The last two months have been full of surprises for downtown streetcar riders.
Emergency detours hit several lines, including 504 King, which began diverting to parallel streets yesterday due to falling building debris.
Back in early April, both the 511 Bathurst and 509 Harbourfront routes stopped serving the Exhibition grounds after a track broke on nearby Fleet Street.
Bathurst cars were then rerouted to Union Station, but in early May, a section of rail started to sink along Queen’s Quay — disrupting the 509, 511 and 510 Spadina routes.
Trouble came in threes as tracks on lower Spadina Avenue also closed briefly for emergency repairs. Through it all, riders had limited information.
Are our streetcar tracks falling apart, as some critics contend?
It turns out that most of the TTC network is now outfitted with the latest rail design, but Fleet Street has some of the worst remaining worn-out sections.
Fleet was scheduled to be rebuilt last year but Toronto Hydro was not able to undertake its part of synchronized roadwork. For this and other reasons, the plan to build new exclusive TTC lanes has been postponed until this fall.
And why has Hydro been so busy?
Looking even further back, it was during the ruckus over new streetcar lanes along St. Clair Avenue West that some residents demanded all electrical wires be put below ground in a beautification effort. It’s a big job.
As for keeping downtown streetcar riders up to date about the emergency diversions, there was no way to learn in advance which routes were operating normally — unless you perhaps caught a radio or TV report.
Senior TTC superintendent John Chamberlain told In Transit yesterday morning that the priority is putting out alternative bus service immediately.
If the problem endures long enough, posters can be placed at transit stops near the affected area.
I asked Chamberlain if it were possible to also use the “Onestop” subway platform monitors to warn patrons of major surface disruptions.
He said he would work on this, as well as using station-specific audio announcements.
Onestop president Mike Girgis reports his firm is ready and eager to offer timely information using various forms of technology, though this depends on TTC approval.
The website www.ttc.cadoes not list emergency closures, but you will find a poll there -— asking what kind of information you’d like to see online.