The red rocket has returned to Union Station and along Queens Quay in Toronto's Harbourfront neighbourhood. This past Sunday morning, construction work overseen by Waterfront Toronto to rebuild Queens Quay into a showcase street for the city reached a point where TTC streetcars were able to return to a stretch of road that had been plied by replacement buses for the last two and a half years.

A new low-floor streetcar runs on the TTC's 510 Spadina line on Queens QuayA new low-floor streetcar runs on the TTC's 510 Spadina line runs along Queens Quay, image by Jimmy Wu

Everything is not finished on Queens Quay. Cars and trucks are currently running westbound only to the north side of the tracks. Some curbs are still to be installed, and a final coat of asphalt is still to come as well. In mid-2015, that roadway will be switched to two-way traffic, with one lane for each direction plus occasional turning lanes.

The streetcar tracks have been finished, but other work remains to be completed The streetcar tracks have been finished, but other work remains to be completed on Queens Quay, image by Jimmy Wu

To the south side of the streetcar right-of-way there is still some pedestrian sidewalk to finish with granite setts, plus a new Martin Goodman Trail for cyclists must be paved, and many trees are yet to be planted into silva cells, a technology which has been proven to promote healthy growth. The new Queens Quay, designed by Rotterdam-based West 8, is meant to bring a greener, more people-friendly experience to Harbourfront. Meanwhile, new streetcar stops are spaced marginally further apart, have been lengthened to accommodate the new longer low-floor streetcars which will eventually replace all of the CLRV and articulated ALRVs on this route, and have been widened to accommodate more passengers. Red fare payment machines are being installed at the stops for the new Proof of Payment (POP) system which will gradually come to all TTC streetcar lines.

A CLRV plies the Harbourfront line for the first time in 2.5 years, TorontoA CLRV plies the Harbourfront line for the first time in 2.5 years, image by Jimmy Wu

During the same time as work was proceeding along Queens Quay, the TTC's Union subway station has been under construction too. Along with the second subway platform which opened a few weeks ago along with a newly rebuilt concourse area above, new links to the streetcar platform under Bay Street have now been completed and the looping terminal for the Harbourfront and Spadina lines has reopened. 

Signs at Union subway station now direct riders to the streetcar loop, TorontoSigns at Union subway station now direct riders to the streetcar loop too, image by Jimmy Wu

Signage, in the images above and below, now direct people to the streetcar platform. The screen seen below was deployed before the Sunday morning opening of the subway line.

Signage for the streetcars at Union subway station, TorontoSignage for the streetcars at Union subway station, image by Jimmy Wu

A new direct tunnel from the University line southbound platform at Union leads to the streetcar platform. Riders coming south on the Yonge line must go up to the concourse level, before taking stairs, escalator, or an elevator down to the other subway platform from where they can reach the streetcars.

Pedestrian tunnel from Union subway station to the streetcar loop, TorontoPedestrian tunnel from Union subway station to the streetcar loop, image by Jimmy Wu

Streetcars using this loop will take passengers south under Bay Street and then west along Queens Quay. 510 cars then turn north onto Spadina Avenue, while 509 cars will continue west to Exhibition Place.

The streetcar loop at Union Station has re-opened, TorontoThe streetcar loop at Union Station has re-opened, image by Jimmy Wu

Eventually, the loop here may be rebuilt to handle another line heading east along Queens Quay.

A new low-floor TTC Streetcar arrives at Union Station, TorontoA new TTC Streetcar arrives at Union Station, image by Bryan Bonnici

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