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Latest Transit Toronto News

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Daily “on schedule” posts offer news and other information about your daily commute. You’ll learn about public meetings, special events and construction projects that affect transit services today.




Good news / bad news: TTC closing transit lines
during 43 weekends in 2018



First the good news:

According to a report (.pdf) to the November 13 meeting of the Toronto Transit Commission, the TTC is closing parts of rapid transit system during 43 weekends in 2018.

So, why is that good news? Well, the closing of the lines — inconvenient though it may be — shows that the TTC is taking full advantage of the unprecedented interest in public transit of all three levels of government in improving infrastructure. The Government of Canada, the Province of Ontario and the City of Toronto are putting their money where their interest is by funding many TTC capital projects.

While the principle of “short-term pain for long-term gain” isn’t helpful when you have to shuffle onto a shuttle bus, instead of boarding a train, to get where you’re going to weekends, it helps to remember that the weekend closures may assure that you continue to reach your destination (mostly) reliably every day for years to come.

Why the weekend? Not surprisingly, fewer passengers travel aboard subway and RT trains — and on all TTC vehicles — Saturdays, Sundays and holidays than ride Mondays to Fridays. So, by scheduling these closures over a weekend, instead of, say, a Tuesday during rush hours, the work affects far fewer people.

Since TTC staff have just two hours each night between the end of one day’s subway service before the next day’s starts to engage in regular maintenance activities, weekend closures make even more sense. According to the TTC’s previous chief executive officer, Andy Byford, “Big jobs that need to be done must take place on the weekend, when we can effectively get the equivalent of five weeks’ worth of nights done in one weekend.”

In 2016, the TTC produced this video, featuring Byford and the TTC Executive Director of Corporate Communications to explain why they often close the subway weekends.

A major project requiring the TTC to close the subway is installing automatic train control (ATC) on Line 1 (Yonge - University). This requires crews to replace the old signal system and install a new control system. The new system will allow the TTC to operate more trains along the line more frequently.

According to the report, ATC construction and testing teams require the TTC to close the line 13 times in 2018 to start installing ATC equipment for Phase 3 of the project. The subway closures help the TTC maintain the current master project schedule of activities in 2018, including

  • connecting its Wilson Yard to the main line just south of Sheppard West Station;
  • achieving the milestone of operating with ATC between Vaughan Metropolitan Centre and Dupont by September 2018; and
  • commissioning the program in “Phase 3 territory” by the first quarter of 2019. (“Phase 3 territory” is the downtown section of Line 1, mostly south of Bloor Street plus the short section between Dupont and St George stations.)

During subway closures, crews working on the ATC project typically install new cables, track-side signalling equipment or special track work in the tunnels. This work is labour-intensive and can’t all occur during the normal maintenance window each night.

The second issue for Line 1 riders is the construction of the future Line 5, the Eglinton Crosstown light rail transit line. Crosslinx Transit Solutions, the consortium of contractors building the line for Metrolinx require the TTC to shut down the line to start building connections between the current and future rapid transit lines. The TTC intends to shut-down the line between Lawrence and St Clair stations during 24 weekends to complete this work.

The TTC must also work many weekends to maintain its tracks, signals, stations and buildings in a state of good repair. State-of-good repair projects require the TTC to close parts of Line 2 Bloor - Danforth over two weekends and Line 3 Scarborough over four weekends in 2018.

TTC staff have scheduled a number of these projects to replace critical infrastructure in the north Yonge section of Line 1, which crews cannot efficiently complete during the typical overnight maintenance window. In most cases, the TTC crews are completing this work at the same time as Crosslinx works at Eglinton Station, so the TTC may often extend the northern boundaries of the closures to Sheppard and Finch.

City of Toronto crews continue to work on theinfrastructure of the Prince Edward Viaduct that require them to work on the deck that carries Line 2 trains across the Don River valley. Their activities result in the TTC having to open the Line 2 subway late seven Sundays this year.

More good news:

During the multiple weekend subway shutdowns in 2017, crews worked on each of the TTC’s four rapid transit lines.

For Line 1 (Yonge - University), they:

  • replaced heavily worn rail that was near the end of its service life at six sites for a total of 2,083 metres (6,834 feet);
  • installed 181,000 metres (593,832 feet) of cable and hundreds of pieces of signalling equipment, enabling the TTC to successfully introduce ATC from Yorkdale to Dupont last October;
  • performed complex maintenance on 16 track switches at six locations, resulting in fewer track and signal problems.

For Line 2 (Bloor - Danforth), they:

  • replaced heavily worn rail that was near the end of its service life at six sites for a total of 1,578 metres (5,177 feet);
  • replaced 400 wood rail ties with concrete or composite ties in key areas, helping to reduce fire and smoke incidents.
  • performed complex maintenance on six track switches at three locations and repaired or replaced more than 20 insulated joints, resulting in fewer track and signal problems.

For Line 3 (Scarborough), they:

  • performed rail-profile grinding on 6,500 metres (21,325 feet) of track, improving ride quality and extending the life of rail and wheels.
  • replaced 950 metres (3,116 feet) of power rail, track fasteners, ties and communication cables, decreasing the frequency of vehicle malfunctions on the line and significantly reducing the total number of incidents and total minutes of delay.

For Line 4 (Sheppard), they

  • performed complex maintenance of three track switches, improving reliability at the critical Don Mills terminal.

While some on-line chatter during closures usually suggests that the TTC must be a “third-rate” transit system due to these weekend shut-downs, in fact, most major transit agencies frequently undertake similar weekend projects to keep service running. For example, this weekend, New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is closing parts of the 2, 3, 4, 7, A, B, C, D, E, F, J, M, N, R and W lines. Transport for London (TfL) is closing parts of the District and Metropolitan underground lines and part of the London Overground, too, this weekend. Meanwhile over in Paris parts of Régie autonome des transports parisiens (RATP) Lines 4, 12 and 14 are off limits to passengers.

Even more good news:

The TTC plans to continue working with the City of Toronto’s Transportation Services to improve shuttle services by modifying signal timing along shuttle routes. It also plans to continue hiring Toronto Police Service “paid-duty” officers to help direct traffic to allow shuttles buses to quickly make turns and move into and out of station terminals.

It will also ask the City to continue restricting on-street parking during subway closures to improve trip times for shuttle buses. The City restricted parking along shuttle route during many of last year’s closures. As a result, trip times for shuttle buses improved considerably, getting passengers to their destinations more quickly. Buses were less crowded and the TTC needed fewer buses to provide the service.

Still more good news:

The TTC is not planning to close Line 4 (Sheppard) during any weekend in 2018.

Now the bad news:

The TTC is closing parts of rapid transit system during 43 weekends in 2018. That’s six more weekends that parts of system are off-line than in 2017. And, it expects at least 26 more in 2019 as work to link the Crosstown line at Eglinton continues.

The first weekend closure takes place Saturday, February 3 and Sunday, February 4, when the TTC shuts Line 1 between St Clair West and Union stations to work on the ATC project.

The list of closures by line and by date and by project follows.



King West / Niagara sewer work:
TTC detours, January 21, 22



City of Toronto crews are working in the westbound centre lane of

  • King Street West at Niagara Street

to repair a sewer overnight Sunday, January 21 / Monday, January 22.

The TTC is detouring streetcars operating along these routes, while crews block the lanes:

  • 304 King overnight;
  • 504 King; and
  • 514 Cherry.

The TTC is also operating shuttle buses to replace westbound cars between Spadina Avenue and Shaw Street.

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Bay Street / Financial District filming:
TTC detours, January 21 to February 4



The City of Toronto is closing

  • Bay Street between Queen and Adelaide Streets West

overnight Sunday, January 21 / Monday, January 22, Sunday, January 28 / Monday, January 29 and Sunday, February 3 / Monday, February 4 to accommodate a film shoot.

It’s also closing

  • Bay Street between Queen and Front Streets West

overnight Saturday, January 27 / Sunday, January 28

for more filming.

The TTC is detouring buses operating along this route, while filming takes place:

  • 6 Bay.

Buses detour along two different routings while crews are filming on the street.

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Bay / Bloor West filming:
TTC detours, January 20, 21



The City of Toronto is closing:

  • Bay Street between Davenport Road and St. Mary Street and
  • Bloor Street West between Avenue Road / Queen’s Park and Yonge Street

from 4 p.m. Saturday, January 20 until 6 a.m. Sunday, January 21 to accommodate a film shoot.

The TTC is detouring buses operating along these routes, while the streets are closed:

  • 6 Bay; and
  • 300 Bloor - Danforth overnight.

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In the event that inclement weather prevents crews from filming, the City will close the streets and the TTC will divert the buses from 4 p.m. Sunday, January 21 until 6 a.m. Monday, January 22.



Six Eglinton Crosstown LRT stations to feature art installations



Six stations along the Eglinton Crosstown light rail transit line will feature public art by local and internationally renowned artists. Metrolinx released renderings of the eight public art projects yesterday, Wednesday, January 17 at a “pop-up gallery” in the Ontario Science Centre, not far from one of the future stations on the new line, which opens in 2021.

These eight art projects represent the first investment under Metrolinx’s new integrated art program, an initiative to improve the transit experience for riders across the Metrolinx regional transit network. According to a Metrolinx news release, “These art projects — and future public art programs that will be part of Metrolinx building projects — are an investment in new and improved public space for the communities Metrolinx serves.”

“Public art in transit stations is an excellent way to improve the customer experience. Metrolinx knows that outstanding design, including integrated art for the public to enjoy, helps build ridership and community pride in the transit system”, Phil Verster, the president and chief executive officer of Metrolinx told reporters during a media event announcing the art pieces.

The artists include world-renowned sculptors, photographers, video artists, painters and printmakers from the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area, Canada, and around the world.

The Crosstown LRT line will include art installations at significant stations, usually where the line intersects with other transit services:


Mount Dennis station

When the line opens, Mount Dennis will be its western terminus. LRT passengers can connect with GO Transit trains on the Kitchener line and Union Pearson Express trains at a future GO / UPX station.

Mount Dennis will feature two art projects.

HadleyMaxwell_2.jpg

Canadian artists active since 1997, Hadley and Maxwell have produced installations, performances and writings that employ diverse media to rework iconic images and traditional forms through pop-cultural, artistic and political movements. Exhibitions include Contemporary Art Gallery (Vancouver), Künstlerhaus Bethanien (Berlin), Smart Project Space (Amsterdam), and Project Art Centre (Dublin), and group exhibitions at the Power Plant (Toronto), the National Gallery of Canada, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, the Seattle Art Museum, La Kunsthalle Mulhouse (France), Witte de With (Rotterdam) and the 19th Biennale of Sydney.

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Up to This Moment will be a video artwork in the upper concourse of the station, visible from Eglinton Avenue West. An evolving visual archive, the artwork captures ongoing changes in Mount Dennis, and, especially, on the land where the station sits, Kodak Heights. Quotes from Ovid’s famous poem, Metamorphoses surround the video screen. The moving images on the video screen will be different every day, showing creation, renewal, and change - just like the transformation taking place in the local community.

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Sara Cwynar_1.jpg

Canadian photographer Cwynar has recently worked in monochromatic colour studies and has exhibited her photos and installations internationally in The Magenta Flash Forward Festival, at Butcher Gallery, Ed Varie, Printed Matter, Paul Petro Special Projects, the Royal College of Art, and COOPER COLE. The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, 01 Magazine and Bad Day Magazine have all featured her work. Print Magazine listed her as one of 20 Under 30 New Visual Artists for 2011. In 2016, Cwynar was awarded the Baloise Art Prize at Art Basel.

Sara Cwynar_2.jpg

At Mount Dennis, her untitled artwork is a brightly coloured, wall-sized photographic mural, displaying a collage of found images and objects. She has digitally printed these images on layers of glass panels and will mount them on a wall in a pedestrian corridor in the station. The artist’s practice involves archiving and re-presenting collected visual materials in new ways to tell a new story. Photography plays an important role in the history of Kodak Heights in Mount Dennis, and this artwork showcases the legacy of the site for the local community and for future generations.

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Caledonia Station

At Caledonia, LRT passengers will connect to GO trains at a future GO station on the Barrie line.

  • Janice Kerbel:

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Born 1969, Canadian Janice Kerbel works in mixed media. In the past decade, she has garnered commissions from public-art organization Artangel, institutions including Chisenhale Gallery and Badischer Kunstverein in Karlsruhe, and exhibited at galleries including Tate Britain, the ICA London, Kunsthalle Wien and the Whitechapel Art Gallery. In 2011, she won the Paul Hamlyn Award for artists. In 2015, she was a Turner Prize nominee.

Janice Kerbel_2.jpg

The Ride of Your Life is a series of large works of mosaic tiles for walls in Caledonia station. Mosaic tile has played an important role in the history of transit - you see it in signs, architecture and design on other transit systems around the world. That design has inspired the artist to use mosaic tiles to create large signs of different typefaces and different sizes. The signs will look like fairground posters from the early 20th century, with the kind of over-the-top language you might hear at a fairground or from a carnival barker to create a sense of excitement and wonder.

ride_finalsketch_101116.jpg

Cedarvale Station

The current Eglinton West Station. Passengers can connect with TTC subway trains along Line 1 Yonge - University.

Douglas Coupland_1.jpg

Born 1961, Canadian Douglas Coupland’s public production in contemporary art has gained momentum since 2000 with speaking and exhibiting engagements at art venues, including the Serpentine Gallery, MASS MoCA and the Manchester Art Gallery. Notable public art commissions include Digital Orca (2010) — a “pixelated” sculpture of a jumping whale — in Vancouver and Monument to the War of 1812 (2008) in Toronto, which enlarges toy soldiers to monumental scale. Coupland was appointed to the Order of Canada and, in 2014, the Vancouver Art Gallery held the first major survey of his art.

Douglas Coupland_2.jpg

Coupland has created a set of Super Signals, exaggerating the kinds of graphics that transit systems have often used to help riders find their way around the station and along the line — circles to show stations or different colours to show different transit lines. Super Signals consists of large aluminum panels with brightly coloured circles on a background of black and white diagonal lines — shaking up a traditional transit map. The graphics are vivid, bright and exciting, encouraging passengers to enjoy the experience of being in transit.

Eglinton Station

Passengers can connect with TTC subway trains along Line 1 Yonge - University.

Rodney LaTourelle_1.jpg

Rodney LaTourelle creates large-scale colour installations, public artworks and architectural interventions that explore the interplay of colour and physical space in an immersive viewing experience. Recent solo exhibitions include Optica (Montreal), Mendel Art Gallery (Saskatoon) and Diaz Contemporary (Toronto). His works have been collected by The National Gallery of Canada and the Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean (Luxembourg).

Rodney LaTourelle_2.jpg

The shimmering light that crystals, gemstones and minerals — the kind that you might find underground — inspired Light from Within, the artwork for Eglinton station. As you go down the escalators into the station, the artwork gives you the sensation of entering a beautiful crystal cave. The sculpture of mirrors and glass prisms is two stories high. It reflects light from front and back and casts it down deep into the station giving you a sense of wonder and surprise.

rodney_latourelle_ligth_from_within_1.jpg

Science Centre Station

Science Centre is the only underground station between Laird Drive and Kennedy Road. Passengers may eventually be able to transfer to Relief Line trains operating north and south under Don Mills Road at the station.

British/American Sarah Morris is known for abstract paintings featuring bright colour fields and graphic line work. She has exhibited internationally, with solo exhibitions at Hamburger Banhof (Berlin), Palais de Tokyo (Paris), Fondation Beyeler (Basel), Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna among others. She has created site-specific installations for institutions, including Lever House (New York), Kunsthalle Bremen (Germany) and the Gloucester Road tube station (London).

Sarah Morris_2.jpg

Total Lunar Eclipse is a vibrant and colourful “wall painting” that Morris made of porcelain tiles that she silkscreened by hand. Over the past several years, Morris has been producing a series of paintings based on the lunar cycle. Looking at this work for the Science Centre Station, you can see how the changes in the moon influenced her, with so many different colours and shapes creating a sense of motion and change. The movement of light and how it can affect our behaviour fascinates the artist — a fascination you can see in this dramatic work.

Kennedy Station

At Kennedy, passengers can connect to GO Transit trains operating along the Stouffville line. They can also transfer to TTC trains for the Line 2 Bloor - Danforth subway and Line 3 Scarborough rapid transit.

Kennedy is home to two art installations.

  • Joseph Kosuth:

Joseph Kosuth_2.jpg

Born 1945, American Joseph Kosuth was one of the originators of conceptual art in the mid-1960s, a pioneer in using words or text in place of visual imagery. He was invited to exhibit at documentas V, VI, VII and IX and at the Venice Biennale in 1976, 1993 and 1999. He has been involved in various artistic collaborations, such as designing album art for John Cale. He has been commissioned to produce permanent artworks for public buildings, including the Paul-Löbe-Haus, Bundestag (Berlin) and the Musée du Louvre (Paris).

Joseph Kosuth_1.jpg

Locations of Meaning (for Toronto), an art installation for Kennedy station, is about how we find meaning and even belonging in a city that is so rich in diversity. The installation consists of the word ‘meaning’ translated into the 72 languages spoken in the City of Toronto and the surrounding region. The artist has laser-cut each word in stainless steel and then set them into tiles, creating a wall work that becomes part of the station design. Kosuth often uses language to create new kinds of meaning through his visual art. Toronto will have the largest installation to date in this artwork series.

Dagmara Genda_1.jpg

A Polish-Canadian, known for drawing, painting and collage, Genda’s practice includes large-scale immersive installations. Her work has been shown at the Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff, the Esker Foundation, Calgary, Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener + Area Biennial 2014 and numerous public and private venues across Canada and the United State. Over the past two years she has been working in various residencies nationally and internationally, including China, the United States and the United Kingdom. Her publications include articles and reviews in Border Crossings, Canadian Art Online, Momus and C Magazine.

Dagmara Genda_2.jpg

Reorganization of One Hedge is a work that is specific to its site at Kennedy station. Dagmara Genda wants to answer the question: ‘How do things change with time?’ She began by taking photographs of the leaves of one hedge in different lighting conditions over a period of several months. She cut out the images of the leaves by hand, forming a collection of leaves of many different colours — like the colours on a painter’s palette. She then put the leaves together in a collage and will print that collage onto glass so that coloured light will stream in through a station skylight. She’ll also set light boxes with the leaf patterns in the walls of a hallway in the station, bringing light and greenery into the station.

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Metrolinx negotiates new contract terms
with Bombardier for light rail vehicles



Just before the recent holidays, Thursday, December 21, 2017, Metrolinx announced that it had negotiated better contract terms with Bombardier Transportation. The new agreement provides the company with more incentives to produce high-quality light rail vehicles for the Eglinton Crosstown light rail transit line — and to produce them on schedule.

The new contract terms include significant financial penalties for Bombardier if it fails to deliver quality vehicles on time. In a statement, Metrolinx explained that “This new agreement is positive news for commuters who can continue to have full confidence that we are building an excellent transit system for them. We are focused on building a great Eglinton Crosstown LRT with reliable vehicles that are delivered on-time — this is a decisive and significant step towards that goal.”

Under the new terms of the agreement, Bombardier will manufacture just 76 light rail vehicles for the Eglinton Crosstown project, 106 vehicles less than the original contract for 182 vehicles.

Bombardier has also agreed to significantly higher levels of financial penalties if it fails to meet the Eglinton production schedule or if the quality of the vehicles is not acceptable. And, Bombardier has committed to make sure that it sustains the quality throughout the lifespan of the vehicles. The new agreement also provides greater visibility and transparency of Bombardier’s production plans and progress.

According to Metrolinx, “We want our suppliers to succeed. The new agreement provides compelling incentives for Bombardier to allocate the right resources and attention to the production of our Eglinton vehicles. Construction on the Eglinton tunnels, tracks and stations is well underway, and with Bombardier incentivised to deliver the vehicles on time, we look forward to launching this outstanding new service.”

Metrolinx had originally signed a $770 million contract with Bombardier in 2010 to produce 182 sets for the Crosstown and other light rail transit projects in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. It ordered 76 Flexity Freedom cars for Eglinton and 23 for the future Finch West LRT line..

However, Metrolinx has been losing confidence in the multinational Canadian company. It claims that Bombardier hadn’t been able to deliver a prototype of the cars that it needs for the Crosstown service, which was a key part of its contract. That worried Metrolinx officials who fear that Bombardier wouldn’t be able to supply enough of the cars in time for the line to open on schedule.

In fall 2016, Metrolinx issued a formal legal notice that it intended to end its Bombardier contract. Then, in turn, Bombardier went to court in early 2017 to get an injunction, preventing Metrolinx from getting out of the deal. Bombardier won its case.

Last May, Metrolinx entered into an agreement with Alstom, a French company, to build 17 Citadis Spirit light rail train sets to carry passengers along the Finch line. It also named Alstom as an alternative supplier of 44 light rail vehicles for the Eglinton Crosstown LRT project, if Bombardier failed to deliver its cars.



Toronto Transit Commission meets, January 18



The Toronto Transit Commission meets Thursday, January 18 at 1 p.m. in the Council Chamber, City Hall, 100 Queen Street West.

The commission is the TTC’s board of directors. It oversees matters of policy and planning, building, maintaining and operating the TTC system and expanding its services and facilities.

Commissioners include City of Toronto councillors and members of the public.



TTC revising streetcar service during ice storms



The TTC has revealed a plan to revise its streetcar services during ice storms. It plans to concentrate streetcar services in downtown Toronto, while buses replace the cars at the outer ends of the routes. Along some routes, buses replace streetcars entirely.

The TTC says, “By concentrating streetcar service downtown, we are able to reduce the wait time between streetcars, which will keep the overhead wires from freezing and interrupting service.”

Buses replace streetcars along all or part of these routes during storms:

Streetcars operate with regular service along this route:

  • 510 Spadina.

Due to an ongoing shortage of cars, buses already replace streetcars at all times along these routes:

  • 502 Downtowner;
  • 503 Kingston Rd; and
  • 511 Bathurst.

Strangely, the TTC has not announced what happens to service along the 505 Dundas route during an ice storm.

It also has not described how overnight streetcar services operate during storms, but, presumably, streetcars operating along the 301 Queen, 304 King and 306 **Carlton overnight routes follow the same paths as regular “daytime” cars along 501 Queen, 504 King and 506 Carlton routes.



Bay Street crane activity:
TTC detour, January 12 to 15



The City of Toronto is closing

  • Bay Street between Richmond and Adelaide Streets West

this weekend, as contractors lift a crane at a construction site.

The TTC is detouring buses operating along this route, while the street is closed:

  • 6 Bay.

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Brampton Transit revises routes and services, January 8



Brampton Transit is increasing service along several routes and extending service into a new area of Brampton, among other service changes, starting Monday, January 8.