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Streetcar 'missing link' found

Harbourfront line now runs to Exhibition Place

By Joseph Hall
Toronto Star Transportation Reporter

The first small piece of Toronto’s new waterfront puzzle will be put in place tomorrow as the TTC officially opens the latest leg of its Harbourfront streetcar line.

While only 850 metres in length, the $13.25 million segment of track will link Union Station with three different streetcar lines and allow passengers to travel from downtown right into Exhibition Place. It begins daily service Sunday.

“You could really call it a missing link in a line that will help develop the waterfront to the west,” says TTC chief general manager Rick Ducharme. “As part of the Fung report on the waterfront this was a very key element.”

Financier Robert Fung’s waterfront revitalization proposal recommends $800 million in public transportation improvements, including revamping Union Station and building streetcar lines into the port lands.

The new track segment, which runs along Queens Quay W. between Spadina Ave. and Bathurst St., will complete a Harbourfront route expected to carry 6,500 people a day and draw about 1.5 million extra trips to the TTC each year.

Ducharme said it could also serve as a spine for new lines that would move east along Queens Quay toward the proposed Olympic site and farther west past Ontario Place.

With the link, the TTC will actually christen a new streetcar line - the Harbourfront 509. The four-kilometre line running between Union Station and Exhibition Place encompasses the western leg of the Bathurst 511 line along Fleet St. and the eastern segment of the Spadina 510 route along Queens Quay.

The Harbourfront line will still carry Spadina cars into Union Station as well as some cars from the Bathurst St. route.

“It helps to make Union even more of a transportation hub,” said Ducharme, adding the new line connects with GO Transit.

The route, which includes a 600-metre tunnel, runs almost entirely along its own right of way.

One of the TTC’s 1950s vintage Red Rocket streetcars will make the first trip along the line during tomorrow’s official opening.