John Wilkins, Rich Aaron, and Jack May, Toronto, Buffalo, Kitchener-Waterloo, and Rockwood

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John Wilkins, Rich Aaron, and Jack May, Toronto, Buffalo, Kitchener-Waterloo, and Rockwood
Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, November 21, 2019 3:47 AM
John Wilkins wrote an excellent trip report regarding the journey that he, Rich Aaron and I took to Toronto and other nearby locations from August 22 to August 27, in connection with a planned charter trip aboard a TTC PCC car and a Canadian LRV (CLRV) organized by the Friends of Philadelphia Trolleys and the Wilmington Chapter of the NRHS.  We took this opportunity to also visit Buffalo, Kitchener-Waterloo and Rockwood.  In late July I mentioned this trip to them, and also to long-time friend and fellow traction enthusiast Julien Wolfe, and they decided to attend as well.

I have modified John's document to include my experiences during the times we were apart, as well as adding some commentary.  His words, which I have edited, are presented in italics.
John spends much of his summer at his camp in the Adirondacks, but he had medical appointments near his home in Gillette, N.J. prior to our journey, so he and I took the opportunity to travel together in his SUV for the trip north on Thursday, August 22. 
Thursday, August 22, Day Zero -
It seems that the older one gets that all things, especially including trips, begin with a doctor’s visit.  So did this one.  I left the Adirondacks on August 13th and headed to Gillette.  The next day was my doctor’s visit and I received a good report.
The trip to Canada would also include Jack May and Richard Aaron.  I picked Jack up at 7:30 at his home in Montclair and headed west toward Buffalo, where we were to pick up Rich, who flew there from Chicago on the previous evening.  We drove west on I-80, I-380, I-81, I-86 (old route 17), I-390, NY36, US20A, NY400 to Buffalo’s NFTA Transportation Center, where we met Rich at about 3 o'clock.  A short drive was undertaken to see NFTA’s LRT shop.  Jack wanted to get a few (I use this term loosely) pictures and then he and Rich went for a ride on the line.  My interests went in another direction.  Since Buffalo is home to the “Buffalo Wings”, it was off to the Anchor Bar and Grill.  A rendezvous was effectuated for the late afternoon and then it was off to Toronto.
I suspect many of you have ridden the Buffalo light rail system (or better yet, line), as it has now been in operation for 35 years.  It’s about 6½ miles long and contains 13 regular stops, with an additional one for special events at the southern end of the line (see map at  When opened it was hoped the line could be extended, but that hasn’t happened.  The countour of the line was quite counter-intuitive when it came into existence, as it operates on the surface in the city center (5 stops), and then underground (the remaining 8 stops) through a less developed area to the north.  The idea was for the line to help reverse the blight that settled along Main Street in the years after World War II and so that thoroughfare was pedestrianized as an alternative to full-scale urban renewal.  The fact that this plan did not work out, and as a result, automobile traffic is again allowed on Main Street, has left many with the impression that light rail in Buffalo has been a failure, but that may not really be the case.
Apparently the line’s average daily boarding per mile is higher than many of the systems that are considered successful, including those in Los Angeles, Portland and San Diego.  And the study of extensions beyond the end point at the University of Buffalo’s Amherst campus has been given new life.  It carries just short of 20,000 passengers each weekday, about the same as the Newark City Subway.
Operated by the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, its roster consists of 17 rather long (67 feet--virtually the same as an old-time BMT Standard subway car) non-articulated four-axle LRVs built by the Tokyu Car Company of Japan.  Originally painted in brown, with tan, orange and brown stripes below the windows on a white background, the livery of the double-ended cars is now a bright “traction white” with narrow blue and grey horizontal striping.  The cars are unusual in that the same doors are used for loading from both high-level and low-level platforms (like the Muni Metro in San Francisco), with car floor-height platforms in the subway, and retractable folding steps at outdoor stops.  There are also ramps to a floor-height outside platform at each stop on the street section of the line.  
The sun was shining brightly during our drive to Buffalo, but as soon as we reached its suburbs the skies clouded over.  We arrived late enough to enjoy the ten-minute rush hour headways, which replace the midday frequency of every 12 minutes at about 2 p.m.  We first rode, walked and photographed the inner end of the line and then made a round-trip over the entire route.  No fares are charged on the LRT's street section, but we knew we needed tickets to ride through the underground portion, so we purchased them from fare vending machines, which are located at each of the stations.  For seniors like us, the fare is $1.00 per one-way trip, $2.00 for a round-trip and $2.50 for a day ticket.  During the time we walked the inner portion of the line for photos the sun finally came out, but we now had to contend with long shadows.
Some of my photographs follow.

The subway portal is far in the background of this view looking north along Main Street in Buffalo's Theater District.  The Chippewa stop, behind the photographer, is the last one in the free fare zone of Buffalo's light rail line.  Anchoring the area is Shea's Buffalo Theater, which was built in 1926 and closed in 1975--and then restored into the City's Performing Arts Center at the beginning of the 21st century.

Above and below:  Two views at the intersection of Main, Huron and Genesee Streets, near the Fountain Plaza stop,  The upper photo, looking north, is dominated by the Goldome Bank building, one of Buffalo's most famous landmarks.  The Goldome was built by the Buffalo Savings Bank in 1901 and after the financial institution's collapse during the nation's savings and loan debacle, was taken over by the M&T Bank, whose glass and steel building was built alongside in 1983.  See for further information and historic photos.  The view to the south from the same spot is shown in the lower photo.  Note the decorative arch that was built as part of the original light rail construction.  The street looks very good now, but it is hard to tell the degree of occupancy in the buildings displaying their attractive facades.
Above and below:  Looking north from the Erie Harbor Canal station, the southern terminal of regular light rail operations.*  The area is undergoing redevelopment, with a former state office building having already been turned into the Marriott Courtyard hotel, as shown in both photos.  Colorful flower pots decorate the platform as work continues on the waterfront, restoring the street grid of Buffalo's original settlement, which became the western terminus of the Erie Canal in 1825.  The area is already the home of concerts and festivals, which include outdoor summer fitness classes and ice skating.  The Buffalo Skyway, I-190, which virtually destroyed the historic area by separating it from the rest of the city, is shown in front of the 40-story Seneca One tower, Buffalo's tallest building, constructed by the former Marine Midland Bank (now HSBC) in 1972.  Canalside was the historic home of the Seneca people.
* The track continues behind the photographer to the line's carhouse and shops, with a station, Special Events, used to transport passengers attending events at Erie County's Key Bank Center (originally Marine Midland Arena), a large indoor venue for entertainment and sports contests, primarily Buffalo Sabres hockey games.
After meeting up with John and his car again, we found we were approaching the Canadian border at the Peace Bridge during the rush hour, but it turned out the wait for customs and immigration was only about 20 minutes.  Our plan was to follow the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) to our destination, but as we were approaching Hamilton, about halfway, it was getting on to dinner time, and I suggested we try to get in touch with John Thompson, a long-time friend and transit historian.  He is a very knowledgeable follower of current rail activities in Ontario, who also serves as Railway Age’s correspondent and Canadian editor.  Indeed we were lucky he was at home, and was available for dinner.  He suggested a restaurant in the Hamilton suburb of Stoney Creek, involving only a short detour for us, and we duly met for a very enjoyable and informative meal.
Jack had booked us into a B&B on Beaty Street between King and Queen Streets near Roncesvalles Carhouse.  The GPS directions were not sensitive to the existing one-way street pattern and we had to make corrections.  Unfortunately, the B&B did not have a lighted sign, which made it hard to find in the dark.  Jack went on foot to locate the establishment and we then backed up several houses before being able to drive into the B&B’s parking area at about 9:30.  They had booked us into a 3rd floor room for three but the stairs, at least twice a day, were not for me.  We were then given a single and a double room.
To be continued in part 2
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Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, November 21, 2019 10:26 AM
Friday, August 23, Day One - Following an excellent breakfast, i.e. plenty of tasty choices, an intense discussion occurred (weather related of course) with regard to the day’s schedule.  The decision was to head to Kitchener since a mostly sunny day was predicted.  The city is located about an hour to the west via the Gardiner Expressway and routes 427 and 401.  Jack directed us to the south end of the new light rail line at the Fairway Station, in a Shopping Mall of the same name, which is redoing its parking facilities.  After winding around the mall, we serendipitously obtained a parking space immediately adjacent to the station platform. Our first step was to ride the line to its northern terminus to get the lay of the land and look for photographic opportunities.

The Ion light rail line, also known as Grand River Transit’s route 301, was inaugurated on June 21, 2019.  It is 12 miles long (see map below) and connects the cities of Waterloo (population 105,000) and Kitchener (225,000) within the Region of Waterloo, which encompasses a number of municipal entities including Galt and Cambridge (the latter also a city).  With a population of 535,000, the Region of Waterloo is the governing body of the area, handling most of its important services, including police, fire, garbage, health, roads and transit.  The community of Galt, in the city of Cambridge, will be served by phase two of the light rail project.  GRT is responsible for the region’s bus system, including route 302 which continues southward from Fairway to Cambridge, and whose conversion to rail will almost double the length of the system when it is completed in 2025 (hopefully).  The rail line is managed for Grand River Transit by Keolis, which also operates tramways in a number of European cities and the MBTA and VRE commuter rail lines in the Boston and Northern Virginia area of the U. S.

It should be noted that this area was once served by interurban trains of the Canadian Pacific-owned Grand River Railway (1904) and Lake Erie & Northern Railway (1913), whose passenger service was discontinued in 1955.  Freight service was dieselized in 1962.  I had the opportunity to ride a post-abandonment electric locomotive-powered fantrip over the system in 1961, probably the last before the wire was torn down, but for some stupid reason passed on it.

Ion’s rolling stock consists of 14 double-ended Bombarder Flexity Freedom LRVs, which were purchased as an add-on to the Metrolinx order for Toronto’s upcoming Eglinton Avenue Crosstown line.  The double-ended 100-percent low-floor cars contain five sections and are 101 feet long.

Fares can be paid by single ride tickets (C$3.25) available from vending machines at stations or by funds added to a contactless EasyGo fare card.  They are good for 90 minutes of travel.  Senior fares are available, but only after purchasing a discount fare card with proof of age.  Day tickets seemed to be only available using EasyGo cards, and they are not discounted for seniors (C$8.50).

The line leaves the Fairway Mall and becomes side-of-the-road along Courtland Avenue East and then turns west and immediately north on private-right-of-way (prw) crossing under route 85. It then turns east on reserved street trackage on Ottawa Street (the other direction is one block to the north, also on reserved street trackage).  The line then turns north on Charles Street (reserved street trackage) and rejoins the southbound track.  The line proceeds north on reserved trackage along Charles Street and then turns east onto Frederick Street, crossing King Street, and turns north again on Duke Street, all also on reserved street trackage.  The line then turns west on Francis Street and then north on King Street.  The southbound track proceeds south on King Street, west on Victoria Street, south on Charles Street rejoining the northbound leg at Frederick Street.  Again, all reserved street trackage. 

Proceeding north on King Street, the line passes the Central Station stop, with the street ducking under the viaduct that carries Via Rail Canada and GO Transit trains, whose station is about a half mile to the east.  After crossing into Waterloo there is a third one-way pairing.  At the Waterloo Public Square stop, the line is joined by a CN branch line, and then, past the Square, it enters PRW.  The CN joins the easternmost track and immediately crosses over to the westernmost track (the southbound track).  The track used by the CN was built for heavy loads (as indicated by closer tie spacing).  The line continues on prw through the University of Waterloo campus and proceeds for about three to four miles before reentering street right of way at Northfield Drive, where the CN trackage diverges.  The line continues on Northfield and then turns south on King Street, only to terminate at another mall, Conestoga.  An overpass carries Weber Road over the line south of Northfield, adjacent to the systems maintenance facility.

Now working our way southbound, we stopped at a number of stations to get pictures. 

On the way back to Fairview we paused for photos at Queen/Frederick and Block Line stations.  The first was near GRT’s customer service office, which we visited to pick up timetables and purchase our day tickets.

Thereafter we split up as I wanted to use the car and they wanted to ride.  Starting from the south end my stops were as follows:
  • Grade crossing immediately north of the Fairway Station. 
  • Side-of-the-road trackage along Courtland Avenue
  • Underpass of Route 8, but too many fences close to the right-of-way, so no picture
  • Mill and Ottawa Streets, where the line leaves prw and enters the street on a one-way couplet
  • Street trackage on the southbound couplet
  • Along King Street reserved track
  • Queen and Frederick Streets
  • Central Station, no place to park, no picture
  • Waterloo Public Square, several shots in this area
  • University Avenue crossing
  • Pedestrian and bike crossing between Parkside Drove and Albert Street (excellent late afternoon)
  • PRW and Northfield Drive from parking lot of office building

Meanwhile, Dick and I rode northbound, stopping off here and there for photos, including at Central Station, Waterloo Public Square, University of Waterloo and Research & Technology stations before reaching the northern end of the line at Conestoga Mall.  Service was operating every ten minutes, so we did not have to wait long periods of time for photos.  Although the day started sunny, clouds moved in later, and we encountered relatively long periods of either one or the other, but the darker times did not stop us.  We mainly concentrated at the stops with gauntlet track (southbound) that allow freight trains of the Waterloo Central Railway (formerly the Canadian National Waterloo spur*) to clear the platforms when they operate during the midnight hours (1:00 to 5:00 a.m.) after Ion ends its operational day.  We noted that the entire line is separated from motor traffic, including those portions that run along the center or sides of streets.

* Originally built by the Grand Trunk, the line was later (1992) leased by CN to Railtex, RailAmerica and finally Genesee & Wyoming as a branch of its 119-mile long Goderich-Exeter Railway.  Toward the end of 2018, its operation reverted to the CN and while the spur is now owned by the Region of Waterloo, its operation remains with the Canadian National.  (I suspect Precision Scheduled Railroading is not employed here.)

We reunited at the last photo location and headed back to Toronto.  A few observations about the new system:

  • The ticket machines were not totally functioning and would not sell any passes, only one-way and multiple-ride tickets.  Staff at the Frederick and King Transit store did not own up to the problem but did provide me with a credit for the one-way trip ticket against the cost of the day pass.  Their day pass machine did work.  Timetables and system maps are available at this location.
  • The onboard information system, i.e. the “next station will be” indication, was also not working.
  • The line operates at very low speeds except when on the northern prw.  The equipment and track could accommodate much higher speeds.
  • Patronage throughout our visit seemed to be on the low side.
  • The overhead contact system (OCS) was very overdesigned.  Given the pole spacing used, a simple OCS system (contact wire only, no catenary) would have been sufficient on most of the system.

To expand on John's remarks about speed, apparently the low-floor articulated cars are capable of reaching 50 mph, but are not allowed to run anywhere close to that rate.  Speeds along the portions in pavement are limited to a maximum of 30 mph, while operation on prw sections do not rise above 44 mph.  The number of sharp curves on the line limit the speed further, and it takes about 45 minutes to travel the 12 miles from end to end (16 stations each way), for an average speed of 16 mph, rather slow for my taste (although it would not be fair to compare Ion, which operates almost entirely in an urban setting, to the systems in places like Dallas, Portland and St. Louis, which include operation over long stretches of interurban trackage).  Like many other light rail systems, street sections operate on line of sight, while those on prw are regulated by an Automatic Train Control system.  Unlike Toronto, the signals for LRVs in both environments are of the standard traction two-aspect variety that uses vertical and horizontal white bars.  There is some traffic signal priority at street intersections, while traditional railroad grade crossing gates are employed on the ballasted railroad style sections of the line.

Here are some of my photos, working from the south end of the line at Fairway to the northern terminal at Conestoga:

Some signs announcing the opening date for Ion service were still up two months later, but they served to remind us how new the light rail line was.

Above and below:  Two views at the southern terminal of the Ion light rail line in Kitchener.  The Fairway station has two side platforms beyond a crossover on private right-of-way to the north.  Only the outbound platform is regularly used, but the inbound one also has a ticket vending machine.  Perhaps someday, after the line is extended to Ainslie Street in Galt (Cambridge), Fairway will become a way station.

Above and below:  Two views along the middle couplet of Ion's three examples of paired one-way single-track operation along mostly parallel streets.  In these particular photos however, the streets are perpendicular to each other.  The upper view shows a northbound LRV heading away from the camera along Frederick Street in front of Grand River Transit's customer service office.  The 504 is shown approaching the Frederick stop, which is just before a glassed-in  pedestrian overpass that connects Kitchener's Market Square Shopping Center to an office building.  The mall failed a few years ago, with the food court and most stores closing, but perhaps the advent of Ion will change the area's fortunes.  In the lower view, a southbound LRV pauses at the Queen stop along Charles Street just before its intersection with Frederick Street and the resumption of the double track.


Above and below:  Central Station.  The station stop for the LRVs is on the other side of the overpass that carries the Canadian National Railway over King Street West.  Eventually a multimodal station will be built on the site, but for now, the Kitchener station serving Via and GO trains is about a third of a mile to the left.  The lower photo was taken from the same spot, but looking in the opposite direction.  Note the grades leading to the overpass.

The center of Waterloo consists of traditional street-based stores, creating an image (and a reality) much like small town shopping districts of yore, before big box chains began to congregate at their edges and suck the life out of downtown areas.  The LRV will soon turn left to stop at Waterloo Public Square station, where it will be joined by a former CN track, over which freight service now operates during midnight hours.
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:  Two photos along the Ion's northern portion, where the southbound track is also used by freight trains after the service day is over.  Gauntlet track was laid to provide clearance for freight trains passing LRT platforms at Laurier Waterloo Park (top) and Research & Technology (bottom).  Note the use of crossing gates on the "railroad" section of the line (above) and the orange "wall" (below).  These are named "anchor walls," which are different for each stop, and identify the station clearly and uniquely. 

The Conestoga terminal of the Ion light rail line is located at one of Waterloo's most popular shopping malls.  It also has a double-crossover leading to the station's side platforms.

Returning to Toronto we ran into a bit of traffic congestion on route 401 and decided to stop along the way for dinner at the nearest Keg Steakhouse, an upscale chain of beef-oriented restaurants, which turned out to be in Mississauga.  After being sated with food and drink (we had skipped lunch), we decided to follow Eglinton Avenue into Toronto, in order to observe the construction underway (at full tilt) for the upcoming Metrolinx Eglinton Avenue Crosstown line.  We passed the new storage yard and shop, as well as the future Mount Dennis terminal and the western portal (short of Keele Street) for the underground section.  Eglinton Avenue was seriously torn up at the locations of the underground stations.  
We had a most enjoyable day, as it isn't often that you get to ride and photograph a new light rail line.
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Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, November 24, 2019 11:09 AM

Continued from Part 2   The text from John Wilkins' report remains in italics.

Saturday, Day Two – 
This was the day for our charter trolley tour.  After another good breakfast, we braved a steady heavy rain using umbrellas kindly supplied by our B&B, and boarded a Queen Street Flexi for our tip to Russell Carhouse, where the charter would begin.  The trip was sponsored by the Wilmington NRHS Chapter and the Friends of Philadelphia Trolleys.   The proceeds would go towards the restoration of a PTC Perter Witt at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum.  It was still raining, but more softly when we made our way to the streetcars in the yard.  We did not see a PCC, and instead boarded an ALRV.  Thus the first bit of news we received was that the advertised PCC car had mechanical problems (a critical part was not available).  ALRV 4207 (an articulated CLRV) 
was substituted and would be accompanied by a CLRV.

While waiting for the trip to begin I saw Julien Wolfe arrive and after I explained what happened to the PCC he joined us aboard the articulated car.  We departed virtually on time, a few minutes after 11 a.m.

As soon as we left Russell Carhouse, the rain stopped.
  Our route was as follows:

  • Russell CH via Queen Street EB to Neville Park Loop, Photo Stop
  • Neville Park Loop via Queen Street WB and Kingston Road briefly to Woodbine Loop, Photo Stop
  • Queen WB, Broadview Avenue NB, to Dundas Street WB (Dundas Route temporarily served by buses), photo stop along Dundas Street, to Church Street SB, to Richmond Street WB, to York Street NB, to Queen Street WB, to McCaul Loop, Photo Stop
  • McCaul Street to Queen Street WB to Bathurst Street NB to Wolseley Loop (on Bathurst Street just north of Queen Street), Photo Stop
  • Wolseley Loop via Bathurst Street SB, to Fleet Street WB to Exhibition Loop.  Photo Stop (drop passengers wanting to use facilities)
  • Exhibition Loop via Fleet Street EB to Lighthouse Loop.  Photo Stop: excellent
  • Lighthouse Loop via Fleet Street WB to Exhibition Loop.  More Photos (pick up passengers)
  • Exhibition Loop via Fleet Street EB, to Bathurst Street NB, to King Street WB, to The Queensway WB to Humber Loop.  No Photo Stop 
  • Onward on Lake Shore Boulevard WB to Long Branch Loop. Photo Stop (a quick one as the regular car was immediately behind)
  • Long Branch Loop via Lake Shore Boulevard EB to Kipling Loop, Photo Stop
  • Kipling Loop via Lake Shore Boulevard EB, to Humber Loop, Photo Stop
  • Queensway EB to King Street EB, Cherry/Sumach Streets to the Distillery Loop.


At this point we left the trip.  The Distillery Loop area is full of good restaurants and it was dinner time.  No doubt our chartered cars returned to King Street where they turned west as far as Church Street, where the ALRV and CLRV presumably continued north to Queen Street and finally east back to Russell Carhouse. 
Our two cars were ALRV 4207 and CLRV 4146.  The weather changed a great deal during the excursion.  After we left Russell the sky gradually cleared and by the time we reached McCaul Loop, the temperature had turned warm with the a mix of clouds and sun overhead, resulting in the first shadows of the day.  It had still been overcast at our photo stop on Dundas, prior to our intricate route through downtown over the remaining trackage of long abandoned routes that are still used to allow short turns and detours during emergencies (see John's routing notes above).  The sun was shining brightly by the time we reached Wolseley loop, off Bathurst north of Queen (former terminal of the Fort line to the Exhibition, in the pre-Bloor Street subway days--until 1966--when the Bathurst line ran to downtown via Adelaide Street), affording well-lit photos.  The stop at this was long, about 45 minutes, affording many of the participants the use of a small restroom.  Toward the end of that layover I saw new clouds beginning to roll in, and by the time of our second stop at Exhibition it was dark again, with rumbles of thunder in the distance.  Soon we were operating in what best can be described as a monsoon.  Almost all the windows of the cars were quickly shut, and for those that weren't, their adjacent contoured seats became havens for puddles.  The wind and downpour lasted for only about 5 or 10 minutes, and by the time we began to traverse the Queensway, the sun was coming out again--and it remained shining brightly for the rest of the trip.
The photostops were well planned, but with two carloads of railfans, they ate up a great deal of time as the trip leaders kindly allowed everyone to obtain the shots they wanted.  Thus the charter's schedule, which had not been formally shared with the participants, soon had to be extended.  In order to avoid interfering with motor traffic and possibly service cars trailing behind, it has been the policy of the TTC for some time to grant photostops only at places where it is safe for participants to gather.  For the most part, this meant off-street loops, but the exception was along Dundas Street at George, as we would not hold up rail traffic since that line was operating with buses.
I enjoyed the trip very much.  In addition to the ride and photos, it provided me an opportunity to see out-of-town friends and meet some younger traction enthusiasts.  In addition to Julien, Joe Boscia and his wife attended, as well as Matt Nawn, who was accompanied by one of his children.  Of course, Harry Donahue, Bill Monaghan and Steve Barry, the organizers, were prominent--and they did a wonderful job herding us cats.  I had some excellent conversations with E. R. A. members Larry Sell (Daytona Beach), Irwin Davis (Chicago) and Russ Schultz (Milwaukee).

I don't think I'm rationalizing when I say that in retrospect I was glad an ALRV was substituted for the advertised PCC.  It was in tip-top shape, both inside and out, no doubt due to the overhaul it (and other ALRVs and CLRVs) received after it became clear that delivery of the TTC's Flexity Outlook LRVs was going to be delayed and cars that were supposed to be withdrawn had to remain in service, possibly indefinitely.  During my most recent visits to Toronto (2015 and 2016) I had noticed that the ALRVs looked grubby, with most carrying ugly full or partial advertising wraps over fading paint.  No. 4207 was almost pristine.  And I suspect I will be back for a future trip with either PCC 4500 or 4549--and maybe even the TTC's last Peter Witt, No. 2766.  I imagine the Commission will retain at least one ALRV and one CLRV to join the PCCs and Peter Witt.

In fact, by the time of our trip the TTC's entire fleet should have been made up exclusively of Bombardier Flexity Outlook 100-percent low-floor articulated cars. According to original plans all 204 were supposed to be delivered by 2018 and here it was a year later.  There were problems with the order from the beginning, with late deliveries and shoddy workmanship (bodies were made in Mexico at the former Concarril plant in Cd. Sahugan), but recently Bombardier got its act together and speeded up deliveries.  By the date of the charter, about 175 had been delivered, and so only a few operable ALRVs remained on the roster.  Now it is expected that enough of the new cars will be available by winter to replace the remaining CLRVs and they too can be retired.  In fact, a "Farewell to the CLRV Cars" charter was operated by the Toronto Transportation Society on September 22nd.  (The fleet undergoing retirement consists of 196 CLRVs, built between 1977 and 1981, plus 52 ALRVs, dating from 1987-88.) 

Fallout from the Bombardier fiasco has also included its Metrolinx order for 182 double-ended standard-gauge versions of the cars (called Flexity Freedom) for Toronto's abuilding Eglinton Avenue crosstown line and the forthcoming Finch West line.  They have also been late, resulting in the cancellation of that contract, lowering the the number of cars that Bombardier will build.  Some of these units are currently running in Waterloo-Kitchener (its opening had been postponed because of the late delivery) and it seems that the remaining ones will be used on Eglinton.  As a result Alstom was awarded a contract for rolling stock for future Metrolinx lines, including Finch West in Toronto and the eventual systems in Mississauga and Hamilton.


Here are some photos from the day's activities.

We begin with a view of the iconic emblem of the Toronto Transit Commission above our chartered ALRV's front truck.

Above and below:  Two views of our chartered cars on off-street loops near the beginning of the trip, well before the weather cleared up.  The upper photo is at the heavily used Neville Loop at the eastern end of the Queen Line.  We waited for a bit of time before regular service cars (Flexities) cleared the area, and then we couldn't stay long, even though the Queen line is no longer the busiest on the system (now it's King combined), but it still has good headways.  Signs of the previous rainstorm are still apparent at Woodbine Loop, which connects Kingston Road and Queen Street near their intersection.  At the time of our trip there was no service along Kingston Road to Bingham Loop, as the Downtowner, route 502 has been suspended, probably due to a car shortage, and route 503, Kingston Road, runs only during peak periods on Mondays to Fridays.  Nowadays the loop is mainly used by route 501-Queen Street short turn trippers.

The intersection of Dundas and George Streets looks very quiet in this view of our chartered cars.  But that belies the actuality.  Although we did not have to worry about being in the way of Dundas streetcars, since that route was being operated by buses, those vehicles and motor traffic appeared in packs, and had to thread their way between our cars and the photo takers.  But our organizers, along with the TTC crew, signaled the traffic through when it appeared, with the city being none the worse from our activities.  It was so dark at this time, I had to use a very slow speed on my camera to capture the "action."  In retrospect I should have used my fixed length lens, which has a far larger opening.

In order to reach McCaul Loop, which is normally the inner end of the 502-Downtowner line (currently suspended but normally only scheduled to run weekdays), we zig-zagged via Dundas, Church, Richmond, York and Queen, over some track that is rarely used.  When I first visited Toronto, this loop near the heart of downtown Toronto, was in the open air, but with center-city land being very valuable, in 1976 was enclosed into the Village by the Grange, a mixed used development.  Above:  Our ALRV's nose is sticking out of the building, while below: it poses for a photo with our CLRV about to enter McCaul Street.  Note the reflection of the car's body, making it appear almost as long as its mate.

Above and below:  Two "equipment" photos of our ALRV at our Wolseley Loop rest stop.  Here are some facts and figures from Wikipedia about this series of cars, TTC No. 4200 to 4251.  Built in 1987 and 88, the 52 6-axle articulated cars are 76 feet long (vs. 50 for the CLRVs), and have peak load capacity of 108 passengers (vs. 61 for the double-truck units). 

The 45-minute length of our stopover helped me finally get a photo of a route 511 Flexity passing Wolseley loop with our cars and the 1,815-foot high CN Tower (the tallest structure in Canada) in the background.  Both pedestrian and motor traffic were heavy on Bathurst Street and the sun was going in and out by the time a sufficient gap opened to allow me to snap this image.

Fleet Loop, on the way to the Exhibition, is regularly used for short turning route 509-Harbourfront and 511-Bathurst cars.  Always a popular place for a photostop because of the attractive octagonal Queen's Wharf Lighthouse at its center, our chartered cars laid over here between our two stops at Exhibition.  Built in 1861, the lighthouse was moved to this location in 1929 from Queen's Wharf, which is near today's Island Yacht Club on Toronto's Inner Harbor (Lake Ontario) along Queens Quay near the Dan Leckie Way stop of the Harbourfront line.

When Toronto's ALRVs bend to take a curve, the convex side takes on the appearance of an accordion.  No. 4207 is shown at the Kipling Loop on the Long Branch extension of the Queen line in the suburb of New Toronto.  Did Lawrence Welk ever play the [articulated] Trolley Song?

Our CLRV exits the portal of the tunnel that burrows under the Gardiner Expressway to take the Long Branch line from Lake Shore Boulevard to Humber Loop, and eventually the Queensway.

As John wrote:
  The Distillery Loop area is full of good restaurants and it was dinner time.  We were joined by Russ Schultz and Irwin Davis for a satisfying meal at one of the brewery restaurants in the complex.  We then returned directly to our B&B aboard a Flexity on the King line.  None of us forgot our umbrellas and we deposited them once we reached "home."

It was an excellent day, but we were very tired by all the exertion we expended by pressing the shutter buttons on our cameras.  We went right to bed, as we had to get our beauty sleep before our excursion to Rockwood and the Halton County Radial Railway scheduled for the following day.

To be continued in part 4.

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Posted by 54light15 on Sunday, November 24, 2019 12:08 PM

Some great photos! There used to be a "head in and back out" turn-around on Lake Shore Blvd east of Royal York and west of the Humber loop but that's gone. Construction of the Eglinton LRV is proceeding, the tracks are in and the stations are being built. Peope in the area nearby between Yonge St and Mt. Pleasant are getting punchy from the construction, not just from the LRV but also from the condos going up everywhere. Dust, noise and a constant flow of trucks and bulldozers. Glad I don't live around there. 

As far as the Finch line is concerned, all I have seen are trees that are fenced off to protect them but so far, I haven't  seen any shovels in the ground, same as the Hamilton LRV and the one that is supposed to be built in Mississauga. 

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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, November 27, 2019 3:32 AM

Continued from part 3.  John Wilkins helped in the preparation of this portion of the report.

Sunday, Day Three – Today's scheduled activity was a visit to the Halton County Radial Railway in Rockwood (Guelph), Ontario.  We easily found our way onto the Gardiner Expressway, whose entrance was only a few blocks from our B&B, and then followed highways 427, 401 and finally Guelph Line Road to the museum, roughly a total distance of 50 miles.  John made excellent time and the drive took less than an hour, as there was little congestion on the roads.  With the sky being overcast we took our time with breakfast, not rushing at all, and didn't leave our accommodations until a little before 10:00 a.m.  The museum opens their doors at that time, but their first trip over the line isn't scheduled until 11:00.  But nevertheless, as a result of our dawdling, we missed the departure of the first car by a minute or two.  This was not a problem, as service would be operating every half-hour, which gave me time to inspect the contents of the carhouse while Dick and John surveyed the gift shop/book store.  Two of the prize possessions of the museum were not operating today:  large Witt 2424 from 1921, which had some mechanical problems (we were told minor) and No. 4000, the Toronto Transit Commission’s first PCC car, an air-electric unit from 1938.  Here is a postcard view of No. 4000 operating at the museum, with its linens displaying an iconic destination and route.

Upon our arrival at the museum, which is operated by the Ontario Electric Railway Historical Association, a few drops of rain fell from the thick sky.  The first car out, which faded into the mist, was [small] Peter Witt 2894, and the next was supposed to be car 327.  But while we were waiting, the open-bench unit headed back to the carhouse; it wasn't clear why:  perhaps the mild precipitation or maybe a mechanical problem.  But soon No. 2894 completed its round trip and discharged its passengers at the Rockwood station.  This station is a traditional railroad depot and has a waiting room with some exhibits inside.  Built by the Grand Trunk Railway in 1912, it was used by successor railroad Canadian National until 1961, after which it was donated to the museum, who had it moved to its present location at the center of its operation.

Peter Witt 2894 appeared to be the workhorse of the museum's operations, as it was also on the line during my visit in 2016.  It is shown laying over at the Rockwood station while the public's attention was directed to the next car out.

Visitors waiting for the next departure were directed to a siding, where London & Port Stanley No. 8 was positioned to load passengers from a high-level mini-platform.  This made life easier for the elderly and those with baby carriages, as the interurban car's steps are quite steep.

Former London & Port Stanley interurban car 8 waiting to board passengers at its inner terminal, where a small high-level platform was rigged to provide for level access.  The heavyweight was built by Jewett in 1915 for service over the 24-mile long line in southern Ontario.  Passenger service was abandoned on February 18, 1957.

The car is beautifully restored and it was a pleasure riding it along the 
museum's 1¼-mile long wooded right-of-way.  The trackage is laid on a small portion of the former Toronto Suburban Railway’s standard-gauge interurban (radial railway) line between Toronto and Guelph, which was abandoned in 1931.  With its emphasis on equipment from nearby Toronto, the museum line’s gauge is 4 feet, 10 7/8 inches, which meant that the interurban had to be regauged to operate here.  Further, the huge interurban is not able to negotiate the loops at either end of the line (John indicated that was probably due to the car's turning radius and its use of a pantograph instead of a pole), but that did not cause any problems, since the 1915-built unit is double-ended.  We duly photographed it while it laid over at the outer end of the line, Meadowvale.

London & Port Stanley interurban car 8 at the outer end of the line at Meadowvale.  Note the use of the step stool for detraining passengers, many of whom had a particular destination in mind--as shown in the next two photos.

Above and below:  Two views of Toronto PCC 4618, whose duty is to satisfy the tastebuds of many museum visitors.  The Canadian Car & Foundry streamliner was built in 1951 as car 4501, and was renumbered to 4618 when refurbished in 1992.  After its acquisition by the museum, it was equipped with a freezer, counter, tables and chairs for service as a stationary ice cream parlor.

After returning on the 8 we rode the 12:30 departure of the Peter Witt from the Rockwood station building back to the end of the line, including the clockwise loop at Meadowvale.  Meadowvale is a beautifully restored shelter with a large platform--originally a stop on the Toronto Suburban Railway some 25 miles east of its current location.  After a few photos 
Dick and I took advantage of the repast offered at the PCC ice cream store, while John rode back through the trees to the museum headquarters.  Small Witt No. 2894 was built by the Ottawa Car Company in 1923, and is painted in the TTC’s very attractive livery of that era.  It was restored by the TTC for use on their short-lived Tour Tram service in 1973 and was carried from Rockwood to Toronto some 15 years ago to appear in the movie, “The Cinderella Man.” 

Above and below:  Two views of the Peter Witt in the exact same pose at the end of the verdant Meadowvale loop.  As can be see the lower photo is a close-up.  Don't know which is better, so I included both.


The weather began to improve and wouldn't you know, open-bench car 327 came back out and was next up for departure.  This single-truck car is actually a replica, but in a way it is authentic, having been built by the Toronto Transportation Commission in 1934 using parts salvaged from the original 1893-built 327.  (The original 327 was built for the Toronto Railway Company, a predecessor of the TTC, which was renamed Toronto Transit Commission in 1954.)

Open-bench No. 327 is posed on the museum's lower loop.  The four-wheeler was taken for a test run after returning from the carhouse.

Our last view of the museum, just prior to our departure, was of No. 327 loading passengers for a round-trip to Meadowvale.  No. 2894 is alongside, having just completed a similar run.

I had
 ridden it four years earlier and so, with other items on our agenda, Rich, John and I said goodbye to the museum at a little after 2 o'clock.  We also said farewell to a number of yesterday's charter participants, as they had the same idea of visiting Rockwood on this Sunday.  We then headed back to Toronto, where the skies turned blue, and spent time on the western end of the system, photographing streetcars
 along the Queensway, Lake Shore Blvd. and on the Carlton line before the shadows got too long (the photos from this afternoon's "work" are included in part 5).  But we didn't end our day with that.

John explains: We decided to drive the length of Eglinton Avenue during the remaining period of daylight to see more of the new LRT line under construction (see map below).  The eastern end of what will be Toronto's Line 5 at Mt. Dennis starts on a short-elevated section that very quickly dives into a tunnel.  The shop is located at this point.  We observed major construction taking place at virtually all the underground station locations.  The excavations were so close to the roadway pavement that our trip along Eglinton was less than comfortable.  The line stays in a subway until the Sunnybrook Park stop.  From this point the tracks rise to a center reservation in the arterial street.  The line will duck under a few cross streets, but for the most part intersections will be controlled by traffic lights.  It was apparent that rail installation had not yet commenced [it since has], although we saw some rail was already embedded along the center of the street 
at some of the grade crossings.  It was now getting late and since it seemed there would be more of the same for the rest of the line, we cut the excursion short before reaching Kennedy Station.  We returned downtown via the Don Valley Expressway and took the off ramp that lead us to the Distillery Loop and its abundance of restaurants. 

It had now begun to drizzle again and we parked in the underground lot and frequented the first restaurant we came upon, which turned out to be good choice.  It had a modern French theme, and after dinner we agreed the food had been excellent, and served by a well-trained staff.  It was dark by the time we arrived back at our B&B, and we retired quickly after another enjoyable day.

To be continued in part 5.



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Posted by daveklepper on Saturday, November 30, 2019 12:07 PM

Continued from part 4.  John Wilkins contributed to the preparation of this portion of the report.

Segments 5 and 6 cover our activities on Monday and Tuesday, our last two days in the streetcar capital of North America.  This portion contains photos of the CLRVs and Flexities we encountered while forthcoming chapter 6 will include photos of heavier rail equipment operating in the city and its environs.

But first, here is a sample of the photographs we took on Sunday afternoon, as described in part 4.

Above and below:  Two scenes on the Queensway, since 1957 the fastest stretch of track in Toronto, as there are few cross streets and thus little interference from automobiles.  The upper photo is taken from the Kingsway overpass, while the lower street level view is at Windermere, one station further east.  If you haven't made a trip to Toronto recently these views will look unusual as the former ballasted right-of-way was paved over early this year.  It is still streetcar only, and is still served by the Queen line (501).  Bombardier Flexity Outlook cars, using trolley poles to gather current from the overhead, was the norm for the line in August.



On this occasion only a very short stretch of Queensway still took on the familiar look of past decades.  The ballasted track was in place from just east of the Parkside Drive stop to Glendale Avenue, where the original section of paved road continued past St. Joseph's Health Centre and on to Sunnyside Loop and Roncesvalles carhouse.  Perhaps it will be paved in the near future.  I took this photo on Tuesday afternoon, just before picking up my bag at the nearby B&B and heading to the airport for my return flight home.

Above and below:  Two views at today's Humber Loop.  Currently, with little exception, route 501-Queen is split into two separate services with through passengers having to change cars.  At this time Flexity Outlook units were operated east of this iconic location, while CLRVs were being used west of that point, with each service using its own separate turnaround tracks (although the layout allows for through service, which is operated during the late evenings and overnight*).  The upper view was recorded just after passengers left the low-floor unit and boarded the connecting car, while the lower view shows the CLRV starting its trip to the Etobicoke communities of Mimico, New Toronto and Long Branch.  Thus one could say that the operation I observed brought back in principle route 507-Long Branch, which was officially replaced by through 501 cars in 1995.

* On September 3, 2019 a modest amount of through service was re-introduced during weekday rush hours.  These cars, running between Long Branch loop and over the Queensway, are officially identified as route 508-Lake Shore.


 A little after CLRVs leave Humber Loop and cross under the Gardiner Expressway onto Lake Shore Boulevard, they pass the community of Humber Bay, which is now noted for its collection of high-rise buildings.  This view of a Long Branch-bound car is at Louisa Street, about 4 stops west of the CLRV's starting point.

Above and below:  Two views near the western end of the 506-Carlton line.  The High Park neighborhood in the upper image looks positively verdant as this westbound car is about to cross Indian Grove along Howard Park Avenue.  Dundas Street West, west of Lansdowne Avenue, as shown in the lower photo, usually hosts both the 505-Dundas and 506-Carlton lines, but the 505 is currently operated by buses because of sewer work.  However plenty of 506s came by, permitting this view of a CLRV with downtown Toronto and the CN Tower in the background.  Within the city Dundas is mainly an east-west street, but as it heads west, this arterial road turns to the northwest.  It actually crosses Bloor Street twice along its historic route to Toronto's western suburbs of Mississauga, Oakville and Burlington.

As John wrote: 

Monday, Day Four – Today was one to roam around the TTC system.  Our first order of business was to cover the Scarborough ALRT line (now officially line 3), which is slated to be converted to a traditional subway route, a continuation of the Bloor-Danforth line (route 2) to Scarborough.  What a waste, as it is not that old in age or technically, and could easily be renovated and re-equipped if necessary, at a much cheaper price.   We first stopped on the Lawrence Avenue overpass at the Lawrence East station so Rich and Jack could get photos of the line from above and then continued to Scarborough Centre. Parking was a bit of a chore but we finally found a space in the mall opposite the station.  We made a round trip over the line, first riding to McCowan (one stop), and then to the Kennedy end, stopping here and there for more photos.  At the Kennedy station, which is adjacent to Eglinton Avenue, construction was under way for the upcoming crosstown LRT transfer station that will provide connections to the Bloor subway and the Scarborough line.  A GO Transit stop is also nearby.  Of great interest to us photographers is that the rolling stock has been painted into an attractive shade of blue.  Upon returning to Scarborough Centre we grabbed some lunch in the mall's food court and then split up. 
Photos of the Scarborough ALRV line will be included in chapter 6.
Jack wanted to see the St. Clair line now that it is equipped Flexis that use pantographs (up until today we had only seen the new low-floor cars with poles).  Richard and I explored Queens Quay and how to ride the ferries in Toronto Harbour.  We located the ferry to Billy Bishop Airport and we made a trip.  This must be the shortest ferry ride in either Canada or the U.S., less than a 1,000 feet long.  It took all of ten minutes to see the open sections of the airport, which can also be reached through the use of an underwater pedestrian tunnel, complete with a movable walkway.  We also looked for the ferry to the other islands in the harbor.  We accomplished that but found that no private cars are accommodated. 
We then drove to our planned meeting location, the St. Louis Ribs joint on Yonge Street just south of Eglinton.  The ribs were great.   Following a drive back to our B&B I said goodbye to all as I was going to be on the road at 0600.

I, on the other hand, rode the Scarborough line (again) to the Bloor Street subway and on to Yonge Street where I transferred to line 1 for the short trip north to St. Clair, where I began a regimen of riding and photographing the Flexities on route 512.  I covered that line as recently as 2016, after the street was reconstructed with reserved track in concrete at the center of the thoroughfare, but before the new articulated cars began running.  Its overhead has now been adjusted for pantographs, which is also the case for the track on Queen's Quay and Spadina, where the low-floor units were first introduced on the 509-Harbourfront and 510-Spadina lines.

Above and below:  Two views of route 512 along St. Clair Avenue.  Current collection has been by pantograph since the line was fully equipped with Flexity Outlook cars.  The upper photo was taken at Deer Park Crescent, just one stop west of Yonge Street, where the line connects with Toronto's original subway.  Rapid transit Line 1 is shaped like an elongated "U" and St. Clair Avenue streetcars exchange passengers with it again at the St. Clair Avenue West station.  To reach that point route 512 cars descend into a short subway and loop to the north; after stopping at a station within the rapid transit line's fare control, cars return to the mainline tracks, which then rise again to the surface.  The lower photo shows a westbound car exiting through a second portal just east of Bathurst Street.  The underground right-of-way, which ducks under Wells Hill Avenue, is shared with buses also needing to access St. Clair West station.

I rode a Flexity back into the St. Clair West station of the Yonge-University-Spadina line and rode two stations south to the Spadina/Bloor station.  I transferred there to a 510-Spadina car in order to ride to College Street, where I snapped a photo. 


Bombardier Flexity Outlook car 4433, also using a pantograph, heads south through the intersection of Spadina Avenue and College Street, where there is a three-quarter grand union with the 506-Carlton line.  T
he streetcars on route 510 circle "1 Spadina Crescent," the 1875-built Gothic Revival structure that houses the Fine Arts faculty of the University of Toronto.

It was now getting close to the time I was supposed to meet Rich and John at St. Louis Ribs between the Davisville and Eglinton stops of the subway along Yonge Street, so I rode a 506-Carlton line car back to Yonge and transferred to the rapid transit line.  I couldn't help thinking of how simple the operation of the regular streetcar I rode on the Carlton line (in this case a CLRV) compared to the LRV (Flexity) on the Spadina line that I had ridden before I changed at College Street.  Specifically, my impression was that the CLRV would pull up to a stop, open its doors immediately and then close them quickly once the last passenger boarded, and then accelerate away.  With the LRV there seems to be a brief pause before the doors are opened.  Then, after the last passenger boards annoying beeps are sounded and there is another brief pause before the Flexity begins to move.  I imagine that when there are a large numbers of passengers alighting and boarding the dwell time for a Flexity compared to a CLRV could be much shorter, because the LRV has more doors.  But if only a few passengers are using the stop, it appeared from my observations that the dwell time for the LRV is longer.  I'm not sure that my feelings about this are accurate (or just prejudicial), since I haven't employed a stopwatch, but I suspect that the proof will be in the pudding, and will become clear if and when future timetables will see a change in running times for the routes that have been re-equipped (if that has not yet happened).  

Anyway, I arrived at exactly 6:00 p.m. and Rich and John were at the bar, waiting for me.  We were soon given a table and we each ordered ribs from the large menu.  Our plates were clean when we left and drove back to our B&B.

Chapter 6 will close out the trip report, containing a short narrative of my last day in Toronto, plus photos of the Scarborough line and various diesel trains running in the area.

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Posted by 54light15 on Saturday, November 30, 2019 10:49 PM

The 1875 gothic revival structure at Spadina Crescent shown in the photo was totally restored recently. In the first world war it was a hospital. A woman named Amelia Earhart worked there as a nurse and learned to fly in a field that is now the TTC Hillcrest shops on Bathurst street.

When the new streetcars were first in service on Spadina Avenue, there were huge crowds and people on the patforms telling you how the doors worked, how you pushed a button to open the door when the car was at your stop. That system has been abandoned and all doors open at every stop. When the new cars on Spadina first operated, the voice would say, "510 Spadyna to Bloor Subway" going north and going south it would say "Queens Quay and Spadeena." Funny, that. But it has been changed to say "Spadina" in both directions. On the King and Queen lines, the stop at Niagara Street is announced as "Niama Street." Can't figure that out.  

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Posted by Miningman on Sunday, December 1, 2019 12:03 AM

54light15-- That's a good one, thanks for that. For about a year during my years in Toronto I lived on Balliol St.

In one direction they announced Bally-All... in the other it was Baaaal-Oil.

Quite humorous with the locals. 

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Posted by daveklepper on Monday, December 2, 2019 10:11 AM

Continued from chapter 5.

This is the last chapter of the report describing my August 2019 trip to Southern Ontario with Rich Aaron and John Wilkins.  In addition to the last day's narrative it contains some photos of the Scarborough ALRT line (now TTC's route 3) taken on the previous day and of railroad operations is the area.  First the Scarborough line:

No. 3020 is at the rear of a typical 4-car train of TTC's 28 intermediate capacity transit cars.  It has just left the Lawrence East station and is en route to the commercial center of what was the borough of Scarborough, now just the Scarborough section of Toronto.  This was the first time I saw the attractive blue (Dodger Blue?) livery, which had been recently applied as a wrap to the UTDC-built rolling stock.  The fully automated line opened in 1985, but trains have always carried a single crew member, who monitors operations on the linear-induction powered cars.*  Equipped with 600-volt DC third rail, the standard gauge 
four-mile long, 6-station line is officially due to be replaced, a costly and controversial decision possibly forced upon the TTC by municipal and provincial politicians.  Since it runs end-to-end with line 2, the Bloor-Danforth subway, it looks like that line will be extended over much of Scarborough's existing route.  When this actually will occur is anybody's guess, as not a spade of earth has been turned, nor has a final decision as to the exact alignment and number of stations been made.

*The same technology (from the same manufacturer) is used the Detroit People Mover, JFK Airport's Air Train and the original lines of Vancouver's rapid transit system, Sky Train.

Above and below:  Two more views of TTC's Scarborough line.  The upper photo was taken from the Lawrence Avenue overpass, which has no access to the station below.  The track to the right carries the former Canadian National Railway line whose outermost passenger station was Markham when I first visited Toronto over a half-century ago.  In those days the line had only one passenger train, which ran outbound in the afternoon rush hour.  I rode it nevertheless and was lucky that the crew allowed me to deadhead back with them.  Since then the line has been acquired by Metrolinx, which is double tracking it in order to increase GO Transit service to Stouffville.  In the background of both photos is the 40-story Solaris condominium development.  The lower photo, taken from the Ellesmere stop, features a train of the almost 35-year old cars emerging from the portal of a long tunnel that takes the 3-line 
under the GO Stouffville right-of-way from an east-west alignment in Scarborough to the relatively north-south route to its Kennedy terminal, where connection is made with the Bloor-Danforth subway.

John completed his narrative as follows:

Tuesday, August 20, Last Day – I was up early and managed to get some cereal and a cup of coffee at the B&B.  All other eatables were still stowed away in the wee hours of the morning.  It was then down to the Gardiner, the QEW, the Lewiston Bridge, the Youngman Expressway and the Thruway to Syracuse.  I picked up my daughter at the Amtrak station at noon and by 14:00 we were all back at Camp on 4th Lake in the Adirondacks.

My story is a little more complicated.  Knowing I would see Rich at Billy Bishop Airport on the Toronto waterfront, I didn't wake him before my 8:30 departure.  We both had reservations for late afternoon flights on Porter Airlines, he to Chicago and me to Newark.  I had more than a few items on my plate, and decided to leave my luggage in the B&B's salon so I wouldn't be encumbered.  I first rode a route 504 King car to Bathurst and then walked south past Front Street and positioned myself on the overpass above the Canadian National Railway to photograph the remainder of the rush hour.  Route 504 has been split into two services, with 504A running between the Dundas West and Distillery loops and 504B between the Dufferin Gate Loop and the Broadview Station Loop, providing a very intense service through downtown on King Street between Dufferin and Cherry Streets.  But the Dufferin loop was closed so all 504B cars were running to Dundas West, and even though I just missed an eastbound Flexity by about 30 seconds, the next car arrived less than 4 minutes later.

Here are some photos of GO Transit, Union-Pearson and Via trains 
along Canadian National tracks.  First some views taken from Dundas Street West, while I was also shooting CLRVs on the surface on the previous day.  In addition to Union-Pearson operations, photos of GO Transit and Via trains can be accomplished from that location.

Above and below: First looking north toward Bloor Street and then south toward the lake, from the Dundas Street West overpass along a portion of the four-track right-of-way that carries Union Pearson trains from downtown Toronto to the airport, and GO Transit and Via service further northwest.  The upper view illustrates that two railroads once shared this wide cut.  The far left track originally belonged to the Canadian Pacific, and supported its passenger service to Detroit and Owen Sound, as well as transcontinental trains.  GO Transit's Milton line uses this route over CPR's Galt Subdivision, bypassing the Bloor station whose platforms are served only by the other three tracks.  Except for a brief segment of the former TH&B railway in the Hamilton area, it is currently the only GO operation that runs over CPR rails.  The two tracks at right were/are Canadian National's Weston Subdivision, which carries Union Pearson, Kitchener and London-Sarnia trains operated by GO and Via.  Metrolinx, which now owns the entire right-of-way, constructed the other track on the former CPR side in 2015 to handle the increased service that exists today and will become even more frequent in the future.  The Union Pearson Express line was built as a "Premium" airport line in 2015, but when the officials were "surprised" that hardly anybody was riding when the fare was CDN $27.50 one-way, common sense took over and the fare was lowered to $9.00 ($5.85 for seniors) and riding began to pick up to the extent that the 15-minute headway in each direction is now justified.  Rolling stock consists 18 Nippon Sharyo dMU cars, delivered as four 3-car and three 2-car trains with streamlined sloped ends.  All cars have cabs at one end, including the four center units, which have flat ends.  The cars are virtually identical with the 14 (two-car trains) built by the same manufacturer for SMART, which runs between San Rafael and Santa Rosa north of San Francisco.  The upper photo shows a three-car train while the lower one shows one of the blunt ended center cars with cab at the rear of a two-car train.

There was action almost every minute under Bathurst Street on Tuesday morning.


Above and below:  GO Transit trains at the junction of the Canadian National's Oakville and Weston subdivisions, just west of Bathurst Street.  The upper photo shows rush hour trains operating on both lines, while the lower one highlights a double-headed train.  The motive power consists of MP40PHT units built by Motive Power Industries, with the newest, rebuilt with AC traction, now classified as MP54AC.  The lower photo shows GO Transit's newest livery, where the front of each locomotive is all white except for the logo.

EMD F40PH-3 locomotive and a mate pulls Via Windsor-Toronto train 70, toward Union Station.  The six-car consist includes a business class coach.

About 45 minutes later I resumed walking along Bathurst and continued to the ferry serving Toronto's extremely conveniently-located airport.  I had decided to find out whether I could check in for my flight ahead of time, and therein lies a story--one that goes back to the day we arrived in Canada.

When we began waiting on line for Immigration and Customs on the Peace Bridge on the preceding Thursday, I checked my passport, and to my chagrin and embarrassment I discovered I had take Clare's document instead of my own (mistake 1).  I quickly called her from my Android phone, and luckily she was at home, and was able to photograph the passport and email it to me.  When the Canadian border attendant asked for my papers, I handed him Clare's passport and he immediately asked if my name was Clare.  I explained what happened and handed him my phone with the image, and he said OK and let me into Canada.

I thought that was easy enough, so I then made mistake 2, which was not asking Clare to FedEx my passport to me at the B&B.  I thought it would be just as easy to get out.  But no, after arriving at the airport I was told in no uncertain terms by Porter clerks and their supervisors that they will not allow me to board unless I have a real, valid document.  They were not terribly helpful until I found a very nice woman in the baggage office on the arrivals level.  She told me exactly what to do (get a new passport) and called the U. S. Consulate for me.  The American representative 
told me to rush down to their building on University Avenue IMMEDIATELY as they could not create an emergency document after 11:30 a.m.  It was now a little before 11:00.  And when I asked whether they would take my photo, he also told me that I should go to the Staples store across the street for the photo and store my belongings in a locker that they would rent me, as I would not be allowed entry into the building if I was carrying anything metallic (like a camera).

I thanked the lady and rushed through the pedestrian underpass to the mainland, passing a number of other folks on the moving walkway, and found a taxi immediately for the short ride.  Fortunately there was little traffic and Staples wasn't very busy.  I crossed University Avenue 
at about 11:25 and went through the security metal detector, but did not pass scrutiny.  I still was not allowed in the building as I had one roll of exposed film and one roll of unexposed film in my pocket, and they were no-no's.  What to do?  I didn't want to go back to Staples and pay for another locker, but the uniformed officer at the door suggested I hide them in the bushes that surrounded the building.  I did so.

I then rode an elevator up to the third floor and reached a clerk behind a window who gave me a form to fill out and accepted my payment of $60 by credit card.  He told me to wait and I would be called soon.  I was, about ten minutes later, and was then questioned by an examiner.  Apparently everything was OK, and he told me to come back after lunch (2 p.m.) and my new passport would be ready.  Unfortunately, during the interim period I could not take photos of King and Queen streetcars (camera in the locker), but I did walk to Union Station and grabbed a snack at McDonald's (but first after I repossessed my film, from exactly where I left it).

I got back at 2 o'clock, hid my film again and went back to the same window.  I was given a new passport (whew!) and was admonished for not coming back earlier, as they indicated they called me as soon as it was ready.  [When I got home there was a message about that on my landline, time stamped at 1:14.  And I specifically had given them my mobile number.]  I then bailed out my camera across the street at Staples, and was back on my way.

I still had time to take a few photos downtown and go out to the beginning of The Queensway, where there was still some ballasted track (as mentioned and illustrated in segment 5).  Then I returned to the B&B, picked up my bags and headed back down King to Bathurst.  After a photo I transferred to the 511 for a 3-station ride to Fleet Street and walked the rest of the way to the airport via the tunnel.  My flight was due out at 5:10 and it was now about 3:30, so before I checked in I left the airport building and went into the parking lot, where the sun was perfect for a few photos of the Toronto skyline.  I then checked in with my brand new passport and went through security.  Rich was already there, even though his flight wasn't scheduled until 7:15.

Then more bad news hit.  There were weather delays for both our flights.  This was rather unexpected as it was sunny out, in fact it had been all day.  The previous flight to Newark, scheduled for 4:10, had still not left and no departure time was posted for my plane.  We then heard an announcement that Porter's flight to Washington, D. C. was cancelled.  Eventually loading began for my flight (at 5:30) and we departed the gate at a couple of minutes before 6 o'clock.  Arrival at Newark was at 7:54 (6:40), a little over an hour late.  Clare picked me up at Terminal B and we arrived home at about 8:30.

Above and below:  Not too much difference between these two views of Toronto's beautiful skyline, taken about 90 minutes apart.  The upper photo was taken from the shore of Toronto Inner Harbor's western channel, which is easily accessible from the the Toronto City Airport's (Billy Bishop Airport) parking lot on Toronto Island, while the lower came from my window aboard Porter's Bombardier-built Q400 turboprop aircraft (based on the De Havilland DHC 8) while it was climbing into the sky.  The 1,815-foot (1976-built) CN Tower, Toronto's quintessential icon, dominates both scenes.

It was a great trip.

P. S.  The new emergency passport was good for only 60 days, so I applied for a regular (ten-year) one in nearby Clifton on the next day and received it in the mail less than two weeks later.


  • Member since
    December 2008
  • From: Toronto, Canada
  • 1,667 posts
Posted by 54light15 on Monday, December 2, 2019 10:13 AM

I've only ever heard it pronounced "Buh-loyal." 

  • Member since
    September 2013
  • 5,357 posts
Posted by Miningman on Monday, December 2, 2019 11:14 AM

I've always used Bally-All , just a preference, but it's quite a topic among the folks in the area. 

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