsford have become significant bedroom communities, that was all in the 2000s.

      1. How is Langley (about thirty miles away from Vancouver, population 100,000) that much different than Everett or Tacoma? No two cities are exactly the same. Seattle isn’t the same as Portland. But they are pretty similar, and Vancouver is very similar to Seattle. If you drew the lines the same they would look pretty similar. Surrey has more people, and Bellevue (the closest equivalent) doesn’t have nearly as many, but the borders for Surrey are huge; if you drew a line including Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond and similar areas you would get close (although Surrey still would have more people). Other than that, and maybe Tacoma, they are very similar (and Tacoma isn’t that different than Langley — just bigger).

        As far as significant job centers or industries outside the core, they are pretty similar. Tacoma and Everett aren’t huge employment centers, except for the military and Boeing (both of which are shrinking). For Tacoma, for example, after the military their biggest employer is the schools, a hospital, the state, another hospital — in other words, all local stuff. The casino employs about 2,500, while Boeing employs less than that. There are some jobs in Everett, but nothing like the employment in Bellevue or Redmond. The reverse commute is pretty much non-existent for Everett (and I assume the same is true for Tacoma). Those cities used to have a proportionally bigger share of the employment pie, but those days are long gone. Industrial work employs a lot fewer people than it used to. White collar work has moved to Seattle or the East Side. Service work is spread out everywhere (in Tacoma, Everett, Surrey, West Vancouver, North Vancouver, etc.).

    4. The suburbs of Toronto are served by GO Transit rather than TTC. It would be a bit like making SoundTransit a state agency and making them responsible for most regional services. So, Sounder equipment could wind up on a regional train to Bellingham.

      If you want to get into the suburban services in Toronto you have to include GO also.

      1. The TTC does go into the suburbs a bit. You can see on the video near the top there are vehicles running “north of the grid”. Those are TTC vehicles running in York Region. If you cross the border though, you have to pay two fares.

      2. SoundTransit, however, views itself as mostly a commuter agency. Except for special events there’s no weekend service. Something like the weekend summer service to Niagara Falls would be unthinkable for most USA transit agencies.

      3. @Glenn, that’s completely incorrect. A lot of Sound Transit buses do run on weekends; I just got off the 545 an hour ago. Sounder doesn’t run on weekends, and some bus lines don’t either, but Sound Transit doesn’t shut down.

      4. Yes, I miswrote that. I am in fact well aware of the express buses that run on weekends and have ridden a few.

        However, the fact is providing a regional rail system like GO Transit does, rather than what SoundTransit calls in every part of its system “commuter rail”, does not seem to be something they consider part of their mandate. Eventually there is some plan for them to provide off-peak weekday services, but right now the priority is to spend quite a lot of money on building new light rail lines.

        Do you really think SoundTransit would ever provide a service such as the GO Transit summer weekend service to Niagara Falls? Instead, in the USA typically transit agencies leave tourist type services for private tourist buses to accomplish.

        I’m not at all fond of casinos, but the fact is they draw huge numbers of people, and that’s a huge parking lot at the Tulalip Casino and outlet mall
        Yes, I know that it isn’t inside the transit district and all that. The reason it isn’t inside the transit district seems to have more to do with commute patterns than the actual regional transportation picture. That’s the type of non-commuter place that an agency that was set up with a vision of regional transportation service would be trying to serve, rather than an agency primarily set up as a commuter agency.

      5. Weekend commuter trains are unfortunately rare in the US. New York, Chicago, and the Bay Area are about the only places that have them. Too many people think “commuter rail” means “To downtown in the AM peak; from downtown in the PM peak.” rather than “A lot of people travel frequently throughout the metropolitan area at all times.” Changing that mentality means starting with two-way peak, then midday service, then weekends and evenings.

        Fortunately ST has got as far as midday: ST2 Sounder South will be almost hourly (with 1.5-2 hour gaps before and after noon). Sounder North is still one-way peak (plus two coincidental Amtrak runs). Given the single track and peripheral route and mudslides, I don’t see that increasing.

    5. I live in Toronto now (right near Spadina subway station). So I can answer any questions. Especially as I don’t use a car and take the TTC almost every day.

  8. @RossB

    >>Even without that, there are folks who want to get rid of them, because they are inflexible. An accident can cause a shutdown, and construction can cause more predictable, but still annoying cancellations. Can you imagine a city like Seattle, with construction cranes everywhere, dealing with that?<<

    There are far more construction cranes in Toronto than Seattle. There are more than 100 highrises alone currently u/c in Toronto. And that's not even counting all the lowrises, midrises, and infrastructure projects with construction cranes.

    When a section of street has to be closed down in Toronto, they simply reroute the streetcars on other streets around the closure. That's the benefit of having a gridded network of streetcars.

    1. Right, but everyone complains, no? My bus doesn’t miss a beat when the construction closes the street (or make the driver swerve around). I can’t imagine there is that much redundancy in the streetcar network.

      1. No, everyone doesn’t complain about the streetcar. Unless by “everyone” you mean Rob Ford. And in Toronto if they have to close down a streetcar lane they just run buses instead. They did that (possibly are still doing that, I’m not sure, haven’t been down to the waterfront in ages) for a very long time when they had to close down the Harbourfront for major reconstruction of the street and streetcar tracks – the streetcar is being moved (has been moved?) to one side of the street instead of running down the middle of the street.

        They did the same thing on Spadina for several months two summers ago when they reconstructed the line to allow the new accessible, low-floor streetcars which went into service last August. They couldn’t run streetcars for several months, so they just ran buses instead.

        Buses can, and do when necessary, run down any street that streetcars can. I don’t know why you thought different.

  9. Our streetcar network isn’t going anywhere. Yeah, we have some politicians who’ll pander to some voters by claiming they’ll get rid of the streetcars, but the reality is the cost to replace the streetcar network with buses is enormous. Our network is indespensible to the core, and most politicians realize that. It’ll take a majority vote and no politican is stupid enough to waste time to bring a motion to get rid of our network.
    To RossB, Our streetcar NETWORK isn’t a single line. Streetcars can divert around construction and accidents if necessary. It’s construction/accident are not big issues here. Go look at a track diagram of Toronto’s network. Lots of redundency.
    I’ve been on many buses that never diverted around accidents for the simple fact diversions require permission from transit control and there was no way to divert without a significant detour. It’s time to put to rest buses can be diverted easily. It’s not true.

      1. Both sides in this dumb “debate” make nonsensical points on this matter.

        The flipside to “flexibility” would be the “permanence” canard. As if many cities aren’t beholden to practically permanent bus maps that haven’t changed in decades (and frankly should). And as if ill-conceived rail projects from Pittsburgh to Vermont to Seattle haven’t been constructed and then abandoned in the same period of time.

    1. Who’s claiming to get rid of the streetcars? All the opposition is about expanding the streetcar network, not shrinking it. The city just proposed transit lanes for Westlake, which would fix the biggest problem with the SLUT and is a necessity for any northern extensions. And now that the FHT (“foot”) is ready to go, we might as well see what its actual ridership is rather than killing it just before birth.

  10. For the record, many construction projects have taken up road space and have delayed buses. I have yet to hear of any bus route diversion around construction sites.

    1. I’m talking about a one lane diversion. For example, a bus traveling on 5th, Normally, vehicles travel on the right (this being North America). But there is a flagger, telling people to go to the left lane. A bus has no problem with that. It just moves over into the left lane and keeps on going (on 5th). No bus stops are missed. Yes, it is delayed (like all the cars) for a few seconds but it is no big deal. That’s what I’m talking about.

      You are telling me that the streetcars can go on other streets. Great. But that does nothing if you are on 5th though, does it? That is essentially, a planned outage. Not the end of the world, but something that buses deal with a lot less (because they can change lanes).

      Same with accidents. If you have a big accident (blocking the lane) a bus can (and often does) just go around the problem. I’ve been on buses that have done that sort of thing several times. But streetcars, like trolleys, can’t do that. More common is a simple fender bender, or stalled car. Cars, trucks and buses will go around the problem — even trolleys can usually go around, but depending on where the streetcar lines are, they can’t.

      All in all, it is a minor problem, but still a problem. But like I said, way, way above, in the original post, I wouldn’t change a thing for Toronto. It is one of the few places (certainly in North America) where streetcars make sense. Mainly this is because they already have them (a bunch of them) and they are really big. Seattle has neither of those advantages, and will never have those advantages. It would cost money for Toronto to switch to buses. They would also lose capacity. The minor gains in speed (by being able to move into a different lane) aren’t worth it.

      But the opposite isn’t true for Seattle. For Seattle, the smart thing to do is keep buying buses. Our streetcars aren’t like Toronto’s streetcars. Ours don’t exist yet, and when we have them, they will be smaller — SMALLER — than a bus. In other words, we will have to pay for all the extra infrastructure, all the extra cost of vehicles, all of the disadvantages and it won’t even have the one advantage that Toronto’s streetcars have. That is nuts. There are a lot of things that we can copy about Toronto’s transit system, but the streetcars aren’t one of them (by the way, Vancouver copied a lot, and didn’t copy the streetcars, either).

      1. But Ross, you’re missing the whole point. If they cannot run a streetcar down a street in Toronto because one side of the street is closed, they can and do just run replacement buses instead – sometimes for months at a time. Even if there is an accident that closes down a streetcar lane, they can and do just put buses into service until the problem is fixed. And Toronto’s streetcars run down the centre lanes, not the curb lanes. So if the curb lane is all that is closed (which is most common for construction), it doesn’t affect the streetcar at all.

  11. The final Lynnwood Link EIS is out. It doesn’t seem to be online yet but it should be on this page when it is.

    130th Station is listed as an option in the Preferred Alternative along with 220th SW, but: “It would slightly increase boardings in Segment A, but overall Link system ridership would be about the same because most ofthe added station riders would be shifting from either the Northgate Station or the NE 145th Street Station. (sec. 5.7.1, p. 5-33). Then, “Potential stations at NE 130th Street, NE 155th Street, and 220th Street SW were not evaluated in the ST2 planning process, and are not currently included in the ST2 Plan. Consistency with the ST2 Plan would need to be further evaluated before any of these stations could be added to the Lynnwood Link Extension.” (sec. S.9, p. 5-37).

    I wonder what “consistency with the ST2 Plan” means. Maybe it just means the station wasn’t in the ballot measure. I would think that serving the largest concentration of people in far north Seattle with a station closer to their centers was what Link was for. I suppose others might argue that travel time from Lynnwood is paramount. But ST has never raised that as a major issue for 130th Station like it did for the Aurora alignment.

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