Streetcar route still needs work as TTC is tested again
The metamorphosis of the 512 St. Clair streetcar route has not been easy.
Those who live, work and shop along St. Clair Avenue West continue to deal with change and upheaval from not only construction of the transit right-of-way but extensive sidewalk work that will persist for more than another year.
The transformation of this mid-town corridor also includes new buildings that will rise above busy intersections, partly to take advantage of the higher-capacity streetcar line.
If the city is going to grow by intensifying transit use along roadways then there needs to be a significant review of what has gone right along this corridor, and what hasn’t.
Some Torontonians may never feel it was worth the trouble, but the ride along the new exclusive lanes between Yonge and Bathurst Streets can be impressively quick and simple.
Streetcars scoot along, separated from the traffic jams and left-turning cars that cause so many delays.
There is still a lot of work to do. For example a stretch of track just east of Yonge was left out of the right-of-way, causing trams to occasionally hit gridlock as they exit St. Clair station. The area has to be unsnarled as much as possible before more development crowds around this major urban crossroads.
The finished portion of the exclusive lanes may now be a fast link between the two branches of Yonge-University-Spadina (Yellow) line, but it won’t be entirely smooth sailing for a while. This weekend the busy streetcar and bus bays at St. Clair West station will be closed, requiring riders to again transfer to the subway from street level.
The tracks in this loop badly need repair, and normal vehicle loading areas will be off-line until September. The transition will be another test of the TTC’s ability to communicate with its passengers, a continuing issue along St. Clair and other routes. During previous construction phases, some riders were left to navigate in and around the subway stations without clear, simple instructions.
Streetcars will continue through the underground level but won’t be able to let people off safely — instead they’ll load and unload at nearby surface stops.
The bus routes that normally serve St. Clair West will also be affected so check posters or visit www.ttc.ca. Vehicle operators will be called upon to anticipate possible confusion among their customers by making verbal announcements well in advance, and visual signage in and around the station has to be top-notch.
It’s a challenge to keep service moving properly during construction projects, but the TTC also need to keep up the flow of communication.