512 St. Clair
|512 St. Clair|
Car #4028 at St. Clair Avenue W. and Bathurst Street
|Termini||St. Clair Station (East)
Gunns Loop (West)
|Stations||■ St. Clair, ■ St. Clair West|
|Daily ridership||32,400 (2011)|
|Operator(s)||Toronto Transit Commission|
|Line length||7.00 km (4.35 mi) |
|Track gauge||4 ft 10 7⁄8 in (1,495 mm) - TTC Gauge|
|Electrification||600 VDC Overhead|
|St. Clair (detailed)|
The streetcar route along St. Clair Avenue was created by the Toronto Civic Railways in 1911 in a successful attempt to promote development in a newly annexed section of the city. Originally, the route ran in a dedicated right of way. The route was transferred to the Toronto Transportation Commission upon its creation in 1921, which removed the dedicated right of way in 1928. It is the northernmost streetcar route still in operation, and was the first to make an underground connection with the subway's St. Clair West Station. It also once ran past St. Clair Station up Mount Pleasant to Eglinton Avenue, but this portion was later made a separate Mount Pleasant route that was subsequently converted to bus operation in the 1970s.
When first built, the St. Clair streetcar operated in a dedicated right-of-way, similar to the modern 510 Spadina route. A dedicated right-of-way is a lane generally in the centre of the street, reserved for transit vehicles. However, it was removed between 1928 and 1935 and replaced with paved trackage open to mixed traffic. The TTC later came to regret this decision, and in 2005 it began rebuilding a dedicated streetcar right-of-way.
The TTC is now running a pilot project of time-based transfers on portions of the 512 St. Clair, under which passengers who take a transfer (see Toronto Transit Commission fares) may disembark and then board another streetcar from the same route, even one going in the opposite direction, as long as they do so within a certain amount of time after their original boarding. This means that one can stop part-way through a journey and then continue, or even make a round trip, without paying multiple fares.
The line is usually operated with Toronto’s single-length CLRV streetcars.
Roncesvalles Carhouse serves the St. Clair streetcar route. When a 512 St. Clair streetcar begins service, it travels from the yard at Roncesvalles and the Queensway, along King Street, then on Bathurst Street, which connects to St. Clair Avenue. When a 512 streetcar finishes service, the roll sign indicates "512 RONCESVALLES", and the vehicle travels on Vaughan Road to Bathurst and King Streets, ending in Roncesvalles Yard, with some ending at Bathurst Street's Hillcrest Yard.
Upgrade to dedicated right-of-way
Following the success of the new 510 Spadina route along dedicated right-of-ways on Spadina and Queen's Quay and on portions on several streetcar routes, the TTC decided to upgrade the St. Clair streetcar to a dedicated right-of-way. The tracks along the route needed replacement, and the TTC estimated that building a dedicated right-of-way would cost only $7 million more than simply replacing the tracks. Furthermore, St. Clair Avenue is one of the few streets in Toronto wide enough to accommodate a dedicated right-of-way without significantly reducing the width of traffic lanes.
This plan was controversial. Opposition was led by the activist group Save Our St. Clair (SOS). Many area residents, stores along St. Clair Avenue, pedestrian activists and three of the four directly affected city councillors objected strongly to the proposal, arguing that parking spaces and business would be lost, that traffic on residential streets would increase, sidewalks would be narrowed and drivers would be left with no space to get around stopped vehicles because of high curbs protecting the tracks. The Canadian Automobile Association also opposed the dedicated right-of-way, noting that St. Clair Avenue was one of the few six-lane arterials left in that part of the city and it carried a significant amount of traffic as a result of the 1970s cancellation of proposed expressways. Opponents of the dedicated right-of-way suggested instead that the TTC provide dedicated lanes and special transit-priority traffic lights, but only during rush hours, while returning service to levels the route had until cutbacks of the early 1990s.
Meanwhile, other community groups and many of the city’s transit activists (with some significant exceptions) supported the right-of-way project, citing general concerns of car traffic such as global warming. TTC officials suggested that the dedicated right-of-way would save two to eight minutes per trip.  Toronto city council voted 36-7 in favour of the project.
Early attempts to block the plan failed, and the provincial Ministry of the Environment approved the project in June 2005. But in October 2005, work was halted when a three-judge panel sided with the opponents, agreeing with their argument that the proposal did not adhere to the existing official plan. The judges’ reasons were never released because of a motion by the city and TTC, arguing that one of the judges had a conflict of interest, which led the original panel to recuse themselves. The new panel ruled on February 21, 2006, rejecting the opponents’ motion, clearing the way for construction to resume in 2006.
Then-TTC Vice Chair, Joe Mihevc, one of the strongest supporters of the right-of-way, faced a challenge in the 2006 municipal election from former pre-amalgamation Toronto mayor John Sewell over the issue, but Mihevc was easily re-elected.
Project progress and delays
Construction of the first phase, from Yonge Street to Vaughan Road, was completed on February 18, 2007. Phase 2 from Westmount to Caledonia is complete, Phase 3 from Vaughan Road to Lansdowne Avenue loop was completed and re-opened on 20 December 2009. Phase 4 from Caledonia to Gunns Loop was completed in summer 2010.
The original price of $48 million in 2004 soared past $106 million by the project's completion in 2010 (In 2005, the TTC predicted completion for the end of 2006 and budgeting $65-million, but as of December 13, 2008, only half the work had been completed and costs increased to $70-million, with a new target date being the end of 2009).  Then-TTC Vice Chair, Joe Mihevc, one of the strongest supporters of the right-of-way was quoted as saying in 2008 “I had a full head of hair when I started this project, and now I’m counting the ones left.” A report by a consultant for the TTC found numerous faults with the project, among them a lack of centralized project management. The planners of Transit City said that they would learn from the St. Clair right-of-way experience.
The construction delays and reduced parking have also appeared to negatively affect local businesses, with a reported noted that seven shops have closed down on St. Clair between Oakwood to Dufferin. A local business owner, Annamaria Buttinelli, has filed a $100 million lawsuit on behalf of 200 businesses that failed or fell into “financial peril’’ as a result of the protracted construction, and is seeking in court to certify it as a class action. 
Two major plans have been proposed and examined in the past. The first plan would see Route 512 extended west along St. Clair Avenue West to Runnymede Road, and south underneath the Canadian Pacific Railway Galt Subdivision line to a bus loop at Runnymede Road and Dundas Street West, replacing a portion of route 71 Runnymede. Streetcar tracks would then be extended southeast along Dundas Street West to Dundas West Station where the 504 King and 505 Dundas streetcar routes currently terminate. The tracks on Dundas would be served by a new route replacing the current 40 Junction bus route. While this scheme is not warranted by potential ridership, it would cut down the amount of deadhead (not-in-service) time required by St. Clair streetcars to get to St. Clair Avenue.
The other plan comes as part of Transit City, the Light Rail expansion proposal. It would see route 512 extended west on St. Clair all the way to Jane Street, replacing portions of routes 71 Runnymede and 79 Scarlett Road, where it would connect with the planned Jane Street LRT.
Stops and connecting routes
The St. Clair west right of way consists of 26 stops (east to west). Full Streetcar service resumed (St. Clair Station to Gunn's Loop) on June 30, 2010. Streetcar service resumed to Earlscourt Loop (Lansdowne Ave.) December 20, 2009, with a pre-opening event on the 19th utilizing the TTC's two remaining PCC streetcars. Prior to that portion of the line being reopened streetcars only serviced stops between St. Clair and St. Clair West Stations.
Unlike the 512 route, the 312 Blue Night buses stop at the curb (sidewalk), not the streetcar islands. Recently, the TTC placed several signs along the route to indicate this, likely due to passenger confusion over new, "far-side" streetcar stops while the curb bus stops remain "near-side" (stopping before crossing the intersection).
Transfer points on St. Clair and Jane, 312 St. Clair Blue Night bus:
- St. Clair Station - 320 Yonge Blue Night bus
- Bathurst Street - 310 Bathurst Blue Night bus
- Oakwood Avenue - 316 Ossington Blue Night bus
- Dufferin Street - 329 Dufferin Blue Night bus
- Jane Street - 313 Jane Blue Night bus
- Jane Station - 300 Bloor-Danforth Blue Night bus
- Bromley, John F., and Jack May. Fifty Years of Progressive Transit, Electric Railroaders’ Association, New York (New York), 1978.
- Filey, Mike. Not a One-Horse Town: 125 Years of Toronto and its Streetcars, Gagne Printing, Louiseville (Quebec), 1986.
- Hood, J. William. The Toronto Civic Railways: An Illustrated History, The Upper Canada Railway Society, Toronto (Ontario), 1986.
- "Ridership and cost statistics for bus and streetcar routes, 2011". Toronto Transit Commission. April 2011. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
- Toronto Transit Commission (September 18, 2009). "TTC Service Summary".
- Lloyd Alter (2013-11-25). "Streetcars save cities: A look at 100 years of a Toronto streetcar line". Treehugger.com. Archived from the original on 2013-11-25. Retrieved 2013-11-25. "A hundred years ago, a new streetcar line was installed on St. Clair Avenue in Toronto in a dedicated right-of-way. In 1928 they got rid of the right-of-way to make more room for cars; In 2006 they rebuilt it again, putting the right of way back."
- Traffic Control Systems Handbook: Chapter 3 Page 2 Control Concepts - Urban and Suburban Streets - FHWA Office of Operations
- Finally, St. Clair streetcar fully restored - thestar.com
- CBC News - Toronto - City council sees tight races, new faces
- The cautionary tale of the St. Clair streetcar right-of-way - Posted Toronto
- St. Clair streetcar project a ‘fiasco’ | Toronto & GTA | News | Toronto Sun
- St. Clair streetcar anguish avoidable, study says - thestar.com
- Lawsuit targets St. Clair streetcar route - thestar.com
- TTC Streetcar service advisory: 512 St. Clair and 505 Dundas routes
- Toronto Transit Commission. "TTC Blue Night Service Map".
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to 512 St. Clair.|
- Route Map (TTC official site)
- Route 512 - The St Clair Streetcar (Transit Toronto)
- Save Our St. Clair (a group opposing the construction of reserved lanes)