For the second time in the span of a week, a vehicle was driven into the Queens Quay streetcar tunnel early Saturday morning.
Police say a BMW was driven into the tunnel and proceeded towards Union Station. It was found at least 150 metres past Queens Quay Station shortly before 4 a.m.
The TTC brought in a swing crane, usually used to move track in subway tunnels, to retrieve the vehicle.
Const. Allyson Douglas-Cook told 680 NEWS the driver was found in the vehicle with his foot “stuck on the gas pedal” although the car had come to a complete stop. A 24-year-old from Toronto has been arrested and is facing impaired driving charges.
No injuries were reported.
The 509 and 510 streetcars were turning back at Queens Quay West and Spadina, with shuttle buses operating to and from Union Station. Regular streetcar service resumed approximately six hours later, around 10:15 a.m.
ALL CLEAR: The delay at Queens Quay and Bay has cleared. 509 Harbourfront and 510 Spadina have resumed regular routing.
— Official TTC Tweets (@TTCnotices) March 17, 2018
A similar incident prevented streetcars from operating on the route during the early hours of March 11. It happened shortly after midnight and took approximately three hours to clear.
TTC spokesman Brad Ross says a gate mechanism will now be installed to prevent cars from driving into the tunnel — along with the signs, rumble strips, flashing lights and raised track already in place.
He told 680 NEWS that the TTC has resisted the installation of a gate in the past because they are prone to failure.
“The problem with gates is they are mechanical in nature and they can fail … and what that means is that they could trap a streetcar until we can get the gate up,” he said. “We were hopeful that with all the additional signage and rumble strips that we have added and the bollards and the more lights we’ve put in and lowered the lights to eye level for car drivers that that would be enough, but clearly it hasn’t been.”
Along with the possibility of mechanical failure, Ross also points out another potential problem.
“You’ve got to wonder though, is the gate now going to crack windshields instead because people hit the gate?” he said. “Nevertheless we have to do something. Clearly we cannot continue to endure cars driving into the tunnel.”
Ross said since the previous incident last Saturday, TTC staff has been looking into installing a gate.
“This is the tipping point,” he said.
“Enough is enough. We’ll put that gate in and hopefully that will bring an end to these weekend jaunts.”
Despite bollards, signs, rumble strips, flashing lights and raised track, some still manage to drive their cars down the Queens Quay streetcar portal, though mostly on weekends and in the middle of the night. Enough. The TTC will now be installing a gate mechanism.
— Brad Ross (@bradTTC) March 17, 2018
It is unclear what kind of gate is being considered or when it will be installed. Ross said a design and timeline will be announced when a final decision is made.