Improving Service on King and Queen

[Those of you who want oodles of details won’t find a complex spreadsheet or chart here, and you will have to take some of the numbers on faith.  Trust me.  The reason for this post is to stimulate discussions and to ask the question “Why Not?”.]

We all know that service on the King and Queen routes leaves a lot to be desired, but little is done about the situation beyond the usual complaints of congestion and the need for an exclusive right-of-way.  Although major changes won’t happen until we have a larger fleet, improvements are still possible if only there is the will to make them.

I have been looking at a number of route configurations (some of you will know of my schemes for the Long Branch car), but believe that in the short term the first issue we must confront is the assignment of vehicle types to these two routes and the number of cars available for service.

My proposal, briefly, is that the King line operate exclusively with ALRVs and that Queen run with CRLVs.  Service and capacity would be increased in both cases.

The following discussion concerns the AM peak when service is at its height.  All other times of day would be adjusted accordingly.

The King and Queen Cars Today

King now operates with a 4-minute headway of CLRVs with 29 cars on a 116-minute round trip.  8 minutes of that is for layover time, and my examination of the route’s actual operation shows that this is excessive, certainly for the AM peak.

On top of this basic service, there is a one-hour long wave of extras that also runs a 4-minute headway for a combined 2-minute service.  This lasts from roughly 7:30 to 8:30 am inbound through Parkdale.  16 cars are assigned to this service of which 7 are ALRVs.

Three Lake Shore cars come in from Long Branch to downtown via King using 3 CLRVs.

Queen now operates with two branches each on a 9’45” headway using ALRVs.  13 cars provide the Neville to Humber service, while 18 operate Neville to Long Branch.  The combined service east of Humber is 4’52” on the schedule.

The total service requirement for these routes is 41 CLRVs and 38 ALRVs.

Spares in the Fleet

The CLRV fleet is 196 cars.  If we look at the service before the construction season got underway, the total requirement for service was about 158 cars.  This means that 38 cars, or 19.4% of the fleet, were available as maintenance spares.

The ALRV fleet is 52 cars, of which 38 are required for service.  The spare ratio for these cars is 27.9%.  Clearly there is some room for additional service with the ALRVs, and we may be able to squeeze more out of the CLRV fleet as well.

King as an ALRV Route

If the current schedule were modified by reducing the layover time from 8 minutes to 4 minutes (one car), the basic Dundas West to Broadview service would require 28 ALRVs.  To this we would add 16 ALRVs as extras for a total of 44. 

This increases the total ALRV service requirement from 38 to 44 leaving 8 spares or 18% — tighter but not unreasonable.

The headways would stay the same, but the capacity during the 2-minute wave would go up by:

  • 20% during periods where CLRVs and ALRVs alternate today, and
  • 50% during periods where service is all-CLRV.

Capacity on the route during all operating periods would increase by 50% due to the use of larger vehicles on the existing headways.

Queen as a CLRV Route

The existing 9’45” ALRV headway is equivalent to a 6’30” headway of CLRVs.  This service would require 46 cars (19 on the Humber service and 27 on Long Branch) compared with the 38 in service in King today.

If a further 4 cars were available, the headways could be reduced to 6’00” on each branch for a combined service east of Humber of 3’00”.

Adding 8 CLRVs to the service requirements would leave 30 spares or 18%, and if we add 12 (to get the improved headway) the spare ratio drops to 15%.  This would be a challenge for the TTC but we need to know what a realistic level is. 

Moving to CLRVs even on a 6’30” headway will improve the frequency of service seen by riders even if it doesn’t increase theoretical capacity because cars will come more often, and the gap caused by short-turns won’t be as large.  If we can get the headway down to 6’00”, this represents about a 10% increase in capacity.

Alternate Route Structures

Although it is simple to work through various changes in route structure on Queen and King, the underlying problem with most proposals (such as splitting Queen into two routes) requires more cars due to overlapping services.  This is definitely worth looking at when the new, larger fleet arrives, but for now we must make do with the CLRVs and ALRVs.


Given the lead times for decision making and scheduling, the earliest this could possibly happen is October 2007, more likely November.  I can hear the complaints now about why it can’t be done.

Riders on these two major routes deserve as much service as the TTC can squeeze out of its fleet.  The challenge is to make it happen.

30 thoughts on “Improving Service on King and Queen

  1. Thanks for this Steve. I’ve only given it a once-over but I appreciate the challenge to the thinking. I’m keen on better transit, though I rarely take transit, but it’s because better transit means fewer cars, and that means a bike-friendlier city. But there’s another major challenge and opportunity with King and Queen, and that’s how to make one or both of theses streets friendlier to bikes, as there’s currently a nasty set of hazards and relatively limited scope to repaint the streets for bike lanes because of the streetcar tracks (which can present their own hazards to cyclists, which isn’t reported on very much). If we make sure that there was a safe way for many in the Parkdale area to ride into the city might this be another way to boost transit service by shedding load or does the TTC wish to keep biking dangerous because it makes money in the core to subsidize suburban ridership, therefore fearful for their well-being potential cyclists stay with the transit?
    More later, but thanks.


  2. What should the TTC do with the extra ALRVs which are freed up after the AM rush on King? If CLRVs were replaced with ALRVs on King in a 1:1 ratio, then there would be 15 spare ALRVs (at the current spare ratio) which could be assigned to other routes – this is enough to assign to the Spadina short turn service or the Neville Park-Humber Loop service on Queen. Some might be needed to be taken out of service for maintenance, but most could be assigned to other routes. They could be used to provide some or all service on another busy route, such as Queen or Spadina, during the midday period. (On Spadina, they could only be used on the short turn runs). Would it make sense to keep a large number of ALRVs out on other routes during the midday?

    Steve: There are a number of alternative schemes we could look at for service after the AM peak, but I don’t want to get into a debate here about all of the possibilities. The real issue is that I believe there is capacity to improve service on both King and Queen, and the TTC should explain why they have not done so. Clinging to the “we can’t do anything without reserved lanes” rhetoric is getting them nowhere fast, and it’s the passengers who suffer. Yes, there are traffic improvements to be made, but some improvements are within the TTC’s grasp.


  3. Hi Steve:-

    I know you’ve put a lot of thought into this, it’s obvious, and if there is any will at all at the Commish to unmire themselves, there’s no reason why it wouldn’t work. You’ve shown that merely by a quick shuffle of the deck, service capacity is increased on the one route that desparately needs extra capacity, and it can be done without reserved lanes or tunnels. No reason why Mayor Miller can’t get his transportation folks to team up with the TTC and put a priority on priority traffic signal lights to aid in improving the services too.

    As for CLRV use on Queen with shortened headways, I’m all for it since I seem lately to be on the underserviced, less heavily loaded portion beyond the ‘popular’ line end at Kingston Road most of the time anyways. One extra added attraction for route flexibility too, would be the ability for Supervisory staff to reassign any car on Queen going either direction and send it up to Bingham if that route had had difficulties somewhere down the line. An option not seemingly available nor practiced now with ALRVs on the main branch. That car too would, if EB and on time at Kingston Road, likely be returning to Queen WB at pretty close to its scheduled time, an added bonus.

    What a treat for those line Inspectors who are now at wit’s end due to not having enough cars to offer better service in the event of those constant little daily difficulties on the route. How much better for them to do their jobs and get satisfaction rather than frustration.

    ALRVs on King, why not? Your proposal is following the lead of the every 90 second Yonge car, with it’s motor trailer sets. They would have had about a 30% greater load capacity than the ALRV, but since the ALRV takes up almost the same street space, it is the more appropriate assignment for this present day two minute route to increase its capacity. Since too, as you state, there are just enough cars to do this trolley shuffle, two car trains of CLRVs aren’t in the equation either.

    Let’s see the TTC try the change and see if they can make it work. With little to lose and lots to gain, it should be well worth their effort. I would be truly surprised that with just a wee bit of pre-planning, the change would feel and be seamless for the rider, the equipment department, supervisory staff and the operating crews. Since there would be no new vehicle acquisitions, only minor costs would be incurred to giving it a go. The few extra operators required may already be in the pool being hired now. And if it doesn’t work; well, heaven forbid, go back to the status quo. As we all know though from reading this blog and travelling on the affected routes, the status quo is not a solution and retaining it because there aren’t mega bucks floating around for PROWs or magic wands to make the nasty old traffic go away, is no justification to ignore potential improvements even if they are low cost and low tech. ‘Not’ trying anything at all is just plain foolishness!


  4. Here are some random streams of thought that I had after reading your post. Remember that each one came after writing down the one before. I left them all in to try and stimulate other weird ideas. This could even rival the “Street Cars For Toronto Committee’s” bus route from the 70’s, 91F Woodbine via Railside. My preferred one is the second but if the TTC are being tightwads then number 3 has definite cost advantages.

    1 This looks like a great idea as it would improve service on both King and Queen though at the expense of 11 extra operators and cars in service. You did not mention the 508 service. Do you propose abandoning it or would you take some of the 16 extra ALRV’s and send out to Kipling then come in as 508’s that could merge with the 504’ on King. I assume that the greatest demand is on King from Roncevalles to Yonge and that with the ALRV’s on Roncevalles there would be enough capacity to handle the demand if you sent every third or fourth car out to Kipling or Long Branch. You could run a service where every third Queen car went out and every fourth King car and end up with better service than today and save a couple of cars from your scheme.

    2 I know that this would give uneven headways on Roncevalles but that happens a lot anyways and the cars would have the capacity to handle it. Since these 16 extra ALRV’s are trippers it would not change the number of them required but it would reduce the number of CLRV’s required on Queen. I believe that your numbers require 12 CLRV’s to run the Long Branch section of Queen. Going to every third car would only require 8 and if you turned the Queen cars at Sunny Side instead of Humber you could probably save 2 or 3 more and still have a better headway on the Queensway than you do now.

    3 If you ran every fourth King car out to Long Branch you would have an 8 minute headway versus the 9:45 that you have now and you would not need any Queen cars and the service would be improved. This would save the 12 CLRV’s needed for Long Branch plus whatever could be saved if you turned some of the service at Sunny Side. I know that running out to Long Branch might require more than 8 ALRV’s but I am sure that there is a way to do this. If you needed the extra service in the east end, which I doubt, you could send some of them to Broadview Station. Just think, you could have a one seat ride from Long Branch to your place every morning. Or maybe you could combine them with the Kingston Road Tripper. I had better stop now as I believe that I am getting silly. Yours is a good idea Steve and some times coming up with something off the wall will start every one thinking in a new direction.

    Steve: First off, I am assuming that the 508 Lake Shores would stay as they are today, although they are far enough apart I am not sure that they do much good. I need to get up really early some day, travel out to the west end, and see how many people actually ride “around the corner” at Sunnyside.

    Second, I deliberately did not get into various permutations such as redistributing services between King, Queen, Roncesvalles and Long Branch because that would guarantee that Service Planning and Operations would freak out and the proposal would go nowhere for years. This proposal is a straight swap of vehicle types between the routes combined with some increase in service capacity to keep things as simple as possible.

    If we also get some modest improvements targeting specific times and locations of congestion, we could shave some running times, but I don’t want to make implementation dependent on schemes such as the proposed taxi layby lanes on King. The fewer reasons for delay, the sooner we would see at least a trial implementation.


  5. A very interesting proposal Steve… I hope the TTC follows up on it!

    I wondered in the last year… as the TTC loudly shouted King was it’s busiest route.. why the ALRV’s were on Queen instead of King!!!!

    As they said on Fiddler on the Roof… “Tradition!” Time for a new tradition! 😛


  6. Why not? Because the TTC is badly afflicted with NIH (Not Invented Here)and therefore it will never happen _unless_ you can find a way to make them think it was their idea!


  7. I don’t get the 91F WOODBINE via Railside comment. Please explain, someone?

    Steve: That’s an inside Streetcars for Toronto joke. Many years ago, there was a request for service to this industrial area and TTC planning couldn’t figure out how to provide it. Streetcars for Toronto, in an unusually magnanimous gesture, turned its attention to a bus route and the 91F was born. Robert Wightman was living not far away in Scarborough at the time.


  8. Another things that could help would be to extend the Kingston Rd streetcar to Bathurst looping at Wolseley Loop. It would be an easy change which would provide a bit of extra service just where the Queen route is busiest.

    Steve: That is the old “Downtowner” route. When it went all the way to Bathurst Station, most cars short-turned at Wolseley. When they went to Wolseley, many short-turned at McCaul.

    The real problem with the 502 is that it does not run very often (12 minutes peak, 20 minutes base), and even those times are erratic. On that sort of headway, it does not contribute much to the Queen service especially when operators play tricks by waiting for a 501 to pass by and following it across the city.

    A related issue that I didn’t bring up here is whether it’s time to consolidate the 502 and 503 into one route and send them all to the same destination so that there would be a decent headway wherever that is (McCaul or King & York). Also, of course, that 20-minute off-peak headway needs to be improved so that it’s worthwhile for people to wait for it. Gaps of half an hour or more are not uncommon.


  9. You. Are. Joking?!?! The TTC couldn’t figure out how to provide service to Railside!!! Maybe I’m expecting too much, but if you look at the route maps of the time, EVERYTHING would suggest WOODBINE service to the area.

    But then, these are the same geniuses who decided that service on Evans between Royal York and Islington should be provided–by the 38 HORNER route!!!! It didn’t take long for them to realize their mistake. It seems route planners NEVER took public transit!

    Steve: I may still have the correspondence in my archives. At least today, I know from personal experience that many Planning staff ride the system. The Manager of Service Planning takes the TTC to work, and it is deeply ironic that he lives in and suffers from service in The Beach.


  10. Steve, this is the second time you’ve commented that drivers don’t need or deserve even a very short layover before heading back. Not only does a four minute scheduled layover likely violate union rules, but it treats the driver badly. Would you like to operate #504 through stressful driving conditions from Broadview to Dundas West knowing that if you are on time you won’t even have enough time to use the restroom before you have to go back?

    Steve: The point is that by comparison with other routes with similar conditions, the amount of layover time is excessive. There are other ways to deal with this sort of problem while not requiring as many cars. The way that this is achieved is to
    stretch the headways on the return trip that occurs after the peak. A related issue is that there isn’t enough room at the terminal locations for all of the cars that accumulate there.

    There is no rhyme or reason to the allocation of extra “terminal time” from route to route or by time of day, and many schedules have a value of zero. If the intention is to provide a washroom break, this would be universal, but it’s not. Some terminal times, on routes with branches, exist only to make the headways come out correctly for the merged services.

    One side-effect of excessive terminal times is that vehicles sit for a long time at Dundas West and Broadview and leave vaguely on time, but not reliably, and an irregular service originates at the end of the line. This happens all day long in all kinds of conditions, and is related to the TTC’s lack of good headway management. Traffic congestion is a secondary contributor, important, but not the only reason service is poorly-spaced.


  11. this is an excellent proposal IMO. It would not cost a penny of new track of RoW. Any extra costs for operating are just natural, if the TTC complains ask them if they want to cut back service since “drivers cost so darn much”. This is a cheap way to get better service quickly. I hope the TTC adopts it.


  12. A major problem on the King route (eastbound in the morning) is bunching of streetcars. There tends to be a delay of 6 to 10 minutes and then 5 to 7 cars over the next 3-5 minutes. I am always amazed that people want to shove their way onto an overly full car when there is another car that is less full right behind. If one waits until the 5th, 6th or 7th car at Shaw and King, it is almost empty – single seats are available – and it never fills by the time it reaches Bay.

    It seems to me that full cars with another car within 100 metres should be bypassing the crowds at the stops east of Dufferin to Yonge. (Note full cars only.) If there are people who wish to disemabark from a full car, there should be supplemental offloading only stops on the farside of major intersections in this zone. Then the car, with a little capacity available, could proceed quickly to the next stop.

    It is incredible how long overly full cars can be delayed by people cramming onto them. When the doors are eventually closed, there is often a bag or a knapsack in the way and further delay ensues. In the end, the whole “herd” of 5-7 cars is delayed because of the inability of the first car to get moving.

    King should also be a POP route , especially at evening rush hour when cars do pass by without stopping and there is still space for 5 or 6 more people at or behind the rear doors.

    Steve: This is an example of poor line management. Looking at the CIS data (yes, I am going to publish my review of it soon), the bunches of cars tend to originate at Dundas West Station and travel in a parade across the route following a gap. What is badly needed is the simple effort of spacing service eastbound from Roncesvalles and Queen by holding back cars to space out the service. Inspectors used to do this decades ago, and with the additional information available through real-time vehicle monitoring, should be able to do an even better job of it today.


  13. I think Bob Brent is on to something. With the ALRV’s all decked out with POP signage, which is for 501 service only the TTC might not want to run them on 504 service at those levels.

    Steve you’ve observed that the TTC does a poor job policing 501 POP service for scofflaws and likely wouldn’t want to extend the program to 504 service. The ALRV’s are better suited to POP, as the rear doors and back-end of the car tend to be clear quicker than the front. (As an aside, does anyone know why TTC riders become frozen in place once they board a vehicle?)

    As a regular 504 rider I see a large number of Metropasses being used on the route and it’s rare to see a fare dispute. I suspect that the number of fare jumpers on King might be lower than Queen. Although it could change when the opportunity for abuse is present. (Regardless, I still don’t think that fare avoidance is a good reason to over complicate the fare collection system as was discussed in a previous entry.)

    Also does anyone know if the TTC has ever done any demographic studies on M/P buyers? I suspect the downtown condo dwellers must be significant market.


  14. 508 Lakeshore tripper has a quarter to a half carload of passengers going round the corner at Ronces/Sunnyside, in my experience of riding or watching the route, over the last 10 years. It’s about the same going inbound (eb) in the morning and outbound (wb) in the afternoon.

    Steve: That’s more or less what I expected based on the wide headway. Trippers are only well-used if they run often and for a significant length of time in the peak period so that they are (a) worth waiting for and (b) actually around when lots of people plan to travel. Otherwise they are an oddball, and most riders will take their usual routes. Why anyone would actually wait for a 508 westbound on King I don’t know.

    There are three trips in the morning leaving Long Branch around 7:45, and four cars outbound at various rather spread out times in the afternoon. On time performance is dubious making waiting for a car even more of a challenge. Have I missed it? Is it running today?

    The vehicles now on the 508 could be put to better use on the revised 501, and this would reduce the number of net-new cars we require for an all-CLRV Queen car.


  15. If the TTC wants to reduce layover times while giving crews a break, it ought to make drivers “step back” a streetcar or two so that they have time to go to the bathroom, go to Tim Horton’s, etc. If the TTC were to use proper headway-based scheduling, as it should, there would be less need for layover time at terminals.


  16. As for the 508 cars, I would get rid of them unless the TTC is willing to run them more often. King is only a short walk from Queen, so they are of marginal benefit. Also, they could easily be run with CLRVs because the cars are reportedly only half full at AM rush hour. I would also get rid of the 503 cars for the same reason.

    Steve: Getting rid of the 503 isn’t quite the same as the 508. At least in the morning peak, the 503 and 502 services are co-ordinated to run on the same headway, and every other car from Kingston Road goes downtown via King or Queen. Personally, I believe that this split should end because outbound in the afternoon, the service out to Kingston Road is unco-ordinated, and waiting for either a 502 or 503 downtown is a frustrating exercise.

    I didn’t include this in my proposal to keep the discussion down to the fairly simple CLRV/ALRV swap between the two major routes, but as this discussion shows, there are other related issues for services on these streets that need to be included in the plan.


  17. Steve, perhaps you could clarify something. I understand exactly why the operator needs a break at the end of the line. I think that if you’ve been driving across Queen for what, an hour-ish, you’ve definitely earned a 10 minute breather. Why though, does the streetcar need a break? Aside from a a short delay required if a cars ahead are bunching, why can’t there be a fresh operator standing by to take over the car and send it back on it’s way.

    I suppose that you’re effectively paying an operator to stand at the end of the line all day because there’d always be driver on break, but when you’re dealing with a streetcar that is constrained to follow the car in front it doesn’t make sense to have the (very expensive) equipment held up because of basic human needs. After all, this is how the subway operates. They swap drivers at the ends and some spots in the middle (Eglinton, Greenwood?) don’t they. As a side benefit, maybe this would reduce the impetus to shorten your break and get the car back out so the operators would be a little fresher of mind and lighter of spirit (as much as is possible on the queen car anyway) and that’d make a better passenger experience. Or, maybe I’m just mad.

    Steve: Thank you for bringing up this topic because it reminds me of something I should have talked about before.

    The TTC already has a practice of scheduling crew breaks in the middle of the line. For example, on King, relief operators board cars eastbound at Broadview and operate a trip to Broadview Station and return. The operator gets a break down at Queen while the car stays in service. Obviously, the relief operator going up to the subway does not need a long layover at the terminal, but they get one anyhow. This sort of arrangement also exists on Queen in both the west and east ends of the line. It could be expanded to eliminate the need for terminal “rest stop” times at least during the peak hours when vehicles are at a premium.

    One other point — there is already time built into the schedules for a layover at the end of each trip. The “terminal time” I seek to reduce is over and above that layover.


  18. The four afternoon 508s are scheduled to leave Yonge every 20 minutes starting at 4:45. On my way home in the afternoon, the first one is usually around York St. between 4:45 and 4:50, and the next one is eastbound at York St. around the same time. From casual daily observation, most people at York and University board the 508s. To regular riders going to any point east of Roncesvalles, they are just another 504, albeit one that seems to show up consistently around the same time each day. I have never ridden the 508, but I’m sure it has its devout followers living west of Roncesvalles from the financial district who would rather count on a 508 showing up reasonably reliably AND making it all the way to Long Branch than going “only a short walk” to Queen for service that may or may not make it past Roncesvalles, or Humber, or Kipling. Perhaps increasing the frequency and starting earlier could be reviewed in conjunction with the overall review of service on King and Queen.


  19. Michael Greason said, “It seems to me that full cars with another car within 100 metres should be bypassing the crowds…”

    That would be nice, but official TTC policy would have to change. I have a family member who drives for the TTC and once did this with the bus he was driving.

    Naurally, at least one person in a crowd that was bypassed calls or writes the TTC to complain. The TTC would in turn have to call in the operator, which could take several weeks as they are entitled to appear with a union representative (the family member whom I speak of didn’t bother and the metting was shortly after the complaint was received).

    He just explained that he was too full to take on additional passengers and no one aboard needed to exit at that stop.

    Now get this: he was told that if the situation arose again, he was to stop, open the door, and tell the people waiting that he couldn’t take them on.

    I’m sure you can guess what would happen when that occurs.

    Steve: This is an excellent example of TTC bureaucracy and attempts to avoid complaints taking precedence over common sense and provision of better service. They would rather have a complaint that the bus driver won’t let them on than a complaint that the bus did not stop.


  20. I have always thought Queen street would do very well with express service in the morning and afternoon.
    From the East of the Beach to Yonge there are few people that get off. I don’t know hwat happens from the West end to yonge street but it is liekly the same. Why not whiz those folks from either end across town to make room for the rest of us along the way?

    Steve: There already is a premium fare express bus from The Beach to downtown. One problem generally is that there are few neighbourhoods where there is a comparatively uncongested direct route to downtown.


  21. I understand that Halifax destination signs have a code displaying the message “NEXT BUS PLEASE”. This kind of a message would do the trick here when we have this type of a situation, at least when you’ve got two (or more) buses or streetcars within a minute or so of each other both running to the same destination.


  22. Hi Steve:-

    The first PCC fleet built and put into service had a red light above the headlight which the motorman would turn on if there was no intention to stop to pick up passengers when the car was full. This was in Brooklyn. By the time streetcar service was abandonded, these lights had been long removed.


  23. Hi Steve:-

    Today the TTC can truthfully say that gridlock and traffic congestion did ’em in!

    It was not a good day on the King car, or the Queen car,or Carlton car either. The piece falling off of the building causing the closure of King Street created havoc for downtown traffic. WB King cars bunched up horribly on York Street and therefore Wellington due to the motor vehicle gridlock at King and Wellington. During the 1/2 hour I was there watching the snails, there were as few as three and up to as many as seven streetcars in the Wellington to King block and around Wellington awaiting the turn onto King.

    Line Inspectors were out attempting to do their good things, but to little avail. One, at King and Wellington was basically an extra set of eyes for his operators to guide them by watching their tail swing to help them around the N to W turn. He told me that he’d let a couple of cars short turn straight up York to go back east. He had gambled that they would then be on time for their relief crew at Broadview and Queen, but by the time they cleared the mire at the top of York, they were in it across Queen too, so still were about a 1/2 hour late getting relieved.

    I had a good chance to chat with one ALRV King Tripper operator as we crawled along Spadina, Queen and Church. He was basically on time at Spadina, and by the time he reached Wellington and Church to go back west he was close to 1/2 hour late, never having completed his trip to Broadview, in fact never crossing Church Street.

    I asked him if he’d operated 508s? He said yes and contended that they were reasonably well patronised.

    Queen was a mess thanx to King’s closure too. EB King cars fared little better than their WB counterparts.

    WB Queen cars at Church were non-existent for the better part of 3/4 hour around 5:30 p.m.

    It was a great day for odd routings that’s for sure.

    Operators on Carlton were blaming the King and Dundas diversions on their route’s woes too as at 7:00 p.m. 5 EB Carltons, with various headways, were short turned before one was let through to Main.

    I wish my odds at Lotto649 were as good as 1 in 6.


  24. I’ve heard that one of the hallmarks of a good transit system is redundancy, ie. if something goes down, something else can fill it in. So: if we’d been smart enough to push for a transit option to the Front St. Extension folly, in particular doing a Front St. transitway to restore transit to Front St. in a ROW and have the westbound on Wellington in ROW as I’ve been suggesting for the last four to five years, perhaps such a frustration (to be polite) as the (predictable) falling off of the marble mess could have been relatively easily dealt with.

    Steve: At the risk of pointing out the obvious, the TTC could have had two other ways of simplifying the diversion now that only King Street is closed.

    When King and York was rebuilt many years ago, they did not install an east-to-north turn even though it was an obvious addition to the intersection. This means that any diversion around the financial district must begin at Spadina, not York. Only curves already in place (north-to-east, north-to-west, and west-to-north) were replicated in the new intersection.

    Track on Adelaide from Spadina to Yonge has been impassible for years due both to frost heaves and selective track cuts for construction. This could have been used for a Spadina to Church diversion much closer to King eastbound. This track will finally be replaced in 2009 along with the intersection at York. With luck, they will think of adding a north-to-east curve there (in addition to the existing east-to-north).

    The important point here is that in the downtown area, streetcars need flexibility to go around all sorts of special events, never mind falling pieces of buildings, and the TTC needs to pay attention to this in intersection design. Toronto has the largest collection of grand unions within a 1 km radius, but it stints on simple things that would make streetcar operations easier.

    How many times have you seen a pointman (or woman) throwing manual switches for diverting streetcars at locations that should have electric switches? How many operators who could be driving vehicles are tied up on this type of work for the Dundas track job and other similar projects? How much time is lost by streetcars on common short turns and diversions for operators to get out, manually set switches, and then manually reset them after a car has turned the corner?

    I remember years ago, when streetcars ran up Mt. Pleasant Road, the huge battle to get an electric switch at the entrance to Moore Park Loop. TTC management claimed that streetcars short-turned there infrequently even though at times half the service went through that loop. Moreover, operators had to walk back across a busy intersection to reset the manual switch in whatever weather and traffic conditions might prevail, and short-turns were more plentiful in bad weather. Things have not changed very much.

    Let’s see if this comment makes it through eh?

    Steve: Hamish: There are only so many ways that you can argue for the benefits of a Front Street transitway. Some of the comments get through, others go into my archives.


  25. Steve:

    Further to your comment about the TTC not adding new curves when the do intersection rebuilding there are many other places where their short sightedness is amazing. With out even consulting a track map I can think of:

    Church and Carlton SE quadrant.
    Ossington and College and Ossington and Dundas the two missing quadrants.
    Dufferin at Queen and King.
    Spadina and Bathurst should have grand unions at King, Queen, Dundas and College. You probably don’t need grand unions at both Bathurst and Spadina but it improves flexibility.
    I know that there are some useful curves missing at Parliament and Dundas and Gerrard and Broadview but I can’t remember which ones.

    I thought that there was once talk of putting tracks NB on Victoria from King to Adelaide. Did the Harbourfront car 509 eliminate the need for that turn? It is time that the TTC stopped looking backwards to what curves they had in 1960 and started to look forward to what would be useful in 2010.

    Steve: Taking these in order:

    Church & Carlton: Yes, obvious and overlooked.
    Ossington & College/Dundas: Probably omitted because a diversion from Lansdowne to Bathurst doesn’t seem “too long”.
    Dufferin & King: The missing curve conflicts with a manhole.
    Dufferin & Queen: There are problems with curves on the downgrade into the underpass. Regrading Queen Street would be required to fix this.
    Spadina & College: The curves that were placed here are odd indeed. We have a west-to-north, but no corresponding south-to-east. Similarly there is a north-to-east but no west-to-south.
    Spadina & Dundas: At least it’s 3/4 of a grand union although why the south-east quadrant is missing, I don’t know.
    Bathurst & College: The west to south was added the last time this intersection was rebuilt.
    Bathurst & Dundas: Only missing the south-east quadrant.
    Bathurst & Queen: Scheduled for reconstruction soon. The geometry of the intersection makes adding some of the curves tricky, but it is odd to have a south-to-west and no east-to-north.
    Parliament & Dundas: New curves were added in the south-west quadrant the last time this was rebuilt.
    Broadview & Gerrard: New curves were added in the north-west quadrant the last time this was rebuilt, and they are now in use by the Dundas diversion.
    Victoria Street: This was a scheme to move the King Exhibition car off of Church because of complaints from the condo dwellers about all of the streetcars rumbling over special work at Richmond and Adelaide. The Harbourfront/CNE service replaced the King Ex car and with it the frequent service on Church.


  26. I don’t know what the implications would be but what if Queen and King were one way streets? I figure cars can pass on the left and the streetcar could possibly have a right of way. I believe there would have to be some configuring with which streetcar routes for instance which street go west and which one goes east and at what point the streetcar would turn around the run the opposite route. What do you think about that? Would it work?

    Steve: From your description, I assume that you mean that the streetcars would also be one-way only. For example, all westbound service would run on Queen and all eastbound service on King. If this is so, the big problem is that the walking distance to transit would be much longer than it is today. People living in the apartments in Parkdale south of King would face a walk to or from Queen Street for one direction of their trip. Also, some areas are isolated by the barrier of the railway line that make it impossible to get from Queen to King.

    King ends at the Don River, and obviously Queen would have to be two-way from there east.

    The basic issue is that we have to stop trying to improve transit by creating more capacity for automobiles and making the transit service less convenient. Only when we actually take some capacity for the transit line itself, and run good service both to justify taking that capacity an to attract more riders, will we actually be taking a pro-transit stance.


  27. Why don’t we make either King or Queen transit- and bike-only roads! Most people who are commuting on Queen or King are not actually driving to their destination on either of these streets, but to the outer fringes of them! Why not just make one of them (preferably Queen, with the better retail atmosphere west of Yonge) pedestrian, transit and bike only!

    Imagine Queen West with only a streetcar line! Imagine the streets lined with more trees and no horrible car fumes idling while you are trying to shop or enjoy a coffee!

    Even put a farmers market at Soho Street to add to the rest of the markets that usually show up there on nice days. This would drastically increase streetcar travel times and be better for all! And we could actually have our first pedestrian street, which we should have had years ago!
    Stop designing for the automobile!


  28. After my streetcar experience of yesterday on College St., it seems clear that King and Queen are not the only routes with major service problems.

    The 505 and 506 routes are currently interlined in places (including where I wanted to catch one… either one would have done), so if anything service should be better than usual. However, it took a good 10 minutes for an eastbound car to arrive at St. George St. In the meantime, we were passed at the stop westbound by at least 6(!) westbound cars on either route. One would think that a few were 506 cars and a few 505 cars, but most (if not all) were 506. Of course many of them were empty or near empty.

    Whoever is managing the streetcar routes in this city could definitely be doing a better job of it, and King and Queen are certainly not the only victims.


  29. Hi Steve,

    I’m loving the blog so much that I’m reading back from the start. I’m curious on this: did the TTC ever take you up on this? It would be interesting to hear the postscript.

    Steve: The TTC, rather snottily, rejected this proposal when it came through other channels. They don’t want to spend the extra money required, nor do they want to admit they should never have merged the two routes in the first place. Some local politics is also involved due to tension between the local advocacy community group and the Councillor.

    I am working on a new set of articles on the Queen line, and the service beyond Humber Loop (not to mention to Neville) is so far off the mark of the TTC’s so-called target performance indicators as to be laughable. This is called “customer service” in some circles, and you are supposed to tug your forelock and say “thank you, sir” for what meagre gruel is dished out as service in some parts of town.


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