On Saturday the TTC showcased Roncesvalles and McCowan carhouses as part of Doors Open, and Urban Toronto was on site to take a rare peak at the two facilities.
Roncesvalles
Roncesvalles is one of two TTC streetcar carhouses, and with room for 149 streetcars it's a crucial piece of infrastructure. Most of the time the cars are kept on the storage tracks:
Roncesvalles storage tracks, image by Adam HawkinsRoncesvalles storage tracks, image by Adam Hawkins

When streetcars need cleaning, inspection or maintenance, they're brought inside the carhouse:

Roncesvalles carhouse, image by Adam HawkinsRoncesvalles carhouse, image by Adam Hawkins

Roncesvalles even has a special carwash track:

A CLRV streetcar going through the Roncesvalles carwash, image by Adam HawkinsA CLRV streetcar going through the Roncesvalles carwash, image by Adam Hawkins

Here we see the repair tracks, which allow maintenance staff to get underneath the streetcars to perform heavy maintenance:

Streetcars await maintenance at Roncesvalles Carhouse, image by Adam HawkinsStreetcars await maintenance at Roncesvalles Carhouse, image by Adam Hawkins

A third streetcar has been jacked up and had its wheels removed:

Streetcar on jacks at Roncesvalles Carhouse, image by Adam HawkinsStreetcar on jacks at Roncesvalles Carhouse, image by Adam Hawkins

The TTC opened up the side of one streetcar to show off the seventies era electronics that makes them tick:

Seventies era electronics on a CLRV steetcar, image by Adam HawkinsSeventies era electronics on a CLRV streetcar, image by Adam Hawkins

Roncesvalles opened in 1895, just one year after the last horse-drawn streetcar trotted off into the sunset, so it was fitting to find vintage Peter Witt and PCC streetcars on site. First let's take a look at the older Witt car, which entered service in 1922:

Peter Witt streetcar, image by Adam HawkinsPeter Witt streetcar, image by Adam Hawkins

The driver's controls really bring back that olde time feel: 

Peter Witt driver controls, image by Adam HawkinsPeter Witt driver controls, image by Adam Hawkins

Peter Witt interior, image by Adam HawkinsPeter Witt interior, image by Adam Hawkins

The vintage ads inside were a nice touch:

Old ads on a Peter Witt streetcar, image by Adam HawkinsVintage ads on a Peter Witt streetcar, image by Adam Hawkins

Next, the PCC, which will run on the 509 Harbourfront route every Sunday this summer:

PCC streetcar, image by Adam HawkinsPCC streetcar, image by Adam Hawkins

Its controls look a lot more modern:

PCC streetcar driver controls, image by Adam HawkinsPCC streetcar driver controls, image by Adam Hawkins

PCC streetcar interior, image by Adam HawkinsPCC streetcar interior, image by Adam Hawkins


McCowan
McCowan Carhouse opened in 1985 to hold the 28 ICTS cars that run on the Scarborough RT. At the time ICTS technology was considered ahead of its time, with computerized train control and a linear induction motor with no moving parts that was supposed to reduce maintenance costs. As many Scarborough residents can attest, things haven't exactly gone as planned. Regardless, without further ado, let's take a look at McCowan.


Inside are two tracks for cleaning and repairs and one for storing work cars. Although the TTC carries out light repairs at McCowan, for heavy maintenance the cars must be transported by truck to Greenwood Subway Yard. Here we see cars on the repair tracks:
Inside McCowan Carhouse, image by Adam HawkinsInside McCowan Carhouse, image by Adam Hawkins

There's quite a bit of room underneath:

Maintenance track at McCowan Carhouse, image by Adam HawkinsMaintenance track at McCowan Carhouse, image by Adam Hawkins

The wheel turning machine turns wheels back into perfect circles after they've developed flat spots or become otherwise misshapen:

Wheel turning machine at McCowan carhouse, image by Adam HawkinsWheel turning machine at McCowan carhouse, image by Adam Hawkins

Inside are the driver controls. Since the Scarborough RT features automatic train control, most of the time the driver is only responsible for opening and closing the doors:

ICTS car driver controls, image by Adam HawkinsICTS car driver controls, image by Adam Hawkins

Here's one of many linear induction motors that keep the RT moving:

Linear induction motor from an ICTS car, image by Adam HawkinsLinear induction motor from an ICTS car, image by Adam Hawkins

No less important are the electronic components of the cars, including the onboard computer, the battery monitor and the driver controls:

ICTS car onboard computer, battery monitor and control panel, image by Adam HawkICTS car onboard computer, battery monitor and control panel, image by Adam Hawkins

And various other parts that make the RT tick:

Parts from an ICTS car, image by Adam HawkinsParts from an ICTS car, image by Adam Hawkins

Parts from an ICTS car, image by Adam HawkinsParts from an ICTS car, image by Adam Hawkins

The TTC also had a few of the Scarborough RT work cars on display:

Scarborough RT work trains, image by Adam HawkinsScarborough RT work cars, image by Adam Hawkins

What’s in store?
Roncesvalles and McCowan come from different eras of rail technology. Yet while McCowan is by far the junior, it’s Roncesvalles that has the brighter future. The TTC plans to convert the Scarborough RT from the troublesome ICTS technology to LRT and include it in the Eglinton Crosstown Line. While McCowan Carhouse could be retrofitted to handle LRT cars, its capacity is very limited and it’s boxed in by development on all sides, preventing any expansion. Instead, the TTC is likely to build a new carhouse at Eglinton and Black Creek Drive.

Roncesvalles will also face changes as Toronto's aging CLRV and ALRV streetcars are replaced with new vehicles. Roncesvalles and Russell carhouses are designed to maintain streetcars that have their equipment underneath, but because the new streetcars will have low floors most of the equipment will be on the roof instead. The TTC will build a new carhouse at Ashbridges Bay to perform heavy maintenance on the new streetcars, and once the CLRVs and ALRVs are retired in 2018 Roncesvalles will be used for storage and light maintenance only. Still, as the only west-end carhouse Roncesvalles will continue to play a pivotal role in Toronto's streetcar system.